Getting Milk in Costa Rica

There’s a learning curve here living in Costa- things are so different. We’re trying to get all the infrastructure together and learn how to get things done.


In the States, if you need some household object, let’s say milk for example, you get in your car, drive down to the supermarket, find it on the shelf and have an impersonal, dry interaction with the check-out person and you’re on your way.


Here, in the mountains of small-town Costa Rica, we get up at 6am to talk to Jose before he leaves to work on the farm, the innkeeper where we’re staying, and let him know we’re looking for milk. He tells you to walk down to the corner and on the other side of the pulperia is Carlos, who, on Saturdays and Tuesdays gets milk from Juan, who by the way, was like a father to him when he arrived 11 years ago……


After 30 minutes of taking with Ian about his history with Juan, we’re on our way, still in search of milk (but by this time, the initial thing we were looking for is getting lost in all the stories about how Jose almost lost a finger when it got caught in the burro’s saddle, and how Juan helped him to the clinic where they put Sangre de Drago on it and it miraculously healed…..


So we walk down to see if Carlos, on the other side of the pulperia, has milk today from Juan. When we inquire he looks up in the sky and pauses. “Mmmmmmm, Si, si, Tendremos leche mañana.” Now the thing is, Ticos never, ever want to seem like they’re unhelpful or unknowledgeable. So they will make up ANYTHING to seem like they’re being helpful and accommodating. So, based on his pause and shifty eyes, we know that’s probably not the case. And also, the same as with Jose, we spend 30 minutes learning all about Carlos and his family and that his son had appendicitis last year and almost died, but he is now on the mend.


So, we proceed down to Carlos’ farm, but by this time, its noon and Carlos has left hours ago with the milk on his burro for the market. But just so happens that as we’re walking back up to the finca where we are staying, we run into Maria, who has 4 quarts of milk slung over her shoulder. Without even asking, she offers us a quart.


That pretty much sums it up. I’m trying to surrender to the fact that everything we need seems to miraculously show up. Sometimes its not what we originally wanted, but is actually closer to what we need.


I once read that Costa Rica is very PROCESS oriented rather than RESULTS oriented (as we are in the States). Its pretty interesting for a driven, type-A personality like me to leaner how to surrender to this culture. But I can feel its good medicine for my psyche.

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