Yes means NO

I get so much accustomed to the culture that sometimes I forget the obvious. Have you noticed while living in Costa Rica that no one will ever tell you “no” they cannot do something or “no, I don’t want to do that?” You probably have not because it just appears that the Tico’s and Tica’s are being polite by going your way all the time. The secret is Costa Rican’s do not like the word NO for some reason.

If you ask someone if they want to go to the mall, they will tell you “ok” or “yes” every time. They will never ever tell you “no I don’t want to go” because they would consider this rude.

This is one of the things that make the natives of Costa Rica so endearing. They at all cost will not hurt your feelings by telling you “no” they can’t do something or “no” they don’t want to do something.

Long and short of it… their Yes means No in some instances.


Mother’s Day

Today is the most celebrated holiday in Costa Rica.  Dia de Madre or Mothers Day.  Mothers are honored by flowers and gifts by all of their family and usually a family gathering.

This is somewhat like mothers day in the states but Costa Rica takes it to a whole other level.  Today is a federal holiday in honor of mothers of Costa Rica and everyone gathers at mom’s house to tell her how she is cherished.  I think that is nice.
As you might have read in an earlier article, last year the government decided to make any holiday that fell after Tuesday be changed to the following Monday in order for Costa Ricans to take advantage of a 3 day weekend.  This worked for all of the holidays but Mothers Day and due to ALL of Costa Rica revolting to the idea of changing Mothers Day, the government decided to keep it where it was on August 15th and celebrate it on whichever day of the week it fell.

So go visit your mom, or give her a call even if your North American.  Every mother likes to be acknowledged on Mothers Day.

My family celebrates Mothers Day twice a year, once in May for the US holiday and once in August for the Costa Rican holiday.  How cool is that????


Mothers Day

Mothers Day in Costa Rica is quite an event.  This year it falls on Tuesday the 15th of August but because of the day of the week that it falls on, the day of celebration is Monday the 21st of August.

All of the federal offices, banks and many businesses close for this tribute to the mothers.  Mothers are seen as saints in Costa Rica thus the big holiday. Because of the 3 day weekend, everyone will be taking off for the beach but will be taking their mothers along to celebrate her day.  If your considering taking a trip to the beach, this weekend might not be the time to go as traffic is going to be horrible both coming and going and most of the hotels will already be booked up if you haven’t already made your reservations.

Enjoy your mothers day, and make sure that your special mother knows that she is appreciated and loved.


Kids away at camp

Our older 2 children are away at church camp this week and boy is it quiet. No fighting or arguing or trying to stay up later than us. We only have the one at home to spoil and boy is he getting spoiled. Every night so far he has gotten up at 3:00 am and crawled in bed with us. I know we shouldn’t let him but he’s still my baby (7yrs old) and gets scared in this big house in a room all by himself.


Kids out of school for the summer

TaraJon, Sladyn and Ronan are out of school for the summer and driving us nuts. I suppose all parents have the same problem that we are having with trying to keep them entertained. They want to go go go everyday but with John and I both working that is not possible. They have so much energy when they don’t get out they make us crazy by the end of the day. Unfortunately there are not a lot of summer activities in Costa Rica for kids. Since Costa Rican kids are still in school, there are no camps that we can send them to. They don’t really do that here so it’s up to the parents to come up with activities to keep them occupied…this is going to be a long summer. Fortunately for the parents, they are only out for 2 months since they get a month off in December/January. Any suggestions on what to do with them would be appreciated. I’ve run out of ideas.


Family in Costa Rica

The culture is still generally conservative and retains the “machismo” system. Men and women are expected to act differently from each other, and to respect their roles. While a large proportion of Costa Rican women are professionals and hold important positions in both businesses and the government, most still retain some traditional practices.

Costa Ricans are reverent Catholics, as are most Latin Americans. A host of evangelical churches emerged in the 1970’s, but nearly 80 percent of the population remains Catholic (even though only about 20 percent of the Catholics attend mass regularly).

Young people don’t usually leave home when they go to university but stay with their parents until they are married. Children often join parents for social engagements. Parents often join the children for birthday parties. Most birthday parties include siblings and parents of the child invited and this is to be expected when receiving an invitation unless otherwise stated.

Father is head of the household as in the traditional family system. He is the decision-maker; the authority figure and often taking prime responsibility for decisions for those that are subordinate to them.

Extended family is very important in Costa Rica. Often grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles are all part of the extended family, helping out other family members when needed.
Nepotism is widely acceptable in business in Costa Rica as well. The owner of a company will often employ family members and close friends. Family reputation may be important to the establishment of business relationships.
Family ties are still very strong, and traditions revolve around the family from the moment of birth to that of death. Some immensely important family traditions are baptisms, first communions, engagement parties, weddings and funerals, which are attended by the extended family as well as by friends and their family members.


Family of 5

We are a family of 5. John, Angela, TaraJon, Sladyn & Ronan living in Costa Rica for 5 years now. In this catagory I will share with you little antidotes about our lives here in Costa Rica.


Gift Giving

It is common to exchange gifts for many different reasons in Costa Rica. If invited to a person’s home, a bottle of wine, bouquet of flowers or chocolates are appropriate gifts. If giving flowers, avoid lilies, which are used at funerals. I made the mistake of giving lillies (my favorite flower) to a friend for her birthday. Thank goodness she understood that I didn’t understand and was forgiven for my faux paux.


Religious celebrations unite families

Easter is the premier holiday, and Semana Santa (Holy Week) is a time when most all express their faith, bringing the nation to a standstill. Spanish-style street processions take place every day of the week before Easter, to dramatize all stages of Christ’s way to the cross, crucifixion, and resurrection. Small villages have their own way of celebrating, and they add to the occasion the blessing of oxcarts, horses and trucks. Families everywhere prepare “dulce de chiverre” (sweet preserves), “arroz con leche” (sweet rice), “tamal mudo,” eggnog, quesadillas, “rosquillas: and “polvorones,” and special dishes with seafood.

During the Christmas celebration and some days previous to New Years, a similar phenomenon – the national “fiesas patronales,” is celebrated. Families gather to display nativity scenes at their homes and to celebrate the “posadas,” a custom where children, playing sheperds, go house to house and sing Christmas carols, re-enacting the journey of Mary and Joseph. The “Rosario del Niño” is a rosary the families pray to conclude the Christmas celebration. Musicians perform traditional carols while the partygoers feast on traditional meals. One of maiz y rellenos de arroz,” and “ carne de cerdo y vegetales.”

Another religious celebration is the pilgrimage to the Basilica de los Angeles in Cartago city, in honor of the Virgin of the Angels. During this holiday many people walk to the city from all parts of the country, in order to pay a “promise” to the Virgin (when she answered a prayer) or to renew their faith. Some believers travel for days or even weeks in order to reach their destination and to honor the Virgin. Even though some Costa Ricans decide to party during religious celebrations, they still prefer the company of their family.

Independence Day is the most significant non-religious holiday in Costa Rica. Every town has its own formal official celebration including parades of young children, music bands and majorettes. People carry the national flags and wear the national colors of red, blue and white.


Birthday parties

If you have children, you will have birthday parties. This particular weekend we had 2 parties in one day at the same time. Time to clone the kids so you can make it to both without offending anyone. The thing about the parties here are that EVERYONE comes….the parents, the siblings and sometimes even the cousins. Parties are so much different here from what I remember in the states. Of course there has to be a theme, easy enough but then it gets complicated…you must have 2 menu’s, one for the children (usually hamburgers, hot dogs or old faithful pizza) then a sit down dinner for the parents (rice/chicken or something like it). Imagine 20-30 kids plus all their family. You need a lot of space and a LOT of patience to pull this off. Thank goodness some things are cheaper here than in the US so you don’t need to take out a loan to give a birthday party, even one as extravagant as I have described.
Two of my children are getting into their tweens so it’s not cool for mom to stay at the party THANK GOD!!! I much prefer the drop offs where you don’t have to make conversation for 3 hours with people you don’t know and often don’t speak the same language. Don’t get me wrong…people here are very sweet and very accomodating to those of us that are not completely fluent in the language but it can still be very uncomfortable to be in this type of situation for several hours when you would much rather be doing something else…anything else.

At any rate…the children do have fun and we are creating memories so I guess it’s worth it.