San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

I Could Probably Write a Book

Working with the Tico, George, Dery, Christine and everyone was an incredible learning experience I will never forget. During this time I kept a journal in Spanish that I just read for the first time in nearly six years. It was quite painful to read because the grammar was so bad, but it demonstrates how each of us grows through each stage of our lives. It is great to have my journal as well as the articles I wrote that really reflect who I was and how I grew as a writer and a person throughout my short time at the Tico.

Everyone at the Tico treated me as part of the team. They taught and worked with me as well as rattled off the more than occasional joke about my Southern accent. In fact during the last month I was working at the Tico, I spoke to my Dad on the phone and he told me I was starting to sound like a Yankee.

I also remember once a bird getting in the office through the window that I would open when I came in. I just caught it and let it go outside. Several days later I left the window open while I was gone briefly and apparently it happened again, but this time it wound up downstairs and there was quite a commotion.

I could probably write a book, and I bet we all could. Some ideas I could include are the wall of pictures and funny postings in the bathroom, the turtles, lunches and get togethers after work, the team-building whitewater rafting experience on that cloudy day in August and especially the banter with the entire staff.

I remember that it was not a big deal to open an umbrella indoors because you would rather have a little bad luck than be soaking wet, riding the bus and walking to work, being able to see something absolutely beautiful every weekend and still not be able to see everything that you would like to.

Sonia Cordero and her family made me part of the family and I will always cherish that. Doña Olga, Alonzo, Johana, Adrian and Erik were incredibly patient with me in my struggles to communicate, especially in the first month I was there. I loved being immersed not only in the language but in the culture as well through my Tico family.

After leaving the Tico I finished my journalism degree and decided to go to graduate school to continue learning Spanish. I received my Masters of Hispanic Studies in 2003 and taught Spanish at Auburn University for three years.

Throughout all of this my passion has been photography and writing, and I have done the occasional freelance piece. Many times I find myself saying, When I was in Costa Rica and people around me can just see me light up.

I recently worked with American Hiking Society in Chattanooga, Tennessee for six months. I now live on Lookout Mountain with my cat, Dora, where I can walk to some great trails in the area. I will be teaching a Spanish class at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in the summer and fall.

Hilary Browder

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