Today was another relaxing day. We didn’t have any excursions or cultural activities, so I went home hoping to get a lot done. Mama Tica’s family from the United States came over and we spent time with them. It was a completely full house! We went to the playground (“la play” en español – which I thought meant we were going to a play for a second.) Kylie and I didn’t even realize there was a park so close!
There was an outdoor court where two guys kicked around a soccer ball and a small playground area where Mama Tica’s family played. There was a gym/community center right next to the park and loud Latin music bounced out into the air. We decided to go in and check it out, and it was a Zumba class! Mama Tica even danced with us for a little bit. It was kind of funny because the family was concerned I wasn’t wearing a sweater on the walk home. It must’ve been at least 55 or 60 degrees and less than a 5 minute walk home, so my people in NY and PA will understand. Though I hear it hasn’t been too cold in the East lately!
I sat with Mama Tica’s grandchildren for a while. They’re all such sweet kids! Her granddaughter told me I can dance well (hmm…) and her grandson told me I understand a lot of Spanish. Even if they were just being polite, it put a smile on my face!
I don’t know why it was so difficult to get through today! I’ve been exhausted since I woke up, but today was another amazing day regardless. We walked to another mama tica’s house in our neighborhood for a lesson on authentic Costa Rican cooking! We made our own tortillas, plantain empanadas, pico de gallo, gallo pinto, and prestiños con miel de tapa. Everything was delicious.
Martha, the mama tica who taught us everything, was so kind and patient. We had coffee with dessert. They make drip coffee in a reusable linen bag that hangs on a wooden structure. It’s called a “chorreador.” It’s supposed to be better than paper coffee filters because it lets some of the oils from the coffee beans drip through while paper doesn’t. I kind of want to buy a chorreador and some coffee beans because I don’t even need to add sugar or milk to my coffee here, it’s that flavorful.
By the time we got home, it was almost dark. We must’ve cooked from 1:00 until 6 or 7! It was a full house again at home and we ate dinner while preparing for a project due tomorrow. I had to draw pictures of Mayan mud sculptures and read about Mayan ceramics and paintings. Tomorrow we’re supposed to be painting and making our own sculptures! It’ll be nice to do something interactive in class since we’ve been watching a lot of documentaries and listening to a lot of lectures. Afterwards we’re going to a dance class! They told us to bring towels, so that’s how I know it’s going to be a workout. I’m really pumped for that since I’ve been craving more exercise here.
Some random sayings and wisdom I’ve collected this week:
Instead of using “my better half” as a nickname for a spouse or significant other in Costa Rica, they often say “mi media naranja” which means literally “my half orange.” So adorable!
When Ticos are in a messy situation, they’ll often say “¡Qué torte!” which literally means “What a torte” but figuratively means “What a mess!”
“Por dicha or qué dicha” can mean “fortunately,” or “how fortunate.” I’ve been hearing this one often.
To shoot the breeze in Costa Rica or to engage in small talk is “Hablar paja” literally “to talk straw.” You can also say “Pura paja” which means you’re talkin’ pure bull.
“Mi amor” is used very often here. It’s used among neighbors and friends, but also I’ve heard it in the store from cashier to customer “Gracias mi amor.” Our professor calls us “preciosas” or “princesas” and also uses the phrase “mi amor” with us. Ticos are so loving. I can see why Costa Rica is the happiest country in the world. “El arma más poderosa es amor” is painted on benches at the train station. I’ve never been turned away from a stranger when I need help or directions.
This week has been super busy and it’s only Wednesday! It’s 10:00 PM and I’ve only just been able to sit down and write. It’s easy to lose your concept of time when you’re in a completely unfamiliar routine, especially in a foreign country. I kind of forgot it was January, or even winter, since it’s been 75 to 80 degrees every day. I also don’t really follow what day of the week it is since we always get reminders of what’s happening the next couple of days. It’s a strange, yet refreshing feeling.
I also just realized that I didn’t make any New Year’s resolutions for 2017. I always at least think about a couple of things I’d like to improve on, but it completely slipped my mind in the shuffle of the last couple days. People even mentioned resolutions of their own, and I neglected to think of any for myself.
Some people have problems with New Year’s resolutions because you can’t really just decide to change one day and be a completely different person the next. But I do like new year’s resolutions because they get you in the mindset of change. If you resolve to do something, anything, you can proceed at whichever rate works for you. No one really has the right to say otherwise.
Obviously nothing changes overnight, but your mindset can and that’ll take you very far in a year. Whether you make a long-term goal or stick with small strides, the first step is always self-awareness; I don’t think I’ve been too self-aware on this trip. I’ve been thinking a lot about the world around me and the “we’re all small specks in the universe” philosophy, but not really about where I see myself now and where I see myself going.
I’ve been successful embracing the Costa Rican people and lifestyle, but where do I go after this? Can’t say I’m sure at all, which is sort of scary. So I think I’ll resolve to live the “pura vida” lifestyle and remind myself of the phrase and how much it means in times of uncertainty like this one. In the end, it really is all going to work out in one way or another. And that goes for you too, if you’re reading this!
Gracias para leer, mis amores. ¡Hasta la próxima!