Everything is right.
Everything is right. I look out the window at the trees and I know their names. I missed that in the desert. You have no idea how sad you can be without trees until you don’t have any. The ocean is exactly the same. It was here all along just as I suspected. It doesn’t need me to live the way I need it. The air has a faint smell of wood smoke. Maybe from brush fires in the mountains? I don’t know. We saw some as we flew into Liberia at sunset a few days ago. Locusts shrill in the trees, especially at dusk and at dawn. Flocks of silly, exuberant parakeets carry on like wound-up school kids. In the heat of the day, giant iguanas called garrobos scurry across the yard and get into loud scratchy-sounding fights our roof.
It’s hot. This is the hottest time of year, when even people who were born here complain about the temperature. Daytime highs are about 100. The ocean is warm like a saltwater bath, and crystal clear. We’ve been out surfing twice so far, with very little success if you count waves caught, but if you count how happy we are just to be in the warm salty water, we should win trophies. The apartment we’re staying in has screened windows with no glass. “Inside” and “outside” need very few barriers. At night I can finally sleep without the weight of quilts and blankets pushing on me, annoying my feet. I’m all wrapped up in angels and warm air.
Travel went well, even with our boatload of baggage. We managed to make all of our connections on time and everything arrived with us. Thank you United Airlines for at least making good on the big baggage fees you charged us. A friend picked us up at the airport, took us to his house, fed us, and gave us a place to sleep. The next day we moved our things in to this simple little apartment, and we rented a car for a few days.
We went to Immigration because our residencies are expired. We have an appointment to go back in a month with certain fees paid and papers prepared—I hope that’s the end of the process and not just a little step in a long one. I guess we’ll find out. We can’t renew our drivers’ licenses or buy health insurance until our residencies are renewed. I was afraid that we weren’t going to be able to open a bank account either, but we did, at the Banco de Costa Rica. No problem. Unless you count the hour and a half that we waited in line for someone to help us. That wasn’t my favorite experience, although neither was it a surprise. We went to the phone company and I learned that my lovely Samsung cell phone from the US of A is blocked by Verizon and I can’t use it with a Costa Rican chip until after I go to a Samsung dealer in San Jose who can unblock it for me. But new boss gave me a phone. What a great guy.
We’re still in the middle of getting settled. I’m not going to go over my to-do list here, but I do have one. At the top of it is STAY OUT OF THE SUN FOR A DAY OR TWO because I’m way too crispy.
Did I mention that I can now, finally, wear one shirt at a time? I just have to say that in honor of my co-workers in Moses Lake where I amused an entire clinic by wearing multiple layers, sweaters, and gloves all year long.
As you’re leaving the United States, people can make you question your sanity. Everybody acts a little jealous, but they aren’t, really—because Costa Rica is a 3rd world country and that doesn’t sound safe or comfortable. Are you kidding me? People sell their souls to be safe and comfortable. But any self-doubts that I may have had evaporated during my first trip to the supermarket. I practically bumped into an old friend as I turned up the shampoo aisle. She gave me a huge bear hug and the first, “Welcome home! We missed you!”
“I’m so happy to be back,” I said.
“How long were you gone?” my friend asked.
“FIVE YEARS?! Wow.” Then she shook her head sadly, thinking that over, and said, “You must be happy. It’s hard being in the States…”
It is. It is hard being in the States. It is hard to be sad for a long time. It is hard to wake up in the cold from dreams of green leaves and warm water. But it’s good to be able to do hard things. I am sure that I will have to do plenty more.
Here’s the thing: I found my tribe. And now I know that. A crazy mish-mash of expats and Costa Ricans who live together by choice. Speaking each other’s languages, making things work, sometimes making each other mad, having each other’s back, being free to leave and choosing to stay.
And now it’s Monday morning and time to start our new jobs. I’ll be in the office of a property managing company, and Pio will be doing maintenance. I’ll let you know how it goes.