The Extended Family
First, sorry about the pictures. I thought they were all up, they weren’t. There are lots more up now for anyone who wants to browse.
So. This weekend I went to Pérez Zeledón to meet my extended family. I left Friday afternoon with a cousin who works in San Jose. She works at the San Jose Palacio, a really swanky hotel just outside central San Jose. We met there and she left from work. We then drove the three and a half hours across the mountains to San Isidro and Pérez Zeledón. I spent that first night at her house with her mom and dad. I got to meet a cousin, her husband, young brother in law, and one and a half year old son, Johannes. Johannes likes to play soccer in the house with his tiny yellow ball and really likes my cousin Tati. My aunt had made tamales and we ate a late dinner before heading off to bed.
The next day I spent most of the day at their house as lots of people came over to wish my aunt a happy birthday. I met cousins, aunts and uncles, and lots of family friends. In the afternoon we ran to town to visit the grocery store and then the salon, Tati wanted a hair cut. After that they ran me out to my Abuela Tica’s house outside town. She has a beautiful house out in the country where you look out and its all looks like a jungle right up to the porch.
I saw over twenty kinds of butterflies looking out onto that garden the next morning.
There I met more cousins and more of my Mama Tica’s brothers and sisters. She has a lot of them, I met at least five and am pretty sure there are more I didn’t meet in my two days with them. I was once again fed, Costa Rican’s seem almost obsessed with feeding people, before being introduced to yet more family. I was introduced to everyone as “Tia Betty’s” new American student. After which I was always asked “¿Habla Español?” a question to which an exchange student is never sure how to answer, if you say yes they start talking a mile a minute with college level vocabulary, if you say no you feel like an idiot who shouldn’t be studying abroad in a Spanish speaking country in the first place. My reply, a “so, so” hand gesture and “mas o menos, cuando habla mas despacio” meaning “more or less, when you talk slower”
The next morning I played games with my younger cousins, one of whom was fascinated by my kindle. We played dots and boxes, my only two player game, for over an hour. After the cousins left I sat on the porch cuddling the cat, whose name I am still confused about, and taking pictures of flowers and butterflies. This was of course interspersed with being introduced to yet more family. Nearly every house on their street is owned by someone descended from my Abuela Tica, I learned this when a cousin, I think she was a cousin, took me on a tour of the immediate neighborhood.
Maco el Gato … I think.
All followed by a three and a half hour bus ride home on what had to be the one of the most uncomfortable buses out there. The seats were permanently tilted back and had weird lumber support bumps that leaned you back even more and arced the spine in a strange way. But I made it home. It took one ride from a cousin, the bus to San Jose, a ride from another cousin’s friend, a twenty minute bus ride, and a ride from my host brother, but I made it home at last. What I learned from my adventure . . . families are the same no matter what country the call home.
My Abuela Tica