Why Costa Rica Isn’t a Third World Country

Perhaps a better title for this would be in the form of the inverse question: “Why is Costa Rica a third world country?”, or more accurately, “why do people keep coming here under the impression that it is a third world country?”, which someone has done, today, again.

I’ve had the question, many, many times. Today was, for me, the final straw. This post has been a long time coming. I’m so worked up, I’m going to start writing directly to those people. I mean, seriously, tell me–why?  What gave you the idea that this was some kind of backwater?

Is it because of the amenities? The lack of infrastructure? The dirt roads? Sounds to me like you think Costa Rica is rural. Which it is, for the most part. It’s quite rural–most of the countryside with lots of open land where people work to produce food. Food. You know, the thing that goes to cities and suburbs to get eaten. Well, it comes from here.

This. Comes from here. For you to eat. You like food? Then buckle up.

Is it because you feel unsafe? Is cleanliness, hygiene, and civic sanitation not what you’re used to? Are the drivers too crazy here? Are there more snakes than you have at home? Ok, for those last two, you actually have a point here. But hey, everything comes at a cost. For you Americans (and please, you knew it was Americans I was talking about, didn’t you?) your chances of dying back home are much higher due to all the heavy traffic and far-too-common-to-be-remotely-funny shootings. Now who’s civilized?

Is it because of wealth? Money in the bank? You feeling smug because your dollar works so well here? Well, first of all, good luck paying high-season tourist prices, American dollar or no. Second, since when did money become synonymous with richness? Yes, poverty is poverty, and nothing can make up for a family’s ability to have access to clean water, food, and healthcare, but the majority of Costa Ricans have that. Plus they live here. Where mangos grow on trees.

Money may not grow on trees, but these do. Maybe this was the gold Columbus was after.

And don’t give me that PC “Developed vs Developing” crap. That’s hardly better. Why should a country with fewer buildings and money be considered “developing,” as if it still had work to do? Costa Rica is so “developing” that it had fully renewable power for 2017. It’s so “developing” it’s mean life expectancy is greater than in the US. It’s so “developing” it still remains the first and only country in the world to actually increase its forest coverage, not just halt its destruction.

You better not even get me started on GDP. GDP is essentially the measure of money changing hands, which can be increased and exploited by massive short-sighted and extractive business. It’s a terrible measure of a county’s worth. Might as well stand for Godawful Description of Prosperity.

Grossly Deluding and Patronizing? Generalization: Dumb and Pisspoor? Ghastly Destruction of Pandas?

Jesus, what is it with you arrogant dillweeds? Do you not like getting woken up by roosters in the street? Most of the world lives this way, you privileged jackass! Why don’t you shut up about the geckos on the ceiling and eat the fresh fruit I literally picked in the back yard! Or better yet go back to your energy-sink of a consumptive “developed” lifestyle. I swear, sometimes I just…just…rrglrglarrr…

Sorry, folks. I’ve taken a break and picked this up again after a much-needed cup of coffee. It’s been a long day. Oh god, why did I ever think I was cut out for the hospitality industry? At least this blog is anonymous.

My point is, Costa Rica isn’t perfect. Nowhere is. It has its faults, sure. Street signs and addresses don’t exist. Law enforcement is generally stretched pretty thin. The postal system is a joke. There’s plenty of room for improvement.

Costa Rica, I love you, but…it’s true. I have a better chance of sending a letter with this pigeon than getting an international post shipped on time.

But don’t come here acting like this place is a colony. Don’t mistake “different” for “lesser.” Don’t whine when you can’t find your favorite brand of cereal, or have to wait our a rainstorm, or can’t get constant wifi. Some of those things are a bonus, if you ask me.

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