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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

What to pack when you visit us in San Jose

If you ever decide to visit us in Moravia, San Jose, Costa Rica where life is a vacation, the weather is always perfect, and the scenery is post-card picturesque, I suggest bringing some key items.

1. Sunglasses
Las gafas de sol (sunglases) will be very useful for the two hours in the day when the sun is actually out.  You may not want to wear them during the rest of the rather-overcast, dimly cloudy days.  If you're one of those cool "wear the shades at night" kind of people, that's perfect because it gets dark here at 6 p.m.  A set of Raybands on your face will set you aside for sure.

2. Flip-flops
What happened, Britt?.  Silly chica, you need an umbrella that works.
These are essential footwear.  They're waterproof, and best for all the rain that comes every afternoon and night.  Too bad we can't wear flip flops to work.  For my housemates, it'd make walking 30-40 minutes everyday after work in the inevitable puddles more enjoyable. Wearing any other kind of shoe to later place somewhere may or may not grow mold on the side of them eventually.  Who needs greenery outside when you got it in your closet?

3. Suntan lotion 
As expected, we do get red and hot here in Costa Rica....especially from the embarrassment of conversations gone wrong.  Like the time Jelly called the nuns sornas (slang for whores) and not sores (Sisters).  Or that time I saw a horse (caballo) outside and exclaimed to my students, "Caballero!" and made the whole riding motion with my hands, inferring that one day I would like to ride a cabellero.  Too bad "caballero" means "gentleman" in Spanish.

Stop....and smell the mildew.
4. Shorts and t-shirts
These two essentials are all you the house under the covers when it's cold at night.  Otherwise you might want to bring that black Northface to sustain you during some of the chilly days here.  Oh, and make sure to pack an outfit for each day you're here because you may not want to do laundry. We don't have a dryer so we hang our clothes up.  That ain't no problem, however, it's tough to dry clothes when it rains all the time, causing our clothes to take a rather longer time to dry.  We here in Costa Rica especially appreciate the refreshing smell of mildew clothes can get after a wet hang on the clothesline.  Nothing starts the morning better than putting on a shirt for work that smells and feels like sweaty butt.

5. A camera
While you're here, you will want to take pictures of the picturesque scenery here to make your friends jealous of how good you have it.  There are plenty of potholes and ditches in the streets and sidewalks to capture.  Or the barbwire fences that surround every house.  Or that store that has all that trash outside of it that we walk by every day.  Or the traffic of cars and buses that will run over pedestrians who aren't looking.  A 4gb memory card might not be enough.

6. Extra money
The people here are very hospitable and friendly.  However, some are extraordinarily friendly.  If you walk the road by the cemetery at night, some people might think you've been buds forever and might ask you for your money....and it's expected that you give it.  It's like family here, your things are their things.  Also, some taxi drivers will gladly give you the American treatment by taking off their meter and give you a set price for a ride.  Makes it nice and simple. Be ready to be a generous giver.

Our kitchen = hormigas city
7. An appreciation for exotic wild life
Our home gets plenty of exotic visitors big and small.  Come to our place and you might be able to meet Clarence, our rat, who has been seen hanging out in our back yard.  Or if you're lucky you'll catch the geckos or slugs that chill out on our walls.  If anything, you must appreciate the smallest creatures.  All you need to do is leave the tiniest crumb anywhere in the house and an army of ants will greet you at the door.  They're in every room, while you're showering, napping, and especially the kitchen.  Don't be surprised to see the "dirt move around" whenever your'e sweeping.

3: The number of umbrella failures by Brittany.
The packing list is simple and is for anyone who expects to visit paradise.  I had a lot of people tell me how lucky I was to get to live in such a beautiful place.  And I am lucky, don't get me wrong, but maybe for different reasons.  Because whenever someone thinks about Costa Rica they're thinking about mildew, potholes, and ants, right? Right.  Hmm, que bonita.

Que bonita.



  1. LOVE this post, Matt! Glad(?) to hear that nothing has changed in good ol' Moravia. In regards to #7, have you met the cat that climbs in the roof of the house yet? We named him Juan Carlos, after the king of Spain, but this was before we met Juan Carlos at the school and felt bad.