These last few days in Costa Rica have been unlike any I could have imagined and things ended in unexpected ways. To start, I would have never guessed that it would be much harder to go back home than leaving, but that in fact was the case. I started feeling the fleeting moments go by faster with each encroaching hour, and the reality of being back home has weighed down on me. This approaching end was a bit more bittersweet as I feel like I fully cemented myself into the country a lot more during my last month than the prior three months, and that may be partially due to the stronger bonds that grew during this time as I engaged more closely with the fewer people that remained, including my host family.
For instance, I got to spend holy week with them (my host family) at Jaco, in a sort of a family vacation that I had never really had the experience with before. It was so nice and pleasant the whole time as I got to see them in a new environment. I also got to interact with younger kids, children to the family that was joining us on the trip. Hearing kids speak in Spanish is very intriguing to me because growing up it wasn’t very encouraged (to speak in Spanish) as we were told that it would interfere with picking up English, which was desired at home for translation purposes and because it would apparently reap us with greater opportunities in the future. While true, it is sad to reflect on the fact that it was a bit discouraged to speak in Spanish, and that English was put on a pedestal simply for what could come out of it. Anyway, this is why hearing kids speak in Spanish, as a native tongue, is kind of exciting to me as I am always left wondering what it would have been like if that’s how my siblings and I would have grown up. Anyhow, it was nice conversing with them and it added a new perspective to my experience, that of hearing kids talk about living the life they did in Costa Rica.
I think one of the main things I will miss is these types of conversations that I had and the people that I met that I will part from until who knows when. I took advantage of these last days by walking around my nearby neighborhood as much as possible, taking in sights for the last time during this experience. I will miss strolling down avenida central, entering the bustling streets full of vendors bargaining items, the aroma of local food, the sound of music (especially marimbas), and people on the go. The mural adorned streets will remain engraved in my memory, as will the lively night life of the city.
Although there is much I can reflect on what will be missed, similarly there is much that I have gained that I will take back. I am now much more independent and confident in my ability to navigate the world. I know how flying works, what comes with adjusting, dealing with culture shock, and am so much more willing to take risks. I know this won’t be the last of my travels, and I can’t wait to see where else I can embark to.