Me llamo Rogelio

Hace ocho semanas, mi familia y yo nos mudamos a San Jose, Costa Rica. 

Eight weeks ago my family and I moved to San Jose Costa Rica for the adventure of a lifetime.  We are now situated in a community that puts a smile on our face and challenges us everyday.  I wake up to the smell and signs of an urban Central American landscape full of curiosity, heart, and inspiration. 

My language instructors are the Uber drivers.  I am busy running up and down the mountains close to our home.  We are making new friends with all day barbecues.  My tennis game is improving.  My marriage is improving.  We have figured out how to buy fruits and vegetables at the Farmer’s market without “gringo” pricing.  I am comfortable with the constant cheek kissing of people I do not know.  I’m doing Crossfit again.  I tried a karate class with my daughter where the average age of students was seven years old because I did not understand that niños y padres meant that padres (parents) watch and don’t participate.  My work is inspiring me more than ever before.  Our kids are happy in their new school.  My world continues to grow as my desire to learn is met with a feeling of limitless possibility. 

I am all about putting myself out there, meeting people, making friends and hoping not to completely embarrass my family to the point of disownership (which my daughter has threatened a few times already).  Putting myself out there means speaking Spanish even when I could communicate in English.  It means saying “Si” even when I have no idea what someone just said to me (what did I just say yes to?).  It means figuring out how to express myself with limited vocabulary and whole lot of fancy hands.  And so begins the story of Rogelio.

For a number of weeks I would ask people their names and when they asked in return, I would say, “Me llamo Russell”.  Blank stares.  Slight mouth contortion.  Tongue acrobatics.  I blame myself.  I could have pronounced it a bit more Latin, “Rrreusel” with the R-Roll (rhymes with Streusel), but I didn’t.  Then one day, in a “Matrix” moment standing in front of the Starbucks (Yes, Starbucks) attendant, she asked the simple question, “Su nombre?”.  I just didn’t want to go through the whole “Russell” thing again, so as time seemed to slow down, a slight bead of sweat accumulating on my forehead, I said, “Rogelio”.   She smiled.  A little glint of understanding in her eye.  A warmth overcame the relationship.  I knew I was on to something. It was easy.

My friend, Jose, who was next to me said, “Yes, I love it.  You are now Rogelio.”  Okay, I’m sensing what you are thinking, “Doesn’t Rogelio mean Roger in English?  Do you really want to be Roger?”  The answer to that is “No” (nothing against all the “Roger’s” out there)  but I’m not thinking about it so literally.  It is just a whole lot easier to adapt to my new environment and frankly, it’s fun.

So what’s the point?  The point is that I can be anybody I want to be and completely disrupting my environment by moving to Central America opened up an opportunity for experimentation.  So I’m taking a little pleasure in simplifying my name but really, I am enjoying the metaphor that my possibilities know no limits.

Me llamo….ROGELIO.