by Braulio Fernandez, Greenheart Travel High School Scholarship Winner in Costa Rica
I’ll start off where I ended yesterday. I got my fix of tortillas today! I’m assuming that I’ll be eating tortillas with every meal now since my host mom found out I missed them. I didn’t want to tell her directly by asking for tortillas because I thought it would be rude, but luckily, my host sister asked me what kind of food I liked during lunch today. Laura, my host sister, got a stomach ache at school today so she was home at noon for lunch. I told her I liked Mexican food; anything spicy and with plenty of tortillas on the side. My host mother thought it was so curious that I ate tortillas with every meal. She had to confirm with me three times if I ate them breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Fun fact: Costa Ricans eat tortillas more as a pastry. They’ll eat them only for breakfast or with their afternoon coffee, so long story short, I’m eating tortillas every meal.
It may sound silly, but it makes all the difference in my meals and I appreciate how carrying my host mother is. (cue in the “awwws” joke)
In other news, I feel as if I’ve had one of my first authentic Costa Rican moments. Today the group went to the recycled paper company, AMURECI (Asociación de Mujeres de Reciclaje), which is run by five women and volunteers. The women had a French volunteer today, which I thought was pretty cool. ( I want to learn what Costa Ricans say for “cool” by the way.) So after learning how to make our own recycled paper, we all sat down for the ritual/daily 3 p.m. coffee break.
The women were nice enough to bring soda for the visitors, but I decided to be as authentic as possible and took some coffee. I’m starting to get a “taste” for it too. It’s probably the start of a caffeine addiction… Anyway, I like my coffee cup with one tablespoon of sugar, sweet, but not too sweet. I still get some of the bitterness of the coffee which is good.
So we sat down around a small table and we all talked; the five women who owned the place, the French volunteer, Alvaro, Adra, Francisco, Luz Maria, Nitza and I. Alvaro and the women spoke about the pace of life in Costa Rica. A slower and relaxed way of life compared to that of the U.S. and countries alike. They explained how something as simple as stopping for coffee in the middle of the day made all the difference.
Alvaro said that when people live a fast-paced life, rushing everywhere, their life also rushes past them. He didn’t mean that work was bad, but that it’s okay to slow down and give ourselves a break. I really took that to heart as I sat around the table sipping my coffee.
When I get back home I’m going to make it a ritual to have a 3 p.m. “coffee break.” I feel like when I’m at school, all I do is work, and so much so, that I forget that I need to rest. When I take my coffee breaks I’ll make sure to remember the five women, the French volunteer, Alvaro, my group, but most of all, to live as a Costa Rican would for just a little bit.