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The Second Half-Century Club

Shambling through paradise headerI promise this entire article is not going to be a bummer, but—I have reached the age where the death of a contemporary no longer elicits a response of ”O my god, What happened?” No, it’s more like “What was it she had again’’? Or “Yeah, no great shock, last time I saw him he looked like garbage wrapped in skin”.

When I arrived in CR almost 30 years ago, the core of expats I first got to know were primarily 2nd half century club members. Not too long ago I ran into one on the street. Back in the day we called him “Memo Loco’’. His real name was William. I had not seen him in at least 20 years. My last recollection of him was a rainy Sunday morning at the San Clemente in Dominical. I was having breakfast when Memo Loco entered. He was in the middle of an extended coke and alcohol-fueled party. On a dare, in front of all the customers, he stood in the middle of the restaurant, tilted his head to one side and poured his beer into his ear.

He was now older, at least 70, walking with a cane. He happily showed me pictures of his much younger tica wife and the 2 children they were raising together. As I was back in San Isidro del General for the first time in many years I inquired of several mutual acquaintances:

Tommy the ex-jockey? “Died about 8 years ago”.
Bob the artist? “Dead—heart attack about a year ago”.
Rudy the retired admiral? His crazy alcoholic wife CeeCee? Our mutual drinking buddy Rick?

“Dead, Dead, Dead.”

That conversation was certainly a real picker-upper. I walked away from it, mumbling to myself… I hit the second half century a while back and now the hourglass is bottom heavy, the moon is waning, I am late in the 3rd quarter, the 4th quarter looms and I am hoping for overtime.

I know—it’s the circle of life and all that, but I prefer to not go gently into that good night, but to rage, rage against the dying of the light’.

Some people come to Costa Rica to live and some people come to Costa Rica to die. One of the advantages of living in country with little in the way of policing or authority figures is that one has the freedom to exist as one wants. With a little discretion, one can live his or her life as chosen. Costa Rica is a blank canvas on which you can paint your new life. Wherever you came from, whatever you dreamt of being, whatever you dabbled in or thought you might like to someday do, you can come to Costa Rica and wail with it. For better or for worse. Weekend joggers become marathoners. Hodads find themselves actually in the water, on a board, surfing. And on the flip side weekend drinkers become daily drunks, and aging perverts gulp viagra and pursue women young enough to be their granddaughters. The only real limits are self-imposed.

This freedom, this near-anarchic state of affairs, is as good a reason as any to explain why I plan to live in Costa Rica until I die. In my earlier years I embraced the freedom to pollute myself as I chose. With age and wisdom I now embrace the healthy lifestyle alternatives.

Longevity experts speak of areas called “Blue Zones”. These are areas where living to 100 years or more (the 3rd half-century) are not uncommon. Good diet, exercise, family, and having a positive support system are characteristics of the people inhabiting Blue Zones. Here in Costa Rica, the Nicoya Peninsula has been identified as a Blue Zone. I would argue that one can create their own Blue Zone anywhere in Costa Rica. All of the essential ingredients are here. It all comes down to lifestyle choice—are you here to live or are you here to die?

Everyone has their own way of handling aging and the inevitable end of the road on this earth. When I turned fifty, I decided that for each subsequent birthday, I would count backward. So I am about to hit my forties again, feeling great, and truly look forward to reaching my 80s so I can be the hell-raising teenager I never was. And if all goes as hoped, when I hit 100 I will leave this earth as I first entered it, with an orgasm.

One Response to “The Second Half-Century Club”

  1. Wendy Haverty said:

    And you will be coming and going at the same time……