John Quam Editor in Chief Howler Magazine Costa Rica

I have been contemplating many possible topics to write about. So many aspects of living in “paradise” have inspired past Howler editorials, from travel and adventure to getting screwed over by unscrupulous people lurking to take advantage of our trust. Even after covering the latter subject quite a few times already, I seem to come up with more new examples every month that should be brought to light. Living in a beautiful place like Costa Rica comes with certain risks to our well-being. Many of us have had the experience of letting our guard down and someone finds a loophole for preying on our vulnerabilities. Loopholes that can catch us unaware include a company that changes names to appear new or different but is actually run by the same people. This is commonly referred to as putting lipstick on a pig.

After reflecting on this not-so-nice side of Costa Rica, I think the best way to deal with these types of predators is to let them fail and fall away while we focus instead on just enjoying the beauty.

We are blessed here to have groups of kind, caring and generous people to surround ourselves with. I have been so fortunate to know such wonderful people firsthand and experience the outcome of their good works. These are the kind of people who, without being asked, come to the rescue of others in need, which, of course, includes animals.

In October, the devastation caused by flood waters and fallen trees during Tropical Storm Nate left many people homeless. Entire neighborhoods were impacted. Our community, joined by committees throughout the country, came together to help. In a Howler editorial, I wrote about a guy from Sarapiquí who took it upon himself to collect donations of food, clothing and dog food, then drove for many hours to deliver it to those needing help. He did not have to do this, and in fact, it cost him his job and financial hardship. But instead of focusing on his own needs, he sought to help others. People in our local area coordinated deliveries throughout the hardest-hit communities and helped. This is what pura vida is all about. It’s not just about our own lives; it’s about how we can make a difference to those around us.

Barbara is a wonderful lady who has lived here for many years and devoted immeasurable amounts of time and energy to helping animals, including spay and neuter clinics. She is selfless and never refuses to help. All too often, people dump animals at Barbara’s doorstep with no donation to help care for them. She never turns any away. I have personally seen animals left starving and on the verge of death nurtured back to health with Barbara’s love and care. She cares for the tiniest and most helpless creatures, knowing they would otherwise die. Barbara does without at times, because she puts the vital needs of these creatures before her own. This is pura vida.
This is also the perfect time for you to come out and meet Barbara yourself while having a great time for a great cause. Please join us on Sunday, March 18, 5 to 8 p.m. at the annual Dog Day Afternoon fundraiser for Barbara’s Animal Rescue Centre. This year’s event, at Lucy’s Retired Surfers Bar and Restaurant (formerly Tiki’s) in Brasilito, features a large silent auction, 50/50 draw, raffle prizes and more. All proceeds go to Barbara’s Animal Rescue Centre for the care of rescued dogs, cats and other animals in need. Donations are accepted with gratitude.

Barbara’s Animal Rescue Center is located near the BCR bank in Flamingo. Stop in anytime to visit and contribute to the cause she has made her life’s work.

It’s people like Barbara, and the other heroes I’ve mentioned here, who can help us stop thinking about those who affect our lives negatively. They make it easier to focus on what really matters. This is pura vida.