Sunday, May 28, 2006

(snapshot of life in Costa Rica)

- On one of my final nights in the country, I gathered with my colleagues, expatriates and locals alike, in the notorious black-walled dive bar. “Tribute to Freddy Mercury” played on the big-screen TV for the hundredth time, followed by a big-haired Bon Jovi concert. Martin* the Carpenter attended with both his son and infant grandson – a three-generation bar night. Our table overflowed with half-empty Imperial bottles and bowls for the rapidly melting ice.

I talked to a new guy who’d just moved back to town. He had lived and worked in San Jose, remaining there even after being brutally mugged and knifed at the ATM a few years back. Earlier, in high school, he’d spent a year in Atlanta as an exchange student. Swimming against the tide of Latin Americans hungry for U.S. work and citizenship, he chose to return to Costa Rica.

“I liked Atlanta. But I like this town even more,” he told me. “In the United States, everyone was always wanting a bigger car or a bigger house. Here, we don’t have much, maybe only a couch and a chair in the living room. But people are happy.”

Then it dawned on me. During my six months in Costa Rica, no one had asked me what kind of neighborhood I lived in, what level job I’d held in the United States or where I’d gone to school. I had no elevator speech prepared, because none was necessary.

(* a "nom-de-blog" for privacy purposes)

More from Costa Rica


At 9:03 PM, Anonymous katjjames said...

Are you sure Martin the Carpenter was not from the United States? If he was from the South, a woman, and one generation was still breastfeeding, you may have wondered if you were in Alabama.


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