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November 16th, 2007
Up until two months ago, my family and I were living in a contemporary three-story house on a beach in Southern California. We had every convenience available. We were only limited by our imaginations. Now, here we are in the jungle with electricity that goes out from time to time, severely pot-holed roads and surrounded by people whose lives and backgrounds could not be more different than our own.
Although I am fluent in Spanish, given that I was raised in the states, I have little in common with my neighbors. The transition has not been a smooth one. There have been things to endure and become accustomed to that nearly sent me back to the states. I would have to say that the hallmark of my frustration so far has been that nothing here functions effieciently. Nothing. If you go to a government office during its regular office hours, it may be open. But then again, it may be closed. If someone makes an appointment with you, they may show up but then again, they may not. It seems that there is little regulation here and even less consistency. It may be different in the big cities but I am living in the middle of a jungle, outside of a small town.
After spending my first six weeks here either fighting this reality or letting it upset me, I have surrendered to it. I have even begun to appreciate aspects of it. I realize that there is an abundance of personal freedom here that is completely new to me. I see things here I have never seen before. For instance, ashtrays in restaurants and hospitals! People are allowed to smoke here! People are allowed to open a little soda (cafe) on the patio of their house. Or build a little convenience store in the yard in front of their house. People are allowed to be resourceful and do whatever they can to improve their little corner of the world.
But there are also things that are absolutely not allowed. For instance, children are not allowed to be disrespectful. Can you believe it? Not to teachers, parents or ANY adult. I had forgotten that there are entire cultures that still raise children to respect adults. Since I arrived, I have not seen a single child interrupt an adult conversation. The children I have met here have been, without exception, respectful, friendly, and downright charming! Now, I’m not saying that there are no polite children in the states. After all, I have two sons who are quite polite and most of my friends raise their children well, but most parenting in the states has changed quite a bit since I was a kid. It has surprised me how much I have enjoy the Tico children in my little jungle community where we are the only ‘white’ people. Frequently when I take a walk, I will find myself accompanied by several of the children who tag along and pick flowers for me and ask me how to say different things in English. It is no wonder that the ‘Ticos’ are a charming people. They are raised to be.
So if I have traded efficiency and convenience for a culture of charming people and achingly beautiful jungles, I think I have received much more than I gave up.Filed under Costa Rica, Expatriate Life, Kids in Costa Rica, Life in Costa Rica, Living in Costa Rica, Nora Straight, Other Stuff | Comments (7)