Here I don't live in the capital city. Wouldn't say I'm a Burb, but I don't live in the capital. Many of my acquintances do, and often their view of the place I live in is interesting, mostly colored with ideas of distances too long to travel, deserted roads, big buses and highways. I live in a peripherial town, that's still part of the Metropolitan area, but that houses no mayor Government powers. I'm not from the country, as my town isn't part of it, but it does have a flare, a something, like all the other 6 "Head of Province" cities, that makes us be more aware of our place of belonging.
For a country so little, you would be amazed at how different and particular each province can be. My town crowns the 4th province - out of 7 - and is known to be a conservative, peaceful place, whose daughters are the most beautiful women of the whole country, bursting with beautiful flowers and packed to the brin with pubs. Many may not have this much insight of this town, but will only know it as the City of the Flowers, where women are legendary beautiful. Well, we are. :-D
However, there's more to this town. Though criminality has spiked up quite badly in the last 5-10 years, the habitants still clutch to the traditions and habits of other times. There's no feeling of being among strangers, where men, even the younger ones, let women first on the bus or into stores, out of them, out of instinct. Black, short wavy heart, much in the style of traditional Pedro Fernández, with dress pants and pressed shirt. Like a colonial Latin city trapped in the glory of silverscreen epics.
There's a kind of old, traditional life, with the old crafters, the shoemakers, the coffee plantation owners and workers, the small farmers, taylors, artists, teachers, professors and so on. The galant, sober old men, the old ladies that leave the door of the house open and sit on their rocking chairs watching the TV, but more interested about who walks by on the street. The house of one of the finest president's this country ever had, son of this town (unlike another son that meant the biggest disgrace the country and the town ever suffered), the elderly, retired group of men who gather every afternoon at the main square, before the Parrish, to talk about politics, philosophy, the world, the weather, life. The town's band playing every Sunday morning and Wednesday evening.
More than a sense of safety, it leakes into the open soul a sense of pride and belonging I can't explain otherwise. It's your very tight, very own culture that nobody else with your same nationality, but from any other provice can't get. We are not as conservative and catholic as the Cartago residents are famous for, not was gay (not in the homosexual sense), cheerful, humble and resourceful as the residents of Alajuela. We are not as flavorful as the residents of Limón, nor as quite and hardworking as the residents of Guanacaste, or as party animals and laidback as the Puntarenas residents. We are calm, happy and drunk. We have our very own traditions, our little historic places, places that are not thought in schooltexts, but told from generation to generation, passing on one of the many versions of the same story.
Sipping on a coffee with my Capital City friends, watching them frown at my town and the distance one must make to get there, or simply talking about life, I find myself searching their faces, trying to find those things present in the faces of everybody else, that talk about these very provincial things. What do they have, these Capital City Kids, that would be only theirs? Can't seem to find it.
I turn to my town, my elders, all our friendly faces, our tendency to give every single direction by mentioning pubs, our pride for our ladies, our old fashioned courtesy, our saluting on the streets, our pensive artists, deep thinkers, and our knowledge of the old buildings, and try, for a moment I try to imagine life without these collective memory treasures. Live outside my cozy town seems so deserted.