Reflecting on Past 5 Years

“Christmas is a season not only of rejoicing but of reflection.”
~Winston Churchill

DECEMBER 24, 2014
Five years ago today I left my secure cottage at McKendree Village across from Andrew Jackson’s historic house in Nashville, TN with 5 suitcases for the Nashville International Airport and my one-way flight to San Jose, Costa Rica. I had taken more than a year to make the big decision to move my retirement from Tennessee to Costa Rica (2014 blog posts) and the big moment had finally come! I was doing it!

It was late afternoon when my delayed flight our of Miami arrived and getting dark as the taxista crammed 5 big suitcase in his little car’s trunk and backseat with me sitting up front with him. After a few short kilometers on congested Highway 1 or Pan-American Highway from the busy airport we exited into La Garita onto Ruta 3 for the last 15+ miles through the mountains in the dark to Atenas, Alajuela Province where I had decided to begin my new retirement adventure in the very center of the country, 45 minutes from the big airport and close to the medical services and shopping of the capital city San Jose in a quiet little coffee farming town of about 5,000 people.

My bad Spanish was even less then and of course the driver spoke no English. In the darkness of the country road going up and down hills and crossing one-lane bridges I must admit some doubts crossed my mind and I felt a little insecure. Did I make a mistake? Will I ever learn to speak Spanish? What will the apartment be like I have reserved? But then I already know an American couple living in those apartments, so not all strangers! And so on the many thoughts raced through my head on that dark, lonely road with almost no Christmas Eve traffic. Plus I was very tired, coughing from chest congestion, and physically not feeling well.

I had exchanged some of my dollars for colones in the airport and paid the taxista the agreed amount + tip when we pulled up in front of the Hacienda La Jacaranda Apartamentos office. The Dutchman owner/manager came out and I introduced myself. He said, “Oh, I thought you weren’t coming until after the first of the year.” (I had discussed that but told him in an email I decided to come Christmas Eve.) He then said, “Well, we have a vacancy but X (I don’t remember the name of his Philippine girlfriend.) will have to go up and clean it out for you.” She took off up the hill and after I got a key and all was agreed upon (I had already paid in advance for the first month). The taxista drove me and all my bags up the hill to the ground floor apartment. When I finally got to bed, I slept well and late!


It is just a simple fact that with any change there is adjustment and time needed to get settled into a new way of life and this was no different and possibly a bigger adventure than any other change I’ve made except maybe the move to The Gambia in 1999!   🙂


13 Replies to “Reflecting on Past 5 Years”

  1. I have enjoyed your latest bird watch tour, with the possible exception of the snakes! It’s hard to think of all day rains occurring such a short distance from us in Atenas where it is a beautiful sunny day. I especially enjoyed your “reflection on 5 years in Costa Rica” blog. I was disappointed when it came to an end. You know, it might make a good book . The How and why and the experience of changing from a life in Tennessee to Costa Rica.

  2. I agree with Steve, this wonderful post reads like the opening to a book! It makes me want to hear more. Something to think about.

    A Very Merry Christmas to you Charlie!

    Love ya Big Brother!

  3. Merry Christmas, Charlie! Five years have flown by. I have enjoyed your sharing your adventure through this blog. May you have many more happy years in Costa Rica. Prospero Año Nuevo!

  4. Write the book Charlie! ——- I will buy a copy. We are here struggling mightily with the “ what next” question. We will have coffee when you return to Atenas but I will not impose too much on your graciousness and knowledge. It will be a thankyou for your blog. ——. Bonnie , are you really his brother? ——Steve

  5. Merry Christmas, Charlie! Love your posts and blogs. While we miss you in Nashville, you leave no doubts that you made the right choice for your retirement and are making a real contribution in so many ways in Costa Rica. God bless you with many more anniversaries down there.

  6. Hello, Charlie.

    I enjoy your blog. I miss much about church and the people I knew there. Nashville is the same ole, same ole with new characters into more mischief.

    Thank you for the gift of your blog. It brings a smile to my face when I read it.

    1. And Nancy – YOU are an inspiration to me in many ways! Thank you for your encouraging words and for calling my blog a “gift” which I hope it will be to many other people. It is sort of an outlet of expression and creativity for me as well as a report on living retired in Costa Rica! And continues with the hope it will help people who are considering retirement here to make their decision aided by first-hand experiences.

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