There’s so much rain that they’re designed with a drop-off of three feet on either side for drainage, and everyone uses the same road — and when I say everyone, I mean cars, people on foot, people on bikes, dogs. You try going down the road and all of a sudden a cow appears out of nowhere.
We ended up having to buy a car, a big Toyota S.U.V., but you pay at least 50 percent more for a car there than you would in the United States, because of all the taxes.
The nice thing about the town was that there was a very intense, small-town feel, so breaking into the expat community was not super-difficult. But we were looking for an integrated experience, and it was much harder to break into the local community.
I tried to volunteer a couple of times, but my Spanish wasn’t up to snuff. Also, my wife has always been more the social connector, and I’m the introvert who can sit inside all day long. But she was working full-time, so we were in the wrong roles.
Our kids loved it there, and probably would have stayed forever, but we already knew by about three or four months that it wasn’t the right place for us. That December, we took a weekend trip to see the Arenal volcano, and I was like, This is going to be great, we’re going to go out into nature.
We were staying at this random Airbnb, this giant place like a furniture showroom way out in the middle of nowhere, and there was a bat in the ceiling that was making all this noise. I had just tried to hack a coconut in half with a dull machete and almost cut my toe off, and it was like, All right, what are we doing?
By Alex Williams