Aero: Annie Livingston – Costa Rica 2015 – Life at Home


Aero: Annie Livingston – Costa Rica 2015 – Life at Home
Creative Commons Image via The LEAF Project

Aero: Annie Livingston – Costa Rica 2015 – Life at Home


Annie Livingston

My host family, Mayra, her son Pablo, and Pablo’s daughter Maria Paula picked the four of us who would be staying with her up directly  from the airport and brought us to their house. It had been a long and tiring day of traveling, the airport environment was loud, busy and overstimulating, and we were pretty exhausted. I was very excited, but also a little bit  overwhelmed about going off with people who I had met only seconds before.

They made me feel so comfortable and at home right off the bat. Mayra made us ham and cheese empanadas and strawberry milkshakes, than gave us their WiFi password and told us to relax. Later when we were resting she brought me in a stuffed rabbit, which was such a sweet gesture of her.

She was always so caring to us. If we were going out, she would tell us to bring our sweaters. Sometimes I couldn’t imagine that I would need them, but the funny thing was is that she was always right, whenever she reminded us to bring sweaters it always got chilly.

Pablo was super funny and joked around with us a lot. We had discussed making a Harlem Shake YouTube video with him, and he was very enthusiastic about it. One day when we came back from one of our daily excursions, we found that he had bought all four of us stick horses and bandannas, which we thought was super funny.


ML@FLCC Costa Rica
2015 Flickr Gallery

For his birthday, Pablo bought himself some giant speakers, and one day we came home to him blasting his music outside the house, and many curious people looking over at the house to see what was going on. We had the party house, and everyone was proud of it too.

On his birthday, we went to a party at one of his relatives home to celebrate his along with my friend Alaiza’s birthday. He brought giant speakers and played his music there, as well. All of us got up and danced for a while, and so did everyone else. The birthday party was considerably simpler than most parties I have attended back home. For our “party food” we had garbanzo bean soup (which was basically chickpeas and rice in a broth) and beef fajitas, and a cake topped with whipped  cream like frosting and fruit and it was all wonderfully delicious, and it was all so fun. It didn’t matter that we had nothing to light the candles on the cake with, or that the whole thing was held in a small garage. We loved each other’s company, we loved the food, and we loved the music, we loved the view of the city lights from high on the hill.

Car rides with my host family were one of my favorite parts of the trip. Pablo would drive and usually play some music, some of which included Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds” and “Buffalo Soldier, and “Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car.” “Footloose” and even “Ghostbusters.”  He also played some Spanish music sometimes, and his diverse taste in music was very fun to experience, especially in his giant truck with the windows down and the warm breeze blowing in. I don’t know why his music stuck with me so much, but somehow it did, and all of those songs bring back a hundred memories.

It was interesting to spot the similarities between life with my family in Alajuela and life in my home in New York.  One day Pablo was showing us a music video on his phone and Mayra came in and started dancing, which reminded me of something my own parents would do. They also owned two little dogs who would run to the door barking when the buzzer rang, they same way my dogs do, and they had a cockatiel who would start whistling every morning, just like my cockatiel at home.

Of course there were also differences, some I enjoyed and miss, some made me appreciate my own home in a new way. What was weird was not having any chores to do in my host family. Mayra did all our laundry, and washed all our dishes for us, which was very nice. There was no hot water, though—which meant all my showers were cold….and I learned the art of taking quick showers! Sometimes after a long day of getting all sticky and sweaty, though, it wasn’t so bad. But I do appreciate hot water now in a way that I never did before!

On our last day in Costa Rica, we had a free day which we spent hanging out with our host family at his ranch, where we made our video with the stick horses. Mayra put on a fancy dress and danced for us, and we got to meet many more members of Pablo’s eccentric family.

One thing I felt badly about was that I wished I were able to communicate better with Mayra and Pablo, as they seemed like such, lovely, nice people and I wanted them to know how thankful I was for them to share their culture and love with me.  I really hope to go back and visit them one day, and we will stay in touch through Facebook, so more incentive to keep practicing my Spanish, to be able to talk with them.  Pablo gave us his business card and told us that we were always welcome there in Alajuela. It’s so wonderful to think that I have people that feel like family and a place that feels like home, IN Costa Rica!

Annie Livingston
LEAF Contributor