Reflecting on the two weeks I spent in Costa Rica the richest experience I had was the relationship I forged with the mother of the host family I stayed with, “Mama Tica.” She has given me permission to share her story as a way to illustrate the feminine struggle in Costa Rica. Her story is not unique. Her mother and friends shared similar stories with me. As I head into clinical social work with Latino families, I cherish these experiences that have broadened my understanding.
Four years ago Mama Tica’s husband left her for another woman. He came into the house while she was gone and ransacked the house. The relationship prior to the separation was charged with emotional abuse and threats of violence. His abrupt departure left her financially responsible for her two teenage daughters and her niece, with minimal contribution from her estranged husband. Over the last four years, she has struggled with depression and financial troubles. She has worked to regain her mental health and the self-confidence to rebuild her life. Mama Tica is a physical therapist but was not able to find a job in her profession so in order to pay for the daily living needs of her and her girls she drives for Uber, hosts Language Academy students at her home, sings professionally, caters, and cuts hair. Among the works she does for income she still finds time to volunteer at a seniors support group. Mama Tica is getting a divorce in the coming year, which means that she will have to sell her house. This will cause her to lose the income that comes from boarding students as well as cause her to move away from her parents who live across the street.
One of the things that was shared with me by Mama Tica and was echoed by her mother and friends, was that life is very hard for a woman separated from her husband in Costa Rica, so she tolerates the husbands demands and mistresses. The struggles and life experiences of the women I met and spoke with in Costa Rica helped me to broaden my privileged feminist lens and see strength and fight in their choices.