We went to the beach this last weekend, with a tiny dog nicknamed “Killer”, a dog named “Sweet” who bit people, and lots of relatives. What I don’t understand is why the Ticos insist on naming their pets names that they can hardly pronounce…
As soon as I got back from school, I hurriedly took everything out of my backpack and replaced my books with pjs, my swimsuit and toiletries. Then my host family and I tried to fit ourselves in the Toyota station wagon. We didn’t all fit. There were six of us, my host parents, their sons Edgar and Esteban, and their grandson José Daniel. José is 15, and a very bright kid. I didn’t quite understand everything that happened; doña Isabel kept saying something about the nephew of her only brother, but she never seemed to finish her sentence before she was interrupted by something else. Needless to say, we pulled up in front of a house some 20 minutes later, and I got out of the car, and began trying to help bring things in. It didn-t look like the beach to me, but what do I know? Isabel saw what I was doing, and handed me back the pillow I was trying to give her, and told me to wait in the car. I did as I was told. At one point, everyone disappeared inside the house while I was waiting. Eventually my host parents came back, and got in the front seats of the car. We were dropping off the other three to ride with cousin Carlos.
I cannot accurately describe the next two hours it took to make it to the coast. With no one to talk to after the conversation ran out, I realized how tired I was. Isabel encouraged me to lie down in the back seat on everybody-s pillows and take a nap. I did.
The house was owned by Isabel-s only brother, Carlos, who works with an electricity company that bought lots of land on the coast. It was small, but spacious. It had three doors, and when we arrived, all were thrown open to receive the breeze. Did I mention it-s warmer by the coast? It-s warmer by the coast. So warm, in fact, that I wore my swim suit under shorts and a t-shirt for both Saturday and Sunday. It was paradise! “Uncle” Carlos took us to see the sunset on the beach on Saturday. At first I thought it was the light, but when I got closer I realized the beach had black sand. I-ve never seen black sand before. I wanted to take a handful, but decided that was a dumb idea. What would I do with black sand?
I got darker too. According to my Tico family, I now look Costa Rican. The expression they use here for going to the beach to tan is that I went to “agarrar mi color”, or “take my color”. I was privy to several “traditional” Costa Rican foods, music etc. For instance, I didn-t know this, but there are such things as green mangos. The Ticos eat green mangos with salt. It has a very bitter taste, but when I said the mango was “agria” or “sour” they corrected me and said it was “acido” or “acidic”. They are two different flavors, apparently. I was also able to eat starfruit right from the tree. My family assured me that starfruit was “dulce” (sweet), but I didn-t think so. When no one was watching, I pitched it in the garden.
Here in Costa Rica, 18 is the legal age to both smoke and drink. I think that don Edgar and doña Isabel were the only two who weren-t drinking all the time. My extended family was surprised that I didn-t “tomar” (drink alcohol) even though I was 2 years “past age”. I tried to explain that in the United States the legal age is 21, but they insisted that while I was here, I was legal and I should enjoy myself. I even got the famous “you don-t know what you-re missing” line. I said I-d find out when I came of age. Maybe. Maybe not.
Only one of the aunts could really be considered a “drunk”, though. Everyone else drank to be sociable, it seems.
It was still fun, and I-m hoping that next time, I have the space of mind to remember my camera. My host parents practically promised that they-d take me with them again because the family is fun to be around.
I am at an internet café right now, and the keyboard is in English and Korean by the looks of it. So, once again, I apologize for the puncutation errors.