Costa Rica Editorial – When you hear the travel companies pitching you Costa Rica and why it makes a great vacation spot, or you are lured in by retirement companies telling you about how wonderful living in Costa Rica is they never really bring to your attention the frustrations that come along with living within the borders of the land of “Pura Vida”. When I was living in San Jose 3 to 4 days a week I would get to a point where I was ready to pack it up and head home, but only stubbornness kept me hanging on to the hope that I would not have to throw up my hands in surrender and say “Costa Rica you win.”
I am a fighter and and this is a trait that is fairly necessary when it comes to living in Costa Rica. The daily frustrations of living in Costa Rica can make many people finally pack their bags and go home. Over half of the people that come to Costa Rica to live leave to go back to their home countries during the first year they are here.
Today was one of those bad days where the drama started from the time I awoke until late afternoon. It was one thing after another and it felt like quick sand. No matter how hard I fought to try to remain positive the negativity, drama and frustrations kept flying at me until it just pushed me over the edge.
I both love and hate the holiday season. I hate it in general as I think it is completely commercialized and with the “Happy Holidays” vs “Merry Christmas” battle this year it felt like the happiness was being taken out of it in order to make it more politically correct. It is the holiday season but if someone says “Merry Christmas” to you; why would you make it an argument by correcting them? Anyway I digress. But I love this time of year because from about December 21st until January 3rd I get tons of work done. I do not have to worry about emails coming in in masses or being skype’d at all hours during the day. While most everyone else is taking a break I was actually getting some work done.
But as January rolls around many people in a grumpy work force begin to settle back into their offices. Normally not really working the first 3 days they are back in the office. I guess that vacation period ended in the past 24 hours. I was bombarded from the time my alarm went off until I shut off my phone and left my computer in the afternoon. If it had been normal requests for work that was going to put money in my pocket then I would have been ok, but it was the joyous emails and calls basically passing off tasks that people could have done and should have done themselves.
The great emails stating that they want me to email someone to ask for something that the person emailing could have easily done themselves. The people dropping by asking for favors in the middle of the work day. The phone calls asking me to call someone that the person calling had the number to. I can deal with mot things in life but straight up laziness is not one of them. I do not put in 15 hour days because I want to be doing someone else’s work and if you continue to ask me to do your work then I will just take your business and do it myself.
The biggest frustration that I have on a consistent basis in Costa Rica is people not doing what they say they are going to do. I am ok with someone calling and cancelling. I am ok with a person being 15 minutes late to an appointment. (PS be prepared for up to an hour or more wait). What I cannot handle is when someone says they are going to do something and just do not do it. After which they will ignore emails and calls until they feel like you are either not mad at them anymore or figure you have forgotten. I am like an elephant I never forget. Today one person after another would reveal to me that they had not done something and that it was being tossed back to me. Not because they could not do it, but because they were not exactly wanting to work.
After about 8 straight hours of this I shutdown my computer and headed out. I knew I had obtain a level of frustration that was my tipping point. If you have run your own business in Costa Rica or had to try to run a team of employees in Costa Rica you will know the place I had reached.
I hopped in the car and headed out. I needed to think and just get away. I first went to play pool with a co-worker that was not an ease to my tension. After hearing about the 18 year old to 19 year old girls that were coming to see him (he is in his late 50s) I was disgusted and even more annoyed. How can someone even act like they would have anything in common with someone 25 to 30 years younger than them or think that they actually like them? Ughhhhhhhh.
Next was a quick trip to a friends house down the street where everyone was venting about their days, although it was a release hearing about more shit made me even more annoyed. The icing on the cake was being asked for $20 as I was leaving that “I will get paid back tomorrow.” Rule of thumb in Costa Rica, money lent is money given away in most cases.
I got back in the car and it was time to go home at least I knew that my house was empty. Peace and quiet. Finally I had time to think.
After everything I had been through I had to try to refocus on the positive. I was living in a country that besides it flaws, which every country has, still gives you the opportunity to try to follow your dreams. If you want to own your own tour company you can do it. If you want to live at the beach and work in flip flops you can do it. If you truly work hard and are ethical you can be successful.
I get to get up in the morning and throw on shorts with no shoes and work. If I get tired in the afternoon I can take a nap. If I want to go walk on the beach in the evening I can do that. While millions of people in the USA and Canada fight temperature that I cannot even imagine, I am sitting here with no shirt and listening to the night with the screen doors open.
I am contacted by friends in the USA on nearly a weekly basis talking about how they are so unhappy basically working to live and never getting “me” time. Once or twice a year they are able to pack their bags and take a vacation to visit a place like where I work everyday.
I know that i may never become rich in Costa Rica, but the chance of becoming rich anywhere in the world is getting smaller and smaller. There are the huge success stories of an entrepreneur that made millions but they are not all that common. Be happy with what you have but strive for more.
So as I sign off for tonight, I am thankful and happy. I have been given a chance to see the world through different eyes and I am able to enjoy life although I do have the days where I feel like jumping into oncoming traffic. Life is about finding happiness and about 5.5 days a week ever since I moved to the beach I have my smile on. I get to do a job I love and be surrounded by the beach and nature. Withstanding the frustrations of Costa Rican can knock you down and test your resolve but like many things in life you just have to pick yourself up dust yourself off and keep on moving forward.