Your basic Homestay package includes:
- Pick up and drop off from nearby city of San Isidro de General
- Full package of information to help in your planning
- Private bedroom
- Shared bathroom with hot water
- 3 delicious homemade meals a day, with the option of a packed lunch
- Laundry service
- Information about other tour destinations in Costa Rica
Your options include:
- Tours, visits and adventures led by local professional guides. Whether you’re feeling active and want to hike the cloud-forest, visit bat caves or go trekking on horse-back, or you prefer to try your hand at coffee-picking or a visit to a traditional trapiche or sugar mill, a folk art gasllery or a cheese maker, there’s something to do for everyone in San Gerardo. Check out all the options at What to do. The homestay packages include wonderful days already planned for you – or you can mix and match your own activities. Once you have made your reservation we will also email you a handy Information Kit to help with your planning.
- Spanish classes provided in the comfort of your homestay or at our office. Costa Rica Holiday Homestay has contracted the services of Alex Zuniga (link) our bilingual Spanish teacher who is available to teach private classes, couples or groups at all levels. Please try and give us at least 2 weeks advance warning you would like classes for us to make the arrangements you require.
- Climbing Mt Chirripó – if conquering Costa Rica’s highest mountain is in your plans then we’ll help you with reservations, summit lodgings, guides, porters and meals. We suggest you plan your ascent for after your homestay. We need at least 2 weeks to arrange your Mt Chirripó hike, and longer in the busy season of January – April.
Making the most of your Homestay
Your home stay may be your first experience of living closely with another family that does not speak English. It is natural to feel reserved and hesitant at first about communicating, but we can assure you will be given a huge welcome and that every little effort you make to reach out and converse – however basic – will be appreciated and contribute to a positive experience for everyone. Perhaps try learning some Spanish before you leave home – simple phrases are available on the internet at: http://www.fodors.com/language or at: http://www.sangerardocostarica.com/about/language/
There will be differences! – sure the cooking is not what you’re used to, the roosters crow and wake you up at 5 a.m. and a night out is defined as karaoke – but that’s what this experience is all about – learning from one another. After living in San Gerardo you are sure to return home with a fresh perspective and appreciation.
Here are a few tips that will help you avoid common pitfalls in homestays:
- Be ready to adjust to rising early and going to bed early! This is el campo and everything is dominated by the 12 or so hours of sunlight available. Your host family will possibly offer you the following mealtimes:
Breakfast: 6:30 or 7a.m
Lunch: 11:30 – 12:30
Supper: 6pm – though this meal varies a lot and may be very simple
- Your bedroom is your private domain, though it may be open close to the ceiling or not be fully enclosed. This is traditional Costa Rican house design and reduces humidity – but allows free passage to lots of insects! If you worry a lot about mosquitoes ask for a net; but be ready to tackle invading bugs!
- Expect less meat or fish than you’re used to, but more vegetables and certainly rice, beans, tortillas and even spaghetti very often. Bananas and oranges grow liberally here, depending on the season – so you can help yourselves to these. Ask about ‘limon dulce’, guanabas, anones and jocotes in season.
- Showers will be warm (though not necessarily hot!). It’s normal to limit your shower to about 5 minutes please.
- Don’t put toilet paper or anything else in the toilet – that’s what the bin is for!
- Phones: all houses have one but please buy a phone card at the pulperia (store) to make calls. They are 5,000 colones for an International Card, 3,000 colones for local/national calls.
- Have a pair of indoor shoes – it takes hours each day to keep the dust at bay so help out with leaving outdoor shoes at the door.
- If you want to be fully immersed offer to help out with chores like washing dishes – great place for a conversation!
- If you’re not sure – ask! It’s much better to talk it out than worry. Your host family will really want you to be happy and comfortable so share your questions or uncertainties.
- If you have any doubts or questions you can’t sort out please call me: 2742-5356. I’m here to help make your homestay experience perfect