It’s been over a month since you’ve heard from us. That’s so not normal! But we’ve had a lot going on.
Last newsletter we told you all about our month-long trip to Mexico and our, therefore, low October spending in Costa Rica. We made up for that in November and December as we prepared to move to our new digs in downtown San Ramón de Alajuela, Costa Rica. But more about that in our cost of living article below.
After eight years of living in the country, we decided to try on city living for a while. While we were in Mexico, we got word that the apartment we’d had our eye on for over a year was going to become available. The one hitch is that the apartment was completely unfurnished. We would, for the first time, need to buy furniture, appliances, and all the little things needed to equip a new home. One of the great things about the new apartment is that it has lots of built-in storage, including a great walk-in closet in the master bedroom. And take a look at the beautiful hardwood floors:
December was spent shopping and spending money, trying to find just the right appliances and furniture, but doing it the “retire for less way!”
And then there was the packing. It’s amazing how much stuff we accumulated in the eight years we’ve been living in Costa Rica. Even though we only had a few small pieces of furniture — rocking chairs, a computer desk, and office chair — we had lots of boxes. As we packed boxes, we’d put them in the car and Paul would take them to the garage at our new apartment. On New Year’s Day, with two friends to help us, we moved everything from the 1st floor garage into our apartment on the 2nd and 3rd floors.
Now, three weeks later, we’ve unpacked all but two or three boxes and are getting settled. We have a functional kitchen and laundry rooms, a comfortable master bedroom and even a fully outfitted guest room. We are still shopping for some furniture, though — mainly living room furniture and a table and chairs for our dining room.
One of the biggest hurdles for us was getting our two cats acclimated to their new home, especially with workmen coming in and out and all of the new, unfamiliar sounds. For the first few days, they both stayed in hiding. They didn’t eat and barely drank. On the fourth day, Tori started eating, drinking, and using the litter box, little Laura was still MIA. I got worried since I hadn’t seen her since early in the morning. Then, late in the day, we heard some scratching. Turns out Laura spent the day behind a drawer that was partially pulled out. When she finally tried to get out, she couldn’t. We pulled the drawer out and she popped out! She ate a bit and seemed fine. As each day went on, they both seemed less afraid and got more into a normal routine.
A normal routine is good, not just for our kitties but for us as well. We’ve had a busy January with giving tours and doing some planning with clients for future tours. I’ve gotten back into preparing home-cooked meals every night instead of all the eating out we did the week before and after our move. And we’re figuring out where we’ve put things in the many cabinets and closets we now have, so it’s not taking us quite as long to get things done. Little by little, we’re getting settled.
In the midst of the move to our new apartment, a friend asked me on Facebook, “Does it feel like home yet?” “No,” I said, “no, it doesn’t.” It’s so totally different, living in an apartment in town. I knew it would LOOK different, without all the green around us, and views of the sunset and mountains. But I didn’t realize how different the SOUNDS would be. I found I missed all the jungle sounds. I missed being able to lay on our hammock after dark and listen to the night-time insects and birds, to the river flowing below, and to the silence. I missed the peace and tranquility.
Living in town, the sounds are so different. It’s noisier than we expected, mostly because of all the motorcycles riding through without mufflers. I think Ticos believe it’s macho to make a lot of noise — the more noise their motorcycles make, the manlier they are. And then there are the other noises — shopkeepers opening and closing the pull-down gates on their stores, buses driving by, people walking with their children, talking and laughing, neighborhood dogs and sometimes cats, the occasional ambulance heading to the hospital emergency room down the street. But when I listened carefully, I also heard birds singing, the rooster who crows every morning, and the breezes blowing, and sometimes, a few drops of rain falling onto our roof. All my old friends, these sounds. But even better, I also hear the sound of Paul’s voice speaking to me from the other room. I hear the sounds of our cats, rustling in their closet hiding places or letting us know they are ready to be fed. Some sounds are constant, and for that, I am grateful.
There are some wonderful benefits to living in town that we didn’t have living in the country. Here, I can walk out the house to the corner store to pick up some last-minute things for dinner. We can walk to the park and watch the children play, to a concert at the Jose Figueres Cultural Center, or to a street fair. We can take advantage of easier meet-ups with friends. And when Paul is gone all day on a tour, I am free to explore the town and walk or take a cab or bus wherever I want to go.
It’s a different life, for sure. Paul is totally loving it, and it’s growing on me. Soon, I predict, it WILL feel like home.