On our way to our rural homestays, we stopped at the beautiful region of La Fortuna. This area is in the Zona Norte of Costa Rica, a region with interesting political history due its proximity to the border and just some of the spectacular natural beauties of the country. One of the most prominent features of this area is the Volcán Arenal, an active volcano that has an overwhelming presence in the scenery at over 1600 meters high. Yesterday we visited La Catarata de La Fortuna, where, despite the pouring rain, we climbed all the way down to the waterfall and river to swim and look up at lush, green cliffs. Ever since learning about the rain-forest when I was in first grade, I have always dreamed of seeing it. I had a moment where I realized that I was finally somewhere I had always dreamed of being. Though the uncertainty of the next few weeks is in the back of my mind, every day we see something new and unexpected that makes me so excited to be here.
Puentes Colgantes over the rainforest!
I have noticed so far that, in areas that rely a lot on tourism, people often speak in English immediately to accommodate a group that they think may struggle to speak Spanish. This feels strange to me because I expect to be spoken to in Spanish, and it also means less immersion! This weekend has been a pleasant change because the default language among the staff here is the official language of the country, even when speaking to tourists. I feel like I could spend a whole week in this one area doing all the adventures that they have to offer in walking distance! That said I feel that I can’t spend too much time in one place here to achieve my personal goals.
This morning, those of the group that are devoted runners went out early (before the mid-day heat) to get some exercise, and were actually able to see the peak of the volcano. However, by about 7am the clouds which typically form over the top of the mountain were present again and I wasn’t actually able to see it. Nevertheless to look up at this mountain is spectacular. Later, I took a hike on the famous Puentes Colgantes, a series of hanging bridges on a trail loop where we found waterfalls, tree frogs, and spectacular views of the mountains and volcano.
Thanks to Annie’s good eye we were able to find a few of these tiny creatures!
I was expecting a lot of heat when I got to San José, but was pleasantly surprised at the moderate climate, similar to early summers in Pennsylvania with moderate humidity. Only a few hours outside the city it is hot and humid—something that my host mom told me takes even her a few days to get used to when she goes back to her home town. Thankfully, we have the weekend to enjoy the region with plenty of bodies of water nearby.
In contrast to the city, in this rural zone I hear much more wildlife, see many more insects, and feel the pace of life slowing down. Especially with the heat that I am not yet accustomed to, it can be difficult to get working on something. Still, we start hospital rotations on Tuesday, so we’ll be acclimated soon enough!
We have also started a blog that is a collaboration of our whole group. I hope you will look at what we are doing by following our blog!