I’m thinking that it is not a coincidence that two of my favorite songs are “It’s my Life” and “California Dreaming”. My life has been one where I am always looking for the next adventure even though my career is one which most people view as conservative and stuffy. I have worked as an accountant most of my life and am presently (although not for long!!!) the controller at a university. My days are filled with numbers, regulations, and policy – a bureaucrat by most people’s standards. However, most people think of me as the “out-of-controller” because my personality doesn’t seem to fit the green eyeshades stereotype. I have moved on an average of every five years although have only lived in three states. But I don’t think I have ever lived in a house for more than four years in my adult life.
I contrast this with my mother who just closed on the house that I grew up in today. Mom and Dad bought the house in 1960, raised five kids and continued to live there until my dad died almost a year ago – almost 50 years. They were also married over 65 years and even though there were many issues associated with raising five kids, they had the strongest marriage I have ever seen. My life has been quite a bit more hectic than theirs when it comes to houses and relationships……
So this brings me to Costa Rica. Will this be the ultimate adventure that allows Tom and me to stay in one place and just enjoy ourselves? I believe that it is. There are so many amazing things to see and do in this tiny country. And while I never thought that I was much of an ocean person, I found out in February when we stayed at the house that I must have been a closet ocean lover all along. I have found myself missing the sound of the waves and the cool breezes. I guess I’ll just have to report back on my success in staying in one place a few years from now 🙂
You might be wondering about how we came to have our house in Puerto Viejo. Two years ago, Tom’s mom passed away and he received some money from her estate. She had invested it and Tom continued to do so. However, as we all know, the market crashed and he watched as the investments kept going down and down. So he took the money out and put it into a savings account.
Over the last few years we had talked about how much we wanted to live in Costa Rica. In February of 2009 we started talking about where we might want to live if we took the money from his mom and bought a house. We were on the internet (www.point2homes.com) almost every night looking at houses all over Costa Rica. We also were researching parts of the country that we had not visited in the event that something looked promising. That is how we discovered Puerto Viejo. As we researched houses we also researched the various towns and everything about Puerto Viejo appealed to us. What we couldn’t believe is that we hadn’t visited it before in one of our many trips to the country. We decided that we had bought in to the fable on the internet and in some of the guidebooks that the Carribean was a lawless, univiting place rather than do what we normally do and experience it and decide for ourselves. So – we ended up visiting Puerto Viejo and falling in love with the entire area and the people. There are wonderful restaraunts, incredible scenery, and a laid back attitude that does not allow the concept of stress.
The house we ended up buying was one that we actually had seen on the internet and had marked as a strong possibility. When we went on the buying trip, we toured probably fifteen different houses but we knew immediately that we wanted to live in Casa de Oro. It was (is) wonderful!!! Two bedrooms with ensuite baths, an open living room, enclosed kitchen (with six gas burner stove) and family room and an amazing garden. Even though we loved it, it was not until we went back and stayed for two weeks in February that we realized how incredible this was for us. We get the light breeze off the ocean that cools it down in the heat of the day and the short walk allows us to not have to be near the road that runs along the ocean. We are a ten minute walk to Puerto Viejo itself and, unless you walk in the hottest part of the day, it is a very pleasant walk. We will buy bikes when we move and will cut the ten minute walk to about a five minute ride if we want to.
Tom’s mom and dad loved to travel. They not only lived all over the world but traveled all over throughout their lives. I cannot help but think that Marge and Glen would be thrilled that we are using what they gave to make our own dreams come true.
Looking outside across the wheat field from our rental house
I have thought a lot about how we ended up in the place we are – eagerly anticipating an early retirement to Costa Rica. So many random things happened to get us here. We moved to Moscow Idaho in 2006 so that I could take a job at the University and I really thought we would be here until I turned 65 even though in my entire career I have never stayed in one place more than six years. I was 52 when we moved so thinking that I could make it another 13 years in one place may have been a bit misguided. Tom was a freelance photographer when we lived in Colorado after leaving the corporate life and planned to continue that career once we got to Idaho. However, while the images of the Palouse (the geographic formation in northern Idaho – see photo above) are gorgeous, they are very different than the red rock country that he was used to and it was difficult to get a toehold here. Fortuitously, a job opened up in the sponsored research office at the university that Tom was perfect for and he went back to work in an area that he liked and with people he connected with immediately.
However, around the time he went to work, I was becoming very disillusioned with my own job for a variety of reasons. So, we began talking about what we really wanted to do with the rest of our lives and it quickly became apparent that we wanted to move to Costa Rica. We had made several trips down to this amazing country since 1999 and hated leaving every time. We had a trip planned for May of 2009 and so began looking at places that we might want to live. While we had never been to the Caribbean side of the country, the more we looked and read, the more we thought that that might be the place for us. We ended up staying the entire two weeks of our vacation there and bought a house. This side of the country still has the amazing charm and wildlife of the rest of the country but has a truly different vibe. Very laid back and comfortable for us. We were lucky enough to buy the house from a couple who said they could live there until we moved down and so we have had absolutely no worries there. They have bent over backwards to make sure that anything we want is done. When we went to stay in the house for the first time in February, we decided that we would buy the lot they owned behind our house and they have made that a very easy transaction. In addition, we were able to find a great lawyer in San Jose, an amazing realtor who doubles as an “everything we need will be done” man, and a person in San Jose who has managed to not only buy us a car but get us a cell phone. What more could we ask!!!
I am counting down the days to our move on another blog – http://lovingpuertoviejo.blogspot.com
. I am going to have to figure out how to bring the two together at some point.
I spent quite a bit of time today looking at the ARCR (Associated Residents of Costa Rica) website searching about transporting animals into the country. I am going to be a wreck about this until our dogs are actually in the country. They are booked as excessive luggage on Frontier but we just don’t know what that means or entails.
Yep – Tom and I turned in our resignation letters on Friday, effective July 30, 2010. No turning back now – not that we had thought about that anyway. But it does make it all real now – house sold, jobs ending. We also bought our plane tickets and are leaving on Frontier on the midnight flight out of Denver on August 13th. The dogs are booked as excessive baggage but I am still not sure about how that is going to work.
Friends in Spokane are going to help us and will bringing four additional duffle bags so we will have eight in all for the final trip. That is going to allow us to bring many more things that I was afraid we would have to leave or pick up for an exhorbitant price in Costa Rica. Smal electronic items are very expensive compared to the United States because of the import tax that is paid to bring them in and sell them. We also will be able to bring in some of the art we have collected over the years that I would have been sad to leave behind. Not much but enough of the special things I love.
124 days and counting……..
We are moved in to our new abode (picture on the left) – if you can call living out of boxes moved in. We have food in the refrigerator, sheets on the bed, and a temporary fence set up so the dogs can’t get out of the yard. Closing on the old house will take place on Wednesday April 7th and then we will be free of almost all of our possessions in the United States.
There was an article in the travel section of the New York Times this morning about Puerto Viejo ( http://travel.nytimes.com/2010/04/04/travel/04next.html ). The pictures in the slide show made me wish we were already there. I love our house and the gorgeous garden, and the beach, and the town, and the monkeys, sloths, and birds. I am anxious to grow some fruit trees and herbs along with the flowers and greenery that are already there. We are going to buy the lot next to the house so that we will have additional space for a small guest house and additional plants and trees. I CAN’T WAIT!!!!