One Year In Paradise
Loss Leader on the anniversary of his one year living in Costa Rica
It has been one year, well actually a few days more than a year, but who’s really counting, since I packed it all in and left Canada for Costa Rica. I have been doing a lot of reflecting because I promised myself that 12 months would be the marker. I would either give up and come back to the world of Tim Hortons, or stay and try to explain to people here what “chili in a bread bowl” really tastes like.
Costa Rica has been pretty good to me, it welcomed me with the warmth of the sky and people, and I have made a number of friends – friends that have been supportive and, in most cases, have made mistakes that I try to avoid. Guys like Canadian Bob, Cigar Mike, Banana Bread Bill, One Eyed Mike, BK Tuna to name a few (sounds like The Goodfellows) now welcome me as Wayne’s World, partly because I seem to be in my own world a good part of the time and still cling to the social laws from the frozen North.
Actually, I have learned a great many things about life in the sub tropics, that bugs in your bed and food are just the way things are…that a Tico (Costa Rican) will answer your questions the way you want to have them answered, although most times they have no idea what it is you want… and that a Costa Rican taxi driver really is just a guy tryin’ to make a buck. When he drives you a few blocks out of the way, you quietly remind him that you are “yo vivo aqui amigo” and he adjusts the meter with a “lo siento”.
So…so far in Costa Rica, I’ve been robbed twice, hit with a tazer, gone through six laptops, some stolen, some just blew up, lived in four places, and getting ready to move to my fifth home in Costa Rica and hopefully my final home for awhile. I’ve learned to shop where the locals shop, Imperial beer isn’t really that great, cigars that have a Cohiba label aren’t real Cohibas… I need to eat more fruit and veggies, beef down here tastes like the loser at Woodbine. What’s more, Naranjo coffee from a coffee cooperative near a small town south of here called Naranjo is fantastic, used car prices are a joke because of import restrictions… look up and down when walking down the often abused and potholed sidewalks of towns in Costa Rica… earthquakes are cool, the police generally leave me alone, banks suck here in Costa Rica as much as back home, you have to pay the utility bill within two days of the due date or the water/electricity/phone are turned off, highway buses are cheap and efficient, and that love comes from the strangest places – but enough of that. I am staying here in Costa Rica for at least another year, probably two and plan to return to see the family in Canada at Thanksgiving, partly because I miss them, but mostly that there is very little turkey down here, although the chicken is a very nice substitute.
I will continue to work as long as I have business in Canada and drink my coffee and enjoy the odd Costa Rican cigar, watch the sunrises and sunsets and wonder why both cats stare off into space at some object I can’t see. The scenery is majestic where I live in Costa Rica and I enjoyed seeing a great deal of it with my daughter and her partner when they visited a few months ago. There are seven volcanoes in Costa Rica, and I have only seen three, they are on my list.
My new home in Costa Rica will be closer to the Pacific coast, and I am giving up the cool mountain air for a more tropical feel, but that’s OK. The house and its current owner are generous in many ways, and I will have a new base to explore from. Security in Costa Rica is an issue of course, but I have learned to limit my extravagance and appear as a low income foreigner - funny, that’s exactly what I am, but I have enough to get by and enjoy the odd splurge on a jar of $3.00 US pickles.
The next part of the plan is to finally get a small car (the last two cars I negotiated to buy fell apart before I handed over the cash – another story) and see more of the country, then probably apply for residency which is a relatively long process of verification and fees, but I have a friend to help me with that. As a final note, Steven Harper is rolling through Costa Rica today, maybe I should drop by and give him a cheer and tell him to buy more of our pineapples.
Don’t forget to drop by if you’re in the neighborhood – coffee is always on.