Kim: 10 Degrees Above
- Recommended Expat Blogs: Costa Rica
- John and Pat: Mi Chunche
- Diana: Diana's Costa Rica Blog
- Jamie: Jamie and Bill's Excellent Adventure
- Myra: scribblegal
- Erin: De La Pura Vida
- Emily: Travel Mother
- Casey: A Dull Roar
- Scott: Hello I'm Scott
- Corey: This Week In Costa Rica
- Jenn: Two Weeks In Costa Rica
- Liisa: Family Freedom Project
- Jen: Costa Rica Chica
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Costa Rica, etc.
I grew up in Cincinnati which is a medium sized city in Ohio. I worked for a long time for a local Cincinnati technology company. At the age of 33 I knew that I wanted more from life than a corporate sales job. So I joined Peace Corps and lived for 2.5 years in East Africa supplying the people with information about health and women’s empowerment programs. After PC, I went back to the old job in Cincinnati. The money was decent, but my heart wasn’t in it. In 2007, I had a stellar sales year and received a big bonus check. I started scouring the internet for farms in the U.S. that had at least 5 acres, a good growing season and its own water source. The only thing I could find in my price range was an old nuclear testing site in Nevada. One day I was looking at farm websites and saw a picture of pure lushness with a price that was exactly what I could afford. I bought the farm (joke intended) in 2008 and permanently moved to CR in 2010.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I started blogging a few months before our road trip. Friends and family kept asking me what we were doing, when we were leaving and just where we were going. I made a very basic blog and told people that I had put all the answers, reasons, etc. in it. Secretly, I have always loved to write or act, any form of creative expression that doesn’t require a sketchpad or paintbrush. Plus, my husband is a professional photographer and it was a good way to showcase his work. After settling down in CR I re-vamped the 10DegreesAbove site to make it what it is today.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
I like my Safari Journal which I wrote before a trip to Tanzania on a tenting vacation, my idea’s of East Africa while visiting as a tourist. It was written a few years before I even thought of joining Peace Corps. It’s a 13-parter, but it’s my favorite.
Tell us about the ways your new life in Costa Rica differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
I was so ready to leave corporate life in the U.S. that every day here seems like a gift. The real difference in my life is that I live on a farm, in the country. Excepting Africa, I have always lived in the city. Farm life is as hard as I thought it would be but I have to do these things every day. I never considered that part. When I was planning the new life I only thought about the good parts in small moments. I never thought that I would be using a weed- whacker on 7 acres of hilly land EVERY month.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Costa Rica? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
My husband Barry and I had decided to pack up everything we thought we would need in CR in the back of our Chevy truck and drive throughout the U.S. National Parks and then through Mexico and Central America and then on to CR. We had the truck outfitted with special locks, shocks, new seats and bought the Central America map for our GPS. I spent a lot of time researching laws for insurance for driving in Central American countries. We drove around the entire U.S. with a heavy load of our personal stuff and while in Arizona, the border city, we decided to sell the truck and ship our stuff to CR. We could have saved a lot of time and a lot of money had we made that decision sooner. To answer the first question, yes. Yes, in our hearts we were prepared.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
While we were building our cabin on our farm we rented a one room apartment about 15 minutes away. We would cut down a bunch of bananas from the farm and take it back to the apartment for smoothies in the morning. The family that owned the apartment also lived on the property and they got a cow one day. The bananas that we brought started to go missing after the cow arrived. It would eat them in the middle of the night. We decided to bring the next bunch inside the apartment to keep them safe from the cow. That night while sleeping, I feel something on my face and in my partial slumber I think it is a beetle. So I swipe it off the side of my face. Something told me to wake up and make sure it was off the bed because it would probably just bother me again. When I searched with my headlamp I found a huge, black tarantula attached to the drape right behind the bed. I woke up Barry and asked him to get it for me. It was huge. The biggest spider I had ever seen. I was surprisingly calm while Barry swept it outside with a broom, then after about 10 minutes I went into the bathroom and cried my stress out. I made a video of it just so I could show people how big it really was. Never and I mean never bring bananas in the house without washing them out thoroughly.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Costa Rica?
- Remember that you are the new stranger. People may have some pre-conceived ideas about you before they even meet you.
- Learn Spanish and talk to your neighbors. They love to help you get the words right.
- You are still a representative of your birth country. People may think that what you say and do is exactly what all other (insert your country’s people here)’s say and do.
How is the expat community in Costa Rica? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
We honestly don’t know that many expats here in CR. We live in an area of CR that is far away from other foreigners. The few that I have met live a different lifestyle than we do and they are generally closer to the beach or city. We would like to meet others but it takes a lot of effort for us to do so.
How would you summarize your expat life in Costa Rica in a single, catchy sentence?
I should have done it sooner, matching my life with the cycle lunar.