I am often told “You are living THE life”; referring to our move to Costa Rica, or maybe as a reaction to the joyful expression people recognize on my face. For people that I meet on the streets of Tamarindo, maybe it’s because they are relaxed and finding physical environment so appealing – the weather, the tropical flora and fauna, the animal sounds that they hear, the sweeping sandy beach. I have to chuckle to myself. I am still working and have responsibilities to my family, just like most of these people do. I’ve just made a choice for change in my life, and had the courage to try a path different than what I’d known and found limiting. And why not? My wife and I are both healthy, relatively young, with the vigor and excitement for a new adventure, at a point of life where our children are out of the house and independent living in different cities in the USA. We had nothing to lose in trying something alternative. We could always go back if it didn’t work…nothing was really changing “at home”. And who knows what circumstances or roadblocks may present in coming years to prevent even the possibility of pursuing this different path, excuses we could use to fall back on - by sentiment or necessity.
In retrospect, our move to Costa Rica has exceeded all expectations and proved to be one of the best things we’ve done individually and as a couple. Best of all, we won’t have that feeling of regret; could have/ should have.
Yes, things are different here. And that’s ok. There are challenges and situations in every corner of the world. In Costa Rica, some things are more expensive, like petrol and processed foods. Some things are difficult to come by, or are challenging to source. The rhythm of life is slower, and from a comparative perspective one needs to be patient in many cases. Yet that comes naturally in this environment. With the slower pace comes a deeper appreciation for our environs and everything happening around us. We have time to recognize and socialize with people, even strangers on the street. It’s so easy to take time out daily for little things that are enriching. We find that the Pura Vida lifestyle enables people to be more honest with themselves, and consequently with others. Topics that are clearly not ‘correct’ to discuss in other parts of the world are easily expressed in this environment, which clears the air for more wholesome and natural relationships. Priorities and values are quite different in this setting. We find that we and those around us are able to live much simpler, without all the “stuff” that had cluttered our lives earlier. By choice! People are unselfishly interested in our well-being, as we of theirs; and always willing to lend a hand or provide a lesson unconditionally. Enjoying the life together. It’s expressed on the smiles of faces, the laughter. Sure, there’s a sometimes a sense seeking gratuity or compensation; and the assistance is still offered from a perspective of “people helping people”. People are happy and friendly. Isn’t that the way life should be?
We find the food and dining experiences much healthier than that which we had known. Many more fresh fruits and vegetables in our diet. The meats, poultry, and fish fresher and with less known preservatives. Food preparation is simpler, yet tastes delicious. The food of North America is still available to us, though generally priced high to guide us to make smarter local choices. We find that the portion sizes of what we eat in line with what we should be eating.
What I miss:
- The longer periods of daylight during summer months. Being closer to the equator, the sun comes up and goes down around the same time year-round.
- Many of my friends. And they are always welcome to come visit us too. With technology, people are a simple phone call or video chat away.
- The ability to fully understand the language in which I’m immersed. That’s coming along, and it can be frustrating at times.
What I don’t miss:
- The insecurity that I might get assaulted or become a victim of crime. (I really didn’t go around worrying, though it sure is disturbing hearing the news from North America. I often wonder if the culture “back home” has become too complacent with daily reports of crimes, shootings, and mass murders). For the most part, weapons are not part of our vocabulary here.
- The Go-Go madness that we left, with expectations and agendas. The sense of not having “time” to associate with friends and people I meet.
- The constant din of freeways and traffic. For me, the biggest uncontrollable ‘noise’ is the barking howl of the monkeys, the loud hollers of tropical birds, the thunder of a tropical rainstorm.
We are LIVING LIFE, and yes in tropical paradise! Why not? Gotta live somewhere! I realize this almost sounds too good to be true, and in many respects it is. Just one individual’s perspective. Every day is a new adventure.