Comparing Costa Rica (Caribbean Perspective Interviews: PART 1)
Ever wonder what it’d be like to have been born in the Caribbean? How different your life might be there? Or if it’s safe for tourists to leave their resorts? If you love the Caribbean as much as I do, you might find yourself wondering these things from time to time.
It also annoys me that so many people vacation at extravagant resorts in the Caribbean without giving a second thought to the history or culture of the country, yet if someone takes a trip to Europe they’ll go out of their way to devour books and websites on the local history and culture.
What, you don’t think the Caribbean has interesting stories to tell too?
Reality check: It does. There’s more to the Caribbean than pirate movie sets and palm trees.
PART 1 of my Caribbean Perspective Series is an interview with my friend, Elvis, whom I met a few years ago while traveling. He’s a seriously interesting guy who grew up in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica, and is residing in Belgium for the time being.
This interview focuses on the differences between the Caribbean side of Costa Rica and the Pacific, which I found pretty striking while I was living there, as well as life in Costa Rica vs. life in Belgium.
FIRST, check out this post for a little background and some photos:
Si quieres leer la entravista completa en español, haz clic aqui:
1) What do you like most about Costa Rica, especially Puerto Viejo?
To speak of the country: everything, and I mean everything there is paradise. And Puerto Viejo is where I grew up, I love the place, it’s fantastic. You can make your dreams a reality there. Honestly I have no bad memories of Puerto Viejo, only thoughts of crystal clear water, white sand, nature. I feel so alive in such a dream-like country.
2) Tell me how the Caribbean part is different from the rest of the country?
Well, yes, there are many things that are different in the Caribbean.To start, it’s where the Afro-Caribbean people are from. We speak Spanish there, but we use the dialect Patois more. Also Caribbean people are more friendly with tourists and foreigners, which influences the language as well. Reggae music from Jamaica has a strong influence here, as well as in the rest of the country.
3) When Caribbean people travel to other parts of the country, are they treated differently?
Look, we’re in the 21st century and although some racism still exists between white Latinos and black Latinos, it’s only a little. I’m not considered a white or black Latino…both whites and blacks treat me like a mulatto, but I haven’t experienced a ton of racism. I know that the Banco de Cartago doesn’t really like dark-skinned people, but this mentality is going to disappear little by little.
4) Tell me your thoughts on the Costa Rican government. Does it help Puerto Viejo much?
I don’t really like the current government, it has done things that haven’t been good for the towns of Costa Rica. They haven’t really helped to better the country at all, and honestly it has forgotten about the Caribbean part. They’ve destroyed many hotels in the Caribbean and left so many people without jobs, honestly they’ve never done anything good for us. There are no programs to help us better our lives, but in Puerto Viejo we live well since no one is hungry or cold….well, it is pura vida.
5) How different is life in Belgium from life in Puerto Viejo?
It’s super different! There are so many different nationalities here, and they’re not just tourists that live here. It’s hard to understand how they view life, but there’s so much racism and stress here. There’s no living, only work and bills to pay. At least for me it’s only temporary.
6) What do you miss most about Puerto Viejo?
My family. Well actually, I miss everything.
7) Do you think the Caribbean coast (outside of resorts) is safe for tourists?
Well there’s danger all over the world, but Costa Rica and the Caribbean coast are very protected and safe.
8) Is there something stupid that tourists tend to do when they visit?
They aren’t respectful to local Costa Ricans…
9) What’s your favorite restaurant in Puerto Viejo?
My absolute favorite restaurant is en Manzanillo, it’s called Maxi. The food is 100% Caribbean, natural, and fresh.
10) How is the food in Puerto Viejo different from the food in Belgium?
The food is delicious in Puerto Viejo, but in Belgium I think they only know how to eat french fries and foods from the freezer – it’s not good.
11) What recommendations do you have for someone who wants to visit Puerto Viejo?
Be respectful to the locals and enjoy this unique paradise!
12) What does ‘pura vida’ mean to you?
It’s the identity of a Tico [a Costa Rican]…it’s a way of living. Whether you’re feeling good or bad, you always say pura vida. Honestly you can use this phrase for many things: to be friendly or to offend someone. It’s just the pure life that we live in Costa Rica.
What did you think of this interview? My favorite quote was:
“…in Puerto Viejo we live well since no one is hungry or cold….well it is pura vida.”
I really think that speaks volumes to what different people consider ‘living well’. First, no one is hungry or cold, aka the community takes care of one another. Second, education and other opportunities might not be plentiful, but they live well because many of their priorities are different. Food for thought…
There’s more to this interview that I’ll post in PART 2, which will share an outsider’s view on the United States. It should shed some light on why so many people hate the U.S., but not necessarily Americans.
(THIS IS SERIOUSLY JUICY STUFF GUYS!)