Beaten Like 7% Ketchup

Old ladies can really stomp, and I don’t mean the cool African American form of dancing.

Thanks YouTube

I mean good old fashioned foot slamming stomping. How do I know this you may wonder? Well. Let me tell you a story.

It’s our first real day in Costa Rica.* We flew in yesterday but were too exhausted to unpack much less explore. So today our local coordinator Karla (who endures my enthusiasm for all things Costa Rica like a freaking champ) took us to Heredia to see one of the schools ILP** has volunteers at.

We have to walk 15 minutes to the bus station in San Isidro, where we live, then take a bus to Heredia, and then another bus to Miraflores, which is in Heredia, in order to get there.

I found out how hard old ladies can stomp on the first of those bus trips.

Our group piled on and sat down and I began chatting Karla’s ears off. Fortunately for her, an old woman stepped onto the bus, unfortunately for me.

Karla hopped up and gladly gave the grouchy grandma her seat. I patted the seat Karla left and gestured to the woman to sit. She pointed at the window and began speaking rapidly in Spanish.

I happily jumped up to give her my seat but as I was sliding over and she was sliding in she stomped hard on my foot! I thought it was an accident so I just smiled and sat down.

She frowned at me and spoke angrily to the woman behind her while giving me a hard look. I heard the word for little girl and could only assume she was saying how disrespecful I was.

I smiled apologetically at her, but she wouldn’t look at me. I looked ahead and next thing I knew she shoved me! She tried to shove me off my seat!

I ignored her thinking mistakenly it was another accident, but she shoved me again! I scooted close to the edge of my seat, but then she moved her foot over and stomped on my foot again!

For the next seven or eight minutes, this 90-year-old Costa Rican woman, who could force her frown all the way down to her chin, shoved me and stomped repeatedly on my foot.

Eventually, I only had half a butt cheek on the seat and said, “¿que pasa?” which translates to, “Whats up?” I meant to say, “¿por qué?” which means, “Why?”

She was probably insulted by my misuse of her language. At least that would explain why she shoved me again.***

Eventually, another older woman got on the bus and I gladly gave her my seat. The grumpy one suddenly wasn’t so grumpy.

When I saw her attitude change, I realized I may have just had my first encounter with being treated differently because of where I’m from or the color of my skin (or lack of color…whatever is politically correct).

I’m a white girl from Idaho. Home life is about as colorful as mayonnaise with seven percent ketchup. That’s some pretty light fry sauce.

Here I’m the seven percent ketchup.

But I love it here anyway. I’m sitting in my hammock writing right now and it’s 63 degrees of awesome. The locals think it’s cold, but I couldn’t be more comfortable.

Our house is on a mountain and I can see the light from San Jose turning the clouds lavender.

Inside I know the lizards in our shower, Carne & Pollo, are waiting for us to go to sleep so they can escape. At least…I hope they’re thinking of escape.

Despite the grouchy grandmas (and lizards in the shower), Costa Rica has a beauty, unlike anything I’ve seen before. The people (except for grouchy grandma) are so kind and patient.

I have a feeling when the time comes to leave a little bit of me will stay behind and all the rest will be changed into something a little kinder, a little calmer and a little faster to give up my seat to an old lady.


*My cousin Madi and I are in Costa Rica teaching English to little kids for the next three months.

**ILP is the program Madi and I came to Costa Rica with. Check out my What Is ILP page for more information!

***She couldn’t stomp on my feet anymore because her legs were too short to reach after I had moved them.

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