To say things are different here would be stating the obvious. Different definitely does not mean “bad”. It simply means “different”. OBVIOUSLY, the primary language is different and that…first and foremost..is the difference I deal with the most. I have been pretty pleased with myself in some situations. As I have to pay the invoices for our printing company at the bank, I have been able to walk in prepared and actually speak a bit to them. Most of the tellers speak limited or no English. Our third trip to the bank to open our commercial account was a bit more fun. She used a translator on her computer and I guessed at the answers. The only negative? The account still isn’t open. It’s definitely been a PROCESS.
My most difficult language dealings are actually with the maid. She speaks NO English. We DO communicate…especially when she found a rather large scorpion in one of the sinks…but a lot of time I “gather” what she says and repeat back to her “Si….(and one of the words she used)”….and hope I did not just say “Yes…the.” or “Yes an”…or something like that. She apparently thinks I totally get it as she continues to speak to me at Frito Bandito pace. Between being thrown into the culture, and utilizing Duolingo, Google translate and Rosetta Stone, I’m determined to learn this language. I’m afraid that part of my brain (the part ONLY used for learning another language AND which has been dormant for centuries) more than likely resembles Stonehenge by now.
The other difference which I knew…but forgot to pay attention to…was how dates are illustrated here (and MANY other parts of the world). Not only is it 1 September (instead of September 1), the dates are written 1/9/2017 instead of our 9/1/2017. The USA is in the minority by illustrating dates in the month/day/year format…starting to feel we’ve done everything ass-backward since we are NOT in the majority. Again, you become accustomed to and familiar with the fact that everyone does it differently when traveling and completing the paperwork for customs & immigration on the plane and other “forms”; however, I did NOT think of this when going through the grocery store looking for fresh dairy and meats. The first time or two at the store, I could not believe that everything was expired or soon to expire. I was just befuddled with why the shelf life seemed SO short and no one cared. Well it’s NOT. Once again, my aging brain has to really look at these things sometimes for it to sink in. Old habits….
AND GUESS WHAT THEY HAVE AT THE GROCERY here? Remember the old S&H and Top Value stamps your mother, grandmother, or you used to collect? Well…guess what? I’m collecting stamps for pots and pans….no kidding.
Another difference here is the outside garbage bins. The garbage receptacle system here is wild. No plastic (which is good), but I cannot imagine America dotted with these wiry metal contraptions at the front of each house (picture below). I do like that there are no plastic containers blowing over into the road, but these are no less of an eyesore. They have wire tops you have to keep secured to prevent the “critters” from partaking in the leftovers.
One of my favorite differences is the gas station. I love that you can’t fill your own gas here. We’re not in Kansas anymore or New Jersey either. We don’t have to get out of the car….and they wash your window. ALL gas stations are full serve and they ALL have the same price…it’s set by the government. No more driving 20 miles out of your way to save 2 cents a gallon….Just another part of paradise.
The biggest overall difference here are the people. Oh my goodness….everyone is so much more relaxed. The Ticos (natives) are genuinely the nicest, most generous and loving people. I’m not naive and conveying that every single person here is nice and honest…but, as a whole, these people are GOOD people. Rich in culture, love, family and simplicity, they really want for nothing even though many of them have materialistically little. They hug you and kiss you. They invite you to family events when they hardly even know you. They call you to meet you to give you something they cooked. They say thank you, excuse me, please….and they smile. They don’t hate, carry weapons, fight, or even watch the news. They live in their world and take care of their families.
Tamarindo is a small town and everyone here is related to, married to, been married to, had a baby with, etc…someone else in this town. The people don’t speak poorly of each other and they are hard working. Even the Gringos here remind me of what it must have been like in California during the Woodstock era. Bohemian attire, laid back, uncomplicated, relaxed, and happy. It’s a breath of fresh air after listening to and watching the news back “home”. Costa Rica is evident that life doesn’t have to be so hateful, stressful and demanding.
What else is different here? The children…they sing, play and run. They play in the water, lay in the sand, climb the trees, surf, take walks and help their parents. They don’t get video games and don’t have access to many of the things we gave our own children. As a Gringo of 7 years here said to me yesterday…”kids here don’t know what instant gratification is. You can’t get it instantly here even if you wanted to.”… apparently there is something to be said for that.
Yes, I am adapting well. Paradise and happiness has a different meaning to every person. Right now, my paradise is sunshine, dirt roads, wild monkeys, horses and cows, rain,
beautiful sunsets, beautiful people….and business is doing fine…more on that later. P