My plane landed at the local airport July 9th, 2018 at 12:40 pm. I was greeted with smiling faces and a welcoming “buenas” from every local that my path crossed; such a nice surprise to see since just a few hours before I was treated like branded cattle at my home airport. I found the taxi driver that the founding director of Estelar, Bethany, had scheduled for me, a nice man named Diego, and was off to see where I would be spending the next nine months of my life. Scrolling through the endless pictures under Google search could never prepare you for the beauty Liberia has to offer. Diego chuckled under his breath as I stared out the window like a young child still naïve with the world. I couldn’t help the dumbfounded look; Liberia was surprisingly a neatly blend of mountain ranges and fields with a mixture of way back when. Instead of a city polluted with buildings and chaos, such as the States would offer with a city this size, I was blessed with a breath of fresh air and a sense of community. The first thing that stuck out to me was the amount of people walking and riding bikes, such a sight for sore eyes used to Atlanta traffic. I would later find this even more of a blessing since I would be able to endlessly explore just within a few miles of my house, or kilometers I should say – excuse my American lingo.
Now don’t get me started on the nearby adventures. Granted, I’ve only been here for a few weeks, but everything is in such proximity that you can fit in many things in addition to your schooling each week. I’ve explored the nearby cities of Santa Cruz and Nicoya, gone swimming with the fishes that like to bite at Llanos de Cortes, and even had a few purple-tongued giraffes kiss me at the African Safari Zoo –a lot more action than I’ve gotten in years, so definitely worth the visit. A little piece of advice: the second you land, try to spot a busted, yet still miraculously running, red cab with bright yellow letters painted on the side named “Taxi Rojos.” These suckers will be your savior throughout these adventures, always prepared to pick you up in sickness and in health. But that doesn’t mean you’re not more than capable of getting around by foot! If your overbearing host family is anything like mine, then you’ll be haunted by tales scaring you away from doing just such a thing. But, let me tell you, Liberia has treated me just the same, if not better, than my own home. You can catch me skipping to the beat of the birds at all hours of the night.
Lastly, I found it almost necessary to speak a little bit about Estelar since that’s the main reason anyone reading this would actually be.. reading this. What’s there to say about Instituto Estelar? I’m trying my hardest not to sound like a paid-off reviewer, but because I have nothing but good things to say about the place it’s going to come off that way –so, apologies. If you’ve read up on the school at all, like any educated person about to fly across the globe would, then you’ve read that Bethany has built this place from the ground up. And oh, what an opportunity that must have been to watch grow. Because Estelar is nothing but one of the best things Liberia has to offer. The school is in a great location near the heart of the city, aka the “party park,” and is surrounded by many other important places. On the inside, it is staffed with the most welcoming receptionists and has any accommodation you could possibly need whenever you’re not at home trying to stay cool or out dancing with the local Ticos/Ticas. Despite having only been here a few short weeks, I can tell that coming here was a wonderful decision.
Blog post contributed by Alex McCollum, an English teacher at Instituto Estelar Bilingue from Georgia, USA.