After several travels to Costa Rica on vacation, I became enthralled with the idea of living there. My husband and I discovered that the lower cost of living and healthcare would enable us to retire sooner than we could in the U.S. So we packed up our things, and moved thousands of miles from home to experience all that this amazing country has to offer. I'd like to share it with you now because I believe Costa Rica has created an atmosphere of respect for its people and the land that shows us a new paradigm in the making.
Costa Rica has their very own University for Peace. They've got a statue of Peace Pilgrim placed at the University's peace park by the Peace Pilgrim Foundation. I wanted to be part of a country who has a university with a mission, "to provide humanity with an international institution of higher education for peace and with the aim of promoting among all human beings the spirit of understanding, tolerance and peaceful coexistence, to stimulate cooperation among peoples and to help lessen obstacles and threats to world peace and progress, in keeping with the noble aspirations proclaimed in the Charter of the United Nations." Students of this institution can actually get a Master's Degree in conflict resolution!
Besides all of that, I have fallen in love with the Costa Rican people. They are peaceful, kind and respectful. And their energy seems to influence the way they farm and produce food. Almost 100% of the food we eat is locally grown. Family values are very important to Costa Ricans (Ticos), and I sense more tolerance and respect for one another. We have lived here during a presidential election year and the World Cup competition. What do a presidential election and the World Cup have in common? Both were cause for celebrations. I mean big celebrations. For both events, music, laughter, and fireworks filled the air with happiness.
Approximately 27% of the country is protected forests and reserves. Here we produce over 90% of our electricity through renewable means, such as hydroelectric, geothermal and wind power. A year-round tropical climate allows for abundant local food production, supporting the people with low-cost basic items.
I believe peace cannot be achieved through war. During research, I learned that Costa Rica had no military. Now that I live here, I realize it was a conscious decision for me to live in Peace. In 1948, the army was abolished. In 1986, December 1 was declared the Día de la Abolición del Ejército (military abolition day). We love how this declaration for peace is one more reason to celebrate. Again, music and fireworks keep their traditions of peace alive.
It makes me love this country even more when I realize they place more value on education and culture than on conflict resolution through wars. Costa Rica's decision to eliminate its army may have seemed like a naïve choice, but the fact that they did it and have made it work makes me love this country even more. Costa Rica's decision to commit to peace and my decision to move to a peaceful country have come full circle and proven that a life focused on the well-being of the people and the planet is the best recipe to living a long and happy life.