Tuesday 5 December 2023

Odd Thoughts on Life in Paradise. We Need To Change, And Soon.

Paying the bills


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5 December 2023 - At The Banks - Source: BCCR

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QCOSTARICA BLOGS – As an expat, or even a two week tourist, do you find yourself thinking about the oddities of Costa Rica? The oddities of our everyday life!

After ten o’clock at night anyone can run a red light. Doesn’t that seem a little early and why can any person driving a car want to blast through a red light in downtown San Jose? Who is at fault if another driver is coming along at the same time and also takes advantage of the red light special, especially a bus?

We might not find the same law unenforced outside of the greater San Jose metropolitan area. The advice is to stop!

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What type of safety record can we expect when the brakes of a train are actually brakes from a truck converted to fit the train? And they say we are not innovative enough.

During the Presidents very first speech we got a “hell fire” rhetoric about the 100 or so corrupt, “old School” politicians who stole from the State, after almost two years, none have been prosecuted. Apparently the massive corruption of Route 1869, or best known as the Trocha in the north border with Nicaragua was not just a collective military effort to save Costa Rica but also a reminder that stealing and corruption are a part of our everyday culture? The road is just one big mud hole.

Blinking red, white and blue emergency lights drive me crazy. What do they mean? What am I supposed to do? In Europe, the U.S. Mexico and Canada when you look at the rearview mirror and see those lights flashing, you either pull over or realize they are meant for you. Police, ambulances, fire trucks or anything else which is equipped with red- white– blue blinking lights use them to drive around casually and in comfort.

Yesterday, I saw a pickup truck loaded down with shrubs cruising along with those lights blinking away causing massive congestion in Lindora. The plants must be a good buy!

Speaking of lights, what about the use of those emergency lights on cars which when flashing might well mean “thank you”, “I am driving backwards” “am parked” or “ holding up traffic while I wait for a someone,” or, “ gotta make a call on my cell phone to the novia (girlfriend).”

Handicap parking is one of my favorite anomalies….. The parking signs, the orange cones mean absolutely nothing. Simply toot your horn, and “voila” the guard will give you a place to park. The Parking guards really don’t care and neither do the project developers. At Forum II the handicap parking, if not full, is to the furthest end of the lot. Why? Perhaps we should just be grateful there is a space, for those who need a wheelchair, crutches or cane? Or, the Tico answer is if you are handicapped, you should not be driving a car.

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Cutting electricity, phones and water to make my life better… how many times per year can that be justified?

“Let me see Mr. doctor or dentist, or infant care person what will make life better by turning off electricity for six hours, three times a year or not? “We hope you read La Naciόn, Spanish language newspaper that Gringos hardly ever read. It has the only warning of a cut in public services. Has anyone heard of “a back up” service, the word “redundancy.”?

The latest trend is for banks to allow non USD and with foreign credit or direct debit cards a limited amount of cash, per transaction and per day! One time $100 twice in each day, another $100, plus fees, is okay in that same day. So a family of four has access to $200 per day, enough doing a remote adventure tour, or a good meal, or some kind of x-adventure. Not good for either tourism or expats who might not have a national USD account in a Tico bank.

Are there sidewalks or not? It all depends on the time of construction and the nature of the business. If you want a yoga studio: sidewalks are a requirement. If you take over an existing business, no need. That’s why so many pizza joints have decided on Zumba and Yoga instead of large pizzas to go. Getting a restaurant license takes months, perhaps years.

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Why do we say “Hoy en ocho 8 mas de 7 siete” when we mean only one week? I have not a clear answer yet.

“En camino” (on the way) really means, I am still in the bathroom getting ready to go, but not yet on the road but I want you to believe I am. (My wife.)

When negotiating a deal or whatever form of obligation it is always said, “Casi Seguro” or almost sure which really means “Jamas” or never. “Are you kidding?”

Can a Tico ever say, “I don’t know?” It seems to be both a cultural and a religious sin to say those words.

Whenever driving ask directions, but always ask three people and if two of the three “blink” an eye it means “I don’t know.” Not until you have 2/3rds should you ever follow directions and if you can’t get that, go for 3 out of 5.

Eighty percent of the drug arrests, be it cartel, gang related or some poor guy on the street “walk” in Costa Rica. Only 20% are ever found guilty and sent to jail and they are usually the small time pushers or users.

We have no or very limited witness protection in Costa Rica. Ergo, the alleged suspects send a clear message to the would-be witness, “If you testify against me, you are dead meat.”

There is a lot, really a lot of good in Costa Rica which is usually provided by nature, God or cheap whisky.

It is a country of natural beauty but with its massive, outdated and complicated constitution and government within are price controls, there is little, is not hard, or terribly hard, to avoid the law. This makes us a prime target for big time drug cartels and well-armed neighborhood gangs.

We need to change, and soon.

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Juan Sebastian Campos
Juan Sebastian Campos
An expat from the U.S., educator and writer in English and Spanish since 1978 with a doctorate in business administrations (DBA) from the United States and Germany. A feature writer for ABC News, Copley Press and the Tribune Group with emphasis on Central America.

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