September 15, 2008 | Ronda Jambe

Pura Vida! A second life in the second world

Life is not a simulation game! It is possible to find oneself in a different place, with a whole new set of challenges and adventures. There is no quick éscape´button, I´m here for a while, so I might as well settle in. I´m learning the rules of this new game, even as I learn the rules of Spanish.
And who would have thought that I´d be chatting about free trade agreements, global warming, and electronic democracy in Spanish, with Costa Ricans, in a small town outside the capital? Well, given my predelictions, I guess it´s logical.
Because time is limited, and I have to go back to the homestay to do my homework, let me start with a few facts:
Costa Rica has a universal health system which seems to work quite well. There are clinics, a hospital, pathology services, etc scattered around town.
I know where there is a hummingbird in its nest, just next door.
The sinks do not have plugs. Only the shower has warm water.
It rains every afternoon in this season, sometimes in buckets.
They have a lot of chiquaquas (?) truly silly but likeable little dogs, and when I can, I will add a picture of them in their tiny dresses.
The room I sleep in has no window, as it was blocked off to build a garage. In this climate it means I have to have a fan on all the time just to breathe, much less sleep.
Costa Rica had a rice crisis earlier this year, and China wouldn´t sell them any. They are now scratching their heads about a longer term solution. They eat rice at nearly every meal.
Costa Rica held a referendum which said ‘yes’ to the free trade agreement with the US. So far, they haven´t signed, but they will, as all the other countries in Central America have signed up.
This is a very family oriented country, and this little town (Grecia) is reputedly the cleanest in Central America. It is certainly very clean.
The municipal government is not responsible for the footpaths. It is a warning to those who would privitise essential services, as they are all broken and rather dangerous, especially at night.
The Taiwanese built a big bridge across a river, when they were good friends with Costa Rica. Then CR recognised mainland China, and the friendship with Taiwan is strained. Now the Chinese are building a mini bird´s nest stadium here.
There is a Chinese television station, yet I don´t see any Chinese so far.
Lots of Americans are coming here to retire, as it is beautiful, comfortable and safe. It is also just 30 minutes to the airport. They tend to get places up in the hills where it is cooler.
My friend Gloria, a very adventurous yet very proper Englishwoman, has been living here for a while, and is helping me to settle in. We are renewing our friendship of some 25 years, as we haven´t been physically in the same place since we visited her in California in 2001.
The better designed houses are similar to what one might see in FNQ, that other gorgeous parallel universe in the tropics. Nothing reinforces the importance of good environmental design like waking up and not being able to see light or feel a cool breeze in the tropics, or having to rely on artificial lighting in the middle of the day.
Finally, I´ve decided there must be a God after all (one rather like the Norse god Loki, because he is teasing me) since I´ve been sent to live with a family of evengelicals, in mucho Catolico Costa Rica. What´s more, I like them very much, they are exceedingly kind and generous, love nature and look after wounded animals.
You can guess what Pura Vida means, it´s their national greeting.

Posted by Ronda Jambe at 4:34 am | Comments Off on Pura Vida! A second life in the second world |

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