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Costa Rica

What I Learned Working Remotely Two Months in Costa Rica

Reflecting back on all that I have learned in Costa Rica. First off is that I have the coolest boss in the world for allowing my family and me to do this. I also have the most wonderful wife for facing her fears to shake up her life and leave her comfort zone for an extended period of time. Without further ado here is a quick list of things I learn or relearned on this trip.

Everything in life is possible
If you want something bad enough and can believe in its attainability enough, it can be achieved.

Wherever you go there you are!
If you are an a-hole wherever you live, you will probably still be an a-hole in paradise. Living somewhere amazing doesn’t really change you, change comes from within.

Not to be so scared of snakes
At first, I was so scared (mainly for my son) that snakes were everywhere and we were only days from an imminent attack. One time I was traveling down the mountain with sandals on and the sun was going down. Almost paralyzed with fear I realized I couldn’t live like that. I realized I hadn’t seen a snake since I arrived and that I shouldn’t listen to my grandma.

Nature is precious
It goes without saying that our world is the only one we have but the benefits of being in nature are boundless. From the clean air and water to the mood it puts you in to have green living things all around you, Nature is good for your body and soul.

People need more freedom
I grew so much and had such a clearer head being on that mountain.

My fears of growing old are gone
The main concern I had with growing old was that I would complain about everything and be a huge pain in the butt to everyone around me. I kind of realized, through many conversations, that the people who displayed these traits were always that way or choose to let life get them down. So I have high hopes now that I will be me, but with white hair.

That I really want to live in Costa Rica
One of the reasons I wanted to work in Costa Rica for two months was to see if I would enjoy actually living in Costa Rica. I love it. We might miss some conveniences from the United States but I love everything about Costa Rica. The weather, the people, the way of life… everything. The tradeoff is minimal in comparison to what you receive.

Seek to understand
If you seek to understand almost before you seek to be understood it would help the world. If everyone was to do that I imagine the number of conflicts would be small.

Always try for peace
It goes without saying.

Focus on solutions and not the problem
You can achieve your dreams much faster if you don’t dwell on the problems. Not that you shouldn’t give them any consideration but just where you should the majority of your time into should be the solution.

Your perception is your reality
I’ve known this for some time but when you think you have problems or fears your whole world can be consumed by them. Let it go and after a while, you will realize the world is an amazing place.

One of the hardest things is to see people you love that hate each other and fight constantly.
I hope to never put my children or grandchildren in this awkward position.

I don’t really like dogs
I kind of knew this for a while but just thought it was my dogs that I didn’t like. But no, it’s every dog I have met. I respond well to pets that aren’t needy and have naturally short (one to two year) lifespans. If they could genetically modify dogs to meet those criteria as well as not whine or bark or smell or sit right next to me and start scratching that makes me immediately start itching, well… I might be interested.

Cows are more nimble than you would think.
And their tongues are also rougher than I would have thought. If you ask me, they can see into the hearts of men and know your true self. At least the friend I made. Everyone said he was a bad cow that charged people. I fed him Guavas and he let me pet and love on him.

He was slaughtered the morning I left. R.I.P. Charger.

Sometimes it is not others but yourself that is your worst enemy
I knew this but it was interesting to see some people really shoot themselves in the foot and think the problems were someone else’s.

Be true to your intentions.
If you want to see young ones and their children, make the atmosphere inviting for kids. Realize they are going to be rambunctious.

The things you own end up owning you.
Kind of goes with the last one. But also applies to the trappings of your lifestyle holding you back from living your dreams.

Hearing the same story over and over is such a pain.
Seriously

Always keep a journal and write in it.
So many times I had an epiphany on a walk or at the breakfast table. Something by my side at all times when inspiration strikes would have been handy. I started taking my phone and jotting down in that for the walks. Also, I took a Moleskin journal with me but I have such an issue about everything that goes into the journal has to be amazing that I never write. My wife said can I have this and actually wrote in it. Amazing!

Everything in life that you might think is too hard can be done incrementally.
Climbing up a mountain is done one step at a time. Dealing with any problem you can break it down into smaller problems that are bite-sized and easily managed.

Also, don’t forget…
If you invest your age as a percentage in bonds and the rest of the percentage in stocks you don’t have a risk-balanced portfolio. Since the market is riskier it is more like 95% risk. That is assuming you are reallocating funds every 6 months to a year.

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Costa Rica

My Spirit Animal

Recently I had the amazing opportunity to visit a sloth rescue center on our way to Puerto Viejo. First, we saw the famous sloth Buttercup and she was scratching herself at a normal speed. Not in the molasses-slow way you think a sloth would move at all. That was the start of all my preconceived notions of sloths being wrong.

Some sloth facts that will blow you away:

  • Sloths can move fast as a man running… when they want to! When the time arises (to fend off predators, mating time) they pump it into overdrive.
  • Sloths have a thick pelt of hair here in the tropics because they aren’t exactly warm-blooded. They have a super slow metabolism.
  • There are two types of sloths in Costa Rica, two-fingered and three-fingered (they both have three toes). But they are different animals completely. Think a horse and a cow.
  • Both two and three-fingered sloths eat leaves and flowers. Two fingered sloths also eat seeds and green mangos (for which they have sharp teeth).
  • Sloths sleep as much as humans but just spread out through the day. Two fingered sloths are nocturnal.
  • Sloths have four stomachs! Once a week they climb down the tree, dig a hole, and poop and pee.
  • The mama sloth has only one baby at a time. The baby hangs on to her for one year and learns how to be a sloth. This time is super important for sloth development.
  • Sloth babies sometimes fall from their moms for various reasons. Sickness, deformity and even hyperactivity! Mama sloth will come down from the tree a few times and pick them up but eventually decides that they aren’t worth the risk and leaves the baby.

The other morning Delilah was talking about how she loves the sloth philosophy. They are super efficient with their movements. For example, when the female sloth is in heat, the male sloth runs over to her, they mate for about forty seconds and it is 100% effective (another sloth fun fact).

That is my favorite thing; sex for forty seconds and then go to sleep right afterward! How I envy the sloth.

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Costa Rica

Fun Times in the Big City

I realized something about myself (not for the first time) that the people I like the most are usually those that laugh at my jokes. What is even better is when you find people that can joke along.

We had the best time going to San Jose on Monday. Harry the bird guide, my aunt Lisa and I all drove listening to the radio cranked up. With the Spanish speaking DJ, it was hard to understand that he was saying, Radio Disney.

Although I am not a huge fan of Maroon Five (it’s not that I don’t like them I just always tend to turn the channel when they come on), every time the song Sugar came on we would crank it up and sing at the top of our lungs.

I helped a company affiliated with Rancho to smooth over their booking process and Lisa picked up Rancho’s new HelpEx’er from the airport. Who also knew and loved (or at least sang) Sugar.

We went to the best Tex-Mex restaurant in Alajuela (maybe the best in Costa Rica…?). But the funny part was the juice we had for lunch was Guanabana. I said, “Wow that reminds me of the Muppets song.” To which this guy Kevin started singing it and pause for me to say “Gua-Nab-a-Na”. We were all laughing like crazy.

Trying to get out of Alajuela, we asked a guy on the corner for directions. He told us in English to take a right and go down three blocks. His polo shirt said, Dr. G.

We hung a right and went down 3 blocks in heavy traffic. Then we were trying to figure out what he said to do next. Dr. G stuck his head through the passenger side window and told us to hang another right go down 2 blocks and take a left.

It was so surreal that we had a human being as our personal navigation system.

We hit up the mall, which has a guard gate in front where you receive a parking card. As soon as we got the card the car’s transmission went out and we had to get up a hill. So now the car was out.

But the cheerful crew that we were it was just more jokes until the tow truck came. We hit the mall and waited for a taxi to pick us up. I joked with the new girl about how the barracks she will be staying in has a nice trough to eat from. After the delousing, she can go to her room where we just put out fresh hay and a nice warm burlap sack for her.

In other news, at night we chill out and let my son watch some videos on the iPad. What we just found out today was that he watches everything and knows how to log in himself. He is incredibly observant.

Also today my grandma and I made a loaf of amazing banana bread. I got permission and now, internet, I am sharing it with you.

Doña Kathy’s Banana Bread

Ingredients:

    • A plate of Ripe Bananas (12ish)
    • 2 cups of Flour sifted
    • 1 tbsp of Baking Powder
    • 1 tsp of Kosher Salt
    • 1/8 tsp of Baking Soda
    • 4 Eggs
    • 1 cup of White Raw Sugar
    • 1 cup Light Brown Sugar
    • 1 tbsp of Honey
    • 1 cup Sour Cream
  • 1 Stick Melted Butter

Directions:

Preheat Oven to 350° F. Spray Pam over 9″ x 13″ Pyrex Pan. Mash Bananas on Plate with Fork. Drizzle with Honey. Then mash that in. There should be no large chunks. Put eggs in mixer and beat until frothy. Sift flour and dry ingredients. Beating eggs on low, mix dry and wet ingredients. Pour over the pan. Put in oven top shelf for 1 hour. Start to watch around 45 minutes. It should come away from the sides and a toothpick will come out clean.

Finally, if you haven’t seen our fake commercials for Costa Rica’s national treasure, Chiky cookies, check these out. Part 1 and Part 2

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Costa Rica

One Month Working From Costa Rica

“Is there anything you miss from Texas?” my wife asked.

“Hmmm. Maybe Central Market. Pink Lady Apples. Cider from BJ’s.”

“So… just food.”

“Well, I would like to see my mom and brother… once again. Before I die.”

Our first month here has been amazing. I have so much more hope for the future. Getting out of your daily routines is the best thing you can do for yourself. A week does not cut it. It was almost two weeks before I could just breathe. Maybe I am wound tighter than some, I don’t know.

I have been walking down the hill and back up every morning and eat more fruits and salads. In the last month, I have lost about 12 pounds. My grandma still makes me cheat on my goal every other day like she is trying to fatten me up. Yesterday she made cinnamon rolls and fried burritos. This morning it was the best hash browns I’ve ever had. Cooking is her love language so I don’t mind it.

sw-imp-trooper-26_grandeOn the subject of weight loss, I came up with a plan. Anovos had a pre-order of a Stormtroopers costume and I bought it. Since I want to look like a Stormtrooper and not like a fat Stormtrooper I have to lose some weight before October.

It is amazing to see the people that work here. They are genuinely happy and make nothing compared to even the minimum wage earners in the United States. I am pretty happy in contrast with most anyone I have ever worked with, but the people here put me to shame. I always tended to think that when my co-workers complained, they were entitled and now I realize I am also guilty in contrast with the Tico people I’ve met.

The one drawback staying here is the dog. He is an impressive Giant Schnauzer that likes to walk with me. Scratch that, he lives to walk with me. I usually leave my shoes outside and shake them out in the morning for spiders. He would bark and whine at me while I put them on. So I would leave them on the upstairs balcony and he would whine as soon as he saw me. Now he looks at me all the time like something is about to happen.

I told Delilah he is like a fat girl you might have hooked up with but don’t want to bring around your friends (not that I have done that, but I watched movies). We go on a walk in the morning but the rest of the day I want nothing to do with him. But if I’m downstairs, he is next to me. On the hammock; he is under me. I grace the balcony, he thinks “But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and The Big Master is the sun.”

Every day I wake up at 5 in the morning and every night it gets dark around 7. It is hard to stay up until 8. Netflix works here so I watched all the Daredevil episodes and am close to finishing Better Call Saul. At home, I barely watched anything I spent my free time reading graphic novels.

Until next time, keep it real!

IMG_9457

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Costa Rica

Ménage à Trois

I should start by saying my grandpa is someone I have looked up to since I was just a little lad. Not just literally. At 84 years old he can still hold himself horizontal on a pole. He is a larger life figure who has a life full of adventure.

We were in a waiting room today and there was footage of an elephant rampage going on in India on the TV. I asked if he had ever ridden an elephant. He told me that he rode an elephant, a camel, a Brahma bull… he even rode a horse when another horse tried to have sex with it?

Say WHAT???

He told me he was on a mare, the stallion came up from behind, mounted and went to town. Mid-coitus, he tried to punch it in the face in hopes that it would dismount.

I stopped him, “Wait… so grandpa… you had a threesome!”

At that point, my wife walks in the waiting room and I said, “Hey Grandpa, tell Delilah about that time you had a threesome.”

He started to retell the story about how the mare was mounted while he was still in the saddle.

So I asked, “Well, Grandpa… did you get him off???”

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Costa Rica

A Message from the Cloud

This morning, I woke up to the sound of rain. Coming from Texas where it seems to rain two weeks out of the year, I have always loved the sound. It symbolizes life and renewal.

After the rain, a mist rolled in and now I am writing to you from inside a cloud.

One of the things I have been thinking about lately is how even though I am a pretty positive and optimistic guy, you just need to get out of your surroundings for an extended period of time and then you just feel life’s possibilities open up before you.

Sometimes this can be done with a good book, or like what I am doing, sometimes you just have to leave the country. Back home I kept clinging to my addictions of fast food (I guess Chipotle is more fast casual) and comics. I would tell myself I didn’t have time to exercise and that I had to work 10 hour plus days just to get everything done.

I just feel like living life and all obtaining my dreams could be achieved even back home where I would have said it wasn’t possible last week.

Anyways, time for breakfast.

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Costa Rica

I’ve Been to the Promised Land…

We have been in Costa Rica for a week and while it is amazing I have to fight to make the time to do my day job. Between my family wanting my time and being distracted by the surroundings (both great problems to have) work is a challenge. I slacked a little during the week and had to make up hours on the weekend. I tend to get a little stressed out about it but then realize that I am in paradise and essentially life is amazing.

I have been visiting our property almost every day. It is beautiful with a gorgeous view. Tomorrow we have a guy who is going to take an excavator and flatten it out for us for what I think is an amazing deal. Today he drove the “Drago” through a nearby cane field because he didn’t think our bridge could hold up.

The coolest beetle landed on me. It was this beautiful blue and had this hump.

beetle

I also set up a website for my Grandpa. I think it might have taken an hour to purchase the domain, install WordPress and do the first post, so don’t judge too harshly.

Also, I had a haircut from a mobile barber. If you didn’t think I looked like a 100% douche before, be assured, I look like one now. But hair grows. And to be honest the haircuts I get in the US never were that great anyways (take that Sports Clips!*).

The other day we hiked up to Rancho Naturalista (currently I am staying at my grandparents’ house, Rancho Bajo). They had the most amazing fresh squeezed orange juice and sausage made from their own pigs. It is a working farm and we also were able to see their milking barn and where they make the cheese.

Have you ever had an actual passion fruit? This freakish gem might look weird but is pretty good! A texture that is a little weird and a bunch of seeds (I don’t mind them) but has an orangish flavored juice.

passion-fruit

I am always a text away (if you have an iPhone for sure, maybe if you don’t) and stay in touch with the peeps at the main office. I will leave you with this convo:

textmessage

*For the record, I only went to Sports Clips once and usually cut my hair myself. I personally think I do an okay job. Better than anyone else for sure.

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Costa Rica

OMG I Love the Internet

So here I am in Costa Rica. I had to work all day but I was on a hammock on a balcony with my wife and son and a flock of hummingbirds.

At one point a small toucan landed 3 feet away from me and we just stared at each other for a little bit.

This amazing opportunity would not have been possible without my boss, the owner of the coolest company in existence, but I have to kick a special shout out to the internet! Without the internet, most of the coolest things in your life would not be possible.

So tonight as you say your prayers, remember to thank God for giving us Al Gore to create the internet.

Yesterday was the best flight I have ever had. I flew standby, which saved me two thousand bucks. They had some 60 extra seats so we all were able to sit together. They served a meal when we expected none. Going through security on the way there and immigration getting out was a breeze!

I might have mentioned this but a few years ago my Grandpa gave me some of his lands here. The funny thing though is that I have never stepped foot on the land. Much like Moses, I have been up to the promised land but haven’t stepped foot on it.

We planned on walking down there today, got to the hydroponics shed and then got distracted and walked back. Then my phone started blowing up about the ads that were due so I started to work.

Tomorrow though. Surely by the next blog post…

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Costa Rica

Leavin’… on a Jet Plane

By this time next week, I will be living the high life in Costa Rica. Literally.

Rancho Naturalista has an elevation of between 2528 and 3850 feet according to the website and I am currently around 587 feet. Might as well be in space.

My brother was kind enough and homeless enough to agree to move in and watch our house during our absence.

While I will be working when I am away I plan on it being on a balcony overlooking the most beautiful valley I have had the pleasure of viewing.

I have been contemplating putting this blog on hold while I am away to spend as much quality time with my family as possible. Even with these choppy sentences, I have been interrupted by my son 10 times. But two months is a long time I might change my mind at some point.

In other news, my boss let me read a book he wrote and has been updating for the last few years. I feel like it is something that should be shared with the world as it is such a message of love. While it is technically religious I felt like it was devoid of any judgment and could almost be loved equally by someone who didn’t believe in God at all. Much of it echoed things I had felt in the past but it was great to see it all in one place.

I already loved working where I do but, as I told my co-worker, after reading his book I really felt good about working for him.

Better than I already did. I was told that everyone was intimidated by him but I have never seen anyone else than a guy with a great sense of humor. We have this long hallway and his office is on the far side of it. He has to pass all the offices including mine to get to the exit. You also get to know everyone by the sound of their footsteps so I know when he is coming by. At least once a week I will try to have something funny when he passes by.

One time I was having a phone conversation on a banana. We both broke up in laughter. He told me not to make personal banana calls at work. My co-worker said later “What happened? I heard him walking down the hall and then you both started laughing like crazy.”

Another time I heard him and started spinning my chair around like I had been doing that all day.

One time he came by and a co-worker and I had just wrapped up a conversation and I said, “…and that’s the story of the first time I had to pay for sex.”

This doesn’t change my long-term goal of quitting life in the United States and living off the grid in Central America, but y’know… it helps.

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Costa Rica

My Promised Land

Costa Rica. The Rich Coast.

From wince, I was a wee child I have loved this wonderful country. My passport had been stamped many times before I was ten years old traveling back and forth.

I stayed in Costa Rica on the summer I turned 11 and cherish those memories to this day. When I was older my friends and I would take trips there to revel in nature and relax in paradise.

My dream has always been to go back for good. My grandparents have been there since I was born. Once my grandpa took me to a Fourth of July party for all the ex-pats and later in life I realized that is the community I identify with the most. Being a stranger in a strange land.

A few years ago, I was given some acreage by my grandparents and I can feel my dreams becoming reality.

What is hilarious is, much like Moses, I have not stepped foot on this land. I have only been up to it.

Hopefully, unlike Moses, I won’t wander in the desert (Texas) and die before I get there.

Two Christmas parties ago (that is how I measure time), I told my boss at SUCCESS I would not be living in the United States in the next 3 years. So I have a little over a year to make this dream happen before I have to fall on my sword.

That being said, if anyone has any web work they want to send my way, you will be funding an amazing cause by giving me your business. I plan on setting up down south. Currently, I work side-jobs on pretty much an email only basis. I tell you the clients that I have and the technology that helps us connect and for me to work is a beautiful thing that I am eternally grateful for.