February 2, 2017
I haven’t blogged in a couple weeks, so I thought I’d post one so my family knows I’m alive (hi fam!).
Last weekend I stayed in San José, and it was a great decision because I got the opportunity to immerse myself in the weekend culture of the city I am living in. Instead of living like a tourist (as I had been the past few weeks on excursions), I got to have some tico experiences.
Saturday we went to a coffee festival in Frailes, San José. It’s just another province, but was still an hour away (San José is flippin’ huge). The festival was filled with ticos only… I mean, we literally stuck out like sore thumbs because we were the only gringos for miles. It was $3 to get in and we got to taste test TONS of different coffee. Of course my coffee-addicted self tried every single type of coffee and picked my favorite to bring back home.
At the festival there were games being run by an MC, along with booths that had hand-crafted souvenirs people could purchase. We were sitting by the main stage watching the MC run the games with people in the crowd when he says, “La rubia,” and is pointing straight at me. So I get pulled on stage thinking I’m about to play a soccer game versus my friend Theresa, who also got called up, but boy was I wrong. First, we had to see who could juggle a soccer ball more times– Theresa won by a landslide (I had no warm up, okay?). That wasn’t the worst part.
Next, he goes “Alright now it’s time to freestyle dance for ten seconds each.” Sounds like no big deal to the average joe, but I was mortified. First of all, I am the most awkward dancer in existence. Along with that, I was surrounded by probably 150 ticos who are some of the best dancers I’ve ever seen at the bars. It was pretty awful and intimidating to say the least, especially because I could barely understand the MC. The last thing we had to do was memorize a dance he performed and perform it ourselves. These games will probably go down as the most embarrassing 10 minutes of my life (I may or may not have a video, but it is not likely any of you will ever see it).
After this shindig went down, we went on a coffee tour thinking it’d be informative and we’d be able to learn about how they make coffee. Well, funny thing is, when you’re in a place with all the locals they only speak Spanish (weird, huh!?). Haha, so we didn’t understand a word the tour guide said and spent two hours playing with coffee beans. Don’t judge us– we had fun.
Sunday morning Erica, Olivia, and I went searching for waterfalls in Acosta, a little mountain town 45 minutes away. We were in the middle of nowhere, and a kind tico tried to give us directions to the waterfalls we wanted to see. We didn’t fully understand him and ended up going the complete opposite direction… but we still found waterfalls! When we got back to his dad’s restaurant (four hours later…), we found out there are actually 14 waterfalls on the property… We spent four hours searching and found two -__-. We’ll be back for you, Acosta!
Last weekend had me practicing my Spanish A LOT, but it also had me failing at understanding and speaking the language A LOT. When looking back on that weekend there is definitely some beauty to be found in those scary, confusing situations. The people here aren’t offended by the fact we are not fluent in Spanish… they actually embrace our differences more than I have ever witnessed people do so in the U.S. They don’t ignore you, treat you like an outsider or shun you. They listen to you speak as you map out what you’re trying to say and they slow down/ repeat themselves when you don’t quite understand what they are trying to say.
The restaurant owner even ended up talking to our Uber driver on the phone to explain directions to him so we could get home safely. We spent 30 minutes talking with him, even though neither party was fluent in the other party’s native language. I do not think the people here will ever cease to amaze me with their generosity. Just some genuine people lovin’ on anyone they encounter. I think everyone in the U.S. should strive to act the way the ticos do when we’re around people who are different than us. It’s a beautiful thing when you find yourself having a 30-minute conversation about life with a person you thought you’d never be able to understand.