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COSTA RICA | Tuesday, 13 May 2014 | Views [213] | Scholarship Entry

There is nothing quite like arriving in a country for the very first time. It's something you will never forget.

As I leaped off the plane in San Jose the hot sticky air was confronting, I could hardly breath. Following those in front of me I entered the immigration line and soon felt my palms become sweaty. I was nervous. Did I need a visa? What language do they speak here? The questions were getting thrown around my head as I inched closer to the front of the line. Suddenly, I felt the gaze of others starring at me as it was my turn to approach the daunting window. Before I could even manage to come up with a greeting I was stunned by the loud thud of the stamp hitting my passport. "Welcome to Costa Rica" the man shouted, "collect your bags at the carousel".

With a small backpack thrown over my shoulder I was ready for the adventure to begin. I shuffled into the crowd heading toward the main doors of the airport. My long blonde locks and blue eyes stood out tremendously in such a confined space. Fear and doubt we're entering my head but I continued to stay positive, hoping the next stage would be easier. As the door slid open I was taken back by the hundreds of sweaty men standing outside shouting at me (in Spanish of course). I swiftly scanned the scene to try and find someone holding a sign with my name on it. Nothing. What now? Where do I go from here? As I swallowed slowly I decided to turn straight back around and head inside to think this travel decision through. Just then a young local man came racing from the back of the pack with a homemade sign saying' "Welcome Tara - volunteer program." I've never been so excited to see someone I've never met before and who doesn't speak my language.

I followed him across the parking lot with hesitation until he stopped at an old Toyota, opened the door and got in. Instantly my mind took me back to my childhood and the words of my mother, "never get in a car with a stranger." Well technically he wasn't a stranger as he knew my name. I opened the rickety old door and climbed in the back. Seconds later we were off, and on the road to San Ramon. This adventure was just beginning.

Tags: 2014 Travel Writing Scholarship - Euro Roadtrip

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