Saturday, November 25, 2006

Donde Cada Dia es el Primer Dia

In many countries, we have sayings and cliche's that we often use to communicate ideas. Costa Rica is no exception. In fact, I feel like ticos use more 'dichos' than just about anyone else in the world. I have a dicho that I use a lot in good humor with visitors as well as ticos: "!Costa Rica, donde cada dia es el primer dia!" Which means, "Cost Rica, where every day is the first day!"

In nearly all human interactions here, whatever transpired, was discussed or was agreed upon the day before is forgotten the following day - it never happened. You start over again every single day. This is one of those yin/yang things: I love the way ticos live for the day/I hate the way ticos live for the day. There is something very fundamental, pure, honest, healthy and basic in living for the day. I used to live for the future, always thinking of tomorrow, and a good chunk of my life passed me by. I live for the day now, but with an eye on the future. But the norm here is both eyes on the day.

When you're on vacation, goofing off, living for the day is what it's all about. You may only have a week or two of vacation before heading back to the norm of everyday life in the place you're from. So this approach makes complete sense. Carpe diem!

But living for the day really doesn't work well when conducting business. Dejavu on the jobsite is counterproductive. Dejavu with your lawyer is counter productive. Dejavu with the utility company is counterproductive. In Costa Rica, you are your lawyer's lawyer, your doctor's doctor, your gardener's gardener, you pool guy's pool guy, your waiter's waiter, etc. Those with the eye on the future working with those living for the day must be vigilant and repetitive (the last of which is moot for those who live for the day with no eye on the future, as nothing repeats, so don't sweat it if you sound like a broken record).

Get used to do-overs. Plan on at least one for every task assigned to your lawyer, architect, maestro de obra, taxi driver, waiter, etc. Where I'm from, if someone has to do something over, they look bad and probably feel bad. Here, it's pretty much expected that there will be 2 or 3 drafts before the final publication. No one loses face when I tell them, "No. Otra vez, por favor." Build it into your schedule or, better yet, toss your schedule out the window. Calendars don't exist here - unless you have a day off of work coming up for an official government holiday.

1 comment:

  1. ehj! go ahead with your blog is goog to know how the gringos think about us