Alligators 'n Roadkill

Alligators 'n Roadkill
On The Road


Saturday, April 27, 2013

Do The Dew (berry Jam, that is).

"Music is the only language in which you cannot say a mean or sarcastic thing." -- John Erskine  --  (Editor’s Note:  with the possible exception of Randy Newman’s song, “Short People”).

I just want to take the time to recommend a very special radio station to everyone within the sound of my voice (pun intended).  I have this Facebook friend, Billy ‘Dew’ Dewberry, who originally hails from Tennessee, but saw the light, and now makes his home in Texas.  Dew has a little AM station (1670, if you’re in San Antonio) that is billed as a Community Service.  What his billing doesn’t mention is that his service is not really limited to just the neighborhoods his web site mentions (  The station is known as Dewberry Jam Community Radio.

No, thanks to the miracle of internet streaming, the whole world can listen to his eclectic mix of – in his words – “Country, Americana, Outlaw, Blues, Rock, and Talk…”  I have followed Dew’s posts on Facebook (with great interest and delight) for some time now, but only very recently found the time to connect to his station.  I resisted the temptation for the longest time, because since we returned to Texas from Costa Rica, my only computer is this laptop, and let’s face it, the sound quality just is not there.

I finally figured out how to connect using my Archos (Archos 70 Internet Tablet, with 250 GB HDD) Tablet, with WinAmp’s Shoutcast feature.  And, I have been tuning in over the last few days.  I expect to keep Dew’s station as my favorite Shoutcast station, and when not listening to my own music, or Pandora, Dew is now my main man.  His mix is pretty close to the kind of thing I usually like, but importantly, he is exposing me to some things I would not normally find on my own.

His station has a great web site, and you can link to any of the several methods for listening (via streaming) from whatever device you want, from wherever in the world you might be.  Ain’t technology wonderful?

Give him a listen.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

To Progress, Or To Not Progress; That Is The True Question.

“There’s no trick to being a humorist when you have the whole government working for you.”   – Will Rogers

 El Paso, Texas, was our home from 1970 until we moved to Dallas in 2004.  We owned three separate homes during that time, and raised our family there.  We have now been back in El Paso since last July, and have settled into a little (rented – and, that’s another story) condo where we propose to spend however many years we have left on this earth.  And, I am starting to have second thoughts about choosing to be back here.  First, I should explain that El Paso is the epitome of a City with terminal brain drain.  All the best and brightest young people, who have to go to University elsewhere, find their careers elsewhere.
Why do I say that these young people have to go to University elsewhere?  Because the truth is that the local University has absolutely nothing to recommend it.  The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) has no national reputation in any field.  UTEP does not offer a Medical Degree, nor does it have a Law School.  It does not excel in any of the sciences, and all it really churns out is teachers – teachers who are content to stay close to home for their entire careers.
Now, to be fair, I should mention that there is now a medical school of sorts in town, but it is affiliated with Texas Tech University from Lubbock.  That is another school which has no real national reputation academically.  Speaking of their medical school, as a matter of fact, when I worked for the State Board of Medical Examiners, the consensus among my fellow investigators was that Tech ranked last in terms of the quality of their graduates.  The only reason I can think of to explain how El Paso allowed Tech to get their foot in the door has to be due to the desperate belief that we needed our own Medical School, so I guess the all-wise city fathers figured that a poor one was better than none.  And, that is what has caused El Paso to finally be nothing more than a second rate city.  The city has always been willing to settle for what it could get, rather than make the most of what is there, or waiting for something better.
Now, let’s take this serious brain drain problem, and couple it with this thought:  All my life, everywhere I’ve lived (except Costa Rica, which is another story entirely), I have noticed a rather constant clamor for ‘our’ city, state, region (or whatever grouping is dominant), to grow.  And grow more.  And grow some more.  And, continue to grow.  Don’t get me wrong.  El Paso has grown.  But, it’s growth is due more to its location (on the border with Mexico; there is a constant flow of immigrants, many of whom are willing to settle for second rate, especially since the Drug Cartel thing has gotten so out of hand in Mexico) than to anything else.
I started following the El Paso Times’ web site for the last few months that we were in Costa Rica, to catch up on what is going on here, and I have to say that I am dismayed and disturbed to see that the so-called city leaders are still playing that same old tired litany of ‘we must attract new business, new factories, new employers, and we must offer them tax incentives to come to our fair city, county, state, region.’  And, of course, the second chorus for that song has to do with creating – at taxpayer expense – new structures or environments to help a private businessman make more money than he already has.
And, finally, I have to ask – why?  Why is it necessary to continue to outgrow our government buildings and facilities, our schools, all of our infrastructure?  Why can’t we just take care of what we have, preserve the good things for future generations, and exist in a setting with adequate housing, or healthcare, or police protection, or whatever?  And, let those ‘new’ businesses or factories or employers either take care of themselves, or go somewhere else.
I have heard all the arguments about the need for a larger tax base so as to ease the burden on the individual, but after all these years I realize that is nowhere close to possible, and is just another political lie.  If this was true, somebody please explain how is it that every election we find yet another bond issue, yet another issue that requires more and greater expenditures of the public monies?  I mean, the point here is that I cannot recall ever seeing my taxes go down.  Nor have I ever received any sort of rebate or refund from local taxing authorities.  Have you?
The worst scheme that came out of City Hall (evidently cooked up by the current City Manager and some business ‘leaders’) is that the City has now – at its own expense – torn down the City Hall (which I understand had recently gone through a major upgrade of its heating and cooling system, that was supposed to ‘pay for itself over a long period of time,’ but of course that period of time has barely begun).  Then, by raising the hotel/motel taxes citywide (they’re already the highest in the state; remember, this is a second rate city, as in, who the hell wants to stay in a hotel here?), they are now poised to begin construction on a 7-9,000 seat baseball stadium.  This is supposedly because the local business leaders (the guys with the bucks, who stand to make a lot more bucks with minimal risk, since it will be City paying bills for this crap) have already inked the deal to bring in a Minor League Baseball team (Triple A, no less).  Supposedly, the league in question will only come if there is a stadium located in a downtown area.  The scheme calls for the City to relocate its offices and employees to various locations around downtown, to be rented in any of the many vacant office buildings already there.  At a later point in time the City may then build a new City Hall, but they are not saying where that will be located.
As one City Rep, evidently the only voice of reason in City Council, a Carl Robinson, has said,  “Now, I put it this way:  I own a building or I own my house and you come along with a deal that says let me have your house.  By the way, you get to tear it down, and you get to build a new structure that meets my specifications.  By the way, after you do all that I got a building that you can rent.”  Robinson said this in reference to the possibility of the city leasing space at the Mills Building, which is owned by Paul Foster.  Foster is a member of the group of private investors that says they are bringing a minor league baseball team to El Paso.  We also learned recently that Foster, who owns our local oil refinery, has become our only billionaire.
Believe it or not, El Paso really does have a history of affiliation with Major League Baseball, going back to the 60’s, and beyond.  In the 60’s, The El Paso Sun Kings were an affiliate of first the Giants, then the Angels, and finally, the dodgers.  They were successful, both on and off the field, which was the Old City-owned Dudley Field, located near what was then pretty much the center of the City (not downtown).  Then, beginning in 1974, when the team was purchased by Jim Paul, El Paso had a for real team; one that we were all very proud to call our own.  Mr. Paul changed the name to Diablos, and under his ownership, affiliated by this time with the Brewers, they served as a model for Minor League ball all across the nation.  A new stadium was built in Northeast El Paso (not downtown), and guess what?  The Diablos set attendance records for AA ball.  National attendance records.  Did I mention that their stadium was not downtown?
I grew up in Tacoma, Washington.  Guess what?  Tacoma had, and still has today, a triple-A team for which a new ball park was built way back in the late 50’s or early 60’s.  And, guess what else?  That park is not now, nor was it then, located in downtown Tacoma!  So, how come now we are being told that having a ballpark downtown is a requirement for this same league to come to El Paso?
My prediction:  The new ball park will be just another hole in the ground that people will wonder about as they drive by looking for city services [that will soon be scattered all over the place] that used to be in City Hall.  And, this will be the situation in less than five years.

On Crossing Bridges When I Come To Them.

(Note:  originally posted on Dec. 16, 2012)

U. S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is a Federal Agency whose “primary mission is preventing terrorists and terrorist weapons from entering the United States.” CBP is “also responsible for apprehending individuals attempting to enter the United States illegally including those with a criminal record, stemming the flow of illegal drugs and other contraband, protecting United States agricultural and economic interests from harmful pests and diseases, and protecting American businesses from intellectual property theft.” (borrowed from Wikipedia).
So, what, exactly, is the reason behind the really bad attitude demonstrated by agents of that organization, at the border crossings into the U. S.? Or, to put it another way, can anyone explain to me why I have to feel like a common street criminal when walking across the border from Mexico, back into the U. S., after a visit to the dentist?
Here’s the thing. First of all, I understand that – like so many other government agencies – they are terribly short-staffed. I mean, for automobile traffic, I have never seen even half of the available lanes open at any one time. I really don’t understand why we paid for so many lanes if we cannot also provide the staff to man them, but that is another issue. Since we walked across the bridge in downtown El Paso (this was last month), we had to enter the large building that is located within the rather extensive land area set aside for the official entrance to the U. S. Now, understand me, in El Paso, Texas, we have a choice of at least four bridges to cross. And, there are a couple more international bridges within a relatively short drive, just outside the city itself.
First, the line of pedestrians to enter the U. S. was so long, that it was backed up onto the bridge itself. Actually, there were two lines. One was for folks who are not U. S. Citizens, and the other was only for those folks who carry a U. S. Passport. The single line for U. S. Citizens, while shorter, actually moved much more slowly than did the other lines. The reason for this turned out to be (obviously) due to the fact that the Inspector sitting at the computer for that line was asking a multitude of questions of each and every person standing in that line (for us, it took thirty minutes from the time we entered the building, until we actually reached this person). We noticed that people who entered the much longer lines (the non-citizen line from outside on the bridge becomes two or three snake lines upon entry to the building) after us were actually through, and leaving the building long before we got to our Inspector.
I always defer to my wife, and make sure she precedes me in any line, so the Inspector did not signal me to come forward until after he had exchanged words with my wife, and then he proceeded to address me in Spanish. He told me – in Spanish, and without a smidgeon of human respect, let alone courtesy – to remove my hands from my pockets, where I had put them, after handing over my U. S. Passport. I asked my wife what it was that he wanted of me, and then he told me, in so many words, “Take your hands out of your pockets!” I have not been told to do such a thing since my Basic training in the U. S. Army, more years ago than this young person has been alive! Frankly, I do not understand his need for me to remove my hands from my pockets at any time, and I still deeply resent being told to do so in such an abrupt manner. He next said, “Take off your cap!” Why? He did not say please, he did not – in my opinion – make any effort to address me with the courtesy that I believe he owes me as both a person older than he, and as a U. S. Citizen, a taxpayer, and a voter.
He then asked me if I had anything to declare. I said that I did not. He then asked me if I had any fruits or vegetables or medications, “that I was bringing back from Mexico with me.” First of all, consider the following facts that I believe even a sight challenged person could know about me from my appearance. I was wearing shorts, white shoes like tennis shoes, with anklet type socks, and a sleeveless shirt. I had what I call my “murse” over my shoulder (actually, the strap was over my shoulder, with the bag down by my right side), and a Baseball cap. I weigh over 250 pounds, and am only 5’ 9” tall (I’m fat; not the type of person to eat many fruits and veggies, if you know what I mean). In other words, I doubt very seriously if there was anywhere on my person where I could have secreted any fruits or vegetables, should I have wanted to smuggle a bushel or two into the U. S.! But, he had me with his request about medications, because the dentist that I had gone to see (the purpose of my visit) had given me a prescription for Ampicillin, a very common antibiotic.
I told the guy that I did indeed have an antibiotic, and he immediately asked to see it. I handed him the box of twenty pills, as he explained to my wife that we did not have to show him the prescription itself, but he needed to be sure that I was not bringing a prescription medication that is proscribed (apparently by his agency’s rules, but I’m not clear on this). He then got out a few pages that were stapled together, that I presume would be the list of proscribed medications, and he took his time studying this list. Come on, man! Ampicillin?! Really?
Ultimately, I now see why there are so few El Pasoans who bother with travel to Mexico any more. My Dentist appointment was at 0930, and it was around 1130 when we began walking back to the bridge to return to the U. S. It was nearly one PM by the time we got out of that building that houses the U. S. Customs and Border Protection facility in downtown El Paso. There is no reasonable excuse for such delay, and there is absolutely no excuse for a law-abiding U. S. (senior) Citizen to be treated with such disrespect.
I know that I should have asked to speak to this young man’s supervisor, and I should have requested an explanation for such treatment. I really felt like this guy was talking down to me like cops do on TV shows all the time when they deal with common street criminals. I am not any kind of criminal, and he is not really a cop. Yes, I understand the mission of his agency, but I don’t for one minute understand why he must carry it out in such a fashion.
I also understand that part of this problem might well be linked to the so-called Patriot Act, and if that is the case, then I can only conclude that this is yet another reason why that abhorrent Act should be totally rescinded. I think it is long past time when Americans should be free to move about their nation, and I think it is very obvious that all the measures instituted under that shameful law have produced exactly nothing. Oh, well, wait a minute. They have produced one result: No one enjoys travel any more. Air travel, especially. I remember when it used to be fun to travel by air!
But, that’s neither here nor there. My premise here is that border crossing in a border town should not be so complicated, nor do I believe that such high security should be a part of the process. Again, referring to history, I suspect that too many folks have forgotten what it used to mean to live on this International border with Mexico. People used to cross from one side to the other freely, and a serious amount of social and business interaction took place to the mutual benefit of not only the two cities involved, but the two nations as well. No passport was needed for U. S. Citizens to either enter Mexico, or return to the U. S. Now, one has to go to the expense and the hassle of obtaining a passport just to cross the border. The lines (of cars especially; sometimes 6-8 blocks long, with hundreds of cars) and pedestrians waiting to cross the border used to be much longer, and the wait time was very long indeed, back in the 1980’s, for instance. Today, the lines of cars are much shorter (not even a block long), but the wait time is just as long. Why? It has to be the increased scrutiny to which we are submitted, and I have to wonder just how important is this increased security………..

Why We Came Back To The U. S. A.

I know that I have not done a very good job of explaining why we came back to the U. S., and I also know that many folks may think I’m just a negative kind of person, who is not happy anywhere, or it is my bad karma, or may have any number of wrong impressions.  Recently, on my forum ( a thread has been running all about why I came back to the U. S.  I did at first take exception to the implications in the original question from a forum member, but then an established ex-pat, one who had been in Costa Rica longer than I, entered the discussion with a very nicely written, well thought out response.  I would like to not only share this line of thought, but express my gratitude to Arden Brink, who said it all much better than I could ever do.
You can follow her Blog, by the way, at:
If you would rather just read what she had to say instead of following the link to the entire thread, here are her two posts:
Hi, everyone, I’m a lurker here — don’t think I’ve ever posted and, by and large, I’m not interested in much of the snarkiness that goes on here. BUT, with the thought that some folks might actually come to the group looking for real information, I thought I’d bite the bullet and jump in with a reply to Ron as well. [Warning:  LONG post. I'm making up for never posting with one epic post.]
Unlike John (and Carole) who have had really unfortunate experiences in Costa Rica, leaving them with a distinct dislike of the country, we moved to CR in ’06 and actually really loved it. We were very active in our local community, we rented for a long time and then bought, we volunteered at our local school, I was one of the founders of the Community Action Alliance, we had lots of friends, never were ripped off by our lawyer/builder/plumber/etc. so – in general — had a VERY POSITIVE experience.  And yet, about six months ago, we moved back to the U.S. (yes, initially to the shock and amazement of many of our friends) and we love it here.
So — what happened and how have we found it to be in the U.S.? Well, first and foremost, the U.S. is a BIG country, so as the saying goes, your mileage may vary and your experiences may be completely different. The motivation for us to come back came when we spent several weeks with our newborn granddaughter last year. Our kids already lived cross-country when we moved to CR which meant it hadn’t felt like any big “loss” to us to move “so far away,” so we were surprised to find how strongly we felt when the grandbaby entered the picture about *not* being a “once-a-year-visit” family any more. So that’s where the
process started.
Once we got into talking about it, though, we found that there was a lot about Costa Rica that we were “accepting” just because we were there and had planned on continuing to live there, so why complain about something you can’t change.  But the simple fact is that we DID find that costs had risen a LOT since ’06 so the entire logic of our being there for the “lower cost of living” wasn’t really panning out any more. The hassles and inefficiencies of a Latin American society were again something that we’d just accepted (with the “it is what it is” philosophy) but I can’t say we truly enjoyed those things. And even the idyllic year-round spring weather of CR becomes a little less idyllic as you begin to accumulate more rainy seasons under your belt.
What all that means is we represent an interesting “middle-ground” — I suppose if we’d absolutely adored living in Costa Rica and felt *no* dissatisfaction with anything, we might have figured out a different way to solve the family issues. And yet we weren’t deeply unhappy with CR by any means, so without the new grandbaby, we might have muddled along for who knows how much longer before feeling, much less voicing, the “what if we went back?” question.
HOWEVER, as I say, now that we ARE back in the U.S., we like it tremendously.  The array of food available to us is almost dazzling and we spend much less on much better food than we did in Costa Rica. Now, of course, there’s also very expensive food available here  but a key is simply that there is such a WIDE variety of food that with even a slight bit of “paying attention” you can eat much better for less money. And organic food is readily available, right in the supermarket in practically every “category” of food, not to mention the farmers market, whereas — as we came to sadly find out — pesticide use in CR is at a beastly high level, and you sure don’t walk into your local supermarket and find
an organic version of practically every kind of food you could want to buy (for only a small price increase over the non-organic version, in most cases). So, food has been a real winner here.
I say we moved “back” but we did not, in fact, move back to the place we came from. Our kids no longer lived in Maine where we’d been, and the whole point is to be near them, so we moved to Utah where our daughter and her family live (which has the benefit of also putting us comparatively close to our son in CA) and we’re lucky that the economy is Utah didn’t take nearly as big a hit as in some other parts of the U.S. So we’re not seeing any of that “dreariness” that seems to exist in other places.
And despite being liberal democrats in a largely republican state (and buddhists in a largely mormon state) we’ve found people to be very open, welcoming, incredibly nice, and really a pleasure to be around. (And although one of the reasons we moved to CR was to have the “adventure” of having to learn to speak Spanish, and we did become what I would call “functional” in the language, it’s actually still very welcome to us to be able to live our lives back in our native language.)
Housing costs here are slightly higher than in CR, but not by a lot. Our dear friends who also just moved back here with us bought a somewhat larger house here for about the same as they’d sold their house there for. Of course, their house there was sold furnished and had great views off to the Gulf of Nicoya and toucans in the yard, which they don’t have here, but they do have mountain views here, a lovely yard with apple and maple trees, a paved street in front of them, and a great array of services, stores, medical care, etc. all around them. They feel that it was a comfortable and worthwhile trade.  We’re renting, partly by choice, partly because we’re not “mortgage material” at the moment. And I actually think it’s never a bad idea to consider renting when you move someplace new until you get the feel for it. On the other hand, if buying is an option for someone — whether in the U.S. or Costa RIca — if you decide to sell after five years, you could theoretically afford to take a pretty
big “loss” even over your original purchase price (much less over the purchase rice + profit that most of us tend to expect when we sell) when you compare it to the “loss” of what you could have spent in rent. The challenge often is that folks often don’t *want* to take a $40k to $80k loss on the purchase price of their house even though they would’ve easily spent that on rent over those same five years. So I don’t think it’s nearly as simple an argument as people suggest.
What’s more expensive here? Veterinary care, for one, as well as medical care for humans — IF you have to pay out-of-pocket or buy “regular” health insurance. In our case, both our friends and we (my husband and mom, anyway) are able to make use of their Medicare which makes the U.S. a winner hands-down in that regard. And Utah turns out to be a very “healthy” state so that a back-up plan of catastrophic insurance for us non-Medicare-age youngsters is actually less than we were paying the CAJA in CR (when you combine us and my mom). Of course, if I just need to go to the doctor or dentist here, it will definitely cost more than it would in CR.  Cars and gasoline, of course, cost much less here, while insurance “costs more” here only because we barely carried any insurance (too expensive) in Costa Rica.  Our utilities here — electricity and gas — are much less, our satellite TV is less for way better service, although our cell phone here is more expensive, primarily due to our having a “smart phone” here with much more extensive service than we had in CR. (Basic cell service is a real bargain in Costa Rica, although buying the phone itself is not.)
Much has been written about the huge percentage of people who move to Costa Rica and move back within a year — strongly implying that they hadn’t “done their homework” and had made, for them, a “wrong choice” to move. I never saw that to be true — at least, *nowhere near* the 40 to 60% figure often touted – but what we ARE seeing, now that some years have passed since we moved to CR, is that for a large (and growing) number of people, it’s a great life adventure that they’re glad they undertook, but in the end, it’s not something they want to be permanent after all.
Although I *do* somewhat understand the reaction of folks still living IN Costa Rica to the tales of those going back — that somehow the “returnees” have made a mistake that they could have avoided if they’d been more diligent somehow, smarter, better, rented instead of bought, etc. etc. — in my own experience that’s a misplaced reaction. Why do we turn it into an endurance contest? Or why do we judge it as a “mistake” at all if someone decides to return?
Truthfully, I think the next ten years will see probably a majority of folks returning since I think, deep down, many people will find that underneath it all, they don’t want to be “ex-patriots” for the rest of their lives. And that’s fine. And for the ones that *do* decide to stay in a foreign country forever?  That’s fine too. Neither one is somehow better than the other. And I think people will continue to move to CR. And many of those folks will return as well.  All good.
A little long for a Yahoo group posting? Yep. But seems like maybe some real information might be useful to those folks looking for it. As I say, YMMV and this is ONLY our experience. We’re totally glad we moved to Costa Rica. And we’re totally glad that we’ve now moved to Utah. And who knows where we’ll be in another six years.
But we now have a LOT of friends from CR who are now living back in the U.S. and not a single one of them says they regret moving back, even though most of them don’t regret having moved to CR in the first place either.
Take from that what you will.
And, then, later in follow up, she posted this:
— In, “lenpetry” wrote:
Would you say that those who adamantly defend Costa Rica against any and all criticisms are in denial, or do they truly not care about the many small problems you mention? >>>

Interesting question, and not to nit-pick about “language” but the very word “denial” tends to carry a negative connotation, doesn’t it, which makes the distinction a particularly interesting one.
What I’ve observed over the years is that while some people do, indeed, find right from the beginning they are “bothered” by the cultural differences in Costa Rica (they are, perhaps, the unknown percentage who do actually return home rather promptly), most people seem to experience what we might call a honeymoon phase. The oddities and exasperations are all part of the adventure, likely not even to be experienced as “exasperations” at all, except perhaps for the pseudo-drama of it when relating their experiences to sympathetic friends.
In fact, I see a lot of newcomers react quite badly to perceived “criticisms” of Costa Rica and, again, I can really relate from our own experiences. It’s only natural, even if subconscious, to feel that other people going back, or even just expressing dissatisfaction with CR, is perhaps a judgement (however unintended) of your own choice to move to CR — an implied questioning of your own wisdom, if you will. (And who amongst us likes to have their wisdom questioned?)
Is this denial? I would simply call it looking at their experiences through the optimism that’s appropriate to someone newly embarking upon a life adventure (of their own choosing) and goodness knows *we* certainly experienced that. We truly couldn’t understand folks who “gave up and went home” because we “enjoyed”
all those oddities as part of our chosen new lifestyle. And yes, I’m ashamed to admit, to at least some small degree we probably judged them as somehow deficient in their capacity to adapt while we were clearly superior in *our* ability!
Then, as years goes by, as I’ve noticed now — and not just “transferring” our own experiences to everyone else, but from many conversations with now many friends who have returned — when those same oddities and exasperations have perhaps lost some of their charm, well, I guess “denial” would be a potentially accurate term, although again I’m not entirely happy to imply the negative overtones that we apply to the word.
Until such time as you actually DO — for whatever reasons — voice the “what if” question, and then decide to, indeed, return, there you are — *living* in Costa Rica. Is it going to serve your life any better by acknowledging – dare we say complaining about — those issues? Or is it just a good, solid “make lemonade out of lemons” approach to life?
I’m sure people care about and are “bothered” to greater and lesser degrees by the challenges — as I’ve often commented, we really did NOT consider ourselves to be significantly bothered — but “being bothered by” is not a static and defined thing. It’s a matter of our own “choosing” how we will experience things, how we will “process” if you will what we experience, and is a very fluid thing.
I do find it difficult to believe that there are very many gringos who are truly NEVER bothered by these things (as one might think when reading the vehement discussions that do take place!) And, ironically, I tend to think that those who are the most adamant that there are no problems whatsoever in Costa Rica, and certainly none that would ever in a million years send them back to the U.S. (or Canada), *those* are the folks that I would be most inclined to apply the denial label to.
Perhaps even then, though, it’s a matter of emotional survival. I suspect there is the unspoken (unrecognized, even) fear that if they started “allowing in” the “realities” they might be opening the floodgates, and then — god forbid – they might be the ones back in the U.S. someday. And, for anyone who considers that a failure of some sort… well, you can see why they don’t want to open Pandora’s Box.  To me the very willingness to acknowledge the challenges while making a choice (for however long one chooses) to live in CR *anyway* is the sign of a healthy relationship with the country and with themselves. But, I think that’s true no matter where you live — I guess it’s just that we see less “all or nothing”
attitude if folks were to be discussing, say, the relative merits of living in one state vs. another.
Let’s face it — many Ticos are all too aware of the challenges of living in
Costa Rica, and many will quite freely criticize the very things that come up to gringos as negatives — rising costs, crime rates, problems with the CAJA, etc. etc. — but the simple truth is the overwhelming majority of them don’t have the option of simply picking up and moving to the states (or anywhere else for that matter). So are the ones that don’t complain living in denial? At least, when relating to Ticos, one could argue that “the way things are” is all they’ve ever known (unlike most of us who have come from a place where things are, actually, quite different) so they might genuinely be less likely to be bothered by some of the same stuff for they have no personal point of reference.  But, for most gringos, I think the challenges are there to be seen by anyone with their eyes open. The choice then simply becomes how to “interact” with and “feel” about those challenges, which (after yet another epic-length post) brings us back around to my original position that to stay in CR is good, if that’s
your choice. To return to your homeland (the U.S. for most of us) is also good, if that’s your choice. To condemn others for *their* choices, not so good in my book. But that’s just me.