Lexington is cold: 28°. There is frost on the ground and clouds when you talk. It’s been a long time since we’ve been in this kind of cold. Fortunately, we got to work our way down to the Lexington freeze. When we left Costa Rica, the temperature was about 70°. Dallas-Ft. Worth was 50°. Hearing the words "fifty degrees" over the loudspeaker was shocking enough… fortunately, we didn’t have to go outside in Texas.
The Dallas-Ft. Worth airport puts the huge in humongous. Our landing runway was so far from the terminal, it took 20 minutes taxi-ing at a good clip to get over there. And the runway goes over a freeway… It’s a Big Airport. Once inside the terminal, you have to take a monorail between gates. A monorail! Big fancy two-car trains that come around every 5 minutes going in both directions.
And it’s a rich airport: big jewelry stores, countless restaurants, big-ticket shopping, high glass ceilings with fancy lights, huge sculptures… Actually, the whole place looks brand new. Like Dallas-Ft. Worth wants to impress people with it’s ability to keep up with the Jones’. It worked on us!
Here’s the most impressive experience: Ryan left his backpack with his laptop inside it on the monorail. Coming from Costa Rica, this is not good news. In Costa Rica, you would never see that backpack again, end of story.
Ever hopeful, we ran to the nearest official-looking person and asked about the backpack. She called it in to security without hesitation. Not ten minutes later, it was announced over the airport loudspeaker for "the person who left the backpack on the monorail" to "please pick it up at the Gate D station."
We’ve been in Costa Rica long enough that we found this remarkable. Not only that, while we were on our way to the station, it was announced over the loudspeaker for "the person who left the Blackberry in the women’s restroom in terminal D" to proceed somewhere to pick it up. Amazing! We looked at each other open-mouthed, big silly grins on our faces. Whoa. Right. America.
We are equally amazed at our amazement. Have we become jaded? Or just realistic? I’ve always believed U.S. citizens are mostly honest when it comes to Stuff. Particularly at a rich airport. You have to have money to fly these days. And everyone here has a laptop. And a Blackberry or some equally fancy phone. U.S. citizens aren’t so desperate they will bother to steal your basic equipment. I don’t know what would happen with a Rolex or a diamond bracelet. Or an iPod.
But the poorest people in the U.S. don’t come close to the poorest people in Costa Rica. Not on the same planet.
We’ve been in Lexington almost a week and everyone asks what it is about Costa Rica we love so much we want to continue living there. Why are we so anxious to return? The general answer is that our quality of life is so much better there. But we don’t really have a specific answer. Part of the reason is that, unless you’ve been in a developing nation, you can’t relate to the quality of life thing. How do you explain relief from the pervasive fear in the U.S. if you haven’t acknowledged it exists?
We didn’t know how much we would love living outside the U.S. until we did. It’s not explainable. Especially when, whatever it is, we are willing to trade living behind bars and keeping our eyes on our stuff to have it. I have to say, though, everyone is curious. And everyone, so far, wants to visit.