Hasta Pronto, pt 2
I think I forgot to tell you last time, but "Hasta Pronto" roughly translates into "See you soon." Costa Ricans never say "adios" (and rarely "hola," now that I think about it), they always say Hasta Pronto. Kinda nice.
But you know what, Costa Rica...maybe I won't be back so soon. I was minding my business going through airport security, when some bitter bitch decided my carry-on needed to be checked. Mind you this is not my first rodeo...I had nary a liquid in that bag, nor anything suspicious. After pulling EVERYTHING out of my bag, including souvenirs that had been wrapped in paper, the woman unceremoniously walks away and tosses a "you're good" over her shoulder, leaving me to pack my shit back up. Bitch. Come to think of it, the same thing happened when I left Puerto Rico. Am I being racially profiled?
Anyway, now that I've boarded the plane outta here, I think it's as good a time as any to share some things I learned while I was in Costa Rica, about Spanish, myself, the country, whatever...shitty airport experience aside. Here we go!
1. Costa Ricans are known as "Ticos." Costa Ricans earned the name Tico, which literally means "diminutive," because they say everything in diminutive form, and in many cases, they take it a step further than usual. "Pequeña" becomes "pequeñita," "tienda" becomes "tiendita," and "Chico" becomes "chiquitito"...and so on and so on. It's kinda cute.
2. Ticos are ridiculously polite. Seriously, Americans could use a dose of this. When I got here, I was shocked by the manners. Growing up, I was always taught the correct response to "gracias" was "de nada" (which translates to "it's nothing"), but here in CR they respond with "con mucho gusto" -- "with much pleasure." It's actually considered rude to say anything else, which I got corrected on a few times. Oops. They also ask "¿con permiso?" before leaving the table, taking your plates in restaurant, or ending a polite conversation...and it's not just a formality, they actually are asking you. I also learned in my classes that most Costa Ricans only use the "usted" conjugation -- also known as the "formal you" pronoun that's used for parents, teachers, and strangers -- instead of the "tu" conjugation that most of Latin America uses when they address people they know. Always trying to show respect.
3. Swiss and German people travel a lot. The schools and streets here were filled with them. I asked a couple, and the amount of time they get for vacation each year (at least one month) makes American work habits seem like a slave culture (which I already knew). It reminded me of a paper I wrote in college about how Americans dont take enough time to rest and vacation (foreshadowing much?) and that we're far behind Europeans in life satisfaction. I wonder why?
4. Costa Rica has a very similar cost structure to the States, with (in my opinion) a lower standard of living. I mentioned before how I didn't bother to look at the exchange rate before I came. Well actually, I'd casually glanced at it, but all I saw was a lot of colones to one dollar, which I promptly forgot. I continued to live in ignorance of the actual rate as I spent my colones -- 5000 colones for lunch? How cute. Sure, why not? Sounded like Monopoly money to me. That is, of course, until I learned that $1 = 500 colones...so that 5000 lunch was actually $10, something my unemployed ass needed to avoid. Boy did I feel sheepish. After that, I started realizing that for the most part, everything cost as much or more than in the States. For the swin-dell! What good is being in Central America if it's not cheap? This is where that "more research" theory would've come in handy. (it's worth noting that San Jose and Heredia were ironically much cheaper than Samara, but the prices were still higher than you'd expect for that part of the world.)
5. "Middle class" varies around the world. I'll admit, lower standard of living is too harsh...just because the creature comforts I appreciate in life aren't readily available doesn't make it a lower standard, just not my cup of tea. I like a hot shower and throwing my toilet paper in the toilet, sue me. Anyway, Costa Rica is billed as a mostly middle class country in most places you'll read, and while I'll agree that theyre not bad off, I'm not so sure we would call some of the lifestyles they consider middle class as such here in the states.
6. Costa Rica does not have a military, and invests instead in education and the arts. I thought this was pretty cool. There are lots of free art exhibits and things all over the country, and a couple Ticos I met around my age talked about their education with pride. Wouldn't it be nice if it was like that in America?
7. Costa Rica eats pretty healthily. I don't know about you, but when I think of Latin America, I think of cheese, rice and beans. Not exactly the staple of a healthy diet, from the tiny bit I know about healthy diets. When I went to Puerto Rico, every meal on the island was pork and starch. I'm so serious -- I barely ate any vegetables there, and that wasn't for lack of trying. In Costa Rica, it's so different. Sure, they have their share of rice and beans, but there is a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, and I noticed a lot if people going out of their way to cut fat from dishes. And to be honest, I didn't see very many overweight ppl in the country. Certainly a far cry from the States.
I'm sure I could think of lots more to share, but I've bored you guys enough. Maybe I'll make this a 3-parter? Maybe that's doing the most. I guess it's a mystery! ;)