Beyond its reputation as a nature destination, Costa Rica is also a ‘Disneyland of sex’ for a special kind of visitor, the sex tourist.
More Than Sex
In Viejo Verdes en el Paraiso, Jacobo Schifter says sex tourists visiting the country have formed certain identity as a group. In online forums, Americans say that in places like the Hotel Del Rey, for example, they have had the opportunity to share emotionally for the first time with other men. They feel part of a fringe group: share complicity to be socially unacceptable. Schifter compared them with homosexuals in Costa Rica in the ’70s and ’80s, who gathered secretly in bars and nightclubs.
[two_third last=”no”]”Sex tourists practice a kind of covert homosexuality: they are men who seek support from other men not to have sex with each other, but to have a shared male solidarity,” he says.
The researcher Eduardo Mora also said there is another indication of the formation of an identity. He draws attention to the fact that tourists have come to call the area around the hotel Del Rey including bars, casinos and night clubs, the “Gringo Gulch”.[/two_third][one_third last=”yes”][colored_box color=”yellow”]This article is a translation of the report by Dario Chinchilla published in Revista Dominical in La Nacion, April 7, 2013.[/colored_box][/one_third]
Gringo Gulch sometimes seems to be, more than a geographical or sociological phenomenon, a myth cultivated by sex tourists to feel conquerors of sex in strange lands,” says Mora.
Schifter says that there is a clear distinction between two types of sex tourists. There are those who have come to have as many sexual encounters as possible, as the tourist who boasted in a forum that supposedly had sex with 37 women in ten days, and there are those who define themselves as mongers. This second group, according Schifter, consists of older men who often look at Costa Rica for the girlfriend experience (fantasy experience of dating). They pay for sex, yes, but also maintain certain exclusive relationships with some sex workers: the take them dancing, dining, shopping at clothing boutiques.
“In these cases, the sex trade involves sex and money, but both sides want more than that,” says Schifter. He also states that these links dilute the relationship between the client and the sex worker, and she starts to perform functions of a guide, helps with banking, accompanying to medical appointments…” Something that torture tourists in forums is whether the tears of these women are real, because they cry like muffins when they leave the airport.”
Marisa, the girl who keeps nursing her rum at the Blue Marlin, ends confessing that yes she has fallen for several clients, but they were all Europeans. They are smarter, she says, are less eager to have sex, and also pay for the talk and the company.
The foreign exchange from tourism to Costa Rica last year surpassed that prior to the global crisis of 2008. However, at the Del Rey the upturn goes unnoticed.
Marisa explains that things have become more difficult in San José since the airport in Liberia has taken more importance. Nor has it helped that Jacó has gained relevance to relieve the excitement of Americans.
It’s a slow evening at the bar: the number of girls easily doubles that that of potential customers. Unfortunately for Marisa, not a single European is sight tonight. She would settle for a Gringo or even a Tico, but today it doesn’t seem to be her night.
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