Costa Rica : Oh Fair New Mexico

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by Karen Fayeth

Sólo en Costa Rica (Only In Costa Rica)

I may have only spent a week in Costa Rica but my coworker (who is a lifelong resident) has made me an honorary Tico. She is my favorite Central American employee and loves to share stories with me about what goes on in CR. What I mean is the kind of stories that make the locals shake their head and laugh, because what else can you do?

Today she shared a photo and a link to the Facebook page Sólo in Costa Rica. This is a page by Ticos and for Ticos. Photos are submitted from around the country. The page is all in Spanish and even if you don’t understand the language, you’ll get a laugh from the photos. (that said, some of the comments are priceless)

Here is but a small sampling:


This the photo that she sent to me this morning with the comment:

Look this picture, those cows are resting in the main door of a Bank in Alajuela downtown! Only in Costa Rica can happen those things.


I suggested maybe someone was making a deposit? *cue the laugh track*





And then there is this one. The folks who posted it suggested maybe this is the CR way of recycling?





The comment here asks “What, is this for tying their horse?”





This one came with the caption “Gordo, where did you leave the eggs?” Yipes!





And finally, my favorite by far. It was suggested that this is the Costa Rican entry to the world of abstract art. It’s very Salvador Dali meets asphalt.





All of these and way, way more can be found on the Sólo in Costa Rica Facebook page.

¡Pura vida! and Happy Friday.




And Then There Was Perspective

Yesterday as I was writing up a post about whether or not to take the brand new laptop allocated to my new employee and give him my old machine, I got a ping on interoffice chat from my employee in Costa Rica.

She and I had spoken earlier in the week and she told me some sad news. Seems that she and her husband have to sell their car because her aunt has demanded immediate repayment of a debt. They have worked and tried to find a way to get the money to pay it, but cannot.

The car has to go.

When I was in Costa Rica with this fabulous lady in May, I was impressed by how much she and her husband loved their car. It is a ten year old Kia and they had lovingly detailed it, put on nice wheels, kept the paint clean, reupholstered the inside and doted on the car.

They even told me how important this car was to them. It got them back and forth to work. It helped my friend take her sick mom to regular doctor appointments. It gave them freedom to get out of stuffy, overcrowded San Jose and to the ocean.

She was crying as she told me the news.

They had found a buyer who gave them quick cash and they re-paid their debt, which means that both she and her husband need to ride public transit, such that it is, to get to work every day.

I’ve been on the buses in San Jose, Costa Rica. It’s not that bad, just very crowded. My friend has to walk about a mile from her home to the bus stop on roads with no sidewalks (or “walk sides” as she calls them) in the oppressive heat and tropical rain and at night.

She assured me it would be ok. She and her husband were looking into getting a loan for another car. They both have good jobs and it seems likely the bank will approve.

So yesterday, when she pinged me, she was apologetic. “I was late to work today, I’m so sorry.”

This is quite unlike her, she’s very prompt and quite businesslike.

“That’s ok, are you all right?”

Seems there is an ongoing protest in Costa Rica and while she was able to get on the bus, ultimately the route was blocked by protesters and traffic so everyone had to get off the bus. She walked five kilometers to work (about three miles) in her work clothes and heels.

She was spitting mad and drenched with sweat and just really, really sad.

“Do you mind if I leave a little early today? I have to go to the government office to get a report to take to the bank so they can see if we can have a loan for a car.”

“No problem,” I responded. “Take care of yourself.”

I’d tell her she could work from home for a few days until this is sorted out, but they can’t get internet to their house. The infrastructure just doesn’t exist yet in her neighborhood.

Whatta world, whatta world.





A Costa Rican bus stop, and this is a nice one. In the hills, bus stops are little more than a bench carved into jungle overgrowth.




Image from You’re Not From Around Here and that post is totally worth reading. I suggest a click.




You Think Apple Maps Are Bad?

“My current home address is 200 meters north of the Pizza Hut then 400 meters west…” says San José Mayor Johnny Araya

As I’ve documented here on this little ol’ blog, in May of this year I spent a week of my life in San José, Costa Rica.

Having been reared in New Mexico, the Land of Mañana, I am not unfamiliar with the more laid back ways of Latin culture.

But even to me, Costa Rica was a bit of an eye opener.

People walk down the center of major roads and cars accommodate this.

Buses stop on the freeway to pick up passengers who wait between two lines painted on a guard rail. The bus drivers shout “¡andele!” as it’s not really a stop as much as a fast roll (I rode the bus in San José, an experience not soon forgotten).

If a dog happens to trot out into a major road everyone laughs and says, “¡Ay, perro!” as they stop and wait for the hound to find it’s way through. (Costa Rican’s LOOOOVE their dogs)

And directions? Forget about it. After growing up in Albuquerque with well marked roads laid out on a grid, I always carp about California’s lackadaisical approach to marking roads and exits.

Compared to Costa Rica, California looks perfectly well organized. The roads in CR go all over the place and everyone just seems to know how to get there. Thank the god (my Costa Rican employee’s favorite expression) that my Tico minion drove me everywhere because I would have been utterly lost.

And let me tell you…Google maps don’t know nuthin’ about how to navigate San José.

So this evening while winding down with a nice glass of red, I smiled when I saw this headline:

San José, Costa Rica to install its first street signs

However, it wasn’t the headline that made me grin. It was this quote from the article:

“I don’t think it’s going to work”, 29-year-old taxi driver Manuel Perez said. “If a tourist tells me to take him to a hotel in whatever street, I’m going to say ‘you’re speaking to me in Chinese,’ because I don’t know where that is. I need a landmark.”


That is so the essence of my beautiful, magical, insane as the day is long but also kind as the day is long Ticos.

By the way, the cab drivers in CR are THE BEST. The running dialog I’d get during rides was priceless. You can’t buy that kind of entertainment.



These were my most favorite road signs in Costa Rica. They mean “give way” and were posted everywhere, on every corner and road and driveway. No one ceda’s the paso to ANYONE. These signs might as well say, “have a nice day” for all the good they do.




Image from Wikipedia and used under Creative Commons.




Well that throws a wrench in the day

When the alarm went off at 6:30am, I found myself hardly able to face the dark morning.

The Feline had spent the night making sure that neither Girl Human nor Good Man got much in the way of sleep. And by looking at the calendar, I saw a busy day ahead with some tough conversations and a crushing list of action items.

But I did what I do. I dragged my ass out of bed, threw on some clothes, brushed my teeth and went to work.

The day started with an early, unfriendly call with EMEA.

As I listened to my BossMan ream out a supplier, a message from our company’s internal chat system popped up.

My employee in Costa Rica. She’s been fighting a lot of dragons in the Latin American region and I really didn’t want to open her message. More trouble, I was sure of it. Something I didn’t want to deal with. Another shouting Vice President, perhaps?

“Karen, we just had a 7.6 earthquake. The building is damaged. I got out of here first but it was really scary!”

Oh. Crap.

She’s ok, which was my first question. Then I asked about her husband, sister and mom. They are all safe too.

She just kept saying “that was really scary.”

I can only imagine.

And so…that’s not *quite* what I had on the agenda for today, but it sure as heck cleared my calendar.

Is this what they mean in business and management classes about staying flexible?

—————-

Side note: Thankfully one thing my company does really well is business disaster recovery. The team is already all over it.

Random brain thought: The Spanish word for earthquake, temblor, is such a great word. Very onomatopoeia-ish.

Final thought: Keeping CR and all the Ticos in my thoughts. Oraciones para Costa Rica y todos los Ticos.



That’s Still Me

Recently a long time reader of this blog added a comment to one of my posts about being in London.

It went something like this, “Awhile back you were whining because you don’t get paid to play golf. Would it help if we all let you know how much we envy you?”

I know when I’m being gigged between the ribs, and I didn’t take it bad. In fact I dug the comment because it not only made me smile but also think a bit.

There have been a couple other much less nice notes sent my way via email that implied that I’m bragging too much on my blog.

Here’s the thing, in my mind, I’m still this girl.




In cuts offs and a tshirt, leaning against a chicken coop in Logan, New Mexico. Brown from the New Mexico sun and days spent swimming in Ute Lake.

I can guarantee you the little girl in that photo never thought for a million years she’d ever leave New Mexico, much less visit Singapore, Costa Rica and London. Or attend a US Open Golf Tournament. Or meet the legendary Willie McCovey.

Ya gotta know, when I pipe up here and talk about what I’m doing, it’s because I’m still genuinely in shock and awe that I’m doing it.

This throwaway comment on Facebook about sums it up:




That was the most genuine and true sentiment I had in that moment. I was so in awe at the fulfillment of a dream that I was rendered mostly speechless. Not many words were needed to convey the truth of it all.

Maybe I do brag to much and I’m just too insecure to write it in a more humble way. But to be honest, I’m pretty freaking proud.

This past year has been nothing short of epic for me.

That the little girl at Ute Lake and this little girl in London ARE THE SAME GIRL boggles my tiny mind, still.




Of course, I’m also this girl. But then I’ve always been like that.




To sum it all up, if you think I’m bragging too much on my blog, you are probably right. I should warn you it ain’t a’gonna stop anytime soon, either.

And so that means it’s truly time to say:

Thanks for dropping by today, dear reader. For putting up with my random thoughts, disjointed posts and all around bad behavior. I owe you a deep debt of gratitude for reading my words.

I sure am having fun on this blog. It’s a party in 1,476 posts and 469,239 words!




Ute Lake photo from my family’s collection, Copyright Karen Fayeth. No use or reproduction without prior written consent. Taken with a Kodak Instamatic and no need for the flip-flash.

Photo from London’s Tower Bridge is Copyright 2012, Karen Fayeth, and subject to the Creative Commons license on the right column of this page. Taken with an iPhone 4s and the Camera+ app.


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