First Five Months in Costa Rica - Expat Living
As I sit here and watch and listen to the green parrots, black birds and white throated magpie jays amongst many other different types of birds communicating while wood peckers peck away at the trees and howler monkeys howl in the distance, overlooking the Pacific Ocean from my back patio, I realize how fortunate I am that we were able to make our dreams become reality. For the past five months we have made Costa Rica our home. The past five months has been the best time of my life. The days have gone by fast, the weeks and months even faster. Getting to experience my kids day in and day out firsthand, putting them in new and different situations has been one incredible moment after another. They have made a countless number of new friends, some which don’t even speak their same language. They see things that I didn’t get the opportunity to see until my thirties.
Every day is new and fun. Every day we all take away something new, whether it be learning a word in Spanish, a food we have never seen or heard of before or a sea creature we get to see in person vs. in a text book or magazine. I don’t know if Costa Rica is for everyone but it has been for us, for now anyways. We love Costa Rica and the people that live in it. Their smiling faces are infectious and their kindness is contagious.
The very first question asked when we mention that we live in Costa Rica, is what do the kids do as far as schooling. We took the kids out of public school last year and I could not tell you what a great decision that was. We put them in an online school through Houston. That was not an easy program to learn, but once we had it down after the first couple of weeks, we breezed through the subjects. If we could do it, I think anyone could do it. I never saw myself teaching my kids. I never thought I had the patience. The whole aspect of homeschool was always kinda frowned upon not having them be in after-school programs or sports or making new friends to play with. Personally, I always felt they would be kept away from the rest of the world, in a way, hidden from others. I could not tell you how completely wrong I was nor what I was thinking for that to even cross my mind for so many years.
Everyone is unique, everyone is different. From public school, Montessori school, homeschool to world school. This world is full of options, why not take advantage of them? In my opinion, my two kids have learned so much more than they could ever learn while sitting at a desk in front of a class of twenty-something kids learning at the pace of the curriculum. In no way am I trying to down anyone teaching nor attending school. My kids were A-B Honor Roll students with great attendance while attending public school and loved their teachers and friends, recess, lunch and everything in-between. They were in a roar when we told them of our decision of wanting to up and move out of the States. Lucky for us, them only being in third and fourth grades made it a tad bit easier.
Over the past year, we’ve exchanged classroom teachers, for world teachers. Instead of recess, they get to snorkel in the ocean and make friends at skateparks across the country. Instead of learning what the state stays they should learn, they learn what really interests them. No matter what they choose to do in this world, we just want them to be genuinely happy. Whether it be working at the corner store or the next CEO of a Fortune 500 company. We are trying to teach them that money isn’t everything and no matter what anyone thinks, money does not create happiness.
After seeing them grow in our small town, we now get to witness them grow in this vast world. And they are doing it effortlessly. From learning about monkeys, to sloths and Scarlett macaws. From hiking in national parks to jumping off the side of a cameraman into the ocean. From seeing active volcanoes and riding on jungle slides. From horseback riding in the rainforest to boogie boarding in the waves. It all makes my heart happy to see them happy.
With new centuries comes new technology. We, too, have been sucked into the tornado and have felt ‘naked’ at times without our electronics. I often thought of the ‘good ol’ days’ when my friends and I played outside until dark roller skating or playing at the neighborhood park. Living in the States, those days were sort of extinct. Once we moved into our first house (of many air bnb’s) we got to witness them playing outside until the park closed at 10pm. Laughter and kids talking filled the streets every day of the week, even more so on the weekends. From kids riding bicycles to roller blading, skate boarding, shooting basketball and playing soccer in the field that sat on the same lot right next to our house (Malaga Residence, Playa Bejuco, Esterillos Este #323).
Kids playing outside was not a thing of the past any longer, here in Costa Rica at least. Like every year, Christmas comes just as fast as it goes. We got to celebrate Christmas Day together in a new country making new traditions. We were able to plan our Christmas meal accordingly to what the local store had to offer. We were fortunate to find everything on our list, minus the brown gravy. We have learned that you can plan things out to a T, and it not come out in the end like you had hoped. And thats okay, you either make due, or you change your plans.
Life is full of bumps in the road, you can’t let those bumps determine who you are or the happiness you create within. You deal with them and move on. Being within a five minute walk to the beach, one of our favorite past times has become watching the sunset. No sunset it like the last which make them so magical and dreamy. Pinks, blues, purples, oranges, reds, and yellows would fill the sky. We were actually able to watch the sunrise and set on the same beach, which I’ve never seen happen before. Running around the states trying to keep up with our daily lives, we never took the time to appreciate how beautiful and big the sky really is. It is amazing what you can see that was right before your eyes the entire time, when you find the time to slow down for just a second.
We aren’t getting any younger and although I hope to live until I’m 100, I want as many memories (whether I’ll be able to remember them or not) under my belt. We loved Malaga every minute of the 45 days we stayed there in Esterillos Este. Although the hot water heater did not work more times than it did and the kitchen was only big enough for one person at a time, we had a great experience there. We loved it so much we go back to that gated residence again tomorrow for another 45 days. The things that were once big in the states, seem so small here.
On my first cruise I’d taken, having no bath (shower only) while on a 7 day cruise seemed like torture. I look back and laugh at those thoughts now. We’ve come to realize after our last house, (in Ciudad Quesada) having a bath, sometimes still means having to take a quick shower. Sometimes the first person got lucky and had luke-warm water. Other times meant for the breaker flipping and being left in the dark, sitting in a cold tub. Every house has had unique things we liked, while some has had things we weren’t so fond of (like no closets or storage in the entire home or wifi - important for schooling purposes). We are learning ideas to take away from these homes and can include into ours (one day in the future).
We don’t have many items which makes for a quick packing up process. From Esterillos Este, to Uvita, to Ciudad Quesada, to Matapalo and back to Esterillos Este our times we have endured, thus far, I will soon never forget. Each place has made an imprint in my heart that I hope to hold onto forever. Please note, I don’t tell you these things to be ‘ better’ than anyone in anyway because we are all equal no matter religion, race, gender, age or how much is in your bank account. I tell you these things to try and inspire you to live your best life. I hope to break the chain of living life to work. Instead, we should be working to live life. Life really is too short. Get out there, enjoy it firsthand and fill your life with memories, not things. Live simple, Live pure. This life is yours. Make it flamboyant. Create a template of your own.