Trish’s Wedding

For those of you who followed my Costa Rica blog, you will remember my best friend Trish just married our Costa Rican friend Albin Contreras Mata in December. Here’s a photo of Trish and all the ladies (L to R: Kate, Sarah, Amy, Melissa, Trish, Hannah, Brittany, Rachel) in Cincinnati on a freezing cold, windy day… We’re a lot colder than we look : ). The only unfortunate thing about the photo is that you can’t see our sparkly gold platform heels… not kidding, we really wore them. Trish, do you have any group photos with our shoes showing?

And for anyone interested in reading more about Costa Rica, Trish started a new blog that you can read here. Sarah (pictured above, second from the left) also just moved to Costa Rica and you can read her blog here.


Back to Being Gringa

Alright, alright, I have to admit it. Even though I have always been a gringa (a white girl), I have had my moments of trying to be not-so-gringa…

Like the long process of perfecting (almost : )) that tico (Costa Rican) accent of saying “y” and “ll” like a “j” (example: tortilla = tortiJa) and making more of a “sh” sound for the “rr” (example: correr = cossshhhher). Now I am caught between whether to continue in my tico accent ways or if I should adapt more of the mexicano accent that is prevalent here in Elgin. (By the way, gringa is Costa Rican and guerra is Mexican Spanish… It’s not just different accents — it’s also different vocabularies!)

Or like the time I dyed my hair dark brown in an attempt to blend in better as I walked the San José city streets between bus stops. Unfortunately, the reflection-white skin and the blue eyes still gave me away and I was still called machita (blondie) by the masses.

Or how every time I would go to the beach, I would try and try and try to get that perfect golden tan, hoping that would be the key to becoming a latina look-alike. I think I achieved the perfect tan a grand total of twice in my three years in CR… I overdid the sun intake and just got burnt crimson red instead of browned.

So now I’m back living in gringolandia, as any white community of people is jokingly called by Costa Ricans. I have come to terms again with admitting, “Yes, I am one of the gringos”… It took a while as I had to pass through the normal stages of criticizing the degree of international ignorance and being overwhelmed by the materialism and convenience. These arguments still echo in my mind as I go about my daily life, but thankfully, they seem to be at a much quieter volume than they were when I first came back stateside.

Alright, so to solidify this announcement that I am officially a gringa again (haha, as if any of you are surprised), here’s a recent realization that brought on this post:

I need to explain that in Costa Rica, the usual temperature was in the 70s. When the “Christmas winds” would blow from the north in December, the ticos would all get out their parkas, scarves, gloves, hats, and boots. Because the temperature was a mere 50ºF, we gringos would laugh, wear flip flops, and say, “You think this is cold??!” as the ticos wrapped their babies in seven blankets to walk next door. By the third year of being in CR, I too agreed that the Christmas winds were cold… so there I was, wrapping myself up for the “cold” with multiple layers of socks and scarves, although I never was desperate enough to get a parka, lol. 

Okay, so here’s my I-am-a-gringa moment. The winter has been fairly mild here, according to many co-workers and friends. While it may be mild for them, this has been the longest period of time I have interacted with below-freezing temperatures since 2008. Needless to say, I have been very cold. Today hit a high of 47ºF, and I was driving my car with the windows open and I shed my winter coat as the afternoon warmed up. As I was walking from the grocery store back out to my car, I looked down at my outfit: flats, socks, jeans, t-shirt, cardigan. It hit me all of a sudden: I used to think 47ºF was cold when those Christmas winds would blow through… and now I think 47ºF is warm. I think my Costa Rican friend Judit (who is now rocking life in Shanghai working for an Italian architecture firm) would shake her head, pat my shoulder, and say, “Es cierto. Eres una gringa de corazón.”

Welcome back to a temperate climate, Kate. Glad you finally realized you are a machita and yes, a gringa.

Confessions of a Sun Addict

Winter and I are getting along okay this year, considering this is my first full-length Chicago winter experience since 2008. A grateful ”thank you” goes to my leg warmers, rice bag (a small cotton pillow square filled with rice — heat it up in the microwave and it’s warm for about an hour : )), de-icing spray (for the car), and Mom’s warm quilts for helping me (mostly) avoid the daily temptation to curse at how cold my fingers and toes are (last night at the gas pump was the first slip-up in a while when the fuel tank cap on my car was literally solidly frozen shut… LOL).

While preparing to be in a December wedding, I purchased a membership at a local tanning salon. I was originally going to pay for just two months, but then I learned that the third month was free when you bought two months. So naturally, I got the three-month package. After the wedding, I went once or twice in January. Then I realized last week that my membership would expire February 11th… today to be exact. So what did I do? I started going a lot… like every other day… LOL

So here’s the confession: I walked into the bathroom this morning to be greeted in the mirror by a strange-looking-me… a pinkish-orangish version of me. My initial reaction was, ”Ohmigosh, I look like that orange lady I laughed at the other day at Jewel”… then my reaction was like, ”Well, at least you ran out of membership.”

I think/hope the pink/orange version of me will fade away quickly… I prefer the hint-of-tan me that’s not too white and not too… orange.