We spent the morning walking all over town, Danny, Rachel, Jesirae, y yo. I bought a perfect aluminum kettle to go with the chorreador my mamaTica Evelyn bought me. I bought Molly's nephew back home a romper cabesa, des frutes norteamericanos, pero todos en españoles (manzana, naranja...). Compré más café de our favorite feria attendant.
Everyone reminded me to keep practicing my Spanish (...tearing up), and I'm committed to it. Evelyn & little Nicole shared with me their conversation about my leaving, how they would miss how I always showed up with my ¡Hola amigas! Como estan, chicas? And that choked me up some, too.
No matter how hard it can be to be away from home for so long, I just could never imagine a warmer culture than this one. It was all I could do to live up to it. I will miss walking home through the neighborhood streets, greeting ¡Buenos Dias! y ¡Adios! a cualquier vecino. Learning that, after 4pm, it was time for the day to wind down, so naturally you greeted folks with Goodbye! instead of Hello. Pasando la casa de Carina and holding little Alé or wishing Jes's abueloTico '¡Feliz Cumpleaños!'. Carla and Isa brought energy and joy into every hour in the classroom, and even dry Danny stayed so committed to our improvement.
Ticos are unlike any culture I've seen--it's a machista world where the family is foundation. Where las madres run the unit. Where you don't stray far, and you don't separate from your family. Where feminism might technically exist, but it focuses on such different issues that it is another paradigm entirely. Young Kate & Clara from Austin couldn't believe the volume of kids and families just out and about after dark, when we went for a walk their first night. It's a culture without strangers. It's a machisto culture without fear of men unknown. Attacks exist, to be sure, but closer to home. In the home, even, either outright or in quieter transgressions, including those of omission. Clara, as she told it, confused but happily pregnant at 16, somehow unaware that her new boyfriend and she could have arrived at such a result. "I hope it's a boy" was the simple commentary from mom. Mother of a child with child. Abortions are solely permitted where the mother's life is at stake.
"Here is the local detox clinic." "It's so small!" "Well, it's just a place to take a drunk person in public until their family can come pick them up." We explained that a social work and safety-net system so deeply reliant on family help wouldn't really work where we were from. Danny shrugged.
Before departing for our ladies beach weekend, we four Americanas purchased the requisite number of cases of Costa Rican beer. "For you? You ladies? Hm. Women do not purchase beer in Costa Rica. Well. Unless it is for the men, of course". We charmingly assured him that would need not apply in our case.
Oh Ticos. Horrendous with directions, because where is the need? "¿Sabe cada tienda en Turrialba, Danny?" "Por supuesto. ¿Como no? [Do you know every single store in Turrialba, Danny? Of course. How could I not?]
And a country so beautiful. Is it a common co-occurrence, a people and a land equally beautiful? When did I ever think I'd miss a nation's flora and fauna so much? (She pined out the window, despite growing motion sickness.) I think the living fences and ephiphytes will stay with me most. Riding two-on-a-bike with Rebecca while trying not to startle the sloths crossing the telephone wires overhead, or drinking our Costa Rican beer in a pool and wondering if the totally bizarre-looking agouti who wandered up next to us was a hallucination, are close seconds.
"Count the species on the tree." "¡Buena suerte!" In the middle of the forest, harnessed to trees in between ziplines, I wanted a flash-bulb / laser technology to county and identify the number of species around us. Even without knowing the answer, it was staggering. Our agradable Mexican guide, as pura vida as the rest, and cheery Morales, self-appointed expert in every English catch phrase uttered by American ziplining tourists over the years. "Whyyyyyy meeeeeeeee" drowned by the roar of the zipline as he sails off into the trees.
And the roads. Winding through thick forests and mountaintop countryside, they were as beautiful as they were terrifying and nausea-inducing. "Is this a stick shift bus??" "Claro que si. Bus en marcha."
I think I could write about EBAIS for my Rush or DePaul applications. From what I learned, the system functions exactly as a national wellness program should. Call it socialism, call it what you want, but to me the interpretation seems simple: how a nation that is deeply invested in the health and well-being of its citizens would design a healthcare system. The local health tech goes door to door, makes sure everyone is current on vaccines, and hands out prophylactic drugs, for free, in the event that a small epidemic is popping up in the next town over. If the family requires it, the tech calls in the nurse, who pays them a visit; and in turn, the doctor will pay house calls as needed. The US thinks that markets will always solve problems on their own, and thus all we need to do is ensure the markets can run smoothly and everything else will be addressed in turn. Because there is a need. Here, the systems were deliberately designed for the express purpose of keeping citizens healthy, laid down by a paternalistic government trying to create a better infrastructure for its children. Does it work because the nation is so small? Because a fundamental national principle isn't the ability to live freely, however you choose? I can't quite figure it out. What does EBAIS do for my desire to administer public health? Well, it's a system with so many points of intersection into a citizen's well-being, so many moments of education, prevention, and health access, that you can't be left with any doubt that every Tico matters here. It's exactly what I want to enable every American family to have and to want to fight for their right to. To be motivated by healthful outcomes, to live in a world where, on an average household income of $22,000, the average citizen will live to be 79.
How can it be over already? How can I be losing my access to everyone who cheerily answers my every ¿Como se dice...? Sometimes it's hard to believe how much I'fve learned. Maybe I can get a Pura Vida shirt at the airport. (Ed: I didn't. Anyone is welcome to purchase me on a future trip to CR.)