I first discovered younger Costa Rican men had a thing for older women last year when I was in Sámara. Guys as young as 23 sat at my dinner table speaking in Spanish, asking me to go out dancing, or to have drinks. I mentioned it to another female solo traveler my age at the hotel where I stayed. She said it hadn’t happened to her. But I knew better than to be flattered. Okay, maybe I was a little flattered.

This year my Spanish is better. I asked Marvin, a man my age who sat with me at a table at a restaurant he owned about this phenomenon. He introduced me to the term “mantenidos.” Mantenidos refers to young men who are literally maintained or supported by wealthy women. The woman is engaged in maintener, the verb for maintaining. There is no word for sugar mama. In Mexico, there is a phrase that translates to cradle robber, robacunas,but that is a different concept.

To make sure I understood Marvin correctly, I asked the owner of my favorite little soda, as the small family restaurants are called, if she had heard of mantenidos. Every Spanish speaking female in the restaurant had something to say and they were not nice things. Reina told me her son brought home an ugly woman. I had seen both of her sons many times. They are very handsome surfers. The woman one son brought home (which was the same place as the restaurant by the way) was as ugly as something I didn’t understand, but judging from her facial expression, the woman was butt ugly. Her son didn’t care. All his food and drinks were free. She complained to him but it didn’t bother him.

The waitress, the one who prompted my earlier entry on sexiness, spoke with such urgency I had to ask her to slow down. Her main point was these women have an unfair advantage because they have money. She is disgusted by mantenidos. They don’t really like these women, they just want someone to take care of them.

There was a chorus of damnation from the other Ticas who were folding napkins and closing up the soda.

As for me, I have the money to pay for drinks and meals for 25 year old Ticos. But how could I hang out with them knowing I have two sons younger than them? I would constantly think of my son’s faces. Ick. This is assuming I wasn’t happily married, which I am. Sugar Daddies don’t seem to have this problem from what I can tell. And maybe all Sugar Mamas are not be like me. Maybe they have standards that the young men must be older than their children. I don’t know. Maybe next up I will find a Sugar Mama and interview her.

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