It’s fascinating to learn about how people in other cultures live. I guess that’s why The Travel Channel is such a hit. I’m always curious about other cultures, especially the more I travel with my children. If I were transplanted in Russia, what would mom life look like? How on earth would I keep my kids warm and what about those cute rosy winter-cold cheeks? Would DIY nursery blackout curtains help me cope through the long daylight hours of Norwegian summers?
My kids’ lives growing up in this third-world tropical country are a far cry from my own in the Midwest. Here are a few curious tidbits about what childhood looks like here in Costa Rica. For a dose of mom life, check out this post.Uniformity rules. About 99% of all schools (public and private) require students to wear uniforms.
Doctor’s in! Kids in Costa Rica get different vaccines than in the US and if you opt out (which is illegal), social services can and will come to your door if they find out. Homebirths are also a no-no, but possible. (Loved ours!)
Grab the ice pack! Since most Costa Rican homes have ceramic flooring, learning to walk results in astronomically more bumps and bruises than the typical cruising tot racks up in carpeted US homes.
Stroller rides are not a walk in the park unless you’ve got a top-of-the-line jogging stroller. Sidewalks here are brutal- full of holes, bumps, massive 2-3 foot deep gutters at the side (heavy downpours are the norm) and often just plain non-existent. That’s why my husband and I are such big advocates of baby wearing.
Got binoculars? The zoo is pretty much your backyard. Granted, we live in the city, so the green parrots that fly by every day are the “staple” zoo animal, but many times you can spot large snakes, iguanas, sloths, and even monkeys during a road trip. Bonus if you cite a jaguar in your yard, like my soon to be sister-in-law.
Mom groups and MOPS don’t really exist here. A fellow ex-pat friend of mine recently started one at our church and it’s great!
Granizado carts trump ice cream trucks. The bells ringing from the carts as they’re pushed through the streets alert kids and parents alike to the arrival of an icy taste treat made with shaved ice, flavor syrup, powdered milk, and sweetened condensed milk.
School’s out for the winter? No, no, not really. School years begin in February and end in October/November. It’s warm year-round and actually pretty much peak summertime in April.
You never need winter clothes.
Coffee break! Babies drink coffee. You read that right- some parents pour coffee into baby bottles. It’s, ridiculously unhealthy for babies, I know, but when you live in a coffee producing nation, people start young! It’s cultural but not extremely common.
So what do you think? Which of these new insights had you nodding your head and which one irked the bejizzers out of you? What interesting cultural phenomenons have you witnessed that would send the average American into “say whaaaat?” territory? Please share your stories in the comments below and sign up for my twice-monthly newsletter so you’re first to get the top kids activities sent straight to your inbox!
Read more about life in Costa Rica:
Allison B says
Ah man, no moms groups? That really stinks! I’ve heard about the coffee one before and I just can’t imagine giving a kid coffee.
Yep, I’ve never really known what fun activities go on at MOPS groups, but we have a good time just hanging out and drinking coffee while our kiddos play at the playground. As for the coffee in bottles- I just wonder if the parents realize what’s in coffee. If they did, I doubt they’d offer it to little kids.
I love that the kids wear uniforms! As a product of 12 years of Catholic school, I have to say that I loved my uniform and I wish that I could still wear it every day. (I may be in the minority!)
And coffee in baby bottles!?! That and the jaguar in my backyard would be the things that freaked me out the most–other than that, a Costa Rican childhood seems to be pretty fun!
Yep, Natalie, I have no idea how I’d react to seeing a jaguar outside my house. My sister-in-law said that her dog barked and alerted them of the danger, and if I remember right, her dad went out and scared it away. Eek. Some animals I’d probably rather see in the zoo 😉
Leanna @ Alldonemonkey says
Ha! I haven’t seen coffee poured into baby bottles, but definitely kids start drinking really young! And the ceramic floors are brutal – it means that little ones usually don’t get as much floor time as they do in the US. Having carpeted floors is one of the things I love the most when we return from a visit to Costa Rica.
Yep, I can’t wait to sink my toes into carpeting and have a hot bubble bath next month when we visit my folks in the states. I’ve become immune to most of the lack of “luxuries” here in Costa Rica, and I love my life here, but sometimes a warm bath is just plain fantastic.