So, taking Steve to the Liberia airport this pre-dawn morning, we’re going over the usual travel list: Passport? Check. Credit cards? Check. Cell phone charger? Check. You know the drill. With that satisfied, I remind him that he’ll have to adjust his behavior and expectations to the norms of the northern culture. We then list the manners he’ll have to modify while he’s away:
1. Stop at stop signs. No rolling through cause “there’s never any traffic at this intersection.”
2. Give yourself plenty of time to get where you’re going. It’s always “rush hour” in Seattle.
3. No passing on the right side. (Many of our behavior adjustments concern driving.)
4. You have to wear a shirt and shoes every time you leave the house. And probably socks. And this time of year, mittens.
5. Leave the dog at home. She’s really not welcome anywhere else. Not in restaurants. Not in the park. Surely not in your friends’ homes.
6. Don’t buy what you don’t need. It’ll be tempting because there’s just SO MUCH STUFF in the US. And it’s all so shiny and packaged so beautifully. But do we need it? Really? In Costa Rica?
7. Detours are ugly, congested, and time-consuming. We’re thinking about this especially today because with the bridge washed out in last week’s storm, we’ve been re-directed through one of the prettiest little villages and past cattle lowing in pastures. I’m pretty sure they were lowing.
8. Don’t over-eat. Just because the restaurant puts it on your plate, that doesn’t mean it’s a serving.
9. Don’t touch people. Many northerners don’t like to be patted on the shoulder, even when you’re only trying to get their attention to tell them the barrista has their coffee ready. Sure, in Samara, you’d be rewarded with a smile, even a hug. Just don’t expect that up north.
When you go “home” after extended periods of life in Costa Rica, what do you have to remind yourself?