This seems to be the theme of my year abroad. I don’t consider myself to be a shy or very private person, but this year has definitely pushed some limits. I think living in another country and culture will do this to anyone.
Today Ross and I are heading to Guanacaste for the weekend with another teacher from school. Her family lives there and she is driving home to celebrate the 50th birthday of her aunt. Apparently there is a big fiesta for the whole weekend, and we are invited!
I am excited, but also a little nervous. Our teacher friend does understand a little English, but she doesn’t speak it. I’m 99% certain her family in Guanacaste will not be fluent either, so this will be a great mandatory practice in all things Spanish for us!
It will be our first time in Guanacaste, which is supposed to be one of the most unique cultural areas in the entire country. Also one of the hottest… I look forward to learning some bombas and trying some new cuisine.
I was initially surprised by the generous invite, we are just two gringos who speak terrible Spanish and try to teach the crazy students at our school some English. I tried to look at it from my perspective, would I invite two random foreigners from work to spend a weekend celebrating with my family? Probably not.
For one, all of my aunts are well under 50 years old so I couldn’t possibly invite someone to their big 50th bash ( I know who my target audience is for this blog :))
Also, it would just seem weird to invite someone (or two people) who I wasn’t that close with and who didn’t speak the language. Bringing people home in States is a big deal. It’s usually reserved for only close family or friends, or close family friends.
I need to forget that old perspective, it’s different here. They are just a bit more welcoming to newbies, foreigners, neighbors, everyone! I realized that when first moving in with our host family, overnight we were immediately welcomed as family members and not just the volunteers who live with them.
As much as I struggle sometimes with that comfort zone, I am usually so happy I took the chance to visit someone’s house, or a new place. I have seen so much and have met so many amazing people this way, and have learned so many new things from each of them. So what initially may have seemed weird to me, now just seems unbelievably warm and kind. This, the willingness to open your heart and home, is definitely part of the Costa Rican culture I want to take back with me.
Entonces, Guanacaste, nos vamos!