Category Archives: Moving

Costa

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.

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.

A Few of My Favorite Things

We’ve got about eighteen weeks and counting. Every week I try and make some kind of progress. My list of things to do is somewhat different than the overall list that Kurt and I written down in a notebook (yep, old school). My goals for the month of February are sell massage chair (check), sell treadmill (working on it, moving from bedroom to living room was this past weekend’s goal), organize and sell elementary homeschool curricula (sorta check). So over the course of the week I located, posted, these items. Still working on getting them sold but we’re making progress.

As I go through my home with a fine toothed comb I get to evaluate all my possessions. Do I want to take this to Italy? Do I want to store it? Can I sell it? Is it worth anything? And my most favorite thought is, why in the world did I keep this for so many years and drag it across the country etcetera, etcetera, etcetera?

I’m practically an expert mover of my life. I can move my household across the United States without any emotional upheaval. I’ve moved from house to house, town to town, and state to state. No problem. For the most part we live fairly light after fifteen years of marriage, two kids, three states, and almost  a dozen households. But this time it’s different . I have to really lighten the load and be diligent about things.

 

What are my favorite things?

1. Family

I’m taking my favorites (husband and boys) with me but I also have albums of pictures, framed pictures and art as well as videos of family, friends, and of a lifetime that will be stored away. Being the digital age, I can bring someone it with me but there is a fair amount of stuff that’ll be stored either at grandma’s or with our other precious things in a container for the long-term.

The one thing I discovered is I have a lot of frames. Big ones. Small ones. Most for photos. Some for art. And I don’t need to take them with me. I’m fairly certain I can get new frames in Italy.

2. Books

We are a family of readers. We have lots of books. We also love a good library but that’s a different story. We have so many books that we don’t actually have enough bookshelves for all the books. So our favorites are out and the rest are in boxes that get shuffled through now and again. Some of these books we’ll sell; old homeschool stuff and various other manuals that aren’t being used. Most will be stored in long-term storage. And a precious few will make the journey with us. Books are heavy as I’ve noticed through the years of moving back and forth.

3. Heirlooms

This is a small but necessary category. I have an antique dresser, bed frame, and a clock that will be kept but not taken. I could not bear it if these things were lost or broken. There are some homemade quilts that my mom made for me as a child and as an adult and for my children. These are some the precious things that need to be saved because of the memories of family.

4. Linens and Things

There’s a lot I’m willing to part with including my iron and old towels. There are things, my nice things, that I’ll be keeping in storage. Being in a house full of boys and moving a lot I haven’t collected a whole lot of nice things. For some reason stuff gets broken and you learn that it’s just stuff. Even if your first reaction is hysterical and over the top. After all, it’s just a sugar bowl. My nicer linens and my nicer dishes will be kept. But most everything else falls under “We’re going to Italy, let’s sell it”.

A Changing Perspective

Throughout our fifteen years of marriage we have moved across the country and back again twice. Sometimes with very little notice and sometimes with plenty of time to pack and plan. We haven’t, until now, taken on such a huge relocation. In comparison, moving across the country is easy and uncomplicated than picking up stakes and going out of country. During the first days of Italian contemplation I read many a blog and article regarding how to and what to move. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to ship my Porsche, because it only lives in my imagination.  We will be taking very little in comparison. Though we did promise the boys a few luxuries like their gaming system.

Sometimes late at night my mind is trying to work out all the things that need to be done in the next four months. My body generally wants my mind to shut up and go to sleep. So I go through my house, in my head, and all its stuff and mentally make notes on what to sell, give, take, store, etc. During the daylight hours I’ve started to go through boxes and bins to toss things I really don’t need to hang on to. It feels like I lose weight daily as I purge things.

Since we’ve moved further and more often than your average Americans we travel fairly light. When you decide to pick up and leave the country your perspective totally changes. Those clothes and shoes you’ve hung on to just because you might wear them become additions to the give-to-Goodwill pile. You decide what things you’re truly willing to store and what you’re willing to sell. For us most everything can go. The treadmill, the bookcases, the massage chair, and the random things collected that won’t be utilized in Europe. There are some items I refuse to part with and those are books (we have quite a few), childhood paraphernalia from the two kids, some Christmas ornaments, and some kitchen things (especially my Fiestaware). The majority of my things can go because selling them allows us to go to Italy. And it’s just stuff and I hear that you can buy sheets, towels, plates, silverware and even new clothes in Italy. It’s not like we’re moving to the back country of Uganda or some other third world country. It’s Italy, and this is the beginning of my perspective changing.

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…