Not all the differences are the effects of the Costa Rican diet

Although I don’t walk downtown as much as I used to or even visit the city, there are two phenomena that I became aware of after living here a short time and notice that today they still prevail.

One was and is that very few older women in Costa Rica have the dowager’s hump, which is the colloquial term for the rounded back that is a visible sign of osteoporosis.

The other was and is that few women have white hair.  The first phenomenon I credited to the diet, especially the beans that are eaten daily. The latter, I also credited to the diet until I walked in a hair salon the first time and saw the shelves lined with every hair color you can imagine.

As the daughter and sister of beauticians, I should have been the wiser without the proof.  However, I am happy to say, that in spite of the not so happy changes in the diet here, generally speaking, older women still walk with heads up and backs straight. The changes in the diet is affecting the younger generations, as has been noted by recent research on the deleterious effects of a western diet on people approaching middle age.

Now I take taxis more often.  I don’t chat much with the drivers because I am often carrying stuff and cannot tolerate the seat belt in the front seat.

So I check what is new on both sides of the streets, and in the market districts I enjoy the colorful displays of vegetables in season and love watching the bustling people and their exchanges. Sometimes an exchange can go beyond pleasant and I have been surprised to note that people don’t often interfere with contentions between two others.

This week on Calle Blancos was a brand new, huge building.  The sign on it said in large and proud letters, AMAZON.  I asked my taxista if that belonged to the company on the Internet, and he said it did, although he had no further information, like was it a warehouse or what.  This does call for further investigation.*  I recall when I was living in San Antonio de Belén, seeing the huge warehouse in the valley and learning it was a Walmart warehouse.

And the beat goes on.

I received a notice that seven Canadian organizations that monitor Canada’s mining activities around the world, have sent a strongly worded letter to John Morgan, the CEO of Infinito Gold to stop the company’s “decade long harassment of the people and government of Costa Rica.” The Canadian company continues its efforts to start open pit mining for gold
in Crucitas, recently by threatening to sue Costa Rica for $1 billion.

Jamie Kneen, the spokesman for Mining Watch Canada, one of the seven organizations, knows and respects the efforts of the people and government of Costa Rica to remain eco-friendly.  He lived here from 1995-1997 when open pit gold mining was initiated and then dropped by Placer Dome. But he says, “Costa Rican organizations have been very strong in local and regional organizing and both Crucitas and Bellavista have been emblematic struggles for communities affected by mining throughout Central America.”

In 2012 the Costa Rican government asked the Canadian government to divulge what it knew about the reputed $200,000 donation to the Oscar Arias Foundation in 2008 “just days before Arias decreed that the Crucitas mine was to be considered ‘in the national interest.’  No answer has been forthcoming.

Kneen and others admonish the Canadian Embassy for its public support of Infinto saying that it has damaged Canada’s reputation in Costa Rica, a country that long has been popular as a destination for Canadian eco-tourists, and I might add, expats.

There is nothing new here.  When profit becomes the main concern of an endeavor or an individual, the welfare of others, the damage to the environment, or even to themselves, is often ignored.

Benjamin Franklin, my favorite politician, inventor, philanthropist, said it better.  “He that is of the opinion that money will do everything may well be suspected of doing everything for Money.”

I wish the Canadian organizations well.  I hope they turn out to be as successful as “The Magnificent Seven.”

*Editor’s Note: Amazon does, indeed, have a facility in the Parque Empresarial del Este on Calle Blancos

This entry was posted in Friday Column. Bookmark the permalink.