In January of 2020, with no house- or petsitting gigs on the horizon, I found myself needing a place to live. I had attempted to book an Airbnb in December, but the host had family coming for the holidays. My new friend Marianne, who had allowed me to stay at her place while she watched another friend’s dogs, told me she would introduce me to her dear Tica friend Mari, who had a room for rent. Lo and behold, it turned out to be the same person I’d already corresponded with! We met on a Friday for “Cafe a las tres” to see if it would be a comfortable fit for both of us. It was, gracias a Dios! At that initial meeting, she told me that her guests are treated like family. I was SOLD. Although the room was a “casita” separate from the main house, I was allowed access to the main kitchen and LR, so, it really did feel like living in a home. That ended up being my apartment for the next three months. As luck would have it, she also has two grown kids. (I was missing mine like crazy at that point.) Her daughter is just younger than mine, studying veterinary medicine in San Jose, and her son, a little older than mine, was finished with school and already working. Though they did not live at home, we saw them regularly. To my delight, they didn’t mind getting hugged. Both extremely close to their mom, they had compassion with my plight. They’ve never not seen their mom for any length of time, so they couldn’t imagine that I’d not seen mine for 9 months at that point. (It’s been 22 months as I write this since I last hugged my babies following my daughter’s university graduation in May of 2019. Sigh…)
I got to run errands, grocery shop, and tag along driving the daughter and her friends around for weekend activities. When Mari’s friends would visit, I was invited to join them for drinks or meals, even though I could only understand 10-25% of the conversations. My Spanish was not progressing at the rate I had hoped, but listening is always a good exercise, even if I wasn’t able to join in the conversation. Everyone I met through her was so warm and wonderful, I felt thoroughly welcomed into their circle. It was delightful to finally get to know some locals and not just expats from the US and Canada! From my very first encounters with Costa Ricans, I was impressed by how incredibly kind and generous they are.
The routine through those three months was pretty consistent. I would occasionally walk into town for some groceries and also take nature walks up the hill and through some coffee fields, sharing images of the beauty I saw on my Facebook business page, Photography by Marea (since renamed to include this blog title). Mari and I had about 5 weeks together before she started back to work. She was a high school English teacher (just like my daughter, only Mari teaches it as a second language to the local teens). She had to return to school in early February. Much to her surprise, enrollments were down significantly, meaning she would have fewer classes to teach and that would affect her salary, not providing adequately. This is a woman with three master’s degrees, none of which were being put to use in her current teaching position. On February 12th, she made a momentous decision, which she shared with me the following night over a Valentine’s dinner I’d prepared for the two of us to celebrate our new friendship. Sitting outdoors under the stars, surrounded by hanging flowering vines and some garden lights, she told me that I had inspired her to take a courageous leap outside of her comfort zone and apply for administrative positions outside of her home canton. As she had been soul searching the night before, after being told that her course load and consequently her income had been cut back even further, to nearly half of what she was accustomed to, she considered the flying leap of faith that I had taken, leaving my home of 32 years behind to live in Costa Rica. She described her thought process as something to the effect of “If this crazy gringa can leave her home, her security, and her loved ones behind to open herself to a new adventure, then I should at least be willing to consider a move within my own country. So, that night, she applied for every open administrative position in Costa Rica—a total of eleven possibilities. Within a matter of days, she had four job offers. She made her decision quickly, accepting a Vice Principal position, finding out only after accepting it that it was at one of the top four schools in the entire country.
Did I mention that this woman knows how to manifest her dreams? We had each shared stories with one another during our time together about wonderful things and situations that we had both manifested in our lives through setting intentions and visualizing, yet within the month that followed, I proclaimed her the reigning Manifesting Queen.
I have never witnessed anyone have so many details come together in such a short time. I was in awe! Once the job was decided—V.P. is a required 2-year stepping stone to her dream job of being a Principal, she said “I’m going to find a house this week.” BOOM! Done! The next week she said, I’m going to be moved in 10 days. I said “Whoa! I just did this, remember. Give yourself at least three weeks to get packed up and moved—even with help.” She said, “No. I’m going to be moved by Sunday next.” BOOM! With the help of a handful of friends, the moving truck was filled to overflowing and heading for her new home by 5 p.m. on March 15th, the day she had specified.
I remained in her home for 5 days before the new renter—our mutual friend Marianne who had introduced us—took the house over and I moved on to my next petsit in the province of Heredia, outside of San Jose. That is another amazing story filled with synchronicities. All of this happened just weeks before Covid-19 brought most of the world to a screeching halt.
On Tuesday March 10th, I took a bus for the first time on my own to the town of Ciudad Colon for the organic farmers’ market. It was about an hour’s ride from the town of Santiago de Puriscal, the closest city to my temporary home. Ciudad Colon is my favorite market (and the only organic one) of the few that I have been able to experience here. Up to that point, I had always gone with expat friends who were driving. The tiny town of Barbacoas, where I’d been living, (The name literally means barbeque, as it’s the home of the regional pork specialty called chicaronnes.) was about 15 minutes from the city bus stop, so, another bus or taxi was required to get home. Another new friend had been talking about an expat from NC who had started her own Uber-like driving service. She had previously raised and sold organic chickens and eggs. She sounded like an interesting woman and someone I would like to get to know, so I called her for the last stretch from town to home. She happened to be available. I was her last fare for the day, so, when we got to Mari’s house, I invited her in for a visit. We shared summaries of the experiences that had led us each to Costa Rica, then she left for home. Four days later, she forwarded a Facebook post that she’d seen for a house- and petsit an hour and a half away. I contacted the person straight away and we set a time to speak the next day—Sunday and Mari’s moving day. Sunday morning, a woman whose house I passed on my walks every day sent me the same FB post. Receiving the same ad from two different people seemed like confirmation that that would be my next destination. After the moving truck departed and I collapsed from utter exhaustion in my room, I had a video interview with the Cariari housesitter seeking her replacement. It went well. I had a good feeling that the job was mine, but understood that she had a few others yet to interview. Monday morning, a third person sent me the same post. I was certain that the Universe was telling me it was a done deal. A few days later, I spoke with the homeowner and he said I sounded perfect. The job was mine! The following week, however, the, homeowner contacted me to say that an American couple that they had interviewed some time back, but who had not been heard from since their initial interview, said they had decided to accept the position, so I would not be needed after all. WHAT? This guy didn’t seem to understand. The Universe had already given me multiple signs that their home was to be my next post. That and I had a course to attend the week prior to my starting my duties and they had already said that I could arrive early to stay there while I attended the class. Even though he was telling me the deal was off, I knew in my gut that that wasn’t the case. Within the days that followed, the American couple backed out, citing concerns about traveling from the US with Covid cases on the rise. I packed my things and moved on Saturday, March 21st, the vernal equinox and the last weekend before Covid changed our world and all of our lives. The previous housesitter, with whom I was to have 5 weeks of overlap and training, spent less than one day showing me the ropes, then caught the last flight out to Mexico Monday morning, just before the borders closed.
Sadly, my in-person Infinite Possibilities course with Mike Dooley, which was to take place within walking distance of my new abode—another incredible manifestation story—was changed to a virtual event, the first of its kind. The live event was to have been my birthday present to myself. I was so bummed! I had been so looking forward to connecting with like-minded people from around the world and having hundreds of people to hug and celebrate my 56th birthday with. While the show did go on online, that was my first major disappointment resulting from Covid. For the first time in my life, I was in a completely new and foreign place where I knew no one, thousands of miles from all of my friends and loved ones on my birthday. I had two new dog friends and two new cat friends, but not one human to hug. I was incredibly grateful for technology that day—more than ever before in my life, in fact! My morning started with my little darlings in northern Italy and Rome FaceTiming me to sing Happy Birthday. (If you don’t know who I am referring to here, see my first blog posts that tell the story of how I became Marea Poppins, the accidental nanny, in 2016.) Camillo, who was only 2 ½ when I was his au pair, couldn’t wait to show me the paper rocket he had made, in which he planned to fly across the ocean to visit me. It made my heart ache and happy at the same time. My virtual course mates also sang to me online, and my baby girl and a few friends from around the US video chatted with me after my course finished. Under the circumstances, it was the best bday it could be.
I was at that post for 8 months, caring for Czecka and Pepe, two loveable elderly dogs, and Machito and Kalle, two sweet cats. My time at Casa del Rey will be the subject of my next blog. Stay tuned for COSTA RICA Chapter 3 “Living It Up At The Hotel California“