Costa Rica sounds just wonderful, doesn’t it? I’ve been describing a place quite near paradise! It can’t be that perfect, can it?

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Of course not! Nationalized health care, a great climate, beautiful vistas – these do not add up to perfection – not by a long shot!

Every place has its good points and its troublesome areas. Costa Rica is no exception. I have been living here for a while now. What’s not to like?

– The noise level
, for one thing! This is just a noisy country, there are no two ways about it. The cities can be flabbergasting in their noisiness. Noise abatement laws? Forgeddaboudit!

And the dogs!
Ay-yi-yi, los perros! Somewhere in the distance – perhaps not too far off in the distance – there is a dog barking at all hours of the day and night. Dogs are kept locked up and/or chained by many, many residents, who seem to think that these poor beasts will provide them some protection against burglary since the police cannot.

Does it work? I don’t think so. Perhaps a little. Dog poisoning, however, is endemic here. Your well-equipped burglar just makes sure he carries along a bit of poisoned meat. Other folks poison dogs, too, I suspect, simply because they’ve been driven ’round the bend’ by the constant barking right outside their bedroom window.

All this being said, it is possible to live out of range of the barking, more or less. I do, although I must admit that it was just a lucky break. I hadn’t considered the issue of dogs barking nearby as something to put on the list when I went searching for an apartment. I simply lucked out. I do hear dogs doing their obnoxious thing occasionally, but from across the valley in the distance.

So far, my neighbors have banded together to reject dog ownership – at least, barking dog ownership. Our neighborhood also remains safe from burglary – so far. Many neighborhoods in this country are not so secure.

– Then there are the sound trucks.
Can you imagine? Trucks that drive around town and through neighborhoods blasting at top volume advertisements for local businesses. So loud that you cannot talk over them as they drive by.

I mention that such noise pollution would never be permitted in the United States. Ticos just shrug and suggest (in their overly polite, understated way) that this is not the United States (although you could never tell from watching television here), and that most commercial enterprises in Costa Rica cannot afford to advertise on radio or television.

Also, there are few newspapers here in which to advertise, so these loud, obnoxious sound trucks are one of the few available outlets for getting the message out.

God, I hate those trucks!

– My fourth bitch would be with the quality of some of the merchandise here. Do not take that “Made in the USA” label for granted! Not everything is manufactured to such standards of quality, believe me! Many products here come from China, particularly Taiwan. You must pay for quality here. Buy it inexpensively, and you have purchased a piece of “mierda“!

Last month, I purchased plastic cannisters to store my pasta, rice and beans. I also bought a few containers in which to refrigerate leftovers. I went for the cheap ones. Plastic is plastic, right?

Wrong! Most of these containers – in less than a month – have split open at the seams. They were not dropped, mind you, or mishandled in any way. They were badly manufactured and dumped on the Central American market – end of story.

You must examine carefully any and all purchases you make here. There is much defective merchandise on the market, and no right to return it if it doesn’t work or breaks before you get it home – no laws whatsoever, as far as I can tell, that protect consumers.

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Organizations that do such things as rate countries according to cost-of-living, quality-of-life, and other similar criteria usually have Costa Rica listed as very near the dividing line between “developed” and “under-developed” countries – sometimes below the line, sometimes just above it.

I now understand what those terms “developed” and “under-developed” mean.

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