Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Those Crazy Germans

I discovered this photo biking into Pottsdam.  There are far less road signs in Costa Rica than in Germany, yet people are happier.  Could there be a connection?

Yesterday, a seven year old conversation resurfaced in my mind.

Back when I lived in Costa Rica, my buddy and budding business partner Frederick, were talking shop with Volker.  Volker was this blonde, long haired, blue eyed, German who was trying to do business in Costa Rica.   "Trying" being the operative word.  

Most of this particular conversation involved Voker venting about how inefficient, backwards, and ridiculously slow things worked in Costa Rica.  

Volker was seriously stressed out.  He was frustrated and basically pissed off with his attempts to interact with Costa Rican companies, pay his bills, get paid, find "reliable" employees, and even with the ordinary folks he met on the street.  "What I want is simple" he would say.  "I just wanted things to run smoothly and on time".  His yelling and cursing didn't seem to be helping.

He had a nice house and office.  He ate fresh fruits every day.  He went to the beach on the weekends.  Yet, he certainly had not discovered the "pura vida" or the "Tranquillo" that Costa Rica is famous for.

New to Costa I confided in Frederick, that maybe Volker had a point.  Maybe this impressive German was about this "third world" culture and country.  The country certainly wasn't the wealthiest and things seemed to run so unefficiently.

Frederick smiled.

"Russell there are more psychologists in downtown Berlin than all of Costa Rica.  Here in Costa Rica, people are happy, smilling all the time, and are enjoying life.  They stop working at 5 PM.  They spend time with their families.  They take things slowly and enjoy life.   When it comes down to it... is high technology, efficientcy, punctuality really that important?"

Today, here in Berlin, seven years later, I am realizing that Frederick wasn't just speaking metaphorically about the number of psychologists in Berlin.

 Its true!  They are all over.   I am meeting so many people who are on medical leave, medication, or seeing psychologists.  About half the people I meet actually seem to be in this situation.  Their work and the pace of life is literally making them sick.


Costa Rica should do some more tourism advertising here!

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