We did it! We moved to Costa Rica. We’ve been here 10 days. Honestly, it feels like a month. In truth, these last 10 days have been a little intense, emotional, anxiety producing, challenging, etc. I know. Shocker. Still, I think I naively thought that the hardest part was getting here and maybe it was but this has been surprising.
A lot of it has been great. Now that we’ve been here for a bit, our house is starting to feel like home. It’s very cozy and out in the jungle. It’s also, as Matt points out, a little like glamping. We can see through the boards in our walls to the outside. Which is all very romantic and rustic except that it thwarts our best efforts with the mosquitos. Having only ever been to Costa Rica in the dry season, I thought the mosquitos were totally manageable. And they are, kind of. Except that they’re around all day long. And definitely at night. Matt has a nightly mosquito hunting session every night before we seal the kids into their beds behind mosquito nets. Hope you peed! Goodnight! You can’t come out til morning! It’s getting better. Every morning the kids give a report of their new bites or delightedly tell us they have no new ones. We’re adjusting.
The best thing about our house is that we’re finally getting a chance to live out in the country, jungle style. We can hear howler monkeys, though I haven’t caught sight of them yet. There are 20+ goats in residence, three of whom are hugely pregnant. There’s a very charismatic billy-goat named Diego. There’s a parrot named Maurice who greets us with “Hola” nearly every time we pass by. There are three dogs and a horse. And there’s a pool steps from our door. It’s kid paradise. Every morning we watch the running of the goats as they’re herded past our door to their pasture. I can’t hear any traffic up here and I don’t think I’ve ever heard an airplane going by. There’s an outdoor kitchen that we can use. It’s fun to eat dinner out there because it’s covered but open to the air. We’ve eaten there in torrential downpours, which is especially exhilarating coming off years of drought in California. One night we were eating there and Suki yelled at us to look at the field. Thousands of fireflies were flitting about. I actually don’t even want to try to describe that one, it was so ethereal. So really, it’s great.
The biggest challenge we’ve had since we got here was the school situation. The plan was for the kids to attend the same bilingual school, though the preschool is in town whereas Suki’s school is right near our house, about 3 miles from town. When we decided on this school back in June (after having visited in April), I emailed them and got a very brief email in response saying “Great! We’ll see you when you get here!” Every other email I sent asking what paperwork they needed went unanswered. As did telephone calls. As did the email I sent we arrived to say we wanted to come for a couple of hours the next day to familiarize the kids with the schools. When we arrived at the school the director, whom I had met with previously for over an hour walked up to me and said, “We’ve met before, right?” but wasn’t really sure. What?!?
NOT a good start. Long story short, we only gave it about 4 days where Suki was excluded and the teachers did very little to assist her. Parents would barely look at us and the whole vibe was BA-AD. The whole situation was very anxiety producing and I was having a serious case of buyer’s remorse. What had I done, dragging my whole family to Central America? I decided to look into the other bilingual school in town, which we had inexplicably ignored on our previous visit. What had seemed way to Americanized and hippy for us suddenly looked warm and inviting. And, best part, during their end of term break in September and October (read: we’re closed because it’s about to rain Noah’s Ark style) they have a “Spanish camp” to get the non-native speakers up to snuff before the year starts in November. So that’s what we’re doing. I have to say, through all this, Suki was incredibly brave. She really, really tried to make it work. She never complained but it just never felt right. When Matt told her she was going to go to a new school she hugged him and said, “Thank you”. Sniff.
Now, until school starts in September, we’re on vacation to recover from this initial poorly planned entry. And what did we do on our very first day of vacation? We got a dog! Smart, right? This was how we originally got buy-in from the kids for this move. We promised them the long-asked-for dog once we got settled here. I don’t know if we’re settled but we got Pepe today (not our name choice) and he seems to be just what we were looking for. He’s small (only 7 pounds), sweet with kids, good with cats and other dogs and adorable. He’s about 10 months old and delightful. The kids can’t even believe it finally happened.
So far, it has not been the paradise existence I fantasized about but then again, I think my fantasies were exactly that. The thing that has been as I hoped is that the kids spend a lot of time outside and just being. They play a ton with each other, making up games with the things they find. They’ve played in rainstorms and made forts out of anything they could find. They can go outside and I don’t have to worry about cars. We hang out a lot all together, for better or worse. I haven’t yet heard them say “I’m bored”. For the most part, they will go outside and find something to do while we’re doing all the day-to-day things that, irritatingly, did not go away with this move to the jungle. But still, I look up from doing the laundry and I see goats, a horse and a parrot so something is definitely different.