Today’s post might come across as being less thematic or organized than they typically are, but only because I have a lot of seemingly disconnected thoughts running through my head these last couple of days. So where do I begin? For starters, I’m no less in love with this place than I was four days ago. I’m actually on a bit of a mission now to meet as many locals (both natives and expats) as I can and ask them as many questions as possible to get a genuine feel for what living here might be like. Sean and I have for the past year or so been trying to wrap our heads around our retirement plan. Neither of us plans to work within the confines of corporate America much longer than getting our kids into college and out into the world; if we end up keeping our family the same size it is now, this plan will conveniently time itself with the payoff of our house as well. In order to execute this plan successfully from a financial perspective, we know that a relocation to another country may be necessary. And in many ways, welcomed. If I could make it happen in my current remote sales position, I wouldn’t be opposed to moving our family down here sooner than later. Giving them unique international exposure at such a young age, and at a qualified Montessori or Waldorf school here in Costa Rica wouldn’t be the worst thing we could do for them. At this point, however, I’m already pushing the boundaries of my company’s comfort zone as it relates to my location. To one of my bosses who I know will be reading this, though, I offer you these facts: the internet quality is high, the time zone is the same, and you’d have free lodging any time you wish in one of the most beautiful places on earth. Esta bien? 🙂
So, back to my investigative research on living here. Two of the tours I’ve been on so far were guided by a local Tico named Alan (natively, Rio). He runs one of the primary tour companies here in Nosara and because it’s the low season here, both of my tours were near-private opportunities for me to ask a million questions about the area and its culture. Alan was an absolute wealth of information on everything from the medicinal properties of the local flora (his grand-father is one of the community elders and nearly shamanic in reputation), to the governmental corruption (a factor to some degree in all countries) affecting things like road conditions, to the pros and cons of owning real estate in the various sections of Nosara. Surprisingly when I asked him if the natives felt overrun and resentful of the expat growth in this area, he said no. In addition to bringing the wealth of tourism to this small community, Westerners, he said, have also added incredible value in teaching them about environmentally friendly practices, thereby helping them protect and preserve the land they hold dear. Alan, along with all of the other locals I have met so far, have engaged me with nothing but warmth and kindness. He encouraged me to seriously consider relocating our life here, saying, “You just bring your beautiful family down here and I’ll show you everything you need to know.”
While I certainly appreciate his confidence, I know that as an American I’m used to certain amenities. I may be more adventurous than some, but I still take things like security and an endless supply of hot water for granted. So that’s why I needed to and still need to spend a significant amount of time talking to the Americans who’ve actually up and left their nice cars, paved roads and health insurance for a life here. For that reason I was compelled to say yes when a fellow Coloradan on my waterfall hike tour invited me to a kirtan chanting session (If you’re from Colorado and you practice yoga, you’ve probably done it or have heard of it; if you’re from the Midwest and just Googled it, you’re definitely rolling your eyes right now) with some local expats. In the zen state I’ve found myself on since I got here, I thought nothing of climbing into a stranger’s truck last night with three other strangers, only to head straight up a mountain in the remote jungle to yet another stranger’s house to chant. Did anyone else see the movie Turistas and is now wondering how I made it back with all of my organs in tact and properly stored inside of my own body? As if I’m not painting enough of a horror movie-worthy picture just in time for Halloween, now imagine the part where the car full of me and the strangers blows a tire…at dusk, in the rain. How do I appropriately convey that this all happened without any sense of fear or worry on my part? The sense of peace and calm in this community is difficult to put into words. It took all of three minutes for a local man to pull over (with his kids waiting in the truck) and help us out. We had a tire, but no tire jack. This man had a tire jack and an air compressor. And sure, as our driver suggested, he probably knew she’d give him some cash for his time, but who really cares? People here earn money doing just about everything and anything, and I for one was more than supportive of helping to boost the local economy in this way! Not to mention being in any undeveloped country has always made me realize how much excess (and expectation of excess) we have in the United States. My tendency is always to over-tip and to avoid bartering, even when it’s not what the culture dictates. It just feels like the right thing for someone in my position to do. In the end, we made it up the mountain, we ate, we chanted, and I opened myself up to new people and new experiences.
If ever a place existed where people from all different cultures, religions, continents and lifestyles existed, this would be it. All of them, minus the assholes.