Cali and Back

Published: March 16th 2007
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Greetings friends. I recently spent 4 days in Pasadena California to spend some quality time with my old man. While it is always nice to spend time with family, truthfully I couldn't wait to get back to Costa Rica. This place really feels like home now. I never imagined that taking a trip to the United States would seem like a vacation.

I also couldn't believe to the extent of reverse culture shock I experienced during my mini-trip. It all started when I got off the plane and the went through customs. The officer at the desk was incredibly rude to me. He patronized me with questions and comments that were unnecessary and actually somewhat offensive. For example, on the sheet we are all told to fill out it asks for " flight number or aircraft name." I chose to put the aircraft name "American Airlines." He then asked me abrasively, " Why didn't you list your flight number, it says to." I then pointed to where it gave us an option and he responded, " Well we don't have a separate sheet that asks for both so next time you will know better correct?" It only got worse from there...

Everyone seemed louder and in much more of a hurry than in the quaint town of San Ramon. It was comical, but sad at the same time. I wondered how many people actually took the time to take a deep breath and appreciate life. Admittedly, I used to be the same way. Costa Rica has given me a chance to take in a lot of what life has to offer.

I think what hit me the hardest was to the extent at which people in the U.S. overindulge. In Pasadena 95 perent of the cars were BMW, Mercedes, Porche, Bentley, you name it. It was like people were spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on image alone and the amount of smiles I saw on their faces were FAR lower than what I've grown accustomed to here in San Ramon, Costa Rica. It wasn't just the cars. A meal at a restaurant for ONE could feed an entire Tico family! I didn't understand why we were paying 10 dollars for way too many eggs, huuuge pancakes and massive amounts of bacon. I far more enjoy spending 2 dollars for my typical Costa Rican breakfast every morning. It's filling and I don't feel guilty after I'm done!

DO NOT get me wrong. I love the United States. I owe a lot of where I am today to the opportunity the U.S. provides. There are many aspects of the U.S. that I miss, such as more organized schedules and the world's greatest infrastructure. However, overall Costa Rica allows me to be happier because one almost has no choice but to appreciate more of the simple stuff. There is more time to do it here and there is less of a pressure to keep up with the Jones'. In all of my travels, I have never been to a town filled with more happy people, inluding me 😊

Preston Gitlin


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