|Dr. DoG is the Advice Columnist on matters of Life, the Universe, and Everything. You may reach Dr. DoG at firstname.lastname@example.org.|
Just so you know: Dr. DoG is neither a doctor nor a dog, but nevertheless well-equipped with enough wit to attempt to answer your submitted questions regarding everything from jungle medicine to canines and all points in between.
Someone high in the pecking order of this “periodical” considered that its readers may be in search of advice regarding Life, the Universe, and Everything, and thought that a column addressing letters to Dear God might be in order, with the intention, of course, to be religiously neutral, and addressing all missives to Source, The Universe, All that Is, or The Great Beyond. However, in dyslexic short-hand confusion, possibly an error in transcription or translation, perhaps an issue at the printers, the column title came out as Dr. DoG. Most papers have regular columns, written by experts in a particular field, but the Advice Column is sometimes bestowed to the one who was left over after the real investigative reporting assignments were already handed out.
Those of us who were properly educated know that there is little sense in asking the obvious questions, because the answer turns out invariably to be “42.” However, for the subtleties of the human condition and veritable quandaries that fall somewhere between the cracks of these basic inquiries, one can always entertain a discussion on the more mundane subjects, like our day-to-day lives. For those who live in or visit the Osa Peninsula, there are probably questions that may come up, that perhaps might never be issues in, say, Bedford, Connecticut, or Park City, Utah. These questions may pertain to off-the-grid courting rituals, how to tune out the noise of a thundering waterfall when you’re trying to meditate, what to do if you come face to face with a white-face capuchin with his eye on the bananas you designated for your post-yoga, post-surf smoothie, and perhaps, how to deal with the feelings of violation and betrayal when your iPhone and favorite water bottle disappear.
Welcome to the Advice Column . . . feel free to send your questions on love, cosmic theories, conspiratorial queries, and etiquette to Dr DoG (email@example.com) and he will sort it out, and if the answer is somehow something other than “42,” will try his best to encourage, uplift, entertain, or put things in perspective.. And if he can’t figure it out, he’ll ask the CaT.
Tom Robbins once wrote a novel that tried to answer the question: “How do you make love stay?” While that is probably very relevant to young folks, my question for you is more practical and perhaps selfish. Some other book I read once scared the hell out of and claimed that everything you’ll ever do in life you do by the age of 30 and everything after that just a repeat. I like the example of Don Quixote as a contrast, but I’m not sure if mental disease is a cost I’m willing to pay for the pizzazz. So, rather than wonder “how to make love stay” in the context of a relationship with others, my question is how to make wonderment and excitement stay and whether we really are repeating things endlessly or whether each thing is truly new. What do I gotta do to train my brain away from the mindless normalcy of the day to day existence and get my ass back on the Soul Train of ceaseless curiosity, boundless optimism, and, well, happiness?
Walking in Circles . . . Puerto Jiménez
Try creating a labyrinth of tropical flora in your front yard or . . . wake up every day before sunrise and watch the sun come up over the Golfo Dulce. You will never see the same one twice! Yes, things keep repeating, but if you take quiet notice, nothing EVER stays exactly the same, nor repeats itself exactly in the same way. Sunrises are a wonderful example of that. While you’re watching those incredible Osa sunrises you might make a list of what you are grateful for each day. Waking up and breathing would be at the top of the list, I would suspect. Then add that you live in a beautiful place, full of adventure, curious characters, and endless opportunity for gratitude.
Dear Dr. DoG,
Help; I have no idea what to do!!! I was never very lucky in love until moving to Costa Rica. I met a wonderful man and we married two years ago and I have been in a dream world ever since, every day filled with wonderment and fulfillment. I love Costa Rica and look forward to spending the rest of my life here. Just one problem. My Tico husband is a wealthy man. He makes a lot of money. Turns out that because of changes in the United States, I am required to divulge to the IRS his assets and businesses and bank accounts and all kinds of personal financial details or face prosecution back home. Ricardo says that’s just not going to happen; there’s no way he is going to turn over sensitive and personal information to a foreign government, that it is wrong of them to ask and that surely there must be another way. I see from researching this out that the only thing I can do is to renounce my US citizenship. I don’t really want to do that, but I don’t want to lose my husband, and I don’t want trouble with the law. I don’t really want to turn my back on my country either. This is so not fair; it gives a whole new dimension to the term ‘ex-pat.’ What would you do, Dr. DoG? What should I do?
Torn between my man and my country in Ciudad Colón
This question treads a thin but treacherous line between politics and love. I have always thought the two should remain separate, same as the separation of church and state. Love is spiritual business. Politics, with no place in that world, does place a precarious hold on the rest of our lives. I would have to do some research to see what the actual legal obligations are here for you or for your husband, but it would seem to me, on an ethical basis, what your husband, a citizen of Costa Rica, is worth financially, is a matter between him and his country’s authorities. Although, this is a country which acknowledges the equal ownership of properties held in a marriage. If your husband holds his properties in a Costa Rican corporation, I would think it’s none of their business (the IRS). It’s a tricky question. What would I do? Probably learn the national anthem as quickly as possible, and brush up on my Costa Rican holidays and historic heros, and get myself nationalized. That’s just me, a person who would be more concerned about my US tax money going to support hideous wars and corporate controls of human rights and freedoms. I guess it depends how attached you are to your passport and your ability to move more easily in International Circles, and not have to bother with visa applications when you want to travel to certain places.
Personally, I consider myself a citizen of the world, but that is more or less an idealistic hippy idea, because I do hold a passport from my country of origin, and I would be hard-pressed to give it up lightly. If I have to choose between love and patriotism, I guess I would adopt the culture and citizenship of my mate, if it meant maintaining freedoms for him and for myself, which I felt the government was trampling on. Hard question. Do what you gotta do, kiddo! It is a choice you have to make for yourself, and for your family.
Dear Dr. DoG,
My wife and I are undecided between Costa Rica and Ecuador for our upcoming retirement and we’re following both closely. We’re seeing more and more accounts of crime in Costa Rica that have us concerned about security. But what happened in Liberia this week (http://www.ticotimes.net/2015/09/07/u-s-trio-attacked-in-car-by-mob-of-protesters-in-liberia) takes the cake. We just can’t bend our minds around why three elderly American were beaten and their car destroyed by “demonstrators” on a public highway, apparently with police on the scene or very close. Public demonstrations are one thing, but this appears to be a form of organized crime, like a gang of hooligans allowed to assault defenseless foreigners that have no voice in the things being protested. We are willing to take our chances with the type of crime increase from international drug trafficking gangs, whose violence is largely intramural. Episodes like the Jairo Mora murder, while tragic and concerning, don’t cut as close to our comfort level as we just want to retire quietly and not police the beaches or forests against poachers. But issues like home invasions, street crime, and now this random violence against foreigners on the highways has us leaning toward Ecuador. Dr. DoG, what is going on in Costa Rica with the increased crime against foreigners? Is it a real increase or is it just more reporting. Do you feel safe in Costa Rica? What is your advice to people like ourselves that want very much to retire in Costa Rica but have growing apprehension due to reasons of personal security.
Still debating our retirement move in Missoula
Dear Still Debating,
In my many (more than 25) years in Costa Rica, I have watched crime escalate substantially. I personally have been robbed too many times to count, held at gunpoint and assaulted. I mourn two murdered friends.
And yet, the few times that I tune in to news in the US or the rest of the world, I see much more of this going on. Maybe because we are a microcosm of the state of the world, and perhaps more in touch with our own community than we may be in a larger neighborhood or city in the US or other country, we are appalled by the news of crime events that touch so close to us here.
I don’t think that Costa Rica is any worse off than where you come from. Violent crime is happening everywhere on this planet, whether it is against fellow humans, against the animal kingdom, or against the planet itself. I don’t know if this would be, for me, the deciding factor for making a move from Montana to Costa Rica.
Thank the Lord you are not a Syrian, having bombs dropped on your home and local grocery, and you have to decide to stay in the center of such violence or leave to find a more peaceful life somewhere else where nobody wants you.
What I do know, is that fear attracts things to be afraid of. If you live in fear of violent crime, likely one day, it will happen to you. If you live in resistance to it, buy yourself a gun and train to be ready for it, it will more likely happen even faster. I believe that those who live by the sword die by the sword.
What theft has taught me here in Costa Rica is to not be too attached to anything material. What personal assault has taught me is non-resistance and prayer go a lot further in protecting me from severity than taking a stand and fighting back. I am a pacifist, as you can probably tell. I do not subscribe to arming myself or living in constant fear. I also take reasonable precautions that do not tempt fate, by minding my own business and not flaunting my “haves” with showy material goods, or by leaving things that I prefer to keep within reach of those who “have not” and would like mine. In other words, I live simply, and as much as I enjoyed those days of ranchito living, I am grateful for walls, doors and windows, and find that my things don’t disappear as quickly as they did when everything was out in the open for all eyes to see and sticky fingers to grab.
I don’t know exactly why, when I have been accosted, my “vibration” attracted that experience to me, other than being in some state of fear. I do know, that it rarely happens to me when I’m feeling good and loving and non-attached.
Yes, there is an enormous amount of crime of every kind in Costa Rica. I happen to believe that it is still somewhat less than in the US and other Central American countries.
The overall crime rate in the US is 295 times higher than Costa Rica. Missoula, ranks 64 out of 100 on violent crime, while the US average remains around 44. Fear of Crime in Costa Rica (your ability to walk alone at night), rates around 23, while the US average is 41.
I also believe that it is part of the fear-consciousness of the race—fed by the media—that makes it seem more prevalent, and escalating. It has always been here. We were warned when we arrived way back when about theft, car-jackings, rape, etc. But we stayed. We encountered, we read in the papers, heard from neighbors, saw on tv, and now on the internet. Do I regret my decision to move here to settle? Not at all. I do not think I would be any safer anywhere else. But I believe that my safety is not all about the crime around me, but more about my own consciousness and my own state of mind. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of Death, I will fear no evil…”
My advice: Make the move based on your love of Costa Rica and the other factors that attract you here, not your fear of what could happen . . .