I believe that I have the best of both worlds here in Costa Rica. Last week we decided we would take a day and spend it at the beach this week. Low and behold got a call from the teacher saying there would be no school today or tomorrow. How is that for service? I am still waiting for baby to give the words, "I don't want to go to school anymore."
I read with interest the story about the woman in NY who let her 9 yr.ride the subway by himself. I could not really see what all the hubaloo was about. When we moved to Costa Rica we walked all over the dang country. My daughter was 13 and would walk about a mile or two on her own to school. My son was 16 and took a bus ride cross country to meet up with some friends who were spending time at the beach for spring break.
Sometimes I think I am just too trusting. But then I look and realize that I am really just not afraid. My kids have for the most part faced some pretty scary situations and come out pretty tough for it. They have learned Spanish and could wander all over Central and South America if they so chose to. A couple have been to Hondurus and one lives there now with her family.
The realities are they are as safe here as anywhere if they keep their heads on and their eyes open. Like I have told the story before of my 21 yr old who got his cell phone taken at gunpoint. He had too much to drink and was not in the right place at the right time. There are rules to teach you kids if you are going to set them lose on the streets.
We took a family with us to Nicaragua one time to show them how to do a border crossing. It was the only time we have ever had any problems and they were all because this family was so dang gringo! Now I am gringo, blue eyed, blond dreaded gringo all the way. But they had a ton of luggage, number one nono, and they were dressed in their traveling best, number two nono, and they had really expensive backpacks number three nono.
To say we stuck out like walking targets is an understatement. The guy swore he got pickpocketed, he did get ripped off by the guys changing money, and they got stopped by the border cops. This was just on the way in! We were just shaking our heads in awe. I had told them before we went, travel light, wear less expensive clothing, and take dollars not colones. They did not listen to one word I said and they paid the price.
Not that I know it all or anything. Let's just say I have done that crossing a whole lot of times! Now my 16 yr. old it talking about a bus trip to Hondurus. 15 hours on the bus, three border crossings and a pretty crazy neighborhood there. Will I let her go? Heck yeah she will have a blast! I am hoping she can get her friend to go with her, but if not I will put her on the bus, her sister will meet her at the other end. And in between? Good thing she speaks good Spanish. My son did the trip without any Spanish and he did great.
He did get pickpocketed at one of the border crossings. Again bad choice. He wandered off from the bus to have a smoke and a bum asked him for a cigarette. He handed him one and the few limpuras he had left from Hondurus. A couple of minutes later he was standing there and a whole group of people brushed past him. He immediately went for his pocket only to discover his border crossing money was gone.
Turning to the crowd he yelled some profanity and told them to give him his money back.The bum who he had just helped out came over, walked up to this chick put his hand out and she handed him my sons money! Now that was street smarts there. Making friends never hurts.