A typical morning in Costa Rica.

Wake up, roll over. I want more sleep because I can. I have no real place to be today. The light from the skylight used to wake me up, but I’m used to it now. It has become a normal bienvenido from the morning.

I emerge from my room after putting on sandals and a sweatshirt because 1) it’s cold (Yes, this Seattle girl is so serious), and 2) if I didn’t wear shoes in the house my tico mom would wonder what the heck is wrong with the gringa. The ground is made of ceramics so it’s too cold/dirty to not wear shoes, or so the ticos say.

BUENOS DIAS! I greet my tico parents with a hug and kiss and Rosaura quickly tells me it’s time to eat breakfast. I feel like a spoiled princess as I sit down in my favorite chair at the table and watch Spanish television and wait to be served.

Cafe? Rosaura asks. Si, por fa. I say. It wouldn’t be morning without cafe con leche. She brings my cafe and Victor makes gallo pinto. Then they stuff me with bread and butter, tortillas, queso, or whatever else they can find. I tell Victor que rico! It’s delicious. Suddenly the ground shakes. The table shakes. Earthquake? No, a bus just drove by. It’s normal. Usually I forget to notice.

The shower is weird because there is only one knob. It gets colder when you turn it more to the left, so I barely turn it on. Toilet paper doesn’t go in the toilet, it goes in the little garbage beside the toilet. The sink is outside the bathroom, not in it. That took a while to get used to.

I go in my room to check facebook and see what the rest of the world is up to and my friend Abi texts me. Come to my house at 1 pm. That is normal lunch time in Costa Rica… 1 or 2 and sometimes 3 pm. I finish getting ready and it’s after 1 pm. Abi texts me again, Are you coming, sister? I tell her I am and note that I am becoming like a tica — always late, or worse, I now consider 15 minutes late to be on time.

I open the door to my neighborhood with my own set of keys, then iron gate #1 and iron gate #2. I could take a taxi or bus to her house, but it’s just as easy to walk; it’s less than 10 minutes. I cross the street, checking for taxis and buses that might take me out. There are stray dogs everywhere: lying down in the middle of the sidewalk or street or eating scraps from the Carniceria (butchery). I pass the police station and I feel safe for about 2 minutes while I am still in their sight. I live in the ghetto, and it’s obvious when I see all the artistas (teenagers with nothing good to do). It’s fine to walk in Zetillal (my neighborhood) in the middle of the day. I’m not afraid, but I walk fast anyway because Rosaura tells me to.

On the way I see friends from the church. I greet them with a kiss on the cheek. Hola, como esta? I ask. Todo bien gracias a Dios, usted? they reply. Toro bien, I say, because I still can’t distinguish between “r” and “d” in Spanish. Hasta luego, mae!

When I get to Abi’s house I stand outside the gate. ABICITAAAA, I yell. You can’t knock on the door because the door is hidden behind one or two iron gates. To get someone’s attention you yell their name or whistle or as Abi says, “UUUUPPEEEEEE!”

Hello sister! Abi says. I hug her tight, then she closes the gate, and we walk to the bus stop where our afternoon adventure will begin.

… to be continued when I’m not about to walk to Abi’s house.

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