Tag Archive for Blogging from a to z challenge

F is for Frito

Costarican idioms (loosely interpreted)


Accident at Nestor Creek

Frito means “in trouble,” sort of our way of saying, “It’s toast.”

It used to be wild down on the Atlantic side of this country. It’s called the Free Zone because it is the area between the Panamanian frontier and the first puesto de policía (police check point) at Cahuita. Twenty years ago there were only two police officers stationed in Puerto Viejo and the government didn’t fund them very well, so people took care of things themselves.

There was a wreck on a one-way bridge close to our property several years ago. A car and a four-wheeler had played chicken about who had the right of way. The four-wheeler lost the contest—no surprise there— and was upside down under the bridge when we arrived. The car, parked in the middle of the bridge, had a large dent in the front end. The female driver stood next to it waiting for the police. A small group restrained the owner of the four-wheeler who wanted to mix it up. Cars, trucks, and a bus were backed up on both sides of the bridge, and a group of men argued with the woman, imploring her to move her vehicle.  She refused.

When there is a car accident in Costa Rica, drivers are supposed to leave their vehicles in position and wait for the police. They then write-up a report and turn it over to the governmental agency that handles all things Insurance.

That may work in San José, but all of us knew the police were not coming. I once called them about a fight that had broken out between one of our workers and another local over some stupid insult. The police told me, “When we can borrow a car, we’ll be down to check on it.”

The men finally convinced the woman to move her car off the bridge, but it was probably the bus’ air horn that made the biggest impact. Traffic resumed. My husband and I went on into town to run our errands.

We  bounced over the rough road into Puerto Viejo and were just in time to see two men pushing the police car down the dirt street toward the police station. More trouble with the engine. ¡Frito!

D is for Dicha

Costarican idioms fro A to Z (loosely interpreted)

D is for dicha, or luck. When you ask anyone in Costa Rica how they are, they almost always answer, “Muy bien, por dicha,” or, “Muy bien, gracias a dios.”  “With luck,”  or “Thanks be to God,” we are doing okay. They acknowledge with this common greeting that their wellbeing is not an assured thing.

When I was in nursing school we learned in our cross cultural classes about something called locus of control. The idea was first introduced by Julian Rotter in 1954 and has come into and out of fashion in psychology ever since.

The idea is that everyone has a locus (Latin for place) where they feel their life is controlled. People with a high internal locus of control believe that events result primarily from their own behavior and actions.  Contrarily, People with a  high external locus  feel events outside of themselves decide if they are successful or not.

I’ve always found this concept fascinating and how it applies in things like obesity, diabetes management, and exercise, but I also think it applies to politics and the current state of inequity in the USA. For instance, has the recent economic decline in the USA flipped some people who firmly believed they had control over their destinies in to the external locus group? Hard not to see how that might happen. How many people lost jobs and fell behind in the mortgages or became homeless through no fault of their own? Do hard economic times change the statistics?

In Rotters’ time (the 1950s and 60s) the data showed whites as having a propensity for internal locus, blacks and hispanics, external. And in the 1950s it’s easy to see how those statistics might hold up. But now? I doubt it. My guess is white people are feeling less secure in their ability to steer their own ship, unless, of course they are in the 1%.

Costaricans tend to acknowledge that not everything is within their control. Life has taught them that.

I once thought I was firmly in the Internal Locus group. I could do anything I wanted. Now, being— of a certain age— I have discovered that even though I have done everything correctly, life sometimes offers up a curve ball when I thought it was coming right down the middle.

What’s your locus of control? Click here for a short questionnaire.