We are three days in. Be well aware, we are just entering into the honeymoon phase of this life transition. Most everything is new and exciting. A few things are new and challenging. But absolutely nothing has been disappointing and discouraging.
Thus far, this life has provided exactly what we were looking for: amazing flora and fauna at every turn, a friendly and welcoming community of Ticos and world travelers, fresh local food, a way of living that includes much walking and no driving or watching TV, and the simple pleasures of a great cup of coffee, new friendships, and my current glass of Chilean Cabernet. And by much walking, I mean it. We did about 18,000 steps, or 9 miles, today. Our daily average has been around 5 miles. But along the way, we also saw our first monkeys and I saw a toucan! The hummingbirds and butterflies in the yard refuse to cooperate and pose for a picture.
We are especially grateful to those who have helped with our transition. First, Sarah Elena, a relocation expert you can find on YouTube who provided knowledge, connections, and encouragement.
Arturo, our driver extraordinaire, who met us at the airport on Friday, took us to get some provisions at Walmart, and got us safely to Monteverde while regaling us with stories of Costa Rica along the way. For all family and friends coming to visit, we will totally hook you up.
Esteban is a local who took us on tour of the area on Saturday and exclaimed that he wants to be our friend, but his real expertise is birding. Next Wednesday, he is taking us to see a quetzal (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quetzal), once a symbol of the Aztecs and recently near extinction. He knows of a female nearby who has laid eggs and has chicks that won’t leave for three more weeks, so it won’t leave the area.
And finally, Ran, a family friend and Quaker who has lived in this area long enough that he is practically mayor of the place. He owns a hotel in town but also manages our home and compound for the American back in the States who owns it. He and his wife Nicolette made us feel so welcome with coffee and gelato as we arrived in a state of exhaustion.
On Sunday, we attended the Quaker meeting at the Friends school just up the road. There, we met other friendly locals and great personalities, including a neighbor at the next compound.
Our major challenge has been sleep. Our body clocks are off, probably thanks to a combination of the two-hour time difference, the altitude, the stress of transition, and a new bed and surroundings. Basically, I’ve crashed between 8 and 9 p.m. only to awake at 1:30, 2:30, and 3:30, before rising around 4:45. Don’t get me wrong, it’s wonderful at that time of morning, with the birds beginning their songs and the howler monkeys woofing in the distance. Tonight, however, I am determined to stay awake until 10 p.m. and to sleep uninterrupted until 6 a.m. Squad goals.
The mornings here are divine. There is a steady breeze and cool temps. Hummingbirds flit among the blossoms, a distant rooster crows, and birds serenade the rising sun. It reminds me of an autumn morning. Eventually, the days warm up (to a humid upper 70s) and by afternoon it gets very still and muggy. This is when it might rain. Then the sun sets around 6:30 p.m. and evening begins.
We have no car, but foreigners are urged not to drive at night anyway due to the lack of street lights, the people and animals who walk on the road, and the rains that can suddenly wash it away.
For me, a contemplative in a seeming paradise, it all seems like one of those thin places in which the separation between creation and the divine feels more narrow than normal.
Our recent spiritual exercise has been to practice extreme acceptance. After all, complaining usually only leads to more to complain about, am I right? There is the story of a woman Zen master named Sono who was known for her practice of leading people to enlightenment by using the affirmation “Thank you for everything; I have no complaint whatsoever.” People came to her ill, upset, suffering, and still, she told them to use this affirmation and to repeat it often. Understandably, many people thought she was crazy to say this in the face of people’s pain and suffering, but those who followed her advice found healing and contentment. We have used it in security lines, during our hour-and-a-half wait to get through customs, and whenever unexpected delays crept up. You may want to try it the next time you are stuck in traffic, waiting in line, or frustrated by the things in life you cannot control. It is surprisingly effective.