Nowhere to go and all day to get there.
To say the pace of life here is relaxed is to put it mildly. There’s actually a well known and completely acceptable description that people use, both gringos and Ticos alike (Tico, or it’s feminine counterpart, Tica, are what the local Costa Ricans are referred to). “Tico time” refers to anything from when a project will be done, a meeting time, or when something will be delivered. It’s a great way to take the stress off of deadlines…”I know it’s two weeks late…Tico time!” or “I meant to be here an hour ago, oh well, Tico time.” I happen to love this cultural gem. I lived the last few years of my life as a nurse counting hours, minutes, even seconds and was always in hurry up mode. To have the buffer of Tico time is not to say I’ve gotten lazy, it’s simply put things in better perspective. I’ve come to find out that I can let the small stuff slide once in a while and lo and behold the world will not come to an end.
Another time standard that one comes to experience is “proximo semana” meaning next week. There are many of us who are familiar with the meaning of the word “mañana” in the Mexican culture. I am convinced that the closer one gets to the equator the laid back excuse goes from, “eh, mañana” to “eh, proximo semana” (maybe to compensate for the heat and humidity as one travels further south?). When will the project be done? Proximo semana. When will the part I ordered be delivered? Proximo semana. You get the idea. What a gift this has turned out to be…as long as its not abused.
One of the most glaring aspects of this laid back culture is reflected in the driving habits of Ticos. Now mind you, I’m coming from the infamous California freeway lifestyle so both M and I took a good long while to get used to this one. Picture yourself pleasantly following a vehicle on a two lane road in this scenic environment. Another car, truck, tractor or even a cattle drive comes from the other direction. If the driver ahead of you knows the person in the oncoming lane, it would be downright rude of them not to stop and say hello…visit for a while. The two lane road does not allow for either of them to pull over, not that that would make a difference, so they just stop where they are and say their hellos, catch up on the family, etc. It is expected that the driver behind these two chatty friends stop and wait patiently for the conversation to come to a natural end. The honking of horns, the hurling of a few hand gestures or curse words would fall on deaf ears…after all chances are, they have no where to go and all day to get there.
Stay tuned for a more in depth look at “Rules of the Road, Tico Style”. I’ll enlighten you on the delightfully (NOT) rustic roads here in rural Costa Rica, the use and abuse of blinkers, and my personal favorite…road signs, hard and fast rules or merely suggestions?