I arrived at the university “hotel” to be greeted by my “house” mother, Ana Isabela Ortega Gurdián. After apologizing for being so late IN SPANISH (the luggage had issues getting from the plane to the pick-up location), I was taken to her house to settle in for the night. I also had a light dinner and met three other students that are participating in this program and staying in the same house as I am. Each of us has a different level of fluency in Spanish, but between classes and practicing at “home” we will be able to become experts fast.
After spending two days in orientation meetings (MLSA and UCR) we loaded up onto buses to visit Poás Volcano and La Paz Waterfall Gardens, which are part of the same national park but have completely separate entrances and look totally different! The links provided give detailed information on the history (influenced by a visiting costrricense student to a national park in “our back yard”) and admissions information—AND better pictures than I could ever hope to take! (I’ve included some anyway.)
At first I was terrified of the hike up to the active volcano, but it wasn’t as bad (steep, etc) as I was expecting. The weather was against us (to a certain extent—too much wind), but I managed to get some great pictures. It is actually best to go early in the morning, so you can beat the rain!
La Paz offers so many different diversions (hikes to waterfalls, wildlife exhibits and more) it was hard to see everything in one short afternoon. I actually missed a few sections because I spent so long enjoying the great food at the buffet they provided in the Colibries (Hummingbird) Restaurant! (There are actual bird nests in the rafters of the dining section)! The food they offered included pulled beef, chicken, ribs, fish, pizza, hot dogs, a variety of salads and other vegetables and fruits, along with soups and desserts. Basically, something for everyone! An important point in all of this is that the waterfall garden AND the lunch were included in the price we paid, which was a real bargain and the scenery was FANTASTIC.
- Dawn Clayton