Read Part One HERE...How Do We Live Our Lives? With Abandon and Lotsa Moxie!
Read Part Two HERE...Wecome To Living In Costa Rica ...Your Homecoming Includes A Shakedown At Customs!
Hindsight is always 20/20! Looking back now on our lives during the two years we lived there, our first few hours in Costa Rica and our experiences at the airport were warning signals of what our lives would be like and we probably should have booked a flight back to the US while we were still at the airport.
Leaving the US was for me, an opportunity to find a place where there was less government involvement and restriction in my life and a slower, more graceful way to live out my life. It was our attempt at finding a new frontier for us! Little did we know at the time that this was a huge fallacy and a total illusion created by my warped mind which has been addled over the years with too much work, too little pay back and far too many dreams of liberation. Paradise called and we were going to answer that call.
We hadn't just picked up and moved to Costa Rica sight unseen. We went to visit twice before doing the deed. We toured around, checked out houses and neighborhoods, even took a seminar about how to live and move there! Most folks there told us we should visit at least 10 times over the period of several years before making the decision to move there but who had several years? We saw houses like these and the bars were everywhere but somehow we just didn't see them in our excitement and our quest for adventure.
The contrasts are many and very wide but the bars are everywhere as is the poverty. To us at the time it was quaint. We either needed more coffee or an injection of something stronger for the wakeup call was not ringing through on the time machine. We were living the dream then and wanted it all NOW! We threw all caution and money to the wind and just jumped with nose plugs remaining still wrapped in plastic at the beach. Sometimes it really does pay to listen to those who have passed through the portals ahead of you. Sometimes you just gotta jump!
During our second visit we stayed with a nice Canadian woman who owned a B&B in the town were we wanted to live. She had been living there for many years, was fluent in Spanish...because it is easy to learn if you are first fluent in French, which she was.She knew a lota people, locals and foreign nationals and helped us to get a few things together down there while we were back in the States. That included finding us a driver who knew someone else who also had a large van and the two of them could pick us and the 27 bags, 8 cats and one dog up at the airport for a reasonable price of $100. A bit more than your usual taxi to the airport but it was two vans after all so we didn't object...until the end.
As I exited the customs conflageration I was finally allowed to go visit el banos and have never felt such relief in all my life before or since. While doing so Bryana was shouting orders to the drivers of the vans to get them loaded with our stuff and pets. I made her go on the van with the animals because I knew if I had to listen to them cry any more I would end it then and there, and I went with the luggage and the bags of jewelry which were blessedly silent.
As earlier visitors and touristas we were treated as sort-of-honored guests. We stayed in a hotel with sort-of-airconditioning and were driven around in taxis and tour busses with sort-of-airconditioning. Now that we were 'living' there all the amenities magically disappeared and driving down the highway away from the airport my tired face was assaulted by the night time air of beautiful down town Allejula, pregnant with the humidity of the rainy season and throbbing with diesel fumes. Yum! Donde esta el airconditioning?? Welcome home Dona Susan...this is it! Roll down your window and feel the breeze.
Don Pablo (not his real name) had been languishing at the air port for over six hours with his buddy Don Something-else-or-another waiting for us. Taxi drivers are used to driving folks here and there in Ticolandia (my pet name) and waiting endlessly for them so sitting there for six hours may have been a bit much, but what the heck! They were waiting for the new Gringas and that meant a new house, private school for their kids and a new wardrobe for the little woman as far as they were concerned. They coulda sat there forever.
If you don't know what Gringa means, it's the female version of Gringo, or she who is totally green around the gills, new at whatever it is, comes from America, probably the Texas oil fileds, with pockets filled with greenbacks lined with gold and stuffed in their undies. It means an opportunity and we were the ripest opportunity Don Pablo and Don Someone-or-another had seen in weeks. They were driving happily around in circles, a talent the Tico taxi drivers have perfected, with the two dumb-butt, tired gringas eventually getting us to our new home in the wee hours of the morning and adding yet another couple rooms to their new houses which they were going to purchase as soon as they had dropped us off and got paid.
Before I asked the damning question, how much?, I had them haul all our stuff inside, cats, dog, bags and jewels and put things in their right place. God bless our Canadian friend for having set up litter boxes, food and water bowls where we had requested and for making beds for us to collapse into. To this day I am in her debt. When we were finally ready to let the 'boys' leave I said it...how much? $600 Dona Susan! Whhhhhaaaaaaaattttttt! And I look back on that day and laugh about it because, after all, we WERE in Paradise, Right? Pura Vida!
We set the cats up in the 'maid's room' and closed the door. Most nicer houses in Costa Rica have a maid's room even tho' there are not many live in maids any more. We used our maid's room as our cat room and our babies were finally able to settle down peacefully and sleep it off. We tumbled into our makeshift beds and passed out cold only to be awakened the next morning at 6:00 a.m. by our neighbors who were also our landlords chattering like excited monkies in the forest who'd just found a new banana tree and getting the kids ready for school, which starts at 7:00 a.m. Since all windows must be left open because the air conditioning is non-existant there was no way to block the noise and extend our shut eye.
Still in awe of being there and not have anything to be cynical about...yet, I got up to sit on my little balcony and enjoy the early morning rooftop view from my bedroom looking over the Central Valley amidst the palm trees and the mountains. Believing then that I had found what I had been seeking all my life, I was at peace...for that moment. Yes, Virginia, we were in paradise!