• Hannah Brauer

I Fell In Love (With Papaya)

Updated: Aug 29, 2019

Over the last couple of days, we’ve had our small group cultural activities to downtown Heredia and a cooking class in one of the host family’s homes. Our directors, Leydi and Angie, guided my small group (I was lucky to have a few friends in the group already) through the city tour yesterday, which included El Fortín and a trip to the market. I was surprised at how much of the tour I understood — my Spanish really is coming back to me.

A bit of history...

El Fortín de Heredia (the Fort of Heredia) was commissioned in 1876 to be a military lookout tower but was never finished. (It should be noted that Costa Rica hasn’t had an army since their civil war ended in 1948.) The small windows, as you can see in the picture, were built backwards — the larger opening was put on the outside instead of the inside, so it would have been difficult for Costa Rican soldiers to shoot at their enemies and very easy for their enemies to shoot at them. El Fortín is now Heredia’s most symbolic building even though it has never been used.

And then I fell in love!

As Spanish practice, our task was to split up into groups and buy fruits from the central market in Heredia for a fruit testing. And then… I had the best smoothie I’ve ever tasted in my life.

A simple mixture of watermelon, papaya, pineapple, and melon.

And that was when I realized that 1) I had never eaten papaya before, 2) even if I had, it didn't taste like this, and 3) I was completely in love with it.

Other notable fruits we tried were:

  • Patacones

  • Starfruit

  • Mamón criollo o mamón verde

  • Guava

  • Mango madura

  • Mango verde

  • Gandaria

  • Passionfruit

  • Tamarind

  • Guanábana

  • Pejibaye (often cooked with mayonnaise, taste like potatoes)

The biggest ice cream cone I've ever seen

After our city tour, our directors showed us landmarks in Heredia and we had to figure out how to get back home by ourselves. I was actually really thankful for this — instead of most study abroad programs, SOL really helped us become independent so we would be well prepared for traveling on our own after the first three weeks.

After waiting out the rain (did I mention it DOWNPOURS here?), we went to "Los Columbianos," an ice cream shop next to the city center that's famous for their huge cones. Check out my friend Emiliano with his huge ice cream to the right.

We ended up walking home, and I immediately took a nap. I love having so much free time.

I'm learning how to cook! (Sort of)

If you know me, then you know I can't cook. My diet usually consists of bagels, eggs, pasta, and frozen salmon burgers, with some veggies thrown in there. I don't eat unhealthily, but mostly have a bland diet. So that's why I was excited to learn how to make traditional Costa Rican food!

After walking uphill for what seemed like forever, we arrived at the cutest outdoor kitchen I've ever seen (see above). We learned how to make a traditional Costa Rican dish with homemade tortillas, beans, rice, and salad. I'm glad I brought my camera to document it all — see below for some of my favorite shots, including my friend Gloria, the house parrot, our food, and our kind instructor.

#studyabroad #travel

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