Published: June 15th 2010June 14th 2010
Next to the Plaza Central in Herredia. Built by a former provincial governor. People joke that it is easier to shoot into El Fortin than it is to shoot out of it.
This was the first day of class at IPED. Of course my head exploded about half way through the session. Consequences of not practicing my language skills in the two years since my last visit. Maritza, my previous teacher is working with other students this time. My teacher is someone else this time around.
Initially I started out with one other person in the class with me, but she got moved to a more advanced group, so I am by myself again as a beginner. So after about three hours of trying to get my brain cells around what was taking place, it was over. David and Zeita were sympathetic and told me to be patient and just let it flow.
The excellent thing about this particular program is it includes some very intensive instruction, but also allows for some time with the culture. After class, David took us on a guided tour of downtown Herredia, stopping at a restaurant near the National University for lunch. There are about 15 students at the school this time around; both adults and kids.
They are from all over the US and seem to be quite well prepared and behaved. None
A view down one of the aisles of the Mercado in downtown Herredia.
seem to be the ugly american types that we hear about so often.
For lunch Kathi and I had casado con pollo followed by generous amounts of coffee. Rick, a fellow student from the San Francisco bay area, and I had a lively conversation about the recent California elections. Fortunately, it wasn't an argument because we are on the same side of the political spectrum. Don David had some interesting observations to add to the mix. I was particularly interested on his take on the election of Obama, and how it affected the outlook of ticos toward the US.
After lunch we went over to the university for a tour of the campus. There has been new construction since we were here last. On the way, Kathi noticed that there were new street signs, which Don David confirmed. He said that the city put them up about a week ago.
As David was telling us all about the new construction, it started to rain. Just little sprinkles at first; having the appearance of nothing too serious. The clouds had been glowering on the mountains above the city for most of the day, and I didn't think much
would develop out of it. WRONG!
We started west towards he city center and the rain got heavier. By the time we got to Plaza Central it was really a 'what for'...bucket fulls of the stuff. The little dinky travel umbrellas that we had were...well, we probably would've been just as dry if we didn't have umbrellas.
So we did what any serious tourist would do: we went shopping at the Mercado. It was interesting because David knows about all of the produce available in the country. The real lesson about shopping for fruits and veggies there: when it looks ugly, it probably will taste better. Most of the stuff that looks nice, uniform, and colorful doesn't taste very good and is probably imported from somewhere else. The Costa Rican stuff usually varies in size, has spots, but tastes great.
After about an hour of waiting out the rain, we went back to the Institute. It didn't help to wait. And of course crossing streets here during a rainstorm is a dangerous proposition. The pedestrians don't necessarily have the right of way, and the taxi drivers are retired Kamikazi pilots.
After all that, we retreated to a local watering hole by the name of Calypso, and proceeded to sample the local beer.