If anyone out there actually happens to be following this blog, you will have noticed that I recently took a short hiatus. From the day before Thanksgiving to the eighth of December, I (Kate) traveled back to the United States to begin the process of gaining Costa Rican residency for our family. Combining official business with family time and apple pie took some finesse, but overall, it proved to be quite an efficient use of a precious plane ticket.
Almost immediately upon entering the U.S., I was struck by the differences between the life we’ve been living for the past six months, and the life we left behind. For me, the biggest shock was to be back where I could communicate effortlessly with anyone from my fellow airline passengers, to the waitress at Starbucks, to the conductor on the train. I realized how much more connected I feel to the world when I can share a quick joke with a stranger, and how my limited Spanish language abilities have been stifling my personality and hindering my happiness. New Year’s Resolution #1: start taking formal language lessons and become fluent by the end of next year.
Secondly, after living in a developing country for an extended period of time, I seem to have become hyper conscious of U.S. consumerism. I found the sheer number of stores to be overwhelming, and the amount of money flying out of people’s pockets inconceivable. Granted, I did more than my share of shopping and eating out at fancy restaurants, but I felt a heightened awareness every time the cash register went cha~ching.
Another indication that Costa Rica is slowly permeating into my system included my inability to acclimatize to the cold weather. Did I really spend four college winters in upstate New York without turning into an ice cube? Celebrating Christmas on the beach instead of in front of a crackling fireplace is going to take some getting used to, but we’re looking forward to creating some new tropical traditions.
By the time I arrived at the Costa Rican Embassy in Washington, DC to submit our paperwork to become permanent residents, I realized Costa Rica had become a greater part of me than I had been willing to admit. I felt I was asking to be accepted by a country that I truly wanted to be associated with, rather than simply going though the legal motions. Although we still have a long way to go, Costa Rica is slowly becoming our home, and I have to admit that I’m glad to be back. It turns out it’s where my heart is after all.