Friday, May 30, 2008

May 30, 2008 - Latino Recipes

The foods available in Costa Rica definitely inspire experiments - if you click on the "recipe" label on the sidebar, you will see all of mine (the successful ones anyway - my Starfruit Chicken was a complete bust).

At the same time, I'm on the lookout for interesting pre-invented :) recipes. In the next year, I hope to spend some time learning some cooking from Teresita (the mother in our Orosí family) - wow! what a fabulous cook!

But until then, I just keep my eyes open for other possibilities. Here is one I just found - Platillos Latinos - it is a free ebook of heart-healthy traditional Latino recipes. And it is bilingual, so you can learn some Spanish while cooking :D.

Monday, May 19, 2008

May 19, 2008 - Reducing Relocation Stress (link)

Here is a great post on Tips for Reducing Relocation Stress.

May 18, 2008 – “Live Different”

“Having the gumption to live different *and* the sense to let everybody else live different. That’s the hardest thing, hands down.”

I’m reading “Blue Highways – A Journey into America” by William Least Heat-Moon. It’s a travel journal from a 1982 road-trip around the contiguous USA. While it is not a book I will want to read over and over again, it has interesting tidbits of insight into the different cultures around the states. The quote above is from someone living on an island in the Chesapeake Bay.

It struck me that a lot of expats deal with living a different life at one time or another. Sometimes this is the hardest thing, sometimes it is the best thing, and sometimes it is both. It is often what starts a friendship. Every expat is living a life differently – no matter where you come from, you came *from* somewhere else. Your family and childhood friends are usually still there – you, the expat, are different. You, the expat, are living differently. Once you are on the “different” end of living, you relax a little bit about everybody else living a different way – you shake off your hang-ups (at least somewhat) about a homogeneous society. If you live a life many consider odd, or even shocking, why can’t others? It’s kinda freeing.

Of course, every once in a while, you suddenly become aware of another of your follies. You get the “But, wait! So-and-so should…” – then the ahhh – they’re living *their* life, too. Life is getting more relaxing all the time :D.

It is often conversations about these little “ahh” moments that lead from acquaintances to friendships. You start comparing notes with other expats, and before you know it…

Monday, May 12, 2008

May 12, 2008 – Changing Plans

Anyone who has planned anything knows that the result rarely resembles the plan. Even Sci-Fi battle planners have a saying – “All plans are just a starting point; when the battle starts, anything goes.”

Well, our future isn’t exactly a battle, but I laugh when I look at our first plan for retiring and moving to Costa Rica. I still have the timeline on the front page of my notebook. We were going to sell the house before I quit (hah!), store most of our stuff and make perhaps two shipments (that was before we knew the cost), permanently move (live year-round) to Costa Rica by the end of 2007, and finish shipping anything we decided we wanted by the end of 2008. I *did* quit on schedule, but only because I had three different dates as options.

Even before committing it to paper, we went back and forth about shipping stuff. We were going to go with just suitcases and purchase whatever we needed when we got there. We were going to take just a few things. We were going to take our bed. And our double recliner. And our DVDs… I don’t think we’ll really know what we’re taking until we actually do it. Meanwhile, we have some furniture in Costa Rica and some in the states.

We kept putting off selling the house – too much else going on. Probably also some subconscious need to hang on. Well, now it is a nasty time to try selling – foreclosure auctions right and left. So, we’re going to rent it out for a while instead. This decision had probably the most effect on our recent life. Instead of moving completely and immediately to Costa Rica, we have spent most of the last year on two separate long trips. We did get to experience two different ways of living – in a small town (Orosí), and in a large town (Alajuela). But we had to deal with “occupying” two houses in two different countries. This is not for the faint of heart. It is definitely not for us in the long run. At least we don’t have a house in Costa Rica to worry about while we are in the states. The house in the states is a bit easier to watch out for. We have friendly, concerned neighbors; we have family nearby. When our fence blew down in California, our neighbor took care of everything, and my folks drove down just in case. We returned to a dead car battery and some air in the water pipes, but everything else was pretty much ship-shape. Folks who have a house in Costa Rica have to worry about keeping it occupied while they are gone. We just moved out :).

Our thoughts have meandered around the idea of whether to live in Costa Rica year-round or not. At first, it was no question – of course we would! That is the whole idea! Then we started thinking. Uh-oh. More plans fly out the window. Here is another thing that I am sure we won’t really know which we’ll do until we do it. (I had to re-read that sentence twice – yikes!) Since we are rentistas, we will definitely be in Costa Rica for at least 4 months out of each year (this is required in order to maintain that type of residency). That leaves a *lot* of time to explore the rest of the world – or explore more of Costa Rica, of course. We *have* decided (finally) that this year we will be in Costa Rica most or all of the time.

We are still on-plan for our time in Costa Rica. That plan is to live for several months in different places around Costa Rica, looking for just the right place. It is a little crazy, looking for the most perfect piece of paradise *in* paradise. But it is kinda fun too. I think that if we just closed our eyes and pointed at a map of Costa Rica, we’d find a great place to live – we’d be perfectly happy. But neither of us has had the perfect freedom to choose before. The choice has always been made *for* us by jobs, schools, etc – perfectly :(.