Sometimes when people check in with me (which I really appreciate, by the way!), they ask if I will be ready to come home from my five month vacation. There is no doubt that I have been lucky to have this opportunity, or that I have been a tourist a time or two. However, a part of me still wants to reply with, “I’m not on vacation. I live here.”
Even though I run off to a volcano now and then, I spend most of my time doing the things I would be doing in the US in an average week. I spend time with my (host) family, go to school, talk to my boyfriend (on Skype), do homework, go out to eat with my friends, go to the bank, pet my dog, and scroll though a plethora of “OMG!”-worthy posts on facebook.
The acclimation process was difficult for me, and I worried I would never feel comfortable living in Costa Rica, let alone come to love it. And yet, I have reached a point where I’m excited to go home and see everyone I miss, but simultaneously heartbroken to think about leaving behind the life that I have established here in my home-away-from-home.
A trip to Nicaragua caused me to realize just how much I feel connected to my Heredia home. I had previously made incorrect assumptions about the similarities of the countries of Latin America. Seeing instant differences in the looks, language, and habits of the people as we crossed into Nicaragua showed me how wrong I had been.
Our first stop was the beautiful beach town of San Juan del Sur. Although it is a tourist destination, it was more quaint and beautiful than I had expected.
San Juan del Sur is also home to the 2nd largest Jesus statue in the world!
From San Juan del Sur, we went north to Granada. I wasn’t feeling well, but I knew that I would regret staying in the hostel while my friends viewed the colorful colonial town. I was right. I don’t like to choose favorites, but Granada really tried to change that!
We explored museums, climbed a bell tower for a view of the town (pictured below), and bought some cheap, but lovely souvenirs.
On what could easily be called the most jam-packed weekend of my life, we headed next to the capital city of Managua. Here, we were so lucky to meet and stay with an ISEP coordinator, who gave us background about the country, insight on what it’s like to be a blonde living in Latin America, and a really great experience in a city that’s often not thought to be worth visiting. Pictured below is the view from the pier at Lake Managua.
Managua was rich with history, cultural landmarks, and friendly people willing to discuss the past and the present state of the country. We were also lucky enough to stumble upon some young people performing traditional dances, and they were so cool!
I had been warned that the infrastructure of Nicaragua is not as established as in Costa Rica, that poverty is more prevalent, and not to drink the water. I did get really sick, so someone might have been on point with that last bit. Regardless of the rough parts of the weekend, I will remember it fondly for a long time!
Below is a picture of me with the flags of all the Central American countries. Although I’m holding tightly to my “home” country of Costa Rica, I am excited that I was able to briefly experience Nicaragua and expand my cultural knowledge.