Published: June 23rd 2012June 22nd 2012
Before arriving to Costa Rica, I expected the country to be the epitome of modest. In my mind, women covered every inch of their bodies, open homosexuality was non-existent, the media was censored, and crime was rare. After only 2 1/2 weeks here, I've learned that I was wrong. Just like in America Costa Rica has open homosexuality, crime, and many other things. I've noticed that this country and the United States are similar in the areas of diversity, family, and society.
Diversity in Costa Rica includes ethnic origin, homosexuality, and lifestyles. In Costa Rica's capital, San Jose, it amazed me to find people who appeared to be Black/African-American. As our group walked through the city, I thought to myself "Oh, they're tourists too." As time has gone on, I've seen more and more of them in real life and the media. I've learned that many of them have Caribbean descent. The lesson is not all Costa Ricans are tan/light brown. One would be certain that some of them were Black or White (what Americans refer to) if some of the citizens never said a word. Just like Americans, Costa Ricans are of many shades. Some Costa Ricans
Amanda and I
He was wonderful!
have Spanish descent also.
During my trip to the LOVELY Manuel Antonio National Park and Beach, I stopped at a vendor's booth for souvenirs. A chubby- friendly man greeted me and asked me if I needed anything. He continued to talk to me and even said I was pretty. I replied, "You don't have to flatter me. I already intend to buy something." He responded, "Don't worry, I'm gay...Look at me." Open homosexuality is here just like in the United States . The vendor's name is Amanda, (I'm pretty sure he changed it) and we discussed its occurrences here. I don't believe it's as open (in the media, attempts for marriages/rights), but it's definitely here.
After two weeks in urban Heredia, about 20 minutes from the capital, the group relocated to rural Monteverde. As in the US, there are differences between rural and urban living. Heredia has many street lights, city buses that run every 30 minutes, CRAZY traffic (in which cars have the right of passage instead of people), regular pests (ants, roaches), several businesses and few trees. Monteverde consists of few street lights, buses that run four times a day, little (if any) traffic
because most people walk or use motorcycles/bicycles, scorpions and tarantulas, fewer businesses, and MANY trees. Additionally, there is a difference in people's personalities.
My family in Heredia consisted of a father who worked as a bus driver, stay-at-home/college student mother, a 19-year-old college student, and her 7-year-old sister. In contrast, my Monteverde family was solely a working mother and her 14-year-old daughter. Additionally, many people are close to their families. Even when they move away, they frequently call and visit. I was surprised to learn that some people never marry. Some men and women chose to live together and start a family without ever making it a legal union. I know the term for this to be "shacking up." Lily, my second house mother , said divorces in Costa Rica are "MUY,MUY, MUY popular" (very, very, very popular) because of women, liquor, money, and other reasons. Families come in a variety of ways here.
Can't go far without your cellphone? Many Costa Ricans can't either. Just about every Costa Rica I see has a cell phone and many of them love texting. Most of the phones aren't Smartphones.
Society here also resembles the
Man in Heredia
This man was either homeless or a drug addict.
US in it's love of beer. In downtown, Heredia a bar is literally on every corner. The Imperial brand of beer can be spotted everywhere.
I was most stunned at the number of homeless people/ drug addicts here. While I didn't see many (no more than 10), I was surprised nonetheless. They would simply sit on the sidewalks (usually near a bar) and talk to each other or residents.
Additionally, women are not portrayed modestly here. Sex sells. I've seen an array of advertisements where women displayed a great deal of skin or were naked. Many women in daily life walk in heels and display their assets (primarily in Heredia). Before this voyage, I was warned to dress conservatively to avoid being look at awkwardly. I was told wrong! The women here know they look good and aren't ashamed to show it. (However, women in Monteverde seem more modest than those in Heredia.)
Lastly, Costa Rica has many American-based businesses. McDonalds, KFC, and Burger King are all here. They even have a Wal-Mart. Can't get more American than that. :-)
Although this country reflects the United States in a variety of ways, there are
How Sex Sells
Found in grocery store
even more ways in which it differs that I can appreciate. The country's love for conserving energy and nature, their unconcern for time, the freshness and pureness of ALL food (restaurants included), and their love for family are all beautiful things and perhaps attitudes that the US should adapt.
There are more photos below