Monday, November 11, 2013


“An unhurried sense of time is in itself a sort of wealth.”-Bonnie Friedman

I arrived in Costa Rica with a lot of baggage, both literally and figuratively. The weeks leading up to my trip were scheduled and booked solid. On top of tying loose ends at the Canadian Model Forest
Our CUSO Volunteer Training group!
Network, I rushed around to appointments, attended a five day volunteer training, made a trip to Montreal, threw a party, packed my suitcases, packed up my room and most difficult of all, said goodbye to my friends and family.

Too often in North America we rush through the day, scheduling every hour, so that we do not ‘lose’ a second. There is a sense of urgency and impatience, that somehow the earth would be thrown off its axis, if we dared to abandon the clock, turn off the computer screen and let life’s beautiful unexpected moments, unfold.

I knew coming to Costa Rica that one of the most challenging adaptations I would need to make is my perception of time. Arriving, with my life in a suitcase, after weeks of chaos and scheduling, I suddenly had hours on end simply, free! 

Rather than doing what I usually do, and start penciling in activities on my day-planner, I relished in the idea that for two whole weeks, my only obligation was to attend Spanish class from 8am-11am and open a bank account (which took three hours, plus another visit tomorrow). I could take my Tico time. 

I didn’t rush out to see the city; in fact I have yet to go to any museums. Only yesterday I took my first day trip out of San Jose to visit the Irazu Volcano

The largest crater, of the 5 at Volcan Irazu
I arrived downtown early Sunday morning to catch the bus at 8. The sun was warm on my face, I watched as many people wandered past and a caravan of people organized themselves for a yoga retreat. A man sat down next to me, sipped his coffee and seemed to be doing the same as me; looked slightly uncomfortable with sitting alone, in a large square of an unfamiliar city, but was trying to make the most of it. He pulled out his Costa Rica guidebook, and I decided to ask him where he was from. Turns out he is from Germany, exploring San Jose on his own before his friend arrives on Tuesday. He opened admited, without prompting, that he is trying to relax, get out of his head and leave his worries on the other side of the ocean.

We engaged in conversation as we waited for the bus that arrived 30 minutes behind schedule. Once on route, the bus made several stops as it winded it’s way up the steep mountainside through acres and acres of farmland, I don’t think I have ever seen so many onions. I also don’t think I have ever seen so many people pile on a bus that was going up a mountain at what seemed like a 45 degree angle. But, no one seemed to mind that the bus was late, crowded or that the route was bumpy. Everyone was enjoying their Sunday morning.

After three hours we arrived at the Volcan Irazu Parque Nacional. It was such a stark contrast between dense, lush and diverse rainforest, and what looked like the moon. 

It is the highest volcano in Costa Rica, and on the clearest of days you can see both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea from its viewing point. Unfortunately, I was not that lucky, and half way into the visit the clouds rolled in and the rain poured down. But as I waited for the bus in the cold rain, I did get to see Pizotes, which are what baboons are to South Africans and racoons are to Canadians; pests. These little guys were jumping up on tables, stealing sandwiches, getting into the garbage bins and traumatizing small children.

A pizote
I returned ‘home’ at around 3pm and was greeted by Kana, Marlene and Maria with coffee and pancakes. Maria and Marlene, appreciated the Maple Syrup. Maria and Marlene are wonderful examples of Tico-Time. They always take the time to sit with me during breakfast, and converse after dinner. They always ask me how my day is going, how I slept and if I have everything. They tell me that they spend their days working, because there is a lot to do. Yet they make the time to have a coffee in the afternoon, watch part of the soccer game, enjoying the day and not rushing through it. After all, there will be more work tomorrow.
So a question to all of you, how will you take your Tico-time today?

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