Every, single day, at some point in the day, I think to myself: This is ridiculous. It’s too hard, it’s too much, what on earth was I thinking? I want to go home. And every single day, at some point in the day, I think to myself: This is amazing. I can’t believe I get to do this, I love my life! These two points are not as far apart as one would guess.
We’ve been here almost two months now. Construction on the new space is in full swing and the walls of the kids’ new rooms are almost finished. Anyone who read my post about my attempts to get my garden going knows that I have been busy getting my hands dirty. Those efforts are starting to pay off – seeds are sprouting, trees are flourishing and I can imagine a time when all of this dirt is full of food. Between the garden set up, the reno work and the three kids, we are pretty busy.
So, for your amusement and so you can understand life here better, I offer you these Top Five lists.
Top 5 things to love about living in the jungle.
- The wildlife. Most days we see howler monkeys, blue morpho butterflies, toucans and other gorgeous birds and lots of different types of lizards either in our yard or from our windows. You’d be surprised how quickly phrases like “I had to race my shower-frog for my towel” can become commonplace. The kids caught a Reticulated Night Lizard in my kitchen the other day. Her name is now Luna and she lives a life of luxury in her new home in their cabin while they catch tiger ants and grasshoppers for her consumption.
- The water. We have a waterfall and swimming hole within a 15 minute walk from home and at least once a week we go to the ocean where the water is warm and the beaches are mostly deserted.
- The people. Our little village seems to be full of generally kind and friendly people who will speak slowly to us and be tolerant of our bad Spanish. You have to drive a few kilometers down a dirt and gravel 4×4 road to get to our place and it is not uncommon to have to pull into the ditch so an oncoming car can get by you and have a quick conversation through your open windows.
- The food. Costa Rican cuisine is nothing special, but the market where you can buy your fill of fresh, perfectly ripe mangoes, pineapple, papaya, plantains, avocados, guanabana etc. for only a few dollars is amazing.
- My shower. These outdoor-ish showers are pretty common here. Mine has a wall up to about shoulder height and then a roof that slants down with an 18” or so gap in between. From there, I look out into the trees. We have set it up to have hot water (my luxury item), which is heated by propane. There is something vaguely satisfying about seeing an actual flame leap up in the box the water travels through when you turn up the heat. We installed a rain-water showerhead and the whole thing is just really pretty and wonderful.
Top 5 things to loathe about living in the jungle.
- The wildlife. The ants are terrifying and if you leave food out for more than a minute they will swarm. We have had tarantulas in our cabins more than once. I have been stung by a tiny scorpion while in bed; and the construction guys killed a Fer deLance or Tercipelo snake outside my cabin yesterday which, for those of you playing the home game, is one of the more lethal and aggressive snakes out there. All the scariest things in the jungle come looking for a warm dry place as the rainy season starts, which is now. Sigh.
- The damp. Surprisingly, rainforests are not dry places. Everything is always moist; clothes, sheets, towels, and mold grows on everything. Paper gets soft and just disintegrates. On really rainy evenings, clouds actually float into the cabins looking like bad special-effect ghosts and settle on your skin.
- The isolation. As we have been having trouble getting our phone and internet set up properly, we are more cut off from the world than we had anticipated, which makes the transition harder on everyone but particularly the kids. Hopefully we can get this one resolved soon. When the cicadas are being particularly loud as they are right now, all I can hear are bugs, birds and running water, which is very peaceful, but it can also be hard to remember that there is an outside world of technology and deadlines and such!
- Tico time. Everything here is “manana” or “mas tarde” or “tranquillo” which are all just ways of saying “nothing is going to happen until later and later is much later than you would think”. Lovely when you are having a siesta with friends, but a real pain when you are trying to conduct business, get a structure built or deal with a government agency.
- We miss you. That’s all.