People Don’t Eat Dogs Here in Costa Rica


PEOPLE DON’T EAT DOGS HERE. YOU’RE THINKING OF MEXICO. And there are no chickens on the busses. And as of yet I haven’t lost my luggage in a random mudslide after breaking the heel of only one of my Italian shoes. But, still – please do leave your machete at the door before entering a friend’s home. It’s only polite after all. Caption: Come with me! Venga conmigo! Two weeks in: Overall experience is good. It’s sunny today after a morning rain that kept me from my a.m. walk. Eventually, I will just go outside and get wet.

That’s why I brought my beach shoes anyway. Feeling partially like what did I do to deserve this and just keep doing what you’re doing because it seems to be working. Still, your words about long-term plans and me not fitting in them come back to me often. You say you need to work to make money to retire. I still say you need to work at LIFE and you can’t actually “make” money but that’s neither here nor there.  I “work” just as hard toward the goal we all want to achieve but the goal itself is not the means to by which I achieve it. If THAT makes any sense. I’m just as happy here as I am in the states but let me tell you the grass – well, the grass IS actually greener but that has to do with the angle of the light only a few degrees north of the equator. Bottom line is if you’re unhappy where you’re at, paradise is a lot farther than a plane can take you. That being said, there are some challenges to living in paradise. For instance, I enjoy not relying on air-conditioning or heat but I do like my hot water!

The refrigerator is unusually short in stature and LOUD but it may be because I’m not being bombarded by sixteen-hundred other electric appliances all day long every day. Plus = The electricity meter actually STOPS moving sometimes. I’ve never seen that happen before unless the power went out. Speaking of that, the power does go out – every night. I didn’t discover this until I set the microwave clock – again. Otras Cosas (Other Things): The six-burner gas stove is too hot on low to simmer so cooking is a bit tedious. Nothing that can’t be solved by standing right by the stove to stir every five seconds. I can cook my rice, beans, veggies, tortillas AND tea at the SAME time! What’s NOT to like? The extreme beauty and peace of the country is balanced by the violence of its storms. I remind myself daily that embracing duality means asking the question why am I supposed to be afraid of loud thunder and lightning in the first place? Again, I feel like I should be scared, but I’m fine. That puts me in a precarious position of extreme clarity tinged with self-doubt.

Can gratitude, faith, determination and hard “work” really be all we need to have the lives we so desperately seek? I was reminded last night that though this is paradise for me now, I’m still in the honeymoon phase. You know, the place where it doesn’t really bother me that things move about 100 million times more slowly except when they’re moving twice as fast. There may well come a time when I may no longer feel like I am the luckiest woman in the world. I just keep asking the question, how does life get better than this? And the answers are astounding. I don’t know how I got so brave or adventurous or any of that. I don’t even see it that way really. I’m just… doing the work that needs to be done. I have a grand imagination, as you know, but I never could have dreamed this up in a million years. People have dreamed of visiting much less living here their entire lives and not made it, for instance.

People who speak Spanish! This is what I’m left with. “Working hard” at keeping my mind, body and soul at peace and at the ready allows me to serve in whatever capacity it is I need to serve when the time comes. It allows me to be present and “see” the opportunities that arise as just that. Opportunities for growth through challenging moments and opportunities to replenish the well by accepting the abundance of beauty and destruction surrounding me every day. With so much more to learn. Muchos Cielos, Costacalle

About the Author: Costacalle is Jessica Manley, a house-sitter going on three years in Costa Rica. Her “Letters from Costacalle” expose a relevant American creative voice, mapping the expat experience from the perspective of a perpetual tourist not quite ready to retire from the real work of life.

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2 responses to “People Don’t Eat Dogs Here in Costa Rica

  1. Jessica, Thank you.
    I’ve been all over this globe, and now I’m wishing to settle outside of the US. Your article was very helpful in an off- centered way! 🙂
    I think it’s down to Costa Rica or Ecuador. How did you get into house sitting, anyway? That sounds intriguing to me.
    Big thanks Jessica, and I look forward to hearing from you! Linda

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