Living a healthy life here in Costa Rica really isn’t all that difficult compared to home and Middlebury. My hostmother’s kids, just moved out, that is, they moved to the apartment upstairs, to begin a new independent life. Dona Marta, my hostmother that used to do absolutely everything for them now focuses all her energy on me. She spends hours cooking for me alone… when I wake up the breakfast is already on the table and everything smells of delicious coffee, she makes lunch for me to take to UPeace, prepares something with the afternoon coffee and then starts cooking as soon as I come back from the gym to have dinner ready. My laundry and room mysteriously “clean themselves”, the clothes somehow get folded, my sheets changed and my shoes arranged… and she refuses to take any extra payment.
Well, then there’s the fact that I told Dona Marta I’m on a diet so she sends me with pure carrots, cabbage, pineapple and strawberries to eat at UPeace and the students make fun of me… then she “encourages” me to go to the gym… I’ll return hungry as a wolf from UPeace but she won’t start cooking dinner until I go to the gym… very very “encouraging”.
The second major factor contributing to my healthy lifestyle are the instructors at the gym Chulo and Erick. Chulo is just chulo (his nicknames literally translates as “cutie”), he’s the youngest instructor of the gym and is basically just there for the girls to look at him. Erick, on the other hand, is my self-appointed personal trainer, my motivation to show up to the gym. He teaches the yoga and kickboxing classes and then just hangs out there in the gym to greet and chat with people. What an excellent way to have people return month after month. In Latin America they make everything personal, they, the Ticos more than anyone else, make the effort to get to know you the first or second time they meet you and then greet you by name everytime they see you.
The Ticos are the friendliest people I have ever known. Well, that would still exclude the three gym instructors in Buenos Aires concerned with my “wellbeing”, that took this friendliness thing way to far, hugging and kissing me every time they saw me and then acting all hurt and disappointed if I didn’t show up to their classes but someone elses. I’m not exactly a people’s pleaser but in Buenos Aires I sometimes ended up staying 2-3 hours participating in their classes, for me, to the point of fainting. Here in beautiful Costa Rica, I just have Erick, which is just about perfect!
Actually, the same contrast can be drawn between men in Costa Rica and Buenos Aires in general. In Buenos Aires they were aggressive to the point of being rude – every single guy just had to comment on my appearance… even if they were taking their children for a walk. Men in Costa Rica are a lot more tactful, every third one will smile and just offer you a good day, initiate a conversation, ask if you frequent that place often (be it a street corner, a store, a bar, a dance class), offer you drinks, teach you spanish, teach you new dance moves, have a great sense of humor… they’re basically just wonderful people, not to be ignored like the Argentinian machos in Buenos Aires (or some American guys in DC clubs attempting to hump you on the dancefloor!).
There’s no stress in Costa Rica… life here is pure joy! Still, this might change as I keep on adding to my responsibilities at an alarming rate.