This is a freer country where options are greater

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I applaud the candor of Garland's article in a world where everyone feels a need to be politically correct and God forbid we speak our truths.  There are, however, a few points I wish to refute.  In my 16 years of living in Costa Rica and with a psychology background, I seek more to comprehend than condemn.  I sense the frustration and resentment in the article and have often share the same feelings.  Try being a woman and building a house, a business, a life. 
Short-sightedness is a product of their environment and the way they have been raised.  Generally speaking, most Ticos live at home until they are married.  When they got married, generally a room was built on to the family home to accommodate the young couple or a little house was built on the family property.  When I arrived in 1993 apartments to rent were scarce, that of course has changed, but the average Tico never had to worry about rent/mortgages.  Most of their disposable income was spent all at once, on clothes, entertainment, makeup, jewelry, or the latest gadgets on the market.  Prices have always been unreasonable but without the Internet, Wal-mart or ready passports, who knew?  

When I tried to impart to them the costs of similar items in other countries, they were in shock.  They have been held hostage by their own government and their elected officials; the same families that have always run the country, politically or fiscally.  Poverty is control.

That, too, is changing.  To be fair they don't need to be independent nor do they want to be.  They enjoy a very close bond with their family members and they truly support each other through it all, something we could all learn from.  Short-sightedness or "living in the moment" an adage quite popular these days.
As far as education is concerned they have a higher literacy rate than the United States and Canada.  They study and are groomed to be lawyers and doctors with the aim of high income potential, hard to be passionate about that.  Careers built from following your passion are a luxury afforded more in our North American culture.
Just as we critique their folkways and mores, we must also understand their frustration and bewilderment at our own characteristics.  I live in a barrio where very few Gringos exist.  They ask me why perfectly wealthy people insist on wearing holes in their jeans?  How can all those foreigners with their big fancy cars and houses be broke and in debt?  Why do they shout and speak so loud all the time?  Why don't they dance and enjoy the music?  Why is working hard all the time, and rushing so important?  Why do they want everything NOW, and how come they live here for so long and never learn how to speak Spanish? They can't comprehend families scattered all over the globe having no without contact with each other
Yes I have my gripes about this culture, but when I tally the sheet, I know I live in a freer country now than I ever have.  I can remodel my house and not need a permit, keep chickens in my backyard and have the freedom to live with low taxes, be an entrepreneur and create business in a culture where there is less competition than my homeland.  You don't have to be rich to have a maid, a gardener or employees.  Yes I am fed up with crime, potholes, lousy lawyers, crooked cops, illogical tramites, and I don't wear rose colored glasses. I would never say, "so you don/t like Costa Rica, go home!"
I live my life, change what I can, grateful for what Costa Rica has made me, and learn.

Judith Kent
San Joaquin de Flores

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