Today, we got the opportunity to learn more about Costa Rican culture from Dr. Lizano. He was extremely interesting and presented a dense amount of information. I was very excited to learn Costa Rican history from a native’s perspective. Before coming to Costa Rica, we researched and learned about environmental sustainability efforts in Costa Rica. Dr. Lizano made a few comments about his home country’s efforts that I found quite interesting. One thing is for sure, he didn’t seem satisfied. While speaking about the country’s efforts, Dr. Lizano gave a slight eye roll when he expressed that more could be done. He assured that yes, Costa Rica is making huge strides in environmental sustainability (I mean, they are the second most greenest country in the world). But, there is more work to be done in his eyes. He explained that carbon neutrality and hydroelectricity is great, but there are motives to cheat the “sustainability system” guidelines and regulations. It was fascinating to gain a new perspective regarding sustainability from a native Tico. The Costa Rica that we thought we knew was the most efficient in environmental sustainability. Apparently, that isn’t the case in some Ticos eyes.
Another thing that I thought was interesting was the racial tension that was, and still is, present in Costa Rica. Dr. Lizano explained that Ticos believe that they are homogeneous and “white.” Why do they feel this way? He explained that when Ticos look in the mirror, they see themselves as “white” no matter what the color of their skin is. It’s the way it has been for centuries and is embedded in their culture. I thought it was interesting how this concept has been present in their culture, and other cultures, throughout history. It seems like the world always struggles with the same question: why does the color of someone’s skin matter? For Costa Ricans, it might be a sense of homogeneity and native pride. But, in modern society, I believe that we should just see each other as human beings. Every human being should be respected and treated as equal. Again, why does the color of someone’s skin matter? It shouldn’t. Even though things are more unequal in today in Costa Rica, I was pleased to hear that Costa Ricans are attempting to work past this issue.
Lastly, Dr. Lizano explained the curiosity we all had: Costa Rican addresses (or lack thereof). Like I said before, Ticos are very proud of their culture, homogeneity, and traditions. Dr. Lizano explained it as Ticos being stuck in their own way. No one is going to convince them to do otherwise. They have effectively communicated directions using the system that they have always had: using landmarks to navigate. This is similar to the saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Since this method has worked so long for the Costa Ricans, they see no reason why they should implement an address system. I understand the reasoning behind this resistance, but it makes it much more difficult for tourists, mailing systems, and navigation systems. It’s hard for me to be very accepting of this navigation method because I’m used to plugging in specific addresses of my destinations in my Google Maps app… and following directions! The current system in Costa Rica makes it extremely difficult for tourists to navigate. I was really nervous about finding my host family’s house before I came here because it doesn’t have an address! I think that Costa Rica would be better off if they implemented a postal address system.
At the end of the presentation, Dr. Lizano ended with this thought: even through all of the conflicts and complications, Costa Rica is still the happiest country in the world.