It takes a village

Share

I told my host mom the day I moved in that my Internet didn’t work.

15 minutes later, four different ticos, from at least three generations of the same family, were in my room (pictured here) trying to get my computer to work.

This was my first week in my new abode in Heredia, Costa Rica. It’s not the most pleasant town, mostly store-fronts and gated houses. I’m close to the university, and there are plenty of bars and shops, so I’ll never be for want.

But I love the family I’m staying with. The house I’m in now has a mother, a father, a granddaughter and a great-grandmother living there.

But that house is on the same property as at least seven or eight others (I lost count), all brothers and sisters of my host mom. At least 20 people live here, not to mention the five or six dogs running around. Children galore of everything from not-a-month old to heading off to college. And even more family members live next door or just down the street and are constantly visiting.

Needless to say, there are a lot to names to learn. And I love it.

The quinta, or what I’d call a small village, is constantly humming with activity. From the squeals of delight from the pool or the peals of laughter from my host mom and her sisters or the revving of engines as cars, buses and trucks come and go. I never feel alone here.

I have my own room on the second floor, so there’s plenty of quiet and privacy when I want it, but I can just as easily socialize and join my mom’s 8-year-old grandson for some basketball or soccer in the yard, or grab a juice and watch the soccer game with my dad and grandma.

Most indicative of my comfort here is that last sentence: I feel totally comfortable calling this family my family. I feel like a member of the family, albeit new and temporary. This doesn’t feel like a hotel, and nor should it. I can call this my home, and it’s no small thanks to the great people who live here with me, who are interested in welcoming me into their lives.

Article by Zach Cohen