Well, I have been here in Costa Rica for almost four days now, and the trip is almost halfway over. The culture shock was definitely real. Just in the short time at the airport, there were people wanting to help you, but they really only wanted your money. The hotel was very different than those we find back home. It had an open air feel but was gated off and seemed to be protecting us from the outside world. The city seemed to never sleep with the cars passing by at all hours of the night. We transferred up to UGA’s campus the next morning, and the scenery was beautiful. The green mountains were spectacular. The roads were dirt and gravel once we got about an hour outside of the campus. It’s certainly a good reminder to be grateful for the nice roads we are blessed with back home.
We have visited many coffee farms thus far, and the people here have been so nice. The farmers are all very knowledgeable and very passionate about what they do. It has been very interesting to see how different processes can affect how the coffee comes out. For instance, you can have the perfect bean, but if you over roast it, the coffee will taste burnt. One thing that I really like is how most of the local coffee farms are family run and operated, but they also rely a lot on their community. Neighbors help each other out and share tips so that everyone can succeed. Some places even have cooperatives where lots of farmers bring their cherries to be processed because they don’t have the processing equipment at their own farms. Some of the farmers even let us into their homes and gave us coffee and dessert. Everyone here has been so friendly and welcoming, and being from the South, that is definitely something that I can appreciate.
I was a bit nervous coming on this trip and not really having any friends, but everyone in our group has been so friendly and inclusive, and I have made many friends. I was also concerned about the food, but I have found at least one thing that I will eat at every meal. I have even been adventurous with my eating. I ate fried tilapia twice, and one of those times, it was the entire fish (eyes and all) on the plate. I even stepped out of my comfort zone in other things by going on hikes and going on a night hike to see wildlife in the forest. I really don’t like bugs or other creepy crawlies, but by stepping out of my comfort zone, I got to see bats, a snake, a tarantula, and a snail, all of which I would have missed out on had I not gone. This trip has really pushed me to be outgoing and courageous.
We still have quite a bit to do before returning back home. I hope that this momentum to be adventurous will carry on through the rest of the trip. While there have been some hard adjustments (limited hot water, bugs, roommates, bunkbeds, lots of rain, etc.), I realized that it’s all about your attitude. If I keep a positive attitude, then I am going to have a better time than if I just mope around. Hopefully at the end of the trip I will be able to say that I kept a smile on my face and a place for adventure in my heart!