I know I’ve written a lot about the family history research that’s occupied me for twenty-five years or so, and that what compels me is not just learning the names and dates of great-great grandparents, but meeting the people who share the same ancestors but different histories. Jack and I have looked forward to meeting my fifth cousin Arturo’s family for a long time. We met Arturo first and spent a couple of long lunches getting to know him on his weekly work trips to Golfito, and the other day we got to meet a few more of the clan on a uniquely Costa Rican outing.
Costa Rica has high customs duty on most things and many people make it a practice to duck over the border to Panama to make big purchases and avoid some of the tariffs. To stem the revenue drain the government set up a free zone here in Golfito where Ticos and tourists can shop for imported goods once every six months up to a specific dollar value. You can’t just show up and shop though. Oh no. You have to go to the customs office and get a permit which isn’t effective until the next day. Apparently this is so people have to stay overnight in Golfito, infusing the tiny town with tourist dollars at hotels and restaurants.
Another cousin Douglas from Colorado is visiting Arturo and his family so the San Jose clan took this opportunity for a road trip to Golfito to combine visiting us with a little duty-free shopping. When they arrived on Tuesday we had a diver busy scraping EV’s bottom so Jack ferried everyone out to the boat where we all talked at once while the diver finished up.
Back ashore we piled into the car and went to the free zone to get our permits. This involved standing in line at the back end of the customs office where Jack and I checked in a month ago, handing over a passport or identity card, and getting an authorization.
That done, we drove to a local restaurant where we could watch USA lose to Belgium in the World Cup. Everyone dutifully cheered for our team, even though the success of the Costa Rican team has been one of the exciting surprises of the Cup.
Later on the deck of our marina we continued the gabfest and Arturo shared some photos and archives he brought for me to see.
Wednesday was shopping day. Roberto and Grettel bought a washing machine for her mother and a couple of cases of wine and scotch. Jack and I got permits but didn’t really need to buy anything here. If they’d had a marine store, I’m sure we’d have exhausted our spending limit. As it was, we just wandered from store to store, reveling in the first world abundance and variety of goods.
In the end Jack found some inexpensive reading glasses and picked up four pair to replace the ones he keeps losing overboard. We spent all of $4 but some people acquired quite a pile of goods.
Our duty-free permits are good until the end of the year; if we decide later we need a food processor or weed whacker we’re good to go.
Back to lunch we went. This family likes to eat so I know I’m related to them. We lingered for hours laughing, eating, making plans for next week in San Jose and for some touring later.
Arturo mined the dock and marina area for photographic subjects until the rest of the family got him back in the car and it was goodbye for now.
We truly feel a part of this clan. They are exactly like my branch of the family tree, loving, inclusive, welcoming. From the moment we met them we felt a part of them. At one point, Roberto said to us emphatically, “You. Are. Ours.”
I wish everyone could have a family as wonderful as this.