A new life in Costa Rica

Sharing our journey from the U.S. to the Osa region of Costa Rica


Leave a comment

Why you need escapes to nature.

Most everyone knows the impact that time spent in the outdoors can have on our health and wellness, but few probably understand the underlying reasons why.

I now believe it all comes down to Schumann’s Resonance. Simply put, that’s the energy frequency at which the earth resonates…7.83 Hz. It also happens to be the frequency that we should be resonating at when optimally “tuned”. And therein lies the problem. Due to the amount of time people spend in office buildings, in cars, or immersed in electronics, their resonance is often far from that of the earth. So, time spent listening to the seagulls and waves can retune us to a healthy frequency, as can time spent by a mountain stream. These escapes to nature don’t just set our minds at ease. They actually help retune us to the healthy frequency that permits us to be at our best.

Over the past few years, we’ve been intrigued by the testimonials from guests who visit here and spend as little as a few days. They declare how much better they feel afterwards, even health problems disappearing. At first we thought it was the clean air, food and water, which are very important. But I now believe at the heart of it is energy…getting a “tune-up”.

How can you accomplish this while immersed in your busy life? For starters, make sure to spend some time each week with your bare feet in contact with the ground. This simple act can do wonders to bring your energy back in harmony with the earth. Always drink the freshest, healthiest water that you can, and never from a plastic bottle. And need I say anything about food?

So the next time you’re feeling the strong need to get to the beach or mountains but life won’t permit it, just plop a chair down on your lawn, kick off your shoes and dig your toes into the grass. Close your eyes and focus on the birds singing. After 15-20 minutes, see if you don’t feel recharged.

To your health!


Leave a comment

The fountain of youth…part 2

My last blog post was 2 years back, when I wrote about the numerous healthy changes we made to our diet and lifestyle, and how much better we feel as a result.  The theme of this post is similar, but it focuses more specifically on what I now BELIEVE to be the fountain of youth.  (No question mark in this title.)

Through our diet, exercise and detox choices, I’ve often commented to people that I feel much better now than when I was 40…ten years ago.  How could it be that at 50 I feel so much better?  I recently came across information that I believe explains it, and has far reaching implications for anyone who wants to feel better…and younger.

The theory that was proven to my satisfaction is as follows.  Our immune systems are capable of maintaining our bodies in a near perfect degree of tuning, IF they are not under attack by toxic chemical insults.  When your immune system must defend itself, it can no longer do what it was designed for…constantly repair and retune the body.  By removing the chemical attacks (vaccines, processed foods, medicines, chemtrails, etc) and by detoxing to remove the previous insults your body received, you can actually free your immune system to show what it is really capable of…fixing almost all the health issues that plague you.

Want to get started?  See my previous post for some straightforward suggestions that can help.  At the end of the day, I feel dramatically better than I did 10 years ago.  And if that isn’t proof of a “fountain of youth” then I don’t know what is.

To your health!


Organic turmeric from our homestead.


4 Comments

The fountain of youth?

Often when asked about my age, my response is met with disbelief. This happened again recently, when the inquiring person seemed convinced I was joking when I answered, “48”. A discussion ensued about many of the healthy changes we’ve embraced in our lives and…perfect blog entry!

One approach is to take you through a typical day at the Hinson homestead in the southern Pacific mountains of Costa Rica. Upon rising in the morning, the first priority is ‘oil pulling’ with organic coconut oil. What is oil pulling? It has been a staple of Indian ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years and has gained more and more followers in the west. Simply put about a teaspoon of coconut (or other) oil in your mouth and swish around for 10-15 minutes. Spit it out, then rinse twice with water and discard. It may sound crazy, but oil pulling can lead to countless improvements in your dental and overall health. Just make sure to use chemical free coconut oil so you “detox” instead of “retox”.

Next up is what we call the Water Chug. I drink about a liter (one quart) of room temperature water as quickly as possible…in about 30 seconds. Different folks have different capacities for the volume and timing, but the idea is to drink as much water as you can as quickly as you can. Why? Think of it as turning a hose to your GI tract, flushing everything that settled in your system overnight. It’s a great approach to detoxing and can produce incredible health benefits. Don’t confuse this with getting plenty of water during the day. The morning water chug is something entirely different.

After my coffee, the next unusual ingredient in our morning is a drink containing diatomaceous earth (DE). Made up in water or juice, DE powder is stirred in and quickly consumed. Why drink the fossilized “skeletal remains” of ancient algae? The outer shell of diatoms is largely composed of silica, along with a few other ingredients. DE is incredibly versatile, useful as an abrasive, for filtration, insect control, and pet and human health. For people, make sure to purchase food grade DE. The far reaching benefits for human consumption are beyond this blog entry, but please read up on this amazing natural product. We treat it as a general part of our detox routine, and we have good reason to believe it’s making a difference.

After all that…breakfast! There are far too many elements to our diet to summarize here, but suffice it to say we know the source of the vast majority of food and drink we consume. You are what you eat…let food by thy medicine and medicine be thy food…etc. We gave up beef, pork and poultry years ago, but we do enjoy fish and seafood a few times each month. The rest of our diet is heavy in locally grown rice and beans, along with a variety of eggs, fruits and veggies from our homestead. A common ingredient in much of Jill’s stellar cooking is organic coconut oil, something known to promote brain health. Results with coconut oil and dementia patients are often stunning. Turmeric and black pepper are also used liberally in the Hinson kitchen, for their many benefits when combined.

BreakfastPlate

Quality, all natural personal care products comprise another point of focus for our family. High quality soaps from Red Mountain Goodness are extremely important to us, since commercial “soaps” are typically nothing more than a patented combination of detergents and chemicals. When you contemplate changes you can incorporate in your life that have the biggest impact, ponder what else do you spread over your entire body once a day. Now consider that your skin is a highly absorptive organ. Don’t believe me? Try rubbing a clove of garlic on your bare foot and count the seconds before the taste appears in your mouth! Shampoos should also be all natural whenever possible.

Deodorants that contain aluminum, polyethylene glycol, etc? If you consider the ever increasing breast cancer numbers in the “developed world” , you might want to avoid such ingredients. Baking soda is a very simple yet effective deodorant you can use. And the more “detoxed” your body becomes, the less need you’ll have for deodorant! Commercial toothpastes are another problem, and we’ve been working on our solution to that for the past year. As with anything that goes in or on your body, just make sure to read and understand the ingredient label.

Finally, our wood fired cedar hot tub is one of the last ingredients in our healthy routine each day. Not only does it help us to relax by lowering blood pressure, it’s another great way to remove undesirable toxins from your body. If we’re away from home for several days, I can literally feel the effects of not using our hot tub.

HotTub

One final note…any of these changes in your healthful routine can initially produce side effects such as headache, upset stomach, general achiness, etc. If that happens, stick with the change for a few days and see if the symptoms subside. Often it’s due to the toxins buried deep in your body beginning to surface on their way out. During this transition period you may sometimes feel uncomfortable, but in the long run it is a short term price worth paying.

To your health!

June 2020 update….

Though this information remains completely relevant today, I do need to make a couple of additions. A newer part of our daily routine is grounding, or placing our bare feet in contact with the earth for 10 minutes. The reason is that doing so resets our energy to match that of Mother Earth, and the health benefits of that are amazing. See “The Earthing Movie” and “The Grounded” on YouTube for more information on grounding, and different ways to accomplish it. One excellent way is to simply ground your bed using a grounding sheet that you purchase or by using your own approach.

The other big addition to our health routine is taking bamboo charcoal powder. Though there isn’t a great deal of information about this supplement online, a similar commercial product is C60 Purple Power. You can read about that product to get an idea of the wide ranging benefits of taking charcoal powder daily. We mix our powder, made here at our homestead, with olive oil (1 part charcoal powder to 2 parts olive oil), then take 1 teaspoon of that daily. Typical results include increased energy, better concentration and multitasking, improved digestion, and many other reported benefits. My theory is that since the charcoal powder is almost pure carbon, and since we are carbon based, our bodies are able to use the excess carbon to optimize systems. That is why we hear that the powder tends to help with whatever health problem an individual has. But since charcoal can be detoxifying, heed my earlier advice about possible early aside effects. If you buy charcoal powder for daily consumption, make sure it is NOT activated. That is great for short term detox, but not for daily use.

Finally, including naturally fermented vegetables in your diet (not to be confused with pickled or canned!) adds powerful microbiotics that will improve your digestion, and quite possibly improve your mental health as well.

Let me know if you’d like more information about this amazing gift from God that you can make at home.

December 2020 update….

An important recent addition to our wellness routine couldn’t be much simpler. When drinking water throughout the day, we now add baking soda first….about 1/4 teaspoon per liter. This easy and inexpensive practice helps maintain an alkaline environment in our body, and this is key to protecting against most all diseases. Cancer and many other diseases require an acid environment to thrive. By maintaining alkaline conditions you stop them before they get started.


Leave a comment

Shedding more light on our move to Costa Rica

Honestly…why in the world did we pack up everything and move to a Central American country?  For the longest time, we decided to keep one of our most significant reasons for moving to Costa Rica to ourselves.  The predictions I had for where the U.S. was headed were just that…predictions.  But with those predictions now playing out in the news (if you follow an honest news source), I feel it is now time to explain one of our more important reasons.

Of course the Land of the Free is VERY far from it.  Drive with cash and the police can seize it without charges. Step outside the lines just a bit and get your kids snatched up by “Child Protective Services”, so they can place your children in foster care and collect their promised bounty from the U.S. government.  Have puddles on your land after heavy rains?  The EPA could easily declare your property a protected wetland, severely limiting your use or even seizing it.  Feel like having a telephone conversation or exchange of texts or emails without the content being reviewed by strangers?  As Edward Snowden informed us all, good luck with that!  And the most recent freedom of the press rankings placed the U.S. at #45…right smack between Romania and Haiti!

I could go on and on about the many assaults on the concept of freedom…a concept that Americans still proudly boast about.  And certainly those were some of the compelling reasons for our move to a much freer country (for example, Costa Rica recently ranked 21st in freedom of the press).  But our decision to move goes far beyond the concept of freedom.  Simply put, the U.S. could be headed for a tsunami of such epic proportions, it could make the Great Depression appear like an episode from Happy Days.  What is this coming storm?  The end of the U.S. dollar as we know it.  Sound crazy?  Permit me to briefly explain.

Since WWII, all trade between countries has been transacted in U.S. dollars through banks in New York City.  This position of the dollar as the world’s currency reserve has forced all countries to hold U.S. dollars for their international transactions.  Let’s say Australia wants to buy product from China.  The transaction must be conducted in dollars and be routed through New York City.  Sound crazy?  I agree.  But that may all be about to change.

Some time back, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (“BRICS”) became fed up with the current global financial system that rewarded the U.S. at every turn.  Many times they asked the IMF to end their blind allegiance to the U.S. dollar, but their concerns fell on deaf ears.  So in July 2014, they agreed to form their own international development bank and establish a new reserve currency or basket of currencies for trade.  This will permit members of the bank to conduct transactions with each other in currencies other than U.S. dollars, something China and Russia are already doing.  What will this mean to the dollar?  When a group of countries near simultaneously decides to sell their U.S. dollars, it creates a potentially serious problem when they dump those dollars onto the open market.  Basic law of economics…when many rush to sell the same item with few interested buyers available, the item’s value typically plunges.

But as significant as the BRICS countries are (~40% of the world’s population and growing), could their decision to drop the dollar be significant enough to inflict serious damage?  Maybe, maybe not.  But with plans for the new AIIB bank coming together, the BRICS recently opened the door for other countries to join as founding members with voting powers.  Who signed up?  A harmless handful of rag tag countries?  A very partial list of the 57 members includes France, Spain, Norway, Great Britain, Italy, Sweden, Australia, Israel, and Germany.  (The U.S. did not join, and the membership drive recently ended.)  Just imagine if/when this group of 57 countries unloads their U.S. dollar holdings for the new currency/currencies.  As prices in America explode, the scene could resemble something other than peace and brotherhood.

I could certainly hope that these scenarios don’t play out in the years (months?) ahead, but that would require a hefty suspension of reality on my part.  What I have outlined are facts, not theory or conjecture, and these facts are developing faster than I ever imagined…even back when we decided to pack our bags for beautiful Costa Rica.


3 Comments

Serenity Gardens Eco Village…what does it mean to us?

Serenity Gardens Eco Village.  An environmentally friendly old folks home?  A chemical free cemetery?  A fictional community in an old Seinfeld episode? (“Serenity Now!”)  All good guesses, but none correct.

SGEV is a remarkable debt free community in the southern Pacific region of Costa Rica, far away from the hustle, bustle and unmitigated lies of the U.S.  (What lies?  Great time for a Kool-Aid break!)

It is a place where folks can enjoy the stunning beauty of this corner of the world while growing healthy, nourishing food for the table.

Fresh produce from our homestead

Fresh produce from our homestead

Not interested in tending a garden?  SGEV is a place where arranging for home delivery of fresh fruits, veggies and healthy meals is as easy as pie.

It is a place where residents don’t need to discuss the many problems with “modern food”, because we all get it.

SGEV is a community where the air is clean, the water is pure, and the jungle sounds are perpetual.

Cool, clean water runs through the community

Cool, clean river water runs through the community

It is a place where Ticos (Costa Ricans) and gringos work together to make this a great place to live, whether repairing the road, improving the school, or simply going to each other’s fiestas.

It is a place where the community roads are quite literally lined with fruit trees, herbs and medicinal plants.

It is where the local school is a short, beautiful walk down the road.

At SGEV, you can enjoy beautiful rivers and waterfalls that by all rights should require an admission ticket, but don’t.

River fun!

River fun!

It is a place where the days year round are warm (~80°F) and the nights comfortably cool (~64°F), making heating and cooling systems unnecessary.

Where safety is a way of life, and everyone on the mountain watches out for everyone else.

It is a place where awesome deep sea fishing trips are just an hour’s drive away.

Pacific fishing

Pacific fishing

It is a place where when it rains during the rainy season, it really rains!  (Let’s just say we thought we’d seen rain before moving here.)

It is a place where everyone at local parties is expected to dance.  Trinidad Ticos love to dance!

It is where beautiful, uncrowded beaches are just 45 minutes down the mountain.

Chilling at Playa Dominicalito

Chilling at Playa Dominicalito

SGEV is a place where people take care of others in need, whether gringo or Tico.

It is a place where internet speeds beat what we had in the states, routinely testing out at over 2 Mbps.

It is a place where a very strong, local credit union offers 10% interest on a 1 year CD in colones.  (And the banker apologized for the historically low rate.)

It is a place where you can be a Christian, with no apology.

And that’s a snapshot of what Serenity Gardens Eco Village is to our family.  Simply put…it is our home.

Morning at our homestead

Morning at our homestead


3 Comments

That incredible “Can Do” Tico spirit

After living here in the southern Pacific mountains of Costa Rica for 6 months, many things have impressed me with the country, the area, and the people. But nothing has impressed me more than the remarkable “can do” attitude of most Ticos.

Though I have many experiences to draw from, a recent New Year’s Day event sums up the Tico spirit nicely. We had packed up the Jeep for a multi day trip to the coastal resort town of Jaco (pronounced ha-CO) and headed out for the 2.5 hour drive. But on our way down the mountain, we realized the Jeep was seriously overheating. With the temperature gauge in the red, we pulled into a gas station to fill up and check out the problem. After adding additional water and coolant, we saw most of the liquid appear on the pavement…a serious leak somewhere.

It being New Year’s Day, the gas station attendant told me we’d likely have no luck finding a mechanic to help, and I suspected the same. All car rental locations nearby were closed as well, so were in a bit of a jam. We called our buddy Randy Madrigal to ask about getting a ride back to our house, and planned to cancel our trip. It turned out Randy was out of town himself, but he offered to call his mechanic friend on our behalf.

Michael Mora, the mechanic from Cortes, agreed to come and check out our problem to see if there was anything he could do. After looking around under the Jeep and under the hood, he identified a worn hose that was leaking coolant as quickly as it was added. Given the location of the hose, it looked like it would probably require a trip to the shop the following day. But while we checked into options for a ride home, Michael figured a way to access the hose with the tools he had.

Michael Mora repairing my 2006 diesel Jeep Liberty on New Year's Day.

Michael Mora repairing my 2006 diesel Jeep Liberty on New Year’s Day.

Now in need of a replacement hose and with everything closed for the day, Michael called his friend Alex who owns an auto parts business. Alex had the needed hose, and Michael was off to pick up the part. A few minutes later he was back under the hood of the Jeep replacing the hose. We added water to the vehicle, then started her up. The leak was solved and everything looked good. I asked Michael how much for the part and for his time, considering it was the one vacation day he had. “Sesenta”, he replied…sixty dollars. We happily paid Michael, and were soon on our way to Jaco…just a little later than planned.

I couldn’t help but think that in most situations, we would have been out of luck that day. But as we’ve seen over and over again since moving here, the average Tico doesn’t accept why something CANNOT be done. Instead, they concentrate on how it can be done. And fortunately for us on New Year’s Day, Michael Mora found a way to get it done. Pura vida!


Leave a comment

Our path to food security

What is food security to you? Local stores and restaurants reliably stocking your favorite foods? We had a somewhat different idea of food security when we moved to Costa Rica, and we are getting closer to realizing that every day.

While living in North Carolina, it was a goal of ours to produce as much of our own food as we could from our 1.5 acre lot. Why? Let’s just say our trust in the U.S. food system was abysmally low. We did achieve a remarkable amount of productivity from our homestead, but winter set us back year after year. Some perennials would survive the cold, and others wouldn’t. And the typical hot, dry summers did their own share of damage. When we started looking at new locations to call home, a 12 month growing season with reasonable temperatures and plenty of rain was high on our list. The southern Pacific mountains of Costa Rica checked those boxes, along with many others.

The community that we now call home, Serenity Gardens Eco Village (SGEV), has a number of advantages for folks like us who desire to take control of their food supply. In addition to the year round warm climate and lots of water, one objective of SGEV is to plant the entire property with fruit trees. A remarkable amount of work has already been done towards this goal, with banana, plantain and citrus trees and many herbs now growing along roadsides throughout the community. This is a great start on a food security program, to say the least!

A few bananas from our property, and from friends.

A few bananas from our property, and from friends.

Now the personal phase for us begins. We’ve enlisted the services of Brendon McKeon’s crew to design a permaculture based food production system here on our lot. They completed the draft plan sometime back, and the implementation phase began this week. Brendon and Juan Carlos were climbing all over our lot, checking contours, taking measurements and siting vegetable beds, green house, paths, etc.

When completed and planted, we will have over 50 different types of fruit and vegetables growing here on our property. Avocado, mango, orange, pineapple, black pepper, vanilla, cacao, ginger and many, many more. Many will be perennials, and we’ll also have common annuals planted such as tomato, lettuce, squash, root crops and beans. In addition to food plants, we’ll have a variety of others such as aloe, lemongrass, ylang ylang, and citronella.

The tentative plan for our property

The tentative plan for our property

A chicken coop for 8-10 laying hens will be right off one of the trails, and the girls will have 2 separate yards to graze and hunt for bugs. When one yard gets picked over, we’ll switch them to the other for a while. Speaking of girls, Brendon also recently hooked us up with 2 hives of local honeybees, both non-stinging varieties (Congo and Milliponas), and they’re happily living on our deck in hollowed out logs. They don’t produce the volume of honey expected from traditional stinging bees, but the honey from these two species is reportedly incredible. Milliponas honey is even great for glaucoma treatment!

Our hive of congo bees, early one morning.

Our hive of congo bees, early one morning.

We are currently researching adding mushroom cultivation to our homestead here, much like we did in North Carolina. We currently ferment our own ginger ale, bake sourdough bread products from scratch, and of course I brew my own beer (soon to be Jungle Brew Cerveceria). We are making big strides towards our goals of “food security”, and we’ll continue those strides each and every week. After all, we’ve been on the ground here just over 5 months, and we can’t wait to see what the rest of year one brings!

serenitygardensecovillage.homestead.com/todd.html


Leave a comment

Observations of a gringo

Costa Rica.

Beautiful, peaceful country.  Friendly people.  Incredible natural resources (both food and water).  No military (never bombed anyone, never will!).  Crime rates that, even in the largest cities, are FAR below what you’d find in an average U.S. city.  Real freedoms that now exist only in the history books of countries that claim to be free.  These are a few of the reasons we chose to move to this amazing republic.  Not on our list…a terrific place for gringos to hang out!

Since we’ve moved here, we’ve had the opportunity to meet many Ticos who grew up in this area and have called it home for their entire lives.  Despite our limited Spanish, we’ve made friendships that we now cherish.  We are slowly learning what it means to be Costa Rican, by seeing on a daily basis how kind and helpful so many Ticos are.  When you are in need, they are there with an offer to help.  Randy, Jimmy, Aldemar, Alexis, Carlos, Alonso, Marilyn, Alex and many others.  When we moved here, local families greeted us with fresh fruits from their gardens.  It is not uncommon for a store owner or artist to tell you afterward that you now have a friend in them…just let them know if you are ever in need.

To be part of this amazing country and its people is what we chose for ourselves.  Our residency will be finalized this week and we couldn’t be more proud.  We love the old school values of neighbors helping neighbors, expecting nothing in return except friendship.  Genuine acts of kindness are the norm here, not something you must turn to Facebook to read about.  I could provide many examples, but you get the idea.

Randy Madrigal, helping out a fellow Tico

Randy Madrigal, helping out a fellow Tico

Given the beautiful nature of Costa Rica and her people, why do so many expats choose to simply relocate their American lives to a location with better scenery?  Why do so many decide that learning Spanish really isn’t necessary?  Is that consistent with the opinion they held of “Spanish only” speaking folks back home?  Why are the parties typically with other gringos, and maybe a few Ticos who speak good English?  This certainly isn’t everyone who moves here from the states, but it seems to be far too many.

If you do choose to move to this amazing country, might I suggest doing so with a plan to learn what the people and the culture are about.  First and foremost, have a plan to learn the language.  It won’t be easy and it won’t happen overnight (believe me!), but chart yourself a course to learn it over time.  You can make no greater statement about your adoption of Costa Rica, and your rewards will be…unlimited.

Pura vida!


2 Comments

Pura what?

“Pura vida!” That’s the phrase you hear from Ticos, many times a day. So what does it really mean? Well I’m NO expert, having lived in Costa Rica for less than two months, but I can tell you what it now means to me.

In a nutshell, “pura vida” is about enjoying life…now. Today. Don’t worry about what isn’t…celebrate what is instead. You’re living and breathing now, whether some particular situation is or isn’t exactly what you hoped. So why not celebrate life? After all, it SO beats the alternative.

Sunrise at Serenity Gardens Eco Village

Sunrise at Serenity Gardens Eco Village


2 Comments

Moved, and ready for school!

The past 6 weeks have been very interesting for the Hinsons, to say the least! We made the huge move from North Carolina to our new home in Costa Rica (moved in on July 4th), tackled our residency paperwork, and received our shipment of household items sent ahead of time…including my Jeep. We’ve explored the local towns and markets, and discovered a few of our favorite restaurants along the way.

Fortunately we didn’t need to research school options for our 6 year old son Toby, since we’d long since figured that out. He would attend a terrific private bilingual school at the bottom of the mountain. About 45 minutes drive each way, but well worth it we thought. It was important for Toby to be around other kids from the states, to feel more at home during this big transition in his life. After doing our homework during previous visits, at least THIS aspect of our new life here was settled.

But when we arrived, the message from everyone was consistent. Do you really want to drive up and down that mountain road each day, especially during the rainy season? Do you really think it best for Toby to be around non-local kids? And the cost. What about the money spent for the tuition, not to mention for diesel fuel and wear & tear on the Jeep? These were the points we heard from everyone (Ticos and gringos alike), but we stuck to our guns on this. After all, we’d researched it and made our decision, so down the mountain Toby would go. It was best.

Then early one morning before Toby woke up, Jill and I had a chance to reopen the discussion and consider all the advice that we’d received. Not long into the talk, we realized that we what we were planning was a big mistake. It would be better for Toby to be with local “neighborhood” kids than with American kids, for so many reasons. Instead of his classmates living down the mountain, wouldn’t it be better for his friends to be just up or down the street. The fact that everyone at the school would only speak Spanish was, in fact, a huge positive. At 6 years old, picking up the country’s language should be relatively easy…if he has no choice. If he must learn the language in order to play with his friends, then he’ll learn it quickly we were told.

[As an aside…if you plan to move to a foreign country, please make plans to learn the language. Not just a few words and phrases to use during daily life, but actually chart a course to speak the language. First, it is a very basic courtesy to those who live here. Second, your appreciation of the country and culture will rise exponentially when you can converse with those in the country that you’ve adopted.]

Regarding the time we would spend driving Toby up and down the mountain (~3 hours per day), couldn’t that time be much better spent learning Spanish, starting a business, or simply enjoying the area and the people? And taking that further, what better statement could we make about our commitment to this mountaintop community? Telling our Tico neighbors that our son would attend the same local school as their kids was important. In North Carolina, our family was known for our involvement in the local community, from the Ruritan Club to the food pantry that we ran at our church. Did we really want to start a new tradition of community dis-involvement here?

So, the decision was reopened that morning, and the terrific advice from our local friends was heeded. Toby would attend Escuela La Trinidad, about 5 minutes drive down the road. We asked one of our friends if he could put us in touch with the teacher, and that’s when we learned that the current school session had started that day! We went to the school by ourselves and struggled to get information and ask about enrolling. The school year here runs from January to December, so Toby would be jumping in to the first grade mid-year. We provided all of Toby’s records that we’d brought and the teacher (maestro) told us he would inquire and get back to us soon with an answer. We took a local friend with us on the next visit, and he graciously provided translation services for us. The maestro told us that he’d checked with the school system, and Toby was approved to start the next day! After receiving a list of school supplies and uniform requirements, we headed out shopping.

On Toby’s first day of school, he couldn’t have been any more excited. He was up at the crack of dawn, dressed and ready to go. For a kid heading to a new school in a new country where his language wasn’t spoken, his unbridled enthusiasm was something special. We drove him to the school and dropped him off, and he was the happiest kid you’ve ever seen. Picking him up later that day, Toby was still beaming as he retold the events of the school day…to the best of his English speaking ability. The next morning, he was up and ready to go again.

Toby-school

Some very cool things have occurred since our son started school at Trinidad. First, each time the local workers have seen Toby dressed in the public school uniform, they’ve absolutely beamed. Compliments pour forth. Also, after a week or so at the school, one of Toby’s classmates handed us a big bag of beautiful (and delicious!) red beans grown by his family. Red beans are an important local crop, so this was a very special house warming gift. A week later, the same young amigo brought us a big bag of corn, bananas, squash, pejibaye fruit and an avocado…all from his family’s harvest, and all delicious. These gifts of food filled our bellies and warmed our hearts, and made us feel more welcome than any words…English or Spanish.

Did we make the right choice about Toby’s school? The answer appears to be a resounding yes. Not only does Toby love going each day, but he is being thoroughly challenged by the curriculum…and that’s saying something with Toby. He loves his teacher, Maestro Rudy, as well as the rest of the staff at the school. Combine that with the powerful social benefits of attending the local escuela, and I can most assuredly say…we’re glad we were wrong!