Monday, March 9, 2009

Living with a Mestizo?

Many of us did a "homestay" at a "Mestizo" village. But most of us did not know what that meant until we got there. Now we understand that a "homestay" is staying with a local family to better learn the local lifestyle. And "Mestizo" is a term for a culture of people in Latin America who come from a combination of European, American, and Indian ancestry. Actually, about 94% of the Costa Rica population is Mestizo/white combination! Another word we heard a lot was "indigenous" culture (referring to the Mestizo people), and we found out that it is a way to describe the original settlers in an area. The best part about learning all of this was that we were not in a classroom. The knowledge came from hiking there, meeting the families, helping them on the farm, playing on their land (in the river, down the waterfall, or on the soccer field), cooking the food, and sharing language. Your perspective changes a bit when you come from a city where you can ride to the grocery store in a few minutes to grab a snack, then go to a village where it takes 2 hours by jeep then 3 hours on foot. You think twice before you say "I want some milk." But you definitely appreciate that milk more after you slaved for hours to acquire a few drops of milk from a cow (while the indigenous people squeeze out a bucket-full in no time). Maybe my lack of skill came from the 4:30am rooster wake-up calls. There's no room for exhaustion when you have clothes to clean, waterfalls to repel, sugar cane to cut and carry, and rivers to swim. Mestizos make it look too easy.

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