Remember when we were living in Costa Rica? Sharing this oldie (but goodie) here today to show you how our travel journey has progressed over the years. This morning we embarked on our (almost) 4th year or travel and a new adventure style. I like to call it WorldTowning™ On-The-Go! As much as RVing Europe was always something we wanted to do, you just never know what life will throw you. We did not get exactly what we wanted in 2015 out of an RV (see below), but we are all quite happy with how it turned out.
Originally posted February 12, 2015.
I am working on a new series that will be debuting sometime in April. It will be called Inside a Traveler’s Walls. The idea behind this series is to introduce you to travelers and their temporary homes through their words and photos.
Have you ever wondered how anyone could make a sailboat comfortable and welcoming with so little space to work with? Do people actually live in their RV’s in cold climates? How about a yurt, what is that? Do you live in them? Could a two-room apartment in Paris function as a home for a family of four (I know the answer to this one)? Are beach houses always full of sand? Let’s get to the bottom of these questions together.
I will take you on a visual and written tour of the most different, eclectic, unusual and aesthetically pleasing places people call temporary homes. What do you think? Are you interested in looking inside?
The inspiration for this series came from two places. First, it came from you readers. You are always curious about our traveling casa so I thought you might be interested in looking into temporary homes around the world. I mean, I can’t possibly be the only person who looks in windows of homes when I drive by, right? Second, I have always enjoyed designmom.com and her Living with Children series. Although this is a different concept it has the same idea of being able to step inside someones home (and head) without literally going inside. Thank you Design Mom for the inspiration.
Can I share a secret? I have this dream of buying an rv that is a disaster inside, gutting it and pimping it out. I see bright colors, comfy furniture and lots of hidden spaces to store all of our travel gear. Anyone with me? Maybe we could do a “funky rv” caravan across the US, who’s in? I see striped exterior paint, pink rims and faux leopard curtains. Are you still with me? Maybe one day.
I am going to start this series off with our casa here in Costa Rica. Ready? I plan on asking the same questions listed below to anyone who would like to be featured. If you are interested message me.
Introduce us to the people you love?
Hello, we are the Sueiro family. We are two parents and two kids living together with one very old (and deaf) Shitzu named Peanut. I am the mom, multitasker and master of ceremonies. I play the role of graphic designer, blogger, photographer, aspiring chef, world school facilitator and snuggler. I am a glass is half full (even if the glass is broken), anything is possible (yes, I can still become president) personality to a fault. I will fight for my family till the end. My main goal in life is to inspire my children to dream big, fight hard, dance crazy, love deeply and never ever give up on things that matter to them. But most of all I want them to know they were loved unconditionally from the day they were born and it is ok to choose a path less traveled (literally and figuratively).
I have been married to my hot latino hubby Will for almost 15 years. He is a corporate America drop out who works hard every day to reinvent himself as a self-employed man. Will wakes before everyone, works his butt off all day and is the last one to retire each night. I know it was not easy for him to step away from a secure career in his early 40’s to take a huge business risk and I am proud of him. I am grateful that he values travel and family as much as I do. Will starts ever day with a snuggle with his kids, breakfast preparations and a Math lesson before he retires to his home office. When he is not with the family or working he is running marathons or playing with his latest Go Pro gadget.
Avalon is our vivacious ten-year old girl who has plans to change the world one day. She is a ball of energy who is continually creating and dreaming. Avalon would probably shrivel up and die if all the books on the planet ceased to exist, thank goodness for her Kindle. Since we have moved to Costa Rica she has had many changes in her life, particularly the fact that she is now world schooled. Avalon was the driving force behind this schooling option and as a result she has enthusiastically embraced it.
Largo is the house master snuggler, some say he should be a professional snuggler when he grows up. He has a charming wit that stretches way beyond his years and a positive energy that is contagious. Largo skips and sings when he moves, which is pretty much all the time. When he grows up he plans to design Lego’s because he is concerned they won’t have enough that interest him at an older age. Largo made friends very quickly when we moved to Costa Rica, but he still really misses his grandparents and friends back in Cambridge. This new environment has ignited a creativity within him that is on fire from the moment he wakes until the second he snoozes.
Where are you in the world and what are you living in?
We are in Curridabat, Costa Rica which is a suburb east of the San Jose (the capital). We have been here four months, our entry was particularly hard, but now we are settled into our new normal and we could not be happier.
We live in a first floor apartment of a three-story house. The owners of the house live on the 2nd and 3rd floor. One of the reasons we love our place is because it is one stop shopping. We pay a monthly fee that includes our rent and utilities. Each day we rise to the sound of the birds and the rushing river. The only down side is the construction next door, but hopefully they will be done soon. Our temporary home gives us the simple things in life that we need, light, nature, wild life, running water and a bathroom. Oh wait, I forgot one more, internet (sometimes reliable and sometimes not).
Why did you choose to live in your current situation?
We have been wanting to live outside the US for seven years and we finally brought it to fruition. Originally we entertained living in France since our children speak French, but after doing the budget we realized that it was going to be too expensive for us. Next, we researched other French-speaking countries and countries that had private French schools around the world, but they were too expensive as well. We finally decided on Costa Rica because it offered everything on our wish list: French school, Spanish-speaking, nature, cultural experience, warm climate and affordability.
What do you do to personalize your temporary residence upon arrival?
We have had several temporary homes, but this is the first one we have had for an extended period of time. The number one thing we always do when we enter a new place is put art on the walls. I travel with a plethora of art supplies so we can make art in any location under any circumstance. We find that our personal art brings a sense of family and energy to our walls that makes us all smile. We have always been a big arty farty family, but as we travel our resources are much more limited. As a result, we have had to become more creative with our artwork by using a lot of recycled material, cardboard toilet paper rolls and wine corks. Will and I don’t seem to mind spending money on the wine bottles so the kids can have their art supplies (wink, wink).
Tell us your favorite and least favorite room in your space and why?
I really don’t like our bathroom. I have never had a bathroom without a window because it creeps me out, I need an exit strategy. Do you think I might have watched too many horror movies in my teens? All joking aside the room is just not welcoming to me and don’t even get me started on the 50 foot spider I found in my shower. I know, I know, it is not like we are entertaining in there, but I just cannot warm up to that room. Luckily, I don’t spend much time in it. Also, sometimes it smells like sewer and the shower is an odd shape so it is almost impossible to take a shower without getting water on the floor or the toilet paper roll. Have you ever tried wiping with wet toilet paper? It’s no fun, I don’t recommend it. Who wants to come visit next?
My favorite room, it is a tough choice between our living room and our bedroom. I think I will go with our bedroom because of the gorgeous windows, the light and the view of the amazing garden. When we open all the windows a smooth breeze generates through the entire apartment. The windows are huge, solid wood and open like french doors. I love to lay on the bed and gaze outside at the parrots in the trees while listening to the rushing river. Sounds beautiful, right? (insert screeching tire sound) Until the construction workers start hammering next door and then the peacefulness disappears. The place next door, hhmmm, wait to you hear what they are building. It will be scandalous, particularly in a suburb, but that is a chat for another time (suspense).
What is the biggest surprise inside your four walls?
Our kitchen sink does not have hot water. I know this is quite common in many parts of the world, but it is not common for us so it has taken some getting used to. We have adjusted quickly, but we still always make sure we are diligent about cleaning anything with grease immediately. Do you know how hard it is to clean grease without hot water? Before anyone suggests boiling water please remember that there are four of us and we already feel like we spend three hours a day doing dishes (no dishwasher folks).
What is the one household item you carry with you every time you move?
My spices. I know you were all probably thinking I was going to say my cork screw. I would be dying here without many of my spices since some of them are not available in Costa Rica. Before we left I transferred them into prescription bottles so that they were in non breakable containers. The spices were easy to travel with and I am happy to have them each time I cook dinner. Did you know that Alum is impossible to find here? I guess no one cans.
What do you miss most about having a permanent stationary location?
This is an easy one, my Kitchen Aid mixer. I love that thing and I miss it. Yes, I can make it work without it, but I used it for everything and the old school (aka Will) mixer is not as efficient.
What is the one item your children carry with them to make their temporary bedrooms more comfortable?
Stuffed animals, hands down. Largo also brings his special blanket that he has slept with since he was a baby. Their stuffed animal collection seems to be multiplying the longer we are here. Both kids are big into rescuing discarded stuffies and they have been known to pull them off the tops of dumpsters or sides of streets.
What is your best resource to find items you need for your place?
Our first option is always to find items for free that we can give a new look to with a fresh coat of paint. In many countries it is easy to find these items on trash day on the side of the road. If we cannot get it for free then we cruise second-hand stores. Unfortunately, we have not found any in Costa Rica that carry the items we need. Our third choice is a dollar store or a discount box store. So far this has been our best source in Costa Rica. Luckily our place came furnished because this option can usually yield the highest price tag for the traveler.
If you could only have one of the following in your temporary home which one would it be and why?
Space, natural light, dishwasher or above average internet.
This is a tough one. I think it will have to be a tie between natural light and above average internet. I need an internet connection that is better than dial-up for work so this is a must. But, I need natural light to function as a human being. Actually I will settle on natural light. We have a MiFi so I can always turn it on for internet if necessary. I can’t just turn on natural light.
If you could compare your temporary decorating style to a kitchen appliance or gadget what would it be and why?
A blender with the top off. You know what happens when you forget to put the top on, right? We’ve all done it. I don’t want to call our decorating style a mess, but I would say it is an eclectic array of creative juices sprinkled or splattered (hence the blender with the top off) all over our house. We decorate the walls, the floors, the doors, the chairs, basically anything we can get our hands on. When the kids were young I never wanted my house to look like it just stepped off a magazine cover. I knew I could decorate it that way, but I knew giving my children the ability to display their creativity throughout the house would yield a much more beautiful outcome and it did. Blender with the top off, that’s us.
How do you keep traditions alive for your family if you move often?
As we travel so do our traditions, we never leave home without them. Each new country brings new traditions that we add to our repertoire. For example, we now celebrate the Epiphany like the French with the Galette des Rois. This year we will attempt to make Tamales on Christmas Eve as they do in Costa Rica. We love traditions, therefore we collect them wherever we travel. I like to think of them as our souvenirs.
How do you decorate for the holidays or do skip it all together?
As I mentioned above we are a bit of an arty family. We still decorate for the holidays, but now as we travel we make more of our decorations than we did before. We use recycled material for our decorating and we have a tendency to decorate through baking. There is nothing like a yummy batch of local cookies to make our house feel festive. The kids and I have decorated and baked since they were very young, now we get a little more creative with our resources. The advantage is that we get to learn all about another countries traditions for decorating. Last year we tried our hand at making our own Christmas tree out of recycled material. I think it was our best creation yet.
What is your favorite part about this lifestyle choice?
It’s pretty simple for us…exploring the world through our children’s eyes. I love watching our children grow and learn through travel. Living in a temporary home is not always easy or ideal, but the trade-off is completely worth it. One day these little beings will be off on their own adventure and I will be wishing someone was making art for the walls and learning a new language.
Many temporary people subscribe to the “house is not a home” theory. What is home to you?
Simple… home is where the four of us are. If we lost our money, jobs and possessions we would still have a home in the four of us.
What makes you love the place you live?
Avalon and Largo make me love the place we live. I could love anyplace that gives them a glimpse into another corner of the world. A place where I can watch them adapt, explore and learn on a daily basis.
Words of wisdom to anyone considering venturing out into the world of temporary living?
Do it yesterday. You will never regret it. It is a lot of work to get to the exit point and a lot more work once you get there, but it is so worth it.
p.s. For those of you thinking we have hit the housing jackpot I have to enlighten you to the fact that we do not live in the entire house. We are in the bottom level only, which is two bedrooms and two bathrooms.