Many years ago my friend Jim told me that the first time he set foot on Costa Rican soil he felt a sense of freedom in the air. Another friend Bruce echoed Jim’s sentiments about Costa Rica. Bruce is an exponent of freedom and his favorite book is “How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World” by Harry Browne. Anyone who has never read this book, should. I know one person who keeps it next to his bed like the bible.
The other day I bumped into my friend Hardy while at the offices of the Association of Residents of Costa Rica (ARCR). He invited me to have coffee in downtown San José. My friend is very bright and an incessant talker. Over the years he has managed several successful restaurant operations in the San José area. Anyway we got onto the subject of personal freedom in Costa and like many others who live here we agree that there is definitely more freedom than in North America. In most cases people just leave you alone here. Even the police are much nicer and less threatening than their U.S. and Canadian counterparts.
My Costa Rican son says that having too much freedom has its downside. People tend to take things not as seriously as they do back home and the result is that work get done a much slower pace and quality control can be lacking. Many laws are very lax and hard to enforce, so petty criminals often get away with crimes repeatedly. Traffic enforcement can also be lax at times with people getting away with very dangerous maneuvers on the highway that they would never be able to do back home.
Finally, unlike in the U.S. and Canada prostitution is tolerated here. At last the authorities can dedicate their resources to more serious crimes and issues than busting hookers. However, controversial issues like gay marriage and the legalization of marijuana seem to be years away.
There is a saying here which pretty much sums up all of the above. “Donde hay un costarricense, hay libertad.” “Where they is a Costa Rican there is liberty.”