Spanish Immersion and Adventures in Costa Rica

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Them: Why are you going to Costa Rica? Why do you want to learn Spanish?

Me: ๐Ÿ˜€ Why not? Okay, here’s the longer answer: Spanish is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world! There are many Central and South American countries [+SPAIN] that I would like to visit where knowing some Spanish will make my visit more enjoyable. There are many people who speak Spanish in my own town! I think Europeans are admirable for their learn-as-many-languages-as-possible mindset. And I want to challenge myself and thereby widen my comfort zone. Also, Costa Rica has the best Spanish immersion school [TICO LINGO!!].

What I found out when I arrived in Costa Rica is that the local people [“Ticos”] are very, very nice, the climate [if you don’t mind humidity] is fabulous, and the food is really delicious.

I spent two weeks in the country, living with a local homestay family [matched perfectly by Tico Lingo staff], and taking little adventures into the nearby countryside. My “Tico mama” made me the best vegetarian food each day and my “Tico papa” helped me practice my Spanish. They were so patient with me and so very kind. Being based in the town of Heredia was ideal because the distances were walkable and the neighborhoods were safe. I was very impressed with how well organized and well planned things were from airport transportation to weekend outings. I highly recommend the Tico Lingo Spanish Immersion school experience.

I had group classes for nine days [four hours each afternoon], but managed to squeeze in lots of adventures either in the mornings or on the weekends. Here’s where I was able to go: Toucan Rescue Ranch, Isla Tortuga, Tortuguero National Park, Hacienda La Chimba, San Jose, and the beach town of Jaco.

I LOVED the hike at Hacienda La Chimba [first six photos above], even though it was not an easy climb! The most recent price is $15 for foreigners and you will need to trek through coffee fields for around 5km to reach the most interesting photo opportunity, the hand! The Toucan Rescue Ranch is a small rehabilitation center, where they have birds, sloths, and a few other creatures who aren’t able to live in the wild. They discourage photography, because of the effect it can have on wildlife [some people sell the opportunity for tourists to take photos with animals that have been subdued in cruel ways].

It was my greatest bus adventure to get to the little beach town of Jaco [second seven photos above]. Without the Moovit App, Google Translate, and a big dose of courage, I probably wouldn’t have even tried this. I think most tourists rent a car to get around the countryside. The people selling tickets, the bus drivers, and most of the people riding on the bus, didn’t speak much English [if any]. I mistakenly spent way too much money buying a ticket all the way to and from Paso Canoas [on the Panama border]. I probably should have only spent around 6,000 colones [$12] on my journey, but my round trip ticket was $20,000 colones [$40]! Of course, that wasn’t even my destination. Big oops. So I hopped off the bus in Jaco [no actual bus stop there for this direct bus] and figured out how to get a different bus ticket back to San Jose later that afternoon. Everything worked out, and I learned from my silly mistake.

Jaco is hotter than the central valley region, so having the ocean nearby is helpful! I hiked up just high enough to get a bird’s eye view of the beach and town and then walked along the shore with my feet in the water. I was hoping to go waterfall rappelling [Jaco is a hotspot for tourist adventures], but it was already too late in the day to make a reservation, so I went ziplining in Carara Adventure Park instead. I’m just excited that I was able to make the solo trip here by bus!

San Jose [seven photos above] is the capital city of Costa Rica and isn’t usually the top place tourists want to go. It’s a unique and interesting city, with several museums and some beautiful parks, but yeah, I would agree that it’s not the best destination. There isn’t much to do here, unless you really enjoy cities and all that comes with them. I visited the Museo Nacional, the Teatro Nacional, the little zoo, the art museum, and just did a lot of wandering…

Heredia [next four photos] is a busy place too, but it has a different vibe from San Jose. It’s a college town, with lots of families and young adults, plenty of restaurants and cafes, and it’s very walkable. I couldn’t believe how many tomatoes were on display in one of the grocery stores, or how many people came with piles of fruits and vegetables to the farmer’s market!

My two biggest adventures [with tour groups] were to Tortuguero National Park and Turtle Island. The next ten photos will show you the river channels we went through, looking for birds and caiman. We also hiked up into a rainforest jungle where we found some poisonous frogs, howler monkeys, and a tarantula! The little village of Tortuguero is only accessible by boat, with an ocean beach on one side and river access on the other. This was an exciting adventure!

But I’ve saved the best for last!! This was a long day, starting on the bus before sunrise, transferring to a catamaran for two to three hours, then finally arriving at Turtle Island! The boat ride was so fun and the views were incredible! The white sandy beach and the warm water just made for a perfect destination. Don’t forget the coconut water and definitely take a spin on the banana boat! ๐Ÿ™‚

Those are the highlights!! Fill in the gaps with afternoon rain showers [I bought an umbrella!], sweet juicy mango, pineapple, papaya and other fruits, classes with fun people, and lots of Spanish words and phrases constantly running through my mind. I made new friends, expanded my comfort zone, and checked off my first Central American country, so the trip was a roaring success! I really can’t wait to go back to the northern part of Costa Rica to do some more exploring and keep practicing my Spanish! ๐Ÿ™‚

Muchas gracias to everyone who made my visit so enjoyable!!


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Hi, I’m Laura

I’m based in Washington State and will definitely be showcasing local destinations, but this girl loves to fly all over the world!! If you love adventures and frugal travel, stick with me!

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