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15 Shocking Issues About Parenting in Costa Rica


As we speak, we’re kicking off this summer time’s installment of Motherhood Across the World! First up is Mallika Viegas, who lives in Playa Carrillo, Costa Rica, along with her husband, son, and canine. Right here, she talks about the way it feels to dwell in a sleepy seashore city, be careful for the neighborhood crocodile, and witness infants being publicly cherished…

Surprising Things About Parenting In Costa Rica

Mallika’s background: Mallika was born in Goa, India, and moved to Canada along with her household at age 11. Her husband was additionally born in Goa, then immigrated to Canada, however they didn’t meet till after faculty. “We share some buddies in Goa, and after we first went again to go to collectively, individuals have been like, ‘Actually? You progress to Canada and also you meet this man?!’” she says, laughing. Their son Freddie was born in Toronto, and Mallika is now a author and podcast host. Her dad and mom moved to Costa Rica nearly a decade in the past, and throughout the pandemic, Douglas, Mallika and Freddie packed up and formally relocated to affix them. (“I all the time joke that they’re making an attempt to flee me, however I hold following them,” she says.)

Surprising Things About Parenting In Costa Rica

On early mornings: The solar rises at 4:30 a.m., and the birds are very, very, very loud. As new dad and mom, we have been anxious about Freddie’s sleep, so after we first obtained right here, we went mad shopping for blackout curtains and sound machines. In the meantime, a fowl was constructing a nest exterior his window! We ultimately gave up; Freddie now wakes up at round 5:45 a.m. Our days begin early, they usually finish early, too.

parenting in Costa Rica

On seashore jaunts: We go to the seashore earlier than breakfast each morning — rain or shine. It’s a 10-minute stroll from our home, and after one too many Canadian winters, we are able to’t not go. Regardless of what number of deadlines you might have, there’s nothing like getting the stress slapped out of you by a wave at 6:00 a.m. Within the evenings, many of the city congregates on the seashore. Typically Dougie and Freddie could have recent pineapple or passionfruit juice on the seashore whereas I surf; the following day, we’ll swap. Youngsters get on boogie boards tremendous early, and also you see lots of eight- and nine-year-olds simply killing it browsing.

On weekends, it seems like nearly each Costa Rican heads to the seashore. In the summertime, the highways are literally redirected to have all of the lanes going in the direction of the coast on Saturdays, after which again into the cities on Sunday. It’s important to take inside roads or various routes if you wish to go in the wrong way.

On watchful eyes: Youngsters usually play collectively on the seashore. When a toddler faceplants, there’s all the time an grownup selecting them up — it doesn’t matter whose child. There’s a giant emphasis on everybody looking for one another. Though individuals don’t actually scold one another’s children, strangers will inform your baby ‘cuidado’ (‘watch out’), and I’ve positively been instructed that my child wants socks!

parenting in Costa Rica

On the neighborhood crocodile: Freddie is obsessive about recognizing the native ‘dada-do’ (his manner of claiming ‘cocodrilo,’ which is crocodile in Spanish). Often, in the event that they’re close to seashores, crocodiles are picked up and relocated inland, however this specific one has laid eggs, so that they let her keep. We frequently see her after we cross the bridge to the seashore. We thought ‘look ahead to crocodiles’ was simply a kind of issues individuals mentioned, however, lo and behold, there she was in all her large, prehistoric-esque, toothy glory.

On caring for wildlife: Costa Rica has strict laws that prohibit the pursuit or seize of untamed animals, so interacting with wildlife like monkeys or parrots is unlawful — and that features taking selfies! Typically, wildlife leaves you alone, since you’re doing the identical. Howler monkeys hand around in the timber round our home; one even sat on our balcony one night, which was unbelievable. However that’s the place the interplay ends. You do you, monkey.

Surprising Things About Parenting In Costa Rica

Hanging at residence.

On friendliness: Once you’re driving by way of city, each single particular person will say hiya or good morning — even from their bicycles. We really feel responsible if we miss waving at somebody! Strangers will cease to talk and hand Freddie a flower or rock they’ve discovered. Additionally, one factor that’s massively totally different from our Indian tradition is how publicly affectionate individuals are. Right here you see each youthful and older {couples} on the road kissing, hugging and cuddling. Doug and I are fairly affectionate, however this can be a entire different degree. I like that Freddie is rising up round that.

Surprising Things About Parenting In Costa Rica

On bumpy roads: Roads and sidewalks are sometimes badly cracked, due to rain and mismanagement. In smaller cities, driving is hit and miss, so most individuals simply stroll on the highway. Carrying your child is the best manner you may step on and off the highway in case of visitors. Additionally, strollers are very costly as a result of they’re imported. We’re obsessive about our Veer Cruiser, which was our ‘deal with yo self’ child merchandise earlier than we left Canada. The wheels are nice on each bumpy sidewalks and sandy seashores.

Surprising Things About Parenting In Costa Rica

On cherishing infants: Folks appear to have infinite endurance with infants — even crying ones — in eating places or on public transit. Strangers make foolish faces or clucks of consolation or provide to carry your fussy child when you’re finishing a transaction. At our common car parking zone, if it’s raining, the attendant will hurry over with an umbrella and will get Freddie out of his carseat. Waiters deliver me glasses of water, unprompted, once they discover me breastfeeding on the desk. It’s so good to have that public help.

Additionally, male youngsters partaking with infants just isn’t one thing I usually see in North America. However on the playground right here, boys will come as much as Freddie and be candy and affectionate. Listening to a little bit boy on the market go ‘que lindo’ (‘how cute’) to Freddie melts my coronary heart.

Surprising Things About Parenting In Costa Rica

A restaurant in San José.

On the place children belong: In Toronto, there’s not lots of area that’s for each adults and children. However right here — even within the capital metropolis of San José — eating places will usually have a playground subsequent to the tables. I imply, why can’t you drink a elaborate cocktail whereas your baby goes down the slide?

Surprising Things About Parenting In Costa Rica

Testing the new springs.

On outside adventures: Virtually each pickup truck has a pipe that appears like a snorkel. It took us ceaselessly to determine what it’s for. Seems, it’s to retailer water for consuming or showering whereas on outside adventures. Biking, trekking, and tenting are all very fashionable, and Costa Rica has unbelievable waterfalls, rainforests and volcanoes. We have been blown away after we went to the new springs — you’re mainly in a sizzling tub in a waterfall. Freddie splashed round like he was within the bathtub.

Surprising Things About Parenting In Costa Rica

On meals: Costa Ricans are sometimes shocked once I inform them that Indians usually eat as a lot rice as they do. Rice is a large staple right here, and now we have some sort of rice dish daily. Each home and rental could have a rice cooker. Freddie is obsessive about gallo pinto and recurrently eats a complete container of rice and beans with a scrambled egg and recent tortilla. On Saturday mornings, we head to the feria, a farmers market that winds alongside the paths of a park. We purchase greens, fish, essentially the most scrumptious rye bread, kombucha, and every kind of crunchy issues that I wouldn’t dream of spending on in Toronto however right here they’re a fraction of the worth.

Surprising Things About Parenting In Costa Rica

Freddie’s first birthday, quarantine version, with my mother.

On being an immigrant: I used to be frightened about being an individual of coloration immigrating to one more nation, however Costa Rica is extra multicultural than I had anticipated. It’s not good right here, however I by no means get requested why my English is so good, and Costa Ricans have additionally been capable of pronounce my identify on the primary attempt. Each. Single. Time. That may not sound like a lot but when I had a greenback for every time somebody mentioned ‘Monica?’ or simply utterly butchered it over the previous 20 years, I’d be rolling.

Surprising Things About Parenting In Costa Rica

On on a regular basis struggles: As a result of we’re immigrants from India first, the downsides that many different immigrants or expats expertise in Costa Rica don’t affect us the identical manner as a result of it’s actually worse in India. Paperwork and purple tape when doing paperwork or troublesome highway infrastructure are likely to hassle individuals. Additionally, Costa Rica is ranked as the most costly nation in Central America. Whereas I miss lots of issues concerning the ease of parenting in North America, having to faucet into my useful resource mind (no department shops, no play facilities, and so on.) has been thrilling and scary.

On making buddies: Making buddies has been difficult. We’re making an attempt to satisfy locals — in addition to becoming a member of expat communities — however discovering individuals whereas not talking fluent Spanish isn’t straightforward. I’ve needed to go exterior of my consolation zone. I’ve gone on a pair awkward ‘first dates,’ and couple good ones as properly, however I’m positively craving a dialog with depth that may solely include time.

Surprising Things About Parenting In Costa Rica

Freddie on a wet stroll together with his sidekick, Pablo.

On the wet season: Earlier than we moved, my dad was like, ‘Simply so you recognize, it rains rather a lot.’ The wet season is nearly half the yr; the place we dwell, it normally rains round 3:00 p.m. and continues till night. My dad and mom are within the mountains, the place it might probably rain nonstop for days on finish. You want to embrace it; in any other case you’ll be depressing. The trick goes out daily, which is one thing we discovered throughout Canadian winters. Everybody has a jacket, even the canine!

Surprising Things About Parenting In Costa Rica

Total, I really feel like I’m reliving my childhood, and our nine-year-old canine is spending his senior years in one of the simplest ways attainable. After we speak about how stunning the nation is, Costa Ricans will say, ‘Effectively, have you ever met lots of Costa Rican immigrants in different international locations? No? It’s as a result of we don’t depart.’

Thanks a lot, Mallika!

P.S. Extra Motherhood Across the World posts, together with Japan and Norway and France.

(Photographs courtesy of Mallika. Crocodile photograph by Santi Nuñez/Stocksy.)



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