Category Archives: life less ordinary

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Took the Leap and Haven’t Fallen

We took a leap of faith and moved to Costa Rica. We are still chasing Italy and we’ve made the first step in our journey. We got out of dodge, took a leap and landed in Costa Rica, a new life. We’ve been here a whole 24 hours. Tomorrow TEFL school starts for both of us. I’m a bit nervous but who wouldn’t be if they were in my sandals. The apartment we rented for the month is not luxurious by normal American standards but it’s  safe, clean, and has everything we need including Wi-Fi. We’re about a kilometer from the beach. At the beach the water is warm but it’s glorious. I’m told there’s a reef that blocks the larger animals (read sharks) from coming in to visit. This makes me happy. Might even learn to surf while I’m here.
After going to a few restaurants that were owned by English speakers we decided to head to the supermercado. It wasn’t a bad experience. Pali is a chain and they had a little bit of everything. We got a few necessities and went our merry little way. Actually we got about as much as we could carry comfortably back to the house. I did forget salt. We’ll be making a return trip today for that and probably some cold beer.
The heat is incredible. 34 degrees Celsius with a even higher heat index. For those who don’t think in Celsius, it was 98 degrees with 109 degree heat index. And it needs to rain. Currently there’s a dry spell and very little break in the heat. You hear thunder and see lightning but no rain. I hope it does rain some because a drought is no bueno.

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So today we’ll get on our swimsuits and get wet. Then we’ll have dinner and shower to cool off. Luckily we have fans to keep us from melting.
What’s holding you back? What’s your leap of faith?

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Why Costa Rica (or Isn’t it Chasing Italy)

In search of pura vida. Costa Rica is pura vida.

Europe and Italy are expensive. We knew this when we first purposed this dream of Italy. Dreaming is awesome you fantasize about a magical life with museum visits, restaurants, and glorious hotels. Then reality sets in and maybe just maybe Italy is a little too big bite of adventure. Especially for a family of four on a budget. There were too many ifs and maybes.

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With our budget in mind we re-accessed our choices for starting our adventure. Costa Rica came to mind. Why Costa Rica? I believe Costa Rica is kinda magical. A land where they take conservation seriously. Where family is important and value is placed on the experience not the amount of toys you die with.

The American dream has failed us. We were told to get good grades, go to college, and get a good job. Buy a house, a couple cars, and have a couple (or more) kids. All will be alright. Just keep getting more, newer, faster toys, hobbies, stuff. Fill your life with things. It’s normal to get a new car every couple years, a new computer every two years, a new cell phone every year. Just slather yourself with technology and you won’t notice life just passing you by. Sunsets, sunrises, chatting face to face. These are things you miss when you’re working away to pay for this so called life.

Or you can take a chance. Just go for it and get out there. It’s a big world, don’t you want to experience  it.

Costa Rica has beaches, mountains, volcanoes, amazing flora and fauna. It has eco tours, surfing, zip lining, hot air ballooning, hiking, fishing, bird watching, animal rescue, butterfly studying. The cuisine is simple yet exquisitely real and satisfying. Lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. And let’s not get into the coffee. It’s Costa Rica, coffee is awesome. Costa Rica is phenomenal in its culture, cuisine, and environment. Almost anyone you ask would go to Costa Rica if they had the chance. Go ahead ask them. Pura Vida.

And don’t worry we are still chasing Italy.

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Big Week (or Calgon Take Me Away)

It’s been a big week. Last week we were accepted into the TEFL school. So this week we got to pay for school, find a place to stay, buy plane tickets, yada, yada,yada. Calgon take me away. Just for a moment. I need to wrap my head around all this.

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Phew…. that was good part of this week. Everything took a few emails or phone calls but we got it done and got some good deals in the process. Great priced plane tickets, a cheap and reasonable place to live while at school, and even a fair priced ride from airport to Samara.

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Then things got weird. It’s been raining and cold all week. Rain I can handle but I’m over the cool temperatures. It’s even  supposed to snow on Sunday, Mother’s Day. Yuck. After working three overnights this weekend I was exhausted and sore. The frosting on top of my icky week cake was getting prepared for a yard sale (in which it’ll be raining), car issues, and refiling taxes for the state.

Our newly paid off car needs repairs and its too much to do just to sell the car. So we’ll be selling it as is and losing any money we put into it.

I’m having a yard sale because I’ve been waiting for a month to have this yard sale. Usually I work Saturday mornings and therefore had to take off but it’s going to rain. I’m doing it anyway under my covered porch and parking spot. Improvise is my middle name.

Finally we had to redo our state taxes. Instead of receiving any kind of return we are having to pay. It’s just a little bit but the whole process is annoying.

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Overall awesome week but I’m having a beer and a shot of tequila for the not so savory parts of my week. We’re very excited about moving to Costa Rica but we’re suffering from ‘senioritis’ wanting this to be over and the next part to begin. Calgon take me away.

Things to Do in Colorado

I have lived in Colorado off and on for nearly twenty years. And yet I’ve not skied in Colorado (Kurt has in Colorado and Italy, lucky guy) or done all the things you do in Colorado. That’s a bit of an exaggeration, I’ve been to a handful of places like Rocky Mountain National Park, Garden of the Gods, Red Rocks, Chautauqua and Roxborough parks, and Guanella Pass. We’ve been to the botanical gardens, Butterfly Pavilion, both zoos, and the aquarium. We’ve definitely done stuff. But there are a few things we would really like to see and experience before we leave the country. And my youngest son has made a list. The list includes Rocky Mountain National Park, Mesa Verde, Sand Dunes, Royal Gorge, Botanical Gardens, Manitou cliff dwellings and Garden of the Gods.

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Garden of the Gods, Rocky Mountain National Park and Roxborough Park. These are places we’ve been before but the boys don’t remember or really want to see again. It’s been years and they haven’t changed but are amazing and a must to see if ever in Colorado.

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Manitou Cliff dwellings, Royal Gorge, Mesa Verde, Four Corners and the Sand Dunes are among the places we like to visit before our departure. These are classically Colorado sights that Kurt hasn’t been to in decades and my boys and I have never seen. Great places to take pictures and have a little adventure.

Outside of Colorado are two places we’d like to squeeze in over a long weekend. Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone National Park. My son would like to see buffalo in their natural habitat. That being said Yellowstone is pretty cool with Old Faithful and all. I was there as a kid and still remember how spectacular the geysers were and how amazing the buffalo and moose were to see roaming around.

So I’m beginning to prepare for our life outside of these United States and planning a few fun things to do before we get out of dodge. So over the next several weeks we’ll be going places and taking lots of pictures. Get out there and do something because it’s a big world.

Shoot for the Moon (Chasing Italy Does)

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Sometimes you need to shoot for the moon.

So about six weeks ago my husband started freaking out. (Visualize the Thinker). Which, in turn, caused me to freak out. (Visualize cartoon Tasmanian devil). My anxiety aside, Kurt freaks out so quietly that I find it completely unnerving. He ponders and frets and keeps to himself. Being a natural introvert this is how he deals. But to me, not introverted at all, I begin to wig and wig hard. I become an annoying little bird, jumpy and trying to figure out what’s wrong, what can I do to fix it, or what did I do. I’m not a quiet patient wife. I fret and I try not to nag.

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After about three days and a bunch of forwarded emails with links to getting visas and jobs in Italy he finally broke his silence. He was concerned about Italy. Concerned that we’d be setting ourselves up for failure by leaping head first into our adventure. A multitude of blogs and websites say that though not impossible, it’s difficult to start ESL teaching in Italy. That experience is what we need and we can’t afford to adventure into the unknown willy nilly like. Our little bit of money would go much further, while we get experience, in a different country.

Knowing that we were not going to give up this dream of traveling and of Italy, we began to discuss options. What countries? What continents? What would be acceptable and reasonable and what wouldn’t be acceptable? Kurt threw out the idea of South America. Possible. He’d been there ten years ago on the Amazon river on a missions trip. I threw out Asia and Kurt cited a few reasons why he’d rather not. Not possible. Among them the cuisine and the Asian work versus play lifestyle. We wanted to not have to work a ‘regular’ job in a foreign country but to work some , explore some, travel some, and blog about everything in between. Plus we have teenagers and we want them to experience as much culture as they can between their studies and our work. Family time is quite important. So Asia is more or less off the table. Europe is on hold. For some reason we’ve never discussed Africa. So we started looking at central and south America.

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Out of the blue I suggested Costa Rica. Not sure why. I didn’t know much about it outside of ecotourism. I even had to check a map to see where exactly it was located. I felt rather blonde as I discovered that it was actually just north of the country I was born in. But then again I was born in Panama but left at six months of age. I’ve always wanted to see the place of my birth maybe now I’ll get a chance.

Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.
Norman Vincent Peale

So Chasing Italy will shoot for the moon. It might take a while but it’ll be an adventure.

Where is your ‘shoot for the moon’ place? Italy? Europe? Asia? Australia? Tell us in the comments below.

Waiting is the Hardest

We’ve been waiting for things to happen, but things take time. It’s like when you find out you’re pregnant, but you have to wait nine months to meet your baby. Sure things proceed and change but you have to wait until the time is right. We started planning with a six month window of time. As we wait, we research, we talk, and we dream. What do we dream about? Oh so many things.

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Five Cities I want to see the first year besides Vicenza: Venice, Verona, Florence, Parma, and Bologna. I actually want to see every nook and cranny of Italy but you have to start somewhere. Venice for the canals. Verona because of Shakespeare. Florence for the museums. Parma and Bologna for the food. I’m sure the food in every region is amazing and I’m willing to try all of it.

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Five things I want to do my first year in Italy. These aren’t in any particular order: ride in a gondola, ski on the Dolomites, soak up the sun on an Italian beach, ride on a train, and learn basic conversational Italian.

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Five things I want to try my first year. Cappuccino and espresso like a native, wine from as many regions as possible, risotto, gnocchi, and polenta. My husband and children will be all over the pizza, pasta, and gelato choices. And as much as I love wheat it doesn’t love me back. Therefore, I will concentrate my gastronomic experience to the wheat free/gluten free arena. I’m excited because I’ve read Italy is GF friendly and northern Italy has fabulous risotto, polenta, and gnocchi dishes.

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Although we have no idea where we’ll land in Italy past school, we have open minds and willingness. Dreams of Italy prevail both in our days and our nights. It’s kind of like “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” but slightly more realistic.

I’m open to suggestions for our first year in Italy. Remember I’ve got two teenage boys both with a reasonable but not overwhelming interest in art and architecture. They love to eat though.

Ready to rock and roll…Passport to the World

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It begins…

When my husband got word that he might have a little bit of money from his beloved grandmother, we didn’t think much of it. We figured that it probably wouldn’t change our lives. Then we learned that it might make a difference if we allowed ourselves to dream a little.

After some contemplation, my dear husband, Kurt, says that he has a couple of ideas. Now you should know that we never back down from a challenge or adventure. We have moved across the country with very short notice for a job with a newborn and two year old. That adventure landed us in northern Virginia right before 9-11 and the sniper shootings. We moved back to Colorado to be near family and six years later did the cross country thing again.

Back to the idea and the dream. In his reasoning, (being way more logical than myself) we could invest in a future, like a restaurant. We had discussed this before but without means didn’t seem possible in our lifetime. So we spent some time investigating this option. The quality of restaurant we wanted was beyond our means. We still held onto the hope that it could still be possible but in the end came to the conclusion that it wasn’t going to happen.

So I begin to imagine option B. What is option B? Option B is Italy. Yes, the entire country. Actually, we had dreamed for years of going abroad. We have many countries we’d like to visit but Italy has always been at the top of the list. As a child, Kurt, lived in Vicenza while his father served in the U.S. Army. He has very fond memories of Italy and he wants to share Italy with me and the kids. I’m all for it. Can you imagine, the food, the wine, the art, the architecture, the history?
So we’re getting out of dodge and chasing Italy. It begins…