Life With the Windows Open
September 22, 2018
I was born in Texas in 1950. I didn’t live in a house with air conditioning until I was in High School. I honestly don’t know how we managed. The Texas Summers are brutal. I think the biggest change I’ve noticed since coming to Costa Rica is not the language or the culture, but the lack of air conditioning and heating. So far the temperature variation in a day is no more than 20° from 60-80° F. Most days, I expect a high of about 78 and a low at night of about 64. I understand that is pretty much constant all year long.
I’m only referring to the Central Valley, San Jose area. Costa Rica is a very small country (about the size of West Virginia), but it has 5 (I’ve also read 12) different micro-climates, so there are areas that are not as comfortable. I don’t know what the lifestyle of the wealthy is like, but it seems as though most homes and businesses live with the windows open.
I live in a condominium complex with 15 units around a central courtyard (pictured above, in fact, the large window you see is in my bedroom). One would think that it would be a cacophony of sound with all the windows open, but surprisingly, it is quiet most of the time. I seldom hear a TV, unless soccer finals of some sort are being played, then the whole country is tuned in. I average several miles a day of walking through neighborhoods and the city and there is something endearing about life inside of the buildings spilling over onto the sidewalk.
There is the house on the corner which often has the smell of marijuana drifting out of it. Some houses always have music playing, though not blaring. One afternoon, I passed the sounds of a mature man doing his warm-up vocal scales with piano. Who, why, all unanswered. In our complex, a month ago, several teenage girls were singing some interesting harmonies. The harmonies reminded me that Spain was once part of a Muslim empire and much of the culture can still be traced to that influence. One played the guitar and there were maybe 3 voices. They sang the same song over and over and then listened to themselves on a recording. I assumed they were practicing for some performance and as to be expected with teenage girls, the music was often interrupted by giggles and laughter. Someone nearby has guitar lessons each Thursday afternoon and when school started there was a new sound of occasional flute practice. A quarter of a mile away is a high school with a large soccer (naturally) field attached. Each weekday when there is no rain, I can hear the band practicing and marching around the field. Drum lines seem especially popular for soccer games, celebrations, and protests. Costa Rica is filled with the sounds of life and with the windows open we all get to share in it.