My body seems completely unable to regulate temperature. I am always cold unless I'm in bed. I blame this on my anemic blood, on the chemo that fried my thyroid, on the radiation that messed up other temperature-control glands, and on the deep winter freeze we've been shivering through along with most of the country. Then there's my inability to gain weight. A nice layer of fat would be so cozy now.
I read an Op-Ed column last week in The New York Times about how Costa Rica is a country of happy campers, among the happiest people in the world. The author suggests a number of reasons why this might be true: abolishing the army to spend money on education and healthcare; a lush environment that provides endless opportunity for recreation and relaxation; a culture that values family and friends over financial concerns. I personally think he left out an important element in his explanation of why Costa Ricans rank so high on the happiness index--the wonderful tropical climate.
I lived in Costa Rica for six years, and it is the climate I miss most. We lived in the Central Valley where it was temperate year-round: 75-80 by day; 60-65 by night. No need for heat; no need for air-conditioning. During the dry season, one perfect day flowed into the next. During the rainy season, the mornings were glorious, the afternoon rains a pleasant contrast to all that perfection. The cooling rains ate the dust that gathered everywhere, making everything unbearably green and alive.
So yes, good education, cultural values, and some of the most spectacular scenery on Earth make the Costa Rican people happier than most. But don't discount the fine weather. I think of the country's soothing sun and refreshing breezes and think, what am I doing freezing my beak off in the Northeast?
If I were allowed to fly, I'd head straight for Costa Rica. I would walk in the fresh mountain air and swim in the warm ocean beaches. And if I still had problems regulating body temperature, I'd crawl on a nice flat rock and heat myself from both sides, just like the iguanas do.