Jul 29 2009

Our Big Move – Part III

So much has happened since the last time we wrote! We are much more settled into our new lives in Costa Rica.  Five weeks ago we had no phone, no Internet, no car, and no TV.  All of that has changed.

Our cell phone & phone line finally came through, though we will only use it for calls within Costa Rica, but life is so much easier now that we are connected!  We also now have Internet service, and therefore we have phone service to the States through Vonage – it’s a local call for our friends and family in Baltimore.   Also, we used a car buying service here in Costa Rica.  They found us a great car, checked it out completely, did a little needed maintenance, and now we are the proud owners of a 1996 green Toyota 4 Runner in great shape.

We moved one week after our last update into a furnished little cabina in a beautiful setting.  We live in the central Valley at 4,000 ft. above sea level.  In the rainy season, mornings are sunny, clouds roll in and build throughout the day, and rain starts around 3:00 in the afternoon, usually ending by 7pm. We are at 10 degrees north latitude, so we are operating on the 13 hour day here.  There is no daylight savings time so by 6:30 pm, it’s dark.

We have a ceiling fan in our cabina which we keep on for air circulation, but we hardly need it for regulating temperature.  Highs are between 70 to 80 degrees F. and lows are between 60-65 degrees.  Naturally, we don’t need air conditioning or heat, saving us about $200 every month.  Our cabina (it’s like a small 2-bedroom cabin) rents for $600 per month and includes satellite TV (with many English language channels), high speed wireless Internet, furniture, and all utilities.  It also includes a central washer and dryer located at the rancho (a covered patio, which is a common area for all seven cabinas here) as well as weekly housekeeping and a full-time gardener.  With everything included, it’s very easy, plus the Rio Jesus bus stop is close by for a 15 minute bus ride into town (San Ramon).

The cabina is a great deal, and for most people provides a “temporary” place to live, although a few residents have lived here for several years.  Our cabin is the one deepest into the foliage.  It is really beautiful here.  We spend most of our time on our porch.  I (Gloria) telecommute to Towson University from our porch 20 hours a week, as I look out at the all of the green in front of me (see the image below) and listen to the many birds.  We eat our meals on the porch too, even when it rains (and it does almost every afternoon, now that the rainy season has begun).

One of the reasons we came to Costa Rica is to live a simpler life.  It’s funny, though we have so few of our possessions here, there is very little that we miss.  Once here, you realize how little you actually need to be happy.   Now that we have a car — and it’s great to “have wheels” again — we have realized that cars create walls in terms of meeting the locals, since some of our most memorable experiences have been riding the bus and talking with our Tico neighbors.

One example was the day that I (Paul) had yesterday.  I got up early around 5:30 a.m., showered, dressed, emailed, read A.M. Costa Rica and the Tico Times, and woke Gloria up at 7:30am so she could “be at work” on the computer by 8am.  However, what made my day so good was going into town on the bus with Gloria at 1:15pm.  We left the car here.  The bus costs 155 colones (about $.28) per person each way.  Everyone rides the bus, young and old, male and female, school kids and workers – you’d be amazed.  It’s common to see several generations of a family on the same bus.  It’s like Baltimore 70 years ago before everyone had a car and bus transportation was good, safe, and inexpensive.  Once in San Ramon, we went to the bank, the bakery, the cell phone store, dropped a book off at our friends’ and then went to the local “Walmart” to return a battery charger.  After that, we walked six blocks to a food store, shopped, and got the 4:55 pm bus home.  We were exhausted.  We got a lot done, exercised, and mixed with the locals…a truly magical day.  I guess it doesn’t take much to make me happy!

My (Gloria’s) magical days take place most Fridays.  First, it’s my day off work, so that in itself is good! But on Friday afternoons we ride into town with our little cart and canvas bags to the feria, the farmers’ market.  We are almost certain to run into several friends there.  But the best part is walking through the three tents overflowing with all kinds of fruits, vegetables, plants, flowers, fresh herbs, cheeses, meats, and seafood – some familiar, and some that look like they came from outer space!  I love the fact that we are buying really fresh foods – most of it is right off the local farms, though some things like apples and pears are imported.  The last thing we buy before our return trip home is a bunch of flowers.  The bouquet of Stargazer and Calla Lilies you see cost us a total of $6.00 U.S.D.

Life is sweet for both of us here in Costa Rica…

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