Día de San Valentín

To: The United States

From: A Costa Rican

Valentine’s Day in Costa Rica, is not just a day for lovers, but rather a day that celebrates love in the most nonspecific form.  It is for friends and romantics alike to celebrate the greatest of human emotions.  I have had a philosophy on love for quite some time now, and it is one that is not easily put into words.  Upon being asked what love is, initially, I would answer that I do not know, but I believe people strive to find it either directly or indirectly every day of their lives.  Love is my religion, and when asked what God is I would have the same response.  I do not know, but I believe people strive to find Him either directly or indirectly every day of their lives.  I believe that my Catholic high school was correct in saying that we are created in His image, so perhaps Les Miserables is true in saying that, “To love another person is to see the face of God.”  We strive for meaningful relationships because they bring us the greatest feeling on Earth, and it is with that feeling that we can find God.  We see Him in the eyes of another, whether it is a grandmother who has baked a batch of cookies for her two young grandchildren, a sick mother who lives for the next conversation with her boys, or the unity that a couple can feel while interlacing fingertips.  This is love – regardless of circumstance.

The smallest gestures can leave the greatest impact.  Arts and crafts in Spanish class helped me revert back to my Kindergarten self as each student made a Valentine’s Day card for someone else in the class.  After a day of “work”, I explored the city a bit, bought a flower for my Costa Rican mother, Noemy, and returned home.  Shortly thereafter, the two other students, Noemy, and I gathered in the kitchen for dinner.  We had lasagna, which reminded me a lot of my home in the USA – my grandmother in North Carolina is a wonderful Italian cook. Just as we were about to finish, the doorbell rang twice.  It was Noemy’s son and her ex-husband.  Both entered, and we all sat together at the table in her kitchen.  The older man had brought a cake for her, sat next to me, and began to speak in English – only I could understand.  He said, “There is only one woman for me in this entire world, and she is here in this kitchen.  I can die happy because I know that I have found her.”  I was taken aback to say the least.  An elderly man of dwindling health sat next to me and shared his wisdom of love.  His relationship had transformed from marriage into a friendship that had grown stronger now that the two are apart.  I can only hope that one day I will understand the depth of his statement.

Stories have the power to recount history, but they also evoke emotion and reveal character. The old man was not the only appalling part of tonight, for a great love story had yet to be delivered.  A story that this family holds closely to their hearts is that of how Noemy’s son found his wife. He began the tale by describing his relationship with the woman that he would later wed.  The two were exclusive for three years at their university before going their separate ways.  They did not talk for nine years, and were both in relationships with other individuals.  One night, his former girlfriend had a dream of his father suffering from a terrible accident.  It sounds unusual to contact someone after nearly a decade based off of something one saw in a dream, but she called him the next day.  The two began to talk, and rediscovered a spark that had not been present for 9 years.  Within the next two months, the couple had moved in together, and in ten they were married.  From an objective perspective, this seems completely ridiculous.  However, my grandmother did something similar – she rejected a scholarship to a university in order to get married at age eighteen.  Love is not logical.  It is not able to be understood, yet when one finds it he/she knows exactly what it is.  Perhaps that is the greatest mystery of all.

~ I hope you all had a wonderful Día de San Valentín!

Sincerely,
Dan

Un Poema: El Morpho


butterflyA beautiful blue,
That the world can see,
When he graces their sights,
On a light-hearted breeze,

Flapping his wings,
To an unsung song,
He will appear to be happy,
But this is inherently wrong.

~

To alight upon a person,
Brings the greatest of joy, DSC00544
To his simple desires,
Of gestures to employ.

The wings of the Morpho,
Are open to all,
However when injured,
Will cause him to fall,

So his wings will lift,
To a color untrue,
And no one will see,
His enlightening blue.

A delicate creature,
With limited time,
Sets forth on a journey,
To conquer his rhyme.

When I woke up this morning after a weekend of adventure, I wrote this poem about the morpho butterfly that I encountered in an exhibit.

Group Dynamics

Group Dynamics

Dear Readers,

My class is starting to establish strong bonds already as we tour the local areas, such as the University of Costa Rica (UCR), religious facilities, hospitals, and restaurants. We have had several faux pas recently that can be attributed to the language barrier, and have been recording a few of them on a twitter account. Feel free to follow that for a closer look! (GringoLingo13)

Also, tomorrow we set off on our first aventura through the rainforest, up a volcano, and into a butterfly exhibit.  Be ready for the incredible photography that is yet to come!

Yours truly,

Dan

All You Need Is Love

All you need is love

Today, my classmates and I were provided an in depth orientation to Costa Rican culture. By listening to accounts, and witnessing life on an excursion into the city, we discovered several things of which we were previously unaware. We arrived at our school building at 9AM after a 40 minute walk from our respective houses, and in our first session – we were told of the social plights that rule the families of this nation. I try not to view their circumstance through my own cultural lens, but as humans – that is our first reaction.

We were told of the positive and negative family dynamics that are prevalent within the nation.  It was mentioned that the primary social circle in this community was family.  One’s closest friends can be found within the walls of his/her home if not a short distance away.  It is typical for children to live with their parents until marriage for both financial and cultural reasons.  One is only supposed to change his/her living environment if starting a family is the primary intention.

Women’s rights appeared to be an issue in that we heard stories of wives staying with their husbands despite physical abuse, and stories of men that split their weeks and paychecks between women.  Some resort to prostitution because it is legal in Costa Rica as long as they are checked for STI’s every 6 months.  Linda, the director of our program, illustrated the tale of a young woman who had engendered eight children with eight different men. That same woman began seeing another man. She had been broken eight times before, but the need for an emotional attachment outweighed the remnants of pain left by deserting men.

Notably, these cultural phenomenons can be witnessed in several places throughout the world, so they are not absolutely specific to this region, however, the degree to which they exist is something that is currently driving me to discover more about this nation. Immediately following this orientation, I became motivated to start an internship program abroad through my university in order to eventually uncover the several societal constructs that currently elude me.