The amazing true story of tuanis and brete – words to be thankful for

Hi there – just wanted to say thanks so much for your support and readership, and to share my first two columns in The Tico Times, which are inspired by (and will sometimes overlap with) “The Dictionary of You” and will run every other Monday from here on out. The column, “Maeology,” looks at Costa Rican culture and the expatriate experience through the country’s language and slang. I will continue to add them to the “Portfolio” section of the blog as they appear.

A love letter to Costa Rica’s second language, Nov. 10, 2014

The amazing true story of tuanis and brete, Nov. 24, 2014


2 thoughts on “The amazing true story of tuanis and brete – words to be thankful for

  1. Hi Katherine. Your writing is so funny and honest. Thank you for adding value to the things we are experiencing as gringas in a Tico world. My 3 year old daughter and I moved to Drake Bay in October 2014. My Tico partner and I are having a baby in Costa Rica in August and plan to continue to live here thereafter. We have many questions about our status and our options. My pressing concern is how do we get papa and baby to the US for a visit shortly after the baby is born. Will it be very time consuming? Expensive? Possible? My partner does not have his Visa as of yet; we are not married. I’m writing all of this to you because I love my beautiful mixed family and want for us to be able to enjoy each other’s cultures and families in both lands, but don’t know where to begin. I thought you might have some suggestions or contacts that might steer us in the right direction. Either way, I enjoy reading your blog and look forward to more about you and your family.
    Best, Andrea


    1. Hi Andrea! Thanks so much for your message and congratulations on your baby on the way! I did go through the Visa process with my husband (and we were only dating – it was well before we were engaged, marrie, or parents), and we were lucky. His request was approved without any problems – but I do know it depends on a lot of factors. What I’ve been told over the years is that you need to demonstrate, in every possible way, that the person applying to go to the United States has significant ties to Costa Rica that will oblige him to return. The Embassy wants to avoid giving visas to people who might choose to stay in the U.S. So, things like letters from your partner’s employer(s); demonstration of any assets he has in Costa Rica, particularly property; or anything else that shows intent to return to Costa Rica, should help. I also went with my partner to his appointment (which I certainly recommend) and presented a letter from MY employer in Costa Rica to show that I, too, needed to return, although I really don’t know whether that helped. I would imagine that the fact that the two of you are having a child together will affect the process, but I really don’t know how! Sorry I can’t be of more help but there are no cut-and-dried requirements; it’s really up to the discretion of Embassy staff. The Consular webpage,, will tell you how the process works and the current cost of the appoinment (it looks like it’s $140). Finally, I should mention that you will definitely want to apply for your child’s Certificate of Birth Abroad once he or she is born, and I was grateful for a friend who gave me a head’s up I will now pass on to you: for that Certificate, you (as the U.S. parent) will need to demonstrate that you lived in the U.S. for a certain number of years as a child and teenager, so they ask for things like your immunization records, elementary/high school/college transcripts, and so forth (you can see a full list on the Consular website). So, if you have any U.S. visits planned this year, or if your parents/family can help you with those documents, it’s good to get that under way in advance! Hope that helps and best of luck with your pregnancy!


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