Jeffry was cleaning the pool at “our” house long before it was our house. Houses here are different – they come with a whole history – written in Spanish on lined paper. They are not owned by people, they are owned by a corporation that gets passed from owner to owner. Most people we have met/continue to meet have been in “our” house at some time or another – they know the past owners – they know the people that have worked here, they know what has happened here – when and why. We have been welcomed to the house by people we have never met. I have even seen our current babysitters’ names on the walls of the kids’ bedrooms from past times hanging out here. We tell people where we live and are most often met with a, “I know where that is,” or “I have been there,” or “I know someone who lived there.” Tamarindo is a small town.
We are so thankful to have met Jeffry who knows this house much better than we do. He knows the in’s and out’s and has really taken care of us as we settle in and figure it out. He is a local and he only speaks Spanish, which means he gets to teach us Spanish, as well as everything else. I feel like we are coming into his house, not the opposite. And he has been so amazingly kind, patient, and welcoming. So much so that he invited us to celebrate Easter Sunday with him and his family.
To be honest, I was so intimidated by the invitation that I was not looking forward to it. I wanted to go – would never have passed up the opportunity. But I could never use the word “excited” to describe how I felt in anticipation.
Sunday morning – I wrote out a couple of sentences in Spanish to express gratitude, (at the very least), for the invitation. That was something I didn’t want to hack to bits when saying goodbye and thanks to his family. The kids drew some pictures for him – Happy Easter, Thank You, etc. And I had a bottle of wine to bring – (is that appropriate, normal??), I had no idea what to expect or what what was expected.
Turns out, surprise, surprise, that there were no expectations. Like every other experience here it was so casual and warm and relaxed. He and his entire extended family live in El Llano, near Huacas. We drove to the gas station – 25 minutes from Tamarindo, called him, and he came to meet us and drive us down the road to his house.
We parked Vino and were welcomed into his home by his girlfriend Pamela. They offered us a Coke, introduced us to their dog DeDe, and showed us around their property. Jeffry and his dad built his home and hope to add on to it in the future. There are lots of animals – pigs, roosters, dogs and horses right outside his door.
We then walked from his home past his cousin’s, aunt’s, uncle’s, grandparent’s, brother’s, etc. homes. We were greeted by numerous family members at his mother’s??? home. His uncle??? took us on a horseback ride to show us their land. Upon returning, we hung out – literally just stood around, eating mangoes and trying to speak Spanish. While the communication was rough, there were lots of smiles and an amazing amount of warmth.
After a lot of anticipation, I just put myself out there and tried to speak as much Spanish as I could, with as little self-consciousness as I could muster. At one point, Jeffrey’s mother asked if we went to church for Easter. Matt and I both looked at each other and then looked at her and said, “no,” and then laughed – come on Spanish, come on. We just couldn’t manage a conversation in Spanish about religion. At one point, Matt said, “si, en el pasado, pero, no hoy – yes, in the past, but not today.” We tried and failed, although we received lots of compliments for our efforts!
We met Jeffry’s long anticipated baby nephew. We held a baby chick and after awhile, Jeffrey said, “listo? ready?” We headed back to his house, had another glass of Coke and loaded into Vino for the drive back to Tamarindo.
We felt honored to have been invited to his home for Easter and I think they enjoyed sharing a little slice of Tico life with us. Stepping out of our comfort zone came with a multitude of unexpected gifts on Easter Sunday.