WorldTeach volunteer Kiana Curry has quickly adjusted to Costa Rican culture. Now, Kiana writes, things that originally seemed new or bizarre have become custom. Read on to discover the odd bugs, weather, food and gossip that have become part of Kiana's daily life as a volunteer. Thanks for sharing, Kiana!
I would like to start by saying the idea for this entry is completely stolen from one of my fellow World Teachers. She had such a great idea to do an entry about things that once seemed or would’ve seemed strange, but now seem so normal. I decided to do my own spin on it and write about some of the things I have learned during my seven months here thus far.
Ants cannot be exterminated (hopefully PETA isn’t reading this entry.) No matter how hard my mother and I try they will not die. They continue to prevail and come back with their family and march in lines in front of us, just to spite us. Like roaches, they too will survive the end of the world.
Abejones are really just flying roaches with hard bodies. I am not sure if they are worse dead or alive because you really have to crunch them, yuck, to kill them and they attach themselves to anything in their path when they are alive. Finding one in my hair yesterday was a real treat. My mom thinks it hilarious that I still eat dinner with my protective hoodie, and my sister continues to chase me around the house with live ones.
Children in Costa Rica run away from furry little caterpillars. Why you ask, because they’re poisonous of course.
A meal is not complete without rice and beans. No, I’m serious I have had people apologize that there were no beans during a meal. They are great for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and are even eaten alongside spaghetti. I have actually grown quite fond of my gallo pinto for breakfast. Even during my vacation, on a resort here in Costa Rica with my family, I made sure to fill up my plate at breakfast with rice and beans.
You have to price check for groceries at the pulperias (mini convenience stores.) According to my little sister, the authority on most things; the pulperia down the hill sells the same ice cream as the pulperia up the hill for cheaper. If only I had known that sooner. I would’ve saved 100 colones and burned the calories that I gained eating it.
Ticans love to feed you. I think people here really do equate food with affection. As I have stated in my previous blog, my mother continues to pile on the food at breakfast and says it’s with love. And since vacation two weeks ago, I no longer have the urge to eat bread in the afternoon during cafecito, which has them concluding either I am sick, or on a diet. My grandmother is not much better, because even if I say I am not hungry, she still whips out something for me to eat, telling me to just eat a little.
Soup is usually a liquid with whole pieces of food. When I am sick I am given soup. My soup consists of a broth with whole potatoes, yucca, a couple of whole green vegetables, an egg and a piece of meat; unchopped. Although it is not exactly what I am accustomed to; when you are sick, it beats a blank, and I usually just chop everything up.
Living in a small town, obviously there isn’t a whole lot to do, so of course gossip is a form of entertainment. Just think about all of those housewife shows; the men work and the women stay home with the kids. It’s the same here, except that the gossip isn’t as catty, it’s more matter of fact. I remember telling my host mother that I don’t like to drink tea before bed because it causes me to run to the bathroom all night long. It was early into my time here in San Ramon, so I was shocked when my overactive bladder became the subject of conversation with the school cook one afternoon. I’ve learned to limit the amount of information I give if I don’t want it repeated, or if I don’t want it repeated I simply ask the party not to tell anyone.
The women are not the biggest gossips. Although you’d think the women would be the biggest gossips, actually it’s the children. They get hold of a piece of information and it spreads like wildfire. The biggest gossip I’ve learned is actually my little sister. Somehow this little girl knows all about everyone in the town and has no problem spreading it around. I almost became an only child the day she said she would tell everyone I was pregnant.
News travels fast. I have heard stories about past volunteers leaving school and some news that was revealed there reaching their house before them. Though I haven’t had that experience, I have had parents frantically ask me why I was leaving. Apparently my sister, once again the cause of it all, told my cousin, another student at my school that I was going back to the United States for good in August as a joke. Well, you know how telephone works, so I had to tell them all to rest assured that I was not leaving until December; oh Daniela.
As many of you may or may not know, before leaving the United State I was completely obsessed with the weather channel. It was bad. I could watch that channel all day long. I knew all the meteorologists by first and last name and when they were slotted to come on. I may or may not be following some of them on twitter at this very moment. Anyway, my favorite part of the weather channel was the local on the 8s because I could see the forecast for the next 10 days. Well, seeing how my family doesn’t have cable and the town I am living in doesn’t even show up on the map, I’ve had to become more creative with my weather predictions. Costa Rica in general has very unpredictable weather. One minute it is sunny and the next, you are soaked. A few times of getting wet, and I’ve learned a couple of things: 1) to always carry an umbrella and 2) to look to the clouds. My friends at the weather channel would be so proud of me; I’ve become a junior meteorologist. I can tell by the types of clouds: shape and color whether or not it will rain.
The rainy season is not a myth. This weekend we had a day and a half of nonstop rain. I knew it was going to rain, unfortunately the clouds didn’t tell me exactly how much. As a result there were landslides and floods all over the country. In my area there was a red letter put out, which meant the streets were too dangerous, so schools were closed yesterday and today. I know I should be more upset, but I am a kid at heart: No school, whooo! I am however worried about September. Word on the mountain is that in past years it has rained for 15 days straight. They may laugh at me for coming to school with my rain jacket, boots and giant umbrella, but soaked I will not be. I guess I better start construction on my submarine.
Note: There are so many more reflections that I could’ve written about, but that would probably make this entry pages long. Look out for my book in the very near future. I already have the perfect publicist in mind ;-) Please submit your comments, if you have any things you are dying to know; just ask.