Today I had a chance conversation with another volunteer about her experience working at a school just outside of Cartago. She told me what struck her most was the great honor that Costa Ricans feel when an international volunteer works with them. They know how many other ways people have to spend their time and the fact that people travel from foreign countries to participate with Costa Ricans, improving the neighborhoods in this country, is truly a gift for them. This idea of honoring time is so different from the way so many feel in the U.S., and it is a pervasive sentiment throughout this country. Costa Ricans place the highest value on time and the way that it is spent.
At the senior center today in San Rafael, we spent time coloring with the seniors and making reindeer Christmas ornaments from pipe cleaners, clothes pins, and glitter. These simple activities brought them so much joy. Truly what they wanted was just to spend time with us, to talk to us about our lives and theirs. I continue to be struck by how little people need to be happy here, and how sad it is for us in the U.S. to believe that we need so much. My great hope for today is that once I return to the U.S. on Saturday night, I will be able to embrace the idea of honoring time, my own and that of others, and to hang onto the idea that truly we need so little in the way of material items. I need to find a way to carry a little Costa Rica with me wherever I go.