17 Month Observations

Yesterday marked our 17th month here in Costa Rica. I try to at least update once a month and today I have two main points although they have nothing to do with each other and are super random. 

1. Driving in Costa Rica is insane!

So I’ve been driving here pretty much from day one and I thought it would get better by this point. NOPE! The day-to-day things have become pretty easy and I think it’s safe to say that I’m on auto pilot going to the grocery store and a few other places.

BUT going anywhere else, especially between 3:00-9:00pm can make a person say words that they normally don’t say. The traffic is terrible and people drive as if there are no laws. For example, I had taken the kids to the orthodontist one evening and we were headed back home and sitting at a red light, people were honking and yelling at me like crazy because I wasn’t going. The light was obviously red! **On a sidenote, if you are familiar at all with Costa Rica you know about the Pura Vida attitude. (If you are not familiar it is a saying that locals and tourists use here about the laid-back easy-going attitude.) Well, it is pura Vida until you get into a car here.

Another problem with traffic is we have several tolls that have about 6 to 10 lanes which then drop down to two lanes immediately after. You have to be very aggressive driver around here and that is so not me. Nathan, on the other hand turns Tico (Costa Rican) as soon as he’s in the car.

Parking here is also brought me to tears on several occasions. I think that people that are born here are born with a genetic ability to park and very tight spaces and find places to park that no one would ever have thought a car can go. Nathan recently took Blake Leigh to see paw patrol and when they came out of the show this is what the parking lot looked like.

I have avoided certain places and gone at strange times to stores because I knew that parking will be an issue. There will be a store that is super close but has no parking so I will specifically go out of my way to another one because I know I’ll be able to park. I know this sounds silly to many people but it is definitely a huge stressor for me. On that same orthodontist trip last week there are only four spots in front of the orthodontist so we’re always crossing our fingers on the way there for a parking spot. It is also in front of a very busy street right next to the national stadium of Costa Rica so it’s a very intense place. This time we found one but it was about the size of a small car. We ended up all having to get out of one door which was actually pretty comical. I have learned to try to laugh in these moments and be grateful that I didn’t hurt our car or another car in the process. 

I know people here who are able to avoid driving because they use Uber or they have personal drivers but I have too many places I have to go every day with three kids and dog to make that actually work for us. 

I am constantly in need of a massage because of all the tension in my neck and shoulders after being in the car. I recently got Nathan and I massages for his birthday and the lady could not believe how bad my neck and shoulders were. I blame this entirely on driving here!

2. There are times when I feel extremely homesick

Living in another country is kind of like a roller coaster. I’ve explained to friends and family before that I almost have to live minute by minute with my emotions. It has become more like hour to hour, which I guess is progress🙌🏽. Some weeks I will go on and be so grateful for this experience and other weeks, like this one, I wonder what in the world I’m doing.

I had to have some medical test this week on my shoulder and the language barrier makes a huge difference. Also, our insurance here is very different and complicated and I honestly don’t even understand it. I’m very thankful for Nathan’s assistant because she helps me with these matters. 

Anyway, I say all of that to say that I was sitting at the hospital waiting for my test not knowing where to go or who to pay or even understanding people who were trying to help me. That is hard. I say this a lot, but I feel like it’s important… We chose to do this and put ourselves in this position but I do want to be transparent with the realities of living in another country. Not understanding the language or the dialect can make you feel very hopeless and lost. Luckily, we have lots of people that are willing to help us and I’m very grateful for that. Saying that, I don’t always want to bother people with my every day issues and know that I need to figure them out for myself for personal growth and future problems.

I was sitting there waiting with tears in my eyes but then within a couple of hours I felt very blessed to know that people here are willing to help. Even though several of the techs didn’t speak English I was able to understand them and with hand motions we were able to figure out what I needed to do during the exam and tests. (For those who are interested it turns out I have a torn rotator cuff.)

Yesterday, I lost my debit card and that was one of those things that I had to rely on someone to help me. I tried to use my Google translator and talk to people around the area where I lost it but that was just a huge disaster. I’m so used to being able to figure things out on my own. I ended up calling Nathan’s assistant and she called the bank to stop the card. I can’t say enough how grateful I am for her.

Today, Nathan and I both have been a little homesick. We found out this week that ESPN game day was going to be in Memphis and there’s no place Nathan would rather be today than there but luckily, it was on here, and even in English! We were able to watch this morning before Nathan took Benson to flag football. We are also crossing our fingers that the game is on tonight to where we can see it. Days like this it’s nice to have a connection to home.

We are still feeling very fortunate to be here and I definitely don’t want to sound like poor pitiful me. Our children are still amazing us with how they have adapted and are excelling in this new environment. Benson (6th grade) has been chosen to play his trumpet with the high school band in a couple of weeks in a performance at the school. Sloane is out of her sling and splint and is back to swimming. She was recently part of a math team from the school that got to compete against other schools in the area. And Blake is really starting to love to read and write chapter books for us. They each have their challenges but your mind then that they would be going through some of the same things even if we were still in the states. As Nathan has been down to say… “Growing up is awkward” and we are all still growing up. 

Here are some pictures from lately. Today when I was feeling homesick I decided to take a long walk and saw some funny things on my walk and help brighten my mood. It is also hard to be homesick when you see such a beautiful creation around you.

our school has its own Nemo and DoryNathans birthday. Part our little Costa Rica tribe Sloanes Math teamWatching Gameday Random petting zoo in our neighborhood this morning. .

2 thoughts on “17 Month Observations

  1. You and your family are troopers. I admire y’all. I don’t know how you do it. And I still miss you. Would love to see you for 1 minute when y’all come home.

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  2. You are still my hero! I don’t think I could do what you are doing but I know God is giving you what you need to survive. We miss our Bland family and hope to see you when you make this next trip HOME! We love you all!

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