Mr. Colborn’s criticism of Costa Rica by not calling it a paradise set off a firestorm of comments, many supporting his position, and many saying his point of view is flat out wrong.
As a foreigner who has lived many years in Costa Rica and amidst Costa Ricans, I have opinions about them as well. The Tico, like all people, can be petty, rude, selfish, thieving, corrupt, vindictive, down right spiteful and mean, envious, jealous, do stupid things, as well as being brilliant, innovative, generous, helpful, kind, caring, courteous, proud, honest, and all the other things that people can be.
But the Tico is indeed different, compared to other Central Americans, and certainly to the North American and Europeans. Of course, whatever I say is generalizing, but certain characteristics do stand out. They are: have an inferior complex when in the company of people from major countries, peaceful people, preferring to settle disputes through dialogue, not like their neighbors to the north where whipping out a knife or pistol is all too common in arguments, wanting to be liked or not disappointing the other party means never saying “no” to a request, knowing full well there is no intention of doing it, not being on time for an appointment, business, social or family or get something done, “more or less” is good enough for quality control, thin skinned, i. e., easily offended, a lack of awareness, not stupid, meaning they do things as if they were alone on the planet, unmindful of the inconvenience caused to others, adoration to extreme of a fellow countryman or woman who succeeds abroad in anything. There are other characteristics, of course, but this is enough to give you an idea of a difference.
Is the Costa Rican society and the way they do things defective, and has room for a lot of improvement? You bet it does. Man is not perfect, but then you could say that about every society or group of people. What really matters for us as foreigners is can we adjust to the Tico way, and still be happy, little by little improving that what is around us by example, and not by criticizing too much. It boils down to what you are comfortable with, and the type of challenges you are willing to take on.
If Costa Rica is too much to deal with, too frustrating, too disappointing, then go back to where you came from, and work with those people for local improvement. Costa Rica is improving thanks to certain foreigners. Isn’t that always the case everywhere?
Robert Nahrgang S.