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A Reader’s Opinion of Costa Rica – Change and Perspective

June 11th, 2008

As you might imagine, I get a pretty fair amount of email. I try to reply, but I am often a few weeks backlogged as the stuff is arriving at the rate of maybe 200 emails per week. When I get a “good one”, I like to share it with other readers, and Neal from Canada has granted me permission to print his email.

I first came to Costa Rica maybe 15 years ago. It has changed significantly. My 15 years pales, however, next to Neal’s long term perspective of 46 years. I hope you enjoy it.  Click continue to read it.

(I) lived in Costa Rica in 1961 & 62, and attended La Universidad de Costa Rica, in San Pedro de Montes de Oca (brand new Ciudad Universitaria at the time). Have decided to return to CR to live (con Visa de Pensionado) and hope to move by September or October. The wife and our youngest daughter will be joining me once I’ve bought or built a home.

For (45) years I put-off the return visit for fear that I’d spoil those memories, but went back last February just to check things out. Alas I was right, CR is not as it was. I could have cried, and I kid you not, when I saw what San Jose and the Central Valley had become. San Jose was the cleanest and friendliest city I had ever seen, back in ’61, with the prettiest girls. I was 20 then and, after growing up in Montreal and Toronto, had visited Paris, Rome, and Beirut; none could compare to San Jose. (Later I lived in Santiago de Chile, LA, Portland, Vancouver, Stewart in Northern BC, and Whitehorse, none of these could compare either, although Stewart and Whitehorse each reserve a warm spot in my heart.)

Sadly, San Jose now is garbage strewn and dirty, stressed beyond its elastic limit, if you know what I mean, reminiscent in many ways of Santiago, Chile, in the sixties; even the Ciudad Universitaria is unkempt.

Fortunately, unlike the Santiaguinos, the Josefinos are friendly even now. (On day one of my visit they atempted to answer in English when I spoke to them in Spanish; we managed to overcome that hurdle on day two. And to think they used to call me ‘Tico adoptado’ and claim that I had no discernible accent.) At any rate, I plan to look for a home outside the Zona Metropolitana.

One of the most admirable things about Ticos, then and now, is their relative lack of regard for Social Status or Stratification, particularly when compared to Canada or other Latin American countries (Chile was worse than India in that regard). I can’t imagine being invited to any Canadian Prime Minister’s or American President’s home, for dinner, just because I met his son at a party. I was so invited to the home of Pepe Figuerez, a man far more worthy of respect, and far more admired by his people, than any Canadian Prime Minister or US president. (Very ‘simpatico’ and informal, we discussed anything and everything except politics.)

Another Tico quality was (is?) ‘helpfulness;’ kindness above and beyond the call of duty, so to speak. Public servants who would type out a letter of application, or correct my efforts (back then, official requests were very formal and flowery), no charge; store owners who would lead one by the hand, across town, to their competition, for a two-dollar item they did not stock.

Way back when, as they say, I traveled through and visited much of CR, but the only area I knew really well was SJ and surroundings; have joined ARCR, but still find it difficult to get information about the towns and areas of interest to me: Zarcero, San Ramon, Palmares, San Ignacio de Acosta, and others on the dry side of the cordillera (just for example), do you have any suggestions on how to get such info? It would be nice to have a general idea re. where to start looking.

Neal… I have sent you my phone number. Call me and we can discuss your interest in those locations. Thanks for your letter!

3 Responses to “A Reader’s Opinion of Costa Rica – Change and Perspective”

  1. Richard Noel on July 2, 2008 7:45 am

    Hi Neal?
    I assume that your first name is Neal, so I’ll continue using it until I’m corrected.

    First of all I thoroughly still enjoy your blog (or whatever you are calling it these days. Some time ago (about 10 mos. to take a guess)I wrote to you to compliment you on your straight forward manner and a willingness to ‘tell it like it is’. I had also commented that you have probably made some critics (or worse), when you pass along info re where to go re looking for real estate (Spanish or English), plus speak out about all not-so-nice news with praise where deserved.

    At that time, you were impressed with the response from me and made it the subject of a verbatim reprint to all of your subscribers at the time.(quite flattering)

    Plus, as time passed on I have noticed that you have added an income stream (via ads and advertising blurbs)which I certainly understand and unless you were loaded with $$; had to come to pass. At first, anyone trying to come up with an uncensored tell it like it is story about CR can do your bit as a hobby – but for how long as your circulation expands? (Only problem is that sometimes I have to hunt around after your first 3 lines, looing for the continuation path).

    My son Gary, who is a computer guru and spohisticated TV maven has an on-going account, with a rather large manufacturing firm in CR and has reason to visit your adopted country very frequently. He has also become a ‘believer’ and is forever telling me to move – or at least buy some real estate for the future. More recently he has been touting the Dental expertise of the DDS’s and the price (e.g in the States an implant goes for $1,750 (or more) vs the CR endrocronolists of less than half. Plus from the experiences of his friends (the manufacturer I mentioned), the quality of work is excellent. So now he has me all charged up to make a “see for myself” trip within the next couple of months.

    Since I now that I am in the last stages of selling my company I have no reason to stall any longer.

    Anyhow (Neal?) keep up the good work.
    Dick Noel

  2. Cynthia on June 25, 2012 9:58 am

    Mrs. or Mr. June 2008:
    Thanks a lot for your historical description about Costa Rica and the Metropolitano Area ( it’s different to Valle Central terrotory concept), I really enjoy and it is very acre. I also studied at the UCR and I am glad that you did.
    Best regards, Cynthia

  3. Cynthia on June 25, 2012 10:02 am

    Mr.Richard Noel: Thanks for think in CR, but you really don’t have idea of what is here about. Please keep all your ideas of money making, and Real State for your own country. You never, never will understand why some people live here, and what we use to have before your selfishes realtors destroy our home (upps, sorry your own land too now?). Some contries have homes where families live, no houses for make money
    Best regards, Cynthia