Ricardo the Gringo
Vacationing in Costa Rica is easy. You bring money and the Costa Ricans smile and take it from you after showing you a good time. But for those who stay behind and try to “live the dream” it can fast become a living nightmare.
I met many Gringos who became infatuated with Costa Rica and never took their return flight home. Most go broke, sooner than later, and end up making a desperate call home for an airplane ticket. The Costa Ricans call this condition “Gringo Limpia”, which basically means cleaned out.
Very few Gringos ever succeed in making a living in Costa Rica. Competing with the Costa Ricans for low wage jobs, when they are comfortable living on rice and beans in a two room cinder block shack with their extended family, is just too dam hard.
Some turn to working in telemarketing boiler rooms that use IP phones that display local US phone numbers so they can defraud unsuspecting North Americans of their money. This is commonly called “selling air”.
I saw my old friend Allen (the Mayor of Gringo Gulch) bottom feed as a guide to the gutter for years until he finally succumbed. By the time we found him and put him on a plane for home he didn’t have shoes, had lost forty pounds and was malnourished. It had been one Hell of three year run with more crazy ass adventures than any sensible American would ever dare attempt. But even Allen, who could live like a cockroach, washed out.
But one Gringo who I met in 2001 Â just after “911” in an Internet cafÃƒÂ© in San Jose, Costa Rica has managed to endure poverty, robberies, muggings, fraudulent employers, a cross cultural marriage . . . and still continue to live in Costa Rica. He’s got a lot of heart and persistence.
I’ve seen Rick go from playboy to family man with a Costa Rican wife and two sweet boys, with a little girl on the way. He has defied the odds and is now “selling the dream” marketing an ocean view housing community near the sleepy beach town of Samara.
Rick the Playboy in Costa Rica
Rick the Family Man in Costa Rica
Life continues to be a struggle for Rick. But I hope that some day he’ll be able to relax looking out at the ocean from his future home while drinking a fine bottle of wine in style, like his dad Rick Senior, and utter with complete conviction the national slogan of Costa Rica “Pura Vida” (pure life)! To recognize the beauty of life, despite or perhaps because of its many challenges, and to say “Pura Vida” in the face of it all is possibly the greatest lesson the Costa Ricans can teach the Gringos. Pura Vida!
To explore Costa Rica, visit Costa Rica Drop Out.