Back in October, a friend of mine asked me what I´ll miss about living in Costa Rica. Since this friend doesn´t happen to live in the same country as me right now, I had to respond via email. Here´s what I wrote her:
1. The landscape. Every time I look at the view in back of my house on a clear day, I can’t look away for at least a solid 30 seconds. The infinite shades of green, textures of plants and terrain, the
mountainous background and the bright blue sky… all so beautiful it
breaks my heart just a little, every time knowing that my access to
this view has an expiration date.
2. The way it’s rude if someone walks into the room without greeting everyone with at least a “Good Morning”. It seems like such a simple, obvious common courtesy that doesn’t always happen back home.
3. The way it is appropriate to offer and imbibe coffee at any hour. Coffee is fine at 8:00 pm, why would it not be? I mean, really, it wouldn´t ever, like, keep you from sleeping or anything would it?
4. The way my host family (especially my host mom) laughs at herself. All. Of. The. Time. Being able to recognize and appreciate how, at least 83% of the time, the things we humans do and say are ridiculous and/or ridiculously funny is a quality I´ve noticed and started loving about a lot of the friends, fellow teachers, and students I´ve met here.
5. Just how frequently conversations are legitimately started by
commenting on the current state of the weather. Or how the weather
was yesterday, or this morning, or how it is supposed to be tonight.
6. The way that I can’t look anywhere outside without seeing coffee plants, yet no one in my town knows what Starbucks is.
7. We get our eggs from my host dad’s parents, our chayotes and bananos from the backyard, and when we’re in need of plátanos, we just have to ask José’s brother for a bunch. Oh, and we need some yucca? Our neighbors have a few extra from their garden, so they’ll let us use them, especially since Eliza asked for a few chayotes yesterday. And if we need some bread or cookies for cafecito, whoever’s in town running errands in San Vito can swing by La Flor, the local panadería that is constantly exuding the scent of freshly baked goods. It’s such a natural way of food acquisition here that I’m sure that they would think the gringos were extra-crazy for having a special term to categorize the way in which Ticos (well, the ones in my community at least) are in the habit of obtaining food: they are, according to Michael Pollan and other like-minded folks, locavores. As in, a group of people who don´t regularly depend on food that has been shipped from thousands of miles away. It just seems like such an obvious way to acquire the basics of life…
8. Speaking Spanish all the time. It´s not that I dislike English. Needless to say, I´m a lot more eloquent in my native toungue, but Spanish is just so much more fuuuuun.
9. Getting besos and abrazos from my first graders. Talking to (some of) my students. The small but random daily events like seeing huge hairy spiders on the side of the road; spotting toucans (or toucan-like birds?) from way far away outside my bedroom window; chatting with random people from the community and feeling like I´m sorta kinda a part of my pueblo instead of just an outsider spending a year here; being totally unphased by things like buses having to stop and wait until a herd of cows gets done crossing the highway or when the hot water heater stops working and you have to shower with cold water at 6:00 in the morning. I guess what I´m trying to say in all these random examples is the lifestyle that I´ve experienced here — not all of it, because there are definitely things I won´t miss — but the small things that make a bad day become a good one, and really, the things that make being here worth it.