The Long Goodbye


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Published: April 26th 2008
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ToadToadToad

We had a few visitors in our last weeks at our home. This toad was feeling the pressure and tried to escape before I snapped this picture.
While moving to a new country, city, or neighbourhood can be extremely exciting; the act of actually packing, hauling, and transporting one's worldly possessions has the well earned reputation of being a most unpleasant and stressful experience. We knew all along that the day would come when we would have to leave our beautiful yard and comfortable home and return to Canada. Having to move all of our possessions to a new home in Costa Rica one week prior to leaving for Canada, well...in the words of an eight year old boy; it was "weird". Another aspect of moving is that it allows a person to gauge what kind of support/friendship network they have established. It was with great relief that our good friend Marlon offered to help us move and with the generous Johnny providing a truck the day turned out to be quite enjoyable. Of course the fact that we had only been accumulating "stuff" for seven months helped quite a bit as well. Additionally the well timed invitation for home cooked authentic Chinese food from our neighbours Enrique and Luz made a very sad and bothersome day an enjoyable one. Who knew moving could be so good?
I Don't Like to Move ItI Don't Like to Move ItI Don't Like to Move It

With help like this moving is a cinch.

We started our move bright and early Saturday morning and by mid-afternoon we were completely moved and had begun to unpack and organize our belongings into: things that would stay and things that were coming with. Our friend Marlon could hardly believe our good fortune while in Costa Rica as the house we have attained through our partnership with Johnny would be considered to be a dream come true as it is a good size, new, and in a good neighbourhood. The neighbours were quick to come and introduce themselves and the stream of youngsters coming to invite the boys to play continued well into the evening. It was difficult to explain that we would be moving away in one week and I'm sure it was difficult to understand as well. In general Costa Ricans live in the same community, if not neighbourhood, for their entire lives and the concept of moving several times in one year is as foreign as temperatures below 15 degrees Celsius. Owen and Benjamin were both rather irritated at moving and were quite vocal about how it was not a great situation. Long term planning and a vision for the big picture was escaping them
Free Rides and NoogiesFree Rides and NoogiesFree Rides and Noogies

The boys liked playing way up on the truck.
and no matter how we tried to explain the rationale behind our actions, it was frustrating for our guys. It seemed as though selling the car and losing the convenience impacted the whole family but it seemed like the boys were affected the most. Despite having a nice sized backyard and plenty of neighbourhood kids to play with the first days at our new home were difficult.

Monday morning brought relief for all of us as we caught a ride to the bus stop and waited patiently to head off to Playa Samara to say goodbye to our favorite beach. The online bus guide indicated there was a direct bus passing through at 8:30 AM and with due diligence and respect for the unpredictable traffic we arrived fifteen minutes earlier only to wait until 9:30 to catch the connector bus. Ohhh the joys of using public transport were coming back to us. We were fortunate enough to catch our connecting bus to Samara in Nicoya as soon as we arrived but it was a challenge for us as there was only standing room for the first twenty minutes of the journey. Not only were the boys challenged to hang
Last ChanceLast ChanceLast Chance

We took one last swing on the hammock before taking it down.
on during the winding, stop-and-go journey but we were about an hour late for our appointment at our favorite family restaurant Sherif Rustic and we were all getting a bit hungry and more than a bit cranky. Of course as we exited the bus and strolled down the main drag of Samara our moods elevated and with the view of the ocean and Sherif Rustic our collective mood was transformed to the usual blissed out happy space that comes with being at Samara. After enjoying our favorite meals we headed to Camping Los Cocos and were pleased to find our favorite campsite available. It was swim o'clock and we proceeded to enjoy the forthcoming three days swimming, playing on the beach, and savoring our last beach moments of this adventure. Reluctantly we caught the midday bus to Nicoya after three days and two nights at Samara and vowed to return as soon as possible.

Our journey home to Esparza was somewhat longer than expected as our connecting bus was sold out and we were forced to take the long ride home riding through Liberia with a brake happy bus driver. With the change in bus routes we arrived in
Stinky Toe TreeStinky Toe TreeStinky Toe Tree

The boys like the name of this tree. We like how it looked it full bloom.
Esparza at 7:30 PM rather than the expected 5:00 PM and as a result we decided that we would always need a vehicle if we were going to be touring in Costa Rica. We stopped at the supermarket and picked up our favorite standby comfort meal of spaghetti and sauce and crashed early exhausted from our voyage. The next days were filled with planning, packing, managing the boys behavior, and visiting our friends and favorite places to say good-bye. The realization that we had become part of the community hit us hard as we continually ran into people we had met over the past seven months and they expressed their disappointment at hearing we were leaving. Johnny had us over for a BBQ and swim one afternoon and we hosted Marlon, Andrea, and Camilla on our last night in Esparza. Johnny takes a course on Saturdays in San Jose so on Saturday morning at 5:30 he picked us up and took us to Alajuela and dropped us off at the Mango Verde Hostel, a block and a half from the central park where we would spend our last three days in Costa Rica finishing our trip the way we started.
Loving the Long BoardLoving the Long BoardLoving the Long Board

I got one more crack at riding the long board and it was great!!


We were very concerned about arriving so early in Alajuela but the owner of the hostel was very accommodating and let us store our baggage in an unused room. We headed to the square and succumbed to the pleas of our resilient boys and went to McDonalds for breakfast. We didn't order the McGallo Pinto but stuck with the traditional greasy fair and surprisingly enough enjoyed just sitting visiting and watching the boys play with the other kids in the play place. We knew we would enjoy the more urban setting of central Alajuela during our final days in Alajuela as we had made friends with the owners of Vida Tropical during our initial visit and we were looking forward to visiting with them and enjoying the city attraction such as Parque Diversions. However, as we left the McDonalds we realized that good fortune was smiling upon us as the ten day International Festival of Arts had begun the previous day with the celebration of Juan Santamaria Day. For the next three days we were able to enjoy free entertainment for children and adults without having to take one taxi or spend one dollar. We went to musical performances
Sad BoysSad BoysSad Boys

The boys were rather sullen when it was time to leave Samara
and puppet performances in the park and attended a spectacular play two evenings in a row. Yes, we went to the same play twice, but it was so good, and it was in both English and Spanish. There was also a huge artisans fair and we found a couple of paintings to add to our six suitcases and eight carry-on bags. The finals days went quickly but we were fortunate to get a couple of visits in with Norman, Isabel, and young Nicolas and the experience reaffirmed our feelings for our adopted country. Costa Rica is really very much like home. Like all good things it had to end and we awoke at 4 AM to catch our taxi van to the airport to begin our journey back to the reality of Canada.

Our flights and passage through customs was as smooth as we could wish for and less than twelve hours after waking up we were standing at a taxi stand at O'Hare airport waiting for a taxi large enough to handle our baggage. After a short while we squeezed our stuff into a minivan and helped the taxi driver find our hotel. If you recall we stayed
A Nice viewA Nice viewA Nice view

Not more than 200 meters from our new house there is a beautiful river valley and a restaurant with excellent food.
at the Extended Stay Deluxe Hotel on our way and received awful customer service. I had filled out the customer satisfaction survey and as a result the owner had sent us a certificate for a free night. Not a bad deal considering the rooms go for about $150 a night. After our long day we were looking forward to getting our room and relaxing. As we checked in we were greeted by an unsmiling and monosyllabic front desk person who begrudgingly helped us. We have done plenty of traveling over the past year and this had to be the worst greeting we ever received during this time. We found out later, after giving the manager a heads up about our experience, that we had arrived right behind a group of 60 people who were in town for a convention...not an excuse but hearing about how rude they were explained the cool attitude of the clerk. Nataghia was quite hungry and decided to order a pizza and our first reality check relating to being back in North America arrived in the form of a delivery man asking me for $29 for a large pizza and three cans of pop. OUCH!!!! After
Our New Vacation GetawayOur New Vacation GetawayOur New Vacation Getaway

This is where our belongings will wait for us and other travelers to Costa Rica.
eating I went for a walk to get some fresh air. I found a mall after about ten minutes and was dismayed to see several restaurants with adverts for quality entrees for about $6. I went back to the hotel and we watched T.V. and crashed early knowing we had only accomplished the first leg of our journey home.

The next morning we headed to the mall to pick up some underwear for the boys since our train wasn't leaving Union Station until 2:15 in the afternoon and the commuter train was at noon. We tried to buy some in Costa Rica but all we could find was bikini briefs and boxers and the boys don't fancy either. It was amazing to be back in North America and see the eight rows of toys at the store. Another thing that caught our attention was the lack of attention we received while shopping. The only people we saw were the clerks at the tills. Whereas in Costa Rica there is most often always someone to greet you and offer assistance as soon as you walk into a store in addition to several security guards wandering up and down the
The KitchenThe KitchenThe Kitchen

This kitchen has more cupboard and counter space than our original place. One person can mix the drinks while the other prepares the feast!
aisles. We hustled back to the hotel in a brisk wind, finding out why they call Chicago the windy city, and checked out and headed to the Metra O'Hare transfer station to catch our train. One problem...we didn't know which side of the tracks to wait on. We were about a half an hour early and we hoped someone else who knew would come along. With about ten minutes to spare a woman got off the shuttle bus from the airport and was walking toward us. Oh thank you Lord...unfortunately her first words to us were, "Do you know which side to catch the train on?" Uh oh! Fortunately she had a cellular phone and she called the office for us and found out. She was actually heading the opposite direction and we thanked her and went on our way. After paying the $9 fair to Union Station to the conductor, who was so helpful with our baggage and telling us what to do upon arrival at Union Station, we enjoyed the views on ride into the center of Chicago.

Union Station Chicago! What a grand place in both stature and appearance. Despite being advised we could get help
The Living RoomThe Living RoomThe Living Room

This is a much larger space than our first place and we really need to get some art on the walls.
from the "red caps" Team Family hauled their bags with ease through the maze of Union Station and found the baggage check and ticket booth for Amtrak. Since we booked a family sleeping room we were checked in and directed to the Metropolitan Lounge for the first class ticket holders where they took our carry-on bags and offered us complimentary drinks, internet access and lovely furniture to relax upon while we waited to board the train. However, we were ready for lunch and without the burden of our baggage we headed out to find someplace to eat and stepped outside to show the boys what it looks like in the concrete jungle. We found a busy little Chinese food place and filled our faced with some quick and delicious food and headed to the lounge. It wasn't long before we heard the much anticipated cry from the conductor...ALL ABOARD. We were escorted to our car and found our accommodations. To say we were excited would be an understatement as it was very cool to have our very own self-contained living space on the train and of course knowing that in less than twenty four hours we be greeted by Papa
The backyardThe backyardThe backyard

The yard is significantly smaller but we still have room for a couple of hammocks.
and be on our way to Saskatchewan the place where we love the land, our friends, and most of all our families. The train ride did not disappoint as we were greeted with Champagne delivered to our quarters, had juice and coffee at our beckoning, and dined on steaks for dinner and Greek omelets for breakfast. The boys were completely wacky when we set up the bunks for bedtime but eventually we were all lulled to sleep by the rhythm of the train. After enjoying breakfast we were offered a mid-morning Mimosa and told to take as much water as we could carry with us when we left. Unbelievable as it seems the train was running on time as well and it looked like we were going to make the 11:30 AM arrival time. Unfortunately about 45 minutes out of Williston there was a work crew finishing some track maintenance and they delayed us for about an hour. Actually we didn't mind as we were able to enjoy one more meal, which was included in our ticket price. While attempting to eat up our lunch quickly as our stop was immanent and our kind car attendant replied that we should
Star FruitStar FruitStar Fruit

Despite losing our many mango trees in the move we acquired a star fruit and avocado tree at the new place and our neighbour has a couple of giant mango trees I'm sure we can access.
just take it all with us and enjoy the plates as keepsakes of our trip. How wonderful!! Owen didn't order lunch as he was just too excited about seeing Papa and coming home. I think he thought time would go faster if willed it hard enough. Both the boys stated they would give Papa the biggest hug ever when they saw him.

As promised Papa was at the station waiting and as promised the boys both greeted him with terrific enthusiasm with Benjamin almost pulling him over with his hug. We were all extremely happy to see Papa and we were so happy to have such a welcome. We made the trip back to Saskatoon in about five and a half hours and were happy that it wasn't too cold. While driving back through our beautiful province the collective feeling was joy and happiness. As Owen stated, "No matter where I live Eastend will always be my home." The same goes for Saskatchewan and when we rounded the corner to arrive at Nana and Papa's house it felt great to know we were home safe and sound. The hugs and kisses from Nana and the smell of fresh baked
Packed Packed Packed

Amazingly enough we came home with about the same amount of stuff as we took.
bread and chili cooking for dinner had us relaxed and comfy in minutes. As all good things must end sometime, the bliss of being home was shattered for Nataghia and I the next morning as the boys wish to have a little bit of winter came true and the ground was covered in a thick blanket of fresh snow. A welcome home snowfall wasn't exactly what we had in mind but it was still great to be back despite having to shovel the drive on my first day back.

So our travels have come to an end for now. Over the past ten months we have accomplished a significant amount of our goals and dreams but as it should be we have more as a result of our experience. Since this entry has been so long I will save the summary of our experience for another time and we will hopefully have news as to what we will be doing and where we will be doing it by then as well. So, if you are still reading, thank you! Thank you for your comments, your emotional support, and your inspiration we could not have had the experience we have
Friend of the PigeonFriend of the PigeonFriend of the Pigeon

Despite some hesitancy Owen mastered the art of feeding the pigeons by hand.
had without the knowledge that we have all of our family and our friends both old and new to share our experience with. We would be glad to help anyone with tips and advice if they were interested in doing something like what we have over the past year. Keep in touch and watch for our update about our future in Saskatchewan and Costa Rica. Pura Vida!



Additional photos below
Photos: 30, Displayed: 30


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Pigeon ChaserPigeon Chaser
Pigeon Chaser

Benjamin on the other hand, loves to torment the pigeons by chasing them relentlessly.
Enjoying the EntertainmentEnjoying the Entertainment
Enjoying the Entertainment

The boys loved the entertainment in the park.
Intense SpectatorIntense Spectator
Intense Spectator

Benjamin loves to watch and listen to the performers.
Costa Rica FashionCosta Rica Fashion
Costa Rica Fashion

We never quite got used to the style of skin tight jeans in Costa Rica.
Family FunFamily Fun
Family Fun

The whole family loved the performance of The Willow Tree so much we attended two nights consecutively.
Turtle FriendTurtle Friend
Turtle Friend

The boys loved following the two turtles that lived in the courtyard of the Mango Verde Hostel.


26th April 2008

Welcome Back!
That picture of the boys looking NOT happy to be leaving Samara would be me if I had to leave Costa Rica before my year was up! You've had a great adventure and it's wonderful that you have a place there to go back to. I could get used to avocado and star fruit trees in the yard. I tried to identify your mystery tree, but couldn't find anything in my little book.
27th April 2008

welcome back
It was great to follow your travels and trials and tribs while trying to acclimatize to a culture very dissimilar to our own.Fascinating and welcome back after a successful year(nearly) of travel. Shon and (I travelled to Mexico after the New Year.It was fabulous.Landed in Cancun and immediately left there to discover Mexico.Fascinating country--110,000,000 million people-63 language groups.How do they hold it together?Amazingly,they do and are so beautiful in how they do it.Something we could learn from.Shon and I want to go back but we have purchased a piece of land in Eastend and our intention is to build a studio and shop in one building.I'm sure you don't want all the details.If you are curious I would be glad to write more.As for now I will only say it is going to be "alternative building"--ie.as green as we cAN MAKE IT.Lots of solar gain technology-ie.house aimed the correct direction with glass in the correct spots etc.We are beginning our sojourn side by side with an alternative building Co. composed of engineers at U.of Manitoba,who have set up a company to work with people who want to build differently ie.stackwall,earth-berm,straw-bale etc.We are excited.WE are still happy to be here although we have looked at alternatives in this past year and have not found anything better that is also in our price range.Enough already.Good to hear from you.I look forward to hearing more from you.Keep well.Stephen
27th April 2008

Welcome back!
Hey guys welcome back and so glad the trip home was enjoyable. It was great to read about your adventures in Costa Rica, I can't wait to see you person so I can give you all a big hug. Too bad about the snow but what a welcome home gift from the weather gods. Hey Ron, could you use a long board instead of a tobogan.
28th April 2008

Welcome Home!
I'm so glad you made it home safe and sound, i have been thinking about you guys. Im sad though, cant help it, sounds like it would be difficult to just pick up and leave after such a wonderful adventure. Oh well, youll have a great time in Regina too im sure, you have such a great family unit. WHo knows what the future will bring. Thanks for all the reports, i absolutely loved reading them. Take care and keep in touch Michelle
28th April 2008

Welcome Home!
Glad to hear you are home safe and sound! Sounds like you have had a wonderful time! Hope to hear from you soon.

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