Community mentality is an increasingly rare phenomenon in the UK. When was the last time you went to an amateur performance in your local village hall? When did you last attend a local fete, or a bake sale, or a parish council meeting? What even is a ‘parish council meeting’?
Yet, in Puerto Jimenez, vestiges of this community spirit remain. With a population of about 2000, Jimenez sits somewhere between large village and small town, but the community is as close-knit as any. We’ve got bad stereotypes of small-town life in England, especially if we take cues from J. K. Rowling’s micro-politics in A Casual Vacancy, or the mind-numbing boredom of The Archers, or the absurd homicide rate of the little town of Midsomer. Jimenez, you’ll be happy to hear, is like none of these.
Jimenez is a close but open community, Ticos and Gringos mix with fluidity, and all are remarkably welcoming to newcomers. You’ll get to know many familiar faces, starting with Madis (our friendly landlady) and her family, and extending to the staff of the school, the children, and their parents. But perhaps you’ll also get to know the ever-smiling staff of our favourite smoothie shop Cosechas, or the snooker/pool sharks who hang around the excellent food and watering hole Marisqueria. It’s really up to you: your preferences, your interests, your willingness to seek out the hidden gems of Jimenez
There are so many opportunities in Jimenez to immerse yourself in local culture, which still proudly thrives alongside the blossoming eco-tourism industry. The polar opposite to the uber-touristic areas like Guanacaste, the essence of Costa Rica thrives in this quiet town. It’s a perfect chance to sample a taste of the ‘pura vida’ of Costa Rica, to go home not only with a TEFL certificate and some great memories, but a real sense that you’ve integrated with the local environment.
You may do something as grand as helping to organise a fundraiser, or event, or it might be as simple as going to your favourite restaurant and asking for ‘the usual’; the community atmosphere here is infectious, and it’s sure to rub off.
By George Shankar, Field Communications Officer
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