Wednesday, September 1, 2010


I gave my blog a make-over, I hope you like it. Carlos told me that it was quite difficult to read white text against a dark background, but I didn't realize this since I create my posts in a different view than what all of you see. When a tried to read it myself, I could definitely see that Carlos "tiene razon" (he's right). Besides, I think that this is more reflective of Costa Rican culture. Plus, my favorite color is orange.

I know that I have said this before, but I feel more and more a part of my tican family every day. On Monday morning, for example, I came back from the gym like I do every morning to eat breakfast and get ready to go to class. I unlocked the gate and then went to open the door, but it was locked, which is always a sign that no one is home. My first thought was, "shoot, now I'm going to have to buy lunch." On Mondays and Wednesdays, I stay on campus for lunch since I have class at 1 on Monday and I have my dance class at 4:30 on Wednesdays. I usually have to remind Claudia that today is "todo el dia en la U," so I would appreciate it very much if I could have a lunch "para llevar." Well, I didn't get a chance to remind her that morning since she was already gone, but as soon as I walked in I saw a lunch on the kitchen counter...with a little container of rice pudding for dessert. I was so excited that I said "awww" out loud.

I slept in a little bit on Sunday morning because I was out late on Saturday night (I'll get to that. Sorry, I'm working backwards.) and because we had already gone to church Saturday evening. After a typical Sunday breakfast of gallo pinto, eggs, bacon, platanos maduros (sweet fried plantains: by far my favorite food in Costa Rica), coffee, and fruit, my family asked me, "do you have plans today?" I had planned to work on a project with Abby that was due the following day, similar to last Sunday, but I'm starting to learn that it is not a good idea to make plans on Sunday because my family will most likely tell me that we are going somewhere on Sunday morning. This is exactly what happened.

Andrea, my oldest host sister who is married and lives in a different house, invited us over. She lives in Moravia, which is part of San José and is about 25 minutes away from my house in Heredia. I had guessed that Andrea and her husband Jorge, a doctor, were somewhat well-off, and when I saw their house I knew that my assumptions were correct. From the outside, the first thing that I noticed was that they live in a gated community, so they don't have a gate in front of their house like all of the houses in Heredia. I then noticed its resemblance to an American home: instead of a tin roof, it has shingles; it has a visible front door; there are potted plants; and it has an attached garage. The inside was beautiful with high ceilings, a chandalier, a fire place (I know, they need fire places in Costa Rica? I'm not sure that they do, but it gets quite cold at their house because it is closer to the mountains), big glass windows, a kitchen with modern appliances, and an upstairs. Already, something that would be so normal in the U.S. seemed so different and impressive to me here in Costa Rica. Andrea's house is certainly not typical in Costa Rica, even within her neighborhood. While she studied in Canada and visited the U.S., she became fond of the style of houses there, so when they had their house built, she knew that she wanted it to be an "American" home. We spent the entire day and evening there just relaxing, talking, and eating. I truly felt like a part of the family that day and as if I was spending time in one of our family friend's homes with my parents. Everything seemed pleasantly familiar.

I'm sure that all of you are dying to know why I was out late on Saturday night. Don't worry, I didn't do anything crazy, but I did have a lot of fun! Mariela took me dancing with Andrés, her cousin and some of his friends. It was the first real test of my dancing skills, and I thought that I did pretty well. I could do the basic steps, and my partners were patient enough with me to teach me some more complicated moves. My favorite part was watching everyone else dance - they are all so good! I am definitely even more motivated to learn how to dance to the point that I am already thinking about taking a dance class when I get back to the U.S.

After the dancing with Mariela, Andrea's house, and all of the little things before and in between, I have felt very "chineada" lately. "Chinear" is a verb that I think might be unique to Costa Rica (its definitely not in a normal Spanish dictionary) that has its roots in a tiny bit of racism, or perhaps xenophobia. The Chinese population in Costa Rica has been known for coddling their babies in a protective, skeptical kind of way. Hence, chinear (note the similarity to "Chinese") means to care for/spoil in a positive way. If someone is chineado/a, he/she is loved/cared for/spoiled. So, I have felt chineada by my tican family and I like it :).

In other news, I can't believe that today is already the first of September! It marks the beginning of the celebrations for Costa Rica's Independence Day, which is on September 15th. We don't have class that day, so I will be able to partake in all of the festivities. Before then, I already have plans for this weekend and the following with plenty of school work in between. This Saturday I am going white water rafting in Turrialba and the next weekend I am going to the Poas Volcano, so I will have exciting things to write about very soon. I'll check in again soon, chao!

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