Monday, March 23, 2015

Expect the Unexpected

One of the most interesting things about Costa Rica thus far has been the hospitality. After just a short conversation with someone, they will tell you almost anything. I discovered this fact our first week in Las Cruces when we were conducting our interviews in the local community for our last Faculty Led Project. We were going door-to-door asking people about their knowledge of wild edible plants. We started pretty early in the morning, splitting in to groups of two or three, and we were expected to get a lot of interviews done before lunchtime. Interviewing people in Spanish always makes me a little nervous, so the thought of interviewing all morning was a little scary.

However, on my group’s third interview, our morning took an unexpected turn. The woman we were interviewing gave us a tour of her garden, naming different edible plants as she went along. Once she had exhausted all of her knowledge of edible plants, she then offered to take us to where her husband was working because he would know more plants than she would. Her husband was working on the other side of their three-hectare (7.5 acres) farm, which meant we had to trek down about half a mile in order to meet her husband. But this is when it got very interesting. He then insisted upon not just telling us the edible plants he knew, but showing them to us. So he began giving us a tour of basically their entire farm.

The walk was so interesting, although I was definitely not prepared for it. At one point, we had to walk straight through the woods, with the husband using his machete to cut a path for us because there was not an actual path. My converse shoes did not quite cut it for the walk through the forest, but it was totally worth it. He pointed out a lot of different plants that they had on their farm. We eventually came across a guava tree, where we could see this huge, almost ripe guava fruit. It was kind of high up in the tree, but he scaled the tree trunk and cut it down for us. He also climbed another tree in order to get us a guayaba fruit. It was a little bit funny to watch this grown man climb a tree, but mostly it was just awesome. He also picked about 10 lemons for us, although I’m not entirely sure what we are going to do with that many lemons…

All in all, it was a fantastic break from our interviews. We took an hour walking around the farm, where we had only planned on taking five minutes. I guess you have to expect the unexpected when you talk to complete strangers in a foreign country!

, Emily Leytham

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