A Canadian in Costa Rica

You know what the hardest thing I’ve ever done is? It isn’t a crazy ultra marathon, or an expedition race, or a summit of a mountain. It’s moving to a different country. I have been in Costa Rica for 7 weeks now, the longest I have ever been away from home, and I thought it was a good time to check in. And while I will say it is the hardest thing I have done, it has also been the most amazing as well. I have been given an incredible chance to learn a new language, commit myself fully to Run Like a Girl, explore new places and meet new people.

This has been an absolutely amazing experience so far to break away from the pattern of my everyday life and immerse myself completely in a whole different world. I have never been away from home this long and there have definitely been some times where I have felt really homesick, missed my friends and my dog, missed all my comforts I know and have at home. But I am so glad I am here, out of my comfort zone, doing something I never would have dreamed of a few years ago. Here are my 7 main points of my experience so far.

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Language:
When I first came to Costa Rica, I had take 4 months of Spanish in first year university, 6 years prior. Needless to say I could really only ask where the bathroom was and how to order a cold beer. Fast forward 3 years now since my first trip, I’d say I am doing really well. I can order food in a restaurant, ask for directions, go shopping, have basic conversations and read and write a little. When I think I am doing really well, I hear my husband on the phone with someone and I catch maybe half of it..maybe.. and get really discouraged. I have to keep my chin up and know that I am learning.

Running:
Trail running here is another game compared to back home. The trails are crazy. They aren’t manicured and maintained like what we are spoiled with at home. At Chakra Lodge, the trails are amazing and they take you to some incredible views and very special and unique places. However, in San Jose, where I am living most of the time, it is harder to access the trails. The mountains are close to our house, but without a car currently, it has made getting to the mountains more of a challenge. It has lead this die hard trail runner to hit the pavement!
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Work:
At home, I was a full time nurse before I left. Now? I am self-employed, working for RLAG and making my own hours. And to be honest… I haven’t had a full day off since I got here! Not that I am complaining… it has been amazing. Between Run Like a Girl Adventure retreats, to guiding clients with my husband and his company, to answering emails and working on Run Like a Girl… things haven’t stopped. I honestly couldn’t be more grateful that things are booming the way they are. When you can finally put all your energy into something… amazing things happen!!

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New Experiences:
I seriously feel like I am on sensory overload sometimes here. Life couldn’t be more different. Example… my husband’s company is a tour agency and we just guided a couple on our favourite hiking trails. Our mode of transportation one day to work? A helicopter… seriously. Someone pinch me now. But I mean this is by far not the norm. There have been ups and downs as well. I don’t feel as comfortable in the city of San Jose and I have been told by my friends here that I stick out like a sore thumb with my blonde hair and bright coloured running shorts. I am honestly going to just be myself and not conform. I feel safe here and if I turn a few heads… so what? Another thing is the garbage on the streets. I have to remember that Costa Rica is a developing nation, although it is really easy to forget that. Our second November retreat we actually picked up all the garbage along the road in San Jerinimo… and what a difference that made!
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Friends:
I miss my friends so much but luckily my husband has a lot of friends and I have been able to make some amazing new friends. Anita has been my right hand girl these past 7 weeks… she speaks the same crazy that I do.
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Culture:
My husbands family is a lot different than mine. I grew up with 2 brothers and my hippy mum. I don’t know how to put on make-up, do my hair or get dressed up all fancy for a function. And that’s okay, I much prefer to be covered in mud on the trails anyways. But I have had to dress up on occasion here, and it has been hard on me to adjust. Image and how you dress are very important in the higher Costa Rican culture. I am a little home sick now with it being Christmas time. There is something about Christmas and palm trees that just feels so weird to me!!

Food:
Zero complaints about the food period. Costa Rican food is delicious, healthy, fresh and did I say delicious? This hasn’t been an issue in any way!

So that was my 7 week check in on my experience here so far. Everyday I learn something new, experience something different and push myself out of my comfort zone. I preach about that all the time, so now is my turn to live it…. and I am soaking up all that pure vida!!

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