Roughing through the wildlife refuge, slipping through rocks and climbing down a forest, all proved to be less challenging than staying with a host-family during my time in Costa Rica. Growing up for 18 years of my life in the hustle and bustle of the second largest city in the United States, I was greeted with a rural life in Villa, Mastatal.
The house is stationed on an organic farm with wildlife dominating most of the landscape. As I walked into my host-family’s house, I was astonished by the sheer open layout. No windows, no bulky walls, no segregation of different rooms. Green leafy plants were lined against the window sill and an aroma of frijoles con arroz(rice) was brewing in two pots in the kitchen. The colorful tiles of the floor complimented the wooden panels of the house and the sound of chirping birds filled the room with a homey feel. The backyard of their house contained 3 stations: one for housing animals, a trapiche(a sugar-cane producer), and a blacksmith.
The family was going about their daily musings. Lucia was cooking dinner, Mario was organic farming, and Rachel was taking care of her son. I found myself quickly out of place, as the simplicity shocked me. Their daily life consisted of working for what they consumed. This idea was so foreign to me.
The first night was definitely enriching. After dinner, the family simply sat to watch the news and spent time talking. No one was interrupted by the sound of a beeping cell-phone. Although my Spanish was minimal, the family was deeply respectful of the differences. Welcoming and warm, the food was also simple, but amazingly fresh. As I ate, I constantly struggled to keep insects from falling into my food while still trying to stay respectful of the lifestyle. The rest of the night consisted of conversing with one another and embracing the beauty of the night. The family went to bed at 8:30pm, while I stayed up until 12 midnight.
The next morning, I woke up to freshly brewed coffee made from a special strainer. The family wakes up to the sound of a rooster, bright and early, 5am. Their day, as explained by the locals, starts before the sun rises. Mario continues to work on his projects as Lucia takes care of the house. She finds joy in maintaining her garden, taking care of the animals, and making sure the house is in good condition. For me, I was given the freedom just to explore the territory.
During my stay, I struggled to find conversation topics to connect with. I realized the differences in culture, language, and education. However, that didn’t stop me from enjoying myself. They truly embrace the phrase “Pura Vida” as I have never experienced such tranquility. I was at ease, simply looking at the multiple fruits in the farm, playing with the animals, and attempting to converse. Compared to a day in America, I must say that Costa Rica offered me a new perspective of what it means to live.