Life In Costa Rica

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Hola! I’ve been in Costa Rica for about 12 days now. It feels like I have been here much longer though. I think that’s partly because I have seen so many new and different places in such a short period. I have explored San Jose (the capital), San Joaquin, Heredia, Cartago (Costa Rica’s first capital), Arenal Volcano National Park, and an animal rescue center. I am living with my host mamá tica and one other American student (who understands more Spanish than me). It has been very helpful having him here to help translate!

This is a photo of Volcán Arenal from the hotel we stayed at in La Fortuna.

This is a photo of Volcán Arenal from the hotel we stayed at in La Fortuna.

Food abroad

For breakfast, my host mamá tica cuts up fresh fruit, brews tea and coffee, and prepares oatmeal, eggs or toast. The fruit she generally serves includes: pineapple, bananas, papaya, and watermelon. I may have had papaya once or twice before arriving in Costa Rica, but now I’ve eaten it about every other day. It’s not my favorite fruit, but when it has just enough ripeness, I love the taste.

Lunch and dinner are usually pretty similar meals. They consist of beans, rice, a cooked vegetable, salad, and a small quantity of meat. The beverage is either an agua fresca, water, or coffee. I personally have never been a fan of coffee, so I usually have water and occasionally the agua fresca. Oh, and I almost forgot, for dessert we have fried plantains. The plantains are amazing. I try to avoid fried foods, but it’s hard to say no to these plantains once you’ve tried them. Muy sabor!

The average day for me has consisted of: breakfast, lunch, and dinner with no snacks in between, which has been more than enough food for me. A couple days we had ‘tea time’ when a guest came over, and we would have drinks with a variety of galletas (cookies) and marmalade.

I have really enjoyed sitting down at a table and eating meals with my host family. This has been quite a change for me. In the U.S. I rarely sat down at the table with my family for meals, (however, they did make a very delicious dinner for me before I left for Costa Rica that we enjoyed together). I know it’s hard for my family to have regular meals together because there are so many of us with different schedules. With the smaller size of my host family, it’s easier to find the time to sit down together for meals. Also, our less hectic schedules are more conducive to family meals. After we finish eating, we all help clean up the dishes and put the leftovers up. Working together sure makes the cleaning process more enjoyable.

Here are some other random notes regarding food here in Costa Rica:

  • They don’t refrigerate eggs here. Which I found very surprising because in the U.S. you always find eggs stored in the fridge.
  • They use so much fresh produce. My host mom has only cooked with fresh produce, minus a few canned vegetables she used on occasion. And if you run out of something, a produce stand or panaderia (bakery) is not too far away.
  • One other important note, the water is drinkable here (at least in the central valley area). And so far, I have not become sick from drinking it!
These are where the eggs at my host mamá tica’s house are stored.

These are where the eggs at my host mamá tica’s house are stored.

Pedestrians

My first two days in Costa Rica were spent in San Jose, the capital city. The very first thing that stood out to me was how crazy people drove. Secondly the large number of motorcyclists, and they drove fearlessly on the roads, weaving in and out of traffic and driving in between lanes. Also, pedestrians do not have the right away here.

Now I’m staying in San Joaquin, a much smaller town. The traffic is not nearly as heavy here, but as a pedestrian, one still needs to look out for cars. It’s not uncommon to be at the pedestrian walk light and have cars run a red light. However, I have on occasion had a driver wave at me to cross the street (which I was very surprised when this happened after experiencing how most people drive here).

This is a stop sign in San Jose; I’m not sure if the sign was intended for cars or pedestrians because coches don’t always stop…

This is a stop sign in San Jose; I’m not sure if the sign was intended for cars or pedestrians because coches don’t always stop…

Weather

I’m very thankful I brought a raincoat and umbrella. There has not been a day here without rain. It does not rain all day, thankfully. It tends to rain in the afternoon or towards the evening. It might rain a little throughout the day, but it is usually light rain and does not last long. I was surprised that it wasn’t hotter here, though. The temperature has been very nice most days, often cloudy with a nice breeze.

Group photo with my API group in Cartago.

Group photo with my API group in Cartago.

Pura vida!

Caitlin Bagwell is a student at the University of Texas at Austin and an official API Blogger. Caitlin is studying abroad with API in San Joaquin de Flores, Costa Rica.

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