Moving from Costa Rica is way harder than I thought it would be. I have completely misjudged how attached I am to our lives here, to the Costa Rican people, to my new friends. In the past couple of days, in particular, I realize I have made friends here in less than five years who are as close to me as the friends I left behind in Key West after 30 years there. Just as loving, just as true.
Expats may be odd, but birds of a feather and all that. I fit right in. And I have noticed, as I've gone back to Key West to visit over the years, that I left behind few friends. Many, many acquaintances, but few real friends. Here, I had a notion that, because we didn't have a huge pool of potential friends from which to draw, that our new friends became friends out of necessity. Maybe that was true at first, but it hardly matters now. I am going to miss my friends here A LOT. Like:
Jorge. He taught the boys (all of 'em) Spanish, coming to our house three mornings a week for a year. And he has remained our friend. In fact, he introduced us to Marvin. Marvin, Hal's English student who brought over his friend, Dr. Mora, when I was bedridden. Dr. Mora literally saved my life. That's a good friend.
And Rosario. I met Rosario through her husband, Leo, who I met through other friends. Rosario and I fit together, a matched set. When I was in the hospital, Rosario came every single day to see me. She would rush in, all energy and smiles, squeeze my hand and tell me how much God loves me, how fabulous I am, how I was going to get better and better, and, in fact, how much better I looked since yesterday.
She had a huge prayer chain chanting my name night and day. She called her friend at the American Embassy and insisted I was a national treasure and that the staff at San Juan de Dios, the Caja hospital, had better be informed that if anything bad happened to me, it would be an International Incident. No kidding. Rosario is a force to be reckoned with.
She is also a breast cancer survivor. Since I was in the hospital, she and I have an even deeper connection. Nothing like almost dying of something to forge a bond with another person who's walked in those shoes. We talked the other day about how our lives had changed. Not that I'd wish it on someone, but I am grateful. I am immensely grateful to have Rosario in my life.
Las Brujos [BREW-hose, as in beer drinking 'ho's.] There are nine or 10 regular mujeres increíbles [incredible women] who have lunch together every Thursday, usually at Robin's but occasionally at each other's homes, or at other local restaurants, like La Casona de Laly. Back when I had hair.
This is a very good friend with whom we had dinner the other night, in the very same restaurant, in fact. No, I'm not telling who, and, yes, he let me fondle his weapon. In front of Hal.
Do I know how to make friends, or what?
Last week, we had lunch with another Jorge and his wife Annie at their house. They grow their own chickens and rabbits for food and eggs, have a huge garden and a gigantic tilapia pond. Now, two tilapia ponds since we gave them ours. (Seemed fitting since they gave us our first tilapia!) As we were leaving the other day, I remembered that Annie and Jorge were the first people to invite us to their house for lunch when we arrived four years ago…
Then there are the friends we met via the blog: the Badgetts who have spent every Christmas with us and a few summers. They are our family now–heck, they even have their own blog category! And to think we would never have met them except for moving to Costa Rica. Que bendición!
And Robbie and family: Rick, Hannah (where's your blog, Hannah?), Bekah and her brood, Micah (buy Micah's book of poetry here). There are three more of Rick and Robbie's kids out there in the world… need their blog addresses, lol! Rick is going to acupuncture school, too. Maybe we'll share a house in Austin… the Neumanns are more new friends who will be part of my life forever. Robbie almost died a few years ago. She has helped me a lot to get over the PTSD. Good friend.
My fellow bloggers, Jen and family and Tica Teri and Dan in Buenos Aires. Good reading, good people. I like bloggers.
Ginnee and Phil, who I wish would blog more, are here now to spend the night, along with Sam. Jorge and Annie and Barbara and Steve will be here shortly to join us for the last supper (last because the fridge leaves tomorrow). Mike and Laura and Lisa and Tom might stop by. The house is pretty empty, our valuable possessions reduced to a table top. There are still about 300 books downstairs, but a bookstore owner is coming tomorrow to cart those away.
The yard selling went pretty well. I told everyone "Don't be cheap. I almost died, you know." That seemed to quiet the wheeler dealers, although I was still amazed by the gringos who tried to negotiate a better price on ten $1 items.
The car and scooters are gone, the chickens are gone, the tilapia are gone, the dog is gone, the boys are gone, the last of the furniture and appliances will be gone by tomorrow noon. Then Hal and I have to pack up what we are bringing back to the states and box up what we are storing at Jorge's house. Then we are gone.
Isn't it funny: we arrived January 2006 with 16 bags and four laptops, and are leaving with pretty much the same. Only, we are different, changed by the life we were blessed with in Costa Rica. I'm looking out over my view, burning it into my brain. It's been an excellent four and a half years. I'm not going to say "we'll definitely be back" because my life seems to be the perfect example of how God laughs when you make plans. But wherever we land, whatever we do, we have the magic of pura vida in our souls. Que bendición.
Honestly, living outside your country of origin is an adventure everyone should get to have, even if only for a year. The fact that we got to do it in Costa Rica for almost five is proof that God loves us.
Wishing you all the best in your new adventure.
Vaya con dios! May your sails always be filled with a full but calming wind.
I read this latest writing of yours and I get the impression you have no plans to return to stay in Costa Rica. If you had to choose one thing, one big reason for leaving, what would it be?
I am sitting here in Miami one week after one of my many visits to Costa Rica and I cannot shake the aching desire to be there instead of here. I left Costa Rica, a peaceful culture, a gorgeous geography and the perfect climate to come back to this flat, hot, crowded and noisy place infected with an insanity and discontent that is contagious. And I am trying my best to understand what motivates expats to return. You apparently WANT to be here again. I don’t refer to the reasons of family responsibilities and concerns for your boys about which you wrote. I refer to your desire to do this move. You had been writing about this decision for a while and coincidentally, the decisive move comes right after your brush with a serious illness. What is the chief emotion behind your desire to return here?
Does Jorge still teach Spanish? If so can you please e- mail me his info. Ljmortgage@gmail.com. I wish you and your family all the best, costa rica will miss you!
Godspeed on your journey. I’m happy that CR led us to meet you and look forward to reading phase II of your journey; wherever it takes you.
Robin & Jer
It’s the end of an era. So sad to see you go, pero qué Dios los bendiga!
Thank you for your good wishes. We are sorry to go. I will write about our reasons… I meant to do so today but got sidetracked with talking about my new friends. Which includes all of you!!!!
I have wanted to go to CR for about two decades, but gave up. Then I read this blog and wrote privately to the wonderful Saratica, and determined to visit at last. Sadly, she will not be there now, but I have enough of a feeling for the country that I still hope to visit for a month in January 2011. I’m lucky enough to already speak Spanish, as I used to live in Mexico. My husband and I would like to sub-let a house or apartment because he has to work via computer. I like to seek out people who choose not to drink (my idea of a good time, not drinking). I also like to write. Then, on weekends, we’ll explore all those microclimates we’ve heard so much about.
So, if anyone has any suggestions, we’re all ears! Have a wonderful journey, Sara and family!
If this post were on a Facebook page I’d click “Like.” Beautiful photos, too. Looking forward to the continued adventures of Saratica!
One more thing Sally…
By you coming here, we met Nancy. Nancy set up a small business for a group of women in La Carpio through our Foundation. The women are now sewing, earning money, running their own business and have been contracted by a large company to sew bags for them. They have their own accounting system, their own quality control system and have learned to speak to large groups about their lives and the importance of their crafts. They are learning English to do this in English next year. There are eight more women in that coop. They are also sewing wonderful little angel dolls to raise money for the Foundation. The sewing machines that we bought have been put to great use. There is another coop making hand crafted jewelry, another kind of idea of Nancy. And your presence here jump started all of this. By the way, whenever I think after 32 years of leaving this place, I just picture myself trying to get on that plane to the US…that last moment breathing this air. I simply cannot do it. Best wishes and remember that the flights all come back this way. It would be different but just as good, in another way. Gail Nystrom, Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation
Wow, hard to believe but I wish you all the best. Hope you make it back this way often.
thanks for your donation of books to the new Jaco library!!!
Hey, just because you’re moving doesn’t mean you have to stop reading our blogs or writing yours!
Don’t worry. I mean, like, how empty would my life be if I did THAT????
Good Luck on your newest adventure! I will miss the chicken stories! Thanks for the wonderful posts on Costa Rica they were a huge help in the moving/adjusting process!
Thank you, Mary Lynn! May you enjoy the pura vida as long as you like!!!
Dear Saratica, sometimes I feel like you were my guardian angel. You helped me out when I was moving here. I was really,really worried about my cats, and everything worked out fine. I’m sad to see that you had to leave. I don’t miss the US. Happy to be here, I must say.
I hope I don’t annoy you with this question: I’m trying to start a blog, but I’ve had a flat tire on the information superhighway for a while. I don’t know what TypePad is, or how to get started. Any info you have would point me in the right direction.
Dear Gail, Thank you for such a lovely testament to my mother’s efforts here! I will definitely show her this, she will appreciate hearing about the girls’ (as she call’s them) progress!!!
Megan, I think the two best blogger platforms for newcomers is either http://www.blogspot.com or http://www.typepad.com. You just have to jump in with both feet and see which one is most compatible with your level of ability. Typepad costs something but it’s reasonable and a good way to get your feet wet with very little coding knowledge. On the other hand, it is hard to leave and, if you want any flexibility along the way, you either have to pay more (I pay $160/year for unlimited blogs), or bite the bullet and learn some basic html now. Check them both out and go with whichever one fits you best now. If you turn into a prolific blogger, you can make a decision in a year which way to continue!
Wow! Thank you so much!