Notes April 7-9 Costa Rica
April 9, 2008 § Leave a comment
In Costa Rica. The country is almost beautiful. Many small farms laid in large luscious landscapes. The local culture is relatively poor but people have families and the children are involved in their activities. But what used to be a comfortable and efficient distance of homes from the highway has become embarrassingly uncomfortable as the traffic has increased through tourism and construction equipment. The houses are usually quaint, cheap, ubiquitous and creative. When the family has gathered around a simple plank table in their yard as an extension of a wood plank home without doors or windows not necessary in thin climate, and eating their own goat and the children are gathered around with three generations and friends, there’s an affluence of real human life. But it is cheapened by the new comparisons people make of then own lives in the context of the of expensive road traffic and the signs of development, not for them, who are here in this land, but for others who are coming. Only the faces of children stay focused in their activities as our van drives by and the adults all turn to look from 40 feet away.
The current president, Arais, became president first in the eighties with a very progressive move to make Costa Rica a military free society. But now he seems to be supporting the developers, who, using external market forces, such as tourism and European and American retirees will force the poor people off the land and out of jobs. For example, new developments can buy expensive and deep wells that are lowering the water table beyond the reach of the cheaper wells of country people.
Costa Rica could be a beautiful example of GardenWorld if the new developments were situated in the landscape taken as a totality with that kind of sensitivity. But the reality is the independent parcel treated as a gestalt of its own and with far fewer people. The deeper issue of money and property is playing out here just as in so much of the rest of the world. Some of the younger people are smart and ready but they will leave their traditional communities to do this. Poverty, real poverty, will increase and be more visible (unlike in the US), as will environmental depredation.
The beaches are beautiful but density is coming. Not the density of people, which the landscape can handle gracefully, but that density of new buildings, cars, and tour buses which make those people and the landscape almost invisible.
One of the things that is clearer to me is that technology is always dependent on the previous appearance of money and cash flow.