This morning we walked around the city of Cartago for a few hours. Walking through the neighborhood that our house is in, I noticed that the homes are all covered with steel bars and barbed wire. This custom in Costa Rica shows a lot about the family living in the home. If the home looks well protected it shows stability in the house. We went to the Basilica which is a famous church in Cartago. It is decorated with these beautiful stained glass windows and tall painted ceilings. We got to sit in on a mass ceremony that really showed me how religious the people of Costa Rica are. They worship the Virgin Mary and to ask for a blessing or if you want to thank her, you would have to walk on your knees from the entrance of the church to the alter. Which is not a short distance! Around the back of the church there is a beautiful garden with a fountain in the middle. The water is holy water and the ticos (the Costa Rican natives) would drink the water in hopes of curing a disease, becoming fertile, ensuring safety, etc. We learned about this massive earthquake that happened in 1910 and got to see some of the ruins. We saw what was left of the first floor of one of the temples that had a beautiful garden inside.
We then went to the local farmer’s market and instantly all of my senses were on high alert. The colors, the smells, the sounds…it was like nothing I have ever experienced before. You watched the deli workers cut up the meat in front of you, the fruit was all picked that morning and there were people everywhere! There are also a lot of stray dogs and cats walking the streets and wandering into stores but no one seems to care. We ended at a garden in the district, San Rafael where there was a huge statue of the Virgin Mary standing in front of the church.
Tomorrow Molly (my roommate) and I start our volunteering at the orphanage. I’m super excited to meet the kids! Tonight all of us walked into town and went to the oldest bakery in Costa Rica! It has been there for almost 100 years! All of the people are really nice here. There is a group of 20 students coming in a few days so it will be fun to have some more people around. Well, I’m off to Spanish lessons…Buenos noches!