It’s hard to speak Spanish here. I’ll be honest—you don’t need it. Everyone speaks English. Sometimes I speak Spanish to people even when they start off in English because, what am I doing in Costa Rica if not improving my Spanish? Most of the time they’re happy to switch. Sometimes they get stuck in English and I can’t get them to switch over, and it gets awkward. They speak to our Bilingual Baby in English and then I turn to her and speak to her in Spanish. It’s weird.
But it’s not weird for the children of foreigners here to speak Spanish, English, and whatever their parents’ native languages are. The woman who owns the coworking space where we live and work has a three-year-old who speaks German with her mom, Flemish with her dad, and Spanish and English at school. Their family was sweet enough to invite us to a gathering with their friends on the beach, and up from the gaggle of children splashing around in the tide pools rose bits of Hebrew, English, Dutch, Spanish, and German. I was so proud to see Bilingual Baby so comfortable in this multi-lingual setting.
On the way home from the beach that evening, the owner of the coworking space gave us a ride in her car (what a luxury here), and her daughter and Jojo sang “La Vaca Lola” at the top of their lungs most of the way home. It was Jojo’s turn to be proud. I could see her little chest puffing up in that big girl way she has, elated that she could sing along with her brand new friend.
I snuck a recording of the two of them singing the song, which includes asking whether the cow goes meow or not:
And despite all the English, she’s flooded with Spanish by her neighbor friends. Here’s a clip of the four of of them coloring and playing tic-tac-toe together, and another one of Jojo “cooking” up a soup of poker chips and pompoms with the seven-year-old boy. You can hear them mixing up their ingredients: