Dear A.M. Costa Rica:
Disclaimer: Like all expats, I have complained about Costa Rica and probably about all the usual things expats complain about here. The roads, the trash, the crime, the crazy drivers, the lack of signage, flagrant Gringo-gouging, and the stop-and-go legislative process. You know what I mean.
But here is where I come down on all these letters from Gringos who purport to know the solutions to all the problems in Costa Rica: It is what it is. Get over it.
Costa Rica belongs to the Costa Ricans. It was created by the Costa Ricans, and its future is being shaped by the Costa Ricans. The fact that the rest of us live here by choice means they are doing something right. And besides, we knew we wouldn’t be able to vote when we moved here. Sure, the country sees expats as a source of tax revenue and jobs for Ticos, but that doesn’t buy us the right to come here and create our own little corner of America (or Canada, or France, or Great Britain.)
There is peace of mind in melding into the culture and the ways of Costa Rica.
This means things won’t happen on the expat time schedule, whether we are talking about getting a building permit or changing your oil. You might get gouged by some businesses. Costs of things are going up, but not just here. Drivers stop without warning to pick up friends or maybe just to say “Hi.” There are thieves among us.
Don’t like the trash? Look up instead of down, or better yet, pick it up in your area. Don’t like the drivers? Take public transportation — and take a book with you. Upset about rising taxes? Move somewhere with lower taxes, or for less hassle than moving, just talk to your friends who still live in your native country about taxes they are paying. Got robbed? Watch where you walk at night, lock your windows and doors, maybe adopt a dog, and put your devices away when you’re not using them.
The point is: stop complaining. No place is perfect — especially the place you came from. Enjoy the beautiful geography and the diverse flora and fauna of Costa Rica. Enjoy the pleasant, courteous Ticos. Enjoy the climate and the season changes, such as they are. Get out more. Go to the beaches or the cloud forest. Isn’t that what you came here for? Count your blessings and stop whining.
Nowadays after spending an hour in the bank for a simple transaction, or going to three farmacias looking for Benadryl, I say to my partner, “I’m having a Costa Rica day!” And glad of it. I could be having a _____________ day. You fill in the blank.