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Published: November 20th 2006
The view from the B&B
Summer is in the air in Central America
Spring is in full swing here meaning its raining less and summer is just around the corner. After a full onslaught of guests in recent weeks, things have quieted down a little in the last two weeks and that has enabled us to do some spring cleaning and to spruce up the B&B. It didn’t need much work, but change isn’t bad in this case. Terry, our new manager, has painted many of the rooms in uniquely tropical colors and reorganized the living area. His re-do definitely opened up the living space a bit and it is now more conducive to meeting other guests, having conversations, reading, or just relaxing. Since the last time we did some work on the rooms and common areas it was during the initial refurbishment of the entire B&B when first moving here, it was good to freshening things up—and painting always does the trick! We also made some curtains for some of the bathrooms. While it is nice to have large windows with plenty of sunlight coming through, bare windows are not conducive to privacy!
The other major work we have been
Friends and I were at a restaurant/bar recently. Funny how they labeled us at the top the bill--and true!
doing lately is on the 500-meter dirt driveway to the B&B. It’s a long road for sure and it does get abused during the rainy season, and this year was no exception (though it wasn’t as bad as last year). So I had my friend Ben, who is the top real estate developer in the San Ramon area, bring in his crackerjack crew to re-work the road including adding real drainage pipes, smoothing out the rough areas, adding a large rock base to the road in key spots, and cutting back some brush and dead trees to allow for more sunlight (and thus, enabling the road to dry more easily after rain storms). The crew is still working on it but these changes should keep the road in good condition for nearly a decade.
In other road work, I’m amazed (or maybe not so amazed) that some of the major road issues on the autopista between here and San Jose have still not been repaired. In a couple of spots, parts of the payment on the edge of the road have just fallen into the valleys below. The government is good about putting up warning cones and so on
Deb (Bob's wife--see next picture) all smiles! We LIKE that in our guests! I suppose it had more to do with her knowing Bob was cooking that night and not me! I miss Deb!
to ensure no cars go down the steep hills off the road, but on one rather large cave-in of the road, it has been several months since the road broke up and nothing has happened. Oh, well, there is not much I can do about it I suppose except to hope the road crews get to it in my lifetime.
Economic Growth in CR and good gringos (Ticos) vs. bad gringos (Ticos).
There has been a lot of chatter recently on various blogs and some comments on one of my past blog entries about economic development here in Costa Rica, gringos moving in, gringos ripping off Ticos and related subjects. So, I just want to chime in and provide my perspective, right or wrong.
I’ve heard a number of ex-pats say recently, either directly to me or through others, that “they don’t want Tico life to change” and that “they like things just the way they are.” Apparently, some people are increasingly miffed about life in Costa Rica changing, particularly in smaller towns like San Ramon, and that they don’t want economic development. My response to that is: “Has anyone asked the Ticos what they want?” I
Bob (l) and Jake (r)
Bob and Jake making a grill before I bought my super-duper one!
imagine there are many Ticos who also don’t want to see much change and they like their towns just the way they are, thank you very much. Change can bring many problems of course. However, there are also many Ticos who welcome change and the money and employment activities that ex-pats bring to the country. I personally do not think change is a bad thing if done correctly. If housing developments, etc., are done in an environmental friendly manner and don’t impede on what Ticos desire, then it shouldn’t be a problem. Obviously, change will occur and there is not much we can do to stop it. It just needs to be done well and in consideration of everyone’s needs.
I’m also concerned about thoughts that many ex-pats, particularly Americans are here ripping off Ticos and that is all we do. I’ve heard references to various businesses such as B&Bs, real estate ventures, retirement/relocation tours, and other businesses. Yes, there are definitely many Americans ripping off Ticos and equally, other Americans. It happens all the time here. However, there are also many good Americans here who have good businesses and provide significant value for their products or services. It
isn’t good to lump them all together. As someone else has suggested, if we can all work with the good people and refer customers to other good people, we’ll all do well and ensure our reputation as guests in this country, is not ruined.
There are bad gringos here and good gringos here. There are also good and bad Ticos. I cannot count how many times items at a market came out to double their posted price somehow, or more recently how I was charged for two dog haircuts instead of one (I caught the charge well after I left) and numerous other cases. Some are innocent mistakes but others are not. There seems to be this misnomer among some in the gringo community that Ticos are these innocent people who don’t understand business, who lead very simple lives, are not interested in making money, and in fact, don’t understand much about our complex world. I can tell you that in my own dealings with them that this is not always the case. Sure, many of them are not active in business and truly do lead lives reminescent of days past, but there are also many Ticos who are sharp business people, spot a gringo a mile away, and know how to make money. So to those people who assume Ticos are all the same and claim to know their interests and ethics, take a look around more broadly. As in any open society and culture, not everyone is the same, and it isn’t helpful to lump people together, whether Ticos or gringos.
I’ve also heard recently comments such as “I didn’t come to this country for it to be like the U.S.”and “I came here to live away from America and just among Ticos” (I’m paraphrasing). The fact is, Costa Rica, while perhaps considered the “wild west” for a lot of Americans who are considering moving here, or are already here, it is not that unless you live in very small towns on the fringes of the country, or go live among the Bribri or other indigenous peoples. Costa Rica, while poorer compared to the U.S., is hardly a third world country compared to a lot of countries, particularly countries to the north on this ithmus. Ticos are heavily influenced by North America from television to clothing to the movies and more. It’s just a fact of life. If people want to live in a completely foreign culture and not see American influences (or even other Americans), then I would suggest other countries, such as Bolivia, Uruguay, or Ecuador. And, even in these far-flung places, they won’t be like they are now forever. It’s just how it is here, and around the world, for good or bad. Development will continue to occur—it’s just a matter of how it occurs—and hopefully it will be done respectfully, with everyone’s needs taken into consideration to the extent possible.
Finally, and to end my thoughts on this subject, I know many Americans move overseas for various reasons, one of which is (particularly in the last six years), that they don’t like the politics in their country of citzenship or cannot stand the administration in power. I understand this completely. However, outside of politics, I’m very proud to be an American and will always defend and support my country. We are also representatives of our country when living abroad and it is important for us to be good ambassadors for our home country.
Osita is now mulatto!
I took Reina and Osita to the vet the other day for their regular checkup. They did well and they remain in excellent health. While there, I asked the vet to bath both of them thoroughly and trim Osita’s hair. Osita has wild, thick hair that goes in all directions and hence her name, “Osita,” which is “teddy bear” in English. I thought I told the vet to just tirm her hair and clean her up a bit. Well, the vet’s assitant shaved off her hair completely! I was shocked when I went back to pick them up and Osita was mostly white with some brown spots! She really does look mulatto. Well, it will grow back thankfully. Funny, she is smaller than Reina without the hair! I’m sure she feels better too with less hair. We’ll see how long it takes for her hair to grow back!
That’s all for now. Happy Thanksgiving! We have many things to be thankful for!
www.AngelValleyFarmBandB.com (the B&B!)
www.BoomersInCostaRica.com (4-day/3 night relocation/retirement tour!)
www.CostaRicaRealEstate.typepad.com (Boomers in Costa Rica blog!)
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