Due to US visa restrictions, it was a bit of a forced exit from America for me. There seemed to be no hard or fast rules for how long I needed to exit before returning, but I thought a couple of months should be enough to keep the border authorities happy that I wasn’t working in the US.
So, I thought why not take advantage of this exodus to try and learn some Spanish for our planned cross in Central & South America before the end of the year. As such, having been to Antigua in Guatemala a few times previously, I knew that was a good place to learn – lots of language schools, foreigners, friendly, cheap and thankfully more little coffee shops than you can shake a bean at.
I did a few weeks of study, before a house sitting came up in Costa Rica. This seemed like a great opportunity to save some money (as cheap as Guatemala was, I was still eating out all the time, paying for language lessons, etc), so snapped at the chance. I was living in a remote place in Guanacaste region of Costa Rica (about a 5 hour bus ride from San Jose). There wasn’t a great deal to do there, and the nearest village was about 20 minutes down the mountain, so I was pretty house bound. But, there was internet, and I had enough movies to keep me going - as well as trying to improve my photoshop, final cut pro, and 3D computer modelling skills. There was a little bit of drama with one of the dogs dying on me, but overall, it was a pretty chilled experience.
Getting back into the US wasn’t so chilled.
I got stopped in Houston by the immigration officers, sent into the ‘naughty room’ and interrogated. I am being extremely dramatic here - the officer who asked me what I was doing, was extremely friendly, and didn’t really quiz me much. It was pretty obvious I was self funding, and not working, so they waved me through pretty quickly.
And that was my summer. My Spanish improved a little, but not to any extent I was hoping. Marks out of 10 for the whole experience. A very solid, middle of the road 5.5.