The Last Hoorah!!

This post is overdue but things escalated quickly and I’m still processing all that’s happened. It covers my last week in Costa Rica and the many goodbyes that rapidly emerged as my study abroad time got cut short.

Today is Monday March 9th. The Coronavirus is here in Costa Rica but so far there’s only three confirmed cases of travelers coming back from Italy. This morning we went to a beautiful home for some relaxing yoga. Talk about house goals- there were plants everywhere and earth colored walls and furniture and a huge pool in the backyard. We went to La Concha Tuesday night which is a small bar that’s free every Tuesday night but because of the virus they had relocated everything to outside. All the workers wore gloves and walked around sanitizing the tables every five minutes and everywhere you looked was a bottle of hand sanitizer! Some students from our school are starting to be sent home since their home states are in states of emergency, but K-State said its our programs decision as to whether or not we get sent home. In my Tropical Ecology class we had an interesting speaker who talked about illegal fishing practices and how it impacts the environment, poverty and pretty much every aspect of life. By-catch is a major issue here as fisherman use long line nets and don’t have any way to specifically catch the types they are trying to. Mariana and I were super bored after dinner so we decided to make cookies!! They quadrupled in size in the oven and basically made one giant cookie but we ate them anyways while watching Me before You. Wednesday was a sad day- Alexis called and said the trip to Costa Rica is cancelled because the Peace Corp isn’t allowing any international travel. That really sucks because we had so many cool places planned out to go to and I was excited for her and mom to get to meet my host family and see my school and everything but I guess that gives us the excuse to take a trip to Costa Rica soon to make up for it! Made an impulse purchase of matching earrings with my friend Anna-Grace because why not! They’re handmade spirals made from tin and are super cute. On Friday we headed to Puerto Viejo to the Caribbean coast and our last beach weekend! Our AirBnB was the ~cutest~ with a straw hut roof and open walls and windows to let the warm breeze in. There were hammocks hanging inside and a huge plate of fruit waiting for us when we got there! I slept with a mosquito net for the first time and was not the biggest fan as I flop around a lot in my sleep and was scared I would accidentally rip it down unknowingly. Thankfully that didn’t happen but I must not have had it up right because I woke up with around five mosquito bites on my ankles, right where the shoe rubs ugh. We had a big family dinner of pasta that night and played our favorite game of Spicy Uno- can’t wait to teach all my friends back home how to play because it’s the best. On Saturday we took a nature trail to get to the beach and found a baby octopus and a perfect photo-op rope swing on the way. The beach was nice but there was a very strong rip current in the waves so we didn’t spend much time in the water. They warned us about rip currents day 1 but this was my first time actually experiencing one and let me tell ya- it’s pretty scary. Dinner that night was at a sushi place in town- no one got sushi but all the food was delicious. We cheered to our last trip all together- it wasn’t supposed to be the last weekend but people had field trips the next week so we wouldn’t be together anyways. Our plan Sunday was to ride to a black sand beach, Playa Negra, and relax there until our bus left in the afternoon but as we were walking out the door we got the devastating email from ISA that we were all being sent home and had to leave by Friday. I figured it was coming, but it still hit hard when the doubts I’d had very quickly became a reality. We didn’t want that news to ruin our last time at the beach though so we decided to not talk about it and pretend we hadn’t read the email. That didn’t really happen but we still made the most of our time on the beach and rented some bikes to ride around town for a bit. My friend accidentally lost our key to the bike chain, which is easy to do because the key was the size of a fingernail, so we got to spend time looking for it on the beach while our other friends rode back into town to the bike dude to get a spare. There’s no way we would have found it due to its size and the fact that all the black sand sparkled like a shiny key too. The bike guy rode back out with our friends and a chain of over 30 keys, but somehow the first one he tried worked and we were good to go! It’s funny because I’m sure anywhere else the owner would have been annoyed with a lost key and charged us to replace it but he just came out to help with the biggest smile on his face, simply thinking it was funny we had lost the key, and didn’t seem to care at all that his key was gone now. People on the beach live a different life that’s for sure. I spent our four hour bus ride back to San Jose watching the beautiful scenery of Costa Rica pass by one last time and reflecting on how thankful I am for getting this experience even if it was being cut short. My host family welcomed me back with big hugs as they’d heard the news about all of us being sent home early and made a nice traditional dinner to cheer me up. Changing my flight was quite the time as all the lines are busy with so many travelers needing changes now. On the 16th, Costa Rica declared a State of Emergency and announced it’s closing all its schools and restaurants as cases there have escalated quickly- my classes have been moved to online but with only two weeks left it’s pretty much just turning in final projects and doing a few Zoom classes to wrap the semester up. Instead of two weeks I was given two days to get packed and say goodbye to everyone- goodbyes really suck and I’ve never been good at them so hopefully everyone knows how much I appreciate them even if my words can’t express it. My host family continues to be the greatest and are sending me home with a big bag of chocolates, coffee and some of my favorite beans! On March 17th I said goodbye to my host family, my home, and of course Tommy, and headed to the airport to return back to the states.

New post on reverse culture shock and international travel during a Pandemic coming as soon as I get adjusted to life back home.

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