Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Costa Rica: Adapting To San Jose

by Donna L. Watkins

© Donna L. Watkins - Social Flycatcher
It's amazing how quickly you can adapt to something if you put your mind to it. I often use a lot of comparisons to convince myself that, what I think is currently a challenge, is not as bad as it seems. One of my visual images is of the horrors of concentration camps. It's easy to count your blessings no matter how awful a day you're having when you compare it to some of the really awful things that have happened in this world. I am truly blessed beyond measure compared to what some people live with every day.

We (my neighbor and I) spent our weekend days in downtown San Jose visiting several parks, the national museum, an art museum, and the national theatre. Getting a lot of steps on my step counter each day is not one of my challenges -- that is certainly easy! We visited a super market and were surprised at the large selection of U.S. brands of foods. The produce area was fascinating.

It's been good to arrive several days before class so I can get my orientation for the city and the bus routes and names memorized. Once school begins your brain is filled with so much new content, that feeling comfortable with public transportation is important. Having had a few days to practice the Spanish I know has been terrific. I will do much better with the initial exam they give to determine your placement. They teach in groups of 3 or 4, so it's very individualized. A quick way to learn the language. I've heard great things about the language school and getting to look around yesterday was good.

While walking downtown I saw my first hummingbird since I arrived. It's a challenge being in the city, but there's green everywhere you turn and I am enjoying the beauty of the flowers as I remind myself it's January and my garden in Virginia has no flowers. I had heard that poinsettias were native here but I didn't realize that they grow into a tree. I've seen several in the small courtyards in front of people's homes.

Although I've heard many birds in the fruit trees in the garden at the homestay, they hide very well and if I move to look they are quickly off. However, I got my first good look at one since it landed on the wire above the garden wall. I was very excited to be able to get a photo of a Social Flycatcher between two leaves. The bright yellow in the morning sun was so beautiful. They seem to be pretty common in the city gardens.

View photos of downtown San Jose, Museum & Park and National Theater.

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