Living in Costa Rica is not always a day at the beach. People that live here understand that “I’m sorry, I have to go to the bank” is a completely valid reason for not being able to hang out with your friends. That always makes me chuckle because even after two years of living in Costa Rica, it still reminds me of the ridiculously lame excuse “Sorry I can’t go out with you, I have to wash my hair.”
Going to the bank can take half a day, driving 5 km down the road might take 15 minutes or an hour or two depending on the time of day, the government might start handing out thousands of $700 speeding tickets, your employer might short you a paycheck, you could get robbed at knifepoint just walking down the street, there might not be any running water one Monday forcing you to skip a much needed shower before work unless you are storing water and wash yourself from a bucket. I could go on. And on.
In Costa Rica, we are all dealing with problems stemming from a country that has developed and is still developing too fast.
Dealing with the possibility of having my day turned around and plans changed at the last minute means I have to be flexible or I will go insane. This is part of learning pura vida. Relax, life happens. Have patience. I’ve never been in a culture before in which people can sit still, stuck in traffic for over an hour, and not get angry. In Costa Rica, people are perfectly calm in a situation that would enrage a typical person from the States into a violent outburst.
I love it.
I think a lot of it has to do with learning how to live in the moment. Living in the city, there is not much time to obsess over the past or the future because all of my attention is focused on what is happening right now. Dealing with all this crap has been a blessing – I’m now a much calmer and happier person. Some people turn to meditation, I turn to driving in Costa Rica’s Central Valley.
Now I wonder how long am I going to love this thing that most gringos hate?