There’s something special about the online aspect of expats gathered here in Costa Rica… probably other places, but I’ve run into the worst personally witnessed.
Typically, expats communities in the real world are populated by friendly types sweating it out alongside you, swapping tips and advice and talking about wherever home was. We keep up-to-date on the politics of our native country and watch with curiosity how the locals deal with the politics of theirs.
But those online groups, man. They can surprise you.
I’m currently in Playa Flamingo, Guanacaste, and have only encountered a few fellow gringos but they’ve been perfectly pleasant. The Facebook CR expat community is quite another matter. The very first thread I encountered involved a couple of bitter old white women bitching that “Ticas cannot be trained properly,” with dozens of people chiming in about the uselessness of any and all Costa Rican natives.
This did not turn out to be a fluke or one-off.
I’ve had to unfollow the three groups I joined for insights and advice, and only pop in on occasion to see if any sane, non-racist people have joined.
I was in expat groups in NZ, in Cambodia. Those expat groups were full of simple advice and camaraderie. Imagine my surprise to discover how overwhelmingly awful US citizens in Central America turned out to be, at least from behind the safety of a keyboard.
Ultimately, I wander, it’s what I do. I haven’t enjoyed anywhere long enough to warrant putting down real roots. The closest was New Zealand, where I stayed three years. Auckland is a sea of expats, from everywhere. We call the United States a ‘melting pot,’ but honestly, Auckland NZ actually nails whatever that actually is. My friends included a bare handful of kiwis and an enormous number of Scots, Irish and English. Chinese, Tongan, Fijian, Samoan. Indian, Japanese, Brazilian. Auckland is everybody.
Costa Rica appears to be mostly the local ticos, to be expected… with a small but vocal contingent of angry, old white people. Honestly, I cannot begin to figure out why they’re here. They do little more than complain about the locals, the infrastructure, the difficulty in immigrating in (at this point, I would like to highlight that a LOT of these people are Trump supporters–ponder on that awhile) and harass newcomers who haven’t hit graying pensioner status.
Their median age appears to be 104, with the temperament of C. Montgomery Burns. They’re Super ‘Murican Patriots who bleed red, white and blue but needed to be here for some reason or another. That’s never been covered–they hate the people and the culture and the society, yet here they are. It’s a mystery that won’t be solved by the likes of me… if I’d wanted to spend my time with aggressive racists, I’d have stayed in my home state of the deepest politically red hue.
All in all, I’m pretty stoked to have only met a few fellow gringos, after having had the misfortune of ‘meeting’ so many of them on Facebook. The ‘ugly American’ stereotype isn’t so much a stereotype as a way of life for these folks, who took the concept as a guideline to live and die by.
As America turns ever-rightward, I anticipate the development of more US expats, hopefully younger and less wilfully terrible. We need to turn our image around abroad, and Betty Bluehair and John Q Dumbass aren’t helping at all.