The Missing Element in Costa Rica – Culture


This article was written for my Costa Rica real estate blog. Hence the references to real estate. I felt that the topics considered here were better suited to Dominical Dot Biz. So I move it.

The Life of a Costa Rica Real Estate Guy

If you are wondering about the title, it was suggested by my SEO (Search Engine Optimization) guy that I do some articles that have the title that includes the search term “costa rica real estate”, so regardless of what I am going to write about, my titles are all going to have this expression in them.

What this article is really about is culture. Not a great search term for a real estate agency in Uvita Costa Rica.

My pre-Costa Rica life was in Colorado.  My family (wife, 3 kids) and I lived there for 20 years. The last 14 years there, I worked in the fine art business. The E. S. Lawrence Gallery in Aspen, running it with a couple of my dearest friends ever, on the planet, that I have now oddly lost touch with. Life can be awfully strange – anyway, I digress.

We had partitioned the business up into thirds and we each had our area of responsibility in the business. My role in the gallery was art acquisition, although we all made our living in the sale of the art. Kert, one of my partners, was in charge of making sure that the numbers penciled out.  I like to say that he was in charge of making sure that I didn’t bury the business with some overly-friendly agreement with an artist that did not cover our monthly need.

Our rent when I left the business in 1999 was $17,000 per month.  I understand that it went up from there to a peak $24,000 per month from there it has tumbled back to I don’t know where, but Kert’s role was vital since I would tend to get a bit caught up in the artist’s saga and think that maybe we should make an exception “in this case.  In just this case, really!”

Kip was in charge of keeping the gallery organized and well laid out. He had the unpleasant task of pointing out to me that my inbox was full and needed some attention. You know, those plastic stacking shelf thingies where the secretary slides your incoming mail and correspondence? Mine would get so full, largely due to my lack of attention, that it would start to lift up the level above it. Kip also knew where every obscure piece of art was located in “The Stacks”, the vertical holding areas where we would warehouse incoming and old obsolete works.

My role was to acquire art and interface between all this organization and, the artists that we carried. My life was punctuated several times a year by trips to the major cosmopolitan areas of the U. S. and in some cases, the world. I developed a love for Chicago, Dallas, Miami (South Beach), but probably my favorite I would have to say was Manhattan.

I found that my 4 – 10 day forays into the belly of the beast there in New York city were life-enriching, although the 10 day stint was outside of my comfort zone and I couldn’t wait to get back to the Rocky Mountains.

So, how does all of this tie into the theme of my blog: Costa Rica real estate? (there is that search term finally. I’ll probably go back and insert it, awkwardly, into the above account just to please my SEO guy.)

While in Manhattan I would stay in the Marriot Marquis and after taking care of the art needs of the day, take in a play, then go to a New York Deli. Part of my time was spent visiting artists in their “loft” studios around Soho, and then if time permitted, a museum visit was requisite.

This was my life, and I loved it.

It’s funny how when you move to Costa Rica, you get asked the question “why?”. I guess people want to know what moved you to want to move away from family and friends. For some they wonder how a guy could ever want to move away from the great land of the free. (Yes, this sentiment actually used to exist in my earlier years here in Costa Rica.) I think that in asking the question, the asker may be wondering if there is some dark motive to the move and that I may have actually needed to exit the U. S. quickly and get to an edge-of-the-world type place where I could lay low and not be noticed.

Well, there was none of that. My life was quite enjoyable.  We moved to Costa Rica to do something different.  It didn’t even have to be better, just different.  We, Marie and I, were looking to broaden ours and our kid’s view on life and hopefully enrich our lives in the process.

I would say that we were successful. We and our kids are bi-lingual and bi-cultural. Granted, there are some aspects of a foreign land that come to be viewed as so amazingly ludicrous as to make one shake their head and wonder if there is a brain in any head of those that make country wide, political decisions.

But even this too has an enrichment factor to it. We have such a strong tendency to view the third world country we live in as stupid and backwards. However, then we talk with visitors from other very well developed countries, and we find that they are dealing with the same, illogical moves on the part of the decision makers in their countries that we feel OK about this aspect of Costa Rica. In fact, we get to feeling a bit smug about living in Costa Rica. Sure, we have to deal with some strange, otherworldly stuff here, like wacko import taxes on various items, and illogical traffic fines ($600 speeding tickets, $400 passing on a solid line tickets, although these are being changed back due to massive uproar.) But we also get miles of empty beaches, beautiful jungles with all manner of wildlife in them, waterfalls and the part that I particularly enjoy, less media intrusion in our lives.

So, we really didn’t get into culture all that much – but we will. This stream of thought was inspired by a wonderful cultural happening… well, I should say, several cultural happenings as of late here in the zone. Last night we went to a beautiful evening at the restaurant/hotel Cuna Del Angel.  The gracious owner Tom, invited us to come and enjoy an evening of testing out his new menu (to die for) and to enjoy being with our friends and neighbors that we enjoy living and sharing this life with. In typical Tom fashion there was an operatic program that was amazing.

More to come on that front.

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