Blog

                       

Pura Vida on Tico Time: More Musings on Life in the Caribe Sur

With my winter performance season wrapping up this month, I'm finally finding time to catch up on my writing here, which I realize has been infrequent since last summer. With the arrival of Spring, my trusty iPod Touch, which has long been my main tool for writing on the go - with the dictation feature enabled frequently - is now back in hand and working again. So that should increase my chances of blogging more often here in more detail than the quick tweets and Facebook posts that have been easier to keep going during these several months without it.
Reflecting on that less productive period in my writing routine, I have to say that the world of my existence for most of the last 10 years now is still far different from the one I've largely left behind back in Seattle. While mine is not an entirely unscheduled life by any means, the schedule changes daily and often at a moment's notice. This happens as a result of the combination of a couple of seemingly unrelated factors that that tend to combine in a way that produces what one might call the Caribe Sur (south Caribbean) lifestyle. 
One of those contributing elements is the fact that, although the community of folks we interact with here is nearly equally comprised of ex-pats and long-term visitors from around the world (at last count around 60 countries) and a mix of local Afri-Caribbean and indigenous natives and a more recently growing number of Costa Rican citizens of primarily Spanish descent, we pretty much all seem to eventually succumb to living in what is popularly referred to as "Tico Time.”  Or, as I often tell newcomers waiting for later arrivals at any meeting or rehearsal, my general rule of thumb is: take the number of people coming to the appointment, and multiply it by 20 or 30 minutes to get a rough idea of how long your wait will be. 
The second one that greatly amplifies the first is the area's slowly developing but still largely inadequate infrastructure. To summarize that quickly, I'm talking about frequent internet and general power outages, water supply shortages and cut offs, and the increasingly unpredictable surprises and uncertainties dealt us by our  rapidly changing climate. We are only about 12° north of the equator here in a tropical rainforest environment, so the natural weather pattern is already somewhat inconsistent, but we have seen that exacerbated, especially during the recent El Niño effect. For example, we can schedule an outdoor event in the middle of the what was once regarded reliably as the dry season and get rained out by a sudden two hour downpour, or get a couple weeks of gorgeous sunny beach weather in the middle of our normally very rainy winter, as we did this past January. On a more personal everyday level, the more erratic weather pattern has kept us a bit more preoccupied with the very essential tasks of rain water collection and management to get us through the dry periods and keep our tanks from overflowing into our tool shed during the wet ones.
Now toss those factors into the pool with our best laid plans and watch the spiraling repercussions rippling out in the form of late arrivals of buses and taxis (our primary motorized transportation here), fallen trees due to flooding or overflowing rivers slowing traffic or blocking the road altogether, and rainwater collection system or termite invasion crises at home, to name a few. It’s not always, and really not very often, that bad, but still, after reading that litany of challenges, you might ask why in the world we would we ever choose to stay here!  Well, besides having run out of money a long time ago, there are also quite a few benefits to being here that we've come to cherish, such as:
Once again demonstrating, I think, that a picture is worth at least a thousand words! To summarize, the wonder and beauty and relatively pure state of the natural environment alone have been enough to make us want to stay. And the slower pace of life here has come to feel much more in harmony with our own natural rhythms.  And add to that so many of the people who live here, or who come and go but nearly always eventually return - they, too, are a big part of what makes residing here so "pura vida" . . . such pure life!  And what keeps me glad to still be here.