Jennifer Yip: Costa Rica, May 29, 2012

After many days of long clinic hours, today we get to relax and learn a little bit about the native plants and flowers of Costa Rica. We woke up early and ate breakfast at a nearby restaurant. The food was delicious! We had a bowl filled w/many colorful fruits such as papaya, bananas, mangos, and pineapples. We were also served a icy fruit smoothie drink. For our main course, we had black beans with rice, eggs, plantains, and garlic bread. After a filling breakfast, we got back in our taxis and went to the Catie jardin de botanica for a garden tour. Our tour guide took us around the whole garden and pointed out special flowers and plants that were native to Costa Rica, some with medicinal properties. He also noted which plants were not native and told us where they came from. Since they were a botanical garden, they also imported many plants from various other places to grow. They even have an area where workers were crossing two different types of coffee plants together to make a new cross-type. We saw many varieties of plants such as banana trees, sugar cane, lemon and lime trees, and much more. The best thing was that our guide took many of the fruits and nuts directly off the trees and cut them up for us to try! Some of the things we tried were macadamian nuts, sugar cane, and cocoa that is used to make chocolate.

The weather was bright and sunny and also humid. After the tour, we were served fresh cool drinks made directly from the fruits in their garden. We also dropped by the gift shop to purchase coffee beans and other souvenirs. We also bought some ice cream and drinks to cool off from the summer heat! There were also pretty flowers, many of which were bright and colorful.

In the afternoon, most of our group members went to tour downtown with Pablo, our group leader. We took the public bus from the Catie botanical garden to downtown. We decided to first eat lunch at a local restaurant that Pablo recommended. We had sandwiches, salads, and pasta. Next, some of us wanted to visit the bakery and try some sweets. There was such a great selection to choose from and they all looked so good! There were cookies, pastries, sweet breads, cakes, and turnovers. After our sweet indulgence at the pastry shop, it was time for more dessert at a local ice cream parlor to cool off some more before we head home.

It was a great day to explore the city and visit different shops and of course practice our Spanish! To get back to the Catie University, Pablo took us to ride the public bus! This is the real Costa Rican experience! The bus was crowded and packed with people in every seat and even in the aisle. There was also no air conditioning on the bus so it was very hot. When we got back to our rooms, we met up with others from the group that went for a swim while we were gone. We spent the rest of the night chatting about our veterinary and cultural experience and packing to get ready for our long drive back to San Jose tomorrow.