Spring Break in Costa Rica


 

What to do when given a week and a half off from school in the middle of spring semester? That is exactly the kind of question students studying abroad in Costa Rica had the joy of answering. Beaches, volcanoes, family visits, and national park excursions characterized the breaks for us, and I don’t think anyone came back disappointed from the beautiful places that they got to see here in Costa Rica and around the world.

            Speaking for myself, the break was a blessed time of fellowship and beauty. As my host family and I have continued to establish a better relationship, I spent the last part of Semana Santa cooking with my Tico mom, learning recipes, and sharing stories about our families. The slow, contemplative nature of Semana Santa was a blessing to unwind from school and see millions brought to a halt by the memory of Christ’s death and resurrection.

            When Easter Monday came around, my adventure excursion began. I took an 8:30 bus out of San Jose into the mountains to attempt to climb the famous Mount Chirripo, where the tropical climate actually dips to below freezing. Its Costa Rica’s Everest— a treasure in the middle of the Talamancas mountain region—and people from all over the world flock to the site. I met Costa Ricans, Swedes, Americans, and Lichensteiniens with other nations surely represented as well.

            The climb itself was a test of perseverance. Most people hike Chirripo in a group, but every step I took seemed to prove that my God was with me. As I climbed higher and higher, through six different environments including a beautiful cloud forest, I took some incredible pictures, met other climbers, and felt close to my NC roots (and those great Appalachian Mountains).

            At the peak, those who had gone before me had littered their signatures and comments throughout a log book that recorded everyone’s name that had successfully climbed Chirripo. Many signatures included special dedications to God and prayers for the health and well-being of friends. I found myself joining in the chorus:

“Every valley shall be raised up,

Every mountain and hill made low…

Even youths grow tired and weary

And young men stumble and fall;

But those who hope in the Lord

Will renew their strength.

They will soar on wings like eagles;

They will run and not grow weary,

They will walk and not be faint.”

Isaiah 40:3, 30-31

I added my signature, prayers, and thanks to the book as well, and stopped for lunch on top of the peak, looking out over the lakes and path I traveled.

            My return to San Jose has put this same path in even broader perspective, causing me to consider all my friends back in the States and my new friends in San Jose. Here at the halfway point, I realize how much I’ve been learning in Costa Rica. The Spanish language continues to seem more natural, and the simple family life more comfortable. In Costa Rica, life is often more stunning, more delicious, and more peaceful than life in the United States; it is an excellent complement to my Elon experience.

Posted by Parker Cramer

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