Expatriates who’ve felt without a say in this country may now blow off steam, seek consensus or share their secrets on the new Web forum, The Voice of the Expats in Costa Rica, www.VoiceExpatCR.org.
Would you like to tell a certain Costa Rican ministry a thing or two? Do you know how to find a good lawyer? Do you feel lost in some bureaucratic puddle, want to discuss the benefits of industrial hemp or think your association was misrepresented in the Costa Rican media?
The Voice of the Expats in Costa Rica hosts online discussions on “immigration, real estate, health care, investments, taxation, politics, business, law and lawyers,” according to its Web site.
Off-limits are dancing, veterinary care and auto parts.
“This is a place where you can speak up, be heard, and, if you feel some reprisals may come of it, you can do it anonymously,” said co-founder Bob Nahrgang.
Nahrgang and fellow editor Sam Butler, both from the United States, receive letters to The Voice, filter them for defamatory content, and post them by topic on the Web page. If a mass of expatriates would express similar concerns or joys about a certain issue – “we could send an e-mail or communiqué to the Ministerio de whatever saying that Voice of the Expats has gotten these comments,” Nahrgang said.
Expatriates in Costa Rica often live with the “pent-up frustration of wanting to voice their opinion,” the Web site states, emphasizing that foreigners contribute much to the national economy but are largely without representation.
Nahrgang, who grew up on a potato farm in south Alabama, has built his experience as an expat since he came here on “winds of fate” in 1964, he said. He and his wife have two binational children and three grandchildren.
Three weeks into an updated Web site, The Voice is waiting hopefully to become more than a “small spark in cyberspace,” Nahrgang said.
Other Web sites with pages on Costa Rica for English-speaking expatriates include www.talesmag.com, www.expatfocus.com and www.alloexpat.com.
The Voice of the Expats in Costa Rica, which is so far without advertising, has links to other, more social Web forums, such as “Costa Rica Living,” “Costa Rica Young Expats” and “Craig’s List.”