I don’t think I’ve ever seen a school as beautiful as this one. Nestled in a valley between coffee and sugarcane plantations, it’s not at all unusual to see a family of cows wander by the classroom window. The classrooms are simple but comfortable; one even replaces chairs with hammocks.
We get there every morning around 8:00 when the bus we meet in Carrillos drops us off outside the gate. Each week we’re assigned a new teacher and a new classroom. The classes are so relaxed and the teachers are friendly, making everyone feel right at home even though we’re thousands of miles away from our hometowns. One of the first days we’re there, we take a break from studying to wander through the school’s gardens.
It’s time for our lesson on “plantas medicinales,” a huge part of Costa Rican tradition. Minor, the gardener, tells us how most Costa Ricans turn to the garden before they call the doctor. Every plant has some use, like the “sleeping plant” that folds its tiny leaves in when touched. It’s used to treat insomnia.
Most days, the first half of class is spent learning about the Preterit tense (among others) or Spanish grammar. Then after a twenty minute break, usually spent chilling in the hammocks, we learn about some aspect of Costa Rican cultures. From legends to slang, food to traditional games, the school fully immerses us in all aspects of their culture.
The school is one of the best parts of my trip so far. The people are warm and welcoming, with the typical Tico friendliness, and I’m learning more than I’ve ever learned during summer vacation. The campus is like a paradise with its sprawling gardens and panoramic views of the mountains. I don’t know how I’ll be able to go home to Wisconsin now.
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