Tourists are shocked by everything in Costa Rica – the beauty of the rainforest – the abundance of wildlife – the beaches, the food and the sun – the friendliness of the people – the terrible treatment of bulls in the ring – and now how people get to and from work.
The thing with tourists is they are just that – passing through, gazing upon the lives of others – and, unfortunately in this case, using their North American values to judge the gravity of the circumstance. In the course of her letter, Gwen Day took the sight of men standing in the back of a truck to a world class human rights abuse – and, of course, someone else (unnamed) saw the same thing, only it was even more heinous.
I have travelled to many parts of Costa Rica over the past seven years, have built a home in the Osa, and plan to retire there. I continue to be shocked by the reality of Costa Rican life. The happiness, the beauty, the simplicity, the bureaucracy, the violence, the cultural richness, the openness and generosity.
I wonder if Gwen (or her unnamed friend) ever thought that perhaps – instead of this being a breach of human rights – what she witnessed was the one man who owned a truck making sure that not one of his friends was left to walk home. That type of generosity should shock tourists – none of them would experience that at home.
Ojochal de Osa