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Next chapter of stories to tell: the return to San José. Like I expected, there are some good things, but there are definitely things that I miss about my rural stay, above all the food. Lucky for me, ACM keeps us stocked with chocolate from Finmac, so I can still get my daily fix, but it’s just not quite the same as getting it warm straight from the mixer like I could when I was with the Amazilia women. Same with my fruit and veggies: I still get some fresh foods, but its just not the same as picking it right from the tree outside my house. The other big difference is the pace of life: I had a hard time distinguishing if my time in el campo felt like it went fast or slow, but eventually I realized it was neither – it was just experiencing a certain amount of time for what it really was. Back here in San Jose our days are filled with work and activities and socializing, which means due dates and schedules and a little less time to just be. It also means my mid-days are once again filled with English – one thing that I’m not too happy about when I realize I only have 2-3 weeks left and still so much I want to learn.

Buut, just because I’m nearing the end of my program and am mostly consumed by the thought of finishing my final paper and presentation, it doesn’t mean that I’m not still having great experiences. The first of the two that I’m going to tell you about this post is our class trip that we took to see Volcán Irazú. We left San José in the early morning and I was a little worried/bummed about the weather conditions: it was much cloudier than it had been, and I thought it might take away from our experience of seeing the volcano. I soon realized the simple solution we had for that problem: we just went above the clouds. Although I’m sure the view of the valley below would have been amazing without the clouds, I also really enjoyed looking down upon them – that for me is normally a sight reserved only for rides in airplanes.

Looking down on the clouds

As our bus wound up the side of Irazú we were also rewarded with a spectacular view of another volcano, Volcán Turrialba, along with the column of gases that it emits almost constantly. For me it was especially neat to see Turrialba like we did – that was the volcano that I could see on clear mornings while working in the pastures of Finmac or on the bus ride to Guapiles. Once we reached the park area near the peak of Irazu, we walked with our guide volcanologist Jorge to see the sulfuric lake in the main crater and learn more about volcanology. Next, we hiked up to the highest point of the volcano, during which time I realized that I was at the highest altitude that I’ve ever been! We were at 3432 m, or about 11,260 feet! I definitely could feel the altitude as I was huffing and puffing during our hike up the hill. Our luck eventually ran out – by the time we reached the top, some clouds had arrived to block our view. However, it was another neat experience to be engulfed in a cloud, and it kind of felt like we were on the edge of the world…

Volcán Turrialba smoking, as see from the side of Irazu

Principle crater of Irazú

Looking out over the edge of the world

The next experience I want to share was another cultural experience I had the following weekend: my first “real” (National level) Costa Rican soccer game. Through another ACM student’s host brother, we made a last-minute decision to go to Alejuela to watch the semi-final game between La Liga (Alejuela) and Heredia. The only way to describe the atmosphere surrounding the game (beginning even on the bus ride to Alejuela) is: feverish. It was impossible not to get wrapped up in the intensity and passion that the crowd emitted. It became very apparent the moment we arrived in Alejuela: walking to the stadium you could hear the chants and songs shouted by La Liga fans getting stronger and stronger, along with increased numbers of policia and fuerza publica lining the streets. We were outside of the stadium to see the arrival of both teams, which was quite the show of the band of police on horseback pushing back the throngs of boisterous fans so the buses and players could safely pass.

The fever continued once we were inside the stadium for the game. We had incredibly great “seats” (we were standing the whole time, of course) – right on the center line, and above a tunnel entrance to the stadium, so no one in front of us with their crazy hats and noisemakers to block our view. It was a great game – La Liga scored enough goals to win and to make it into the finals (we needed two, but they scored four – so it was a very exciting game!) and I definitely learned some new vocabulary – the kind we don’t usually get to learn in the classroom. After the win, the Liga passion continued all the way home: walking down the streets of Alejuela starting cheers with random groups of Liga fans, hearing car horns honk the Liga rhythm all the way back to San Jose and even around San Pedro and Curridibat (neighborhoods where we live). My throat/voice probably didn’t really appreciate the night, but I sure did. The whole experience was pretty crazy – and it was only the semi-finals! Unfortunately, tickets are already sold out for the final games (La Liga vs. San Carlos), but I enjoyed the experience so much I am definitely now a Ligista and I will be watching the final games rooting for La Liga.

Great seats close to mid-field! (And our new Liga Jerseys)

Liga Campeon, Liga liga liga campeon!

Outside the stadium after the game

¡¿Cual equipo es el major? ¡LIGA LIGA SI SEÑOR!!

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Posted May 11, 2011 by rwieme in Uncategorized

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