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Hola, Costa Rica!

by Shakia Stewart

3am. A funky warehouse club in downtown Brooklyn. Disco ball, flashing lights, people dancing, drinks flowing, business cards exchanged between DJs, photographers, party goers – ultimate New York networking.

Wait. It´s 3am. I have a flight to catch in 4 hours on the other side of town! Jump on the L-train, across the city to pick up my bag, jump in a taxi, head to the airport, check-in, phew! Now I can relax, catch a few Zs on the plane to Costa Rica…or so I’d hoped! We touch down around midday and I’ve hardly slept a wink. Thankfully the lovely Isabel is there to welcome me at the aiport and whisk me off to my new home for the next two weeks in the captial city of San Jose. During the drive I was amazed by how wonderfully green and lush the landscape was. It’d been raining for 3 weeks non stop, Isabel told me, and had calmed down only a couple of days before. Well, I’ve certainly got my timing right on this one!

I was dropped off with my host family, in a beautiful part of town called Cedros. Ligia, my host mum, had prepared an amazing typical Costa Rican lunch for me on my arrival…black beans, rice, meat, salad, and amazingly delicious homemade fruit juice from a fruit called ‘cas’, which is unlike any fruit I’ve ever tasted before! I spent the rest of the day settling in getting to know my new family before getting a much needed early night!

Monday morning and we’re off on the local buses to the language school for my first class learning Spanish in Costa Rica. After a small language evaluation I’m sent off to meet Edward, my private teacher! We start on the future subjunctive but quickly get sidetracked by an depth discussion of the privatisation of Costa Rica’s mobile phone coverage, the state of the economy, the best places to surf, and the history of indigenous, African and European people in the country among other topics – absoutely fascinating!

We break for lunch and I treat myself to some freshly made empanadas and mentally prepare myself for my Latin dance class in the afternoon. As previously mentioned, I have two left feet. Luckily my dance teacher has a sense of humour and laughs (with me, not at me…I hope) when it takes me a lot longer than everyone else to get the basic steps of the popular dance Merengue. There’s so much spinning around I think I might collapse but I’m having so much fun it doesn’t matter!

After a brilliant first day at the language school it’s back to my host family for another delicious meal. Every meal so far has come with black beans and rice. It is an absolutely key part of breakfast, lunch and dinner which they call ‘Gallo Pinto’. If you don’t like beans and rice, after a few days in Costa Rica you definitely will, I assure you! I can’t wait for my cooking lesson later this week. I’m hoping to give Ligia a run for her money, but I think its going to be tough!

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