My name is Eric and I have now been to the town of Turrialba, Costa Rica for about 1 month. Turrialba is a rural town located in the Central Valley with a population of about 35,000. When I first arrived in San José I was immediately hit with culture shock. The reality of having to get my self to a small rural town alone hit me like a brick wall. Upon leaving the airport I was overtaken by all the taxi drivers yelling at you offering to take you to where you need to go. I looked for an official taxi and asked to be taken to the Transtusa Bus Station. The bus station was not at all what I had pictured in my mind, I even recall the taxi driver looking at me and saying, “yes that is it!” it was essentially a hole in the wall that two coach buses could squish into. Purchasing the bus ticket was my first test at my limited Spanish as none of the employees at the station spoke English. All I could do was hope that I had asked for the correct ticket! I then looked for a pay-phone to use as I was given a number to contact once I knew what time the bus was leaving so that I could be picked up upon arrival in Turrialba. With my luck, I could not figure out how to use the payphone. I eventually had to board the bus without contacting anyone. However, I was fortunate to have sat next to a Tico who kindly let me use his mobile. I then started to relax and take in my new home for the next 3 months. With all that said, I have learned a lot about my self and how to deal with situations that arise and no matter how frustrating things can be at the time, in the end, they are valuable experiences I will keep with me for the rest of my life. After arriving in Turrilba I was shown the company I was going to be working with and then taken to my home-stay to settle in.
The small things such as connecting my phone and trying to do some basic banking while not being able to speak the local language forced me to realize that vacation and living abroad are two completely different things. Working with Explornatura has been everything I had hoped it to be. With a combination of office work and joining on tours such as white water rafting the Rio Pacuare (my personal favourite), canyoning, zip-lining, hiking and mountain biking tours I have gained a tremendous amount of Knowledge on the Adventure Tourism Industry. I have done some travelling to other cities such as Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean coast and intend to do much more. Also in the next coming week, Explornatura is going to be taking me to the Costa Rican Travel-Agency Trade Show to get a feel of how other companies conduct business. I will save those stories and pictures for my next post.