After four months living outside San Jose, the seedy capital of Costa Rica in a typical Tico home in a typical Tico community we’re ready to say goodbye.
It has been a wild ride here, full of interesting people, times and experiences. Not quite what we had imagined for our life in this tropical destination in Central America, but nonetheless memorable.
During our stay at a home in Santo Domingo, where we settled, we endured an infestation of cockroaches, gunfire outside the gate on three different occasions and discovered the old man living in the casita on our property was once a drug runner for a Columbian cartel and has sold his life story to a Dutch filmmaker.
The neighbour residing in a house next-door is a retired sheriff from California who was shot four times on the job and sleeps with a .357 Magnum next to him at night.
We’ve been scammed by a Gringo to the tune of $1,200 and were rocked by an earthquake that measured 6.2 at its epicentre some 200 kilometres away.
It has been an authentic experience, if there is such a thing for a family of foreigners who barely speak Spanish and have lived behind prison-like gates feeling like an exhibit in the zoo.
We enrolled our kids in an international school where most students, and consequently their parents, are locals and became a part of an incredible community.
We bonded with several Costa Rican families, who have helped as us at every turn and taken care of us as if we were a member of their own family. We’ve also made friends with other expats, each who have their own interesting tale about why they came to Costa Rica and and are also moving on.
There’s the self-described geeks, the Joneses, an American family who felt like outcasts in their own country. They came here seeking a simpler existence, bringing with them their teenage daughter, but are returning next year, partly because their home was broken into one too many times, heightening their security paranoia to the point they live like prisoners.
Then there’s Francesca and Damian, a couple from Ireland who have lived here for the past year and worked as visiting professors at two local universities. We’ve taken several trips together, had a lot of laughs and I will miss them dearly. Both are volcanologists and earthquake experts, each holding a PhD in their respective fields. They’re leaving in two weeks, returning for work to Ireland, fed up with the myriad frustrations of working within the Costa Rican culture and system.
Among our Tico friends there are doctors, developers, business owners and a pensioner, George, who has tirelessly worked to teach us Spanish, mostly because he’s one of the few of our friends here who doesn’t speak English.
Tatiana, a brilliant and caring woman whose son and mine became fast friends, transported us to and from school almost every day and insisted we call her day or night if we ever needed help. Her sincerity was heartfelt and she befriended me, she says, because she imagined what it would be like to move to a foreign country without knowing a soul or the local language.
We have made a life here in Santo Domingo, one not entirely disimilar to the one we had in Calgary. Our kids go to school, we socialize with friends and combat a daily grind, although one much less hectic than before.
This is why it’s time to move on.
We came to Costa Rica to escape all this, an urban existence with chaotic pace and time spent in traffic instead of with each other.
On the other hand, we’ve lived four months (quite happily) without a car, reduced our spending and waste dramatically and grown in ways we never imagined.
It’s sad to say goodbye but with every end there’s a new beginning. There is still so much to see in Costa Rica, so many things to learn about this culture and oursleves and the clock is ticking. There are just eight more months to enjoy our adventure and the last four have gone in a blink.
So goodbye Casa Roach. We’ll miss you.
Hello beach, here we come.