The original plan was to bounce around Costa Rica from month to month — see the country, get a feel for different places, roam around and be flexible. But after a month in Atenas, we’re looking at renting a house there.
Part of that, I suppose, is that we’re already a bit weary of nomadism — packing and unpacking our belongings, figuring out new places to stay, learning where to shop and work and eat. It’s fatiguing, and if I did that every month for a year, I fear I wouldn’t be a very pleasant person to live with. After two or three weeks of being in one place, we started to settle in. And the more we looked around, the more we found to like.
Atenas has a lot going for it. National Geographic once designated it the world’s best climate, and with days in the 70s-80s and nights in the 60s, we’re not arguing. It’s a smaller town (like many others, built around the hub of a central park and the church) in a mountainous agricultural area — no hopping nightlife to speak of, but we’re old people who go to bed at 9:30 anyway. Although it’s small, it has its share of decent cafes and restaurants, a couple of which host community lending libraries.
Our AirBnB hosts, Pat and John, were super knowledgable and keyed us into where to shop (the co-op), which vet to take the dogs to (Dr. Solano), and where the extranjeros get rowdy on Friday afternoons (German’s Bar). They introduced us to the farmer’s market, shared their smoked brisket with us, answered our incessant questions and made us feel truly welcome. We loved staying at “Casita Limón” and we’re happy to call these lovely folks our friends now.
The farmers market in Atenas is off the chain. Every Friday morning vendors gather under a massive shelter and sell (out of) everything from pineapples to eggs to baked goods to homemade sausages and cheese. It’s all fresh and all amazing.
Yet such bounty can make a body start to feel doughy, and jogging around the soccer field in the morning wasn’t cutting it. Fortunately, the instructors at Atenas Yoga are non-annoying — lovely, even — and the setting sure beats the group class room at 24 Hour Fitness. Andy even joined me once — his first experience doing yoga! — and I suspect he enjoyed it, despite his predilection for calling yoga “hippie stretching.” After one session in English I put on my big-girl yoga pants and attended a couple in Spanish. I still don’t understand everything and peek at my neighbors a lot, but I’m enjoying this more than any yoga I’ve done before. It no longer feels like something I ought to do; I look forward to it.
Speaking of Spanish, another huge draw to Atenas is our Spanish teacher, David. He runs the community-center-of-sorts Su Espacio, which offers dance, karate, fitness and other classes in addition to language learning. David has us focus on conversational Spanish: we just talk, and he pauses when we get stuck on something to explain a word or concept. In just a few weeks he’s helped us both level up in a big way. We want to keep working with him, so we can talk to our Tico neighbors, learn from them, and perhaps start to feel like part of a community.
We’ll see what happens — we make a lot of new decisions every day, and often we go back and forth, and then in a different direction entirely. We didn’t intend to fall for the first place we saw; and we don’t want to be hasty because we’re tired of bopping around. But we could see ourselves in this place, and that’s saying something.