My Latin Havens   1 comment

Over the past few years, I have come to love being in Latin America.  My soul feels more tranquil, my life in greater balance and in general I feel healthier when I am here.  Like many of my former colleagues blood pressure medicine and an assortment of stress related conditions had become an everyday part of my life.  One of the greatest stressors for me has been the emotional, spiritual and psychological toll that racism takes on one’s life.  As W.E.B. DuBois underscored in The Souls of Black Folk, racism strikes at the very core of the self.  And former Secretary of State Dr. Condoleza Rice got it right when she called the denial of Black Americans opportunities given to whites when the country was founded a national “birth defect.”  There remain deep scars and current realities that undermine any sense of being able to be healthy.  Being in Latin America helps me to take that weight off my shoulders, relax, regain my balance and breathe.

Costa Rica and Colombia are the two countries that I have come to love the most, and know the best.   Costa Rica means rich coast.  And it is.  From the Palo Verde National Park, to the beaches of Guanacaste, to Tabacon’s hot springs, Costa Rica is a nature lover’s paradise.  San Jose, the capital, where the vast majority of the country’s 4.5 million people live, offers great restaurants, clubs, art and culture.  It is estimated that over 1.5 million people visit Costa Rica each year.  Some come for dental work, cosmetic surgeries and more complicated procedures because of the lower cost for quality of health care.  Costa Rica’s population is one of the most diverse in Latin America.  About thirty years ago, the country enacted laws that made it very easy for foreign investors and retirees to move there.  Now there are between 70,000 and 100,000 North Americans living in Costa Rica.  It is estimated that there are between 500,000 and one million Nicaraguans living there, as well as many Colombians, Europeans and a growing Chinese population.  A very stable government, a strong middle class and a lower cost of living makes Costa Rica very attractive to many, me included.

Though it is a reality that Colombia is still dealing with its drug and violence ridden image, I love this country.  Also to some of my friends the country’s ill-treatment of its indigenous, mostly black, population is another reason to stay away.  Thus far I have visited Medellin, Bogota, Manizales, Pereira, Risaralda, Barranquilla, Santa Marta, Cartagena and several small towns in the cafeteria region.  I have never felt unsafe.  Yes, I have seen roving patrols and been stopped randomly at military check points.  They are serious about changing the country and its image.  This is not window dressing.  They are serious.  Colombia has a growing economy and a stable forward thinking government that has fought hard to change the country for the better.  Colombia is open for business and tourism.  Their slogan “Colombia: The Only Risk Is Wanting To Stay” is spot on.  hat I have found are vistas, of countryside, mountains, beaches and people who took my breath away.  Their racial legacy also celebrates the maintenance of the rich culture the slave trade brought the country and the survival of their spirits.  The Atlantico region, which includes Barranquilla, Cartagena and Santa Marta is one of the most diverse, colorful and fun-loving places I have ever been.

After thirty years in higher education, seven as college president, writing and living in Latin America are now my goals.  This is, for me, is an experiential pathway to a more enlightened, healthy balanced self.  Since April 1, I have been in Barranquilla, Colombia.  I am looking at how I can make living here work.  Buy some property, figure out how to make some money and settle down.  I will work on how I can also do some stuff Costa Rica, to see friends or do some business there also.  Stay tuned!

Posted May 5, 2011 by Wayne in Uncategorized

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One response to “My Latin Havens

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  1. Love it! All the best on this NEXT adventure!

    Nasika + Ashille

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