Like many around the world, we are still on lockdown here in Costa Rica. Our borders are closed at least until May 16th.
Today I’d like address some some questions that have come up as we’ve experienced this global pandemic as part-time expats in Costa Rica.
Question 1: Aren’t you afraid of being out of your home country in a crisis like this?
Actually, we made the decision to stay in Costa Rica when the crisis hit. Our particular situation and community are as safe or safer than most places. The country has registered over 600 cases of the virus, six deaths, and new cases are on the decrease. Today we had only 2 new cases in the country.
We have ample grocery supplies, toilet paper (no hoarding), every day supplies, etc. Our dentist is available, clinics are open, and citizens in general have been observing the social distancing edicts from the government. Medical care in Costa Rica is world-renowned, and both private and public doctors and hospitals provide excellent care.
Restaurants are closed except for take-out, stores limit the number of customers at a time, and general movement within the country is restricted. We are allowed to drive between 5:00 am and 7:00 pm on certain weekdays according to our license plate numbers, but only on one weekend day for groceries or medical attention. The beaches are closed throughout the country in an effort to keep movement of people at a minimum during the Costa Rican summer. I am thankful for leaders who acted quickly and decisively to protect the citizens.
Question 2: Aren’t you lonely without friends and family?
We wish we could be near our children and grandchildren during these days. But, the reality is that if we were back in the USA, we couldn’t see them right now anyway. We are in a peaceful, friendly country that is taking the virus seriously. So, while there were some mild apprehensions during the decision-making process of whether to go or to stay – no, we are perfectly happy here. We video call with our family frequently; in fact, with the grandchildren, every day.
We are part of an active, supportive local community. We are kept informed, up-to-date, and supported by various whatsapp expat groups, church whatsapp groups, and Facebook groups in our local town of Jaco, as well as throughout the country. We have people calling and checking on us, and we do the same for others. Horizon Church, our local spiritual family, is mobilized within the community and partnering with the municipality in providing food and basic supplies to families who are suffering through the crisis. Jaco is a tourist town, and with the borders closed and travel restricted, it’s economic lifeblood has been shut off. Horizon Church is doing an amazing job every day working to meet the needs of those in our community who are hurting.
Question 3: If you had to do this quarantine thing again, would you choose to stay in Costa Rica or would you go home?
We would stay here in Costa Rica.
Question 4: How have you kept your sanity being in isolated for weeks?
Well, our faith in the goodness of God is a strong support to us emotionally and spiritually. The view of the ocean and the roar of the waves are comforts. The earth is still going about being the earth in all is beauty and magnificence. Making a schedule for each day with varying activities is also a key for us. We walk the grounds where we live, racking up 10,000+ steps per day minimum. I also borrowed weights from the closed fitness room downstairs and use them regularly.
We listen to inspirational speakers and music, we work online, we try new recipes, and we schedule “dates” within the house (special movies on certain days or times). We give thanks multiple times a day for the health of our family and ourselves, for our community of friends, for the opportunity to encourage others, for the time we have to be with each other, for modern technology that facilitates communication, and for the simple things in life that bring joy (reading, eating, loving each other, beauty around us, etc.).
We also have been making a concerted effort to ignore thoughts of fear. It is easy to get caught up in fearful trains of thought that start racing into the depths of gloom. We remind each other that fear will not get us through, that fear will not keep us well, and that fear will not improve our lives. So, one thing we do is limit our exposure to the news. Of course, we want and need to know what is happening in the world, but we don’t have to feed upon it all day. One small meal of news a day seems to work. The rest of the time, we live life without the input of all the doom, gloom, and fear.
I like the perspective that the great spiritual writer and apostle, Paul, wrote to his friend, Timothy: “For God gave us not a spirit of fearfulness, but of power and love and discipline.” I find that where I put my attention is where my mind goes. So, if I focus on love, optimism, the greatness and unchanging character of God, and the many things there are to be thankful for, that’s where my mind goes – and that’s where I tend to live.
And living here, now, seems right for us.
Until next time . . . .
Paul, A Part-Time Expat
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