Living with the Ticos

We are on our second experience of living with a local person/family. (They call themselves “Ticos”.) The first was 3 days with Rosa who speaks NO English and doesn’t read. That didn’t stop this older lady who has mastered Google translate on her iPhone. She talks into it and has you listen to the translation. What a wonderful world we live in when someone with limited resources doesn’t have to be limited by language.

We have lived with Rigo and Esmeralda and various family members for several weeks now. They really are the epitome of contentment. They both work hard, Rigo outside the home, Esmeralda in the home. Their home is basic with the only luxuries being a stove/refrigerator they bought not long ago and internet which was added about 2 weeks ago.

Really everything you need is available in this house, just not in the way we might think about in the USA. There is no heating/cooling although the temperatures are not bad here. There are a few hours each afternoon now that it is very hot in the living room which doesn’t have good ventilation. Dan might be able to help that by adding a window. It was chilly some days when we first arrived and a small space heater in each room would have been nice but everyone got by fine.

There is one bathroom in a house that since we have lived here has had as many as 9 people sleeping here. The sink is outside the small room with the shower/commode. There haven’t been many times that someone has been in line to go into the actual bathroom, even with so many people here. Having the sink outside the room itself allows someone to wash their hands or brush their teeth without restricting access to the commode/shower.(Note the trash can next to the commode…toilet paper is never put in the toilet,ALL toilet paper in the Latin America countries that we visited goes in the trash cans since septic/sewer systems can’t handle that much paper.)

Faucets are what we would consider outdoor spigots with the handle on top. Not elegant but they get the job done. My picture didn’t come out good but here is the type of spigot or hose bib I am talking about.Hose bib from Home Depot

Hot water? Yes and no. The showers here use some type of on demand heating system that works best when you have a lower flow. I’ve had a bit of a challenge adjusting the flow some mornings and had a few invigorating showers as a result but not horrible. This is the only hot water in the house (or in Rosa’s as well) so that means you wash dishes and our hands in cold water. Not ideal from the culture we come from but we have stayed healthy so maybe it isn’t that necessary if you do a good job of washing.

Gollo Washing MachineBoth houses had washing machines with two sections: one for washing the clothes and a second section to take the water out by a centrifuge. I was surprised to see that these machines were about $300-400 USD new in the store. Both houses hang their clothes to dry. Even in the humidity here in the “dry season” they dry quickly because of the centrifuge. (Now that we are starting the rainy season (late April) it is taking 1-3 days for clothes to dry.)

There are no screens on any windows and in an area with so many insects one would think this would be a bigger problem than it has been. I have been getting bites by unknown insects on my arms and once on my knee. Not sure what is causing the bites and they itch for a couple of weeks but I have felt fine and zika isn’t an issue around here since we are so high up. No one else is getting bit…lucky me I always attract the biters!

Esmeralda loves the new stove and refrigerator she got not long ago. She has 6 burners on the stove plus the oven and she frequently has most of the burners going. The refrigerator/freezer replaced a much smaller unit she had previously. It has a cold water option on the door, thanks to a reservoir that she can fill on the inside of the door. I don’t actually see them using it much but it certainly is functional if they want cold water.

What strikes me most is how content and gracious everyone is. Rigo is always saying “Pura Vida”, a very Costa Rican saying meaning basically that life is good. He does seem happy. He works hard when he must and takes it easy the rest of the time. The house could use some “upgrades” (walls not finished out, wires insulated but not hidden in the walls, no matching door handles, etc.) but he has lived here 22 years and said he will get around to them in a few years. It has made me reflect on what is “important” in the US. Not saying I don’t want a nice, finished house when we finish traveling but I can see things a bit differently now.

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