Last night, in an attempt to make conversation with my Tico Parents on the drive to my Costa Rica home, I asked, “¿Viven en Heredia por todas sus vidas?” (Have you lived in Heredia for your whole lives?). They both answered, “sí.” I continued, “¿Les gusta aquí?” (Do you like it here?). My Mamma Tica proceeded to list why she loves Heredia: “es pequeña, y muy tranquila… y todos están cerca de la casa!” (it’s small and very peaceful/quiet, and everything is close to the house!).
It’s fun to see what Costa Rica is really like after months of researching the culture and google imaging pictures of Heredia and “typical Costa Rican homes.” In the meetings that preceded our departure, I learned all about Costa Rican culture, including the food that we were going to eat, the houses that we were going to live in, the stores that we were going to shop at, etc. As a testament to our accuracy of my teachers, everything checked out!
Observing the behaviors of my host parents shows me how similar all people are, no matter which country they live in. I didn’t really know what to expect from my homestay. So far, my Tico parents are very lovely. My Mamma Tica keeps her home very clean, which matches what my “Culture Smart! Costa Rica” book described of the value that Ticos place in the appearance of their homes. My Papa Tico and their dog Coco are best friends. Their relationship mirrors my Dad’s relationship with our dog Presley. I also had to remind myself to slow down when I was dining with my host family. I’m not used to taking my time with meals at home, so it is unique for me to treat eating breakfast and dinner as a time for relaxing and socializing.
My favorite part of the Heredia walking tour was visiting the Mercado Central. It fit very well with my expectations. It was bustling with locals and teeming with a large variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, spices, seafoods, and meats. I appreciate that aspect of Costa Rican cuisine. I noticed how fresh the produce was that my Mamma Tica served me for breakfast, which is something that we don’t normally get in the United States. I also enjoyed taking the public bus. I found it more charming than the Pittsburgh Port Authority, but that might just be because I’m abroad, and everything seems to have a special luster when I am abroad.
Overall, my first day in Heredia has proven that the “pura vida” attitude is not just a catchy motto that they plaster all over touristy souvenir! I am so excited to continue exploring more of Heredia and fully embrace the Costa Rican lifestyle!
[featured image: Parque Nacional]