Luanne, 40, owns a chic boutique, where she works mornings selling chunky jewelry and beach clothes. She practices Tai Chi and a few of the more esoteric healing arts and raises her 15-year-old daughter. Alone.
Patsy, mid-50s, does a grueling workout at the gym four days a week, teaches English to businessmen and volunteers at her church. A lot.
Pamela, 43, retired way early from an executive job in the Unites States and came down here looking for ‘Señor Perfecto’. I heard she threw in the towel and became a lesbian whose fondness for margaritas took her down new and darker alleys. The latest dirt: she’s joined the thriving English-speaking AA and is having a ball in sobriety. So to speak.
As for me, I learned to give one helluva massage, paint nudes in oils, sing lusty solos in a blues band and renovate my house periodically. On my own!
This is the story of the single expatriate female in Costa Rica. Sometimes it’s not pretty but usually it’s flat-out exhilarating. Now, before you go thinking that we women are hard-luck uglies with no talent, taste or tenderness, let me set you straight…
We are women of a certain age (as the French so delicately put it) with a greater-than-average (yet less-than-devastating) measure of wisdom, beauty and joyous hipness.
We just happen to live in a country of traffic-stoppingly gorgeous native tootsies, all of whom seem to have been raised in the Geisha School of relating to men. Added to the grim fact of hordes of hideously beautiful local women is the culture gap in the other direction.
It works like this: An expatriate man with a Costa Rican woman is a combination that seems to sing! The northern men are clearly starved for adoration and submission, and the lovely Ticas they hook up with appear delighted with these Gringos and their odd way of asking women’s opinions and turning over their checkbooks and credit cards to them.
But the mix doesn’t usually cut it the other way. A Latin man may be frankly alarmed at the many aberrant behaviors of a northern woman. She is so damned independent! She expresses her views relentlessly and often insists on making (and keeping!) her own money, friends, plans, you name it!
No matter how many dates he has to break with her, a foreign woman does not seem to understand or appreciate the Latino’s relationship with other women.
His mother, for example – a sacred link, an undying bond, stronger than any mere romance could ever be. And his girlfriends, well it’s a cultural thing. Just something to accept, really. A man is going to be a man, after all.
Get the drift? So, certain obstructions stand in the way of true, deep, lasting, or even false, shallow, hot, love. And yet…
Living the celibate life can be such a thrill. There’s all that unspent vim, vigor, rarin’-to-go energy that just pops you out of bed to enjoy the dawn with a strong cup of coffee, brimming with frothy cream.
Life in Costa Rica fosters creative expression, and classes, exhibits, performances in all the arts abound. With the expat population a relatively small proportion of the four million inhabitants, it’s easy to be a big fish in this tiny pond.
Got a hankering to act? Join the Little Theater Group. You’re guaranteed to perform before most of the English-speaking residents in one play or another. Outdoorsy folks hook up with the hiking or birding clubs, or trek the country’s lush geography solo.
Whatever you choose to do with your time will get noticed. It’s hard to be anonymous and, because most foreigners are here without their extended families, people tend to get real close, real fast. No questions asked.
Friendships are rich and last as long as the tourist visa or residency status permits.
But ladies please. If you’re planning your trip here based on some Fantasy Island dream of meeting Ricky Martin or Ricardo Montalban, and you’re over, say, 18 years of age, think again. Think farther north, perhaps Alaska.
They say the ratio there of men to women favors us. Of course, you may have to trade in your bikini for a pair of mukluks, but a furry man on a cold night might be worth it to you.
I’m content to be an Eve in the Garden of Eden hanging out with the snake.
Written by Barbara Adams who is a long-term resident of Costa Rica originally from the United States
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