Heredia (5/28/06-6/2/06) - host family/Intercultura

Heredia Travel Blog

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My host mother's youngest granddaughter.
     After leaving my house in NY, flying to Miami International Airport on the last flight down there on May 27th, spending the night curled up with my backpack on the floor of MIA listening to the loudspeaker voice announce the time every 15 minutes, and getting on the first flight out of MIA to San Jose, Costa Rica, I was greated by my host family. I must admit my Spanish was not even halfway decent at the time, and I spent the majority of the flight studying my pocket guide to Costa Rican Spanish. However, my studying did nothing to help me out when my host family began talking to me. I soon mastered the phrase "Mas despacio, por favor." (Slower, please.) Haha.
    Anyway, I was in Heredia to take part in the optional week of Spanish lessons offered through ISV prior to my 2 weeks volunteer project.
The courtyard within the walls of Intercultura.
Living with a host family in Costa Rica was a lot of fun, and gave me time to adjust to Costa Rican ways, as well as take in the city culture which I was unable to take in the rest of my stay in the country.
    The Spanish lessons were offered at Intercultura, which teaches both Spanish and English. Many of the non-Tico (Costa Rican) students attending classes were living in the school and were there for at least a month, taking classes for credit in their home schools. Even though I had taken Spanish in high school, I forgot a lot of it and ended up in one of the lower levels of classes. I could have switched to a higher level had I wanted to, but my teacher was awesome and I quickly made friends with the other students in my class (5 out of the 7 of us were there with ISV).
My Spanish class at Intercultura.
I got to practice my Spanish in the classroom, as well as with my host family. I wasn't the only one getting practice in a foreign language, as my host mother's granddaughters were in the process of learning how to speak English in school, and would put on little shows for me, singing "Do your ears hang low?" and other fun kids' songs.
    As part of the Spanish lessons, Intercultura offered dance lessons, which I took part in every morning before class. I'm so terrible at it but it was so much fun. We learned how to salsa, merenge, cumba as well as a few other traditional dances. It was a really fun way to start the day.

    One of the coolest parts of Heredia was the central market. You can get just about anything you could ever want in this place.
The most amazing fruit I have ever/will ever eat...I believe it's called guava, but it's not the same thing as what we call guava in the US.
..all types of fruits, vegetables, hot food, cold drinks, clothes, backpacks, umbrellas, scissors, anything. We found one place that served "El Plato del Día" (plate of the day) for the equivalent of $2 US and it was amazing. You had a choice of chicken, pork or beef, and then whatever the sides of the day were. I think we ate lunch there all but one day. They also had really good milkshake kind of drinks...coconut, papaya, mango, pineapple and a few others. Sooo good.

    Like most college aged kids exploring a new place and left to themselves in the evening/night, we went out and had some fun. Just about every night, we ended up at a bar called Boulevar. It was really cool...with the front all open and not too many people during the week (we had nothing better to do past 7pm and most of us didn't have class until noon).
The sunset I walked home from class in nearly every day.
It was a nice, completely non-sketchy place to hang out and meet the locals. Most of the time, we would end up seeing people who worked at Intercultura and hanging out with them, other times we just made friends with anyone who could stand our broken Spanish. One night, we met a bunch of guys who were around our age and spoke English pretty well...they worked for "Capital One, No Hassle Card...customer service, how may I help you." Haha. They gave us some pointers about things to do on our day off, places to eat and stuff about the country in general. We told them where we'd be going in a few weeks and they gave us some tips. It was great. I was thrilled with how friendly everyone was to us...but it's the Tico way.
    We also discovered a great Italian restaurant called Pan y Vino, that had probably the best pizza I have ever had...and I'm from Long Island, NY...I know good pizza. They also had this incredible dessert that was like a crêpe with nutella inside and vanilla/hazelnut ice cream on top. I'm starting to drool just thinking of it...

    Friday morning was graduation, where everyone who passes the test for their level of class gets to move up a level...however, all of us ISV kids were heading out after graduation to Hotel America, and then on to our volunteer projects. Hotel America is pretty cool in that there are rooms that can fit up to 6 people. When we got there, we just signed ourselves up in rooms with our friends and then made our way to wherever we had picked. All of the people who had just finished their volunteer projects were also staying in Hotel America, as well as everyone else who was heading to projects who had not taken the optional week of Spanish lessons. I met a girl who had just come from the Kekoldi Indigenous Reserve (where I was headed at 5am the next day) who gave me and Whitney (the only other person who took the Spanish lessons who was on my project) some pointers about which rooms were better at the lodge and told us about the kids who live on the reserve, as well as the town (Puerto Viejo de Limón) nearby the reserve. She also let us know a bit more about what we were actually going to be doing for the next two weeks. More on that to come...
Lanafromhawaii says:
Sounds like fun. I'm studying a la Universidad Interamericana in Heredia next semester for four months and am very excited. If you have any particular tips I'd be thrilled to get some. I'm not sure what to expect.
Posted on: Nov 28, 2008
Biance says:
Oh wow, I just read the whole thing - totally fantastic!! I'm going to Costa Rica with ISV in December and I am soooo excited now!
Question: How often did you have internet access during the trip? And (don't know if you can remember/took note) how much money did you spend over there (food/souvenirs/etc)?
Posted on: Aug 25, 2008
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My host mothers youngest granddau…
My host mother's youngest grandda…
The courtyard within the walls of …
The courtyard within the walls of…
My Spanish class at Intercultura.
My Spanish class at Intercultura.
The most amazing fruit I have ever…
The most amazing fruit I have eve…
The sunset I walked home from clas…
The sunset I walked home from cla…
photo by: diisha392