In the few days that I have been here in Costa Rica I have been mistaken for a Costa Rican woman three times. All of these times have been by residents of this country but not natives.
The first time was in Puerto Viejo, a small Beach town that I think is not to far away from where we are now (it’s also in the Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica, amazing town, visit if you ever come back). I was having breakfast with my sister in this restaurant called “Como en Mi Casa” (Like in my House). I was ordering and the waitress/owner did not fully explain what a dish was and I asked her to repeat what it had. “Gallo Pinto” she said. I blankly stared back. I had no idea what this was but she expected me to know. Seeing my confusion she said “Que no eres Tica?” “Aren’t you Costa Rican?”
Something similar happened today and not just once but twice.
The first time this happened I realized quickly why the woman had confused me for a “Tica”. She was not a Tica herself. All the natives of this country quickly would know that my sister and I were not Costa Rican because the way we speak Spanish (the accent mostly) is different. We did not sound like them so they would always ask us where we were from.
Today I started talking with the EARTH University students in Spanish because it seemed to me that they felt more comfortable speaking in Spanish. And it makes sense they are learning everything here at the University in Spanish. We are strangers coming to learn more about their university thus it would make more sense that they can better explain things in Spanish. Two of the students asked me if I was Costa Rican simply because I was speaking fluent Spanish.Since they have only been living here in Costa Rica for maybe a few years, they have still to develop that ear to identify the different Spanish accents.
However, after meeting all these people from different countries who live here in Costa Rica, it got me thinking why would you move away so far from your country, your people, your culture to a completely different one. As much as I like to travel and visit new countries, the U.S is where I always want to live and I couldn’t even think about leaving my own little paradise in LA.
So why did these people come here to Costa Rica?. Aside from it being a beautiful country, I think that Costa Rica has much to offer. For the students it offers a place to learn, grow and empower themselves with resources that maybe back home they don’t have. It provides them with an opportunity to experience a different culture and way of life. Overall it gives them a different life.
I applaud all of the students and other new residents of Costa Rica for having the courage to leave their country but I realize that it probably wasn’t courage that brought them here but instead a yearning for a different way of living. So EARTH University students keep learning and living in this beautiful country it seems like it can give you much, and one day you will be able to identify a Mexican Spanish accent from Costa Rican one.