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February 9th, 2008
This was not the original title. The original was to be another “My Readers Write” thingy. Alas, I have gone on a rant that may please or offend some of my readers. While replying to the email below, I found myself waxing forth on about 20 other topics, ranting I guess… going off subject… decided it was way too long for an email response, and decided to share it with the world… cathartic I guess, at least for me. Kind of a mental laxative for. It is REALLY long… sorry. My blog.
One thing that worries me about trying to live in CR is the thought of having to be on guard all the time against house thieves. I’m originally from NYC and am used to watching my back in public, but I’m not used to having bars on the windows, etc.
Your page on Culture Shock mentioned that the concepts of right and wrong vary from culture to culture. I’ve heard Ticos blaming most of the petty (and violent) crime on Nicas that have come into the country.
Have you formed an opinion on why “Thou shalt not steal” and “Do unto others, etc.” are ignored by so many people there? Are they less attached to their “stuff” than we are?
So sorry to go astray Karin, but your answers are (buried) here.
I think “stuff” is relative. If the best you can afford is a radio, the loss of that radio is maybe equal to another person losing their DVD player or cell phone… Just my thoughts.
And… if you think the ten commandments or golden rule have anything to do with our 2008 world, you are probably pretty disappointed daily in your life. Ethics and morals have been under attack by the far left for many years, and the US is an example of how a society can deteriorate when it shifts from basic values, religious or otherwise. In fact it is my opinion that it is far worse in the US than here in Costa Rica, though of course there are areas in the US where people still respect one another, the laws of the land and their own God as they define Him or a higher power if that word is better. Of course, they are ridiculed for their beliefs.
I think the USA is broken.
I am not a particularly religious person, but I think people need to respect other folk’s belief systems and not try to impose their own. Oddly, the terrorists are trying to export and enforce THEIR version of Islam to everyone in the world… The basic Islamic beliefs, while different, are still basically good unless distorted for personal use. Still, there is a huge faction in the US that minimizes and makes fun of those (religious or not) who want and choose a simpler and more basic approach to life and family. They change the words to Silent Night… heavens! Nobody wants to offend! Merry Christmas is now offensive? To whom? Ever had a non Christian tell you not to say Merry Christmas as you walk down the street?
These people want to change how we address each other or groups of people, yet they use words often even more offensive! Example? How about the ridiculously named, “Native Americans”? Ever actually speak with a “Native American”? I have, and I know of none who care to identify themselves as “Americans” at all! They identify themselves with their own Nation (OK, tribe if you want to get silly). Oh… BTW… they actually WERE sovereign nations unto themselves and doing quite well before we decided to relieve them of that overwhelming burden of self governance. All in the name of Manifest Destiny, but really sort of a military assisted living program.
The PC police monitor your words and thoughts and tell YOU how to think, act, and what is right based on what THEY think is right. Free speech, while technically still on the books, is really pretty much gone. No, I am not advocating the use of hate words… I just think this PC crap is another example of what WAS maybe good idea with good intentions now gone horribly wrong.
I consider this attack on people for how they think, speak, worship, or express themselves to be little more than domestic terrorism. It may not be as destructive as Islamic terror, but it sure seems to be having a similar effect… maybe just a tad less bloody.
The Bad Guys!
Yeah… the Nicas and Colombians are blamed for everything… but the Blacks and Latinos were blamed for everything in the US as I recall. I doubt that has changed since I jumped ship. Anyway, all those groups tend to be on the lower end of the economic scale, so I suppose that blame is at least partly justified… Have to eat right?
Crime here? The Cost?
It is FAR cheaper to live in CR than in the USA, but there is a cost involved that people conveniently forget. Those high taxes you pay in the US for (normally) buy those superb services like ambulances, paramedics, police that respond instantly and are well paid and well trained (though seldom well appreciated). Taxes also pay for (generally) well equipped schools with vast sports facilities, computers, after school activities… the works. Even urban schools in the US (Chicago for example) generally are far better equipped then nearly any public school in Costa Rica.
Down here, you pay almost NO taxes, but you also get almost no police services and the Cruz Roja ambulances are often equipped with not much more than an oxygen bottle. With no police, you make do! You may chose to live in a gated and protected community that hires it’s own security. Ironically, those Gringo hideouts are the least secure and most dangerous places to live… a favorite, Escazu, had well over 700 reported home break-ins last year. The really important word is REPORTED? As there is little point, a lot of folks never report crime here.
However all is not bad! There are a zillion safe and wonderful places to live where you can have great neighbors and be safe in your home. I meet people all the time who live safely and without fear! Is that what you want? Well that carries with it the responsibility to learn Spanish and actually BLEND into the Latin culture. That is a price tag that many expats do not wish to pay. They’ll stick with each other, learn 9 words in Spanish, and tell their friends they live in Costa Rica.
The COOL thing is that this is changing! I am seeing more and more over-50ish North Americans moving here, living in areas that are predominantly Tico, adjusting to and LOVING life here. They are safe. They are contributing. They are learning the culture and have discovered that just because you speak Spanish does not mean you are a Mexican gardener. They watch out for each other. Basics. Like holding hands in kindergarten.
The bars on the window? Deal with it. They are everywhere and while many folks will explain them away as part of the Spanish influence (and they are partially right) they have evolved into a requirement depending on where you live. Close to bigger cities and tourist areas… expect to see more bars.
How about the younger expat?
My son 28 lives here with his wife and three year old daughter. He is very concerned that while here in Costa Rica, she will never be exposed to or have access to the zillion things US kids take for granted every day! He is right of course. Kids here play soccer. Few other sports. Very few computer labs… in fact, very few computers at all… few tennis or basketball courts… little track and field. Few if any after school activities that are school sponsored.
My son’s high school and his frame of reference (Adlai E. Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, Illinos) had pools, a TV/radio station, clubs, probably 20 different sports and may about 400 extracurricular things to do. Granted, that may be an exceptional high school… but my point is that down here, those things simply do not exist at all even in the high priced private English schools. They are just not available. He is considering a move back to the USA… not a bad idea, but he simply has NO idea how much all those things cost in the higher taxes he will pay. I paid $7,000 per year in taxes for his fine high school, a super police department that patrolled my neighborhood 20-30 times per day with under 2 minute response time, and paramedics that drove mini hospitals in case we got sick.
Phrases like “Pay me now or pay me later” or “Ya gets what ya pays for” or the ever popular “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch” all work fine in Costa Rica. If you move here, bear these in mind. You can NOT have it both ways.
Although I am pretty sure I’ll get blasted for saying this, but I think that those parents who move here from the USA with kids of school age just so they can “expose them to another culture”, while well thinking, are NOT doing them any favors. I am referring here to permanent moves, not a one year visit to another culture thing which I DO support.
The REAL thing I see in the younger expat (not including business transfers) is these people seem to be using the kids as an excuse for their own inability to cope with life in the USA… conveniently blaming Clinton, Bush, the system, the Republicans, Democrats, banks, Britney Spears … whatever/whoever… for their lot in life. I am already getting a ton of email from the Hillary and Obama haters getting ready to leave the USA if either are elected. That is just wrong, You cannot escape your life. It follows you.
To Karin… I do apologize. Poor woman asks a simple question or two and gets the whole enchilada of pent-up crappola.
To you 8,000 or so who get this Blog via email, sorry to jam up your email and use your bandwidth. If I have offended anyone… well, that is why people have Blogs… to say what they think. To spew!
Comments of a polite nature are, of course, welcome so long as they agree with me.Filed under Costa Rica, Life in Costa Rica, Opinion, Other Stuff, Rants | Comments (28)