Just now at Volcán Arenal with Mom and Aunt Gay, mom’s baby sister. This was my third time at the volcano, my favorite place in Costa Rica so far. Volcán Arenal is flawless, when you can see it.

Arenal_from_san_ramonDid you know, on a clear day, you can see the top of Arenal from San Ramon, two hours to the south of it? Huge and magnificent, an incredible sight. This picture (right: you click on it to make it bigger, Arenal’s peak is smack in the middle) doesn’t do it justice. Remember the look on Sam Neill’s face when he sees the brontosaurus for the first time in Jurassic Park? That’s how I felt seeing the top of Arenal looming in the distance. Amazing.

Saturday night, after a brilliantly clear day, we got a brilliantly clear night. Several thunder rolls from deep in the belly of the beast – at first you think it’s thunder or a jet flying overhead. ‘Cept no storm clouds and no jets… Arenal, she speaks. Then display after display of fire rocks rolling down the side. We were very lucky to see that because the next two days, until our drive home, she was completely in the clouds. You just see the bottom of a hill, not even a peek of a peak.

Sunday afternoon, we did the hanging bridge tour which was lovely, but I wouldn’t do it again. It was just like the La Paz Waterfall walk without the waterfalls. In both, you walk for two-three hours through wet rainforest, mesmerized by the opportunistic life around you. Rainforest_opportunitiesIf something dies, something else grows on it, sucking the last bit of life out of it, making the dead thing part of the living thing, thriving. Our guide pointed out that when something falls in the jungle, it’s just making room for something else. You get a real sense of that happening here, even as you are walking past. Nothing goes to waste in a rainforest.

This afternoon we drove back a different route, via Ciudad Quesada/San Carlos. Wow. This is one of the most beautiful roads I’ve been on in Costa Rica. Treacherous and curvy, mountainous, very much like Cerro de la Muerte (hill of the dead), the road to San Isidro de General on the southern Pacific coast near Dominical.

Little_jam_2Loaded with 18 wheelers (one of
which was turned on its side after touching bumpers with a compadre) taking up more than their share of the road, adding to the thrill. But the views: mountain range after range, so green, providing incredible vistas with Volcán Arenal as the backdrop. Huge wow for me.

Where I’ve been the past two weeks is at a crossroads. A little panicky. Today, 28 Jan 2008, marks our two year anniversary in Costa Rica. It’s been heaven, we have grown to love life here. It really is different. We are different. We never expected it. At least I didn’t. Hal’s been ready for a change for some time, but neither of us would have prophesied living in Costa Rica for good. If you’d known us then, you wouldn’t have either. But here we are.

Spending our children’s inheritance, now too pitiful a sum to call "inheritance," but, thankfully, still enough to buy an income. Which we must do NOW or move in with one of you. Any volunteers? There’s just the five of us and three big muddy dogs. I’ll keep checking my inbox for the invites. In the meantime…

What to do, what to do? We’ve filled and erased three oversized white-boards with every Option & Idea we can think of, now filling the fourth. The first white-board was the most revealing.

On it, we’d listed pros/cons on going back to the states. Any business we do, especially if there were product involved, would be easier in the states. Like, Hal’s been trying to get a test copy of his book in paperback from Lightening Source. They’ve shipped out three, so far. All three lost, sent to the wrong address even though he’s emailed the exact dirección. The last copy went to Mexico due to a typo. Customer service for a product would be a nightmare from here. So, product from here? That’s out. Product in the U.S.? Doable.

Buying a business with employees in Costa Rica is out. All we hear from gringos who own businesses here are the many ways you are taken advantage of and ripped off. You have to be at your business every minute it’s open. You might as well have a job. On top of that, if you are going to own a business here with employees, you better be fluent in Spanish. As comfortable as we are with the language, we are at least a year out from being anywhere close to that. Probably ten. So employee biz here? Out. In the U.S.? Doable.

Our ace-in-the-hole plan would be to move to Gainesville, buy a business there (bar or shooting range, natch) while I spend three years in acupuncture school. That was the loosely held plan before moving to Costa Rica. We saw the end of the real estate game looming large and acupuncture is a good fit for me – I would love this career. Definitely doable.

As far as the boys go, being in the U.S. would be a good thing. They could get part-time jobs. There’s a wealth of learning opportunities in a college town for teens, including college. We could live in Gainesville for probably less than what it costs to live here. Sad, but true. Security would not be an issue there. Better roads. Cheap Triscuits. Huge cheap bookstores. I mean, the only thing we can no longer live without is an income. If having one means living in the U.S., so be it. Would it be so bad? Heck, you do what you have to.

Well, we sat with that pro/con list for a few days, pretty much avoiding the white-board, coming to grips. Realizing the pros of moving back far outnumbered the cons when contemplating income. But man, were we getting depressed. At first, the list looked inviting. A return to familiarity. To knowing how everything works. No razor wire. Within a day’s drive to all our Key West buddies. I could go to school. Teen growth opportunities…

I guess we’ve crossed some invisible line, rounded some curve, burnt some bridge… life looks different now. We so like living in Costa Rica. I mean, it’s something, alright. Breathtaking, frustrating, hilarious, no question. There’s no logical explanation. I wish I could put my finger on what has captured us so completely. Here we have a perfect reason to go "home," perfect timing, no one could fault us for going back. Turns out we’d rather eat monkey brains. Going back? Not doable unless there is flat out no other option. Erasing that pro/con list was SUCH a relief.

So we’ve filled three more white boards with Os&Is. And cartoon stick figures… Narrowing the field, we’ve been shopping biz for sale sites, calling, writing, negotiating. Owning a business in the U.S. would still be OK, as long as we didn’t have to live there. Ruminating on all this, when, last week, out of the blue, a madcap millionaire inventor we just met wants Hal to do a business with him. Then the MMI’s abogado [ah-bow-GAH-doe, attorney] invited Hal to participate in another business idea… both of which could work out. That’s sure hopeful. Meeting with both in the next two weeks… hmmm.

So that’s where I’ve been. Sorry to have dropped out of sight… I can’t do two things at once. The reality of Must Have Income Now overtook us and I couldn’t focus on anything else. But I’m back, and no longer panicked. Three days around Arenal, in the rainforest, driving over mountains, that puts things in perspective!

That we will come up with something, there is no doubt. They say the best indicator of what a person will do is what they’ve always done. We’ve always done fine. Personally, I’d like
something pretty and fun. That we can do in Costa Rica. If you could send up a little
prayer or white light, however you do it, that would be so lovely. I mean, do you really want to read a blog about life in Gainesville?

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