Most Retirees Never Feel Lonely
Asked if they ever experienced loneliness, the Rorstads replied: "We were not lonely. There were times when we pined for loneliness. People here make friends at a pace that takes your breath away. One of the broader observations of Costa Rica is the very rapid rate of change. There is almost nothing that is available in the US that cannot be found in Costa Rica. That is not necessarily a positive comment, but it is a reality. There is not a real limit to activities. There is more than anyone really needs." Their advice to arriving retirees to Costa Rica is "be open-minded, flexible, and inquisitive. If that is difficult, go home."
Kalervo Oberg, an anthropologist who worked for the US Agency for International Development in Brazil, (I too worked for it in Costa Rica), says that no matter how broadminded or full of good-will you may be, a series of props have been knocked out from under you, followed by a feeling of frustration and anxiety. He further says that in culture shock people react to the frustration in much the same way. First, they reject the environment which causes the discomfort: "things at home were always better."
There is regression in their minds. The home environment assumes an enormous importance. To an American everything American becomes glorified. All the difficulties and problems are forgotten and only the good things back hone are remembered. It usually takes a trip home to bring one back to reality.
Oberg points out that nostalgia is one of the two components of culture shock. The other is idealization of the home country and a belief that they have made a wrong decision in moving because they feel insecure physically and socially. Many of those who at first complained about their new country which is now Costa Rica, eventually decided they would never go back home again.
An example is Charley and Betty Lewis both in their early 80s. Their first contact with Costa Rica was when they arrived in their sailboat which they anchored off Playas del Coco on the Pacific. There they stayed three months, always taking short trips by bus inland to get to know the country. From Coco they proceeded south along the coast and anchored first at the Estuary of Puntarenas, remaining there for two months and later going still further south to Golfito for a few other months from where they also took other exploratory trips inland. All along they liked what they saw.