Hola, mis amigos!
As promised, this is a post about my recent trip to Costa Rica. The scholarship program I am involved in at school took my classmates and I on a trip to beautiful Central America this summer from May 12-30th, and it was fantástico! Most definitely one of the best experiences I have ever had. But, a picture is worth a thousand words, so they say, so here are some of my favorite photos from the trip. I apologize if the quality isn’t so great on a couple, my camera was not cooperating and I am not the world’s best photographer. But, without further ado, here is a glimpse of one of the most beautiful countries in the world!
In writing this post I have discovered the wonders of the photo gallery! Just click on a photo to see it and read the captions. 🙂
This is the wall of photos from my Tico family’s house. Costa Ricans refer to themselves as Ticos, and I got to live with the Chavez family for the two and a half weeks I was there. They were lovely, and very patient with my Spanish (or lack of haha). I really fell in love with them. As you can see, they are experienced at hosting students from abroad; each one of those pictures is with one or two different students that have lived in their home. I’m not up there in this picture, but I probably am now. 🙂
Las frutas. Muy muy ricas. This was typical breakfast for me. Usually my mamá Tica would also make me some toast and jelly or rice and beans in addition to all that fruit. Needless to say, breakfast was one of my favorite parts of the day.
Oky! This is my Tico family’s dog Oky. He’s a standard Schnauzer and very friendly, not to mention a handsome devil. He’s not quite a year old yet so he still acts like a puppy, but he’s one of the smartest dogs I’ve ever met. He’ll play hide-and-seek with his toys, and can even find and retrieve the correct one: if you say “¿Dónde está su zapato?” he’ll run off and find his yellow shoe chew toy, and if you ask where his “carne” is he’ll go looking for his steak chew-toy. Muy inteligente. I miss him. I want a dog a lot, but my mom doesn’t like pets. Go figure. That’s ok, though, just two more years and I’ll be on my own. You can bet my apartment will probably have a dog before it has furniture hahaha.
Here is the front porch of mi casa bonita. I thought it was a little sad that they didn’t have any chairs out there to sit on, but they kept the door and windows open most of the time so the whole house was kind of like a screened porch. I loved it! The heat wasn’t unbearable, especially since there were fans. I think it was probably cooler there than it is here in NC right now.
This fantastic view was from one of the classes at the ICLC campus (Instituto de Cultura y Lingua Costiricense). It was a beautiful place to study Spanish and the Costa Rican culture. Even though the hills were extremely long, steep, and difficult to climb when going from one class to the other, I think seeing something like this every day made it totally worth it.
Here’s another adorable dog! This is Negra, one of the three stray dogs that the ICLC staff took in as their own. She was such a pleasant, adorable little thing! Costa Rica has a lot of stray dogs– a LOT– but all of the ones I saw were very friendly. Not even once did I feel threatened by a dog, and that was amazing to me, because a lot of the domesticated dogs I’ve met here in the States have been more aggressive than these guys haha.
This is a strange slug that we found waiting for us in our classroom one morning. ¡Que feo! We made sure we all got a picture of it for our science project before the teacher put it back outside, though.
To practice our numeros, we played a lot of Bingo. During one game this cute little butterfly decided he wanted to join us!
This is the little mango tree sapling that my Spanish class and I planted. Every ICLC class plants a tree when they finish their classes. It was a bittersweet day, for sure. I really enjoyed learning Spanish from the ICLC staff, and I miss them!
Globalization at its finest! Phineas and Ferb is one of my favorite shows on Disney right now (and by “favorite” I mean I think it’s the only thing on Disney worth watching anymore) and I thought these juice boxes at the Supermarcado were adorable.
A poster for a movie that probably would have been better in Spanish….. yeah, I may rant about my disappointment in this movie sometime later on…
This is a spectacular mango smoothie I got from a cafe in Alajuela. I love mangos, just F.Y.I. Especially in smoothie form.
This lovely building was the elementary school we visited for two days. I wish we could have visited every day of our trip! I loved the kids almost instantly, and it was just such a great experience to get to interact with them and see their school routines. We also got to play a massive game of fútbol with them, which was great. One of my favorite things was drawing pictures with a girl named Naomi; I drew her a picture of some trees during the fall (they don’t have Fall in Costa Rica, just a rainy and a dry season, so she was fascinated by the thought of trees changing color) and she drew me a picture of her house. Basically it was like every other visit I’ve ever made to an elementary school: I loved it!
This is the central park in Alajuela. Every town or city had a church and a park or a soccer field in the middle of town.
The inside of the Alajuela cathedral. The paintings on the ceiling were beautiful, but I didn’t want to impose on the people praying so I didn’t take any more pictures of the inside. I just sat on a bench and enjoyed the peacefulness that you only get from sitting in a church. 🙂 Also after being on my feet all day it was nice to have somewhere to take a break.
We went to a wood factory and this was one of the awesome carvings that I saw there.
I loved these heads at the wood factory. The different types and colors of wood were fascinating. They had wood of all shades, from red to black to purple.
This is a view of the gardens in Zarcero, which was definitely my favorite town that we visited. The bushes were trimmed into all sorts of crazy shapes.
The beautiful church in Zarcero. It was Sunday when we went so we could hear the people inside singing, which was really cool.
Some faces cut into bushes at the Zarcero gardents.
This is a treehouse that had a FANTASTIC view of San Jose. You can rent it and stay there! It’s ridiculously expensive, buutttt definitely something I would enjoy if I had the money to burn haha. It was kind of Swiss Family Robinson-esque, only not quite as fancy as their treehouse.
The view of San Jose (the capitol of CR) from the treehouse. See? Fantastic. Toldja.
We saw a lot of butterflies on our trip, and by a lot, I mean A LOT. We went to four or five different butterfly gardents. This one was at INBIO Parque. I love how these two butterflies were clinging to this yellow leaf like “just hold still and they won’t be able to see us!”
This little guy was chilling on the entrance to the butterfly garden and I almost walked straight into him. I’m not sure what he is yet, but he is definitely going into my Costa Rica powerpoint.
This is a giant, ugly caterpillar. I believe this one is from the butterfly garden we went to at the Doka Coffee Plantation (Yes, a coffee plantation with it’s own butterfly garden. How cool is that?)
One of the coolest parks we visited was the La Paz Waterfalls, which was a huge place with a small zoo and a path that took you to lots of beautiful waterfalls (cataratas). This was one of my best pictures from the place. It was kind of gray and rainy, so we were damp the whole time, but it was still a great trip.
This is a huge purple-ish hummingbird I saw at La Paz Waterfalls. Compared to the little ruby throated and calliope hummingbirds we see here at home, this guy was a monster. A beautiful monster, though. He sounded like a small airplane flying by though haha.
The aviary had a walk-in cage with a bunch of friendly Toucans, and this one sat on the tips box and stared people down until they donated haha. One of my friends has a picture of me with a toucan on my arm, but unfortunately I haven’t gotten hold of it yet. I’ll post it as soon as I do for sure, though. The toucans were well trained and would just perch on people’s arms with no problems.
This is a cute little sloth we saw at one of the national parks. If you’re having trouble seeing him, he’s kind of towards the bottom right of the rectangle-ish fram created by the tree branches.
Iguanas were commonplace there, and pretty cool creatures. They look like dinosaurs to me. My Spanish teacher said that you don’t have to worry about them biting or scratching so much as you have to worry about their tail; they’ll whip it around and slap you with it, and I’ve heard it’s quite painful. Lucky for me I never found out for myself haha.
This is the beach at Punta Leona resort, where we stayed for two days or so. I did not capture the beauty at all with this photo. I was just standing on the beach, staring at the ocean and the islands and the sky and I had to keep telling myself “this is real life.” It looked like it belonged in a calendar. Also, the water was great for swimming. 🙂
The next few are from our crocodile-watching boat ride on the Tarcoles river. The day was one of the most beautiful of our trip, and so I had to take this picture of the sky and the riverbank.
These are two condors we saw on the bank, watching us. I could just tell that they were judging us haha. “Turistas locas.”
This is a crocodile I saw. We were lucky, we got to see a whole bunch of them, on the banks and swimming in the river. They got really close to the boat; you could have easily touched one, if you were dumb enough to try haha.
This is a trail of bubbles left by a submerging crocodile. It reminded me of the crocodile from Peter Pan.
Another pretty picture of the riverbank. It really was un día muy linda.
This is a spider I took a picture of on one of our hikes. I was proud of how my camera actually managed to focus on a spider, so I figured I would post it. Also, it’s kind of cool-looking.
This was my favorite place: the Monteverde Cloud Forest. We were so far up in the mountains that we were literally in the clouds. It was enchanting. I swear the air was sweeter there. I could have stayed there for the rest of my life. I thought that about the beach, but then when I went there I immediately changed my mind. The cloud forest is the place for me.
Here’s a picture from inside the cloud rainforest, with some wispy cloud-stuff in the air and the sun shining through the branches. The forest is a strange one, compared to ours here in North Carolina. There are lots of epiphytes, plants that grow on other plants. All the trees were covered in moss and vines and other things. It was sort of tropical, but not hot and muggy. It seemed like something from a movie, eerie and beautifully exotic all at once.
A view of the cloud forest from the peak of a mountain. This was probably one of my favorite hikes, even though the clouds were obscuring a lot of our view. See how they roll over the mountains? It was like fog coming in. It was almost unfathomable to me how we were so high up that clouds were rolling into us instead of over us.
This is a lovely sign we saw on our hike at the Volcan Poas. As if any of these tips will really help if the volcano you’re hiking on erupts hahaha.
At Poas Volcano this little guy decided to hop onto the trail and say hi. He was the most fearless squirrel I have ever met! And pretty adorable at that.
This was supposed to be our view of the lagoon and the huge crater of Poas Volcano, but unfortunately one of those clouds had rolled in and so we could see nothing more than ten feet in front of us. It was definitely disappointing, but it was still cool to know we were on the lip of a volcano.
I hope you enjoyed this taste of my fantastical trip. I’m so grateful to be part of a school program that enables me to have such awesome experiences!