Book Reflects on Costa Rica Experience

November 5, 2004

THE blackscorpion was amoment awayfrom the baby.Just before itcould deliver apotentially lethalsting, Robertasnatched herinfant from dangerand killed thecreature over andover with hershoe. The nextday she and herchildren were on aplane leavingCosta Rica toreturn to Boston.That dramatic event might have beenthe end of Roberta Hayes de Macaya’s storiesof life in Costa Rica married to Ticofrom a well-known and respected family.However, she returned and later wrote thismemoir of their lives together.“Such Is Life in the Tropics: 25 Yearsin Costa Rica – 40 Anecdotes” begins in1970 when the family moves from theUnited States to Costa Rica “ to give thechildren their Tico culture.”At first, they lived near the steamy seaportof Puntarenas on the Pacific coast.Home with three children while her husbandwas at work, this transplanted motherfrom New England felt like a stranger ina foreign land.“There was no time, only hot, tropicalheat and stillness, the only stirring theiguanas on the lawn, the buzzards circlingoverhead, waiting and waiting for deathsomewhere,” she wrote. “One had toorder the hours of the day to make timego by.”ALTHOUGH she was warmly welcomedby her husband’s large, extendedfamily, she was lonely, a feeling intensifiedby the belief that, as hard as she tried to dowhat was expected of her, she did not fit in.She was “simply yearning for a culturedhuman voice to soothe longings fordistant siblings and parents, longing formeaning in this timeless, sterile world ofendless buzzing insects and blinding sunlight,”she described her homesickness.Her stories continue through moves toSan José and Escazú, southwest of SanJosé, and large family gatherings atCuajiniquil, a beach on the Pacific coast,all reported with keen observations of thepeople around her. Some stories are touching,some describe lavish celebrations offeasts and dancing and some reveal theauthor’s spiritual nature. Some – like theNew Year’s Eve encounter with the camouflage-clad, machine-gun-armed Contrasoldier – are deeply moving.Over time, the strange land becamehome.“This place, these people, speak to myheart and embrace me to my other country,Costa Rica,” she wrote.MACAYA was urged to write abouther life for a publication for her 40th highschool reunion. She and her husband,Ernesto, attended the same Catholic highschool Milton Academy, in Massachusetts.The couple met once at age 15 as boys andgirls were strictly separated during highschool. Later they met again, dated, marriedand lived in the United States for theirfirst years of marriage.After writing the story for the reunion,Macaya realized she wanted to write abook about her life and family and eventsthat happened in Costa Rica that would nothappen anywhere else.Anyone interested in the lush, tropicalsetting, the challenges of making a homein a new country or the special people whoinspired this remarkable woman will enjoythis book. It also provides engaging “snapshots”of some of Costa Rica’s culturalinstitutions and recent history.“Such Is Life in the Tropics” is availabledirectly from the author via e-mail atroberta_hayes@yahoo.com and at the followingstores: Librería Motivos inMultiplaza West, Saretto’s supermarket inEscazú, Librería Pentagram in Escazú,and the gift shop in the IntercontinentalHotel.

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