What I need from the States

You would think that with the 10 large bags of luggage I brought with me and the 4 boxes that I shipped, I’d have everything that I need.  But I’m finding that even while living at the hotel, there were still some things that I was missing from home.  Fortunately, I had an intern, Sean, coming from the States last week who kindly offered to bring me a few things.

The local yoga studio sold Prana yoga eco-mats ($60) but I shipped a Hugger Mugger cotton yoga rug to Sean.  Even in the air-conditioned studio, it is still hot and humid and downward dog is a lot easier if my hands and feet aren’t sliding around the mat.  I also shipped him an eye pillow since I can’t find those anywhere.  If I knew how to sew, I could probably make decent money selling them in the towns where yoga is popular.

Then, of course, there is the Q-tip issue that you may remember from a few weeks ago.  I haven’t found a reuse for the generic ones but I’m sure at some point, they will come in handy.  But never again are they going in my ear.

I am still looking for biodegradable softener and Sean brought me a stain remover.  The one I bought here is a large bottle of liquid which seems wasteful since it just pours out and I have no control over how much comes out of the bottle.  I also just found liquid dish soap (but it was expensive).  I’m still not sure how best to use the strange tub of hard soap that a friend talked me into buying when I first arrived.  He said that’s what he uses so I bought it, but it doesn’t seem to work as well as liquid soap!  I also desperately need a Downy softener ball.  It doesn’t seem like there is a tray to put softener into at the start of the wash cycle and since I’m line-drying, all my clothes, sheets and towels have a very rough texture to them.

The Automercado (which is like Costa Rica’s version of Whole Foods/Whole Paycheck) has more of what I was looking for and a better selection but it also costs you your entire paycheck, just like Whole Foods.  However, they do seem to have a nicer selection of fresh fruits and vegetables, they carry garbanzo beans and sundried tomatoes so I can make hummus (the other markets do not) and they even have Kashi cereal and Back to Nature products  But like I said, that all comes at a really big price.

I actually did find my cat’s special dry food at the local vet.  Although it was their only bag so, even though I brought a bag with me, I still bought it in case they don’t get another shipment in soon.  It was more expensive than what I paid at my vet in California ($24 for a small sized bag).  His wet food is another story – I seriously doubt I’ll be able to find him quality wet food and since that’s his primary source of nutrition, I’m not sure what I’m going to do.  But I did plan for that and brought an entire plastic bin of canned wet food for him so I have time to figure it out.  I’m also having a difficult time finding cat litter.  One grocery store didn’t care it at all.

I also brought full size bottles of all my favorite toiletries (shampoo, moisturizer, etc) but at some point I’m going to run out and I’m not sure what I’ll do then.  I also don’t know what I’m going to do about makeup.  I don’t often wear makeup but I recently had to spend $50 on eye makeup at the pharmacy (the only place that seems to sell it) and it nearly killed me to spend that much since the brands were Maybelline and Max Factor!  The photo below is of the selection I had to choose from.  That’s it.  One small glass case.  I had Sean bring me a brown eyeliner because all the pharmacy had was black.

All the major brands of sunscreen are easily found here but it’s not cheap.  A bottle is about $20.  So thankfully Sean brought me one and hopefully that will last until my next friend visits.  I also had him bring me a pack of razors since my brand doesn’t seem to be carried here.

I’d also like someone to bring me either Skippy Peanut Butter or Trader Joe’s Crunchy Almond Butter (they only have Jif here and I’ve always been a Skippy girl).  Oh, and that really good trail mix from TJ’s that has the chocolate chips, almonds, peanuts, cranberries and butterscotch chips.  And I’d like a case of almond or soy milk.  Even with shipping fees, it will probably still be less expensive than buying it here at $5/carton.  I can make my own almond milk but I’m afraid to even look at what the cost of almonds is.  With the number of expats living here in Tamarindo, if they were to open a TJ’s here, it could potentially be their best selling store. : )

The one thing I almost purchased before moving but didn’t was a mattress cover.  I knew I’d have problems getting one here but it was just so huge and my luggage was already bulging at the seams!  The mattress cover at the hotel just wasn’t what I’m used to and the bed at the house didn’t even have a mattress cover.  Thankfully, I recently learned that Macy’s ships to Costa Rica and ordered a cover from them along with a fiberbed (like a featherbed but no geese were harmed in the production).  I did bring my own sheets, comforter and pillows but ordered a second set of sheets from Macy’s as there is no dryer in the new house and that means I have to sun dry my sheets.  Being in the rainy season, that could get a little complicated.  Things don’t dry here very quickly.  Actually, even after days of drying, clothes still have a tendency to feel wet.  And yes, they sell sheets in the stores here but the ones I saw were 180 thread count which could be compared to sleeping on sandpaper.

I’m also finding that with the ants and other interesting insects, I need more storage containers for food.  I have a few Pyrex and OXO pop containers but any time I open anything that’s not refrigerated, I have to put it into a container and I’m running out!

But the bigger question really is – do I miss all the conveniences that I had in the States?  Not really.  I’ll learn to make do with what I have and figure out workarounds along the way.  The customs fees that Macy’s tacked on were worth it as a one-time purchase but not something I can sustainably do in the future.  And hopefully more people will come to visit and they will just need to bring an extra bag to fit all of the bags of trail mix in.

Pura vida…Chrissy