For five months starting in January, my wife, daughter and I will be living in the cloud forests of Monteverde, Costa Rica.
My wife Pam and I will be taking Spanish classes at the local language school. She wants to become fluent in Spanish in order to better serve her social work clients back in Colorado. I want to become fluent so I can more effectively converse with the slave traders I’m convinced are going to kidnap us. I’ve read that in hostage situations it’s important to remind your captors that you are a human being with actual feelings and emotions. That’s hard to do through an interpreter.
Our daughter Rae will be attending classes at an environmentally focused school. Math class consists of calculating how many acres of land a group of eight-year-olds can reforest in one month if they really put their backs into it. English class revolves around writing scathing letters to British Petroleum executives.
This will not be my first time traveling outside the United States. I’ve shared an anti-freeze jug full of moonshine with four-foot-tall Hmong women in the mountains of northern Vietnam. I piloted (or at least attempted to pilot) a 45-foot-long houseboat down the rivers of southwestern France. Ten years ago in Ireland, I risked my life to rescue Pam from drowning in a frigid canal–a canal she walked directly into. (She’s not the best hiker.)
But those were technically just vacations.
No matter where I’ve traveled, the trips have always been short enough that I could at least mentally keep one foot in my living room. Granted, that may defeat the entire purpose of traveling–but it keeps me sane.
Once my eyesight returned after chugging rotgut with the Vietnamese women, I knew I only had one more week before I’d be back in the United States sipping an icy Manhattan. While side-swiping helpless French boaters, I remembered I only had a few more days of them shouting insults at me in their phlegm-gargling language before I’d be back home where people at least have the decency to insult me in English.
This trip poses a real challenge. Five months is a long time for me to be away from the comforts of home. Mocha Frappuccinos, Playstations and other staples of American living are going to be a long way off come January.
So I’m looking forward to the trip, but with some trepidation. Yes, it’s an adventure. Yes, I’ll cherish the memories. Yes, it’s an amazing opportunity.
But I’m sure every passenger thought the same thing when they boarded the “Titanic.”
When not crippled by dengue fever or being sold to the highest bidder, I will document our trip on this site at least once a week. Check in as often as you like.