Personal Reflections On Expat Life

Fran opens up for the first time on her life in Costa Rica...


The other night Andy and I were talking about our new lives in Costa Rica and the lives of many of our friends who have moved here.  One common thread came out as we talked and that was quite a few women, who were once strong, independent, take charge leaders back home, now appear overly dependent on their husbands for almost everything. 

I was one of those women.

While I am not as independent today as I was before moving here, I am much improved over when I first arrived in country.  I'm not sure what made me such a “gallina” (literal translation is "hen" but used to refer to a person who is chicken or afraid).  Maybe it is due to my language skills sucking or my fear of driving Costa Rican roads or maybe just plan laziness?

Back in the States, I was extremely independent and confident.  I paid all the bills, ran a household, raised children, became the soccer mom, all while working full-time!  I even traveled for work, so being alone on the road did not bother me.  Andy was able to sit back, drink his scotch and make movies.  He knew I could handle all the responsibility (and frankly) he liked me running the show. 

So what's wrong with me now?  Maybe I'm just tired of being in charge.  Maybe its his turn?  No that's not it - I still like to be in charge.  Now it seems all I do is nag him when things need to get done! 

New Life - New Culture

After a month of living the "secluded" life in San Ramon, I was getting tired of asking Andy to take me to the store or to take me and Úpe to the vet or to take me to Cruz Roja to pay the electric bill.   Hell, I know how to drive and I needed my space.  Don't get me wrong, my husband is my best friend, but being together 24/7 was driving me crazy.  I needed some "alone" time.  I needed to regain my independence!

I started out slow and first drove into town on weekends when I knew the traffic would be at it lightest.  It felt good to get away from the campo and away from Andy.  Little by little, I ventured further away from my comfort zone.  Within a few weeks I was navigating the roads like a veteran.  Driving to the Maxi Bodega do so some shopping or buzzing over to a friends house or heading down the back road to the R&M Farmers Market made me feel like I was again "master of my domain."  It was very liberating.  Soon I was out on a regular basis, paying bills, hanging with the girls at the Thursday Stitch n' Bitch and buying new (used) clothes at my favorite "Ropa Americana" store.  It looks like the "old Fran" is almost back.

Retirement Woes

I always knew that retirement would be hard for me.  It really did not matter where we lived. As Andy can attest, I have no real hobbies.  The only thing that remotely comes close to a hobby is I like to garden.  But again, as Andy can attest, it looks like I have more of a brown thumb than a green one.  But I do love to go to the beach and play with the dogs.

Andy is always busy, either editing videos, playing guitar, surfing the net or watching TV, he was born to be retired!  Sometimes I get a little bored but that is my own fault.  I need to just get off my ass and do something.  And what better place to do that then right here in Costa Rica.  No excuses Franny!!!

As I Ponder: What If?

I often wonder what I would do if something bad ever happened to Andy.  Would I go back to the States or remain in Costa Rica?  While I see my independence growing, I am still not totally independent.  I rely on my husband to pay most of the online bills and do all the wire transfers.  He also helps me out when I need to make a phone call or talk to our maintenance guys around the house.  My Spanish skills are still horrible.  I know that, it's my own fault.  Perhaps, if I can overcome this one thing and communicate better with the locals, I will feel more empowered.

As I sit here writing this article I keep asking myself...

  • If I were to move back, where would I go?  My kids are grown and have their own lives. 

  • Where else can I live just 400 meters from a beach on only $3200 a month. 

But in the end and look at my life, I really (really) like living here.  Life is always an adventure.  The beach is close and the price is right!  My tan is great and getting better plus I'm 30 lbs lighter than the day I arrived. 

I think I may have answered my own question!



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