San José is full of natives, foreigners and everything in between. I’m still getting used to the Tico (a native of Costa Rica) way of life as it is almost the complete opposite of living in the States. Pedestrians don’t have the right of way here, which means I’m running for my life almost every time I cross the street.
“Pura Vida,” whose literal translation to English is “Pure Life,” means almost everything: hello, goodbye, you’re welcome, I’m doing good, etc. Ticos also have something called “Tico Time” because you won’t see them until 15 or 30 minutes after an appointed time. Among learning a new culture and speaking a different language daily, I’ve explored quite a few places as well. I have visited active volcanoes, beaches, and gone on whale and dolphin tours.
Out all of the three excursions I’ve had so far, my favorite is the trip to La Fortuna, a city that is home to an active volcano: Arenal Volcano.
|Arenal Volcano; Photo courtesy of Leo Durán|
First we went to La Catarata de La Fortuna (The Waterfall of La Fortuna). I absolutely loved everything EXCEPT the hike to get to there. There were a staggering 350 steps that took 10 minutes to go down, and was even harder to complete on the way back up. However, vale la pena (it was worth it).
|La Catarata de La Fortuna|
The view of the glistening rocks and the sound of the water falling made everything serene. The cold water balanced out the hot sun that beamed on our skins, which we were glad for, especially after that walk. I didn’t swim too close to the waterfall though because we were warned that you could get pulled under if you went too far. While here, I learned that musical artists Beyoncé and Jay Z visited this waterfall in December during their vacation in Costa Rica. ¡Que chiva (how cool)!
|¡Que linda (How beautiful)!|
|Tabitha and I|
After the waterfall, we went to the Baldi Hot Springs Resort, which had four water slides and 32 different hot springs with varying temperatures. It was very fun and relaxing.
|Tabitha and I enjoying the warm waters|
On the second day, we went to an Oxcart factory in Sarchi. The factory, which runs mainly on hydroelectric power, has supplied carts since the 1920s. The carts were the only form of transportation during that time and were originally used to transport grains and coffees across the country. The carts were first carved with wood and then hand painted with colorful decorations. The factory still functions today.
|Oxcart; Photo Courtesy of Leo Durán|
|Acting as a painter|
So far, that weekend has been my favorite, because I learned the most about the new culture I’m living in and I saw some of the country’s staple beauties. I have two months left, and I plan on visiting Panama and Nicaragua among other wonderful places in Costa Rica. I have heard a lot great things about this country from a few study abroad veterans, so I cannot wait to explore the unknown. ¡Pura vida!
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