Friday, November 17, 2006

Safety in Costa Rica, finding your piece of paradise…

Our observations are from our experiences over a two year period of time in Costa Rica. We think we are fairly street savvy. We lived in a rough developing neighborhood in the US for the last 26 years. We are alert to our environment and surroundings as a way of life. Both my husband and myself have been armed with hand guns for the last 30 years out of necessity. We are not naive. We have observed that in desperate poverty struck neighborhoods the possibility of crime is higher. This is not to say that poor equals being a criminal. It only takes one bad element and one moment in time to put you in danger. Criminals tend to work in teams of two or more. There are young men who are career criminals in San Jose and other areas. Their job is to relieve you of your cell phone, camera, lap top; any visible saleable items. The smaller the town, the less incidence of crime or of violent crime. Not so difference from the US in that respect. We evaluated each area and piece of land that we looked at by developing an evaluation form on what was important to us. Your needs may vary, but some criteria will be the same. Personal safety, clean water, where does it come from and how does it get there. What pollutants are above your water supply? What job opportunities do your potential neighbors have? For the sake of discussion and assuming most of your neighbors have limited means, how prosperous are they? You can be prosperous but poor. Are the children going to school, is there enough food on the table, what is the body language of the people? Are their heads held high and eyes clear? Where does their waste and garbage go. Where does the sewerage go? Does it drain onto the ground and then get washed into your water supply, down the river and then to the beaches? Probably, more likely than not that is exactly how it happens. We take many services for granted in the US. Take nothing for granted in Costa Rica. You must discover the answers for yourself. You may very well be responsible for all solutions necessary. We chose off the grid with no services so we had no expectations whatsoever. We insulated ourselves to some extent by purchasing a large parcel of land in order to avoid encroachment. We did not want to hear other peoples noise or smell their exhaust. The belching black unburned diesel fumes polluting the country are excessive. How can these vehicles pass the required test each year? Not possible, so who do they pay to get their sticker? How much chorizo does that cost? Why are polluting vehicles allowed? How can you be environmentally sensitive to nature while belching black smoke? Why give carbon credits for growing trees, while ignoring the practice of burning leaves and garbage in every corner of every town in the country? I have brought up issues that you should think about. Remember that Costa Rica is still a third world country, struggling to become a 1st world country. How will you contribute in the effort to find solutions with minimal negative impact? You can change your town, your town’s school, the children's educational opportunities. You can change the opportunities for their parents by sharing your knowledge with them. Knowledge, understanding and sharing will help bring about positive change.

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