It’s déjà vu for the Butterfly as a new arrival confronts life

These past days of heavy rains in the afternoon make me think of my friend Grady’s remark (made from the sunny town of Palm Springs where he stays when he is not living in Costa Rica).  That is that he loves the downpours in Costa Rica as long as he can watch them from the safe side of his window.

That is where I have been most afternoons . . . . watching some awesome storms, safe and dry in my apartment, which has only one tiny leak.

Meanwhile, I have been following the adventures of my friend Audrey. We have been pen pals for over three years although we have never met.  Through her emails I have become aware of her staunchly positive outlook as she has braved and overcome all sorts of challenges including a broken hip with complications, incurred while on some formidable hike with her son.

Her dream was to move to Costa Rica when the time was right. I sent her a copy of my book, “Butterfly in the City,” hoping that it would give her some guidelines and also the pitfalls so she could avoid them. Reading of her adventures, I recalled my own early months.

She arrived in September to look, with the help of a local real estate agent, for a home to buy. (Oh, no! cries the Butterfly), but she is determined. She, like five other people I know, arrived via plane from North America with some terrible respiratory illness. I have begun to wonder if this could indicate something epidemic.

For a while Audrey stayed in a hotel in the city, nursing her illness. Her hotel was right on Paseo Colon where she could experience all of the joys and noise of the parades that just happened to be scheduled for the month of September.  And she got to know the city by walking around downtown. (Thatagirl, says Butterfly).

Her agent, whom she now considers a friend, has tirelessly shown her one house after another – all of them well outside the city and often seemingly on the side of one of the many mountains in the Central Valley (Are you serious? wonders the Butterfly, ah well, not everyone is a city girl.)  And Audrey wants the peace of the countryside.

Finding just the right home takes time, so Audrey needed an apartment until that home appeared. The apartment she finds is in a beautiful setting, high up, of course, but in an elegant building, resonant of a romantic past. In short, she falls in love at first sight and ignores, or thinks she can handle, the roaches and mold she notices on her first visit. Instead, she must have been carried away by her image of having her morning coffee in the elegant living room gazing out the window at the really stunning garden of exotic flowers she can’t even name. (Been there, done that and out of there, says the squeamish Butterfly.)

So Audrey signs the lease.

It is only after she moves in that she discovers that the shower doesn’t work, the tired Atlas fridge, in a last desperate effort at life, freezes everything she has bought, including the eggs and vegetables. And she is somewhat isolated, no handy bus stop and not enough Spanish to explain where she wants to go to a taxista. (My worst nightmare! cries Butterfly.)

At this point I write to Audrey and tell her I am so sorry, I should have told her of a delightful and comfortable new place in Sabana Norte where she could stay temporarily without a lease.  But she does not want to lose her last month’s rent, she says, (Who does?) so she is going to tough it out. Besides, she adds, that actually she is having a great adventure, and that if she did it any other way, “It wouldn’t be my life, it wouldn’t be Costa Rica, and it wouldn’t be half the fun.” (Three cheers for Audrey, whispers an exhausted Butterfly).

There are some people who just do not fit or belong in Costa Rica.  And they often find this out themselves and leave.  There are others who do belong, and find the gems among the stones, doing it their way. Audrey is certainly one of them.  I am eager to meet her in person and give her a big hug of welcome, and wish her great success with the book I am sure she will, and should, write about her adventures in this challenging wonderland.

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