WorldTeach Costa Rica volunteer Leah had a laundry list of things she wanted to see, do, and experience during her summer as a volunteer. Here she recounts how she was able to successfully check them off her list.
I have been very fortunate while I´ve been down here to be able to experience many different traditions and festivities. Once accepted to this program, we filled out a form sharing our preferences on where we wanted to live and some of the things that we wanted to be able to do in our area, or with our families. One of the things that I stated in my form was that I wanted, if possible, to be able to experience some sort of tradition with my family, be it a birthday, wedding, or some other type of holiday or special day.
I have experienced it all. I did not see a birth or a baby soon after, but I have seen young babies, and I attended a birthday party for a 2-year-old. It is truly amazing what potential an individual has at that age. Everything is new to them. Learning about their senses. Learning about cause and effect. Learning about everything. Their smiles are also incredibly contagious.
I did not go to a funeral, but I did go to a service that they have after someone dies. It is something that they have every day for 9 days after the person has passed away. Family and friends gather together in the home of the person who has recently deceased (or of their closest living family member), pray for that individual, and then eat. It reminded me a bit of shiva in the Jewish tradition.
I have been to other birthday celebrations, learning of traditions like cracking an egg (filled with shampoo) over someone´s head or telling them to taste the cake and then pushing their face into it.
Tomorrow I am going to walk (with everyone else in my town) to a nearby town called Piedras Negras. It is the Día de la Virgen de Los Ángeles and almost the entire country will be walking to church. The biggest celebration of the holiday is in Cartago, at the basilica. People from all over the country, as well as people from other countries, spend hours (sometimes days) walking to Cartago for the holiday. I will be able to tell you more about it after tomorrow, but I´m very excited to be able to be a part of it. We are going to Piedras Negras instead of Cartago. It is not as large, but there will be a similar observation of the holiday. Tonight, mariachis and maybe some other things.