Today’s guest post is from Mr. Ticotsky, who works with teachers at our school to plan systems thinking activities. He wrote about trying out some new Spanish skills in Costa Rica. Read carefully if you are studying Spanish yourself! Some of our middle school teachers are planning a trip there, so maybe you’ll be the next one blogging from there!
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Last winter, my wife and I went to Costa Rica for about a week. Neither of us speaks Spanish, although my wife speaks French and is quick to pick up languages. Before we left Massachusetts, we practiced Spanish using instructional CDs, especially while we were going somewhere in our car.
We concentrated on useful words first, including polite phrases like “Please” and “Thank you.” Our language CDs (and our prior knowledge) taught us that “You’re welcome” is often said “De nada” in Spanish, which might roughly translate to “It’s nothing,” or perhaps matches the typical American response “No problem.” Certainly polite, but not the usual phrase we heard in Costa Rica.
Almost all the Costa Rican people we met were very friendly and kind. Many smiles greeted us, and the people working in the tourism and service fields especially expressed pride in their country. We learned that in Costa Rica, the most common way to express gratitude is “Con mucho gusto.” That phrase would be expressed as “With much pleasure” and symbolized for us how thoughtful and gracious the Costa Rican people were to us.
Another phrase we learned in Costa Rica is “Pura vida.” Literally, that might mean “Pure life,” but in Costa Rica it is a response that also means “Great,” “Excellent,” or “Very well.” It is kind of a motto for the country and is very descriptive of many of the policies they have to maintain and improve their beautiful land. There are no armed forces, sustainability seems to be considered in most government decisions, and environmental concerns balance tourism and development. If you have an opportunity to travel to Costa Rica, I highly recommend it.