If there is one thing that I experienced the most on this study abroad trip besides coffee, it is rain. Note to future travelers, bring as much rain gear as possible! November is the last month of the rainy season in Costa Rica, and boy did it pour. I had one pair of true waterproof pants and my rain jacket, but I definitely could’ve used more nylon pants, a heavier rain jacket, and rain boots with lots of warm socks (my “waterproof” hiking shoes did not make it after zip-lining during a hurricane). I am so relieved that I brought a variety of Ziploc bags for my wallet, journal, and anything else that could have gotten tragically wet. Also: bring warm clothes, too! My scarf definitely came in handy. The mountains are absolutely gorgeous, but they also come with cooler weather.
On another note, life in Costa Rica is all about appreciating nature and truly living in the present. I learned about how smaller communities in the mountains rely on one another to thrive, such as the beneficio of the coffee farmers. Hearing the personal accounts of the farmers was extremely beneficial because that really allowed me to learn their way of life and hear about the challenges and joys of coffee farming. I really enjoyed being exposed to the lands of the coffee farmers and seeing how they utilize crops other than coffee to maintain the rich soils. Also important, Costa Rica’s diverse wildlife is fiercely protected and cherished (even insects). For example, one of the coffee farmers showed us that the banana and guava trees gives the animals something else to enjoy and serves as a biological control to protect his coffee plants.
Overall, to truly enjoy this trip, learn to relax your expectations and embrace every moment, including the rainy ones. Open your mind to new perspectives and opinions of others, even during the coffee tasting session. This will ensure that you truly do become more like a “tico,” or a true Costa Rican by the end of your trip.