Temporary Ticos

In about 8 weeks, Lee, Camille and I are going to pack up some clothes, two computers, one dog, one guitar and a viola, and we’re moving to Costa Rica for a year.

Wait. What!?

I know. I know. It’s crazy. Even typing it now, I vacillate between being excited and wanting to throw up.

Costa Rica 2013
Where does the story begin? Two years ago, when we went to Costa Rica for a month? Or maybe it began when we came back home, and immediately started plotting ways to get back there again.

You could also say the story began when we put our house on the market last year. Not that we had Costa Rica in mind at the time, but putting the “for sale” sign in our yard set certain things in motion we didn’t anticipate.

We had stumbled upon another house in the neighborhood we wanted to buy, so we put ours up for sale. But the process dragged and dragged, and we lost enthusiasm for it after 6 months of endless house showings but no offers.

We were about to pull the house off the market 3 months ago, when I got this text message from my mother.

“I just showed your house.”

She was visiting us, and at first I was annoyed about the intruding buyer. We didn’t have any showings scheduled for that day, so who had the nerve to just come knocking on the door?

Turns out, it was a priest. Specifically, the priest from the church across the street. The church is about to undergo a major construction project, and they need to relocate the parish offices for a year. He saw our for sale sign and wondered, were we interested in renting our property to the church?

At first, we said thanks but no. Renting our house would only displace us.

Then one night a few weeks later, just as we were slipping under the covers, Lee had an idea.

“You know,” he said, “we could rent our house to the church for a year and go to Costa Rica.”

Neither of us slept very well that night.

Or the next night. Or any night since. Because he was right – we could do that.

But should we? There were So. Many. Questions. rolling around in my head. Like:

  • Where would Camille go to school?
  • Could we afford to do this? The cost of living in Nosara, our preferred area of Costa Rica, is high.
  • Would we need a special visa?
  • Would we have stable internet, and would our business suffer?
  • What would we do about a car?
  • How would we get our medicines?
  • How would we handle the separation from our family and friends?

But there were so many possible advantages too. We loved the time we spent in Costa Rica. If we went for a year, Camille would have a chance to really absorb another culture. And Spanish! She would totally learn Spanish. Moving to Costa Rica could be a terrible idea. Or a fantastic adventure.

I wrestled with all of this, and ultimately decided to leave it to God, leave it to fate, leave it in the hands of the universe. We would begin researching schooling, housing, internet, etc., and see if the doors opened to us or were shut tight.

I googled schools. Here in Savannah, Camille attends a wonderful public Montessori school. Turns out, Nosara has an international bilingual school – and not just that – it’s a Montessori school too.

But maybe they would be full? So I called, and asked the receptionist if there were available spaces next year for 4th grade.

“Ah, our current 4th grade is over capacity,” she said. So I prepared for this door to slam shut, but then she went on to explain. “So we’re adding another 4th grade class next year. We will have plenty of room.”

We submitted Camille’s application, did a Skype interview with the headmaster, and she was in.

School = Check.

We looked at housing, and narrowed it down to three homes. One was really nice but too expensive, so we asked the homeowner if he’d negotiate on price.

He cut his monthly rate in half.

Housing = Check.

We asked him about internet, concerned for our business interests. Did he have phone or cable internet (cable being preferred)?

He has both, so if one goes down, the other is usually up.

Internet = Check.

We decided we’d sell Lee’s car and buy one in Costa Rica, which was giving me lots of heartburn. Buying a car there is a complicated process and involves hiring your own attorney. Did the homeowner happen to have any leads on a car we might buy?

Turns out, he has a car just sitting at the house, and he’ll rent it to us at a fraction of what the rental agencies charge.

Car = Check.

And so on. Even though the prospect of moving to Costa Rica for a year is daunting and overwhelming, the universe seems to be flashing a big neon sign that says, “GO!”

I cannot begin to tell you how much work and planning we’ve already done, and how much more work and planning there is to do before we leave. We like adventure, but we don’t like uncertainties. We dwell on the logistics, and there are still many unanswered questions and puzzles to solve.

A couple of months ago, as we were weighing all of this, I also happened to be filling out a questionnaire for University of Georgia alumni. One of the questions was about what advice we would give to UGA students today.

I wrote, “Always be a seeker and don’t lose your curiosity. When a new challenge, opportunity or adventure presents itself, don’t be afraid to try something new and bold. You may not always succeed, but sometimes you will, and no matter the outcome you’ll grow and learn if you keep seeking.”

And then I realized I needed to take my own advice. So we’re going. I’ll be updating the blog a lot as we prepare to go and once we get there, and Lee is creating a website for this trip too. Once it’s up, it’ll be at TemporaryTicos.com. Ticos are what the Costa Ricans call themselves, and we’re going to pretend to be like them, just for a little while.

So send up a prayer for us, send us your good mojo, and for goodness sake please make plans to come visit!

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