(Everything Since) Nicaragua

 

When was the last time I updated you all on my adventures here? After consulting my sources, I see that it was Nicaragua, back in February. Wow! Time flies for sure. Now it is April, and I just finished my last class of sophomore year, and soon I’ll be with my parents for a fun-filled week traveling Costa Rica…

I love sharing what new crazy thing I have attempted because I get to live it all over again, and have it recorded while it’s still fresh in my memory for the years to come. Without further ado, a picture-filled update.

After Nicaragua, we started our third module, which for me was Literature with Literarturo (his name is Arturo, but “Literarturo” is so much more fun). Also, let’s keep him in our prayers, because he will be a dad in May. Que emocion! During this time, we went on a coffee tour to learn about the way that such high quality coffee is produced here in Costa Rica, and it was a very good time.  The people leading the tour were fun, interactive, and knowledgeable. The coffee was super expensive though!

We were also offered the opportunity to go to an animal rescue ranch, which had toucans, parrots, and sloths, but I was not feeling up to it, so while it would have been really special, I made the wise decision to stay back and take care of myself. There I go, already applying the lessons I have been learning to take good care of myself.

The second week of this module, my good friends since 1st grade (I think it was kinder, but Jessica always corrects me) came to visit me for their spring break!! Thank you Jessica and Phillip for coming down here! It was a pleasure to meet Robert, and I so thoroughly enjoyed being able to show you around this place where I have been living.  Thank you for being impressed at my Spanish skills and for appreciating my same silly Erin-ness that so defines me.

Jess, Phillip and Robert went to travel for the week while I finished up my third module, and then when they boarded their flight home, I was in a tour bus on my way to where they’d just spent spring break: Volcan Arenal! While there, my group and I swam in La Fortuna waterfall, stayed at a resort hotel, enjoyed the natural hot springs, and went ziplining.

Arenal flowed directly into Semana Santa, for which I was home, mostly alone with my host family for the week. (Besides when Marr and I went to send postcards — props to you Marr!)  Semana Santa was, for me, a lot of time in my room reading, resting, and thinking.  It also brought a strong wave of homesickness that, in some way or another, has carried me through to the end of the semester. Weird, right? That missing home could somehow help me get through these last five weeks? But so it was: realizing how much I love everyone from home and simultaneously trying to enjoy my last few weeks here has been a joyful burden to bear. How blessed am I to be able to say that I have such an incredible support system, both here and at home. Blessed beyond understanding, for sure.

Semana Santa (Holy Week) celebrations were ongoing throughout the week, with lots of low key processions and Holy Hours for the first few days, and on Holy Thursday, I went to Holy Thursday Mass, with the Washing of the Feet. The symbolism was especially beautiful because they selected young people from the parish community to have their feet washed. Oh, by the way: I went to a Saturday vigil Mass for Palm Sunday, which actually did not include the blessings of the palms at the beginning, but the Church was beautiful, we celebrated the Holy Eucharist, and they did all the normal readings (of course), with the different people reading the different parts.  The laity did not seem to have the Gospel with them, so I was the only one (that I could hear) who responded with the crowd part, calling out “Crucificalo, crucificalo!”

Holy Thursday Mass was beautiful, and afterwards, the priest walked the Eucharist around the perimeter of the Church to bring Him to the Altar of Repose, where they have Eucharistic Adoration available every day before Mass.  I was at first unsure of where they were going, but then I realized that they had decorated the side chapel as the Garden of Gethsemane (which I will be going to this summer *squeals*).  Here are some pictures of Holy Thursday:

 

Then, on Good Friday, I went with my Mamá tica to the procession at 9am, with the statue of Christ carrying His Cross. My host family has the tradition of doing a family lunch on Good Friday, so she left for that around 11:30. She felt bad for leaving me at the procession alone, but I was glad to have the time to be alone, go my own pace, and enter into the day without having to worry about what she wanted to do.

The processions were a very special thing to be a part of. I can’t really explain it, because it was a time that I share with God, and a whole bunch of strangers, and I can’t explain what it was like to see the community celebrating the day with such reverence and devotion. I feel honored to have been a part of it.

Saturday came, a day of recollection and quiet. Being here, having nothing to do, was strange, because during Holy Week, it didn’t feel right to sleep in and pamper myself, and it didn’t feel right to be idle. That left me with a lot of thinking to do, and a lot of getting stuck in my own head. But once I decided to pass my time at the Church, thinking and praying with God, He helped me to get me out of myself and to think about all those things in the context of His plan for me in the context of salvation history. No, I didn’t come to any big revelations, but in focusing my heart and my head back on Him, I was brought a step further into His Ocean of Mercy.

I went to the Easter Vigil with my host mom and sister, and it was beautiful, of course! Then my host mom and I went to Easter Mass at a convent up in the mountains above Heredia.

Cue Easter celebrations, and the start of the FINAL module here! Time really flew for me, regardless of how much I wish I could have shared the time with my loved ones from home. We went as a program (read: 35+ people) to a futbol game, Costa Rica vs. Jamaica! It was super fun, and Costa Rica ganó, 3-0!

Abbie and I attended enough of our acondicimiento fisico classes to not have to take the final test, so we went to Monte de la Cruz together instead.  Monte de la Cruz: a lovely, super fun adventure which I am glad to have shared with a lovely, super girl. We got lost in the woods (sorry, Mom) which was a little worrisome (to me, not to Abbie who is super brave and was totally in her element). We spent a few hours in nature, took a lot of pictures of nice flowers and us together, and got some exercise, and generally just enjoyed the time together. Abbie has been one of the most special friends that I have made here. Buddy, you are always welcome in DC or Arizona, whichever you can visit first!

Wow, Manuel Antonio…this was my second of three times in Manuel Antonio. The first was for waterfall rappelling, and the last will be with my parents. This time, though, I hiked the National Park with Tim and Kelsey, and I went parasailing. That was beautiful. About three seconds of “que estoy haciendo??” and then a lot of joy and amazement and “I am so glad I did that!” All in all, a beautiful weekend!

Poas was our last excursion together, and it was definitely a good one. About this time, we started actually talking about how quickly this time has gone for us, and how none of us could have imagined the group being any different. It is crazy to think about how much these people have become a, what, second? third? fourth? family to me. Without further ado…Volcan Poas!

I went to a feria agricola (agricultural fair) one weekend with Jenny, Catherine, and Hannah, and I loved seeing all the fresh fruits and vegetables. This was a good way to spend my second-to-last Saturday, for sure. I love the produce here! It’s so fresh; a lot (if not all) of the vendors probably brought their crops from home the day before to sell Friday night and all day Saturday.

 

For the last weekend, I went into San Jose with Kelsey, Meagan, Tino, and Abbie for some souvenir shopping, and then on Saturday I mostly hung out around Heredia. On Sunday, though, I had the most special day! My mama, papa, y hermana ticos took me to Orosi Valley, to Cartago, to a pool in Cachi, and just generally on the most special sort of day. I felt like I was really part of the family, and doing something where I was the only white girl certainly solidified how happy I am that I chose to live with a host family. This family has been one of the grandest blessings. I haven’t downloaded pictures from that day yet, so you’ll have to wait until I am back in the USA for those!

Y ya! Hablamos cuando regreso a los EEUU. Ya vienen mis padres!

(That’s that! We’ll talk when I get back to the States! My parents will be here super soon!)

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