It’s all about respect…REALLY???

its about respect

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,

A little coffee stand alongside the Caribbean Sea

A little coffee stand alongside the Caribbean Sea

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

1sea birdIt’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

1smoke time

Smoke time

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.

1shopping at night

Shopping at night

Yesterday I had coffee at a little cafรฉ 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.

View of the Caribbean

View of the Caribbean

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

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27 replies

  1. respect
    sounds masculine.
    i wonder if given enough time
    if words like cherish, honor, love
    or even co-dependent or addicted to
    would come up? ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Isn’t that just the most beautiful thing. This slow speed we so empathise with and tout as the way forwards because we are in slow mode on holiday – it soon becomes a millstone round our necks when we up sticks and live there and need work done not in slow mode. Big Respect (to go with the new theme) ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. I think the Italian was mistaken, Costa has a different lifestyle. Time is fluid, and schedules are a suggestion, you can’t be uptight there about schedules.

  4. I couldn’t emphasize enough how important respect is holding together relationships. Everyone wants respect but often many fail to remember they need to also give it back. In addition to the one sided resect issues I also know people who seem to get annoyed when I show them respect by taking into consideration their feelings on whatever decisions are being made that affect them. I think those are the people who have not often gotten respect from others, are not used to it and it makes them uncomfortable. I wonder if insecurites can cause people to misinterpret respectful gestures, I wonder if it makes them unable to receive the respect they are so willing to give to others. The more you write about people from other countries the more intrigued I become about travelling to other countries. Thank you.

    • dobetteralways,

      awesome comments as usual and to you’re last line…..I don’t know if people are realizing how much my fingers are staying crossed this year because it sure would be nice if my little coffee house year this year; would lead to something much more permanent as a lifestyle in the coming years….because I would love to go to Asia, South Africa and about a hundred other countries…but I guess only the future knows what is in store for me.

  5. I thought Smilecalm nailed it. People say ‘respect’ when they have difficulty expressing what they mean, you think? It is one of our cliches…

    Lovely post, proper envious. Great write.

  6. Besides affinity which makes possible to be a part of a group, of a couple… etc, respect is a must. Without two of them as one, nothing lasts. Great band as you painted, I guess they sound good too. It’s pretty strange about those people who are late to work without an earlier explication or a note…

  7. R…E….S….P….E….C….T means you value the other. Pretty damn important for all living things. Arrogance breeds disrespect

  8. A healthy relationship is based on mutual love and respect . Able to respect each other and excepting their differences is the key of a long happy life. Disrespectful people are miserable shades. About Italian woman I don’t blame her complaining, because Italians are hustlers . That’s how we lose respect towards others, by not doing or saying the right thing.
    Despite the like or dislike of the reaction, respect should always follow us.
    How long you been gone? Day 4? Day5? Or 10.. Odyssey Lol

  9. Would love to see a lot more respect shared here in the US…..but the me culture seems to be so embedded that the “I” feels entitled and that does not lend itself well to respect.

    • so true Barbara……the ‘me culture’ is unfortunately changing the landscape of the united states and I fear its going to take a long time before the negative effects of that attitude are reversed

  10. I’m married twenty three years and apart from “respect”, he makes me laugh every day, and my heart gives a little leap everytime I hear his key in the door.

    • Wow! I’ve been married 11 years and I know the feeling. I think the basis of my happiness and success in my marriage comes from mutual respect. The best relationships usually do. I think the term is misinterpreted in the west, where individuality is more important. Nowadays, many seem to think that if they show no respect it’s ok because there’s always the excuse (that I dislike with a passion) ‘oh, it’s just me’. Hope the great feelings in our marriages continue to grow for us both for many years to come!

    • “I think the term is misinterpreted in the west, where individuality is more important”

      lovely point Alison….youre so right; a lot of people seem to become way to obsessed with individuality, almost to the point of it blinding the way they view other things.

    • laughing is definitely important as well….a marriage without laughter would kind of suck ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. I just wonder if this Italian women didn’t ‘respect’ the local culture and laid back lifestyle.

    I think visitors to a country should ‘respect’ the locals and their way of life. And even if they decide to stay and open a business as this Italian women did, surely she can’t expect employees to fit in with her Italian work ethics. After 20 years, you’d think she would have got used to the Costa Rican way of life.

    If she doesn’t like it, she should go back to Italy.

    Having said that, I was always a harder worker and wouldn’t hesitate to work unpaid overtime, so I guess employees not turning up or always being late might grate on me somewhat too. I went through a long period of chronic illness and needed time off frequently towards the end of my working career, but I ALWAYS worked back on other days to make up the lost time (on medical appointments etc).

    • I completely agree. Having grown up in the fast-paced world of California, then moved to New Zealand (where life isn’t as fast as California but not as slow, by the sounds of it, as Costa Rica) I had a bit of a culture shock, and I’ve noticed that a lot of the work force here seems to have a different take on work ethic. It’s not “good” or “bad”, it’s just the culture. There is a very heavy emphasis here on work-life balance that was missing in my experience of California. I imagine each country will have a slightly different collective take on work ethic, and again that’s neither good or bad – it’s part of the culture.

  12. I would have a problem if I ran a business and no one ever showed up on time. Call it judging if you will, but if you have a job, you have a responsibility to show up on time. I can see the benefits of a culture where employers were more understanding of employees who have personal emergencies, encounter traffic or accidentally sleep in, but just not showing up until you feel like it seems rude to me.

    That said, kudos to that band. It sounds like they’re living the life.

  13. Opening a shop on or in another continent or country is nothing like starting a church and get YOUR ways across. You are the stranger there after all. And not meant disrespectful but religions have done that
    Respect s getting lost somewhere and is being replaced what people can stretch namely decency (and we are lacking that to since it is behaviour we can learn but are not taught)
    But working in another country does the same thing.. DO not expect to be able to be like you was in your own county.
    respect for cultural differences is where most start to go wrong.

    But maybe I am biased. due to the mentality of foreigners working here and giving the finger to us and call us racist.

  14. Another good article on your site, keep up good work!
    legal roids


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