Today I have another story from my Costa Rica travels. Forgive me, longtime readers, but I have to get all these stories out and written down.
While I was visiting San Jose, I had a chance to meet not only with coworkers at my own company, but some fairly high level representatives from local suppliers.
Which is to say, I was treated to some really expensive dinners by some fairly wealthy people by Costa Rican standards.
These were city folks from San Jose. The more advanced and sophisticated type.
In all of those conversations, it always became clear how proud Costa Ricans are of their heritage, and the talk would lead to stories about Costa Rica, both personal and historical.
And multiple times, over a cold glass of Cas, I heard a similar tale.
These business people in expensive suits would laughingly tell me how, on the weekends, people will pile their kids in the car and drive out to the airport. Cars park along the runways, just outside the chain link fence, and Costa Ricans spend the afternoon watching airplanes land and take off.
“They even sell ice cream!” they would say with a shade of embarrassment, and then say “well, it’s mostly the people from Alajuela that watch the planes.”
By the standards of San Jose, Alajuela is seen as farm country and the people from Alajuela are considered bumpkins.
So the implication is that only the rural folks watch planes.
But then, to a person, every time I heard this story, the speaker would finally admit “so, yeah…my dad used to take me out there too. We’d be out there with all of our family and neighbors. I used to love it, it’s a great memory.”
Then they’d also admit they had taken their own kids out to watch planes too.
Because it turns out watching airplanes is really less about being a bumpkin versus being a city sophisticate, and more about the spirit of community. It is families spending time together. It is friends and neighbors taking a break from working hard to simply feel the joy of watching modern airplanes landing and taking off.
“In Mexico, they’ve even built seats like football stands,” one guy told me, as if to say that while Costa Ricans enjoy the show, they don’t make it a permanent thing.
I smiled. Such a simple joy I heard as these stories were told. To me this is a prime example of how Costa Ricans look at life.
They may not have a lot of money.
They may work very hard.
They may have seen a lot of hardship in their lives.
They may have to ride a bus belching diesel for several hours to get to their job.
They may lament too much or too little rain.
But they never forget the simple joy of ice cream and airplanes.
That, my friends, is the heart of the Costa Rican philosophy of pura vida.
And that’s what I take home with me in my heart.
I told my coworker that after a week, I’m a little bit Tico now, too.
I’ll never watch an airplane again without remembering their kindness.
Photo caption by photographer: “Douglas DC-8-63(AF)…San Jose Juan Santamaria International airport”
Image from jetphotos.net
Today’s Theme Thursday is: community