Costa Rica is not what I had expected at all. Every day holds new lessons; whether it be on the rich and diverse culture, on learning a new language or just experiencing travelling alone on the other side of the world.
Walking out of the airport in Costa Rica, it was immediately apparent to me that this was going to be an experience very different to anything that I had ever encountered before. It was also soon evident that my Spanish app that I had downloaded on the plane was most definitely not sufficient to help me get by in Costa Rica, and that my pronunciation of the only word I had known beforehand (¨Hola¨- with special emphasis on the ¨H¨) was perhaps not as native-sounding as I had thought it was. Luckily, the learning curve is fairly steep when you are starting from literally zero.
Thanks to my wonderful Spanish teachers, however, my Spanish has come a long way from the awkard giggle and basic ¨si¨ that is the common answer for anything that you don’t understand. In conjunction with my lessons, living in an environment where everything is in Spanish: from the signs, to the restaurant menus, to the conversations you hear all around you, picking up the common phrases comes relatively quickly. It has been my experience that most Ticos (or Costa Ricans) are more than happy to help you practice your Spanish and teach you all the Costa Rican slang, or pachuko. Be careful who you learn from, however: I once had a teenager tell me that if I am really hungry, I should be saying ¨estoy de goma¨… Needless to say, telling my host mom how hungover I was at dinner made for an interesting memory!
The country of Costa Rica is nothing short of spectacular. From the gorgeous beaches of Manual Antonio and Samara to the magnificent volcan Arenal, the country is certainly not short in supply of natural beauty. Perhaps one of the most beautiful experiences of my life took place in Manual Antonio while watching the amber sun set over the chrystal clear ocean (with a cocktail in hand, of course!) Being the safest of all the Central American countries also makes it easier to enjoy yourself in this beautiful land. Despite being a girl and often travelling alone, I have never once felt uncomfortable in Heredia or in any of the parts of the country I have travelled to (that being said, common sense and self-awareness should be practiced at all times; no matter where you are.)