From LBCC to Costa Rica – Part 2

Photos by Sarah Rose Larson

On June 24 the team woke up early in their hotel located in San José, Costa Rica. After enjoying breakfast at the hotel, the team of 10 participants in the LBCC Study Abroad program and their two lead faculty went on a walking/shopping tour of San Jose led by their Monte Verde coordinator Paola Rojas.

The bus dropped everyone off at Paso De La Vaca, San José to shop at Mercado Central de San José. They shopped and learned more about the capital city of San José. The team was also able to get important lessons from Rojas on how to be a pedestrian in Costa Rica as pedestrians do not have the right-of-way.

Rojas explains parts of the city and the next stop to Meg Roland and Margarita Casas during their walking tour of San José.

While on their tour the team was able to obtain colón (Costa Rican currency). When passing the Teatro Nacional de Costa Rica (The National Theatre of San José), the team wished they could all go inside. Rojas went and spoke to security; letting the team enter the first salon to view the sculptures on exhibit.

Afterward, the team started their journey to their home for the next two weeks — Monte Verde. Monte Verde is where the Monte Verde Institute is located. MVI is where participants in the program will have class each day.

Along the way, Rojas brought the team to Restaurante El Jardín in San Ramón for lunch. After lunch, they were able to wander the grounds and view the livestock living on the restaurant grounds.

In Teatro Nacional de Costa Rica, (The National Theatre of San José) stands La Música by Adriático Froli
Danae Fouts pets one of the horses on the grounds of Restaurante El Jardín in San Ramón.

The roads in Costa Rica are typically not smooth straight lines, instead, they curve and are sprinkled with potholes. Though the entire country of Costa Rica is slightly smaller than the state of West Virginia, it takes a while to get from place to place. The drive to Monte Verde took a little over two hours. 

Once at Monte Verde, the team met with Elena González to learn about the sustainability practices at MVI. At MVI there is a large focus on using less than is taken and breaking down waste so it can return to the Earth with a smaller impact.

The team gets their first of the famous Monte Verde sunsets as the van finishes the trip to connect participants with host families.
Rojas purchased some Costa Rican fruit for the team to enjoy after their orientation at Monte Verde Institute. The team learned the Spanish names of each, especially the ones they liked or disliked.
Josh Robles goes to meet his host family for the first time. These places will be home to the students for the next two weeks.

With the importance of helping in the kitchen and not touching the buttons on the showerhead fresh in their minds, the team loaded into the van with Rojas and Matarrita to go meet their host families.

It was then the nerves set in. The van buzzed with excitement as team members shared their greatest fears: language barriers, unknown cultural differences, and how toilet paper is not flushed among them. As each participant took their bags and went with Matarrita to meet their host moms, the windows of the van would open for everyone to cheer them on.

As one of the famous Monte Verde sunsets lit up the Cloud Forrest, each participant was shown the meeting spot for them and those who live close to them (their pod) and waved goodbye to their friends.

Soon after the last was dropped off, the team’s WhatsApp text thread blew up with updates. How quickly they felt at home, how much English was or was not spoken, and pictures of pets already adopting their new family member.

One of the key things Matarita mentioned in homestay orientation was how, though becoming acclimated to the homestay could be difficult, saying goodbye at the end would be even harder. These new faces would become like family in just two weeks.

The team in front of the Museo Nacional De Costa Rica (The National Museum of Costa Rica) in San Jose. From L-R Josh Robles, Meg Roland, Noah Aynes, Riley Bond, Margarita Casas, Jason Pfahler, Andrew Hedges, Danae Fouts, Faye Thygeson, Paola Rojas, Ralph Tadday, Haden McConnell.
From L-R Josh Robles, Noah Aynes, Jason Pfahler, Riley Bond, Faye Thygeson, Andrew Hedges, Haden McConnell, Margarita Casas, Ralph Tadday, Andrew Hedges, and Danae Fouts on the steps at Plaza de la Democracia. The plaza sits Between the Museo Nacional and the Museo de Jade. It was constructed by President Oscar Arias in 1989 to commemorate 100 years of Costa Rican democracy.
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