Some of you might find this a bit boring, but I think it might help others when they are relocating to the land of “Pura Vida.” When I made the decision it was time to pack my bags and head to Costa Rica I started making preparations about 2 months before the flight to Costa Rica.
The first step was to break it off with my current girlfriend and let her know my plan. This I thought would be the easiest part since I never really let my heart fall too hard for a girl. It happened once in my past and I swore to never let it happen again. So over some drinks I told Kristy (again not real name) my plan to head out of the USA in about 8 weeks. Her reaction of course was not what I was looking for….”I am coming with you. Let’s go tell my parents.” I really thought that telling a girl that I was leaving the country would be an easy end to a toxic relationship, but I guess not.
So over the next 2 months we got ready for the move to Costa Rica. Both Kristy and I started looking for jobs and places to stay on craigslist so when we landed we were able to hit the ground running. I was receiving about $1,300 a month severance pay from my previous job and set it up so a friend of mine would be able to send that to me each month when I arrived in Costa Rica.
We both found jobs that said they would interview us when we arrived in Costa Rica. I was to interview with an executive recruiting company and she was lined up to interview at a vacation sales company. We then found a furnished month to month apartment on Craigslist called Vista Linda Apartments in Calle Blancos for $350 a month. All that was left were our passports and telling both of our parents that we were headed out.
I told my parents over the phone and then they wanted to have a private dinner with me. They knew as did I even though I would not admit it that I was running away. I had decided to ignore all those demons I was afraid to admit were destroying my potential. Instead of confronting them and starting to live my life I was heading south. As we left the restaurant I could feel the disappointment in their eyes and see that they were finally giving up on me and letting me go. All my actions had finally pushed them completely away. It would be the last time I saw my parents for over 5 years. Both Kristy and I had dinner with her parents, but although they thought it was a mistake for her to go they had not lost faith that she would find herself one day. They even drove us to the airport on the morning of our flight. The last thing her father said to me was “Take care and protect my daughter in Costa Rica.” I could not even take care of myself much less take on the responsibility of a non-Spanish speaking person was the only thing that came into my mind.
Oh this might be a good time to mention I had taken 8 years of Spanish in high school and college, spent over a year living and working in Mexico, and had come to Costa Rica during college to study during a Christmas break. I was close to fluent in the language. highly recommended to speak the language at least some to live in Costa Rica, although some people never do.
I do not know how many of you have heard the George Strait song The Seashores of Old Mexico, but that was the life I thought I was headed to experience. Visions of Piña Coladas, Margaritas and beaches filled my mind. My plan was to be on a perpetual Spring Break and apply the rule if it is in another country stupid actions do not count.
We landed in San Jose and made it to the Vista Linda Apartments. I would recommend talking to friends and people you know before deciding to live in certain areas or in certain apartments. Although they are conveniently located about 10 minutes outside of San Jose it is an area of town that I would definitely not want to be walking after dark. To say the least we were the youngest people living there. Most of the guests were men in their 60s and 70s that were in Costa Rica for sex tourism. Some of the men even had their “regular” girls come over and visit them during the day. The rest would venture down to the Del Rey Hotel and find their daily prostitute at about noon each day. This was a Costa Rica I had not encountered when I was in college and not one I really wanted to experience. There are definitely good and bad areas to live in Costa Rica, and you should either talk to friends before you arrive or stay in hotels or hostels until you find the right area and apartment or house for you.
The day after we arrived we took the bus downtown and then onto Rohrmoser. This was both Kristy and I had our interviews on Monday and wanted to make sure we knew how to get there. If you need to get anywhere on time and if you have this opportunity always take the chance to try to experience the bus route you need to take to work or an interview before you have to arrive at a certain time. Figuring out the busses and where they stop and the routes can be quite a pain when you first arrive in Costa Rica.
On Monday, we headed to our respective interviews. We were both wearing pretty formal business attire and had broken a sweat by the time we arrived on the other side of town. We found her interview location after asking directions from about 8 different people of which 7 told us wrong directions, and then I headed to my interview. To make a long story short, I arrived at my interview 15 minutes early and was asked to wait. Although I had confirmed the night before my interview time of 11 am the manager that was supposed to interview me was not in the office. At 12:45 he arrived and was told he had someone waiting to interview with him. He then made me wait about 30 minutes while he finished his lunch. At 1:15 I was called over to his desk to speak with him. He said he really liked my resume and then asked “So do you have a work permit for Costa Rica?” Not knowing that this was a requirement for the position I asked “Is this something you will help me acquire as I just arrived yesterday?” He knew that I had flown in the day before. He then proceeded to tell me that a work permit was required to work there and they do not help employees get these. Interview over, no job, and a complete waste of time other that knowing to ask if a work permit is required. ALWAYS ASK THIS.
I went back to Kristy’s interview location to find out she was still interviewing but it seemed that she was getting the job. At least that was good news. After her interview we needed to go celebrate. This celebration and Spring Break mentality lasted 3 months for me. We moved from Calle Blancos to Rohrmoser at the end of that first month to be closer to her work. Although I was half-ass searching for work, jobs paying $600 or $800 a month did not seem like something I wanted to bother with considering I was getting almost double that sent to me each month. Add in that Kristy was doing quite well as high season was approaching and she was stealing deals from her co-workers and the party had begun. This part of my journey took me closer to the dark side rather than overcoming my negative addictions.
The term partying like a rock star is the best way to describe the next few months. It was like to college kids on Spring Break, not caring how they acted or thinking of the consequences. The nights and days were filled with alcohol, drugs and sex. Looking back, the people we were hanging out with were only there for the party and were not really our friends. Kristy and I because of all the toxins that were flowing through our bodies would fight more than we would get along. Our lives consisted of “perrico” otherwise known as cocaine, lots of alcohol and cigarettes, and then marijuana and a sleeping pill to come down at about 3 am. All of these drugs combined was a ticking time bomb waiting to go off. It was about 3 months into this that my buddy in the USA sent me an email stating that he had received a letter to me that the severance pay was coming to an end. It was time for me to actually obtain a job.
Next Up – Finding My First Job in Costa Rica – The Sportsbook