Have you heard the story about the gringo and the fisherman? I’ve seen several versions, now that I Googled it.
But it’s an interesting story, that I heard back in the ’80s. It shows the mindset of the average gringo and the mindset of the average Tico. Understanding both, is a fantastic assistance to anyone trying to adjust to a new culture.
Let me tell you about it!
I was curious if I could find the original writer of this story on Google. I found a certain Mark Albion who claims to have written the story that he calls “The businessman and the fisherman” in 1999. His story is a North American version to the tropical version that I heard in the ’80s.
I also found a reference to a short story written by Heinrich Böll in 1963 with the title “Anecdote concerning the Lowering of Productivity”. Heinrich Böll, I’m sure, has never been on a beach in Costa Rica. But he definitely understood the tropics. Just like George Orwell knew in 1949 how the world would look like after 1984. I’d like to share this great story with you and give you another reason to move to Costa Rica soon.
A gringo who recently retired in Costa Rica enjoys a stroll on a beautiful beach on the Central Pacific coast before breakfast. There, he sees a sad-looking fishing boat sitting in the sand. The gringo walks up to the boat to see what that is all about. And there is this Tico fisherman in a hammock under a palm tree in the shade, having a smoke.
The Relaxed Tico
The gringo, still with very little Spanish under his hat, asks the fisherman in broken Spanish if he owns that sorry-looking boat. The man nods, totally relaxed. Then, the gringo asks why the man is not out fishing, trying to make more money?
The fisherman replies that he already had enough for the day. He can afford his smoke and enough for food and some Aguilas (beers) in the local cantina (bar) later that day.
The gringo, used to work hard all his life and to reinvest in his business, sees an opportunity to explain to the fisherman what he is doing wrong and how he should change his life:
- Get up early morning every day, and fish all day.
- Invest the proceeds in a much nicer and faster boat
- And even buy, why not, an outboard motor.
Once you have reached that goal, on to the next goal:
- a larger boat,
- employees and why not,
- a whole fleet of fishing boats.
Man, you could even start your own cannery and export to the US.
The fisherman looks at the man like he is from a different planet, says only two words: “what for?”
“Well”, said the gringo, “so you can retire and sit on the beach, enjoy life, go to the cantina early and do what you want with your time”.
This little story can be told many different ways but it helped me understand the mindset of someone who is born and raised in the tropics. It helped me understand why the locals have so much more patience than I do. And, why they don’t worry too much about tomorrow.
Who lives the right way, the gringo or the fisherman? If you want to be as happy as the fisherman, this guide might also help you a bit.
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