Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Pura Vida in San Jose, Costa Rica- a Look, Taste, + Feel of the Central Valley

Breathe in deeply, and fill your lungs with the pristine, 72 degree Fahrenheit air. If peace had a smell and taste, this would be it; "Pura Vida" it's called by locals.

Lush, green, cloud shrouded hills rise from Costa Rica's central valley. 

the mountains of Central Valley

Climbing the mountain it quickly dons on me that driving here is, challenging. Even in the "Beverly Hills" of the country, street lights are sporadic, leaving far too many opportunities for the numerous potholes hiding in the shadows to snatch your wheels.
The roads often narrow, making for tense moments as cars literally slide by each another, occasionally trading paint. Angle your vehicle a little too much towards the mountain to avoid oncoming traffic and risk falling into the drainage ditch built to siphon away the daily tropical downpours, which come unfailingly at 3 PM daily, during what Ticos consider their "winter."

a Costa Rican afternoon shower

The vibrant emerald colors radiating from the plants are straight from the Garden of Eden. Bright butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds forage for pollen and nectar, while fallen leaves magically float across the ground, as leaf-cutter ants work around the clock to turn nature's debris into fuel for their colony. Harmony. 
leaf cutter ants moving their fuel

emerald green colors of Costa Rica

The locals are friendly and inviting, though I'm warned by the person I'm doing business with,"The Tico is always late." I quickly calculate I'd be better off doing an extra ten minutes of work at home.  I still beat them to the meeting. Can't fault them for honesty.

While there is a genuine feeling of tranquility and safety here, it stumbles badly when juxtaposed against the visually noticeable barb wire and electrical fencing protecting all houses. This is not the two foot high white-picket fences of suburbia America. 
I ask an expat who has lived here for years about my observation.
"It's just the style of housing in Latin America, the beauty of the house is all within." 
I roll my eyes. No one would add to the expense of building while concurrently diminishing the curb appeal of their property; without reason. 
Whatever crime exists is undoubtably exacerbated by the sky high prices which rival the US and Europe, with the exception of automobiles, where Costa Rican rates nearly double American by way of heavy taxation. 
The good natured man behind the desk at the rental agency tells me the car I've chosen goes for more than double his monthly salary, making it impossible for him to afford the less than extravagant product he's paid to peddle. 
"The money is all robbed by the politicians," he informs me. 
"It's the same throughout most of the world," I sigh, "even more so in Latin America."
Looking through the glove compartment, I remove and unfold an ancient, paper map of Costa Rica. It's like the world atlas that they give children to draw on at Denny's. Outside the capitol, there are maybe two roads cutting through the rainforests of the country. 
But that's what expats here are bargaining for, a simple life, with emerald colors, perfect weather, gorgeous beaches, cloud forests, and friendly souls. Breathe it in, it's called "pura vida."