I think my life as an immigrant is fairly different from other expats’. First off, I live in the mountains instead of on the beach. I live in the Orosi Valley of Costa Rica—not the Central Valley. My husband Michael and I are the only “gringos” (not a pejorative word in Costa Rica) in our entire town of 4,000 people. And we “live” in Spanish.
Last, (and deserving its own paragraph) we live and work on our hobby farm, growing fruits and vegetables, raising farm animals, and enjoying back-to-basics living.
My days start with caring for all the animals. I roll out of bed and sort of wake up while milking the goats; then it’s feeding the chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, guineas, and rabbits. And our regular pets. A quick chat with our gardener and it’s off to other things.
Twice a week I make artisan cheeses from all that goat milk. The bulk of those days is eaten up with that, although I do have moments of free time during the process in which I play the piano, read, or write a Postcard like this one.
On the other days, I usually busy myself with one of the many projects I have on my want-to-do list—remodeling the house, laying out new gardens, channeling the river to make waterfalls or fountains. I do try to make time for a dip in the pool as a great refresher-break.
In the dry season I tend to immerse myself in longer days—that’s to say, I make hay while the sun shines. In the rainy season, I finish up those outdoor activities by noon and then enjoy the rainy afternoons with a great cup of Costa Rican coffee and a nice read. Or, I get busy in the kitchen, and friends come over.
The days wind down by gathering the eggs and whatever fruits and vegetables we have ready. It’s always fun to run out and find a stalk of bananas that’s ripe, or to grab lots of different citrus fruits right off the tree. And I normally check on our hives of stingless Costa Rican honey bees.
You’re probably thinking, “Doesn’t he ever want to relax?” Well, you see, for me this is relaxing—I enjoy it all so much. And I can set or vary my schedule however I want to. But I usually don’t go more than two or three weeks before we take a trip. We either explore some new place in Costa Rica—it’s simply incredible the diversity of nature that exists here—or we take a real vacation. (I laugh when I use that word, because our entire life is really a vacation now.)
We just got back from a two-week cruise around the Caribbean, we’re going to tour the Baltic Sea in July, and I’m planning to walk the Camino de Santiago in Spain in September.
We often have company. Friends and family come to visit—a week or two at a time. During those times we just play life by ear. After years of a regimented lifestyle in the U.S., being spontaneous is a joy.
Weekday nights, when spent at home, will often find us binge-watching a favorite TV series, but we are frequently invited to some tico (Costa Rican) neighbor’s “party”—you sit and visit a have a beer or two. Thursdays are always “date night.” We go try out some new restaurant or go the movies—usually both.
If it weren’t for our regular Saturday morning trip to the feria (market) or church on Sunday, we would get really confused about which day of the week it is because every day is like the weekend now. Saturday and/or Sunday afternoons are almost always spent in some larger gathering surrounded by food and friends—expats from around the globe as well as tico neighbors.
There are a million other things I do—from volunteering at local charity events, to judging English Spelling Bees at the nearby schools.
But mostly, I just love my life here.