Misc. Ramblings

Published: November 20th 2006
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Paradise Found!Paradise Found!Paradise Found!

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!

Road work!

The other major work we have been
Gringo billGringo billGringo bill

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 (l) and Jake (r)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
One of my favorite shotsOne of my favorite shotsOne of my favorite shots

Again, from the B&B
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!

Pura Vida!

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!)


28th November 2006

Thank you for sharing your idea on this subject
I must admit while visiting Avenada Central in San Jose I was not pleased to see a Mc Donald's and other advertisements for large America Corporations. I was also a little dismayed to see Burger King, Kentucy Fried Chicken, and Subway Shops in downtown Liberia. I believe that each human being on the face of the earth is unique and the product of their own environment and experiences. I believe that this applies to all nationalities and to all peoples who are allowed free thought and free expression. Based on my unique experiences I write the following: I too am guilty for my own biases and feeling toward North American companies who motivated by profit seem unconcerned about the impact that their business have on the local ecology or the health and welfare of the peoples who have made that area their home for perhaps centuries. One area that concerns me in particular is the negative health affects of the fast food industry. I remember a time when families in the US had dinner at home each evening. Sitting around the table talking and sharing events of the day. That seldom happens in the US now. Most families are running around all evening delivering children to activities and picking them up. Often the adults have evening functions as well. Some families would starve to dealth is it were not for fast food businesses. Many of the young people in our culture don't even know how to make food, today. I am related by relationship to a family where the father is 48, the mother is 36, they have two children 17 and 13. This family eats every meal in a fast food establishment except perhaps once a week. I believe this is another negative influence of fast food. North Americans have lost a lot of their culture in the past 50 years. So much of our ethnicity and specialness comes from the ways of our old countries and old traditions. Young people today have lost all of this treasure trove of stories, traditions and skills. I sure hope that the introduction of the fast food industries to Costa Rica don't have the same results there as here. Perhap the economic realities in Costa Rica will keep the family unit strong and together. I sure hope so!
28th November 2006

Wonderful Chronicle!
I just found your blog today and have spent far too much time reading your entries from the beginning. My wife and I live in Indianapolis and are coming to CR in January to look over building sites. I tried to do this in northern Chile but the marketing infrastructure just isn't there to make the process of purchasing land feasible, at least for us. I travelled to Chile, hired a consultant when I returned and lost at leats a year chasing down property leads there. I thought CR was out of our price range until I investigated. Your writings are a great find for people like us who are trying to get a sense of what life is like in CR, the good, the bad and the ugly. We will be building a vacation home and spend three to four months a year somewhere near the Pacific coast. I think our approach will be much more realistic having benefited from your evaluation of the country and its people. Thanks for sharing your insights. We will make an attempt to visit you when we visit early this January and we'll try to remember to bring treats for the dogs! Sam
30th November 2006

Thanks SamSr & Barbara!
Thanks so much for your wonderful, insightful, helpful and fun comments on my blog. It makes writing it SO worth it! You may wish to check out my other, business (mostly real estate) blog: www.costaricarealestate.typepad.com and www.boomersincostarica.com. Thanks again! Andrew andrew4cr@gmail.com

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