Friday, July 26, 2013

Backyards and Religion in Costa Rica

I first encountered some mysterious gardens in Heredia. It was surprising to see cows and horses in the gardens of houses which are situated in the city centre. The first time I saw a man riding a horse in his garden left me speechless. It was my second week in Costa Rica and route I took to get to my project was always the same. How is it possible that I’ve never noticed a horse in that one garden!?
It soon came out that I’ve been walking around completely blindfolded. Quite many households seemed to have animals that I wasn't used to seeing. Apart from the fact that almost all households have a few dogs, horses, cows, chickens are also quite common. If not as much in Barrio Jesus, then in Tamarindo it is very common to have a rooster waking you up. I’ve now been running in the mornings and I’ve seen so many chickens and roosters that I’ve stopped taking photos.  The same story about horses. Every other household has a few horses and its completely normal to see people riding horses on the beach. Although Tamarindo is extremely touristy, it’s mainly the locals who are riding horses. (followed by tourists taking photos, just like me the first 3 times)
Apart from animals, in a Tico family, you will also probably find a lot of religious symbolism. Crosses, photos of Jesus, prayers, bible – all of them are very noticeable for a foreign atheist. Apart from locals going to church every Sunday, they also hit a cross when they pass a church. When I was working in the kindergarden, children were taught to pray before eating and I was a bit confused what to do, because I was supposed to be a good example to the children and also teach them about religious values. However, luckily I was never assigned a group alone, so the other teacher said the prayer while I was quietly looking out of the window or finding myself something else useful to do. Otherwise people rarely ask you about your religion. My teacher in San Jose asked and after my answer “ soy agnostica” talked about the happiness that the church brings and that I will one day discover it as well. From that day on I’ve tried to ignore religion as a topic to talk about. However one of my teacher in Tamarindo told us about superstitions in Costa Rica and emphasised how he doesn't believe in most of the things, because god keeps him safe. I was a bit surprised how he doesn’t believe in healings and foretelling, but is completely fine with believing in god. The logic was also absent in “ god protecting him from demons and witches who he doesn't believe in?”

I was also once told that I will burn in hell for not believing in god and I was felt sorry for, because even though I’m a good person, god doesn't like that I don't go to church. Despite that, most people don't talk about religion. Even though I had this incident when I was told how I will be punished for not having religious parents (and therefore not raised with religion, which I’m pleased with), I still find it interesting to observe as an “outsider” 

Photos of Gardens & Other interesting parts of Costa Rican life ( photos done with my camera): 

 A common visitor... In gardens.... rooms.... 

 Party in the garden. Special occasion though, 25th of July is a National Holiday - Guanacaste, a province, joined Costa Rica 189 years ago. 

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