Arp recently retweeted a quote on Twitter that we both think describes our current situation. “Being uncomfortable prompts us to change, to move into our next expression. (via @JaqStone)”
We’ve been a bit uncomfortable, in little or bigger ways, since we arrived in Costa Rica. And while we still love many parts of this country, we think it just might be time to move on.
For me (Arp will have to tell his own story), much of it has to do with the kids. I’ve felt for quite some time that our move has unfortunately limited their experiences. It’s been kind of the opposite from what I expected. I had great plans for them learning a lot from travel. Unfortunately, I’m beginning to think that only rich people can really give their kids that experience in this country. Our money situation, which is on the limited side of things, means that we can’t just pick up and spend the weekend driving to explore a volcano at the drop of a hat. So we tend to stay close to home. In New York, this situation wasn’t quite so limiting since the US has the infrastructure to support libraries, free trail systems, playgrounds, parks & museums (payed for by special cards through our library). Here in Costa Rica, the books cost money and are often not available in English. Or we have to pay a lot of money to ship them from the US. Museums are almost non-existent. Trail systems are very limited here. Most of them are part of National Parks, which means entrance fees. It’s true that the fees are greatly reduced now that we are residents of Costa Rica, but still, the trails are few and far between. And my kids really miss playgrounds. I’ve seen very few playgrounds here. The ones I’ve seen are either extremely small or very outdated and dangerous. Like, maybe one of those scary metal slides that heats up in the sun and burns your butt. In summary, I feel that with our more limited money situation, maybe the US has more to offer our children right now. I hate to come to the conclusion that world travel is only for the rich, but maybe in some ways it is.
On my side of things, I’ve had a lot of trouble meeting people that I can really let down my guard with. Let’s face it – I’m pretty darn radical and I live my life very differently than most people. That can be very isolating. It’s a fact of life that I have to walk on verbal eggshells with most people I encounter. Most people I meet have very little experience with EC, tandem nursing, extended nursing, gentle parenting, non-coercive parenting, etc. Now, if you throw the entire concept of radical unschooling into the mix, I become very mind-boggling to most people. Believe me, I understand all this. So it turns out that I tend to have conversations with most people that involve constantly self-editing. I’ve tried just being myself, but that doesn’t really work so well, and I end up endlessly explaining myself. I’m not sure what is more exhausting – walking on eggshells, or explaining how I really feel.
Back in the US, it was possible to actually find people (albeit a few) who I could be myself around. These are the people that I seem to actually approach friendship with. Here in Costa Rica, this is almost impossible to do. It comes down to the numbers. It’s generally not going to happen with native Costa Ricans due to language issues (I’m still working on my Spanish) and the fact that very few (if any?) Costa Ricans parent the way I do. Expats are generally few, and the majority of them are traditional parents also. So I end up with very few parents who I can actually talk to. After 10 months here, I’m pretty sick of being isolated. Back in the US, we could always seek out members of our local unschooling group, but unschoolers are very very few in Costa Rica. The few families that we have really enjoyed spending time with live in places we don’t want to live.
It’s looking like our next move might be Florida. It’s warm or warmish, it has lots of beaches, and it has some areas where the cost of living is fairly cheap (cheaper than NY, at least). Our family is itching to move on. Arp and I are bored here. But we will be back again – at least to visit. Someday maybe we’ll want to stay again in Costa Rica. When we come back again, I’m sure we’ll be more able to enjoy the things we love about Costa Rica. We’re ready now for a new place and new people. And I’m ready to have libraries and a dishwasher again.