Changes in Latitude, Changes in Attitude

7 Tortola - British Virgin IslandsI’m quoting Jimmy Buffet there. I give him credit for being a significant role model for a number of expats and visitors to tropical destinations. He has painted a number of appealing (musical and otherwise) pictures of life in the tropics. The hammock on the beach thing with a bucket full of beer on ice is a picture that sells Corona to people who have never left Fargo or Punxatawny. Take a trip up or down the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica and you’ll see a megaton of gringo style houses built on precarious cliffs for the sake of an ocean view. The price difference between two identical houses, one with an ocean view and one without, will tell you all you need to know about the tropical ocean mystique.

But I’m not here to talk about Jimmy Buffet or real estate prices, what I want to talk about is the change in attitude that either comes or SHOULD come when you head south.

There will be changes indeed, whether you embrace them, fight them, or just accept them. No matter how rich you are, you really can’t escape the culture that surrounds you. Mel Gibson found that out the hard way. He bought a big spread up in Guanacaste then ended up putting the place up for sale after finding out beaches in Costa Rica are never private and buildings built too close to the ocean can be torn down by the “authorities.” You can get pretty close to a nice gringo lifestyle here, near the beach, but it won’t be a private beach and unless you want to live like a hermit, you’ll have to deal with the locals once in a while.

But beyond all that, I REALLY want to talk about the sort of attitude changes that a single male gringo will do well to embrace. If there were one single thing I would tell every single guy that comes down, whether for a visit or to live, is that, figuratively speaking, their sex and romantic appeal has skyrocketed just by being here and not in North America. I know I’ve discussed this before, but it bears repeating. Just like there are always some new chicas joining the ranks of the working girls every day, there is fresh gringo meat stepping off the airplanes. Some guys have done some homework and are eager to learn while many others come with ingrained preconceptions that they abandon only after they are smacked upside the head by reality or in some cases, never.

Penny ReyConsider the numbers, imprecise as they may be. It has been estimated that there are somewhere between five to ten THOUSAND sex workers in San Jose… just in San Jose. Now, count every single room in all the monger friendly hotels and assume it is occupied. Would that number reach more than two thousand? Since we are just guessing, I would guess not. So even at these estimates, the visiting gringos are way outnumbered. You can factor in the resident gringos, and factor out the working girls who don’t want to deal with gringos, and you still have a pretty big imbalance.

The point is, the supply of gringos is considerably less than the demand. They may not love you for your movie star looks or your sparkling personality, but they DO love your relative prosperity. For a price, a large majority will overlook a giant beer gut, baldness, wrinkles, drunkenness and plenty of other negatives for the sake of putting some cash in their purses. Those who won’t probably drive nicer cars than yours, and they are a very small minority of the working girls.

To the extent that money equates to social status, anybody that can afford a plane ticket here and pay for a hotel and have even $50 a day left over moves up the social ladder a few rungs when he sets foot on Costa Rican pavement. This applies to all gringos, regardless of what they are trying to find. Maybe Joe Schmoe doesn’t want an endless supply of hookers. Maybe he is looking for love. Even there, the number and quality of the women who would be interested in you is a LOT higher than wherever you came from. I have no desire to marry or even have a live in girlfriend, but I have been offered that many times by chicas I have met, some less than a THIRD my age and reasonably attractive.

Clueless Clyde in Costa RicaBut the sad fact is that there are gringos who come down here and are either so insecure or have been so conditioned by life up north that they have this uncontrollable desire to latch on to the first female that will have them. And even sadder are those that have been here for years and STILL don’t realize they don’t have to put up with a bunch of BS just for the privilege of having female company. I am thinking of one guy I know that I don’t see too often, but who has a fat pension and is rather nice looking for a man of his age. But I have seen him over the years with a number of girlfriends who would have had me scratching my head if it weren’t for the fact that I knew the guy was clueless (hint!) when he got here and hasn’t wised up much since. The last time I saw him he was with the mother of a streetwalker/crack addict I knew who (the mother) kept threatening him with going to the Del Rey and earning $700 a night if he didn’t give her more money. The mother wasn’t hideous, but to earn $700 she’d have to be the only woman in the place on a night the fleet just landed, and be willing to do twenty plus tricks. The poor sap just couldn’t get it through his thick skull that he didn’t have to put up with that BS.

He never seemed to learn the most important four letter word a gringo can use in Costa Rica: NEXT!

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