We left for the airport at 3:40 am on a cold Saturday morning, March 19th, 2011. Luke, Elizabeth and I made our way up to the Dayton airport. When we got there, I was very relieved, it was one of the smoothest check-in process I have ever underwent. Our flight left at 6:30; I was riddled with excitement. It was a tightly crammed plane, I slept most the way with my iPod playing on a low hum. We arrived in Houston and quickly had to transfer over to our plane heading towards Liberia, Costa Rica. Upon arrival, I took an instant liking to the heat. It was 95° and would remain that way for the rest of the week.
The passport check-in process was surprisingly easy. Once we left the building, we instantly got hoarded by a swarm of Spanish speaking men begging us to use their taxi service. It was a weird feeling; all these guys looking so pleading and desperate for their service, and all in a language I hardly recognized. Ava, my sister who lives in Costa Rica, tracked us down and brought us over to a bus. We then made our way through the country side.
It was kind of what I expected: the heat left most of the vegetation brown and very dry. Stray cats and dogs were a frequent sight, as well as malnourished cattle grazing in the scarce fields. We went to the super market and got some toiletries and basic supplies. The colones took me by surprise. $1 is equivalent to 500 colones – a 1:5 ratio, or 500% difference.
We then took a bus to a bar/hotel, where Ava had made accommodations for the night. It was very different – the bar had a metal gate that lead to a small back-room 15 feet down from the bar where our rooms was. All in all, it was what I expected and wanted from such a vacation. We unloaded our luggage, then made our way uptown to get some authetic Costa Rican food, which by the way is very delicious. We ordered something called a Casado – which literally translates as “marriage” in Spanish. It is a holy matrimony of rice, black beans, salad, friend banana chips(so awesome) and some kind of meat, typically chicken. I couldn’t put my finger on what it was exactly, but the dish had some rich, natural taste unlike anything I was used to.
The language barrier is starting to hit me. This is the first time I have ever experienced what it is like to be a minority, a new unique experience that I appreciated. I expected there to be a lot of Spanish spoken, but didn’t realize I would have English acting as a crutch in times of communication. I had taken 3 years of Spanish previously in high school, but that was a long time ago. Flashbacks of certain lessons from various teachers I had over the year occurred throughout the week.
After dinner, we made our way up to the local swimming pool which was cooler than any pool I’ve ever been too. They had this extravagant water slide. You had to walk through a dark narrow tunnel full of bats, up some cricketing steps before spiraling up to the top of stone tower. It was then a turentulous ride down, whipping you back and forth by the ankles before spitting you out in the abyss of the pool. And then there was the diving board. The diving board consisted of a spiral stone structure that wrapped around a large circular stone before reaching the top, which divulged off the edge of the stone into a springless, stone board.
We then went back and napped for a bit before exploring the night life. We bought some Costa Rican liquor, and started off in our bar/hotel. The people were very laid back. They loved techno and American 80’s music. An luminous laser show casting through fog machines light up the room. After a bit, we walked up town to a younger bar, where there was a lot of dancing. I had a lot of fun there; we stuck out like sore thumbs. The women were very beautiful, and we danced for a while before heading back for the night. Tomorrow we are waking up early to go to the beach. In Costa Rica, they have a common phrase “pura vida” which literally translates to pure life. Life down here is awesome. There is not another group I could imagine experiencing this with other than my family. Life is good.