“You will never be completely at home again. Because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of knowing and loving people in more than one place.”
So much can happen in a day. Yet weeks can fly by so quickly. It seems incredibly surreal that I’ve been in Costa Rica for nearly a week and a half now. From taxi drivers to city explorations to beach days, I honestly have fallen absolutely in love with this country. Its also been amazing to see how fast our group of students has bonded. There’s been a lot of laughter…and even a few tears. Honestly, I can’t even begin to think about the idea of leaving in a few weeks. Of course, not everything is perfect, but through the good–and the challenging–I’ve learned so much. In just a week, I feel like I have grown in so many ways.
Throwing toilet paper in the trash can? Really? Who does that? Never knowing whether the shower will turn on to a nice, normal warm stream or stay at a frigid temperature the entire time? Sitting at breakfast, an iguana decides to wander up and join us? What. (We found out later that the staff regularly feeds them.) My “comfort zone” right now is growing exponentially, but that’s such a huge part of what makes this whole experience so incredible. It’s taught me to roll with the punches, be okay with not having a perfect plan, and, above all, recognize that tico time really is a thing. Costa Ricans are much more relational and polychromatic. They are not going to be tied to a clock like Americans are, and while this is a foreign concept to me a lot of the time, it is also a refreshing one. We Americans could benefit from spending a little less time looking at our watches and a little more time investing in others.
Appreciating the Little Things
We spent the weekend in Playa Tamarindo, which was absolutely fantastic. Our program gave us the opportunity to stay at a four-star resort. Our room was pool side, huge, and beautiful…and the thing that sent me around the room squealing with delight was the fact that we actually had a reliable hot shower. We had an incredible weekend and took some incredible excursions. Yet, honestly, one of my favorite parts was getting up early on Saturday morning and going down to the beach by myself, taking a long walking and having some quiet time with Jesus. A vendor, a lovely woman from the Dominican Republic, approached me, and we ended up talking for quite some time…all in Spanish of course. Moments like that…they seem small, but they make learning the language and spending time here even more rewarding.
Just Do It.
No, this isn’t a Nike commercial…but they had the right idea. Jumping in with both feet has made my study abroad experience so far more rewarding than I ever thought possible. I spent half an hour talking to an 82-year-old native Costa Rican in a supermercado. I met a taxi driver who does impressions of American accents better than any American I know. I’ve tried foods I never knew existed. I’ve dived into the ocean. I’ve snorkeled. I’ve met incredible new friends. I’ve learned much about another culture. I’ve learned to stick up for myself and hold to my convictions in new ways. I’ve learned how to dance the salsa (okay, that one is still in process…). I’ve seen sea turtles in the ocean and monkeys swinging from trees right in our hotel. Truly, I feel like God has opened door after door for the most incredible experiences. Some, true, haven’t worked out quite as planned… But usually, those are the greatest stories.
I am falling hard…for the people, the nation, the culture.