An early morning walk through the mist, is it going to actually rain? The sky looks like it might unleash its fury at any moment. But for now, the air is cool and humid, the clouds linger low on the mountains that surround the city on every side, and the indescribably perfect aroma of the coffee roasting plant wafts up to me as I walk. It’s like a woodpile, and like well done (but not burnt) toast…the scent thicker than I would normally experience in one of the cities I’ve lived, with their dry air.
I love my little neighborhood. It’s nothing fancy. I need to be aware of my surroundings all the time, but I think that’s just part of life here. It’s cute too. It’s got a few little cafes and a smoothie shop, a soccer field and a walking track, and the oddest assortment of houses all stacked together like tiny fortresses on uneven ground.
After nearly 2 weeks here, these are my 5 favorite first impressions:
- I love that Ticos (Costa Ricans) love rotisserie chicken. They have a serious thing for it! It’s like an entire country in love with Costco chicken…are we for real? Sweet blessings. Not only do they have them in the grocery stores and even one of the home stores (kind of like Big Lots), but they have little chicken shops on the corner to buy a rotisserie beauty on the way home. Or there’s also “Rosti Pollo” where they’ll give you a chicken quarter and a tortilla and some plantains. Boom.
- It doesn’t matter what kind of store you go in, you can buy shoes there. I have now been in the grocery store, the home goods stores (both nice and cheap and dollar store type too!), I have even been to the hardware store and seen shoes for sale! Downtown, near the central market, there is an entire street of shoes. This is the right place for me to be, for sure.
- I LOVE the Féria–the market on Saturday mornings. It’s this cute little farmer’s market just 4 streets away from me, right in the middle of my little neighborhood. It’s not like an American farmer’s market, with trinkets and crafts and fancy things and maybe a few stands of vegetables, but it is pretty much all food. Last week, and again today, I bought all my produce and eggs also for the week for under $20, all of it grown pretty locally. I loved going to one guy for my carrots and potatoes, another for pineapple, and then browsing the stands for the fruits I’m not familiar with. Last week I bought what I have heard called “rambutan”, but here they call it “mamón chino”. Yum.
- I love the warmth and friendliness of Latino culture, making people feel loved and welcome. I can hardly wait to learn Spanish enough to truly connect in friendship with people here. Language school (an immersion program) starts in 10 days for me. At the moment, I feel completely incompetent and can hardly hold a conversation with a 3 year old…it’s beyond humbling and makes my eagerness to dive into language learning so much greater.
- I love the afternoon rain. I’ll say it now and reflect in a year to see if I still feel this way. Last week, I was sitting up in my little loft (it’s my art space and office space too), listening to the rain drum on my skylight. The roof is tin, the skylight is plastic or plexiglass or something. The house is cement and carries sound VERY well. What words best describe it? Hammering. Drumming. Maybe pounding? It engulfs every inch of the house in sound, and feels like I am deep within a cave, or in the belly of a great beast. I love it, in some odd way it’s soothing, far more than the quick or light rains that we get in Colorado.
Now, these are are surface level observations. I have nothing to say yet about culture, relationships or ministry…I have been here exactly 2 weeks and most of it has been spent just getting acquainted with the city and my teammates. I do have some other things to write…maybe I’ll call that “the good and the difficult”, and I’ll share that next.
In the meantime, here’s some of my favorite photos from the past 2 weeks: