David and I have written in previous posts about one of our pet peeves, replying to “thank you” with “no problem.” We always get a little miffed when someone says “no problem” because we don’t think there is a need to mention any sort of problem when someone is being thanked for doing something. I also dislike the use of “de nada” in response to “gracias.” I have been speaking Spanish (sometimes better than other times) since I was in kindergarten. As everyone who speaks Spanish is well aware, the translation of “de nada” is “of nothing.” This is if to say, in my opinion, that the thing for which someone is being thanked is no big deal, meaningless, or of little consequence. It’s a slightly smaller brush off than “no problem,” however, it is still a brush off. When David and I visited Bob (my Bob) in Costa Rica in 2010, we soon discovered that the typical response to “gracias” there is “con gusto” and in some cases, “con mucho gusto.” The Costa Ricans have got it right! “Con gusto” means “with pleasure” and “con mucho gusto” means “with much pleasure,” either of which make the person who is expressing his/her gratitude happy to have thanked someone. In addition to saying “con mucho gusto,” all of the Costa Ricans with whom I interacted had big smiles on their faces when I thanked them and they seemed to be genuinely glad to have helped me. I always bring home a little part of places I visit and I will always remember the kindness and smiles of the people I met in Costa Rica. Gracias for the lesson in gracious acceptance of thankfulness!
I do not speak Spanish. Living in south Florida all these years has not been enough for me to learn more than some basics and I depend on Melissa when we find ourselves in Spanish speaking countries, or places. But, it didn’t take me long to catch on in Costa Rica that the locals, Ticos and Ticas, seemed to genuinely appreciate their interactions with tourists and travelers. Whether in a small restaurant or more anonymous grocery market, they were warm and friendly. Hearing “Pure Vida” is common and it seems to me to be a complement to the phrase, “con mucho gusto,” showing respect for people and life. This is one of those things one learns when traveling. One has to be tuned into the little things, differences and similarities humans share around the world. Often one thinks of the hassles of traveling and some people are nervous in uncomfortable or unfamiliar cultures. But being exposed to the hospitality of people like those in Costa Rica is something that one takes home and it is better than any trinket purchased as a souvenir!