Parts of Life in Costa Rica



Early in the morning as the air still feels moist we make the trek through the hustling streets toward school. The sky holds its cards close to the vest on when (remember the question is never "if" but "when") a potentially clear day can turn to a torrential storm. The rainy season that so many people explain we are in, dictates the day. But this walk is marked by a remarkably cool and comfortable morning. Last night, we needed blankets just to sleep. The balmy 67 degrees was wintry for our newly adapted body temperatures!

We enjoy our little neighborhood in the dense urban setting of San Jose. It feels quaint in a Latin american way. It’s nothing life-changing but it is home. Each vecino (neighbor) is unique in a Costa Rican way. I am greeted with sincere interest. Each interaction takes time when we see each other. It's refreshing to encounter. We have a bakery 50 yards from our doorstep, it creates an aroma that dampers the urban mood we have grown accustomed to here. Our little neighborhood has lots of nooks and crannies to be found out, with houses all stacked in line in a basin known as the central valley.


Drone shot of part of San Jose and the surrounding mountain range in what

is known as the central basin.

As we near the six month mark, here are some of our parts of life (good, bad or just plain interesting to us):

  1. We cherish the people. Ticos (Costa Rican shortened) love life, smelling fanciful and revere all things within their country. They have a thing for their country, the word passion would be underwhelming for Ticos! In Costa Rica, there is a huge dislike toward body odor and bad hygiene. I have enjoyed all the different smelling perfumes on our many walks.

  2. Your sense of time will change. It just will. The first time I spent one afternoon waiting for a package in the post office demanded a change in my American brain. I brought adorable daughter #3 because we were told it would lessen the time spent waiting for a package. It did... down to an hour and a half. Red tape, variation in organization and the "life comes first" will train you in a new type of patience.

  3. Awareness is the new norm. I don't have to tell you that big cities draw the wrong element but the truth is when you have a lot of perceived "rich" Americans in a small area criminal elements will follow. Our small suburb perception changed slowly. We keep an eye out more, we pay attention to our surroundings more and I check whether carrying a cell phone or wallet is necessary. It doesn't mean we are fearful. It means we are aware. After living here for these 5 months it has become second nature to us.

  4. Technology, Fast Food, comida chatarra (junk food) . Boooo I say! You see it in every angle of our daily mingling. People are attached to cell phones, televisions hung at every angle in so many restaurants and sprawling over-priced malls touting amazing deals. Yes, stores are different both in scale and selection but the malls here are all if not more than their North American equivalents. The older generation bemoans the societal changes they see in their younger kids and grand kids. I hear the same incredulous comments my grandpa made about my teenage ways.

  5. We embrace the afternoon rain. I’ll say it now and reflect in a year to see if I still feel this way. Each time the rain begins to come down it changes the mood. Our roof is metal around the house, the skylights are plastic. The house is cement which amplifies the sound of torrential rain in a deafening way. It engulfs every inch of the house in noise. This is a welcome revision to the ringing of cars, guard dogs and the constant flow of people. We love it in a refreshing, melancholic way.


#languageschool #sanjose #rain

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Joel & Angel Ballew

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joel@12degreesnorth.org

ballews@gmail.com

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Angel's Skype ID: angelynnballew

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