After 6 years of living in Pura Vida, I’ve noted that there is one piece of advice that you can thread through anyone’s tapestry woven of expat success stories: simplify. Not in the way pseudo-Zen Buddhist office junkies clean off their desks and auto-hide their taskbars, nor in the sense of sewing shut the pockets of your pants to force you to rethink what you “need” to carry with you. I speak here of seeking a quality of life higher than that which we left behind by lowering our expectations and revisiting what we feel we require to be happy.
I find myself surrounded by individuals that I forlornly need to categorize. One such column into which I’ve fitted many would be “Grumpy Gringo”. There is no shoehorn required to slide them into place. Sadly, for these souls there is no end to the infinite rise in cost of living, expanding disdain for their Tico neighbors, and never a realization that they have indeed moved to another part of the world where things are simply different. In contrast I have slotted those that I choose to spend more time with in the “Que Sera, Sera” column. These expats feel a sense of connectedness to everything and everyone around them. They float effortlessly through a life wherein events, desires, and projects just seem to go their way – eventually, somehow. They have an enormous, blissful trust placed in the way things just seem to work out if you step aside sometimes and allow them to unfold. They communicate easily with the locals and receive kisses and smiles when they pass. They fret not of the future, nor do they dwell on the past. They greet each sunrise with the wonder and gratitude of a child, and sing as birds before the dawn knowing that the sun will indeed rise. They bid the sunset farewell and ask not for another day, for the one they live now is beyond anything they could possibly expect.
I’m coming to appreciate that the separating factor between all these well-intentioned folks may be ‘simplicity.’ The latter of the two expats I encounter seem to need very little to be happy. They aren’t fidgeting about their iPhones looking for their next distraction. They certainly aren’t mulling around Multiplaza toting shopping bags full of more trinkets and garments to fill their air-conditioned condos. And they positively are not ordering a second bottle of Romanée Conti whilst pushing their appetizers around the plate, on a plate, on a charger plate. They are, however, to be found at the farmer’s market early in the morning chatting with the kind woman peddling papaya learning which is ripe today and which will be ripe in three more. They are to be seen walking up the mountainside at dawn to see if a faint glimpse of the ocean can be caught when the sun bathes the valley just so. They are quite often found strolling down the beach at sunset, allowing the surf to gently caress their feet, tilting their head and staring past the breakers dreaming of the wonders that lay on the other side of that vast, sparkling ocean. They are still children. Wandering is their destination, bewilderment their guide.
Corey Coates is an Independent Writer, Producer and Broadcaster based in Costa Rica. He is involved with the Overseas Radio Network. You can connect with him at www.fivegallonsound.com