Over my two months in Costa Rica, I have learned the importance of family and dinner time among the ticos, and after months of observing the traditions and customs, I got to experience it for myself.

Tuesday evening my family was preparing a massive meal of our favorite Costa Rican dish! CHIFRIJO! Chifrijo, is a traditional meal here in Costa Rica. It is a combination of rice, beans, chicharron, pico de gallo and guacamole all layered in a plate surrounded with tortilla chips. In my house, Chifrijo is a little more special because my Tico dad adds his own twist to it with adding Tortilla bowl and the tomato skin roses & sliced avocados to make it look like a taco salad. The presentation is beautiful, and it tastes delicious.

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This dinner was a special occasion, because one of my roommates Max, parents were visiting from the states. Also for the first time in what felt like ages, every single one of the housemates (there is 7 of us) was present at dinner at the same time. It was like fate placed us all around the table that evening.

Elizabeth Dinner Time

It was a 13 person dinner with food to go around for all of us, even seconds, and thirds! It was such a joy. What I loved and appreciated the most was all the love my host parents put into this meal, and hospitality they showed to us all, although we have been living there for over two months now. They made sure everyone got served and was comfortable, as we all crowded around the dinner table.

Elizabeth Dinner Time 2

We made a toast, with our home-made Horchata drinks, to have all crossed paths and to be sitting around this dinner table sharing a meal. We all met in the center with our raised glasses and said “Salud!”. My Tico dad said a few words about how proud he was to be able to have a table surrounded with 7 host children and to have Max’s family join us. It was incredibly sweet, and it’s miraculous how so many strangers can congregate around the dinner table and unite as a family. It was then that I realized how lucky I was. These people opened there doors to me, and have welcomed me with open arms to join their family.

Back home in the United States, I never have had family dinner. Everyone just comes and goes as they please. I also have a very small family. And to be surrounded by so many beautiful souls was a tremendous experience. The energy around the table was great, there was endless laughter and story telling. We all talked about our day and our upcoming weekend plans. So glad I could discover the significance of dinner time and family through my time here in Costa Rica.

~Social Media Journalist, Elizabeth Amado

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