More -itos

I didn-t quite explain, but -ito is the suffix/random syllable used on most words to make them either a) endearments, or b) smaller. For instance, “gato” is a cat, and “gatito” is a kitten. Or, my host brother Edgar is named after his father Edgar, so we have don Edgar, and Edguitar.

SWEETENED CONDENSED MILK:
So, sweetened condensed milk is used more or less like a sauce here. The Ticos put it on ice cream, in deserts, as a spread on sweet breads, with vegetables…everything.

DOGS:
I have only seen two cats in the last week I-ve been here. Two. Also, it-s considered cruel and unusual punishment to neuter or spade dogs. That-s why there are so many different kinds here.

THE ENVIRONMENT:
Everybody that I’ve met here in Costa Rica is very environmentally conscious. If I didn’t know better, I’d call the entire country a bunch of tree-huggers. But it goes beyond that. Even though there is trash in the street, the majority of Ticos pick up after themselves and recycle plastic bottles, or newspapers, or take the bus instead of a car, or they walk to excercise, or jog, or they can tell you on the spot how many gallons of water are wasted if the tap is left open during a 10 minute shower (it’s 30, by the way, for those of you who are curious).

WEATHER:
I was mistaken in my previous post. It is not winter here, it is their summer. Great. That means it gets colder from here on out.

FOOD:
Just a small list of some interesting things I got to eat on my weekend at the beach: green mangoes, ceviche, hot dogs Tico-style, and starfruit. The green mangoes are very, very bitter. “Acidic” was the word used when I asked. You’re supposed to dip it in granules of salt and eat it. Also, ceviche is made of diced tomatoes and cilantro, a rough equivalent to the pico de gallo that Hacienda serves with its entreés. Tico-style hot dogs were the hardest for me to eat. I have this thing about hot dogs…I don’t like them. Unless they’ve been roasted over an open fire. Then they are manageable. The Ticos use REAL frankfurters, where they have to split open the casing, and then they boil the frankfurter in water. It is served on a bun with shredded raw cabbage (raw as opposed to cooked), with ketchup, mustard and mayonaise on top. My host mom insisted on adding crushed potato chips to mine, saying it tasted better. And starfruit is not sweet. It’s like eating lemon peel. I liked it though, but mine was too bitter, and I chucked it when no one was looking.

THE UGLY AMERICAN:
It’s weird, but now I can see how I might have looked to the Ticos on my first day. I hope I wasn’t as insensitive as I’ve seen, but at the same time, it’s weird. I’ve seen tourists in Central San José try to buy ice cream. Many of the names of companies from the United States are still in English, and I’ve watched the tourists speak slowly and deliberately the one thing they want. When the girl at the cashier repeats the order to them, they try to correct her, as she isn’t saying the English words correctly. If she asks them something else, I have not seen any attempt to use Spanish to communicate. In fact, I have more often seen that the tourists become frustrated that the Costa Rican girl cannot speak English, and they are verbal about it to each other. Grant me one more say, friends and family, but shouldn’t the tourists try to speak Spanish in a Spanish-speaking country instead of insisting that everyone should know English?

AMERICANS:
I was asked this question recently, and have found that many Ticos are slightly annoyed as well: why do we from the United States insist on calling ourselves “Americans”? We call someone from Argentina an Argentine, as much as a person from Costa Rica is a Costa Rican. However, all of these countries are a part of “the Americas”. Technically, any Canadian should be able to call himself an “American” too.

NAMES:
I mentioned in an earlier post that the Ticos are fond of naming their pets names that the Ticos can hardly pronounce. My extended family had three dogs: Lucas (nicknamed “Killer), who growls when petted or touched; Sweet, who bites people she doesn’t know, and Terry, who is more sheep than dog and pants as though she were hyperventilating. The two dogs in the house I live in are Beky and Sandy. Beky looks older and has a little bow in her hair. Sandy is extremely energetic and all black.

SHOWERS:
Here, everyone but everyone takes showers in the morning. There are few exceptions.

APPLES:
Apples are expensive here, like avocados can be expensive in Indiana.

MILK:
It comes in cartons, like they had in Mexico. They are homogenized and pasteurized, but can be stored unopened in cupboards until needed. They taste the same. Also, many milk products come in squeeze-able packet-containers. They’re hard to describe, but each has a spout from which to pour or squeeze the product. One milk-based product that I like is called natilla, and is more or less a light sour cream. It is squeezed into a cup and used as a dip for bread and/or vegetables.

V vs. B:
Here in Costa Rica, it seems that every word with a ‘b’ in it is pronounced with a ‘v’ sound, and every ‘v’ is pronounced as a hard ‘b’.

Okay. That’s good enough for now.

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