Real Estate Newsletter #23
November 8th, 2006
In emails, we are often asked to comment on the differences between life in the States and in Europe, with life in Costa Rica. People want to know so that they can prepare themselves in advance to coming here, and thus minimize any "culture shock". This is a difficult, if not impossible, thing to do, this explaining cultural differences. Costa Rica is a developing country, not quite within the definition of Third World, and not really a First World developed country, either.
Probably the best way to talk about the differences between Costa Rica and the States and Europe, is to just describe a recent event here. Virtually any event. One can then feel the difference between here and there.
As an illustration, I recall something that happened not long ago, with a worker on my property.
VICTOR AND AN ANGEL
The man who works on my property is Nicaraguan. His name is Victor. He is a good-natured, humble, hard-working man, who enjoys gardening more than the other chores around here. A short time ago, his wife miscarried when she was eight months pregnant. This happened after receiving some very bad news concerning other family members, back in Nicaragua, just after the worst part of a hurricane had hit there. The stillborn child of Victor was a boy, and, seeing him lying there in a temporary box provided by the government of Costa Rica, it was hard not to remark that he looked like a miniature Victor, with a round face and a head full of black hair.
They didn't have enough money for a burial of the child. I asked people at the hospital whether it might be possible to have the body cremated and then have a simple ceremony and a scattering of the ashes in some beautiful place. I was told that that would not be allowed. Maricella went to speak with the priest, here at the Catholic Church in Escazu. The priest said that it was not really a human being; it was an angel, being as it was less than full term. And perhaps angels could be buried wherever one wants, but he should be properly buried in the Municipal cemetery, and certainly not scattered, as ashes or anything else, anywhere. I suggested that he be buried in a corner of the property here, where Victor works, so that the site could be visited easily, and perhaps a tree could even be planted, there on that spot. There were several discussions as to whether it would be acceptable or not to have an angel on the property, affecting everyone, as angels often do, when others really could not affect the angel, who was quite free to do as he wished.
Finally, it was decided that the boy child angel would be buried at what was referred to as the "poor people's cemetery", in lower Escazu, in a box provided by the Municipality. The government-provided box and the burial required a payment of $22 dollars, which Victor said that he could pay over a period of time. When we discussed this payment, Victor's face got moist and he had to walk away from me. Then, in a little while, he came back and apologized for walking away and said that it was not the discussion of the payment that upset him, it was "another thing..."
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