Sunday, November 30, 2008

Familia Tica

My last days in San Luis were beautiful and full of family. Despite frustrations with my project and with school (in California) I could always count on my home stay family and the beautiful farm to lighten my mood. Last Saturday was Adriana’s fifteenth birthday—a huge rite of passage in a young woman’s life. For this celebration my family, who is far from wealthy and rarely eats much meat, bought a whole pig. Some family who live nearby came for the day of preparation. Four people worked at cutting up the whole animal in the back—every single piece being used and sorted into various pots and buckets. As they stood around chopping and cleaning, talking and telling stories the first bits of meat cooked on a wood burning stove. We spent the whole day in the back of the house around the cutting table and the stove, snacking constantly.

On the big day, it was a convergence of family to rival any other major holiday or reunion. As usual, the epicenter of the party was around the stove, which had been burning and cooking almost constantly in preparation for this day. It was so warming to see this huge family together—and to be welcomed to join them in this special celebration. It is comforting to see how universal the warmth and dynamics of family are. I was constantly reminded of my family, and how we are for big gatherings. These are my first pangs of homesickness in nearly nine weeks. But they were quickly smothered in a hug from my home stay sister, Laura, a precocious three year old who was constantly attached to me. This is my tica family—this massive group of smiling people—farmers, construction workers, bakers, etc. speaking the slow Costa Rican Spanish that now peppers my own Espangles speak.

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