To practice our Spanish and experience local culture, we stayed in host families in Cedros. I stayed in a host family with Meghana, an awesome frosh on the Y trip.
My sideways roommate in front of our host “casa,” or house.
Cedros, the community we lived in.
Breakfast! Our host mom was an excellent cook. We got to try different costaricien dishes every day. The fruit in Costa Rica was delicious (it was mango season - yay!!) and the fresh pressed juice was great.
Meghana and me with our host mom, Aracelly!
We were in Costa Rica over Semana Santa (holy week, or Easter). The country is very religious, and we were able to participate in the procession on Good Friday. Though I am an atheist, it was great to be able to participate in this cultural activity - here’s some pictures!
Essentially, the procession stops at fifteen places, the Stations of the Cross. Each of these are part of the Biblical story of Good Friday.
During the procession, figures of Jesus, Maria, and a cross are carried and used to re-enact the Biblical stories, culminating with Jesus’ death at the cross.
Of course, religion isn’t the only part of the Costa Rican culture! We also got to go to a soccer game between Jamaica and Costa Rica. For those of you not-international-soccer fans, on our first day in Costa Rica (at Manuel Antonio), Costa Rica played the US in a world cup qualifying game. The game was in Denver, Colorado, and the game did not get cancelled despite a large blizzard and inches of snow on the field. Costa Rica lost, and the Ticos were upset. This game was packed with red, white and blue (we share national colors!) and began with a passionate, peaceful protest of Fifaand ended with a 2-0 Costa Rican win!
The stadium looks really nice from the outside :) Unfortunately, the two most passionate photographers on the trip weren’t allowed to bring our big cameras into the game, because they worried that we could throw our (expensive!! as if I would risk losing it!) batteries if we got upset. But the game was really fun, and I loved their theme song (Ole Ole Ole Ole Ticos Ticos). The spirit was less than I expected for a national game (having been spoiled in Germany at world cup parties, I have high standards) but certainly there nonetheless and my hands hurt from clapping at the end :)
We also went to a salsa lesson!
We had practical Spanish lessons with Prof Gloria each day, and one day, we had our lesson in the impressive Gold Museum.
The little gold treasures in this museum are most commonly excavated from ancient gravesites. The museum was very noteworthy for its focus on native cultures.
There were thousands of these little gold figures, with animals, people, and abiotic objects. Many of these were symbolic and were frequently given as gifts, used for healing, or used to show power.
The museum also had a special art exhibition, and I thought this picture looked interesting if somewhat triste!
To finish my random tangent on things we did, here’s a picture of us having fun while exploring San Jose! From left to right, a first year phys grad student from Poland, a Spanish prof, a chem frosh, and an astrophys senior (FYI: grad students count in years; UG are freshmen, sophomores, juniors, or seniors). So many awesome people!! I’ve had lots of opportunities to participate in trips like this while at Caltech, which are pretty heavily subsidized, and they’ve been a wonderful way to explore new cultures, get to know lots of people at Caltech, and have a great time!