How many months does it take to turn a tourist into a tica?
That’s not really a fair question, and of course I know I’ll never be Costa Rican. However, I’ve been here in San Ramón, with a job and a (host) family and a purpose, for two months now; and I’m feeling pretty settled in.
All my tears were dry by the time my bus pulled in to the San Ramón bus station. Grant was just arriving in Miami in a late arrival to the family vacation as I turned up wearied, slightly blue and full of potential at the door of my new home. Don Pedro, the father of the house and badass survivor of leukemia, helped me lug my backpack to my room, recently vacated by daughter Nairobi. Then we hopped in the car and sped off (no, seriously, Costa Rican drivers are frightening, Pedro included) to pick up Doña Bernardita from her work at a nursery in the next town. Then we had coffee together.
Costa Ricans drink a lot of coffee. I’m now accustomed to at least four cups a day, and I think that’s pretty tame compared with most ticos. Coffee is always ready and waiting for me when I emerge blearily from my room at 6:30; coffee and pastries are always served mid-morning at 10am, and then mid-afternoon at 2, at work; I’m often invited for coffee not long after returning home at 5. And it is good. I read in Fodor’s guide that “it’s tough to find a decent cup in Costa Rica”* (Is it the essay-writing undergrad in me that’s making me put a footnote there, or do I really need to do that?); but I tend to really enjoy what I’m served, at home and at work. So much so, in fact, that I’m beginning to take it without milk, and I think with less sugar too; although since everyone here takes sugar, I have my suspicions that I’ve been receiving pre-sweetened coffee in the first place.
(* Costa Rica 2011, Fodor’s Travel Publications 2011, p162)
Other than my coffee-drinking habits and my appreciation for fried plantain and gallo pinto, I don’t really feel very Costa Rican. Surprise, surprise! Much as I have been enjoying my temporary stay here, I don’t think I’d want to live here permanently. One too many poop-smears in (and on) the bathroom bin (no flushing toilet paper here!); several too many insect encounters and a very un-Scottish climate year-round make me think a life here wouldn’t be for me. But I’m not here to find yet another opportunity for repatriation: I’m here to learn Spanish, discover a crapload of new things and generally have an awesome, roving time. And so far, I’ve been doing my fair share of all of those things, and more besides.
I swear I’ll keep trying to update you all on my life here. For now, by way of explanation, I’ll give you a quick run-down of my typical weekday:
6:00 am: Wake up, shower, dress, eat… you get the idea.
7:45 am: Leave for work.
12:10-12:50 pm: Home for lunch.
5:20 pm: Home from work. Skype with Grant, read for courses, drink coffee with host family.
7:30-8:00 pm: Dinner with the family.
9:00 pm: Bed.
The days fly by at an alarming rate, the weekends go faster, and I am already almost half-way through my ‘real’, working, stage of the year. This means I have to get a move on with my blog; unfortunately, the more blogworthy stuff I do, the less time I have to write about it!
I’ll try and get my shit together, okay?