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Expat Living: Moving to a New House in Costa Rica

Moving isn’t fun in any country. Nothing extols the virtues of minimalism like picking up all your stuff and putting it back down again a few times. That being said, sometimes a move is necessary, which was the case for my family in recent days. We did all of the normal packing, moving, and unpacking but with a little Costa Rican flair of course.

Packing up everything from the old house had the side effect of disquieting all of our non-human roommates. Inside the house, the fat red ants that rush around in a frenzy carrying their big oval eggs upon discovery were discovered at least five times. They come in groups of about 50 or so, and they hide amongst the items that you don’t mess with very frequently.

I also found out that if they’re living in your camera trap equipment closet for a at least a year, they leave a big sticky black stain and a smell that immediately made me think of the smell of dirty hamster cage from my youth. The geckos were unhappy just because we were stealing all of their best hiding places behind paintings and curtains. Outside of the house, a juvenile boa constrictor gave my wife a good scare when she was relocating all of her potted plants.

Physically moving everything to the new house went relatively smoothly. I have a pickup truck, and I was able to make approximately one million trips back and forth while my wife was at work and the kids were at school. The new house is a traditional Costa Rican house which means it’s not new construction and it has its quirks.

All of the doors and a lot of the trim are what I’d call ‘startlingly red,’ but I find I’m already getting used to it. So far, two of the doorknobs on those bright red doors have exploded in my hand, but those were easy enough to replace.

My youngest son has taken it upon himself to test all of the remaining doorknobs’ locking mechanisms, and we’ve found that not a single one of the keys in the jar that the landlord gave us opens an interior door in the house, forcing me to use the old ‘open the locked door with a credit card’ trick.

We splurged and bought two new TVs to place onto the existing TV mounts that were already stuck on the wall in the living room and a room that I’ll use as an office. I now know that nothing tests the mettle of a marriage like a husband and wife attempting to place a TV on a wall-mounted TV bracket together.

Through pouring sweat and exclamations of ‘I can’t hold it anymore!’ and ‘Lift it higher! Too high!’ we were able to get the living room TV onto the wall. The office TV mount defeated us. I’ve learned that when an inanimate object makes me reach a certain fury level, that I need to take a break and try again later. And it’s a good thing that we took that break because a few hours later the first rainstorm of the season stormed in, and we found that we had a leak in the roof of the office directly above the TV bracket.

The rainstorm also made a few of our new housemates reveal themselves. The first rains always fill the air with either flying termites or a species of ant, I’m not sure which, but they came by the truckload and their under-door invasion informed me that the outside doors require those bristly/sweepy strips that you tack onto the bottom of the door to keep bugs out.

The rains also awoke a few species of frog which started singing and splashing around in our adorable little pool, much to the delight of my younger son.

The food is all still in boxes in the kitchen, and I couldn’t locate a t-shirt to save my life, but we’re slowly but surely settling into the new house. Moving is a stressful experience anywhere, but at least in Costa Rica it involves getting to play with boa constrictors and frogs.

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: vincent@guanacastewildlifemonitoring.com

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