Travel Journal: Costa Rica
For a program of this length (five weeks) there are bound to be key moments that define how a trip will be remembered. Rather than a single moment, these last two weeks have been truly amazing. Today is our last day of class in our La Paz homestay. We will spend tomorrow with our families before leaving Sunday morning. Out of a group of 30 students, I have not heard anyone who has had a bad experience with their family. The hospitality and welcoming mentality that has come to define Latin America is alive and well here in Costa Rica.
Yesterday afternoon was particular important for me. We visited El Trapiche in La Paz, where sugar cane is processed and made into caña dulce. Coquis walked the group of students over to the factory where we met Luis, who led our tour. Luis spoke in Spanish of course and Coquis asked me to translate for him. I'm pretty confident in my Spanish, but never thought I would be translating for our own tours. About an hour later we left El Trapiche having tasted the sugar cane before and after its processing. We also helped feed the sugar cane through a very large, dangerous-looking processing machine that strips the juice out of the stalk. They don’t have the same exact safety requirements here that a factory in the US does (tee-hee)...no injuries and certainly no deaths (too much paperwork).
All the same, I'm learning in ways that I never thought possible in Costa Rica. I'm coming to realize the most tangible learning from study abroad comes in the most unexpected ways. Thanks to mostly fearless professors, we're all having an amazing experience. Moreover, thanks to the families who have opened their doors to complete strangers, we're building relationships that will continue to impact us long after our time in Costa Rica ends.
There's a big transition coming soon. Sunday morning we'll set off to Puerto Viejo followed by a few days in the country of Panamá. We'll adjust our schedules and hone our ears to yet another Spanish accent. But for now, it’s time to study urbanization in Latin America—did you know 75 percent of the population in Latin America is urban?
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