The way I'm going to be writing up the Costa Rica trip is organized by the different places we went. So most of it will be chronological, except this part, since we stayed with Quena and her extended host family in San Pedro (near San Jose, the capital) in between all our other excursions. Between family, exchange students, and visitors, there were 11 people staying there, including Lacey and me. It was practically like a dorm or something. Most people were going in and out at different times, though, and everyone was really nice, so it never got too overwhelming.
There was one evening where we managed to collect nearly everybody in the house for dinner and could barely squeeze in around the table. Then afterwards, someone put on some music and we all started dancing in the living room. Lots of salsa and merengue -- I really wish I knew Latin dances better. But I faked a lot of stuff and had fun (I also managed to squeeze in a few Lindy Hops and West Coasts with Lacey and Quena). I like being a dancer. It's a good way to relate to new people, even if you're totally winging it. We never made it out to an actual dance somewhere, unfortunately, but that evening with everybody at home was really nice.
We tried to go to the Children's Museum in San Jose one afternoon, but found that we had arrived just in time for it to close. It's in a building that used to be a prison, and is now done up to look kind of like a castle. The Galeria Nacional is also there, so we went and looked through that. I really hope that wasn't the main repository of art for all of Costa Rica, because there wasn't a whole lot to it. There were some paintings I liked, though, and it was interesting walking through old prison cells to look at them.
We got to visit the Universidad, where Quena is taking classes. The mascot there is the Girasol -- a sunflower -- which I think is just a great mascot. (This coming from someone whose college mascot was a tree, of course.) We found a free show that the theater group there was doing that afternoon, so we went and watched it. A couple of the acts, though, were made up of nonsensical text that the students had to interpret dramatically somehow, so that was really strange to deal with in Spanish, at least for me.
Speaking of Spanish, it's been way too long since I took any classes in it. I was generally okay on the amount of stuff I could understand, as long as people were speaking clearly and not too fast. (Though the bus driver yelling at me for standing in the wrong place was completely incomprehensible.) But speaking was really difficult for me. It doesn't help that I don't talk a whole lot normally. Adding in the fact that I had to translate everything before I said it pretty much ground me to a halt a lot of the time. I think I was getting a tad better by the end, but I could really have used a lot more practice. Still, I got by. Mostly with the help of Lacey and Quena, of course.
Here's a picture of Julie, the silly little dog. The first evening I was there, I picked her up. She immediately put her hind legs in my hand, stood up as tall as she could, wedged her head under my jaw, and just stayed there. Very odd. She would also bark like crazy whenever anyone came up to the door. She was fun to play with, though.
Coming up: Tortuguero, Montezuma, and Volcán Arenal. All photos are here.