This month marks 6 months that we have been in Costa Rica. In some ways that hardly seems possible, but most days it feels like we have been here much longer. It hasn’t been perfect or easy all the time, but it hasn’t disappointed us either. Our family has been blessed to find a community that “fits” us and we can call home. We have slipped into a life that is ordinary in many ways – we have met wonderful people and we have a routine for school, work, church and extracurricular activities. At the same time, we are in awe of the extraordinary gifts we are blessed by along this journey. We would surely miss these gifts if we came to Costa Rica and expected to live the life we were living in North America or kept our heads down not wanting to learn and grow. Like the blog’s name, our family has been on the path to pura vida – a journey towards a simpler and changed lifestyle. By far, the biggest difference in our lives is fewer distractions. We have more time and energy to focus on one another, our faith, and our goals. We need every bit of margin we can get, as we redesign our lives and seek out new careers. The everyday inconveniences are gentle reminders to be more kind, patient and grateful. Believe me, this a journey and sometimes a struggle, but it is the struggles that help us grow as individuals and as a family.
We have adjusted to having less and needing less, made easier by the limited access to stuff. No Target runs for me anymore. We came with 10 luggage pieces (2 per person and they weighed less than 50lbs each). Proud to say, we have accumulated very little over the last six months. We picked up a hot plate, waffle maker, skillet, ice cream maker, leaf blower, 2 surf boards, 3 boogie boards, 2 pool floaties, a few new games, and 1 vehicle.
I have had to adjust to people not showing up when they are supposed to, like the very nice woman who cleans my house often doesn’t show up and without notice. That is just how it is here. Pura Vida. In developing countries, like Costa Rica, automation has been slower to arrive, saving jobs for the people. While I have seen an occasional lawn mower or weed wacker, the more common form of grass cutting is a using a machete. There are also no machine operated car washes in our area. A regular car wash here is like a car detail at home. The last car wash I had took nearly 2 hours and only cost $16, including a tip. Instead of a waiting room, I could have had a drink with the boys and watch bull riding on TV, but I opted for a walk on the beach instead. We recently were in road construction on a 2 lane highway, with one lane closed down. The bi-directional traffic was taking turns. There were men at each side that were giving a flag to a car to take to the man on the other side of the construction stop to indicate it was time to switch.
We encounter fewer “firsts” as the days go on. Things that used to make our heads turn are becoming more ordinary, despite them being quite extraordinary for a family from Grand Rapids, MI. The roads in the rainy season, for example are never a dull moment. Frequently being held up by a herd of cows is not uncommon. The natural wonders and the scenery never gets old. On a recent snorkel excursion, the kids had the unique experience of seeing a green sea turtle, an endangered species, nestled under a rock. In four weeks, we will have 3 PADI certified divers in our family (Marc, Tucker, and Abby).
Our kids are pursuing some of their same interests they had before moving to Costa Rica, like swimming, sailing and horse riding and we have picked up a few new hobbies, like surf, scuba, dodgeball and dance. The best part of all of these is the people we meet and the diverse group that they can share these passions with. In May, Abby and Tucker participated in a regional swim meet that was a qualifying event for a national meet in San Jose later this summer. Tucker will be swimming one event at the national meet. We are looking forward to our trip to the capital city to cheer on our boy!
Six Months In…Still Living the Pura Vida!