MelissaWinchell's Travel Journals


What do you want to do the next time you travel abroad?

learn a language, volunteer in a needy community, work with the environment, experience a new culture through studying, experience a new culture through volunteering, meet new people, make some money, change the world [somehow], adventure travel

  • Currently in Monteverde, Costa Rica

Catarata y Gallo

A weekend in San Luis.

Catarata y Gallo

Costa Rica Monteverde, Costa Rica  |  Apr 26, 2011
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A weekend in San Luis varies greatly. You can hang out with fellow Living Routers who mostly live 20 minutes away, you can hole in and do work, you can go adventuring in the nearby woods, or you can bond with the family. One of my favorite weekends involved most of these.

After a long week of various assignments, I was finally going to have a restful weekend. We decided, as a group to go visit the renowned San Luis Catarata. The grandmother of Mike's family currently owns the land and so the minimal fee is for a good cause. The day we chose was rainy and gross. Lynn from the Holyoke group decided to come down and see what San Luis was like.

We made the 45-minute trek to the entrance of the waterfall, bumming that it hadn't clear up yet. As we began to walk, our opinion of the rain was altered greatly. Walking in the jungle is not a cold experience. Up hills with humid air--woowee!--I was glad to have a little rain to cool me off.

This hike is BEAUTIFUL! I am determined to go for a third time before the program ends. You are surrounded by lush tropical forest. It feels like you're stepping into The Jungle Book. The hike isn't that long, only a half hour or so, and at the top is this glorious waterfall. We arrived hot, sweaty and wet. The water is ICE cold. I couldn't make myself go in it (I have to before I go). Sarah, Mike and Lynn got in and swam around for a bit. I didn't expect it to be as large as it was.

As they swam I bouldered around on the loose clay. Note to viewers: do not climb on wet, loose clay--falling commences. I took a tumble and scraped up my knee a bit--I was being stupid but it was fun all the same. It was a really fun day all hanging out together in our hometown!

Getting back home from the Catarata I had a quick turn around before going to church with my family. In San Luis church is on Saturdays because the priest is in Santa Elena on Sundays. As I found out, just because the priest is supposed to be in San Luis doesn't mean that he necessarily will be there. We got to the church and, feeling uncomfortable, I stayed outside with my host brother and sister. We hung out until it was decided the priest wasn't coming and the bingo game began. Did I mention that? There's bingo after church sometimes.

Squished on a bench between an elderly woman and my younger host sister, unable to even move my elbows, we started to play bingo with frijoles as markers. Luckily my host father, Noe was there and repeating the numbers each time because they were speaking so fast! Even though my Spanish is getting MUCH better, I'm still very much a beginning and boy was it hard to keep up!

Within the first two games I got bingo. First lesson learned: You do not raise your hands in the air and yell "BINGO" at a San Luis church bingo game. After having Noe laugh at me hysterically, I realized I neither knew what I had won, nor that I was supposed to go up to the caller to double check my bingo. I won...a rooster. A big, red, aggressive, rooster. I was supposed to "inspect the goods" and grabbed Maggie as I was escorted behind the church to see my newly won rooster. For the rest of the night I had people come up to me and asking me about my rooster. People found it hilarious that a Gringa student won a rooster.

The rest of the night was a medley of rooster jokes, pats on the back, offers to trade me rooster for a kitten and lots of Spanglish. This was such a bonding moment with my family. It's really incredible how humor can connect people even across languages. Being able to laugh and joke about the ridiculous predicament I was in, made me feel so close to the people in San Luis, especially my family.

On the car ride home, with the rooster in a bag in the back seat Noe decided we needed to name him. While all thinking together for an appropriate name, Noe looks up, eyes wide with excitement and yelled "BINGO!” Bingo, the rooster, has now nestled into the Vargas' property well. He is flanked by gallinas at all times and cock-a-doodle-doos at ALL HOURS. It's getting to be a problem. 3am, 4am, 5am, 12pm--the man never stops!

I can't believe I won a rooster...

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  • Catarata y Gallo

    April 26, 2011
    3 Photos | No Video