After a smooth day of traveling, our wonderful bus driver Marco dropped each of us off to meet our host families. As we saw student after student get off the bus and be introduced to their host family, the anticipation grew in wondering what ours would be like. Although we have very different families, we have all found them to be incredibly warm and welcoming. Elena was first to arrive and be received by her host family. After warm greetings, she quickly became well acquainted with the two host parents (in their late 30s), and their two children (an 18 year-old son and 9-year-old daughter). They were zealous in providing copious amounts of traditional Costa Rican cuisine including gallo pinto and various native vegetables. The 9-year-old girl has asked Elena for help with (very advanced!) English homework, and the son showed off his skills in playing the bass guitar (he plays for a well-known local rock band). So far, it is has been a culturally rich and stimulating experience!
When Dot and her housemate Jill arrived at their host home they were greeted by their host mother Susanna with a big smile and a kiss on the cheek. Although Susanna is a single mother with only one son, she loves to keep a full house. In addition to her son, Gustavo, she is currently hosting two MSPP students, two Costa Rican medical students, and one American undergraduate. She is a retired chef and thus has been cooking traditional Costa Rican dishes for her students every day. Dot and Jill have enjoyed everything from yuca de frijoles y carne (fried yucca filled with meat and beans) to fried plátanos to tortillas made from scratch using ingredients from Susanna’s family farm in northern Costa Rica. Dot’s host family has not only been introducing her to Costa Rican food, but also to the Costa Rican social life. Susanna took all of her “hijos” y “hijas,” as she calls them, out for a night of Latino dancing in San José where they got to learn some traditional Costa Rican dances.
Brian and Curt were welcomed by their host family, consisting of a young couple, their seven-year old son and two adorable pooches. They graciously invited the entire MSPP group to their home to celebrate Brian’s birthday on our fourth night in San José. Some students brought along their host-siblings, allowing for a truly cultural celebration. We capped off the night with a visit to Kabaña, a local bar with live music. It was a great way for the whole group to celebrate their first week in Costa Rica together. After a busy and exciting first week with our families, we are excited to see what the next three weeks have in store for us.