September 27, 2008 | Ronda Jambe

100% pure Costa Rica?

In many ways, Costa Rica reminds me of New Zealand.
Their national motto, Pura Vida! is not so different from the New Zealand catch-cry.
gloria in CR 011.jpg
Both countries look small on a world map, but expand on the ground into amazingly extensive and diverse terrains. Both have approximately 4 million people, and both have long coastlines and lots of volcanos.
Of course, Costa Rica doesn’t have snow and glaciers. Both have heaps of rain and rely on hydro for much of their electricity needs. Both are rather socialist in their governmental perspectives, and both are trying to open up to more competition and become part of the global economy.
Even more interesting, both seem to have lots of humble houses perched on hills:
gloria in CR 007.jpg
That may be as far as the comparison goes, but both New Zealand and Costa Rica appeal to my love of nature, as both are very beautiful. And both are rather more simpler in lifestyle and perhaps their thinking than their larger and more dominant cousins. In the case of Costa Rica, this includes Mexico as well as the United States.
Curiously, there is a two way traffic of emigres and immigrants. The ‘ticos’ as they call themselves, often find themselves in New Jersey for a few years, earning money and learning skills. Americans, on the other hand, are increasing in numbers. They come here to start up businesses or just retire. The well regarded health care system is an attraction, perhaps another commonality with NZ.
This store is run by a former Californian. In a town near-by, about half an hour and only $1.50 by bus, it provides a haven for bibliophiles, whether seeking their favourite in English or Spanish:
gloria in CR 004.jpg
On the day my friend and I stopped by, Keith Jarrett’s Koln Concert was playing in the background, and we passed a pleasant hour with the owner, talking books and (sigh) politics.
And because the backdrop to my recent study has been the US financial situation, a film we watched in class is worth mentioning. Just in case anyone thought the Africans invented forced child soldiers, the movie Innocent Voices opened my eyes.
It was about Chavo, an 11 year old in El Salvador. When boys turned 12, during the extended civil war in the 80s, they were forcibly recruited into the army. This boy escaped, just. And guess which country was helping the army to resist the liberation groups? You got it – the same ones who destabilised Chile and then moved right along to the middle east.
But this trip is about learning and the strangely satisfying gruel of forcing myself to converse with total strangers for 5 hours a day in a language that I have only a basic grasp of. I am looking forward to the mysteries of the subjunctive.
gloria in CR 001.jpg

Posted by Ronda Jambe at 10:49 am | Comments Off on 100% pure Costa Rica? |
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