Today, April 1, 2010, is a big day for us. One year ago today we moved to Costa Rica full time. The year has gone by quickly, and has been so full of marvelous surprises. We have met many wonderful people – both Expats and Ticos (Costa Ricans) – and count many of them among our dear friends. We have explored different parts of this beautiful country, including Lake Arenal, Esterillos Este on the Pacific Coast,
Tortuguera on the Caribbean coast, the Peace Lodge at La Paz Waterfall Gardens, and Zarcero (to visit some new Tico friends), just to name a few. We spent a cultural weekend in San Jose and discovered that it, too, has much to offer.
We have thoroughly enjoyed “living outside.” Today is sunny, about 82 degrees, and a little breezy…just perfect for us. We spend a lot of time on our porch. It overlooks the green all around us and is a private get-away just outside our front door. Almost every evening (totaling over 200 nights over this last year) we have dinner by candlelight on our porch, with some Jazz music floating out from the cabina. Sometimes we have guests, sometimes it’s just us, but there’s always candlelight and music.
We have become legal residents of Costa Rica, and have joined (and made use of) the national health care system. There is an incredible freedom knowing that you have affordable health care coverage and that you don’t have to fear losing everything if you get sick. We have a doctor and a dentist, both who speak English, and an Urologist and Gynecologist (who only speak Spanish but we manage to communicate). And living in the culture helps a lot when you are trying to learn the language – for us, it makes it fun.
Our home has been full of kitties this last year. We lost our dear Cleo early on, but a few months later adopted Rica and Tori. Now, Rica is gone, but about 10 days ago a little kitten showed up on our doorstep and adopted us. Each of these little animals has brought something special into our lives in her own unique way.
We have discovered the joys of renting and having a caring and responsible property manager to call if and when there is a problem. We have missed out on the painful process of buying land and building a house, with all of the decisions and the worries about quality of construction. Security is a big concern here in Costa Rica, with Gringos sometimes targeted because we’re all “rich.” We have less to worry about when we leave for the evening or even several days, because someone is here on the property 24/7.
We have also found that we like living simply, not that we were ever what I would call “conspicuous consumers.” Most of our belongings are in storage back in Baltimore, but to be honest, we really don’t miss anything. My china and crystal may be packed away in a crate, but we’re getting along just fine with what we have. And granted, we have Sky TV, high-speed Internet, our computer, and our car, but we still live pretty simply. What does that mean exactly? Paul is working on a blog post on just that topic, so stay tuned.
One of the reasons that we have decided to stay in San Ramon, instead of living for a few months in different parts of the country, is the sense of community we have found here. Perhaps that is the best surprise of all. We have made more friends here, in one year, than we have in the U.S. It’s partly because we all share this Expat experience. We all packed up our lives in the States and moved to a foreign country. We left behind the familiar and found ourselves living in another culture, with different values, a different language, and different ideas about how to do things. But we have been welcomed by the Ticos we have met and, as a people, find them friendly and warm, always willing to stop and help or answer your questions.
People often ask what we do all day here in Costa Rica, especially as my telecommuting job is coming to an end. We lie in the hammock and read, we write for our website, study Spanish, play with our cats and watch TV. I cook and bake and Paul does the dishes and the laundry. We have friends to our house for dinner and have dinner at their houses. We go to the beach for the day and feed the monkeys in the trees. We go into town to run errands which can sometimes take all day. Every Friday we go to the Feria – the farmers’ market – and buy fresh fruit, vegetables, ham, chicken, and flowers. We visit friends in other parts of the country and take weekend trips to explore some place we’ve haven’t been. We play dominoes and Skip-Bo, sometimes alone and sometimes with friends. We talk to each other. We do other things with each other.
We sit on our porch, watching the hummingbirds at our feeders and the blue morpho butterflies floating by. We walk through the parque central and people-watch. We take a bus into San Jose to see a play and go to a nice restaurant.
All in all, we live life and we do it leisurely. Some days, we even look at each other and have to ask what day of the week it is. Are we bored?? Heck no! Are we happy and fulfilled? You better believe it! Don’t we ever want to come home? We ARE home, right here in our little cabina in Costa Rica.
Moving here was the best decision we’ve ever made.