We moved to Monteverde, Costa Rica on July 1st of this year. It’s hard for me to talk about without coming across as “Oooo I’m from the States and the culture here is like so different and kind of better except for a few things [enter rant]” but I’m going to just go for it.
My husband is the cost-benefit guy in this relationship. I’m the brainstormer. Our problem has been that we tend to do our jobs at different times. For Costa Rica, we were suddenly on the same page. In fact, he sort of usurped my role as the idea person when he brought up the idea of moving here. So I thought it was an awesome idea and we spent the last year figuring out how to make it work.
For the last few months we were in Austin, we wanted to just be out of there. Partly because we were trying to get rid of all our SHIT. Not knowing how hard it is to be rid of all one’s shit. So we looked forward to the move. When we got here, we had the classic honeymoon phase of culture shock. It’s beautiful, the kids were excited, the house we are renting is awesome. I saw toucans. That sort of thing. The area we are in is lush and green. It’s a cloud forest, and it is biodiverse and the temperature is moderate and everything is ancient and gorgeous. Walking to the store means walking down a dirt road from our place in the mountain, past amazing views and beautiful pastures. It is truly a gift.
At the same time, a lot of this is really difficult. I have two daughters, ages six and two. The six year old is basically gung ho about this whole experience, despite having to go to a brand new school. The two year old has pretty much forgotten about the old house. Well, not really, but toddlers move on pretty quickly. My husband and I are meanwhile hanging on to a lot of shit we thought we would be letting go of easily.
Consumerism, for example. It’s difficult to buy things here. Whenever I buy something here, I try to figure out if there will be more than one use for it. “We can use this pillowcase as cheesecloth!!” If you want to buy something they don’t sell in Monteverde, you have to plan a trip to San Jose, which is about three hours away. We have no car, which is not unusual here, but is an additional barrier for us in terms of mobility.
So in the course of this, my husband and I have been in a sort of survival mode and have had trouble connecting. Which made me think, “Damn, here I am having marital problems. I never hear or read about people’s marital problems unless they overcame them a long time ago, or they are now divorced.” We are actively working stuff out. We have a therapist. We aren’t getting divorced. So how to write about it? Well, I have no fucking idea. We’re two people, slogging through some shit (see the movie The Kids Are Alright for full monologue) and I want to be honest about it and maybe hear stories from others. Am I missing something? Anything like that out there? Outside of infidelity stories? I feel like infidelity stories are saying the same thing but it’s all about cocks being in the forbidden pussies and that detracts from the point, for me.
On a side note, I enjoyed and was comforted by this piece by Amelia Apfel about Arusha, culture shock, and the brilliant relief of appreciation.