Friday, May 16, 2008

¡chao ticolandia!

It is strange to feel like my time in Central America is winding down. I am on my last run through Costa Rica right now, and it is making me a bit sentimental, well as sentimental as a person can get over things like gallo pinto, maje, tuanis, rapid fire tico spanish, and lizano. Eva would contend one can get pretty sentimental over all of that, and surprisingly I would have to agree. My relationship with Costa Rica has grown and changed over my time here, stretching from a brief 3 weeks to a tumultuous 7 and a half month on again off again relationship.
Costa Rica always reminds me of a over popular teenage boy with too long limbs, a bit of acne, and a streak of attitude. In short it is a country that is growing, fertilized by US interests. I won't lie, when I showed up here, fresh off the plane I was disappointed, there wasn't enough shocking difference for me. I like it when you get off the plane, everything smells strange, and you feel knocked on your ass by difference. And though San Jose does have its share of classic central american semi-constructed concrete and re-bar, it isn't much different than say, Hawaii. And then there were the Ticos themselves, who mystified me with their elusive culture. Which now seems strange because tico-ness seems so obvious in a funny way, but at the beginning I just didn't get it. Even now I am not sure I can explain what makes a tico different from a nica, but there is a difference.
For all my hard ass tendencies, I feel like I have fallen in love with all of these countries. Fallen in love with the quirks, the strange things that make them unique and lovable, even the parts that drive me half crazy.
As for Costa Rica, what will I miss? I think mostly the sun drenched joy of Ticos which even persists through a trying rainy season. I have never met a people who seem so enamored and proud of their country. Today I went on a hike on Cerro Chato, the extinct volcano next to Arenal. We had two guides totally geeked out with the swarovsky binos, telling us about birds, making bird calls, and generally just loving the jungle. And it isn´t just the guides that are like this, everyone wants to share what an amazing place Costa Rica is with you. Taxistas, old ladies, even the cows are stoked to be from here.

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