When Travel Emotions Run High: Our 1st Month in Costa Rica


“Follow your dreams. I am not saying it’s going to be easy, but I am saying it’s going to be worth it. – Moffat Machingura” 

Our first month in Costa Rica (October 2014) was the hardest month of my life and marriage up to that point. If I am going to be totally transparent, it was the first six months, but who’s counting. I am sure it looked very different to an outsider looking in, but inside our four walls, our travel emotions were in full force. After almost 15 years of marriage, I found myself looking at this man across the table, questioning what we had both become. Neither one of us was in a good place, and, now, we were living in a new land.

I can look back on that time today and finally realize what happened to us during those months. We were lost and scared to death—both of us. We were trying to figure out our new role in the family, with each other and professionally. It took us a long time to find that new normal and respect the transitions each of us was going through. Don’t worry, this story has a very happy ending. We did it! Our new normal is so much better than I could have ever imagined. Sometimes, you must go to the dark side to truly see the light. It got very dark in our casa.

Now that I can look at it objectively, I want to share with you each of our struggles, and how we worked through them. Let’s start with me.

First, I came to Costa Rica with the same amount of design work and responsibilities that I had in Boston.

Then I added worldschooling and a more active blog to my plate, but not more hours in the day. Before we moved to Costa Rica, I had six daylight hours to accomplish my design work, plus another 3+ hours after the kids went to bed (and some weekends). Looking back on it now, I cannot believe I never even considered how this move and our decisions would affect my workable hours each day. In addition, I was used to working alone during that time. I had no distractions and no one else to consider for almost a decade. Fast forward to life in Costa Rica. My schedule went from six workable hours per day to about two on a good day. Life got incredibly busy for me, and there were never enough hours in the day for me to accomplish everything. I was burning the candle at both ends. I rose at 6 am, and retired at midnight for months. The idea was to slow life down in Costa Rica! I couldn’t understand what had happened and how to manage it. I was so lost.

Second, I started worldschooling Avalon. 

I was new to worldschooling and overzealous to say the least. In those first months, Avalon and I went through some tough transitions—long days, and crazy emotions. I woke up every single day, doubting what I was doing and feeling like I was failing her as a parent. I had days where my patience was short, and I saw the ugly in myself. It was her persistence to make this work that kept me trying every day, when I wanted to quit, and run back to my drama-free days of solitude. The days where I could create, without distraction, occasionally have lunch with a friend, and only multi-task five things instead of 35.

Next, I was being pulled in all directions with the children, my design, worldschooling and the blog.

I am not proud to admit this, but it must be said… I had nothing left for Will. Absolutely nothing. And, that meant any patience or tolerance for what he was going through. The kids needed to be my focus, and they needed me more than him. My responsibility as a mother is to put our children first, but I felt such pain about having nothing left for Will and his struggles.

Also, we refused to outsource any of our responsibilities. Well, it was more Will that refused. I understand why. He was worried about money, because he had started a new business; but, for me, that seemed like the only way this could all work. If we outsourced some of the worldschooling classes with which I struggled, like French and Spanish, it would free up time for me to take care of other responsibilities. Plus, Avalon could interact with other adults. In addition to outsourcing several school subjects, I wanted to hire a cook. Will and I were spending hours upon hours in the kitchen preparing meals from scratch, when we could have put that time to better use. A cook costs $4 per hour in Costa Rica. We did finally hire a cook, and you can read about her here. And, we outsourced French and Spanish language lessons, and it made a world of difference.

What about Will?

I had to rely on Will for the language, and that was tough. After 15 years of marriage, he had a load of responsibilities dropped in his lap overnight. I did not like having to be so dependent on him, but with my language limitations, we had no option. I did my best to take care of most things on my own, but there was still a whole list of items that he had to handle. It was constant work in our first month. CONSTANT.

Next, Will is the type of man who needs to work. If he is not working, he gets cranky and pessimistic. Although his days were full like mine, it was mostly “to do” list stuff—nothing of real intellectual stimulation. It was the work that we all hate to do, but that needs to be done. Unfortunately, each week he would be optimistic that he could focus more on his business the following week, and, then, something would come up.

Will was going through so much professionally, and I am sure it was tough. I can look at it now and be so much more sympathetic; but, at the time I was not. I failed him in this area, and I have no good reason, except that my cup runneth over, as well. I had nothing left and I needed to save just that pinch at the end of the day for the kids, if there was an emergency or an emotional breakdown.

The conclusion is that we both bit off way more than we could chew, and there was nothing left for each other—absolutely nothing. Our patience and tolerance were short, and we were stressed out. So you, ask where the silver lining is? Well, we did it. We made some adjustments, worked hard on us and committed to this journey we signed up for. I can sit here today, almost three years into this adventure and say, “Wow! what a ride!” Our relationship was pushed to places it has never even come remotely close to before. It was scary. I guess we could have jumped ship and headed home to our old normal, and everything would have gone back to the way it was. But, who wants to give up? Not us, that’s for sure.

After almost 20 years together, it is hard for me to imagine that we can still learn things about each other, but we do, and this was no exception. I learned that this man has a lot of fight in him to make this dream work. He is in this for the long haul, and he will work to make it happen, every day. I am the luckiest woman alive to have someone just as crazy as I am with whom to take this road less traveled.

And why do I share this personal story on our business blog you ask? Because if you are reading this you are either a WorldTowner, are considering becoming a WorldTowner or you just like us (wink, wink). Either way, it is our goal to be as transparent as possible with our readers so that you all have a realistic outlook of what could happen in that first month and you understand that it is totally normal.

Go Adventure,

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