Hints of Africa

I lived for 3 years in The Gambia, West Africa which is undoubtedly a “3rd World” country, so much more primitive and less developed than Costa Rica which some call a “2nd World” or developing nation, but still almost a night-day contrast with The Gambia, though occasionally something reminds me of Africa, usually in rural areas but sometimes even in the cities.

When I go to Alajuela by bus I arrive at a primitive bus station, just a big parking lot! Not in the most desirable part of town! Then my most common first stop is Aeropost to pick up an internet order package, about a 10 to 12 block long walk (I need to count it sometime!). The first 4 blocks or until past the Central Market is what sometimes reminds me of Africa. The broken sidewalks are usually crowded with many people, most poor. They are made more crowded by the occasional vendor like the fruit & vegetable guy in this photo and beggars sitting on the sidewalk asking for money. (None of this in Atenas.) And this area has only cheap merchandise shops, trash in the street, nasty smells of rotting food, milk, or even a dead animal today (probably a rat/mouse) causing me to walk fast the first four blocks to get past the mercado and my reminders of West Africa. Then there is a large department store, bank, nicer businesses, Central Park, Cathedral, restaurants, etc. Another world a block away!

And today I fell again (like I’m getting old or something!). On the way back up the street from Aeropost, just before Central Park and the McDonalds where I ate breakfast, my foot was stopped by a loose brick in the sidewalk while the rest of my body kept going! Crash into the nasty street gutter with abrasions on both hands and knees and immediately a plethora of people helping me get up, a parking lot attendant giving me his chair. I asked him for a band-aid but could not remember the spanish name (la curita) and rare that I did not have one in my billfold, but I didn’t. I just wrapped my bleeding finger in my handkerchief and walked on to McDonalds where I cleaned up in their bathroom and rested with a full breakfast before walking back to the next bus to Atenas. That was today’s adventure and I’m staying home the rest of the day! 🙂  And reminding myself to break a very old habit of walking fast! And life is still good here!

¡Pura Vida!


PS — The related posts that are following at the end of each new post are automatically generated by WordPress, I assume based on keywords. I find this interesting and think that most of their suggestions are pretty good.  🙂

Poverty in Costa Rica

Photo by Tico Times of the slum Triángulo de la Solidaridad
with small child peeking from her home.

This excellent article, Costa Rica’s first slum tour offers visitors a different perspective on paradise, and tells about an organization, “Boy with a Ball,” that is helping to build community in the slums of San Jose and now offers tours of a major slum for tourists as a fund raiser and educational experience about community among the poor. Don’t miss the excellent video clip in it!

Poverty is everywhere including Costa Rica and like most places it is usually worse in the big city. It is also interesting to note that most of the CR poor are immigrants from Nicaragua, Honduras, and El Salvador who came here for better work opportunities than in their home countries. This is not a Global Poverty, Child Mortality Fall Sharply, According to UN.

paradise for everyone, though most are doing better than they did in those neighbor countries. Many of the low-paid house maids are among these immigrants as are some gardeners. Good news is that

Costa Ricans are mostly better educated and have the better-paying jobs. With universal health care and free education through college, there is little excuse for many Tico citizens to live in deep poverty. Immigrants on the other hand have many reasons for living in poverty. I think the fact that most Costa Ricans are very religious, have high moral standards, party a lot and are the happiest people in the world also helps! 🙂 Yet an article in this same newspaper, Tico Times, said in 2014 that nearly a quarter of Costa Ricans live in poverty.   Another 2014 article said Poverty programs enjoy success but jobs would be better. So – poverty continues to be a problem everywhere and there is no easy solution so far beyond us as individuals following the teachings of Jesus as we relate to the poor. And then, maybe that is the solution. 🙂

Tomorrow, Wednesday, 9 July, I will be on a 12 to 14 hour trip to Nicaragua to renew my visa and may not be doing a post tomorrow night! The last “visa run” trip like this left me beyond exhausted. A local tour driver takes a van load of us on this trip every 3 or 4 months. I can live here now without a visa but cannot drive a car or even get a rent car. Like to keep my options open! Once I’m an official resident, I’ll get a CR Driver License.