Oct 20 2012

Book Excerpt 1 from Butterfly in the City

One of Paul’s favorite books is Jo Stuart’s, Butterfly in the City: A Good Life in Costa Rica. It gives a great picture of daily life here in Costa Rica, especially in San Jose, the capital. So much of what she writes, we agree with, and with Jo’s permission, we will reprint excerpts in our newsletter from time to time. Here’s one where she, also, talks about the Costa Rican people:

I was charmed (and still am) when Ticos thank me. They don’t just say “Gracias,” they usually say, “Gracias, muy amable.” Which means, “Thank you, you’re very kind.” Being told I am kind often enough makes me see myself as kind and wanting to be more so.

My life here is further enhanced each time a Tico says, “You’re welcome.” Here they don’t say, as they do in most other Spanish-speaking countries, “No hay de que” or “De nada” (“For nothing”); they say, “Con mucho gusto,” or “Con gusto.” (“With much pleasure” or, more loosely, “The pleasure is mine.” My friend Jerry has said more than once that giving and receiving are the same thing and Ticos seem to believe this. I have been trying to remember to say both “Gracias, muy amable” and “Con mucho gusto.” Language is a powerful influence on attitude

CostaRica's national bird, the Yigüirro

There is a custom here that many North Americans have picked up, that of brushing cheeks with seeing a friend or acquaintance. In the States, after an initial handshake following an introduction, I seldom touch that person again, certainly not my travel agent, my doctor, or my landlord. Here, I do. Touching cheeks makes me feel a connectedness to others — and when you think about it, is much more sanitary than a handshake…

What cinched my love affair with Costa Rica was discovering that their national bird is the Yigüirro. The Yigüirro ( which I can’t even pronounce) is very similar to the U.S. robin but smaller, and much less colorful. The Yigüirro neither threatens anyone’s existence (it certainly is not a bird of prey), nor is it a rare or endangered species. It is a common little dun-colored bird — an “Everybird,” if you will. I think a country that chooses the Yigüirro as its national bird has something to say to the rest of the world about peaceful co-existence, humaneness, self esteem, and equality.”

(Excerpted from pages 47-49)


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