Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The study abroad program with ISA (International Studies Abroad) includes three excursions. This weekend we went on the first to the beach Tamarindo. Tamarindo is in Guanacaste (a providence) which is in the north of the Costa Rica.  The bus ride to the beach was about six hours, and we left right at 1pm right after the Spanish classes. While the bus ride was very long, we did get to see a lot of the countryside on the way there and back.  I was surprised by how few towns there were along the way.  Most of Costa Rica is very rural. While the homes were very similar to the homes in San Jose, the towns were similar to small country towns in the Midwest. Many people were barefoot and traveled by bike. We arrived at the hotel, Tamarindo Diria, an hour before dinner. Dinner was a traditional Costa Rican dinner with a show of traditional dancing after dinner.  

Saturday morning I awoke early and went for a swim in the ocean.  The morning was beautiful.  The tide was in and there were very few people on the beach or in the water. After a wonderful traditional breakfast of pineapple, papaya, kiwi, grapes, gallo pinto (rice and beans), and coffee and orange juice, a group of us walked along the beach. We had a great time exploring the tidal pools and swimming in the ocean.  In the tidal pools, we found hermit crabs, baby lobsters, minnows, sea anemones, and coral. We walked the whole length of the beach during the morning. We collected some beautiful seashells, sand dollars, and a huge, perfect conch shell. 

After lunch, I went shopping down the main street. Interestingly, most of the prices in the stores were in dollars. The prices in Tamarindo were much higher than in San Jose.  Most of the clothing was well over $30, sandals were $20, and swimsuits were $100 or more.  I didn’t buy any souvenirs because they were very expensive.  However, I did buy two bracelets from a street vendor.  I bargained with her in Spanish and was able to buy two bracelets for $8.  In the stores, the same bracelets were sold for $10 apiece!

Sailing on the Marlin del Rey
At 1pm, sixty of us boarded a huge catamaran, and sailed to a secluded beach.  Once at the beach, most of us went snorkeling.  Snorkeling was amazing!  I felt like I was visiting a completely alien world for that hour.  The water was very clear, and I was able to see tons of fish. The rocks were gray, so most of the fish weren’t very colorful, but there were so many different kinds that the time passed quickly as I tried to follow every single one!  The crevices in the rocks were like avenues for the fish to swim down.  After swimming, we had a BBQ lunch (at 3pm) and sailed back to the main beach area to watch the sunset. 

Ocean view from my room balcony

Sunday morning I took a swim in the ocean.  This morning I was the only person in the water.  I also spent more time walking on the beach and watching the pelicans and seagulls feed.  Many of the other students took surfing lessons. At 1pm we left Tamarindo. The bus ride back was very quiet as we were all exhausted from a very exciting weekend! Pura Vida!

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