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San José, Costa Rica

February 5th, 2006

The other day I took a field trip with my compañeros to the capital San José to experience the big city. Although it was generally dirty and dangerous as most cities are, it certainly had some redeeming qualities.

Hands down, the best part about San José is its little mercados, or markets. The first market we visited was Mercado Central, and it was teeming with Tico farmers and bustling buyers. Everywhere you looked, you could find exotic little fruits and strange looking vegetables. A big hit with my group were these little citrus fruits called granadillas. They look like ovular orangish-green oranges on the outside, but are filled with grayish purple seed sacks. You eat the sacks and the seeds together which is a very messy, and therefore fun, affair.
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Saved by a Knight in Shining Armor

February 1st, 2006

On my second to last day in Monteverde, we took a horseback ride through the country to a coffee plantation in San Luis. Everything was absolutely beautiful! It was so beautiful, in fact, that I got lost while my head was in the clouds.
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Monteverde, Costa Rica

January 26th, 2006

My program has arranged for our group to spend a week of our orientation in Monteverde which is much more rural than Heredia. It took about 4 hours to get here by bus, mostly because the roads are rough and driving is slow going. But, it was worth every bumpy minute, because it is spectacular here!

We’re attending classes at the Monteverde Institute, and living with a new family for the week that we’re here. The closest town is Cerro Plano, which is a very small rural town. The town really consists of one street, along which there are a few hotels and restaurants. It’s about a 20 minute walk from Santa Elena, which is a small town that is only slightly bigger than Cerro Plano.

I love it here! The town is nestled amoung beautiful rich rolling hills, and has some of the most spectular sunsets I’ve ever seen. Everything has a small town feel, and all the pepople here know each other by name. The Ticos here are especially nice, and life runs at a much slower pace than in Heredia. Many of the other students in my group prefer Heredia, because there is more to do. I, however, am a country person at heart and fit in really well here.

There is a pretty booming (relatively) tourist industry here, and there are almost as many Gringos as Ticos. There is plenty to do in the way of nature walks, but not much of a night life.

Yesterday we went on a skywalk, which consists of walking through rainforests on suspended bridges. It was very beautiful, and we had a guide who was very friendly and knowledgable about the flora and fauna. We took a guided tour through a cloud forest today, which was also a lot of fun. The tour through the cloud forest reserve was much longer, and I would only recommend it for those who can walk uphill for more than 2 hours. I thought the latter tour was more interesting than the first, mostly because it was longer and we saw more of the forest. We spotted a lot of birds, including the endangered Queztals (sp?) and various different types of wrens and hummingbirds.

If you’re thinking about coming to Monteverde, I would certianly encourage you to do so, and I have three tips:

1. Bring a raincoat! There are only two seasons here, rainy and windy. It’s the windy season right now, and it still rains at least once a day.

2. Because of the above mentioned rain, bring more than one pair of shoes, and be sure to include at least one pair of hiking boots.

3. Be sure to take the time to stop and talk to the locals here. They are very knowledegable about the area, and love to talk about their culture. Many of them speak English if you need it (especially those who are younger), and if you are trying to improve your Spanish they will take the time to slow down their Spanish and help you with the words you need.

We are going back to Heredia on Monday, so hopefully I’ll be able to post a link for pictures of both Heredia and Monteverde then. Until then Pura Vida!

My New Family

January 26th, 2006

My new family is so nice! I have two parents, whom I call Don Edwin and Doña María. I also have a 23 -year old sister named Rocío and a 14 -year old brother named Roberto.
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I Have Arrived!

January 26th, 2006

I have arrived in Costa Rica and it´s beautiful! We stayed in at hotel called Bougainvilla our first night, and it was great. They had a wonderful garden, and good food. I would recommend it to anyone who asked.

I came to Heredia yesterday and met my Tico family, and they are very nice. I have two parents, a sister, and a brother. They are very understanding and patient with my awful spanish. They even tell me it´s pretty good, although I can tell they’re just being polite.

I started to pick some classes today, and I will find out Friday which classes I´m actually in. We are finishing out the week in Heredia, and then we are headed to Monteverde for a week of fun.

This is what I´ve learned so far:

The driving here is crazy! Everyone honks all the time, there aren´t any visible lines on the streets, and people seem to make up lanes and rules. Every time I´m in a car, I´m afraid for my life!

If someone invites you over for coffee, they probably don´t mean it and are just being polite. Unless you have a set day and time, don´t expect to actually have coffee at their house. By the way, the coffee here is the best I´ve ever had.

Also, you can’t flush toliet paper because the pipes are too small and often get clogged. You have to throw it in the trash, which is difficult to adjust to since I’ve been not thinking about where I put my toliet paper for about 20 or so years now.

One last thing for those of you who have ever wondered, the keyboards are different here.

That´s all for now folks.

And THIS is a note from ME, the Admin!

Personally, I thought Christin had beed kidnapped as I have not heard from her! Can you imagine my surprise when I received her email today telling me she wonders why the BLOG is not working? Well that is because she has been faithfully posting here, but I never saw her Posts! They were stuck in the Drafts section. So today, Chitty fans… you can expect TWO more additions to this Blog.

And to Christin’s parents… I hereby beg your apology. Your daughter is alive and well and living in Costa Rica!

Packing

January 15th, 2006

As it turns out, packing 6 months worth of stuff into 2 suitcases is hard. It took me 2 days to get everything together.
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Host Family Gifts

January 15th, 2006

So my friend Becky, who has studied abroad before, says to me, “You’d better not show up empty-handed. Your host family would appreciate it if you brought them a gift. ”

“What kind of gift should I bring?” says I.

“Something American, something that would represent where you’re from.”
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Preparation Catch-up

January 14th, 2006

Since many of you may be wondering about what sort of preparation goes into planning to study abroad, I thought now might be a good time to give you a run-down on everything I’ve done for this trip so far.

First, I researched study abroad programs, then applied to the one I was interested in. Many people hedge their bets and apply to more than one program, but I knew that I met all the criteria and the application process is fairly time intensive, so I opted to bet all my chips on one hand.

After waiting forever to find out, I was finally accepted and even offered a small scholarship. Then came the real work.
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Hola todos!

January 13th, 2006

Hola todos!

I’m Christin, and I’m leaving for Costa Rica in just 3 short days.

I’ll be flying from Port Columbus airport in Columbus, Ohio, U.S.A. through Miami, Florida, U.S.A. into San Jose, Costa Rica. I have a 10-hour layover in Miami (I hope the bar is open early), so expect to hear more from me then!
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