I haven't actually felt COLD in a long time, and I have to admit that it was kind of nice! When it's cold out, you can always put on a sweater or drink some hot coffee. But when it's sweltering outside, you can only take off so many layers.
The ease of driving was a culture shock after being in Costa Rica for some time. The streets had road names, houses had numbers, addresses made sense. The drivers generally obeyed the rules of the road.
I think the biggest difference I noticed was the culture. When we decided to leave North America and set off for a simpler life, we were disenfranchised by the culture. It was (and still is!) consumerist, cold, and greedy. We didn't buy into the culture, and felt like outsiders. We don't enjoy watching most of the mainstream television shows, we don't listen to "popular" music, and we disdain Facebook. A person can only live so long around people with whom you have nothing in common. And although I'm sure there are plenty of people in
Canada with the same values / preferences / tastes as us, it would probably be impossible to find them since people like us don't exactly advertise our existence!
Canada has certainly not changed since we moved away. The advertisements were jarring. It really felt like we had stepped straight into the movie Idiocracy. The people often seemed like zombies, moving through traffic, consuming the news, eating the corn-laden food
BUT - and it's a big, fat, cellulite-ridden but - there is something to be said for living in the culture that you've grown up in.
- I felt comfortable knowing how to act in certain situations.
- I basically knew how the people around me would react if I said or did something.
- Walking down a street, I wasn't made to feel uncomfortable by men ogling me.
- Old women did not approach me on every sidewalk trying to sell me some form of questionable homemade baby food.
- My children and I did not have our hair constantly petted by strangers.
- I could easily chat with anyone I ran into without worrying about my Spanish.
- I felt 100% safe driving, and only witnessed one accident.
- It was nice to wear a couple layers. Sweaters are cozy. Slippers are awesome. And my feet are much happier after being in socks for a while.
- I wasn't once nervous about being robbed, mugged, or murdered in my sleep.
- It was nice to be charged the exact same amount for goods and services, instead of constantly being up-charged because of the color of my skin.
Even though Canada has not changed, I think our family has. We're more self-assured in our beliefs and values. We have come to terms with the fact that we may never have "couple friends" our age with whom we have much in common. And just because you live in a culture doesn't mean you have to buy into its mass entertainment, food, or values. Just as living in Costa Rica we choose not to buy into certain things that we simply don't agree with.
It still makes me uncomfortable watching dirty old white men with their young Tica girlfriends. Does it make me a bad person for not embracing this aspect of the "normal culture"? Of course not!
The standard sexy dressing isn't my style, and the legalized prostitution isn't exactly my favourite aspect of Costa Rican law. I don't like having to bribe my way through life here either. It makes me uncomfortable, plain and simple.
I'm going to try to get together a list of Pros and Cons now that we've been in Costa Rica for a while. I think we've spent enough time here to really make a family decision about whether to stay or move on. Costa Rica definitely has its positives too - I'm just not sure whether they outweigh the negatives for our family.
Have we truly found happiness in this PLACE, or have we simply learned HOW to be happy here in Costa Rica.
Now that we have internal happiness, balance and calm, could that feeling move with us if we decided to go elsewhere?
Time for some serious introspection...