“I believe a man does what he can until his destiny is revealed.” – The Last Samurai
As I approach my one year in Costa Rica and prepare to leave, I find myself reflecting on my journey. I’ve learned many things.
Why am I leaving? When I moved June 1, 2010 from Sarasota, Fla., my intent was to retire in Costa Rica. After all, it’s in the tropics, all the hype told of how cheap it is to live here, the fishing’s great, universal healthcare, there’s so much to do and, if that’s what tickles your fancy, there are young prostitutes everywhere.
Seriously. That last one is what seems to drive many of the expat males living here. But being able to pay very little for sex with girls one-third my age was not my motivation for moving to Costa Rica.
What it finally came down to is boredom. Not that Costa Rica is necessarily boring but I needed more challenges. Exploring this country could have provided interesting experiences but turned out not to be an option – simply because of my limited Spanish skills and my lack of transportation. Even with a car, I would have been reluctant to travel the country alone without a better understanding of the language. I have poor linguistic skills.
Without a car, I could have ventured around by bus, but, again, knowing the language would have been very important. Without it, I could have put myself in dangerous situations.
So I was basically stuck in one place, a relatively small town, Jaco, for the last 11 months of my stay (and the next two). Small towns get boring, even in the States, unless you know the locals and can carry on conversations with them. Get to know them. Again, the language problem.
As to the cost of living, I am able to live on my retirement check here simply because I gave up my car and because my rent/utilities are about 40% of what I paid in Florida. Otherwise, there is little difference in costs between Costa Rica and the U.S. Food costs about the same, same for clothes.
And we don’t even want to talk about the fishing. Suffice it to say that if you live in Jaco you better have a boat (and a car) in order to catch fish. I’m sure there are places in CR where you can successfully catch fish from the shoreline, but it ain’t Jaco. I did consider moving to the east coast in the Limon area, where fishing from shore is possible, but decided against it.
More deeply, however, my time here has allowed me to think about how I use the rest of my life – not how I retire. The one truth that has come out of this is that I really like to explore new countries, new cultures. And I’ve also learned that I’m addicted to writing. More on that later.
The fear and excitement I experienced in the first days of my journey, and in the weeks and months that followed cannot be duplicated. The ability to navigate in a foreign country for this long is satisfying, educational and redoable in other countries. I’ve learned that I want to repeat those experiences in a new country. Perhaps a new country every year.
As to the writing thing. Before relocating here, I had always “talked” about writing that one book. My mother, before she died after our 14 months knowing each other, was always trying to prod me into getting started. For some reason I found excuses not to. I told myself I did not have the skills.
I realize now that my job was probably the reason I didn’t write in my free time. My job as an editor, and publisher, required constant writing, not always for publication, but writing nonetheless – blogging, headline writing, promotional writing, reports, letters, etc. My brain was whipped by the end of the day and all I wanted was physical activity.
Since I’ve been in Costa Rica (re: retired), my writing outlets have been different. I started four new Web sites and this blog. I have also finally finished that long-planned book and have started on a second one.
I’m finding that my writing skills from work are indeed transferable to fiction writing. I’ve found that I really need to write something every day, even if it’s just a blog entry like this one, in order to be satisfied. (Actually, I’m trying to give my brain a creative break from the book writing.) And there’s no rush, either.
So, I will be leaving Costa Rica at the end of July after 14 months here. When I arrived, I wasn’t sure if I would be here the rest of my life or would bail after a few tough weeks. Neither was the case. Instead, I found a passion to pursue – actually two passions.
My next home should be equally as interesting – and challenging.