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HomeTopicsExpat LivingAfter A Decade in Costa Rica: An Expat Returns to Convenience Culture

After A Decade in Costa Rica: An Expat Returns to Convenience Culture

It’s been over a decade since my wife and I decided to ditch our regular lives and move to Costa Rica for ‘one year’ (sorry Mom). It’s been a decade of changes. I’ve changed. I can speak Spanish. I have an ever-deepening knowledge of Costa Rica’s wild creatures. I now think 90° F isn’t particularly hot, and 65° F is absolutely freezing.

Costa Rica has changed. Like an old man in New Jersey saying, ‘This housing development used to be all peach orchards,” I can drive by any given area in Guanacaste and tell you which stores and houses used to be pastures and forests. As I found out in a recent trip back to the US, the United States has changed as well.

It had been several years since my last visit to see family and friends in the US. The highlight of the last trip was the lady in the row behind us on the flight to Baltimore coughing on the back of our heads the whole time, giving us all the flu which consumed/ruined the entire adventure.

This time I was on my own, free to experience the United States without having to mind my kids or, hopefully, go to urgent care. I spent the week living with my nuclear family, visiting aunts, uncles, and cousins who I haven’t seen in years, reconnecting with close friends, and gorging myself on Philly cheesesteaks and Italian hoagies. Between warm hugs and greasy sandwiches, I noticed that some things had changed since I last called the US home and many of those changes were oriented around convenience.

There’s an App for that

Upon arrival I was scooped up by my best friend at the airport. After what some may call an over-exuberant reunion that evening, the next morning I was treated to a bagel sandwich conveniently ordered over some sort of bagel app and conveniently picked up on the way to dropping me at my parents’ house. While spending the week with my folks, I learned that groceries could be selected via app and either picked up curbside or delivered to the door.

Attempting to test the efficacy of these applications, I had the full array of US food delivered to the door with the tap of a few computerized buttons on a touchscreen (with the help of someone who actually knew how to use them, of course), and they came through every time.

Uber – In a Tesla!

While Uber was definitely a thing before I left the US, I didn’t have much experience with the service. My wife and I were living in Pittsburgh before the big move, and we either used our own vehicle or public buses to get around, so we never had the need to give it a try. While living in the land of Pura Vida, the use of Uber and other ride-sharing apps in US has become much more commonplace.

During an evening of reuniting with friends whom I had spent my young life growing up with, I found the need to transport myself to a restaurant where I would most definitely have an adult beverage or two that would not allow me to drive myself home. Uber! My friend did whatever it is you do to order an Uber and boom!, a nice lady showed up in front of the house and swept us away to an evening of laughter with friends. To add to the United State-ness of the event, the Uber driver was driving a Tesla! Providing me with my very first electric car experience.

Amazon – Almost Immediately

By far the most alien experience in the world of US convenience was the efficiency of Amazon. It turns out that you can order just about any weird thing and it will show up at your front door via a person that you never see in a matter of days or hours! I found the need to test this feature of society by ordering some of the most off the wall items possible.

It seems somewhat reasonable that an order of books or bath towels could be delivered within a day, but could Amazon satisfy my oddly specific needs? If you happen to have an 8-year-old son, you may have had the pleasure of being introduced to the internet meme Skidibi Toilet, it’s a series of videos that you can find on the internet of a head popping out of toilet and singing a song (Don’t look it up. It’s terrible.).

Well, my son thinks it’s the best thing since sliced bread, so I bought him the full set of 18 Skidibi Toilet action figures which promptly arrived the next day. My own shopping interests rival the weirdness of son’s. I was interested in purchasing a can of bobcat urine (to be used as an attractant in front of my camera traps) and, believe it or not, within two days the extremely stinky package was sitting on the front porch.

While I’m sure some of these US-style conveniences are probably accessible in San Jose, there’s no Uber or next day delivery happening on my dusty dirt road. I live with few food delivery options, zero ability to have odds and ends delivered quickly, and the requirement of driving myself wherever it is I need to go which results in more rice and beans, fewer unnecessary purchases, and more evenings at home with the family. I suppose it’s a trade of convenience for tranquility. A trade I’m happy to make.

About the Author

Vincent Losasso, founder of Guanacaste Wildlife Monitoring, is a biologist who works with camera traps throughout Costa Rica. Learn more about his projects on facebook or instagram. You can also email him at:

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