1) So much coffee. Everywhere. Including in the cell phone store (for free!). I think I’m in love.
2) Me gusta español, mais c’est très difficile to not switch over to French when speaking. I think it’s because, cognitively, I have both categorized as foreign/second languages, and so when I’m hearing Spanish, all I’m thinking is, “I need to speak words that are not English” and thus I end up speaking French. It both (ambos) does and does not help that the two languages are so similar.
3) Mountains. Mountains. Mountains. Having driven through the flat flat land between Minnesota and Texas just two weeks ago, this is quite the change. (Btw, I love mountains. I think it’s in my Norwegian blood to love lakes y montañas.)
4) All of the fruits and vegetables here are organic. Even the lettuce has more flavor than I’ve ever experienced before.
5) The school where I’m learning Spanish (CPI) has a complementary jacuzzi. And hammocks. And coffee (of course). And salsa classes, a movie night, and cooking class. I’m mostly just excited about the jacuzzi, though. Not going to lie.
6) Santa Elena is the perfect sized town. There’s a bar, Catholic Church, numerous restaurants (including one that is built around a full-grown tree. Below is a picture I found of it on the interwebs.), a bookstore (with laundry, interesting combination), dos supermercados, lots of tourist shops/companies/hotels, and some other random shops and stores I can’t think of right now.
7) The weather. Oh gosh, the weather. As someone who has spent every single January of her life wishing she could be someplace at least somewhat warmer than Minnesota, being in this climate right now is a dream come true. Can’t tell you how happy I was to get off the plane yesterday and feel the warmth of 80 degrees. Going into today (seeing a weather forecast of 90 degrees), I thought I was going to die from the heat, but luckily with the wind (and being at a higher altitude), el tiempo estaba perfecto.
8) The sheer beauty of living in a cloud forest. I won’t go too much into this because I expect it to be a common theme throughout my writing in the next five months (and there will be pictures! But please know I am no photographer, and no form of media can do justice to the beauty of it all in real life.), but just think of the best forest you have ever been to in the U.S. and then multiply the loveliness of that by at least five (or ten). That’s how beautiful it is here.
9) The charm of the people. And the culture. The anthropologist in me is having a hard time not getting all analytical and breaking things down (and I will have to do that later on for my thesis), but right now I am happy to have chosen to study abroad in a culture and with people who care a lot about environmental stewardship, cleanliness, hospitality, and having a good time (I’m not just saying that. One of the staff people at the school who picked me up at the airport yesterday with her daughter said that Costa Ricans love fiestas. Her teenage daughter agreed.). I think it will be a good break from Swarthmore.
10) Snoopy! My host family has a dog. I think some of you, friends, will find this to be important information :P If you’re not a dog person, carry on. I, as well, wish they had a cat :)