Studying abroad in an urban area such as the outskirts of downtown Heredia, Costa Rica, it took me a few days to accept that not every view close to home would be picture perfect. However, even if part of town doesn’t look like a post card at first glance, the harmony of the bustling city against the mountainous backdrop holds a different kind of beauty.
My classmates and I walk up and down this street every day to get to the bus stop. The beautiful mountains have been visible nearly every morning. On the left of this street is a Wal-Mart, but the best part of this walk is looking up above the houses and businesses and admiring the surrounding mountains. Each day walking to class, I notice something new and charming about this city.
For the first week, I was worried about walking around with my camera, so I didn’t take any pictures until the first ISA excursion on Friday July 8th.
This is ‘Playa Tamarindo’ at the far western coast of the province of Guanacaste. It has become beach town for tourists, but many locals frequent the beaches, restaurants, and other activities the town has to offer. For some of my new friends, this was the first time they had seen or swam in the Pacific Ocean.
After spending some time in the fairly calm waters (compared to the Atlantic Ocean), I walked back towards the dry sand, looking for sea shells along the way. I started to notice some peculiar shapes in the wet sand.
I was completely blown away by the natural art that covered the sand. These marks in the sand looked like trees and mini forests, and they covered nearly all of the area of sand where the tide had touched. I still wonder how the tide and sand could have worked together to create such exquisite natural images.
I opted out of the prearranged tours to do some exploring of my own with a new friend. We walked as far north on the beach as we could until we got to “Estereo de Playa Grande” where some boats were waiting for adventurous tourists. The goal of the tour was to find monkeys, but our tour guide said it was probably too late in the day for them to still be in that area. We went anyway and saw some beautiful species of birds, some horses, lots of crabs, and a crocodile! Half of the tour was on foot, trekking through the jungle looking for monkeys.
When we came across this tree, our tour guide told us (in Spanish) that the monkeys will never be found sitting on this tree due to the thorn covered bark.
This guy was hanging out in the sand extremely still, letting the tide wash over him and back. My friend and I watched it for about 10 minutes after we finished our boat tour through the mangroves, but a crowd had already been watching the creature before we got there.
Although the sky was cloudy, the ambiance of the beach at sunset was still pretty magical.
I have rarely been able to capture sunset on the ocean living close to the east coast. For a moment, I wished there had been less clouds but then I decided to appreciate the beautiful reflection of the sun on the water.
At the end of our excursion, it was a little sad to be back in the city and so far from the paradise of the beach. We got back around 5pm Sunday, and view of the sunset from my bedroom window that night was one of the prettiest so far.
It was difficult to capture all of the beautiful colors of the sky, but this photo showed the most vibrant purples, yellows, and blues. You can also see the rays of light shining up through the clouds.
I noticed this flower for the first time the Monday after our excursion to Tamarindo. The tree that it was on was only about 3 or 4 houses away from my homestay. We have a lot of hibiscus plants around my house in the US, so it was nice to see something so familiar. I felt a little more connected to the city after realizing that something beautiful and familiar can be just around the corner.
The world awaits…discover it.