Sunday, April 19, 2020

Adventures of a Gringo in Costa Rica, and some other Central American countries

Newly married, Joe Baur and his wife Melanie are leaving the American dream for spending a couple of months in Costa Rica. Ciudad Colon to be more precise - the writer mentions more than once that he prefers places usually described as ´too boring or too dangerous´. 
Costa Rica, a country that atracts visitors and adventurers from all over the world, famous for the natural surrounding and the lazy sloth, looks different when you live there on a daily basis. Actually, every country is very different in the reality other than that described in glossy guide books. 
Adapting to a new country means also to deal with the rainy season - when usually tourists are recommended to avoid - or with the various insects invading your private space in the ungodliest time of the year.
Curious as a journalist should be, self-ironic galore, full of humour, Joe Baur - full disclosure, I know the author personally - is documenting in Talking Tico (the name given to the local Costa Ricans) not only a country, but the challenge of becoming expat. (Since then, the author repeated the experience in Germany, where he is currently living together with his wife). From there, he travels to other destinations like Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala and Panama, beating hard the usual fears and discouragements to avoid such destinations because...´dangerous´ (No offense, but while in the States, was very often warned to avoid some neighbourhours or just walking some streets at all, because...deadly dangerous. It can happen anywhere, you know). 
Writing about the places he discoveres is more than part of the journalist´s job description, it has to do with a credo, a writing mission, unfortunately a rare occurence in the current media landscape. ´That´s why I was going to El Salvador - to meet people and find those real stories and experiences, share them and do my part in changing unfair perceptions, because it´s those exchanges that have killed and that will continue to kill those baseless fears we harbor for one another across manmade boundaries´. As for now, mission acomplished, as the stories shared in the book, some of them previously written for the Costa Rican Tico Times, among others, do encourage more than the touristic endeavours, but has to do with the responsible travel that many people part of this writing industry do believe in. Maybe this lockdown during pandemic can be also used as a time of reflection about why and how we travel. This book can give some good inspiration in this respect.
You can read more travel stories by Joe Baur on his blog.

Rating: 5 stars

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