Life in Costa Rica
I grew up in Costa Rica. This is what life in Costa Rica is like.
I get asked what it was like to grow up in Costa Rica and immediately I can feel the sway of my hips to the beat of old school Carlos Vives. This musician is of course not from Costa Rica, but I want to illustrate the influence that the southern hemisphere (and the northern too) have on our small country. A country so small yet so powerful in terms of its sustainability goals and the international draw it has.
I will caveat this entry by saying that I haven’t lived in Costa Rica since 2008 so this piece is more about my experience growing up there and the feelings it brings up, which are specially reignited around this time of year. Growing up in Costa Rica, I can think of one-too-many afternoons where I spent it trying to get green mangoes off my friend’s neighbor’s tree. I can think of a study session that ended up in all of us jumping in a pool and the joy of spinning in my feet non-stop until I fell down exhausted in a bed of orange flowers from the nearest Poró tree. I can think of the predictable rainy season, a harbinger for the coming of New Year’s.
Growing up in Costa Rica meant that sunny days were taken for granted. Even days that started with rain, had a high probability of ending with a bright sunny sunset. Instead of seasons, I was used to each month having its own peculiar feel. January the winds were strong, March the heat was intoxicating and May was marked by a particular kind of bug, los abejones de mayo. December is its own kind of magical, with brisk winds of hope and the contrast of the dry sabana as you drive towards Guanacaste. This place has stolen my heart in more ways than one. Its beaches are a place where I learned to be comfortable in my skin and where I got to say I do not too long ago.
Contrary to popular belief, food is not too spicy; it is mild. Simple flavors because the ingredients are as fresh as can be. Even our cheese feels fresh, Queso Turrialba being my one true love. There are a lot of vegetable dishes, guisos, made with squashes that are not common in the US; ayote and chayote are not to be confused.
Although I do not live in Costa Rica and I don’t get to experience the mundane life that sometimes plagues the city I grew up in, San José, I get to be a far away admirer. And every time I get to go back home, I get pleasantly surprised by how far the country has moved on. Alas without me, and that’s ok. It is the opportunity cost of living abroad. Always representing, because there’s not that many Costa Ricans in NYC (as compared to Dominicans and Puerto Ricans), but also humbly acknowledging that I do not know my mother country as well as I used to.
Our brand’s beginnings: the fact that we make sustainable swimwear is a direct result of growing up in Costa Rica. Finding swimsuits that could outlast the year-round use was impossible. Fading colors and the hyper-permeable fabrics that made you carry a small ton of sand in your swimwear bottoms, no more of that. Growing up in Costa Rica made me love being at the beach and by the pool, I just needed to find swimwear that I could live in so I made it.
Photo by: Antonio Jimenez