It's going to be Interesting!

Trip Start Apr 17, 2001
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Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of Costa Rica  ,
Friday, January 11, 2008

It all started in the late 1400's. The Spaniards came with their galleons and guns and disease. Upon arrival in the Americas, the Conquistadors, leaving their own women behind, must have thought they'd landed in heaven. The males were bludgeoned or more likely used to build churches and then bludgeoned. The women, I expect, were given "special" breeding status.
 
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"It's going to be interesting." Marc, the French-Canadian owner of the rustic 1600 sq. ft. beach house that Barbara, Allison, Pete, Ellen and I are renting, said. He continued then to explain that in 1992 many of the Latin American countries got together and declared special rights for indigenous peoples; and that by simply claiming status, one would be granted ancestral rights.
"But what does that mean?" I asked.
From his fence-sitting position, Marc replied, "Itīs going to be interesting."
Since much of Latin America is poor and its population partially indigenous, I wondered if making everyone King for a day would work. But retired Kings, most likely make unhappy Kings. Late that night, while the others slept, I pondered the 1992 declaration. Mexico has been burdened with racial strife for decades. Less newsworthy, Guatemala is far worse. El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras - all below Western radar. Then I thought about oil rich Venezuela, and their leftist anti-American president Hugo Chavez, who dances to the beat of only one drum - his own. A little further south, in Bolivia, they've elected a first ever indigenous leader in Evo Morales. Chavez and Morales became best buddies. Then together, they became even closer friends with Fidel Castro in Cuba. Revolution is the first word you generally associate with Castro, but he also wrote a modern chapter on nationalization. In the late 1950's he expelled all foreign, mostly U.S., interests from Cuba.
 
It was now 2:00 a.m. The sea churned just a stone's throw from our balcony bedroom. Small campfires burned along the beach. I began pacing our balcony and immense inner living quarters. Content snores came from different corners.
 
Americans and Canadians have been buying up land in Costa Rica on mass for the past 15 years. The influx of cash coupled with ever growing tourism has allowed the Costa Ricans a somewhat better standard of living. But the void between the foreign haves and the local have nots is still immense. The American and Canadian landowners live in prison-like gated communities to keep the "bad people" out.
 
Standing on the edge of the balcony to drown out the snores, a what if came to mind. Ten or perhaps fifteen years from now, what would prevent a new indigenous government from nationalizing Costa Rica. I expect that there are laws cast in stone to prevent such things, but what if the government simply turned the stone over and wrote new laws on the other side of it. What if one day, the snowbirds were simply told to go home - carry on luggage only please. Leave the computers and big screen TVs behind.  

Barbara, Allison, Pete and Ellen are off for two days of crocodile hunting along the banks of the Tempisque river. Immensely happy that the Spanish ships caught a southerly current those 500 years ago, I'm home alone in our gated, six dog guarded beach house. The people on the other side of the fence seem menacingly scarier today. The iguanas larger. The howler monkeys louder. Itīs going to be interesting.
 
Note:  Years ago, singer-songwriter Neil Young, penned the tune Cortez the Killer. Listening to it while peering out at the sea, I sometimes visualize the horrid Spanish fleet on the horizon. Every time I listen, it brings a tear to my eye. Check out the Live Rust CD version.
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