Spring Break 2018 will always stay in my memory. It has been the most productive and the most shocking break I've had in my four years of college. A year ago, my school introduced a new class that took a trip to Costa Rica to help vertically integrate a coffee farm. So when I heard about it, I immediately thought, "I love traveling, I love coffee, and I've never been in Central America. So why the hell not!" Me and my friend registered for class and were on our way to give back to the community several months later.

Milana Yemelyanova

Once we arrived to San Jose, CR, all I could think about was when are we going hiking and what on earth will I be eating these five days? So me, being a real investigator, I've searched for any articles related to food in Costa Rica. And man, let me tell you, I should not have worried about food at all; the community made sure we were FED. 

The 5 times feeding thing...

Milana Yemelyanova

"What do you mean 'there're more food'? We already ate five times today!" I come from a culture where we eat three times a day max. Ever since I started college, I totally forgot about that and I am super happy if I get to eat at least once a day. So, my first day in AsoProLa really got me shook! I've never seen so much food in one day... and it was all for me! Breakfast, late breakfast, lunch, snack, coffee break, dinner, and then maybe even a midnight snack (if bugs were keeping us up late at night). 

7:00AM - Breakfast

Milana Yemelyanova

Fresh fruits platter is a staple for every breakfast we had. Whether it was bananas, watermelons, or pineapples, you bet it was just picked up from a farm and brought straight to the table. My personal favorite were pancakes. They were somewhere in between American pancakes and crepes, slightly sweet and always served with freshly-made yogurt on a side. My little, inner chef would spice up the dish by adding honey and bananas as toppings. 

10:00AM - First Snack

Melissa Paredes

I am a really big chocolate lover, I have a sweet tooth for anythings that starts with c- and ends with -andy, so I thought snaking would be an issue for me. The closest bodega was 10 minutes away up the hill and I was definitely not walking this far just to get some melted Snickers. Fortunately, no matter where we went, locals would always treat us with fresh fruits; I've never even heard of some combinations we had - green mango in lime juice - where else can you try something like this? 

1:00PM - Lunch

Milana Yemelyanova

Rice and beans is the most common and traditional cuisines in Costa Rica. It's great hot or cold, but it tastes especially amazing when it's wrapped in a banana leaf and topped with a fried egg. Like who needs a plate when you can literally eat from a leaf?! My mind was blown.

3:00PM - Second Snack

Milana Yemelyanova

Around 2:00-3:00 pm it would get pretty hot even in the shade, so the second snack of the day came in the shape of an ice cream is what we all needed in Costa Rica. Even though I wasn't able to try their ice cream out because I am lactose intolerant, it still looks really good and tasty. Interestingly enough, they use fresh fruits and condensed milk, whether the ice cream we are all used to is made from regular milk. 

5:00PM - Coffee Break

It's 5 o'clock somewhere rule didn't really apply to Costa Rica since our 5 o'clock was filled with freshly brewed AsoProLa coffee. It was the highlight of any day for me every day. I love dosing my coffee with milk, syrups, and sugar, but this coffee did not need any of it. Pure black coffee already tastes a little sweet and soft, so I believe adding milk or sugar would have ruined the drink. 

7:30PM - Dinner + Dessert

Melissa Paredes

And when you think you can't eat any longer, locals surprise you with a full on dinner. Some days we would even be lucky and have a dessert made by a volunteer from Germany, who lived in the community for 7 months. And that's what this experience was for me; seeing two totally different cultures combine and creating something totally new and unique. 

Local, fresh, and organic have new meanings for me now...

Milana Yemelyanova

After visiting Costa Rica, I cannot trust stores anymore. Every morning for breakfast we would had either a watermelon or a pineapple from our neighbor's farm or jam that was produced from scratch to finish in the same community. And after a long hike, we would have a banana right from the tree or we would find wild berries in the middle of a jungle. I am a big city girl and seeing tomatoes growing right outside the house is a totally new and incredible experience for me. 

Drinks, drinks, drinks!

Milana Yemelyanova

Pineapple, mango, rice and pineapple, and guanabana juices, fresh coconuts, and very strong mojitos are only a small part of drinks Costa Rica has to offer. Drinking water all day, all night might get extremely boring, so don't be afraid to try new juice combinations, they will not disappoint. My personal favorite was rice and pineapple, something about its unique taste still makes me want to make one myself. If you're looking for not-so-virgin drinks, any beach in Costa Rica offers a wide range of "beach" cocktails. Some of them include universal classics, like Sex on The Beach or Pina Colada, but be careful with them! For some reason, any beach drink consists of 20% juice and 80% alcohol, so don't have one too many! 

#SpoonTip: If you are planning on visiting Costa Rica, be advised to never drink tap water. It's important to stay hydrated, but trust me, you're better off spending some colones on bottled water.

Whether you visit Costa Rica for its beautiful scenery or as a part of a study abroad program or simply for its food, I guarantee you will not be disappointed. It felt great to help out a community, make a change in their lives and at the same time enjoy a well-deserved spring break.