by Kenneth Justice
~ “Its all about respect” he said, “We are never disrespectful to each other and its kept us together for thirty years”
Yesterday was my second night here on the Caribbean Coast in Costa Rica and I spent a couple hours hanging out at cool little bar/restaurant right on the beach. A Calypso band from the capital city of San Jose had come in for the night to perform and they were celebrating their 30th year together.
When the mid 50ish band leader found out I was a on a blogging tour, writing about the people I meet and my journey he ended up coming over to my table for their entire break in between sets so we could talk for twenty minutes,
“So there wasn’t even one moment in the last thirty years where you guys ever had an argument and you thought your band might be over” I asked
“Not at all Kenneth, not one moment. Each of us respects each other too much to ever let something stew and boil below the surface. Long ago we promised each other to always be open with the entire band regarding our feelings and the high level of respect we’ve shown in this area as prevented us from ever arguing with each other. The three men in my band Kenneth, are my best friends” he said
It’s pretty amazing when you think about it; to not only have stayed together as a band for three decades but to also still count your band mates as your ‘best friends’……it sure doesn’t work out that way for a lot of bands, friendships, marriages, fill-in-the-blank.
A couple mornings ago I had coffee with a couple from Belgium, they were celebrating their 20th year of marriage and the husband had been to Costa Rica 25 years ago and now wanted to bring his wife here for their special anniversary.
“What’s the key to traveling all over the world the way you guys do?” I asked them
In their heavy Belgium accent the woman told me, “I guess if I were to pick one word it would be respect. We respect each other and make sure we don’t ever say or do anything that we will regret later on. We are both careful to bite our tongue rather than say something that will bite deeply into each other and ruin the day” she said
Thus, in the last couple days the subject of ‘respect’ keeps coming up. Having traveled a fair amount myself, I’ve had plenty of experiences where I’ve been with traveling mates who demonstrate very little respect; those are usually the people I don’t invite along for the trip next time. Sometimes it can be tough being in a foreign country so adding to the mix a traveling companion who treats you like s**t can really sour the journey altogether.
The Costa Rican’s seem like a very respectful people. Although there is a lot of poverty in the capital city of San Jose, the people don’t rush up to the tourists en masse trying to beg for money…….this is different than what occurs in other parts of the world. Perhaps it has something to do with a sense of honor or respect…..maybe the Costa Rican’s don’t want to portray an image of them being dependent on the charity of tourists.
Yesterday I had coffee at a little café owned by a woman from Italy who has been living here for 20 years, “The Costa Rican’s are lazy people” she said, “I have no respect for their work ethics at all”
By law, foreigners can own property and business here in Costa Rica, but you must employ locals; foreigners are not given work Visas….and so the Italian woman was complaining at the way her Costa Rican employees never show up to work on time, “One day they might come to work at 9am, the next they might come at 3 in the afternoon, the next day they might not show up at all…..they have no respect for getting to work on time and there is nothing I can do about it because I’m forced to hire local workers” she said
But is this an example of disrespect on the part of the Costa Rican’s…..or is this simply an example of Costa Rican time? They aren’t in a big hurry to get anywhere. Life is really laid back here and perhaps its difficult for those us born in more developed Western Cultures to understand that Costa Rican’s don’t think its a big deal to make it work……whenever you decide to get there.
I’m not sure what I think. I do know that life here in Costa Rica is really slow……and for someone from the Midwest and used to the fast paced cities of Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, and others…..I kinda like it here. I’m okay with going a little bit slower….maybe its what I need.
I think I’ll order another coffee this morning to go so I can drink it alongside the Caribbean.
Categories: Drinking in the Culture