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14 August, 2015

Latin America 2015 Takeaways:

Posted in : Uncategorized on by : nommom

NAFTA is a double edged sword: you get the good and the bad – for cheap. In Mexico, I found imported goods for about the same price as in the USA. In some cases it was disturbing; a quick Facebook check showed me that the imported Washington apples I found in my father’s hometown were only 25 cents more per pound than in my local grocery store in Seattle. High fructose corn syrup and shoddy agricultural practices are also becoming the norm. However, a $30 bottle of Bragg’s liquid aminos and $12 per pound of quinoa in Costa Rica does make one weep tears of self-pity.

Any day you don’t dump a car into a crocodile laden river is a good day. This should not need explanation.

The worst things to lose are health and life. Pretty much everything else can be replaced or you can live without it.

Isolation is depressing.

Isolation without reflection is stagnation.

The American tendency to be separatist and judgmental of other nationalities ironically is practiced by expats and projected upon Ticos. Ticos can’t help but wonder why old white people retire to their country then bitch about them and their traditions. This, of course, perpetuates the lack of integration we saw there.

Costa Rica has two economies; Tico economy and Tourist economy. Bananas are 10 cents each, but if you want you can trade 60 bananas for a pound of brown rice.

The Spanish Conquest may have been more compassionate than the Puritan Push westward; Europeans assimilated and integrated with the cultures they conquered to a greater extent than the Puritans did. As a result, everyone is of mixed blood (like in the USA) but no one is nitpicking over what percentage native vs. European they are or making racist judgements about the people who are descended from enslaved populations (be they local or ‘imported’). Everyone is simply “Mexican”.

A lot happens in a year’s time. While I feel not much has changed yet in my little family unit, the connection to those I know via social media has kept me abreast of everyone’s events back home. Many children have been born to friends of ours, people we know have gotten married and divorced or have died. It’s been a very big year for a significant handful of people in our circles and while I suppose for many of them I still would have been on the sidelines watching from my laptop, I feel even more distanced by being outside the states. Since we’ve been gone, the United States government has decided to finally ban trans fats nationwide, recognize gay marriage and prevent United States citizens from knowing whether or not the chicken they are eating was grown or processed in China. They’re on their way to banning the labeling of GMO’s outright despite strong public opposition. California has done away with nearly all vaccine exemptions, despite strong public opposition. The Confederate flag was removed, because of strong public opposition but the reasons for it’s removal – blatant and ongoing racial crimes by citizens and the police force – remain unchecked despite strong public opposition.
All of my awareness of these issues come from social media and others’ responses to it. From so far away, I see an increasingly polarized and restless country where all signs appear that ¬†interests served are those who’s industries are large enough to sway political votes. I hear the peoples’ voices and I see those voices ignored by Washington’s actions.

Maybe it *is* like that everywhere. Certainly the countries we have visited have their own political corruptions and back door deals that leave the public shortchanged.

 

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