Even though aroud 96% of "ticos" are literate, Costa Rica is a  country where people usually don't have reading and writing habits. And I mean USUALLY because there are many of us who do enjoy reading and writing. Moreover, the new generation of Costa Ricans  are growing up with a more stimulated taste for literature.
The following narrative is about my own experience. How reading on abus or in any public place, for a teenager, is not a good thing to do, except if done for academic purposes.

      This piece of writing has some Costa Rican sayings and expressions that might be difficult for you to understand if you don't  speak Spanish. Thus, I decided to include the translation for every sentence written in Spanish at the end of the article.

Being a Reader in Costa Rica

        I could not imagine myself as a reader two years ago. The fact of having to sit down and read was boring. I remember being at high school. I would have my classmates tell me the gist of the books that we had to read for some of the exams. It was just too much effort trying to focus while there were so many other things to do. You know flirting and hanging out with friends, watching T.V. That was my idea of fun.

But it was not always like that. When I was a kid, I used to read short stories. While reading, I dreamed of dragons and wild animals, of warriors and castles, -of girls and love -- oh sorry, that one was much later later lol---. The thing is that I just can´t explain why I stopped reading.

      Well, actually I recall those people who said to me that reading was boring. As a Costa Rican, I got to tell you: most of TICOS are not good readers, and that, my friend, is contagious. Once I was on a bus with some high school classmates, and close to us there was this guy, he was around 15 years old, and he was reading. –“vean que mae más ridículo." said one of my friends. All my classmates began laughing at the poor guy.

Rule of thumb for Costa Rican teenagers: Si le sigues la corriente a sus compas serás aceptado.

The young reader didn’t realize that my friends were making fun of him. He was probably too busy trying to help Harry Potter get rid of a Dragon.

After that example of "MAE NO LEA PORQUE TE LLEVAS UN COLORASO", I stopped reading in public. Some time later, I would not read at all. I thought that it was not a nice thing to do if you happened to be a teenager in Costa Rica.

    It was not until a few months ago, when I took a course on how to be a better reader , that my perception about reading changed. When I learned that I had to take that course, I was simply worried. How was I suppose to read better if didn’t read at all?
Our professor asked us to read a 500-hundred-page book for that course. But that was not all. We had to write book reports; that is, READING AND WRITING. “Oh, I’m in trouble”, I thought.

       I went to the library of the University and asked for a book written in English. I chose a book I liked. It had a nice cover, by the way. I began reading the book, and I seemed as though I was going to swallow it. I kept reading and reading page after page. I was stunned by how entertaining it was. I forgot about how bad readers we ticos are and took the book everywhere I went. I got on the school bus with it, I went to run errands with it. I went to the bathroom with it--- well just once, really.

I felt weird reading while standing in line, and people had that look on their faces like: "vean que mae más ridículo" But you know what? I don´t care! I love reading now.

Writing? .... my target!

Translation of  sentences in Spanish to English
vean que mae más ridículo : Look at that ridiculous guy.
Si le sigues la coriente a sus compas serás aceptado: If you do and act as your frineds you will be accepted by them-
Mae no lea porque te llevas un coloraso : Oh man, Don't read cause they will laugh at you.
Kevin Brand
5/24/2010 11:49:19 am

Hey Alex! I am glad you made the decision of starting to work on what you enjoy. I like the enviroment of this blog. I think that it might transmit motivation towards habits that we Costa Ricans, unfurtunately, do not have. See you around, and congrats for your blog...


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