This blog should be retitled “Silly Blonde Girl with Poor Spanish in a Latin American Country.” This morning, I boarded a plane in Philadelphia, and 5 hours later, found myself in San Jose, Costa Rica. Luckily, I’ve managed to get from the airport to the San Jose office of ANAI (the organization that I am working for), using the following “address”: Vargas Arraya San Pedro, northside of Colegio Monterrey, a white house with cypress trees surrounding it. Yeah, first time I’d ever seen a taxi driver ask for directions… four times. He explained that’s how they do it here, apparently it helps people meet people and get to know neighborhoods.
After I got settled, my father and I (yup, I have a traveling companion for this leg of the trip!) ventured downtown to Avenida Central, where there is a market, lots of shops, and an uncanny number of shoe stores. Around this time, I realized that I hadn’t taken with me any specific directions that would help us get back to the Office, or the phone number of anyone who could help us if we got lost. So, we wandered a bit, ate hamburgers at Wendy’s (yeah, I ate meat. Instead, I’m giving up my computer and exclusive use of the English language this month) and got back on the bus, where we got off a stop or two too early and immediately broke the cardinal rule of being abroad in a strange city: don’t wander around at night.
Well, I still have all of my money and valuables, thus far. And quite honestly, I’m pretty proud of myself. I have yet to severely embarrass myself in Spanish (well, not that I know about), and so far have not encountered any major setbacks in my journey to the Talamanca. The people here in Costa Rica, and especially at ANAI, have been incredibly accommodating and patient. San Jose reminds of a much cleaner, safer, and less hilly version of Quito.
Tomorrow, I’m taking a 4-hour bus ride to the ANAI Offices in the Talamanca, where I will more-or-less reside for the next month. I’m a bit nervous about the bus: I have recieved specific instructions from at least 8 different people to take measures to protect my belongings during this ride, as thieving is common here. I’ve even been advised to keep my money and passport in my underpants. I’m really looking forward to the Talamanca, where the ANAI Office is located between Cahuita and Puerto Viejo. I’ve heard that the region is absolutely beautiful.
P.S. It’s 80 degrees here.
P.P.S. I’ll include pictures as soon as I am brave enough to take my camera somewhere 🙂