If some official U.S. body were to devise standards for being a true, red-blooded American, one that would surely make the cut would be a minimum of eight hours of TV-watching per week, preferably on commercial channels. On second thought, eight hours may be far too little. So just think that my wife and I went three weeks without a single minute of TV, and we’re both bona-fide U.S. citizens. How could such a thing be possible? Well, to start with, we just spent three weeks in Central America, specifically on vacation in Costa Rica. And in the interest of full disclosure, even back home our addiction to the tube is rather minor—the opening 20 minutes of the PBS Newshour most evenings and the latest Netflix series that’s been recommended to us, currently “Virgin River”: a soap opera to be sure, but one with high-quality writing, attractive lead characters, and lovely scenery. That gets 53 minutes of our time most nights...
Actually, lots of local restaurants in Costa Rica seem mini-sports bars, with multiple suspended TVs offering soccer matches, either between Costa Rican teams or international meetups. Other than acknowledging that the world’s “futbol” really does, unlike ours, make frequent use of feet, we hardly look at the screen. Happily, the sound is turned off or at least way down. So we were able to eat one delicious meal after another in peace.
As it happened, we had flat-screened TVs in all three rooms where we stayed. But with new friends to meet and the beach calling during the second half of our time in country, we never touched the remote except to put it out of sight. It turned out that we didn’t have the remotest desire to look at la television. Given how little we tube-watched back home, we had no problem with withdrawal. We much preferred going tubing on the San Carlos River or spending time looking at or videoing howler or other types of monkeys chasing each other in the trees or watching a sloth slowly, paw over paw, make its way along 60 yards of elevated electric cable. Our memories of that wonderful Disney film, Zootopia, came back to us—specifically the scene where the clerks in the automobile-licensing agency are all sloths (they are called perezosos, “lazy ones,” in Costa Rican Spanish) who … talk … like … this. Officer Hops, a bunny and the first female officer on the Zootopia police force, is in a hurry to track down the owner of a car that was just driven off by the villain. You .. can … imagine … how …. frustrated … she … becomes … with … the … agent … who’s … helping … her … at … glacial … speed when warp speed is what’s called for!
As I write these words, Cedar and I have been home in good-old Boulder for ten days. So please don’t tell the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service that we’ve hardly turned our big-screen TV on since returning or we may be back in Costa Rica for good!