San Joaquín de Flores is the quintessential quaint Costa Rican village, centralized around La Plaza where children, teens and families gather for recreational bike riding, soccer scrimmages and conversation. Of course no typical Costa Rican plaza is without the public primary school and Catholic Church; fun fact: did you know almost all the Catholic Church doors in Costa Rica face west? A helpful tip when trying to find your way around, as Costa Ricans use cardinal directions and points of reference as addresses. As you look around the plazas don’t be surprised if you see a very small corner bar where the older gentlemen pull up a stool for a leisurely ‘cerveza’ and low key chat with friends. Another important feature to any typical town – a fried chicken establishment – San Joaquin de Flores offers three for your choosing. Fried chicken is likened to the hamburger of the north, a very popular fast food option served with pickled plantains and a side of fries. Should you prefer other local fare, in San Joaquin you have a solid variety of restaurants from which to choose: seafood, to Chinese, to ‘tipico’.
While San Joaquín maintains a provincial feel, it is easily accessible either by public bus or train to the university town of Heredia. Costa Rica, divided into 7 provinces, named the town of Heredia as the capital of the province of the same name, Heredia. Only a 15 minute bus ride with an hourly schedule, Heredia offers an expanded variety of modern conveniences but sitting on one of the large central plaza benches, shaded by the large palms, to watch people socializing is a favorite way to pass a leisurely afternoon – only after having grabbed an artisan style ice-cream from the famous Pops creamery on the northeast corner of the Heredia Plaza. Up for an even more urban experience? San Jose, the nation’s capital, is a 40 minute bus ride and here you may delve into the socio-economic and historical development of Costa Rica at the Gold or National museums.
Spanish programs with lodging in San Joaquin
San Joaquin de Flores is the perfect small town to truly gain a window into the nuances of the Central Valley culture. CPI has always sought to create intercultural understanding between our students and Costa Ricans. Proudly organizing homestays for our students as a foundation to our program from the outset, our Heredia campus has been placing our students with local families for over 25 years. What is entailed? The process is surprisingly simple; our host family base is comprised of local families who have expressed interest in hosting a student. All families are interviewed by the CPI host family coordinator at the outset; there is constant communication with the families and the home is visited annually. Most often the host families are relatives themselves – for example, the daughter of an experienced host family now married with her own family unit – and live fairly near to each other. The host family details are e-mailed in advance for your reference.
Our host families provide laundry service and two daily meals (breakfast and dinner). But most importantly the families provide you a home away from home; many have worked with us for numerous years – they are experienced and have a true heart for sharing their culture and helping our students to improve their Spanish. The homestay option is available to all our Spanish students – whether individual students, couples or families with children - from as short as 1 week of classes to many months.
While 95% of our students choose the homestay accommodation, should you be uncertain if staying with a local family is for you, there are comfortable and modern residencies available close by; or perhaps you would be interested in a hybrid program with a time period at the residencies and then switch over to the homestay. At CPI Spanish Immersion Costa Rica you can customize your program to your personal needs!
For general information on our Spanish program and lodging in San Joaquin contact our Admissions Department