The next morning found us staring stupidly at our new range, beautiful and shiny and utterly without gas. We had heard from our fabulous landlords the day before that we could purchase gas at the pulperia (small store) just up the road. So up there we trudged at 7am to introduce ourselves to Roy, the proprietor. Now let me back up a moment to say that we have moved to a very small community. This is the soccer field just across the road from our house with a view of Poas volcano behind it. Everyone here knows each other and many are related. The house that we are renting is just down a tiny hill from our landlord’s, which shares land with the houses of his mother, brother, first cousin, and two aunts. I soon realized that not only does everyone know one another, but they all knew of us. It’s a cozy feeling.
But back to the oven. We met Roy and explained our predicament. Thus followed another wonderful opportunity to practice our Spanish as we came to learn that we could exchange our empty gas tank at the pulperia, but we could not buy a new full one. In seeing my desperate, de-caffinated look Roy offered to make a call to the gas company. We eventually learned that we could buy a full tank from him. We thought we were on our way, but wait. The gas tank didn’t come with either a hose or a valve. This provided us with an opportunity to go down the mountain to find the closest hardware store, where we eventually found what we needed. More opportunities for speaking Spanish and experiencing the two step system of paying. Soon we were in business with hot water heating for our much-needed coffee.
Our trials were not over, however. Everything seemed hooked up and ready to go in terms of hot water and electricity. The one snag was internet. Getting internet in our new house proved to be a two-week debacle of waiting, endless phone calls to the provider, an outdated LAM cable and exercises in patience. We managed to get pay-as-you-go internet on Matt’s phone through the pulperia but we had virtually no internet through the computer or my phone. When we arrived, we had two weeks before the new school year started to get settled. Without internet and contact with the outside world it proved to be an interesting, insular time. I have to say, I’m pretty impressed with the kids’ creativity. With every cast off from setting up the house, Suki made something new. This box got a lot of mileage.
And from more cardboard she made herself a doll, Nina, and a room for her.
She also created Django a new set of “weapons” out of paper and a belt for them out of string.
Not disturbing at all. But my favorite was the jeans vest for her stuffie.
We also started planting, using all our old bottles. I tell you, I thought we used to recycle in California. Now, with minimal supplies to set up our house and an unwillingness to buy new things we became masters of reusing. Tin cans are gold mines for storing things. And old plastic bottles and milk cartons are great for starting seeds from the veggies we bought.
With all the time in the world and no media distractions we finally started getting into family projects like we had wanted. One of our goals in moving here was to spend more time with kids and involve them in the goings-on in the house. We wanted them to be part of the gardening, the cooking, the cleaning. Of course, with kids, this “help” takes more time than doing it without them. But now we had the time. You want to cut the milk cartons? Go for it. You want to scoop the dirt and get all up in it? Knock yourself out.
You want to mop the floor?!? Please!
I think back on how much we would buy in the States when we wanted to do a project. We knew where things could be found, we knew their names and we wanted to do the project right then, because we only had so much time. Now we’re in a place where we have no idea of the names for things or who sells them or who even to ask, because it’s all set up differently. It’s challenging and freeing. We have nothing but time so there’s more mulling over things and trying to figure out how we could achieve this or that in the house for free and with what we have or can find. It’s been fun. Matt and I feel like we’re playing house. It’s also really appealing to the side of me that loves to purge and loathes acquiring. Coming at this from serious budgetary restrictions and an aversion to acquisition, we’re trying to only bring into the house what we need. One of these needed items is some way to cover the gestapo-like bare bulbs that light our house. This led to an attempt to make paper-maiche sconces. Please, if ever I get it into my head to do paper-maiche again, somebody stop me. I never enjoy myself as much as I think I will. The kids had fun though.
In the end, these were a bust. I found a place to buy really inexpensive paper lanterns and considered it money well spent.
While it was at times intense to spend every moment of everyday with the kids in a place where we knew few people and had no breaks via movies it was really fun. We played house. We explored the paths through the coffee fields and the nooks and crannies around our new home.
The kids used all available fabric to concoct different outfits and stories.
And there was lots of art and relaxing.
There was also some play time with some of the American families we know here. Mostly of the feral sort.
But with some calmer times mixed in.
If someone had told me before the move that we would have no internet for the first two weeks I would have dreaded it. When it was thrust upon us it was still inconvenient at time but, surprise, surprise, actually completely fine. Even awesome.