Since January, Aeriel Kay has been volunteering in Costa Rica. Faced with her return in December, Aeriel writes about her loves, fears, and hopes – the roller coaster of her life in Costa Rica.


Dear United States of America,

I miss you. I miss sitting in a cafe and writing and being anonymous. I miss being able to pick up my phone whenever I want and call whoever I want. I miss cooking my own food and eating entire meals of vegetables. I miss listening to cheesy American pop music on the radio while driving with the windows rolled down. I miss meeting friends for coffee. I miss meeting friends for drinks. I miss meeting new people. I miss looking at men that are taller than me. When it’s raining, I miss hot water.

Yes U.S.A., I have no idea where I am going to plant my feet come January, but I am getting ready for a change of pace and I am feeling ready to return to your soil.

Your not-so-American girl,





Dear Costa Rica,

I love you. I love waking up on my own by 6 a.m. to the sun cresting over the mountains and to a silence that is only broken by the birds singing above. I love never being in a hurry and living each day without planning past tomorrow. I love visiting houses at any hour of the afternoon without warning and being immediately welcomed. I love the friends I have made here that I now feel like I have known for my entire life. I love hiking in the mountains for hours and seeing monkeys and tucans and making lunches out of ripe fruit dangling from the trees. I can’t imagine leaving you and I am already moved to tears at the mere thought of not being on your soil.

Your wanna-be Tica,



On days when I wake up feeling more content than ever, someone often mentions, “Teacher you’re leaving so soon! What are you going to do?” And the reminder that I have absolutely no idea come January brings my carefree Tica mood spiraling down to the stress of that thing called ‘the future.’


And on days when I wake up annoyed at jumping under a cold hose to shower and less than excited to go to work, I am greeted by hugs and excited shouts by the students, “Buenos dias Teacher!” And the realization that I am in such an incredible place once again floods over me.


It would be one thing if I changed my mind once a week about how I feel towards the impending date of December 20th – when this beautiful year wraps up to a close and I find myself on a plane north. Or even if I changed my mind once every couple of days. But my idea of what I want and where I want to be changes as quickly as the afternoon winds blow the rain clouds over the mountains here. And let me tell you – one minute it’s sunny, the next it’s dumping drops of rain the size of M&Ms.


My mood seems to change by the day, or the hour. And I suppose these ups and downs will only come with increased frequency the closer this journey gets to December. Everyone said it would take a few months to get used to life in Costa Rica, to settle into a new world, to feel comfortable and confident. No one warned us that it would be this hard to get used to the idea of leaving Costa Rica, to feel comfortable riding the roller coaster that will be phasing out this year long adventure.


But I suppose like any good roller coaster, you sometimes just have to close your eyes, hang on tight, and wait for the ride to come to a complete stop.




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