“Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.” ― Mahatma Gandhi
As I sit here watching the sunset over the horizon during a trip to Tamarindo, I have to do my every 2 week inner reflection on life and the path I am on. When going through the challenges that Costa Rica presents to you on an everyday basis, it is hard not to want to leave. It astounds me how many people go through the exact same process that happened to me when I first arrived in the country. I was fortunate enough to go through the drug and alcohol phase in San Jose, where you can overcome a ‘reputation.’ Being one of millions of people in San Jose, you can just be another drunk or a drugged out gringo, but in a small beach town like Jaco, if you are a person that likes to party or a person that sleeps around, that will be your label for pretty much the rest of the time you are in Costa Rica.
I watched as a girl I knew that had the intelligence and beauty to do whatever she wanted was dragged into the abyss of the party scene in Jaco. Although she tried to portray a different image to those around her, and especially on Facebook, to those back home, her reputation would always be one of a party girl that sleeps around. I watched as another friend was captured by cocaine; a drug and habit that makes you lose touch with reality and makes you believe that all those people partying with you are your ‘friends,’ but then you wake up one morning. You are skin and bones from the weight loss with no money, realizing that all those people you thought were friends are not there when you needed them the most while hitting rock bottom. Those people you are around when you are going through this drug and alcohol phase in Costa Rica will normally be the gravity pulling you back into the black hole of addiction. The only way to escape is to cut yourself off from those people, places, and things that are triggers. Most people do this by packing their bags and heading back to their home country.
The biggest problems are most of the people coming to Costa Rica that are age 25 to 40 is making money. At least this is true for those living at the beach. In San Jose you can get a job at a Sports book or another job fairly easily paying $1000 to $2000 a month. You will pay your rent, your expenses, and basically your bar tabs and get by using about 1/8th of your brain. However, living in San Jose is pretty miserable. You can take your trips to the beach on the weekend after fighting traffic Friday afternoon and then again Sunday afternoon. While on the drive back your smile that you had on your face will turn into a gloomy facial expression realizing that you are returning to the city, to your remedial job, and the unhappiness that is life in San Jose.
After spending a few years in Costa Rica, most of the people that set up shop there and have any sort of intelligence soon are going home. You can make 3 to 4 times the money you make in Costa Rica in the USA for the same types of jobs. In the USA, you will normally not have to work under a contract basis which means that you have some sort of job security. The truth is that the cost of living in most of the safe areas of Costa Rica is not that much different than the USA. The days of being able to be single and live comfortably on $1,500 a month are gone in the land of “Pura Vida”. You need closer to $3000 and the jobs that pay that amount are few and far between.
Then there are the beach towns. This is where most people want to live in Costa Rica, but finding a decent paying job in one of these towns is not very easy. A few call centers have come to several of the towns, but again you are left with a 9 to 5 job making 100 plus mind numbing calls a day. Beach towns are based around tourism so about 6 months a year there is not much work to be found and even if you work for a tourism or travel company during the high season, there is a good chance they will lay you off for the slow months. There are only so much of taking odd jobs and scrounging for cash a person can take before they say “enough”.
How many times can you get knocked down and pick yourself back up for another round?
Upon looking back on my time in Costa Rica a glaring question still fills my mind….Who Am I? Overcoming struggles is a part of life and all of us go through them, but what had I learned from the almost 7 years in the country of Costa Rica? Had I conquered my inner demons or was I still fighting them in my day to day life? I had stopped drinking but had that addiction turned into something else? All of these questions go through my mind each and every day wondering if I would have been better off dying in the hospital. Life is not supposed to be this hard, trapped in a world where I felt like there is an inability to trust anyone. I go through everyday just hoping to not be disappointed by those around me. Not a very happy way to approach each and every day.
Then there are the “relationships.” What’s the point? I am beginning to think men and women do not belong in long term relationships, and having kids is out of the question. Do I need someone? Probably not. Am I fit to be in a relationship? Again another negative on that front as well, but when you need to stay home in order to avoid the drama of everyday life then it leaves very few chances to meet ‘the one’ which I am beginning to think does not exist either.
How do I define myself? Is it by the past in overcoming alcoholism, having open heart surgery, failing to live up to my potential or something else? Is it my present where I am putting things together in the professional aspects of my life, but have no clue how to overcome the problems I have on the personal levels with people? Or is it the future, where I hope to be able to accomplish my dream of running a successful intern program? As I watch the sun dip below the last part of the ocean I feel completely and totally lost. I know that I should not be trying to put in outline all of my aspects and characteristics and just live but at age 37, it’s time to try to figure out the next journey in my life. Does the road continue in Costa Rica? I know it will for a while with all the projects I currently have that are just coming to fruition, but what then? Do I remain in a place where a life of solitude seems to be the only way to live in peace?
All of these questions fill my mind as the red and yellow colors in the sky fade to black.
There are a few things I do know for sure though. I will never stop believing in myself and I have cut the dead weight and drama out of my life for the most part. Although it might be a solitary path I am following for now, I will never stop doing my own thing as I know the hard work will end up in happiness at the end.
Next Up – Achieving a Dream