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Nanners, Manners and Planners

I have learned a lot in the last couple weeks. I have been taught through first-hand experience the true meaning of Tico Time, the cultivation process of crops like cacao and banana, and even a little bit about manners. How’s that for a well-rounded education? According to my freshman year Psychology teacher, I should explain each of these topics in the order they were previously mentioned in the text, but I’m feeling kind of rebellious. Sorry, Dr. Lakey.

Río Sucio, on our way to Tirimbina

The weekend from a week ago our IFSA group took a day trip to a cacao plantation in Tirimbina. A long, narrow and unnervingly wobbly bridge gave us passage over the mighty Río Sarapiquí to lead us to the site where we learned all one could want to know about the cacao bean. From the fermenting to the drying to the roasting to the grinding, it was all a fascinatingly laborious process to finally arrive at my favorite stage, the eating. Apparently the indigenous people used to add spices like black pepper, chili pepper and nutmeg to their chocolate drinks… and I must say, it wasn’t too bad! The whole cacao experience will certainly make me appreciate my future candy bars even more; a phenomenon I never thought possible.

In another IFSA-related trip (though this one was unfortunately not IFSA-financially-sponsored), our Social History of Costa Rica class traveled to the Caribbean side in a 5-hour bus ride that lacked both personal space and seat cushioning. We first arrived in Puerto Limón and ate lunch in the same building where the leaders of the civil rights movement in the early 20th century would meet to plan the people’s return back to Africa, which never actually happened. So can that technically even still be considered history if nothing happens? Hmm… We also got to see the island, Isla Uvita, where Cristóbal Colón apparently landed in his discovery of the country. Another miserable hour in the bus took us to Cahuita where we stayed in an over-priced cabina for the night and 5 of us woke up early the next morning to take a stroll through the famous national park there for a couple hours. At 8:30 am we were off to the Del Monte banana plantation in Sixaola where we sweated our way through a tour of the cultivation, processing and shipment of the bananas. All very interesting stuff, and we really learned a lot, but the lack of a complimentary banana at the end left me wanting more. One lunch and six hours later, we were back in Heredia and I started  feeling my legs again.

The coolest flower I've ever seen

It may come as a surprise to many of you, but even at the ripe old age of 21 I am still learning about manners. I initiated a heart-to-heart with my madre Tica the other day just to make sure she wasn’t secretly holding grudges concerning important household issues like how much time I spend in the shower, where I keep my toothbrush, etc. Coming as no surprise, she immediately brought up my appetite. It’s not even just about the quantity. She doesn’t want me using jelly on toast in the afternoon because jelly is for breakfast. Don’t snack on cookies because they’re for coffee in the afternoons. Calculate microwave time better so you don’t have to punch the buttons and open/close the door twice. These issues that seem ridiculously insignificant to me are apparently important enough to her to speak out against them. Thus, I could be practicing perfectly fine manners with respect to my North American home, but they might be considered rude in another. Manners are relative! Though I doubt that argument would work in explaining to my mom why it was okay for my elbows to be on the table all those years…

I've always wanted to be #24

In regards to the TicoTime phenomenon I have recently come to butt heads with, I’m going to stand my ground to a certain extent and say that while I certainly appreciate and find beauty in the lack of pre-occupation concerning the time of day or punctuality in general, a lackadaisical and apathetic mindset can become a problematic nuisance. Example: I have played in 2 basketball games with my university; one game at 9am and the other at 11am. Finding the scene at 9am on the day of the first game to include a locked gym with the lights off, trashed floor, and no coach or opponent that ultimately only delayed game time until 9:15 wasn’t such a big deal, but when the second game started at 12:15, I was a bit perturbed. Planning is not wrong. Working efficiently and wanting to manage time wisely is not a bad thing. I stand by that. I also realize there are positives that can come from mindsets on both sides of the issue. Can the perfect balance between them ever be reached? I suppose in the end it’s all relative, kinda like manners.

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4 Responses to “Nanners, Manners and Planners”

  1. Mom Says:

    You are amazingly observant…a characteristic that will come in handy forever in many ways. Love you lots, Benj. Mom

  2. Aunt Rachel Says:

    Oh, my goodness! LOVED this blog. Just the right combination of pertinent information and humorous stories to start my week off right! Can’t wait to hear the story of why your bball jersey/shorts had different numbers. As a bball ref, Michael is HORRIFIED! I’ll make sure your mom has a steady supply of bananas for you when you get home. Can’t wait to see you…which, I realize, for aunts, probably won’t be until Christmas, but I’m learning to deal with that! :) I do miss you lots, though! A. Rachel

  3. Aunt Marcy Says:

    Oh, Benjamin, Benjamin … as Aunt Rachel said: What a GREAT way to start my week! I think the saddest thing about the whole blog was: no complimentary banana after all of that “banana interest” I’m sure was shown during your tour. I’ll probably boycott Del Monte for now. The funniest part of the blog? 24!!!!! Oh, that caption is something I will laugh at until the day comes that I can laugh no more. Thanks for sharing once again. I really, really hope it’s not CHRISTMAS before we see you again! Maybe if you come home at the end of summer break we can schedule a 2-hr party!!! Just 2 hrs!!! Of course, if you wanted to show your pictures, it might take a little longer. What an experience you have had so far and continue to have! We love you! Aunt Marcy

  4. Caitlin Butler Says:

    Ben,
    I’m so glad I came across this today. It’s amazing to hear that you are continuing to learn. I applaud you for being bold enough to ask your host mom those hard questions about manners. In my household, as the semester went on, I figured it was too late to discuss manners within a house (and the little things can still be an issues even in America when you live with others), so I just let a lot of things slide, but I wish I hadn’t. The better the communication among people, the better it is for everyone all-around. Anyway, I also love your basketball number! In July, I’m leaving for American Samoa to teach for a year. I’m extremely sad that I won’t see you, but know that your friendship and zeal for the Lord and for life are things I will take with me. Continue to live every moment to the fullest, making the most of your time.
    OL love,
    Caitlin

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