5 Lessons Learned From Living Without A Car In Costa Rica

In the previous post, I listed the many benefits of walking instead of driving.  After living this way for several months, I have learned many valuable lessons from walking.

Slow down.  Before we moved to Costa Rica, I used to yell at Kara all the time because everywhere we went, she wanted to stop and smell the roses.  She took her sweet time without a care in the world.  I was always telling her to hurry and pushing her out the door to get in the car.  Now I stop and smell the roses.  Or in our case, the yerbabuena.  As a parent, it is always such a humbling experience to learn from our children.  I have learned to take a deep breath and enjoy each moment the blessing that it is.  Before moving to Monteverde, I was in a constant state of rushing.  I cannot remember a time where I wasn’t in a hurry or late or multi-tasking.  Since moving to Costa Rica, my attitude about time has changed.  I rarely multi-task.  If I am going to do something, I am going to give it my full attention.  I am not in that state of perpetual rush.  I have my daughter and Tico friends to thank for that lesson.

My attitude and appreciation for time has changed since moving to Costa Rica.

My attitude and appreciation for time has changed since moving to Costa Rica.

Know your neighbor.  We live in a Tico neighborhood.  The nice thing about Monteverde, is that most expats integrate themselves into the local community instead of forming gated subdivisions full of Americans, Canadians, and Europeans.  Some areas of Monteverde do have more expats than others.  We live up a beautiful hill that overlooks Santa Elena.  All of our neighbors are Tico and most only speak Spanish.  This has been a wonderful experience for us.  The women in the neighborhood have been a great source of information and support.  I also find it comforting that when my kids walk to and from the bus stop all the neighbors know who they are.  Monteverde in general is a very safe area, but it is nice to know there are others watching out for my kids. Living in a small town has taught me how important it is to say “Buenos Dias” on the street.  There have been many times that I meet someone to whom I have previously said hello on the street.  No matter the situation, having had a shared experience has helped break the ice.

Shop judiciously.   When I had a car in the US, it was very easy to add items to the shopping cart that I really did not need.  After all, whatever the item was went from the shelf to the cart and then to my car.  It was so easy!  Now, whenever I buy something, it goes in my backpack, which then goes on my back.  And I live uphill from the stores in town.  I think twice before buying something unless I really need it.  Not only has this made me a wiser shopper, as a family we are producing less trash, junk, and landfill fodder.  I also used to stockpile so much stuff from Costco.  I usually had 6 months of toilet paper in the garage!  Now I shop for the things I need one week at a time.  It is a much simpler way to live, and it keeps me grounded in the present.

Be prepared for rain.  I have been caught in the rain without my rain gear.  It totally sucks.  Being a walker, I have learned to always be prepared for rain, even if the sun is shining brightly when I walk out the door.  While I am speaking literally in this case, I also think this lesson has a metaphorical application.  Be prepared for the worst, but hope for the best in life.

Appreciate the beauty around you.   As I walk up the mountain to Monteverde or into Santa Elena town, I will often stop and just take in the breathtaking view.  I am filled with deep gratitude to be able to live in a beautiful cloud forest in one of the happiest countries in the world.  You can’t do that if you are driving a car.

This is the view I wake up to every morning. Pinch me to make sure I am not dreaming!

This is the view I wake up to every morning. Pinch me to make sure I am not dreaming!

I love running over the babbling brooks. The sound of running water sure beats the sound of catcalls and traffic.

I love running over the babbling brooks. The sound of running water sure beats the sound of catcalls and traffic.

What lessons have you learned from living without a car?  Let me know in the comments below.

Pura Vida!

About Noemi Gamel

Noemi Gamel is a physician who prefers writing diverse children's fantasy stories instead of medical charts. She is a geeky nomad, too.
This entry was posted in A Lesson Worth Learning, Living in Monteverde/Santa Elena and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to 5 Lessons Learned From Living Without A Car In Costa Rica

  1. We are selling our car right now. We needed one for the first two years here, because we had a baby and lived way out in the jungles of Perez Zeledon.

    Now we live in Grecia, and we don’t have to carry diapers around everywhere.

    When we did the math, taking buses and taxis is cheaper than the costs of gas and repairs. Plus, we don’t have to risk losing the car to an accident or theft. I like the car-free life much more, but it is definitely a lifestyle change.

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