The Queen is Dead – And We Are Still Here

I promise not to get political here, but we just had elections and one thing is certain, Doña Laura Chinchilla will soon no longer be President of Costa Rica.

It’s not certain who WILL be, but it won’t be her. I bring her up because of all the “sky is falling” talk that went around when she was elected, among the monger community at least. The rumor mill was working overtime and if we were to believe all we heard, Doña Laura was going to close down all the bawdy houses and outlaw prostitution and throw all the middle aged gringos in jail for looking sideways at any female. I never bought that for a second.

Yes, Doña Laura made some campaign noise about not wanting Costa Rica to be thought of as a sex tourism destination, and I believe she was sincere, if you take the sentence literally. The operative words in that are “thought of.” It wasn’t the dollars that gringos brought down that she objected to, it was just that she didn’t like the reputation it was giving her country. It takes me back to the old days when women may have liked sex but were too worried about their “reputation” to let themselves have fun. From what I see now, those days are pretty much history, though I have never been to Kansas.

Now, Doña Laura and her fellow travelers might see prostitution as a moral problem, but that’s because she never had to worry about where the rent money was coming from.

There are lots of things to consider if you want to think about why Costa Rica or the Dominican Republic are prime mongering destinations and Luxembourg isn’t, or even Guatemala is not. A good mongering destination requires a fair amount of poverty, to begin with. It also helps if there isn’t much government assistance available. But beyond economic reasons, the culture has a lot to do with it. In the “westernized” parts of Latin America, sexiness is something to be proud of, not ashamed of. As I walk around town, I can always tell tourist gringas even if they are the right age and otherwise might be desirable. They go out of their way to look funky. Perhaps it is due to the “bohemian” eco-tourists that Costa Rica attracts, but it’s something that I can’t help but notice.

9abbfbc3-5a15-41ac-b7b8-6ff923e07149Getting back on topic, the culture here is also very “macho.” The double standard is alive and well here. The fact is that MOST of the sex industry here depends on LOCAL clients, not gringos and other foreigners. This has become more and more the case as the economy up north has slowed, particularly compared to the go-go years of the housing bubble. I can think of 4 or 5 spots that rely on gringo dollars primarily, but I can give you dozens of others that seldom see a non-Hispanic customer. If the sex for money business were to disappear, I can assure you there would be a lot more unhappy locals than unhappy tourists.

What to expect with the new boss? Well, as the song goes, “same as the old boss.” There may be a change in style, maybe a few tweaks around the edges, but don’t expect much of anything to change, for the better or for the worse. There’s a right way, a wrong way, the Army way and the Tico way. In Costa Rica, it’s going to be the Tico way.

Pura vida.


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