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Changes Coming

12 December 2009 449 views 8 Comments

Arp recently retweeted a quote on Twitter that we both think describes our current situation.  “Being uncomfortable prompts us to change, to move into our next expression. (via @JaqStone)”

We’ve been a  bit uncomfortable, in little or bigger ways, since we arrived in Costa Rica. And while we still love many parts of this country, we think it just might be time to move on.

For me (Arp will have to tell his own story), much of it has to do with the kids. I’ve felt for quite some time that our move has unfortunately limited their experiences. It’s been kind of the opposite from what I expected. I had great plans for them learning a lot from travel. Unfortunately, I’m beginning to think that only rich people can really give their kids that experience in this country. Our money situation, which is on the limited side of things, means that we can’t just pick up and spend the weekend driving to explore a volcano at the drop of a hat. So we tend to stay close to home.  In New York, this situation wasn’t quite so limiting since the US has the infrastructure to support libraries, free trail systems, playgrounds, parks & museums (payed for by special cards through our library). Here in Costa Rica, the books cost money and are often not available in English. Or we have to pay a lot of money to ship them from the US. Museums are almost non-existent. Trail systems are very limited here. Most of them are part of National Parks, which means entrance fees. It’s true that the fees are greatly reduced now that we are residents of Costa Rica, but still, the trails are few and far between. And my kids really miss playgrounds. I’ve seen very few playgrounds here. The ones I’ve seen are either extremely small or very outdated and dangerous. Like, maybe one of those scary metal slides that heats up in the sun and burns your butt. In summary, I feel that with our more limited money situation, maybe the US has more to offer our children right now. I hate to come to the conclusion that world travel is only for the rich, but maybe in some ways it is.

On my side of things, I’ve had a lot of trouble meeting people that I can really let down my guard with. Let’s face it – I’m pretty darn radical and I live my life very differently than most people. That can be very isolating. It’s a fact of life that I have to walk on verbal eggshells with most people I encounter. Most people I meet have very little experience with EC, tandem nursing, extended nursing, gentle parenting, non-coercive parenting, etc. Now, if you throw the entire concept of radical unschooling into the mix, I become very mind-boggling to most people. Believe me, I understand all this. So it turns out that I tend to have conversations with most people that involve constantly self-editing. I’ve tried just  being myself, but that doesn’t really work so well, and I end up endlessly explaining myself. I’m not sure what is more exhausting – walking on eggshells, or explaining how I really feel.

Back in the US, it was possible to actually find people (albeit a few) who I could be myself around. These are the people that I seem to actually approach friendship with. Here in Costa Rica, this is almost impossible to do. It comes down to the numbers. It’s generally not going to happen with native Costa Ricans due to language issues (I’m still working on my Spanish) and the fact that very few (if any?) Costa Ricans parent the way I do. Expats are generally few, and the majority of them are traditional parents also. So I end up with very few parents who I can actually talk to.  After 10 months here, I’m pretty sick of being isolated. Back in the US, we could always seek out members of our local unschooling group, but unschoolers are very very few in Costa Rica. The few families that we have really enjoyed spending time with live in places we don’t want to live.

It’s looking like our next move might be Florida. It’s warm or warmish, it has lots of beaches, and it has some areas where the cost of living is fairly cheap (cheaper than NY, at least). Our family is itching to move on. Arp and I are bored here. But we will be back again – at least to visit. Someday maybe we’ll want to stay again in Costa Rica. When we come back again, I’m sure we’ll be more able to enjoy the things we love about Costa Rica. We’re ready now for a new place and new people. And I’m ready to have libraries and a dishwasher again.


  • Trish (author) said:

    One more thing: If you are a reader from Florida, let me know. We’re trying to learn everything we can about the place, deciding which area to move to. I need contacts!

  • Arp said:

    The kids will have more opportunities elsewhere – even with money there’s only so much you can get out of a seeing a volcano or a monkey. Having other children they can be comfortable around is more important.

    For my part, I don’t mind having a life that is less a pain in the ass. When we lived around the central valley our house was comfortable, so it was easy to ignore the difficulties. Here, they are front & center.

  • kim dimauro said:

    so sorry to here that you and the kids are not happy but glad you are moving back to US! now i have 2 reasons to visit florida and one of them will be a good one. next time we talk, ill talk to you about florida. i have some good ideas about location etc. do you think we should cancel our trip to costa rica? we have travel insurance.

  • Trish (author) said:

    Don’t worry – we’re not in misery or anything. We’re just not satisfied, & we’re ready to move on. It may be another 6 months before we can get things together enough to move back.

  • Suzanne said:

    Hey gang. Well, what do I say? I’m not sorry it didn’t work out for you, because there is nothing to be sorry about. There is always something gained by embarking on a new adventure and you and your family will forever be changed by and for this experience.
    I also understand the child-activity-related challenges, although you might have missed out on some spectacular places like the Museo de Los Ninos in San Jose. A place like I’ve never seen and one our kids couldn’t get enough of.
    Although our kids were begging to home, it’s funny that now we’re back they constantly talk about how much they miss CR. How much they miss new adventures and seeing monkeys and toucans in the trees. Our children were blessed by meeting some wonderful adults and children alike (Ticos) as were we. And here, my son is having trouble adjusting the structured routine of regular school.
    Anyway, I could go on and on . . . but suffice to say that I congratulate you on following your hearts and dreams and beuno suerte in whatever location you choose next. For me, it’s Spain 2011!

  • Sarah said:

    Hey guys, I just checked out your website for the first time in ages, I can’t believe you’re leaving! Then again, it’s certainly not for everyone. I have been contemplating Florida myself for the warmth and proximity to Costa Rica. My husband and I always thought being able to spend 3-4 months a year in Costa Rica would be ideal but we haven’t quite figured out how to pull it off financially yet. At this point, we just feel so grateful he has a job at all so the idea of quitting it to give self-employment a try during a recession feels far too risky. Not to mention, four plane tickets from Idaho is pushing $3k+! From Florida it is sooo much more reasonable to fly there, plus my husband feels more at home there culturally than white bread Idaho.

    I don’t think we would have enjoyed the Caribbean coast for very long. For a visit it is wonderful, but the lifestyle over there is so different. We are used to, and prefer, the North Pacific. Once upon a time Tamarindo was such a cute town, last time I saw it like that was in 2002 then it changed so fast and was overbuilt and its character destroyed. We talked about living in Liberia but we didn’t want to be that far from the beaches we love. If we went back I think we’d go for Santa Ana next to Escazu although it is spendy now. I agree with you that Costa Rica is definitely best enjoyed with plenty of money. The only thing cheap there is labor and groceries. Everything else is on par with or higher than the U.S. prices. I am currently sending my 5 year old daughter to a bilingual public school (she’s in kindergarten). In Costa Rica, that same level of education would cost us $300 a month. With 2 kids in private schools in CR, you do the math. It’s a major deterrent for me. My husband has a large family and friends network down there though and I think that would make our experience so much different than someone’s who didn’t have that.

    Living in Costa Rica requires so much patience for foreigners. That isn’t my strong suit. I do long for and miss the natural beauty of the country though. My husband and I (pre-kids) used to drive all over the country in his truck. We did that for months until all my money from a car accident settlement ran out. It was the best experience of my life and only possible because I had several grand to blow through. We also spent a lot of time in Nicaragua, which I love. Many people our age there, at least in the middle and upper classes, speak perfect English, having fled to the U.S. in the early 80s. I met the nicest people there, they are known as the best hosts on earth and it is true. The level of poverty there is a tough thing to witness everyday though, but the Nicas have the biggest hearts. I always thought Americans could learn a lot from people who have truly been through hardships. I’ve met some amazing Nicas and Africans. Not saying move there, but maybe in the future you could check it out. Talk about unspoiled beaches, I hope it stays that way for a long, long time. Love the baseball fascination too and other signs of the gringo influence.

    I am thinking of the Tampa area although I am really not sure at this point. Let me know where you are considering. I realized during this current winter in Idaho that I absolutely do not want to be anywhere cold anymore. I’m done with the four seasons I once couldn’t live without. If I can’t spend time outdoors everyday without suffering then it’s not the place for me! Snow is no friend of mine. I miss the Costa Rican food. I am going to whip up a pot of dried beans and make gallo pinto tomorrow. I saw a boxed kit for gallo pinto in the store the other day and had to laugh at the ingredients list, as it was about 50 items long. All you really need is rice, beans and salsa lizano. I like mine with sour cream and a side of scrambled eggs. Gosh do I miss that Tico food! Enjoy your remaining time there, the temps across the nation are nasty right now. Stay till at least April! Take care and pura vida!

  • Justin said:

    Change always seems to be for the better. Hopefully we get a chance to meet in Florida.

  • Arp Laszlo said:

    That would be really cool. Any idea when you'll be heading down that way? We may not be there until fall.

    Do y'all have any plans to go to the Northeast Unschooling Conference?