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Teaching in Costa Rica: A Foodie’s #1 Dream

on May 19, 2021

I didn’t know that Costa Rica was a foodie’s dream until I drooled my way through an interview with one of our incredible applicants who is currently based in Santiago, Costa Rica. Emilee Adornetto took some time to share her views and authentic experiences throughout her time in Costa Rica with me. My oh my, it definitely speaks to the rich culture, delicious foods, and authenticity of this beautiful country!

costa rica breakfast
Hungry for adventure AND gallo pinto? Costa Rica is the place for you!

Where are you teaching in Costa Rica at the moment?

Currently, I am located in Santiago. It is about 2-3km from the center of San Ramon. About a 15-20 minute taxi/car ride to the center of San Ramon. But soon I will be relocating due to an amazing opportunity I was offered. It is about 1.5 hours from San Ramon.

What is the school like where you teach?

 I teach on an online platform and absolutely love it. Since day one of working (which I started about the 3rd week of the program), I have been maxed out on hours. Every week I reach the max amount of hours they have to offer. Within a week I was a diamond level teacher, meaning I qualify for the higher weekly incentives and weekly bonuses. I just had our quarterly review and got bumped up to an L2 teacher from an L1 teacher. So I also just received a raise for my hourly pay. 

The money is there, and it’s a great opportunity, you just have to be willing to put in the time! Unfortunately, you do only get paid once a month at the end of the month, but trust me it’s a fat-sized check.

I also was teaching at an academy located in Palmeres, which is the neighboring town. It is a small, face-to-face job. They meet 4 days a week in the evenings for 2 hours at a time. My boss was incredibly kind and the other coworkers were great. However, I had scheduling conflicts with my online job, so I had to turn down that opportunity. The tricky thing with the online platform, when getting bored with an academy in Costa Rica, is to make sure you submit your schedule change ON TIME. You also are only allowed a schedule change ONCE every open availability switch.

Home to nearly 6 percent of the world’s biodiversity, the sights that Costa Rica has to offer are infinite.

If you had to sum up your experience teaching in Costa Rica in one word, what would it be?

Describing Costa Rica in one word is so incredibly hard given the history and all the experience I have here. Over the past 5 years I have had here, it’s always “eye-opening”. I don’t think that’s one word, but I think it’s the best fitting. No matter where I am in Costa Rica, or what I’m doing I’m always rallied around by such generous, kind-hearted, and God-loving people.

For most of my trips, I have spent time in Bajo Tejares. This a small community in San Ramon. It is definitely the most realistic, and non-touristy part of Costa Rica, especially San Ramon. If you want the true experience, and want to experience the culture firsthand I feel like that is where I learned the most about Costa Rica, the culture, and the people.

Everyone here is so amazing, kind, caring. Truly I have just fallen in love with not only the country but the culture. The people here don’t see themselves as poor; they don’t see themselves as living in poverty. Their values are so much higher than you would expect.

In the States, we take things for granted. Here they value so much more, like family, time, morals, and rights. I’ll never forget my first time here — I was speaking with an elderly woman, and she said, “I know people look at me and think I’m poor, because of where I live and where I’m from and what I wear. But I’m not because I have God in my life. You are only poor when you lack God in your heart.”

“Here is a group picture during the TESOL course. We got so close that we would even have Sunday brunches together at the hostel.” 

What was it like traveling to Costa Rica during COVID?

Truthfully traveling to Costa Rica during COVID wasn’t much different than a normal trip to Costa Rica. Yes, you have to wear your mask, and needed to purchase insurance but it made the experience no different!

“Fun fact Costa Rica is actually HUGE for Starbucks coffee. i’m San Jose/Heredia there are I think 4-5 Starbucks. They have a HUGE coffee plantation actually near San Ramon.”

What was your favorite activity during the orientation week?

During orientation week, because I had been here so many times in the past and for so many years, it was all just a refresher. But truthfully I loved getting to watch everyone else in the program slowly fall in love with one of the places I call home. I loved being able to take people around town and show them things and help by being a tour guide of San Ramon.

freshly made tortilla

“This is a picture of a tortilla I made during orientation week. When we did the cooking class and we had some elders teach those who hadn’t done it before how to make empanadas.”

What stood out for you during the TESOL course?

For me, one thing that stood out during the course was how involved everyone was. From the placement coordinator to the instructor, to even people higher up in the program. People that work with TravelBud and everyone who works on the ground as part of the team. Everyone was so involved and I absolutely loved that. Never at one point did I feel a lack of communication. The placement coordinator was amazing at her job, and the instructor was so incredibly well-rounded and knowledgeable about his position.

The casada is a traditional Costa Rican dish that can be found anywhere!

Do you have a favorite go-to dish in Costa Rica yet?

Oh it’s so hard to pick just one favorite thing, even when I’m in the States I eat like I’m living in Costa Rica. I love a Casada, it translates to marriage — meaning this is “a typical dish you’re served when you’re married” or something that “your wife would typically prepare”. It’s a type of protein, meat chicken, rice, beans, avocado, a small little salad of some sort – just an assortment of items. I also love Patacones. They are just smashed green fried plantains served with Frijoles Molidos (like a bean paste) and sometimes other sides but they’re amazing – or even a traditional Costa Rican breakfast, like Gallo Pinto, grilled cheese, tortillas, avocado.

This is one of the traditional Costa Rican breakfasts – gallo pinto with bread/egg/ tortilla and natilla (sour cream).

This has left me drooling and my stomach pining to travel to Costa Rica as soon as I possibly can! Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us, Emilee, we love how honest and authentic this whole journey has been for you and I really appreciate the time you took to do this interview with me.

If your stomach is also growling to get on a flight to Costa Rica right now, then starve no more! Get in touch with us right away about teaching in Costa Rica, and maybe Emilee could show you around San Ramon in a few month’s time!

Check out more fun blog posts from our team & alumni below!

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About Saskia Smuts

Filed under  Costa Rica 


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