Thursday, January 17, 2008

Costa Rica: Routine and Weather

by Donna L. Watkins

Maria, the homemaker at my homestay, is a fantastic cook. The flavors are delicious and there is great variety in the evening meals. She's into natural so I have not had to worry about offending somebody by not wanting dairy and sugar. I haven't seen anything sweet in the house which is a good thing for me since the rheumatoid problems are much more noticeable when I eat sugar.

My homestay now includes another couple from Minnesota. Mike is originally from England and Jenny originally from New Zealand. Mike reminds me a lot of my neighbor, Ken, not only with the English accent, but the delightful cheery way he has of speaking. The funny thing is that it's becoming more difficult to think of English words. If I were not doing these journal writings, I would probably be more challenged.

It takes about 20 minutes to get to school and an hour to get back, but I'm switching my departure time since inhaling all that exhaust is not working for me, although riding the buses gives me a feeling of really being settled in. The round trip fare is $.63 each day. My homestay fees are $18.50 a day which includes breakfast and dinner, along with a private room and laundry service. Internet is free at the school but my schedule is busy also. If I had to pay at an internet cafe it is $.50/hour.

The Costa Rican people (they call themselves Ticos) are very warm and kind people. It's easy to ask anybody on the street a question and they will gladly be of service "con mucho gusto" (with much pleasure). I've had two people even walk with me, in the opposite direction from where they were going, to make sure I see the place to go.

Now that school has started we don't spend time chatting after dinner. It's time to study. I have had homework each night. I make myself go to bed by 9:30 since I wake up at about 5 no matter when I go to bed. After the first few days of working on photos till late at night, I learned my lesson and get to bed early after studying and then have a bit of time in the morning for the computer.

The weather is unbelievable! It's always nice. It's cool in the mornings (60's) and gets warmer around noon (80) but the continual soft cooling breezes make it always comfortable unless you're standing in the sun. By 4 PM you can feel the chill settling in from the nearby mountains. It's a totally lovely climate, one that I could handle year round.

Half of the year they have a wet season when there is rain daily, but the temperatures don't change much in San Jose. Although I'm in the capital city with a lot of concrete and asphalt, there is green everywhere. It's very refreshing compared to the metropolitan cities in the U.S. There are a lot of park areas and houses have some kind of garden or greenery, with many growing some fruits and vegetables.

© Donna L. Watkins - Baltimore Oriole
I also caught a photo of a Baltimore Oriole on the garden wall. I live 3 hours from Baltimore and we've never seen one of these in our yard.

I can see why they say there's 60,000 Americans living in Costa Rica. The metropolitan areas provide just about anything you could find in the USA, although American brands do cost more due to 30% import fees. However, local brands are very reasonable. Lodging in a homestay provides lots of local tips and Ticos truly know how to make you feel like family. It's something I've never done, but it's something I've needed to do. I'm always up for an adventure!

View More Flowers, Birds & Costa Rica photos.

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