My Costa Rican Adventure
Michael Aliberte, Spanish Major
When people hear about Costa Rica, they typically think about one thing: beaches. Although this small Central American country is well known for attracting tourists for its famous and beautiful beaches, there is so much more to do there than one would think. This past New Years holiday, I had the pleasure of traveling to this amazingly diverse country for a unique and fun filled experience. The town I called home for eight days was the little Pacific coast surfing town of Dominical. Everything from the people and their way of life to the nature and wildlife was unique and beautiful. I refer to this town as “unique” for two main reasons. First, it is an ideal vacationing spot for Spanish speaking and non-Spanish speaking people alike, and second; whether you are an avid adventurer or a wildlife enthusiast, there was something here for everyone to enjoy. My group consisted of 15 people, the youngest was a college freshman that was 19 years old and enjoyed surfing and white water rafting (both things I experienced for the first time on the trip), and the eldest was an 85 year old grandmother that enjoyed bird watching and sitting on the Pacific sands at the local beach. The local townspeople also made the trip both feasible as well as enjoyable for all. I was the only Spanish speaker out of the 15 people, however I felt everyone in our group was able to communicate with the locals. Although the area is quite touristy, especially during the dry season, everybody was able to do their own thing and enjoy the beautiful country as they saw fit.
I previously mentioned that there was so much more to do in Costa Rica than visit a beach. There are over 850 species of birds that call Costa Rica home, so it is an ideal spot for amateur and avid bird watchers alike. For the adventurer, there is the aforementioned white water rafting, big wave surfing, zip lining, horse back riding, and animal filled nature hikes just to name a few things. For those that wish to practice their Spanish speaking skills, the economy of Costa Rica largely depends on tourism, therefore a majority of the people spoke English (some more than others, but many people spoke very well!). During the summer of 2008, I had the opportunity to study abroad in Oviedo, Spain for the month of July. For a well developed, rich-in-history country like Spain, you would expect the people to speak English rather well, considering it is taught in their curriculum from an early age. And they did. However, for a developing country like Costa Rica, I was personally pleased to discover that although I really enjoyed being able to speak Spanish, I could revert to English with most people if need be.
If you’re planning a trip, Costa Rica is a must visit location at some point in your traveling career. The country is rich with good people, delicious food, beautiful scenery, and the opportunity to develop as a Spanish speaker. At times, I felt as if the locals considered me to be one of them, and that feeling of accomplishment is something that Salem State University and the professors of the Foreign Languages Department have so generously provided me with.