I’m sitting here in my hammock on the eve of my departure from Finmac and Pueblo Nuevo, and I’m realizing that I don’t want to leave yet. I’m not ready to leave yet. There will be some good things/ advantages of going back to San Jose, but I feel like I was just starting to really get to know the people and the way of life out here. It has mostly been due to the fact that as my research project wound down I have had more time and energy to spend doing other things. It also helped that there was an event – I would call it a sort of fair – in the town this weekend, that got me off the farm and meeting more people of the town more than I had before. I’ll give a quick recap of some of the highlights of my last week and a half:
As you’ve probably gathered, there are many different types of work carried out on this one farm: there’s the work with the cacao harvesting and processing, “other fruit/crops” harvesting, the chocolate-making Amazilias, the sloth searching research – I think the only thing left is the cattle ranching. Hugo’s land includes about 100 acres of pasture on which they raise cattle – both for milk for people living on the farm and town, and for meat to be sold. One day I finally expressed my desire to go horseback riding, and so the next day that I didn’t have a lot of my own work to do, I got to go along with tico-cowboy Roy (;D) to see what his work was like. After a little fright at the beginning – when my horse starting galloping away and me not being able to stop it (I told Roy I had gone horseback riding before, but I soon realized that it was going to be quite different than my girl-scout adventure of the past because I actually had to control the horse…), my horse Jimmy and I had a great time following Roy and Paloma (his horse) around the pastures to check on the herds of cattle. We ended up having to move some of them, so got to be a “real cowgirl” and help round up cattle and move them to different pastures. The only downer was that it was a rainy morning, so I couldn’t take out my camera much to take pictures (and I was worried about keeping control of my horse).
My “cowgirl”/ country girl experience continued into the weekend, as the fair was mainly comprised of events that most of us in the US would call a rodeo. In addition to selling special-event foods (like tamales – a food reserved mainly for Christmas time or festivals such as this), Saturday there was a “corrido de torros” – bull riding and a few other rodeo events – and Sunday there were soccer games with all the local teams and then una “carerra de caballos” – an event where people rode horses at a gallop and tried to hook a ring (about the size of a quarter) which was hanging from a rope using a stick just a little bit bigger than a pencil. I went to the bull-riding rodeo with my neighbor Geovanny and the other ACM student who lives in Pueblo Nuevo, and we got “the best seats” (according to Geovanny). We didn’t sit in the bleachers that are meant for the audience, we sat on the fence that makes the bullring, so we could be right up close and personal with the bulls running around the ring. Throughout these events I got great chances to meet and talk with other people from the town, on top of just enjoying all the cowboys and how much I loved the “countryness” of it all.
The last experience that I have to share is the trip I took today. Many times when I’ve talked with people about living in Pueblo Nuevo or at Finmac, they would ask me if I’d been to “the towers” yet. The towers refers to the radio towers that are on top of the mini-mountain just to the north of the farm; near the towers there is a lookout area from which you can see in all directions – even the ocean and Canals of Tortuguero to the northeast on a clear morning. Well, I finally got my chance to go today: some high school girls that live on the farm and a few of their classmates were going to walk to the lookout, and invited me to come with (this happened on a day when I was letting them use my computer/internet to help them with some homework). I was really looking forward to going with them: It would give me an opportunity to talk more, and with girls (kinda) close to my age. I realized that if you take away meal times with Doña Lucia or her sister-in-law, I spent about 98% of my time with guys, just due to the nature of my work and living arrangements. Well, lets just say this trip reminded me of why I usually spend more time with guys…
Instead of hearing “mae” every other word (Costa Rica’s word, which roughly translates to “dude”), every other sentence began or ended with “guilas” (a word used to call a group of girls (or guilos for guys)). There was quite a bit more complaining from this group of friends than my others. I have noticed that walking/running for enjoyment or exercise is seen as strange by many people here, but this group was somewhat extreme. We had walked no more than a kilometer, with only a slight hill included, and they were already talking about how tired of walking they were, and we needed to stop and rest. Then, each time we stopped somewhere, it would usually at least 6 times of different people saying “okay, lets go” in order to get everyone in agreement of where we were going and if we were ready to leave. This was one particular that really got under my skin, because I wasn’t expecting on spending the whole day on this trip (It can easily be done in 3-4 hours, and we left at 6am) – I still had to finish work when I got back. I was reminded that the Costa Rican custom of saying “yes, in a little bit” doesn’t really necessarily mean a short while. Don’t get me wrong, I did really enjoy the day – it was great to talk with the girls and I’m sad that we waited until the last day to do this because I would have liked to spend more time with them getting to know a different side of Costa Rican culture, and the relationship that we formed in such a short time will be very hard to continue after today.
So, all in all, I am going to be very sad to leave Finmac tomorrow. I have adjusted to rural life, and I am enjoying it quite a bit. I’ve met a lot more people than I thought I would after spending my first three weeks in near solitude, and I wish I could continue meeting more or getting to know better the people that I just recently had the chance to meet. It will be great to reunite with friends from ACM and San Jose soon, but I will definitely miss the fresh air and incredibly fresh food and kind people that have made this part of my experience so great.