By Megan LaManna & Kyle Cardine
LIBERIA, Costa Rica — “Just try it.” That was the phrase our group heard when we had our first cultural experience of Costa Rica: lunch.
“This place is pretty good,” said our bus driver, Salvador. Although he seemed like a very nice person, we had only just met. Who knew if he could be trusted for food suggestions? He stopped in front of Como Aquí, a little corner restaurant that couldn’t seat more than 25.
As the thought crossed my mind, I realized there was no option and I was just going to have to suck it up and take a chance.
Looking at the combination of sauces, meats and hot-pink vegetables (?), it was easy to be overwhelmed on what to choose. Turning to our program director Bethany Elmore, many of us asked, “What is that?”
“Just try it,” she replied.
Eventually, after much pointing, we got our plates and took a seat in the open-air seating.
My plate was completely covered in arroz con pollo (chicken with rice), black beans and plantains. With the first bite of arroz con pollo I knew our bus driver was suited for future food suggestions. The rice was sticky and delicious, the plantains were sweet and soft, and the black beans were a wonderful, salty compliment to both.
Doubts exited our minds as more food was handed around the table. “Try this on your rice” and “You need to get this drink” sprang from eager mouths as we delved into this street-food haven.
What we all shared is something that international travelers only experience in the first few hours or days of getting to their destination: finding a new love. In that moment and in that emotion, you’re ready to try just about anything. Being full and content, I turned to Bethany and my professor and said “you sure introduced us to a hell of a start.”
Written by Kyle Cardine and Megan LaManna