The Galapagos group has arrived in Ciudad Colon, Costa Rica and is for the first time in three weeks split among three home-stays situated throughout the town. Sitting outside of San Jose, the capital of this country- famous for its lack of a military, amazing coffee, and overwhelming greenness- Ciudad Colon will be our home for the subsequent three weeks. Our families have already introduced us to their neighbors, communities, friends, and relatives. I personally feel as if I am part of the family. I have even been invited to attend the birthday party of Angel, my host-mother's grandson. The Ticos of Costa Rica are an inviting people, their genuine care for others easily showing in all things they do.
The University of Peace is located around 7 kilometers from the edge of Ciudad Colon, and the bus ride there takes us through coffee plantations where men can be seen working with the plants, and through lush rainforest that begs to be explored. The vibrant colors of vines, flowers, and fruits can be glimsed in between the thick branches of green. We often gaze out the window in silence, in utter awe of the beauty around us. This landscape stands in such antithesis with that of the Galapagos. Instead of towering cactus plants and lava rocks, giant flowers and melodious birds dominate. The dry land of the archipelago is now tranformed into wetness. Daily, the downpours drench Ciudad Colon. Getting caught in the strong rain while walking back from the bus is unfortunate yet serene. Everything goes quiet as the steady beating of the rain literally drowns out all other sounds.
Standing behind the University's main building looking at the gorgeous vista below and beyond takes my breath away. The mounatins opposite me are touched by the weight of huge clouds that appear to fill up half the sky. They form beautiful patterns in the bright blue sky, creating a wonderful view when paired with the inevitable green valley below.
Every day here at U Peace is an adventure. The mornings in Costa Rica find us intellectually stimulated by lecture and discussion, in the afternoons we explore Ciudad Colon, and at night we learn culture from the Ticos as we interact in our home-stays. Professor Lacatus encourages us to learn from everything around us, and it is impossible not to. I can't wait for this journey to unfold. Two more weeks to go!