Shedding the Old

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Well, I’m in my final days of living in Cocles.  I’m excited to go back to the States for a few weeks and also excited to go live near the lake when I return.  But I am sort of sad to leave here in a way.  I think it takes a few months to settle in somewhere at the very minimum and I was just beginning to feel that way.  I had started waving or saying hi to people I knew on the street, like I was no longer the new kid on the block anymore.  I was one of the few long term people that was still at the Center.  I started to know when the clouds meant rain or not.  My Spanish even got a little better!  I can see how the place could grow on you, but still…there are things I will not miss.

I went to breakfast with my neighbor this morning and saw this poster hanging up that really spoke to me:

IMG-20130614-00833It’s a little blurry, but it says:

Advice from a TREE

Stand tall and proud

Sink your roots into the earth

Be content with your natural beauty

Go out on a limb (!)

Drink plenty of water

Remember your roots

Enjoy the view

What great advice, huh?  All of the things I’m trying to do summed up in this one poem.  I love it!

So I took a final look around, not knowing if I’ll ever see the place again and here are some pictures.

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Relaxing Puerto Viejo style
Relaxing Puerto Viejo style

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Surfing at Cocles beach
Surfing at Cocles beach

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Old barge at Playa Negra
Old barge at Playa Negra
Hawk that's always on the limb over the creek
Hawk that’s always on the limb over the creek
Creek near my house leading to the ocean
Creek near my house leading to the ocean
View to the sea from Zion Cafe
View to the sea from Zion Cafe
In front of Zion Cafe in town
In front of Zion Cafe in town
View from Salsa Bravo in town
View from Salsa Bravo in town
Gonna miss the gecko lovin'
Gonna miss the gecko lovin’
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Two Month Progress Report

First snake I've seen in my yard
First snake I’ve seen in my yard

It’s hard to believe it’s ONLY been two months.  Had this been a place where I had no way to know what day it was or I forgot to put the marks on the wall, I would swear it was six.  Just when I was saying to myself earlier today that its been a while since anybody has burned a pile of rubbish, sure enough someone JUST started doing it.

I want to say that I’m no religious fanatic.  And I sort of hate to use this statement because it sounds like I am…however, I sure feel like I’ve been tested.  It’s probably just living in a different country and the things that go along with it.  I just think about that night in my room where I’m finally happy that I got a net over the bed and I’m feeling pretty content.  I look up to see two gigantic roaches on my door.  The insect that I’m most afraid of (besides black crickets).  It’s as if someone is saying, “You can’t have it all!  You can’t be completely happy, so take THIS and let’s see what you do!  BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!”

Then there are the nights, which only started happening recently, where the rain is TORRENTIAL.  Scary, loud, threatening and there’s not a damn thing I can do but wish it away.  I’m just grateful that this tin roof doesn’t leak.  At least not on me or on my electronics.  Then once the rain finally subsides and the sun comes out, the mosquitoes are completely unforgiving.

I’m tired of cooking.  I’m tired of shopping for things I don’t even like and I’m tired of being hungry.  I almost liked it more when I WASN’T hungry…at least I didn’t HAVE to cook or go to the store.  But now my appetite has returned which poses another problem.  Eating.  I feel completely limited and uninspired so it turns into frustration and feeling malnourished.

I’m SOOOOO tired of being hot.  It’s 6:30 p.m., the sun is down and there is no breeze. I’m in a long sleeve shirt to keep the mosquitoes away and it feels like it’s 95 degrees.  I’m tired of this house I’m in and can’t WAIT to get to the hotel I booked last night in San Jose.  It looks like complete bliss at $78/night.

Ok, so is it coming through that I’m a bit frustrated?  I have decided to move to Lake Arenal in July though.  The house will be better, but who knows what the circumstances hold.  The food selection and prices will be about the same but at least I’ll have an oven and a REAL stove AND a microwave!!  It won’t be a tin roof…well, if it is, at least the walls go up to a CEILING.  The temperatures will be mild and even cool at night.  So maybe I started off right with this suffering of mine.  It gives me a lot to be thankful for in the future.  I will be contending with earthquakes and one of the most active volcanoes in the world 20 miles away.  I will be in a pretty remote area but will have a view of the lake and a dormant volcano.  I’ll still have toucans and howlers to wake me up in the morning from what I understand.  I just hope there aren’t as many dogs barking there.

I finally got tested by having a stray come into my life…which was COMPLETELY my fault.  She didn’t come back today, by the way.  She followed me to work and that was the last I saw of her (for now).   But it just emphasizes the problem of strays in this country and probably EVERY country.  There is no ‘pound’ or ASPCA here; nobody to call to come get the dog.  It’s hard knowing that they really are good animals and just want a friend.  I completely understand it.  I felt really good when she was walking beside me…like she WAS my friend.  I felt like she’d have my back if anything tried to attack me.  So it was hard yelling at her to go away and having to pick up a stick and watch her cringe in fear, as if she knew exactly what that meant.  I hate not being able to help her and I know I won’t forget yesterday anytime soon.  I could feel her fear when we’d walk past yards with other dogs and they’d come rushing at the fence barking furiously…knowing that if that fence hadn’t been there, it would’ve been ON and death or serious injury would have ensued.  She wouldn’t bark back, but get closer to me as if I would save HER…and I probably would have tried my best.  It makes me sad.

I suppose I haven’t been completely tested.  Knock on wood, I haven’t been robbed, mugged, hit by a car or otherwise injured.  It seems that each week at my job I hear of someone who had to go to the hospital for one thing or another.  Just today I heard about a guy that just started who fell off a bridge on his bike and was seriously injured.  Nobody knows what really happened…whether he was knocked down by a car or if he was drunk and fell.  People end up falling off their bikes on these rocky roads and get hurt.  Some people get hit by cars at night because they drive like MANIACS here and some dumb people don’t even have lights or reflectors on their bikes or themselves.

So yeah, it could be worse…glad it hasn’t been.  But I’ll tell ya, it hasn’t been easy.  I’ve met some really nice people here.  I’ve had strangers approach me while I was alone on a deserted beach and it was all cool.  I’m not saying that it would always be like that, but luckily it turned out ok.  I like to attribute that to my personality although I don’t actually think these people had bad intentions.  Do I feel like making a permanent run back to the States yet?  Nope.  The last thing I want to do is go back to work in an office.  I’m sticking it out down here.  Maybe the second quarter will be better.

One Month Progress Report

Bird fishing on Punta Uva
Bird fishing on Punta Uva

It has officially been one month that I’ve been here now.  Jan asked if I thought I could live here and what did I miss/not miss.  I think of the joke about this guy who said he was from some little town in Virginia (I hadn’t even heard of it and I’m FROM Va.).  He said, ‘if your doctor says you only have a few months to live, move here because everyday feels like an eternity’.  Somehow it’s not the days that feel like an eternity here.  It just feels like I’ve been here a lot longer than a month.

I think if I had a steady income and was able to contribute to my retirement funds, I wouldn’t feel as pressured as I do now.  The realization is that this can’t last forever unless I think up something that will allow me to do that.  Or at least I need to gain a new skill so I can come back to the U.S. and not have to work in I.T. or for ‘The Man’.  I felt that a job should be something you look forward to doing.  That’s basically my goal here…to find that…whether it’s here or somewhere else.

Could I live in Cocles longer than 3 months?  I’m not sure I want to.  It’s expensive and basically a tourist town.  Even the locals that live here can barely scrape by.  Everything costs about twice as much here as it does in the Central Valley.  So I’ve decided to move there in July and see how that goes.  The weather should be better as well, but I will sacrifice the beach.  I could get to one within an hour or so, but not within two minutes.  I’m sure I’ll miss it once I don’t have it anymore.  It IS a great feeling to ride my bike by and look out at the beautiful blue Caribbean everyday.  It’s what I’ve always wanted.  But I pay the price being this close to it.

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Am I gonna miss THIS? Heck yes!
Punta Uva
Punta Uva. It looks a LOT better in person.

What do I miss/not miss from my ‘normal life’?  I miss a DISHWASHER!!!  I miss a washer and dryer too but I can deal with that.  I miss a microwave in a big way.  It’s so time consuming to have to reheat something on the stove, which doesn’t always work well.  I miss cheap groceries and being able to get whatever the hell I want.  I miss meat, I miss BBQ’ing.  I don’t miss a car, TV, negative news reports, solicitation phone calls…heck, I barely miss a phone!  Oh, I do miss fast internet.  It takes about 3 hours to watch an hour 1/2 long movie.  I sometimes miss air conditioning. I miss having a boyfriend and I miss being able to see my friends and hang out with them.

I don’t miss the fairly crappy diet I used to have.  I feel that I do eat somewhat better here.  I mean, I got another cacao pod today that’s HUGE for $2.  I miss cheese a LOT.  That’s probably the food item I crave the most.  I did find some fairly reasonable mozzarella cheese ($4 for a small package of grated).  My dinner tonight consists of pan grilled red pepper and thin slices of salami and garlic.  I used half a ciabatta  sandwich loaf and grilled that in the remaining olive oil, flipped it over and put the mozzarella, Parmesan, peppers, salami and garlic on it and let it melt…along with a glass of wine.  It tasted awesome.  Whether it was that GOOD for me, I don’t know.  But I never did that at home.  I have to work with what I have and try to make it appealing.  I don’t eat as much here as I did there which is good too.  I have much less trash that I ever have in my entire life.  I’m in better shape from riding my bike and walking instead of using a car.

I’m getting used to the howlers at 4:45 a.m. as well as the birds who wake up at the same time.  I can actually stay in bed until 6 now and I scored some foam for the bed which makes it way more comfortable.  Oh yeah, I miss my mattress.  Like you wouldn’t even know.  I miss laundry that smells good.  The stuff I wash it in smells awesome but something happens when it’s been on the line in the sun…the smell goes away completely.  Weird.  I don’t feel that anything I have is all that clean, so I can’t wait to have my laundry done back in the states.

So overall, I think I’m getting over the shock of being here and accepting the bugs, the heat, the rain, the language barrier.  But I don’t feel like it’s ‘home’ yet.  Not sure I ever will.  One thing I did want to say about the people here that I’ve noticed.  When I’m riding my bike and someone local is approaching from the other way, they will always look at me with whatever expression I have on my face.  I always smile and wave or say ‘hola’ and they immediately smile back and say the same.  If I don’t do that, they will just stare at me and pass.  It makes me feel good to be nice to them and I think they appreciate it.  I’m in their town and don’t want to be rude.  So the people are friendly and very willing to help out and are very patient when the language becomes an issue.  I’ve never had one person get upset with me or frustrated, so that’s nice.   It’s a good place to be and I’m glad I do live here…the sacrifice was worth it.  I already know that I will look back on it with a fondness I’m not exactly feeling now and REALLY miss it.

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The first rainbow I noticed the other day from my yard