Sunday, February 19, 2012
"Man is the only animal that laughs and weeps, for he is the only animal that is struck with the difference between what things are and what they ought to be." -- William Hazlitt
I may have had a small epiphany here……….I have long railed against what a lot of us here in Costa Rica call the Perpetual Tourist (often shortened to PT). I have said things – and believed them – like it was disrespectful to this nation to ignore the legal route to residency. I said that it was unwise to ignore the legalities because of the very real risk of detection and deportation, with the loss of whatever assets one might have here. And, I am sure that a good part of my feelings on this subject had to do with my own decision to do things per the legal requirements of the nation, and the need for others to validate that decision.
But, you know what? I have now lived here for more than two years, and it has slowly dawned on me that Costa Rica does not care about me, not even a little bit. Moreover, they certainly do not respect me. Sure, the local Ticos all call me Don John (but not, unfortunately, Don Juan). And, they gave me this plastic card, all gold, that looks like a credit card. This makes me officially a Ciudadano de Oro, but that is all it does. There is nowhere up here where I live where I can present this card in the expectation that it will gain anything at all for me. Not only that, but whenever I have dealings with any official agency (including that stellar group over at my favorite utilities place, ICE), I am referred to as a stranger (extranjero). Even the official numero de cedula (cedula number) differs from that issued to natural born Ticos, thus ensuring that I am instantly identified as a foreigner the moment I whip that puppy out.
The immigration folks require that we join their health system, and pay a monthly cost for the privilege, and we couldn’t wait to do so. However, I have recently blogged in regards to a problem my wife has, so if you follow that blog, you already know how that works. As for myself, I have had a problem with my left eye for nearly three years now, and have seen the Ophthalmologist who is supposedly the best in the whole province, in Liberia, first as a private patient, and later, under the Caja (I found that the cost was too much to see him as a private patient). It made no difference which way I saw him. He still has not resolved my problem. Both of us finally realized that we had to go back to the states so that we can obtain proper care for these problems.
So, ultimately, I am left with this question, the one that is always posed by those PT’s: at the end of the day, what difference does any of it make? Whether you are legal or not, whether you cross every single t and dot every single i, Costa Rica doesn’t care. They’re too busy promoting their BS line about Pura Vida, and carbon-neutral, ecologically friendly, Green tourism, etc., etc., blah, blah, blah, yada, yada, yada………
To make matters worse, I have long spouted that standard Libertarian line about “I support your right to do whatever you want to do as long as it does no harm to me or mine, because that is your right.” Well, what harm does a PT do to me or mine? Their actions make no difference to the government of Costa Rica. Their actions make no difference to the manner in which we gringos are seen, treated, interacted with, or even victimized by, Ticos. So, to all those folks who may ever have felt the least bit slighted, or offended, or in any way, hurt by my written words on this subject: I apologize. Y’all do whatever the hell you want, and good luck to you!