Strengthening Communities through Women’s Groups in Costa Rica

Women’s groups in Costa Rica are kind of a big deal.

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In rural and urban communities throughout the country, women work together in groups on long-term projects to provide their families with additional income and also have work to do outside of their primary roles as ama de casa.

Projects differ from community to community but generally tend to be textile, food/cooking, or agricultural based.

Here are some examples of women’s group’s projects: Continue reading

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A Costa Rican Wedding

Costa Rican social events are not for the fainthearted. They are looong. Just a few days ago on Monday I attended a local celebration for El Día del Trabajador (Labor Day) and it was from 8am-3pm.

In case you thought you had the whole day off, think again.

Local celebrations usually start with a few hours of mixing and mingling, 2-3 hours of people talking into microphones giving what feels like drawn-out unsolicited Oscar acceptance speeches and then afterwards, the sleepy audience is revived with a lunch (you guessed it, arroz con pollo) and a cafecito (coffee) and snack even before the afternoon meal is fully digested.

So when I got invited to my first wedding, I knew I had to prepare myself mentally.

Which I did not do by going to church that very same Sunday morning.

In Costa Rica, wedding ceremonies are held in the local church and the reception usually takes place at the family’s residence.

But this wedding was a little different. Continue reading

Hello Summer, Goodbye Coffee

As the Costa Rican winter comes to an end, so does coffee picking season.

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For a community like Fila Naranjo, coffee picking season is an important time of the year and for many families, it’s the only time of the year that they have a steady flow of income.

Coffee harvest is usually around 4-6 months, starting as early as September and lasting through January or February.

Usually this is a time when things in the community feel…dead. Both men and women head to their fincas (farms) and pick coffee all day. And I mean awwwllll day. People pick coffee from 8-12 hours every day in rain or blistering shine covering their entire bodies in jeans, long sleeve button up shirts, caps, bandannas, and boots to prevent sunburn and keep the zancudos (mosquitos) away. If it’s raining, they’ll cover their heads and bodies with plastic bags.

Can you imagine? Continue reading

El Juego de Los Diablitos

El Juego de Los Diablitos
The Game of the Little Devils

If you follow me on Instagram, then you probably saw that I did something a little different to celebrate the new year this year.

To bring in 2017, I went to El Juego de los Diablitos festival in Boruca. Continue reading

A Costa Rican Campo Christmas

Over the past few weeks, the thought of being away from home — away from friends, family, snow, cheese, Christmas cookies, wine — all the things that are comforting to me during winter and Christmas, was a difficult truth to swallow.

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But now that Christmas has come and passed, I feel appreciative of the time I spent with new friends and family, under a hot hot Costa Rican sun, with 3 wonderful Peace Corps volunteers, endless Christmas art activities, too much karaoke, ridiculously priced cheddar cheese (I’m from Wisconsin, it was necessary), not-so-delicious red wine, and Christmas cookies (yes, we made it happen). Continue reading

On Being Ama de Casa

Ama de Casa is title widely used in Costa Rica to describe the role of the woman whose job is to stay at home and care for the house, the children, and oftentimes here, the grandchildren.


The word “ama” is a noun and translates to:

  • Lady of the house
  • Owner
  • Governess
  • Foster mother
  • Housewife
  • Housekeeper

I know…the dictionary literally put them in that order. It kinda goes downhill from lady of the house. Continue reading

Celebrating Language through Costa Rica English Festivals

It’s English Festival season!

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Not as exciting as pumpkin spice season (Starbucks, I’ll see you in October) but it’s still an important time here in Costa Rica.

For students in Costa Rica, English is a fundamental skill that can serve as a stepping stone for higher paying jobs, travel, study, and international opportunities. It’s especially important here because Costa Rica’s economy is largely based on tourism with the majority of tourists coming from English speaking countries.

Point is, learn yo English.

So what’s an English Festival? 
Continue reading

Fiestas Patronales in Fila Naranjo

This past weekend the annual Fiestas patronales (Patronage Festivals) were hosted in Fila Naranjo.

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This was the first big celebration that’s happened in my community since I’ve been here so to say the least, I was pretty excited and intrigued to find out how Big Fila gets they party on.

So what is this fiesta anyway?! I know, you’re just dying to know. Continue reading