Me and raquelMoving 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.

The girlsExpats 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:

Learning spanish with jorge 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.

Rosario and meAnd 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.

8 July lunch brujas 2 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. 8 July lunch brujas Back when I had hair.

My dinner date 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…

IMG_1288 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!

Hannah and malika 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.

Sunset view 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.

Sunday morning walk 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.

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