Staying with a Family in Rural Costa Rica

On Sunday I moved in with a local family for a week.

I’ve stayed with families in the past, but this is the first time I’m paying to do so. I pay the school, the school pays the family. For $125 I get six nights of lodging and two meals a day. This means the family is attentive to my needs but it also means the whole thing feels more like an economic transaction than a real cultural experience. The family hosts a student almost every week of the year, so the novelty has long worn off. The two kids haven’t asked me a question about anything, and the mother is very kind and sits with me at dinner in case I want to ask her something (in Spanish)…but being open to answer my questions is different than a conversation. All in all, though, even if only viewed through an economic lens, it’s still a helluva deal as the meals are hearty and bed comfortable.

Their house basic but livable. This is rural Costa Rica so hot showers, internet, a/c, etc etc rarely are found in homes (and hotels), including mine.

The TV is on all day and night (until they go to bed). They mostly watch cartoons or telenovelas. The kids eat all their meals in front of the TV. I hear this is how it works in most families here — the dominance of a TV in the house is a sign of being poor, I’m guessing, in any country.

The “neighborhood” is a mix of shacks and small houses, with dirt roads and the occasional paved road (which has potholes). Due to the rain, the roads are almost always flooded and more than once I’ve had no choice but to walk through muddy puddles which come up to my calves. In the distance I can see the beach and palm trees; it’s a beautiful sight.

Kids run around without shoes, socks, or shirts.

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