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I’m Joining the Circus

December 5th, 2006

Around December, Costa Rica begins to vibrate. It’s not an earthquake or a storm. No, it’s the approaching holidays and the distribution of the aguinaldo – the end of the year bonus each employer must give to every employee. Basically, it’s an extra month of pay.

So, the entire country gets a month of extra pay in December. I don’t think anyone saves it. The government has even posted billboards warning people to be cautious with their money. I venture to say, most are not.

In addition, many people get time off around Christmas and the New Year. Life stops around the 15th of December and doesn’t really, and I mean really get going again, until the 15th of January. Many people go to the beach. The working class probably spends a day at the beach; the higher ups stretch it out as long as possible. I actually like being in the city during the holidays because traffic slows to trickles. It’s much easier to get around. Once and awhile, I even get out my bicycle.

On the way home from ballet class, the first day of December, traffic was extra thick. There were a lot of accidents – more than usual. I suspected the aguinaldo was at fault. Costa Rica has a hideous record of car accidents. It gets worse around holidays.

My daughter, who’s discovering the concept of careers, is compiling a list of what she wants to be when she grows up. So far, she is going to be a ballet teacher and instructor, a journalism teacher, a horse rider, a writer, an artist, an opera singer, and a gymnastics instructor. “Mami,” she said as we slowed down for yet another rear end collision, “I want to join the circus.” My dear, I thought, we already have.