As we settle in, there are things that we enjoy, and there are challenges as well.
Our biggest challenge is probably the insects and critters. It seems that every bug that exists here bites, probably even the butterflies. Jacob got some sort of bug in his pants yesterday (literally) and ended up with probably 20 small bites all over that area. We’ve killed a few scorpions in our house, including one on Monkey’s ear (Jacob’s favorite stuffed buddy). Yesterday at breakfast, we were praying when Jacob saw a scorpion on the underside of my shorts. Some things live in our rafters (we think birds and an iguana), making eerie scratching noises and occasionally causing detritus to appear on our kitchen counter. And there are ants everywhere, inside and out, along with a few cockroaches. A few nights ago, I woke in the middle of the night and found a massive frog in the middle of the living room, probably there to eat the ants and roaches. No idea how it got there, but hopefully no other unwanted houseguests venture in looking to eat frogs.
Figuring out how to get things done has been a challenge too. In the United States, things are so straightforward, and if they’re not, you can probably just Google it. Here, we don’t even have a street address (it’s something to the effect of “100 meters north of the main water pump on the right side of the street, third house on the right”). Trying to order Internet over the phone in Spanish is intimidating enough, let alone trying to figure out how to tell them where you live. Buses, routes, and fares have also been confusing. As well as knowing what to expect from our landlord in regard to fixing things. We have one of the nicer houses in town, so when there is an issue, do we just deal with it, do we fix it ourselves, or do we ask him to fix it? Both the kitchen sink and the bathroom sink have been leaking, and for a while I just put a bucket under the kitchen sink and let the bathroom sink drip, but when we began waking up in the middle of the night and finding a puddle extending all the into our bedroom, we decided we should ask him to fix it (which he did the same day!).
I think one of the more surprising things to us is how expensive everything is here. God is good, and he has provided us a great place at a really good rent, $350 a month. Besides that, the only thing that is cheaper than in the U.S. is fruit. I would expect manufactured items to be more expensive, but I’m surprised that food, lodging, and everything else is so expensive. It wasn’t that way when we visited in 2009, but it seems that increased tourism and real estate activity by foreigners have really driven up prices for everything. I have no idea how Ticos survive here.
Good sleep is also hard to get. The heat and a less comfortable bed present some basic challenges, but the bigger challenge is the fact that life starts early here. Motorcycles and diesel engines start chugging past our house at 5:30 in the morning, and Jacob and Charlotte’s neighbor friend will often start trying to get them to come out and play well before 7:00. On Wednesday, it was at 5:58. I know that a simple solution would be to go to bed earlier, but that’s easier said than done. Last night we had that goal in mind and were in the middle of dinner when our neighbor from across the street showed up with his four-year-old daughter. We stopped dinner and just played, the kids coloring and playing with clay and chatting in different languages while Luis, Rachel, and I played Uno. I doubt we’ll ever get the sleep that we desire, but I guess we didn’t come here to sleep. And a community of people doing life together is pretty cool.