Biting my nails I approached the young lady at the customer’s desk. With a few short questions about where I was staying she waved me through, no hassle, I couldn’t believe it. WOOHOO!!! I headed for the exit, constantly nervous that someone was going to ask me to turn around and go back, but nothing.
As arranged, on the other side a taxi man was waiting to collect me and take me to my hostel, Traquilo Backpackers. As I drove through what seemed like a very quiet city I took in the banana trees and the city lights. What a fantastic contrast. It seemed I would like staying here a lot. I checked in to my room in which Rachael, another volunteer, was waiting, it was so good to vent on someone about my hectic journey.
First thing on Saturday morning we rose early to walk to our first day of training at the Aliarse office (the company who have organised the volunteering). Throughout the week we went through a variety of easy teaching techniques and cultural differences between the UK/USA and Costa Rica; all fairly basic stuff to be honest.
As the week past I became more familiar with San Jose and found that, despite first impressions, it wasn’t actually what I expected. Despite there being a lot of people downtown there wasn’t actually a lot to do; other third world African countries have more of a buzz then San Jose. The whole city feels dirty, with lots of cars and busses around ‘Central Avenue’. The city is also notorious and so therefor rife in prostitution; you see the local ‘Tico’ and the Western tourist opening up their doors as they pull up to a street corner.
Luckily the week drew to a close quickly and on Thursday our local partners (the liaison between the company Aliarse and our host families) came to collect us to bring us to our villages. Sedie, my local partner and her husband Daniel were lovely. On the way through we stopped at a near town, Santos Maria, to sample some coffee, which may I add, was the best I have ever had. After we had finished we hopped back into the car and drove to the village. As we proceeded through the beautiful mountains I gazed in awe at diversity of rocks and trees contrasted with a perfect blue sky. ‘Welcome to Copey de Dota, the real Costa Rica’ Sedie said as we pasted the borders. This is more like it I thought.