Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Costa Rica: Randal Plans To Visit

by Donna L. Watkins

I am very excited since Randal has booked a flight to Costa Rica and will arrive on February 29 to take me home on his white horse on March 11. Well, it's actually a white plane, but I have a good imagination. It will be wonderful to finish my trip here with him.

© 2008 Donna L. Watkins - Costa Rica Flowers
Kathy, my neighbor that flew down with me to attend four weeks of classes, has her husband arriving tomorrow. She's been spending a lot of time planning excursions for him while she's in class, and also places to go together over the 3-day weekend. He leaves the day before her friend arrives, so she's had planning for that also. Kathy is a great planner, but like me, she's used to doing it before leaving for a trip.

I now have the same challenge to decide what to do while Randal's here. It's high season and the first few places I've wanted to book reservations at were not available. There are many wonderful options, but for such a small country, it's not very easy to get around Costa Rica. There are few highways and many roads are unpaved even in areas considered popular for tourists, like Monteverde. It takes time to travel in this small country because there are many mountains and volcanos, no matter which direction you go.

Bus service is prevalent but crowded, and if you've got luggage, it's not the way to travel unless it will sit on your lap or at your feet. So, making choices on where to go isn't an easy decision. Nobody likes to "waste" most of their day in transport for a few hours at an attraction. And there are so many great, wonderful and beautiful things to see, but transportation is as much a part of the planning as the place to see.

Fortunately, the husband at my homestay was a driver, now retired, so I asked him if he knew somebody that would transport me to La Selva Biological Station, the rainforest jungle area that I will spend 19 days at in February. He found somebody the next day so I am very excited since the lodge's transport was very expensive.

The differences in prices is incredible since the internet is geared to tourist prices and getting the school to book at my student rate is an incredible difference. For example, one of the lodges I was considering (that is not available) showed a rate of $162 for two (room, meals, entrance fees to reserve, taxes). The school got a rate of $98 but it is booked on the dates we need. That only means there's something better. One closed door just means an open window some place else.

© 2008 Donna L. Watkins - Costa Rica Flowers
Spanish classes are still a challenge. I've never been an auditory learner. I have to write as people talk to truly learn what I heard and when my brain is translating the Spanish slower than the person is talking, there's definitely no time to write down what is being said. So brain strain in class is taxing, but at night I review the information and learn it visually.

When they say it's an "immersion" class they mean it. There is not one word of English in the book and the teachers speak Spanish throughout the class. Sometimes I sit and ask myself, "WHY am I doing this?" Have you ever wanted to do something really bad and then when you got into it you wonder if you really want to put that much effort into it? My answer to that is always yes, but I do have my doubts throughout the day.

This past weekend I spent 11-1/2 hours studying. My brain does not absorb as quickly as it did a "few" years back. The rainforest time is a great motivation for me since the more I know of Spanish the more I will get out of my travel within Costa Rica. I will continue to study while I am at La Selva and will return for another week of Spanish classes before Randal arrives.

It is true that the more you know of a subject, the more you know that you don't know anything. How true for me and Spanish. Now and then it's good to do something other than study. Kathy and I visited the Museo de los Ninos (Children's Museum) and enjoyed a bit of fun and laughter.

There was an exhibit where you could step on notes (Do-Re-Me-Fa-So-La-Ti-Do) and create a song while it lit up the notes on the wall. I did it with a young boy that was there. I think he was more intrigued watching "the old lady dance around" than making his own music.

One thing that challenges will do for you is allow you to more fully and enthusiastically enjoy a bit of fun. Consider also that this Children's Museum is in what was once a prison. "All work and no play" makes for dull people.

View all Costa Rica photo albums.

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