Learning How To Be a Local

Forcing myself to sit down and write this blog entry was a week long struggle, I’d like to blame it on the fact that I am adjusting to the Costa Rican sense of time. I’m guessing it is also because I am starting to create a life here in Puntarenas after three weeks and I’m having too much fun to sit in a computer lab for longer than five minutes. At the end of my third week here in Costa Rica life has gotten a lot easier. Sure I’m still struggling to understand every other sentence my mama tica (Costa Rican Mom) says to me, but generally it feels like I am getting better at living in a foreign country. I have finally overcome the slight yet constant homesickness that haunted me for the first two weeks, and I feel like I am able to now appreciate where I am living and how comfortable I am with my host family and fellow students.
There have been a lot of very small idiosyncrasies in Costa Rican life that I have had to adjust to, most of them being in my host family’s house. My host mom makes me three meals a day and every meal has felt like an exercise of figuring out when, what and how much I want to eat and somehow politely communicating that to my mama tica. Most of our conversations about food are comical, like when I thought I was asking for a bread bun and was actually asking her for a monkey. The Costa Rican perception of a healthy/attractive body is also different than that of Americans, I am by no means as chubby as my host mother wants me to be. I’m pretty sure the first week I was here my mama tica thought I had an eating disorder when I tried to tell her I couldn’t finish the mountain of rice and beans on my plate. It’s wonderful to be taken care of to such to a degree that she refuses to let me wash my own dishes and clothes, but it has taken some getting used to.
What I thought was going to be an extremely relaxed and slow-paced semester here has changed dramatically this week as well. This past weekend I went with some classmates to a small tourist town on the Pacific Ocean and was woken up by howler monkeys stealing a cell phone off our hostel’s balcony. Wednesday my friends and I hiked to a remote beach with our surfboards and promptly got rained on in tropical proportions – if there is one thing that I am definitely used to by now it is being salty and sandy all the time. I haven’t been to the beach in two days and I’m sure you could still find sand in my hair. Tonight there is a huge futbol game between Costa Rica and the United States in San Jose, Costa Rica’s capital. The entire country is fired up and even my host parents are excited to take part in the fiesta that will consume our tiny beach town and the rest of the country. In class today even my profesora was telling us that no matter if Costa Rica wins or loses there will be dancing, singing and guaro (the local liquor) all night.
Allison

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