Things We Miss From Costa Rica

Costa Rica had been our home for 1 1/2 years.  We loved it there and it is really a beautiful place. We have lived in Belize for 4 months now on the beautiful island of Ambergris Caye.  Island life is completely different than small town Costa Rican life and there are a few things that we miss.

The Grecia and Atenas Farmers Markets

Of course my first thing would be food! The abundance of fresh, local produce at the farmer’s markets is astounding, especially compared to our ‘boat guys’ in Belize. At first we felt limited, the US has a much wider variety of food but Costa Rica wins for freshness. We loved our Organic Lady.  We had visited her farm and loved seeing her warm smile every Friday afternoon.  Her produce is so fresh, tasty and inexpensive. The food is the one BIG difference between living on Ambergris Caye versus the Central Valley of Costa Rica. The food on Ambergris Caye is not as fresh, is limited in supply and is expensive comparatively. (Example: Tomatoes in CR: $0.30/lb  Tomatoes on Ambergris: $1.00 US/lb   Pineapple in CR: 3 for $2 US   Pineapple on Ambergris: 1 for $2.50 US). My herb guy in Atenas had just about everything you could want and he could tell you how to prepare it for various ailments and how to use herbs to heal the body.

My herb guy in Atenas.

My herb guy in Atenas.

Gallo Pinto

We’ve had eaten this staple Costa Rican beans and rice dish about every other day…and we have yet to tire of it.  The combination of rice, beans, cilantro, carrots, onions and peppers tossed with a little bit of Lizano salsa is perfect for any meal.  And Costa Ricans eat this with every meal! Luckily, we brought a bottle of Lizano salsa with us to Belize and we do make Gallo Pinto occasionally.

Gallo Pinto

Gallo Pinto - a Costa Rican Staple

Warm and respectful people

The culture of Costa Rica is one of quiet respect. People are very friendly, speak well and have genuine interests. The culture of Ambergris Caye is a tourist culture, where the locals have adapted to serving/hustling the tourists and there’s more than enough foul language overheard. There are plenty, plenty of exceptions, but Ambergris is just not as altruistic of a place as we experienced in Costa Rica. Sorry, but it’s been our experience.

Our maid, Indira

It was nice to have a maid that did our laundry, folded it, put it away. She cleaned our home and made us lunch and sometimes started dinner for us. Occasionally, she would watch the children while Mr. King and I went on a coffee date. Indira worked for us three full days a week. We loved her warm nature and sensitive heart and we miss her. Indira became a part of our family, she had keys to our home, she watched our dogs while we left for vacations, and was a warm energy in our home. We also realize how important she was in allowing us to get our work done. Mr. King and I were able to get our computer work done while she watched the children. Living on Ambergris Caye, we do have someone that comes by once a week to clean our condo for 4 hours, but it’s not the same. We just recently hired someone to come by 3 times a week and I know that will be a big help.

My walk to yoga

I have a beautiful bike ride to yoga on the island. In fact, it’s incredibly stunning! But Costa Rica is where my passion for yoga bloomed and I will always remember walking three times a week through the town of Atenas to my wonderful outdoor yoga group. I love and miss you all…you know who you are.

Our car

Our 2002 Daihatsu Terios...perfect for our little family.

Our 2002 Daihatsu Terios...perfect for our little family.

After living in Costa Rica for two months, we knew we were going to stay a while and we bought a Daihatsu Terios. It was the perfect little car for us: reliable, zippy and 4 wheel drive. It handled the crazy roads of Costa Rica well, and, more importantly, gave us freedom and flexibility to travel everywhere in the country. We had so many wonderful vacations that included all-inclusive resorts, unbelievably beautiful natural hot springs, and off the grid rainforest excursions. We don’t need a car on the island, in fact, the number of cars is limited. Most people drive golf carts, but we prefer pedal power: our beach cruisers.

All the great expat families in Atenas

For such a small little Costa Rican town, Atenas was a family expat haven. We had a tight social group of families with small children and there was always an event to go to, a picnic by the pool or simply playing in the central park of Atenas. G had lots of friends that he got to see on a consistent basis and he misses them. The adults were open to new thinking, changing paradigms and living life on their terms…after all, we all dragged our families to Costa Rica, didn’t we?

Just some of the expat kids at a birthday party.

Zumba Class

In addition to yoga three times a week, I would attend Zumba dance class once a week. Tracy is one of the best instructors in Zumba and we were lucky enough to have her in Costa Rica. She led our class to shake, shimmy, hip hop and tango, giving us one of the best and most fun workouts around.

The Greenery

Belize has some beautiful jungle, but we live on a sandy island and although we have coconut trees and a few mangroves, it pales in comparison to the greenery we had in our backyard of Costa Rica. I miss having citrus trees in our own backyard. We would pick a few oranges and starfruit everyday to have as juice or just to eat.

Our green backyard our first week there. Yes, that's me - not tan & 37 wks pregnant with Miss I.

Waking up in a cloud

There were some mornings where the clouds would roll in through our house. The air was energized and fresh..the light mist was refreshing We breathed it in deeply for about 5 minutes and then it was gone and blue skies appeared.

A cloud passing through our front yard in Costa Rica

A cloud passing through our front yard in Costa Rica

These things and experiences made our stay in Costa Rica all that much more pleasurable. After living there for 1 1/2 years, we were ready to move on and explore more. There are so many more things that we could have listed. And we never know if we’ll move back. Miss I was born in Costa Rica, which gives us the option of obtaining residency there. You just never know if we’ll ever settle down. We’re happy to have found our new home on Ambergris Caye in Belize, at least for now.

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11 Responses to “Things We Miss From Costa Rica”

  1. Sandy A. March 23, 2012 at 7:16 pm #

    Have you thought about moving inland? away from the hustle and bustle of AC? Fruits and veggies are way cheaper inland, especially up in Cayo.

    • S King March 24, 2012 at 8:42 pm #

      No, we haven’t thought about moving inland because we really do like living on Ambergris Caye. Oh, sure, I’ll complain about a few things, but we wanted to live right on the beach, with the beautiful Caribbean waters outside my front door. That being said, I know that all this stuff is available in Belize…but I didn’t want a similar experience to Costa Rica, I wanted different. Still, we miss a few things, but wouldn’t dream of giving up island life right now.

  2. Catherine Forest March 24, 2012 at 2:38 am #

    Oh… I hear you! We only have one month left here in Costa Rica. This reminds me to enjoy every little moment. I recognize my friend Genevieve’s children in you photo! Too funny! Small world!

  3. Eden March 24, 2012 at 3:29 pm #

    My heart is breaking….Everything you have missed about Costa Rica is available in Belize, and so much more. As we read each of the topics all we could think of was ‘that’s Belize too’, it’s just that you are in the heart of the tourism area and have isolated yourself on a tiny island.
    You really should come into the Cayo area, get in touch with Sharon at Red Roof Property Manament, rent a house (even if just for a month or 2) in/around San Ignacio and you will fall in love with Belize….the real Belize with real Belizean people and culture, plus save lots of $$ too!!! There may not be beaches inland but plenty of fresh water rivers (with the cleanest water you have ever seen) that the kids can be found playing in almost everyday!!
    I sincerely hope you don’t have biased against Belize based on what you are experiencing in the gringo lands of Ambergris Caye, because the country has so much more to offer (you have had a sneak peak at it during your travels down south).
    Best wishes

    • S King March 24, 2012 at 8:40 pm #

      Hi Eden…We love Belize and we love living on this island…but there are always things that are different and you miss from other places. We specifically WANTED to live on an island, next to the ocean. We lived in the central valley of Costa Rica and were ready for a change. And we have visited Cayo and enjoyed it very much. For now though, island living is for us (I think we like walking around barefoot all the time).
      I hope you didn’t misread my post as thinking that we didn’t like Belize, because we really do. And although I may mention a few hundred times the tourist culture of Ambergris Caye, there are some benefits to it as well.
      Thank you for your sincere concern…but we just love this isolated island and when we don’t, we go inland, just like you suggested.

  4. Liz Holland March 30, 2012 at 11:34 pm #

    Hi,
    I found your blog online and have been interested in the experiences of your family. My husband, 5 year old son and I just moved to Grecia about a month and a half ago. I am also expecting a baby in June. My husband is a freelance writer working in internet marketing and copywriting. I was wondering how you met so many expat families in Atenas? We are hoping to meet some friends for ourselves and our son, but seems like most of the expats in our area are retirees. I am sure there must be more out there! Are there any social or playgroups? Atenas isn’t too far from us. I was also wondering if you had your youngest child while here in Costa Rica? If so, how was your experience? So glad to hear about other families like yours who are taking the plunge and living a life of adventure! Liz Holland

    • S King March 31, 2012 at 9:19 am #

      Liz, I’ve emailed you 🙂

  5. Stacey April 4, 2012 at 6:20 am #

    Sabina thanks for this post! An herb guy too?! I had no idea, there’s officially everything. Love that. BTW doesn’t Lazano Salsa have msg? Ew?! Maybe you have one that is MSG-free!

  6. Archana June 12, 2012 at 6:21 pm #

    Hi!

    It’s been so wonderful reading about your adventures.

    We’re now looking to travel to either Belize or Costa Rica early next year and was wondering if you tell us on how to maximize our pleasure. We’re outdoorsy folks with 2 kids who will be 8 and 5 years, who’re more or less unschooled. We love snorkeling as family as well as rainforest adventures.

    Having grown up in India, I’m really looking forward to experiencing another country that is not so first world. We’ve loved immigrating to the US but are ready for some fresh perspective and adventure.

    Could you point us to the most fun things you did in both countries and where you suggest we stay if we go there? Your pointers will be taken seriously! 🙂
    Thanks much!

  7. Nicole Crockett October 18, 2012 at 12:07 pm #

    Hi – I just found your blog and it is very interesting. My husband and I just rented out our apartment in NY and are traveling for a year or so. We have a 4month old daughter and it was great to read some of your stories. We will be traveling to costa rica and panama but have not decided where exactly we will go. It is important to me that I find some young expact families with young children as I had a large network in NY and want to make sure I don’t feel isolated which can happen at times.

    I look forward to reading more of your stories! It’s great to hear how other people are doing it since most people think we are crazy!

    We will also be working from home and the internet connection is important…

    I look forward to reading more of your stories!!

    Many thanks!

  8. Karen May 12, 2013 at 11:52 am #

    Thank you for your post.it was really helpful to hear you describe your experience of both Belize & Costa Rica.

    My husband and I are considering moving to Belize – Ambergris Caye or Corozal- with our 4 year old daughter and I really want to connect with other ex-pat families who have done this.

    Our first step is to come for a couple of weeks and get the lay of the land and a general “feeling” for the place. We will be looking at business opportunities as retirement is not in our imminent future. My husband is currently in construction and I am in sales, we live in Vancouver, Canada.

    It looks like we may need to come in October or November. I’ve heard the bugs can be bad in October. True?

    Any other advice or tips you have for us given your experience would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

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