What Happened When We Followed Our Dream to Live a Life Less Ordinary

The Sequel to: Moving to Paradise Made Me Feel Like a 1950s Housewife

Noam, second to last. This image pretty much sums up his life as a toddler in Samara: free, wild, gorgeous and surrounded by love.

Noam, second to last. This image pretty much sums up his life as a toddler in Samara: free, wild, gorgeous and surrounded by love.

Everything has a price tag. In our case, living in an idyllic beach village in Costa Rica while one of the coldest winters in years descended on our home in Brooklyn, meant dealing with a few scorpions, perpetual dirt on our floor, and giving up Amazon. At a beach party shortly after arriving, I lamented  to my new mom friend about how I could not stand the feeling of dirt on my feet. She sweetly laughed and said, ‘We have a lot of unwinding to do on you”. I knew this was true, and it would be a good thing for me.

In Brooklyn we spent a lot of energy and money to UNWIND with weekend trips to the country and spa days at Great Jones in order to balance the intensity of our not only hectic work lives but also hectic social schedules. From our small apartment on a busy street corner, we longed for space, simplicity and a healthier way of living, but adventure too. We found all of it, and more, here in Sámara, Costa Rica.

Many times during our stay here, I would tell friends in the States, "Small town Costa Rica sure beats small town America."  Growing up in a small town in Louisiana I know all about issues like boredom, lack of diversity and scarcity of resources. Yet the trades are space, simplicity and a tightly knit community; much sought after by the busily entertained. Here in Sámara, our village is a simple, international one with beaches to comb and mountains to hike for entertainment. Not bad.

Following up on the musings of shock and horror at our new life surrounded by nature and a lack of urban amenities, I cannot, not share all the delightful surprises, moments of awe and heart warming exchanges that happened when we followed our intuition to be close to nature and our dream to live a life less ordinary. Here are some of the reasons why life rocks here, though, there are so many more.

  1. A Second Language - In America learning a second language is a huge task in such a huge country that only speaks English. For a parent who is not fluent in a second language, giving this gift to your child usually comes at a huge educational cost.  Here childcare/ preschool is obviously taught in Spanish and it’s not expensive nor competitive to enter. Also, I feel like I’m dropping him at grandma’s house with all the love and affection they shower on him. After 3 months my son can understand his teachers in Spanish and is really comfortable speaking...Spanglish.

  2. Full Moons - I finally understand how Cat Stevens came up with the song Moon Shadow. Seeing your moon shadow after living an entire life not knowing it existed, is pretty stirring. In this dark, quiet town the nightly celestial map is something at which to marvel and the full moon steals the show. Nature truly provides boundless awe and entertainment and perhaps clues to the universe?

  3. Coconut water - Six liters for $8! Yes, in NYC, we pay embarrassingly ridiculous amounts of money for this trending beverage. In Samara a guy walks through the neighborhood (kind of like the guy peddling rugs in town) with huge six liter bottles of fresh coconut juice for $8 (that is one and a half gallons, FYI). We feel completely glutinous and grateful as we drink coconut water by the glassful after years of being so judicious with our 8oz, five dollar bottles from overpriced Brooklyn Bodegas. OK, you do have to be in the right place at the right time, but the excitement is akin to hearing the sound of the ice cream truck turn down your street as a child when this guy comes around yelling, “PIPA!”

  4. Nature not caged - It really is wild here. The jungle is wild, our salty hair is wild and the animals roam freely. At any turn in the road we can be blocked by cows, jog on the beach alongside a galloping horse or watch monkeys swing from trees in our yard. It’s always an incredible surprise when this happens to us after years of only knowing animals in cages and fences. It must be pure magic for my toddler to see animals so free.

  5. Lunch Lady - I have not felt so at home in my new kitchen nor at the grocery store to make decent meals on the regular.  A mom friend told me about a Tico woman who would make school lunch for $2.50 a day. She delivers hot food to my son’s school at lunch time and sends me a picture of that day’s special. In the beginning I did not even meet her. It’s just part of the village mentality here of taking care of all our children. Food is life, love and culture in it’s best expression. Knowing he gets this daily from a woman in our community nourishes me too.

  6. Silks - Not one for running or sport I have to search out an exercise regime that is entertaining. Soon after arriving I discovered a class taught on the beach called “Silks”. From the coconut trees, Irena, the Argentinian teacher hangs colorful drapes of silk on which we climb and dance. In skin tight exercise clothes on the beach, six to eight of us partake in this strenuous, beautiful art form to dance beats from her portable speaker. So many times I had to pinch myself as I did sit ups with views of blue sky and palm fronds overhead.

  7. Fruit, Fruit, Fruit & Chili Mango Kombucha - There are many enterprising people in this small community (aka pipa guy, rug guy, lunch lady), but one that stands out is the cool guy with dreads who makes a product line of fermented drinks and food which he sells from his front porch. His job is his passion. His latest Kombucha flavor is Chili Mango since it’s the middle of mango season. BTW, there are more mangos ripening on trees  than all the humans, monkeys, iguanas, squirrels and birds combined can eat! It’s glorious. While I miss food delivery and 24 hour bodegas, I love these exchanges of goods from the makers. It’s eating local on a whole new level - with human connections.

  8. Yuca Fries - When my sister asked me what I would miss most about our lives here, Yuca Fries was in the top 5!  I love many foods with equal vigor but have grown to be possibly addicted to Yuca Fries which is served everywhere here. I will never be able to enjoy potato fries again now that I have tasted this underrated root vegetable. I might even patronize McDonald’s if they were to put it on the menu.

  9. Everyone says, Hola - When we bike or walk down the street, literally everyone smiles and says, “Hola”. At first I was taken aback and did not want to partake because I’ve been in New York for too long. I do not enjoy talking when I don’t feel like it. But seeing a familiar or strage face flash that sweet Costa Rican smile is absolutely contagious. Smiling is underutilized.

  10. 10 minutes away, by bike - A long time ago I overheard someone say, your quality of life is vastly improved when you live close to your work. In other words, commutes really do suck the life out of you. In Samara, everything is 10 minutes away, by bike! I can get to all of the places I need to be: preschool, my husband’s school, the grocery, the beach in 10 minutes via the best mode of transportation, a bike. This allows for physical activity and sunshine, all at a pace not to slow but not too fast that I can’t make eye contact and say Hola to the other pedestrians crossing my path.

Unwound, I can confirm that seeking happiness, which is what we assumed space, simplicity and nature would provide, really is a matter of perspective and balance. Without longing we could not know fulfillment. Without bugs, we could not have nature. Without challenge adventure is impossible. 

What I love most about following our dream to this beach village is: We made our dream come true.  

What's next? 

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To Read Part 1 off this story - Click Here