Discovering Costa Rica - My Family Travels

When I was a small girl my mother would tell me stories of when she grew up in her country. She would tell me of colorful parrots and how they would sing to her while bathing. She’d describe the fruit as if they were edible jewels on treacherous trees. Her stories of swimming in warm beaches full of fish and rocky waterfalls lingered in my ears. I was so amazed that after each story I would always ask her when she would take me, and the answer was always the same, when we could afford it. Finally, by the summer of 2006 my parents had worked very much and saved enough money to take a trip down to my mother’s country for a week. Before I knew it I was on a five-hour plane from San Diego to San Jose, Costa Rica. Little did I know that this trip would change my future.

        I had always imagined Costa Rica like my country, full of cars, buildings, paved roads, and people hurrying to everything, but as soon as walked off that plane, my whole perspective changed. Everyone greeted me as if they knew me! I saw green trees everywhere and could actually feel the moist air on my face. I had officially entered a foreign land.

       After my family rented a SUV, we began our trip to Puntarenas. My mother’s family cooked a variety of food that was waiting for us. I was familiar with pinto, black beans with rice, and platano maduro, ripe banana that’s sliced and cooked, but I didn’t know of yucca, maranon, zapotes, pipas, casados, palmito, patacones, or arepas. It took me a while to become accustomed to this new and healthy way of eating. That night, after we settled into our hotel room at Alamar, my cousins took me bike riding by the beach. I was scared of being hit by a car, but then I realized that there weren’t any. The poverty influenced most of the people to go around in beach cruisers. At one point a lady we met offered us that same day to stay at her rental house out in the country for free. I couldn’t believe how humble and generous the people were!
         Throughout that same week I took long car rides to many beaches and waterfalls. Along the way we would sometimes stop and buy coconut water or pick mangos from the trees to snack on. My parents even arranged a trip on boat to Isla de Tortuga, Turtle Island. I snorkeled in the warm and clear water and was surprised to see the fish! It was like an aquarium, but even better because it was straight up from the ocean. My favorite part of the trip was getting lost, like on our way from Rio Celeste. I was scared because the rain forest made creepy sounds at night, but then I looked out the window and saw all the stars in the sky, it was truly beautiful. To this day I cannot witness anything like I did that summer.

         As the days ended peacefully my trip began to shorten. Leaving Costa Rica was very difficult because I loved it all, the people, the animals, the beach, the food, and my new friends and family. I witnessed the poverty people lived in, but saw that it didn’t really matter. Everyone was close, happy and optimistic, just like their motto, pura vida. Costa Rica’s 100% natural, which inspires me to respect and appreciate more of Mother Nature and has influenced me to pursue a career in and study marine biology.

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