So in my brief introduction about this class that I wrote last post, I forgot to mention that we’re going to have a class blog, which will be updated much more frequently than I’ll be able to update my own. So here is the link for that so you can check that out for more detail of our activities & what we’re learning about each day: http://tropicalecology2012.blogspot.com/
It has been a whirlwind these first few days: a long first day of travel, followed by a long introductory day that for me was all about experiencing things in reality that I have been reminiscing/dreaming about for the last 6 months. I’ve been realizing there are things I didn’t even know I missed. There were brand new things (like going to INBio: the national institute for biodiversity, a little oasis of nature in the middle of bustling Heredia (near San Jose), and there were some near and dear familiar things (like going to ACM to have a lecture from Chris on scarlet macaws). While at ACM, I got to see some of the staff (Alejandra and Yvette, who remembered me! – I was a little scared they would have already forgotten me, with the amount of students they have). It was even just surreal to be back in the building – in a way it felt like I’ve only been gone for a short vacation, and I was back again for classes (I even sat in my usual spot during the lecture , and we got the familiar delicious arroz con leche that Yvette makes).
Actually, the really surreal/crazy/awesome part was that I was able to go visit my host family in San Jose. I skipped class dinner to take a cab all the way across the city (too bad I couldn’t have gone right from ACM – I could have even taken the bus!) Perfect timing, it was my older sister’s birthday, so the whole family was together to have cake and ice cream. (I’m so mad that I forgot to bring my camera!) My older sister got married this past summer and so she does not actually live with them anymore, and I could tell my younger siblings have grown, but being there all together was like nothing had changed. I got to hear all of the phrases, spoken with such great tico accents, that provided instant flashbacks and warm fuzzy feelings of being home. My spanish was a little rusty, but it quickly came back when I got time to sit and chat with my mom and sister, and I realized that ACM delivers in its promise to pair you with host families who take you in as part of their family; I will have a special bond with these people for the rest of my life.
The night got even better as I went from my house to meet up with some of my good friends from San Jose, of course at our favorite bar, Caccios. Of course I got an Olaffo (a giant mug of Costa Rican beer), and then we went out to a few other popular bars in the area. We dedicated a drink to all of our fellow ACM students who were missing, and I even got to salsa dance again (another thing at which I was a bit rusty, but I think it came back after a while, thanks to a good leader). Crazily, while at a new bar, I ran into another friend from Costa Rica – who I actually met on my rural stay, but he is a student at the UCR and so he is back in San Pedro. What are the chances – classes aren’t in session now – and we just happened to see each other!!? It was so much fun! The whole day/night was just great; there were many different emotions involved, but mostly good.
Since this is getting very long (and a little mushy), lets go to list form, to wrap up my feelings of the first few days. I will write more about what the class has done since we’ve left San Jose in my next post…
Things that, now that I’m back, I realize even more how much I’ve missed them/things that make me reminisce or feel like I’m home:
-Sounds, like the call of certain birds that I’ve only heard here (flycatchers, oropendulas, grackels, etc) and frogs, the little geckos on my wall . I’m looking forward to even more, like the call of howler monkeys and the sound of waves on the ocean.
-Phrases, like “con much gusto” (with pleasure) for “you’re welcome”, “¡Que dicha!”, the ones of my family, and some from my friends which I probably shouldn’t repeat.
-Smells/Tastes: humid air, cacao pulp (stole some today from a tree at CATIE, shh don’t tell), the fruit (well, I knew I missed that), etc.
- Pura Vida.