I just realized that the 28th of February, marked our first month of our “new life” in Costa Rica. Oh my, we have been so BUSY!!
So much that I have hardly had time to write this blog. Or to realize that it is one month already down the road.
I started to work at the Universidad Nacional (UNA) right after we arrived. Like two days after. I had a couple of weeks packed with seminars, in which I learned some exciting things about the bioeconomy program in Costa Rica, the valuation of marine protected areas or the blue economy in Costa Rica, to name a few. I was also asked to give the inaugural speech of the Master program at the International Center for Economic Policy and Sustainable Development at UNA. In between the seminars, we squeezed a visit to Starbucks’s experimental coffee farm in Costa Rica, a butterfly breeding farm for export, and a visit to the central valley to visit different coffee cooperatives. All super interesting. But also very, very intense. Ah! not to mentioned that we bought a car, open a bank account, got our social security in place and started the process to get a residence permit.
And then….I started the fieldwork visits with the students and some colleagues at the Universidad Nacional to other parts of the country. First, the Osa Península, where we visited different local development organizations for a week. Again, it was amazing. But far. It takes 8 hours by car to go from San José to Puerto Jiménez, two full days of traveling back and forth. And then, with only one day to rest in San José, I traveled with my students and another UNA’s prof. to another corner of the country, Guanacaste, for the last study trip. This last time, Frank, Kika, and Mati also joined.
These last two weeks of field visits were very INTENSE but worth every minute. Not only in terms of learning about the country, but it also strengthening the social bonds between the students, me, and the professors from the Universidad Nacional traveling with us. They are a lot of fun! Plus, their insights are precious to understand the history and context of the places we visit.
The official program with the students from Lund finished last Friday (the 25th). I was absolutely wasted. I realized that I had not had a single weekend of rest – like full rest- since August. We spent the weekend in Guanacaste, in Hojancha, a little town in the mountains, surrounded by protected areas and at the core of one of the few world’s Blue Zones, just listening to the chirping of the birds and sloooooowly moving from the chair to the hammock and back.
My, it was GOOD!
On sunday, we managed to muster the energy to go for a walk in Monte Alto, one of the protected areas close to Hojancha. I could feel my muscles finally relaxing. Finally, we were in our beloved Costa Rica forest. It was warm, really green, and full of birds. I was at peace. At last.