It’s been almost 2 years since I wrote this post about becoming more intentional in my daily life here in Costa Rica. Geez. 2 years. Where have those 2 years gone? Part of the problem has been, as a new business owner, working many many long 12-14 hour days, 7 days a week. The other part is still just trying to feel settled into living in a foreign country where nothing seems “normal”. And accepting the fact that it probably never will feel normal.
But then two things happened that triggered the memory of this list and that feeling that I needed to get my a** in gear as there was really no reason that I couldn’t be more sustainable at this point, living here in Costa Rica.
- During my visit to Tamarindo in June, I had dinner with Kevin at my favorite pizza place. To be totally honest, I was still a little hungover from the day before (not something I’m super proud of at nearly 40 years of age but my business coach was quite happy that I finally took a day off and enjoyed myself) so I just ordered a salad but the salad had a hardboiled egg on it. He asked me…why aren’t you vegan?
I really had no good reason to give him at this point. Before, in Tamarindo, it was because getting to Automercado was such a hassle (and consumed my entire paycheck). And even then, I couldn’t always find what I needed. Now living in Quepos where everything is so easily walkable (and much cheaper taxis than Tamarindo) and with a weekly farmer’s market year round, I just didn’t have a good reason other than…I like grilled cheese sandwiches. Especially after finding the vendor with the freshly made sourdough bread at the farmer’s market and another vendor with the artisan cheese. That being said, while there’s still a lot of products that I can’t find, I’ve started to learn the workarounds and am now 99% vegan. The only time I eat butter, cheese or eggs is if I go out with friends. And even that is rare because I am still working more often than not…something I’m diligently working on reducing!
- As I briefly mentioned in a recent post, I happened to have a conversation with someone who told me that his actions have no impact on anything else in the world. To say that I was stunned would be an understatement. A BIG understatement. He proceeded to explain to me that it was just me and my “little clique of friends” who think that we need to be more sustainable in our daily lives. At the time, I just couldn’t think of any response to tell him other than: “With that mentality, you probably picked the wrong country to live in”. Okay, I admit, that may have been a little harsh.
But really, Costa Rica is an eco country. It’s not perfect, it’s definitely got its problems of greenwashing. But overall, the country as a whole is trying to make a difference. The majority of the people here respect the environment and understand what’s at stake if we don’t. When you go to Automercado and don’t have a bag, they try to sell you a reusable one. All over the country are signs asking people to slow down in their cars because of animal crossings. There are signs not to feed the wildlife. 25% of the land is protected and can’t be built on (compare that to just 8% in El Salvador of which 2% is primary forest).
So here’s a quick update to the list I created originally in November 2012:
|Positive Expressions – 2012||Needs Improvement – 2012||September 2014 Update|
|No car||I have shipped a lot of products from the States here||Still no car (although some days I really wish I had one), and now finding very nice “mules” to bring me items from the States|
|I don’t use the air conditioning in my home. Fans and fresh air only||Food choices – a lot of what I eat is not grown locally||No air conditioning in my home now but my fans are never turned off (mold will grow rapidly if I turn them off). Most everything is fresh and local.|
|Preparing and sharing healthy, vegetarian meals with friends||Since the move, started eating eggs and cheese again||I’ve gone back to being 99% vegan (only eating eggs/cheese when I go out socially). And most items come from the Saturday farmer’s market and the local vegetable market|
|Supporting locals: restaurants and artisans||Finding other ways to give back to the local community||Working with a few nonprofits at reduced rates|
|Using my hemp napkins for water glasses (since the cold water melts all over the place)||People should buy stock in paper towels as I’ve gone through more rolls in 6 months than I did in a few years of living in California||Still have my hemp napkins and my Circle of Life reusable bag that goes with me everywhere. A lot less paper towel usage since I have now just learned to live with the ants|
|Saved a garrobo from drowning in the pool||A lot of ants have died on my watch (hence the extreme paper towel usage)||There’s very little killing in my house now that the ants have become roommates. It’s gotta be a gigantic cockroach or monster spider to get me to whack it with my shoe and even then, I sometimes still manage to let them live|
|Only doing large loads of laundry so as to not waste electricity and water||Having to wash clothes more often, even when they haven’t been worn because everything gets a funky smell here from the humidity||With the fans and leaving my windows open at all times, there’s a lot better circulation in my home. Plus, I don’t have a dryer so everything is dried by the sun (even if it does sometimes take 3 days)|
|Buying local, organic, shade grown coffee||Not being able to find much organic produce||Some of the farmer’s at the feria are organic but most is still conventionally grown|
|Sharing the beauty of Costa Rica/Nicaragua with others through photos and writing||Not being able to really spend time on my personal projects, writing and sorting through the hundreds of photos I take each month||Having hired an assistant, I’m working less nowadays which has freed up my time to both work on my personal projects.|
|Paying an above average wage to my housekeeper||Getting back on the yoga mat||With my new found free time, I exercise more and still pay a living wage to my housekeeper…now I just wish I could pay her to come more frequently!|
My goal is to continue to provide you with updates on living more intentionally in Costa Rica. I want this blog to not just be about the crazy backwards upside down not-normal things that happen here. My hope is to lead by example and that by choosing to live simply, sustainably, ecofriendly — whatever you want to call it, we can each find the beauty of simplicity and pura vida in our daily lives.