Thursday, June 16, 2016

Salud, Dinero, Amor, Tiempo para disfrutar

As my last week in Costa Rica approaches I've realized how much the Tican people and this beautiful country has grown on me. I will truly miss it and I'm enjoying my time here so much that I don't feel ready to leave but I hope the opportunity will rise again in my life where I can return and pick up where I left off. My API program director told me about a saying here in CR when people sneeze that I really enjoyed. If you sneeze once the response is Salud (Health), if you sneeze a second time you say Dinero (Money), a third Amor (Love), and fourth Tiempo para disfrutar (time to enjoy). I would like to continue to use this and thought it was special tidbit of the culture that I could bring home with me and I also found it sentimental. It seems Latino people for the most part are much more sentimental in general and genuinely care for one another. Again in general the families are close and like to spend time with each and take good care of each other. Of course this occurs in the US as well but here it feels so much different. The pace of life in Costa Rica is slower and relaxed and "go with the flow". Sometimes in the states it feels that everyone is always in rush, or just seem to lack in caring for people around no matter how important they are in your life, which I feel sometimes allows sentimental feelings to fly out the door. I by all means like to plan how I ideally would like my day to go or to plan a trip/vacation but in CR sometimes it really is just one day at a time, or hour at a time without worrying too much what will happen because it most situations everything will go as planned if you just let go. It's a scary feeling for a lot of people myself included depending on the situation but when you do ease the stress of planning each and every moment of your life every once in awhile, you allow yourself to live a little more. You don't restrict yourself, you get uncomfortable, you put yourself in situations you might not have normally been in and sometimes that's okay. This is completely subjective of course but I could get used to this lifestyle pace that I've adapted for a short period of time here in CR. Another reoccurring observation I've made comes back to conservation. I know the climate in the US very much depends on the part of the country and Costa Rica for the most part has the same climate country-wide. However, they construction of most of their buildings and homes are mostly designed with adaptations to the climate. For example, the house I stay in does get hot when the sun is out but the materials used in the home also allow for ventilation to keep cooler at night. Again, this is not uncommon in certain parts of the states where the climate is typically warm all year round but I think we could adapt this everyone for places that do experience snow and colder weather conditions. My home in the states is made of insulation materials unlike here in CR, therefore, when the AC is not on in the home and it's hot outside the house feels warmer than if you were to just be outside sometimes. Here in CR although it gets very hot and humid the homes are constructed with this in mind to keep relatively cool when it's hot and even cooler at night for comfort without the use of an AC unit. If we constructed more homes in the states to keep the heat in when its cold and cool when it's not we could significantly reduce our reliance on electricity and other sources of energy to keep our homes suitable to live in. Although the country of CR is small and has been compared to the size of Virginia, it seems everywhere I've been despite the size Costa Ricans also make the most of their space in homes, restaurants, etc. It might be a tight fit but they do not waste space. Just one of the many other ways CR is so efficient and environmentally aware, in which we can learn from.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Conservation Motivation

So I've been noticing a pattern in the Tican people that is truly inspiring and is something that if countries aren't strongly considering or practicing already should certainly be thinking twice about it. The people of Costa Rica (Ticos) are extremely frugal and do not like to waste, and try to waste the least amount of whatever it may be. Almost everywhere I've been there are recycling bins instead of trash cans and they are designated by material such as plastic, actual waste, paper, etc to make recycling easier. They are very efficient as well in conserving energy. I realized this yesterday when I was in the Lincoln Plaza mall in downtown San Jose with some friends and the escalator was going very slow until it was in use was when it would speed up so that it was not wasting energy when it wasn't in use. Also paper napkins at restaurants in CR are very small, unlike the US where paper napkins are huge and create significant amounts of waste. Even if I were to take and use just a few of their small napkins I'm sure it is a fraction of what I would use if I were to visit any restaurant in the states. Here in Costa Rica they seem to only take what they need rather than create excess and waste. Same goes for food. Not only is it disheartening to a Tican if you do not eat their food, it also seems to be frowned upon to waste perfectly good food. So for anyone who is considering travelling to Costa Rica take only what you know you can eat and don't let the cook know if you didn't like something because they might be extremely offended by either or both. By practicing the mindset that less is more I think  the US in general or major cities such as Cleveland could learn a thing or two about conservation and significantly reducing waste. Landfills can only hold so much garbage and waste into the whole world becomes the landfill. I've also seen a lot of biodegradable containers and such which is not uncommon in the states but  in my opinion, should be more enforced. Plastics and other complex materials take so many years to break down sitting in a landfill and is not good nor ideal for anyone. This past weekend I stayed in a hotel in Monteverde called Hotel Arco Iris where almost all the food included from breakfast was provided from fruits, vegetables, and animals that were being harvested and farmed on their land. I know this is not the case for all countries because Costa Rica seems like it will grow just about anything where seeds are dropped into the soil. However it is possible to be sustainable in other countries and grow what the land will allow to thrive. Farming is a chore and can sometimes be expensive, and in the US everything seems to be about convenience. If everyone were to provide more for themselves and create a better relationship with the land to thrive off of it would be much more ideal. It would also potentially reduce some of the major issues such as genetically modified organisms (GMO's), where exactly your food is coming from and how it is handled which also entails animal cruelty. These topics have recently become very popular and people are starting to realize that that's not how they want the food they consume everyday to be handled or cared for. Therefore, I purpose the simple solution of growing your own food whatever that may be even if you start with just one plant or animal and become partially or fully reliant on the what the Earth can provide to you. Before that is totally possible we must focus on caring for our planet to assure our air, soil, water are clean and conservation is one step closer to achieving this. We only have one Earth and we must keep it safe, clean, and protected. Over the years there has been so much expansion of knowledge and population which in return makes it more difficult to care for our Earth in the way we should. Despite all these things it is possible and it most certainly doesn't hurt to learn from others who seems to be much more considerate about how fragile our Earth can really be and want to do the best that they can to preserve it.