From the second I stepped off the airplane in Costa Rica, I knew my trip would be an experience I would never forget. And I was not wrong. The people I met, the experiences I shared, and the adventures I embarked upon were nothing short of truly amazing. As I walked along the palm tree lined airport road, their was something substantially different in the air – and it wasn’t just the humidity. It was a certain feeling, almost a premonition; I knew something great was going to come out of my 10 days in this beautiful country.
Our first stop in Costa Rica was at a little breakfast buffet style restaurant. After an entire day of traveling without a proper meal, I was starving and more than excited to have my first Costa Rican meal experience. However, it did not go as smoothly as I had hoped. This was the moment in which I realized how difficult communication really would be – not being able to speak Spanish was a real hindrance. Being unable to ask what was what and what things were made of, I just pointed at random things and watched nervously as the server filled my plate. The foods I had for breakfast that day were very hit or miss – the cheese enchilada was a hit, the obscure bean-banana dish was a miss.
A couple days into the trip, we made our way to the village of San Gerardo, where our host families were. I stayed with Rosibel and Mariellos Gonzales. Rosibel is a 17 year old girl, just like me. She speaks English relatively well. I was very thankful to be in a house with an English speaker. I was even more thankful to be in a house with Rosi. Being with a girl my age really allowed me to put things in perspective. Rosi’s 17; I’m 17. We should be doing the same things, living similar lives. But Rosi’s life is very different than mine. Rosi has cystic fibrosis, a chronic illness that requires immense medical attention. Her hospital bills are extremely expensive. So much so that Rosi can no longer afford to attend school. Hearing Rosi tell me this was truly heart breaking. Here I am, complaining about all the homework I have and taking school for granted when just a plane ride away, Rosi is sitting at home fantasizing about being in a classroom. If I could bring one thing back home with me, it would be Rosi. She deserves to have the opportunity to go to school and pursue a career. She told me her ultimate dream is to become a Spanish teacher in the United States. I wish I could bring her home with me so she could make that dream a reality.