“Oh boy, this isn’t gonna end well,”
I said to myself as a guy was carrying a small dog by the scruff of the next through the park.
First impressions of Costa Rica are not good after you step outside the Juan Santamaria airport in San Jose. Flying over the countryside looking down on the beautiful mountains is great, stepping off the plane into a modern terminal (for a developing nation) is OK, but then it hits you when you get outside the airport grounds.
The sidewalks and streets and roads and buildings and general infrastructure is pretty crappy by U.S. standards. Even comparing Monkey’s Eyebrow Kentucky to anyplace in Costa Rica, Monkey’s Eyebrow will come out ahead.
If you can get away from the hustle and bustle of San Jose, let’s say to Atenas – where I live – it will hit you. The people are happy here.
The guy that had the the dog by the scruff of the neck was carrying him toward another guy who was watering the park with a large hose.
He put the dog down at the man’s feet and said “El es calor!” (He is hot.) The guy with the water gave the pooch a good soaking and the dog took off with a big smile on his face, running in circles. He dove into some mud as the guy who had him by the neck was walking away. “Venga!” (Come!) he said – and the dog ran over to him to run circles around him as they walked away.
He was cool.
That was yesterday.
Today I went to the gummit run pharmacy to pick up some free drugs. I ran into Aurora, a neighbor from Guacimo, and her daughter Anna Victoria. After we determined that I was there for routine stuff, we discussed why Aurora was there.
It came down to this: she is too skinny! She was loosing weight and wanted to get a check up to make sure everything is OK.
Too skinny! First impression would be that she had a figure that models in North America would kill for. She didn’t look sickly thin – or drawn or anorexic. She was slim and trim, slender, not skinny by any stretch.
But in a country that celebrates and admires a woman with curves, I guess a woman without curves would be concerned enough to see the doc.
I was waiting for the car to be fixed and walked around some neighborhoods. You can’t help but notice that people are smiling and chatting and greeting anybody that crosses their path.
I knew a few people so we stopped and chatted and laughed about something or other. I found myself at the park in the center of Atenas, so I parked myself on a park bench.
High school kids were sitting the park too (they wear uniforms here, so I know they were high school.) And they were talking and laughing and teasing. Few had music players, all had phones, none had cigarettes.
And kissing. There was kissing. Some things are what they first seem at first in Costa Rica.
When you visit Costa Rica (come soon!) be ready to look past the superficial. The streets and sidewalks and buildings are tacky and outdated in need of repair, but the people are happy. I‘ll let others call it the happiest place on the planet. I wouldn’t begin to extrapolate our experiences to the whole country, but we sure do see a lot of happy people around here.