Moving anywhere can be a huge undertaking. Moving to a different country with a different language and culture can make it just that much harder to get your bearings and put down new roots. Marcia and I found that the best way to meet a lot of people and get involved was to join the local “Grupo Adulto Mayor.” This is a program sponsored by the government to encourage seniors to remain active and healthy and participate in group events. The government site can be found at http://www.conapam.go.cr/. If you are retired, this could be right for you. If you are 30-somethings, it’s probably not for you.
Our group meets every Wednesday afternoon. We usually have about 25 people in at our meetings. Sometimes we have a speaker from the CAJA or CONAPAM, but usually we have our own agenda. Greetings are a major event, of course. You don’t just walk into a group and say, “Hola!” You must go to each individual and kiss the cheeks of the women and shake the hands of the men and ask them how they are.
Our meetings used to be very loosely structured, but in the last year they have followed a set routine. When the meeting comes to order, a prayer is given. That’s the only mention of religion in our group and none of the events are church-sponsored. Next we have a period of light exercise, a little moving around and stretching. Sometimes we will also play some silly game. At first these seemed a bit weird, but now I can’t stop laughing because they never go right. Everyone seems to be playing by a different set of rules and it’s like herding kittens.
Then we discuss upcoming events and plan outings. We have gone on several outings in the past 3 years. Our last one was to Cartago, where we had lunch and visited the Basilica and a huge rose grower. We often go to dances where one group will host one or more other groups. We sometimes take a day trip to a hotel or nature reserve.
We have always received a warm welcome from our group and find the same when we attend larger events. Everyone is always very friendly and happy to see us joining in fun. Don’t let any fear of your Spanish skills keep you away. If you ask around your community, I’m sure you will find a local group.
See if you can spot us in any of the photos.