I am considering applying for a year-long volunteer teaching placement in Costa Rica beginning next January. Upon acceptance I will be asked for my preference regarding location. All placements are rural, and I'll be living with a host family. I'm trying to get sense of where the right place for me would be through guidebooks and the internet but I still don't have a clear picture. I've traveled a bit in the Dominican Republic and Jamaica in the cities, mountains, and beaches of both islands and loved all of it. I am curious if Costa Rica shares similarities to these countries. I especially enjoy being in less "touristy" areas and getting to know local people and immerse myself in the culture- which has a lot to do with why I'm going. I am particularly interested in the Carribean side of CR given my familiarity and love of the Jamaican culture as I hear that that side of the island retains a Jamaican influence. However I hear mixed reviews about living there and I would love to hear more feedback.
I would also be interested in living somewhere in one of the moutnainous regions, perhaps where coffee is grown. A former volunteer told me she was in a town like this in the mountains, but was still within a 2 hour bus ride of the beach. I've only ever lived on islands so living by the beach appeals to me very much as well, although I assume these areas are heavily populated with tourists. Basically I would love to be stationed in a small town that has some degree of natural beauty, but that is relatively quiet and family oriented, with few tourists. Any suggestions? Also, any advice on how my placement will affect my diet in terms of what kind of food is available in the various regions and whether I should drink from the tap???
Sorry for the long post! I'll appreciate very much any advice you have for me.