This piece first appeared in The Costa Rican Times August 19, 2013. It appears to have taken on a life of its own; so far it’s had 55 shares on the CRT website and who knows how many others after that. We write and send our babies out into the world where they either thrive or wither…
When people first come to Costa Rica to live permanently, typically they are in awe of everything they see. Soon, as most of us discover, life becomes simply a life of routines rather than a continual unfolding adventure. Here are 21 ways you know you’ve lived in the tropics long enough for it to become a way of life, not a vacation thrill.
1. You haven’t closed a window against the weather in over a year; in fact, you have lived in the open air for so long a closed window or door feels confining.
2. You never (ever) pick up a crumb off the table and eat it (even if you’re pretty sure you just dropped it). There is a 50/50 chance it could be a lizard turd.
3. Drinking water with ants floating in it is no longer disconcerting, you simply scoop them out with a spoon or just drink the water, depending on how many there are.
4. You wash all the clothes you plan to take on a trip abroad to avoid giving some fellow traveler a mold allergy attack.
5. You are unfazed by hot and steaming clothes when you unpack in any foreign city.
6. Moisturizers are redundant.
7. Sharing your house with lizards, anoles, ants, and spiders seems acceptable; in fact, lizard eggs in your dresser drawer is the new normal.
8. A Hummingbird trapped in the house is not a panic moment. It simply means you get a net and remove it.
9. You do not flinch when beetles and other crawly things (some the size of Volkswagens) park on your night table or dive bomb the light while you are reading. Instead you calmly capture them and remove them to the out of doors.
10. Rather than leap into the air when you feel something on your neck, you merely brush at it, and then look to see what it is.
11. You are philosophical when you put on your running shoe and discover a toad has taken up residence there.
12. Dressing up means putting on a clean tank top and your newest shorts.
13. Sandals are your dress shoes.
14. You recognize macaw and oropéndola calls rather than a robin’s or a nuthatch’s.
15. The horrific noise at the crack of dawn, the one tourists think is made by crocodiles, you recognize as howler monkeys calling to each other. They are your alarm clock.
16. You no longer stop in awe and snap photos when you see a sloth crossing the road, instead you stop to make sure no one runs over it.
17. “Eat locally” means rice and beans plus a stewed meat of some sort. You no longer ask for a menu.
18. You rinse the sand off before getting into the shower so you will not have to re-plumb the drains.
19. You no longer expect or rely on electricity 24/7. If it goes out while you are baking bread, you leave the loaf in the oven and hope latent heat will continue to cook it, or a casserole, or a roast, or a pie, or….
20. “High-speed” Internet simply means it is functioning.
21. You’re resigned to the fact that the only things you are able to view “streaming” are vines from trees and water off the roof.
And finally, when you tell someone, “Pura vida,” you recognize the layers of meaning behind this phrase–from irony to sincerity– and use it accordingly.