An interview with Rosie Munoz Guerrero, Costa Rican host mom | Wonderful Women Interview Series

Laura, Fabio, Dave, me, Rosie and my brother’s family

In this Wonderful Women series, we profile many of the women that you will meet on our trips to Costa Rica. This interview with Rosie is very dear to my heart, as Rosie is one of my Wonderful Women trip ‘Mama Ticas’ — or Costa Rican ‘mom.’ This is a term of endearment that many visitors use for the mothers of their homestays. For the past ten years, I have periodically been bringing groups to stay with Rosie and other mama ticas when we visit the Fortuna/Arenal area of Costa Rica, usually to do volunteer work with Proyecto Asis, a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation center.

Rosie’s life is beautifully characteristic of small town, rural Costa Rica, which is why it is so important for me to introduce you to her in this interview. I hope you enjoy!

Hi Rosie, thanks so much for agreeing to this interview! Let’s get the easy stuff out of the way first. What’s your name, where are you from?

My name is Rosibel Muñoz Guerrero, and I live in el Futuro de la Tigra de San Carlos in Costa Rica.We live about 45 minutes from La Fortuna and the Arenal volcano.

What is a typical day like for you in Futuro de la Tigra de San Carlos?

Normally, I wake up to prepare breakfast and lunch for my children before they go off to work. In the afternoons, I do housework, and in the evening I make dinner for the whole family. If we have volunteers in the house, then we play all kinds of games with them in the evenings.

The way to Rosie’s

How long have you been accepting students and volunteers into your home to stay with you?

I started taking in foreigners roughly 8 years ago. I really enjoy it. It’s very fulfilling on many levels, but especially because of the cultural exchange that occurs. It feels great to share so much with so many people.

We’re translating this interview to English, but do you speak English with the students or do you require them to speak Spanish to say with you?

The goal is for everyone to speak in Spanish. However, honestly, for our visitors that don’t speak Spanish, it has never been a problem. We either use our translators on our phones or we use dictionaries. I also have two children who speak English, so they can always help.

The lesson I learn over and over again is that no matter our background, language or culture, at the end of the day, we are all the same.

Of the people who stay with you, many volunteer at the Proyecto Asis, where you also work part time. What is the project, and how did you get involved?

Asís is a wild animal rescue foundation, which rehabilitates wild animals to try to send them back into their natural habitat, whenever possible. A friend recommended my family to the Asis project director, and now I work there part time, helping with cooking and cleaning when large groups come through.

Starfruit, grown in the countryside

What are other ways your family earns money?

My husband Fabio works on a nearby farm that grows sweet potatoes, starfruit, mango, things like that. He earns money by taking the vegetables to sell at the market in Alajuela on Friday and Saturday. Our sons, Jorge and Oscar, both work in tourism in the Fortuna area. Our daughter, Laura, does childcare and is also an independent photographer.

Have you noticed a change in the area in any way since Costa Rica has become so popular with tourists in recent years?

Yes, there has been a notable change, but this has mainly been positive. There are more sources of jobs, even more so for those of us who live close to La Fortuna, which is very popular with tourists.

Have you always lived in the countryside? Have you ever considered moving to the city?

Our whole lives have been in the countryside. It’s much less stressful and far less polluted. I love to visit the nearby thermal baths and waterfalls of the Arenal volcano area of La Fortuna when I can.

Rosie, her family and me during one of my homestays

How do you view the role you play in the experience for foreigners who stay with you?

I really believe that my job as host is very important. First, because it is related to the animal rescue project, and also because we are opening up our doors and giving people an opportunity to live with, and really understand, a typical Costa Rican family.

What do you want people reading this to know about Costa Rica?

I want them to know that the large majority of Ticos are very nice people. We are service-oriented, and we want your experience in Costa Rica to be wonderful.

Interested in a trip to Costa Rica?

Find out more about Travel With Ann Experiential Adventures. You’ll meet Gaby, take classes here, travel with incredible women (and men, depending on the trip) and have a completely unique, totally authentic trip. Visit abecker.com/travel for more.