Musings on acquiring Real Estate in Costa Rica
Sometimes it seems as though visitors to Costa Rica just pop in like Alice through the rabbit hole, wide-eyed and bursting with energy, as members of some tribe of new age imperialists, racing across the planet in search of a mystical paradise, a place to finally be. And they have just, finally, and at long last, found "it." For the last few seasons,"it" is definitely Costa Rica.
Not so very long ago, the enlightened and super-hip were seeking secret places in the East. The well-worn trail stretched from Paris or Amsterdam to Kathmandu, detoured through Kabul or Denpasar and then up and across Chengmai into the hills of Laos and Cambodia, over and up through Lhasa, down through Southern India and across to Sri Lanka.
Across Asia and South-East Asia, in addition to the hordes of Americans, there were always great groups of Dutch, German, and Scandinavian students who inevitably spoke at least 25 languages each, including flawless Oxfordian English, hitchhiking, bicycling, usually singing and trekking their way across the world, smiling splendid smiles, bursting with magnificent, Nordic good health. They were bound for nirvana, and for them, this hemisphere to the South remained unknown, unloved, undesirable, and perceived as usually involved in revolution or chaos. Military regimes, dictatorships, strongmen, coups, assassinations, mayhem. In their perpetually young minds, Central America was a confused mental meringue of burros, fiesta, siesta, and mañana; Indians chewing coco leaves, military madmen glowering behind mirrored sunglasses; the woman all Carmen Mirandas in white peasant blouses, with wriggling hips and enormous painted lips beneath hats laden with bananas and mangos and papayas and hibiscus.
Colombia? Isn’t that in Central America? Costa Rica? Isn't that an island near Cuba? Everyone, whether aging surfer or spiritual seeker, knew and agreed that it was very definitely not a land of bliss and ecstatic harmony. And definitely not a place to buy property. I mean, God knows what could happen there.
And then one day it all changed. One day it was no longer necessary to patiently point out Costa Rica on the map of the world, to indicate its location between Panama and Nicaragua, and then to indulgently explain that Costa Rica was different from its neighbors, that it was the Switzerland of Latin America, that its people were democratic and courteous and friendly and literate, and that there was a certain unexpected sweetness to them; that there was no military, and that a large percent of its land mass was dedicated by its people as preserved space as national parks and reserves. Somehow, Costa Rica has left the world of the unknown and had become known. It had become positioned in the mind of the international traveler and seeker as a beautiful, natural, peaceful, pastoral place. The secret was out: orchid land was lotus-land. Costa Rica had become a sanctuary of the mind; a wonderful, intrinsically safe place, where one could simply look at nature and sit and be. Costa Rica had always been one of those best-kept secrets. Except for a very few international cognoscenti, it had remained hidden between Panama and Nicaragua, unremarkable and ill-favored. And now, this once most esoteric of tropical places has become the central point where, as D.H. Lawrence wrote, "soul meets soul on the open road." Looking around at some of the people passing through the doors of Hot Tropics Real Estate, at the incredible cast of character coming and going in one day, it was all too obvious that Costa Rica was the "place to be," and "everyone" was here: a slightly overweight tennis champion from Los Angeles, now 20 years past his prime, having arrived to visit Escazu and to decide if he could live here, but really, really, to see what all the fuss was about concerning Costa Rican women; a Montana cowgirl who was interested in bats, and who had discovered that the glories of Costa Rica’s Imperial beer were almost as interesting; a middle-aged woman from Colorado who never seemed to have to work and who had heard that somewhere in the Osa Peninsula was the source for the "perfect, life enhancing crystal" and who wanted to buy “at least a hundred acres there, to protect it all”; a rugby player from the midlands of England and his Ecstatically Energetic girlfriend who only wanted, just once, to see a monkey in the wild, and then, perhaps she would like a condo on the beach; a woman who imported Indonesian furniture and whose business was going out the bottom because of something that “was happening to everyone in America”, and who thought she should investigate eco-tourism and buy a mountain retreat as an alternative to the political conditions in the United States; three young male doctors from California who had wanted to see "the real Costa Rica," before they could decide where to buy some land and build a small clinic, and who had been booked by a travel agent into the Del Rey hotel; and, finally, a very sweet 74-year-old birder who been searching, trying desperately to see the elusive quetzal for over eight years, and who could care less about buying real estate in Costa Rica.
Such were the newly arrived searchers for paradise. And, though they hadn't found it yet, it was here. In the fields and hills and villages of Escazu, and beyond, just under the crisp blue skies, just waiting there, as the Costa Rican day dreamed on, just waiting for them all.
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