A year without…

Soooo, we are finally in Monteverde, slowly adapting to the return to work. For the first time in a year, we have chosen a house not because of its location or wildlife viewing opportunities but because of its internet speed. We have also chosen to live in Monteverde, since this is where my course on innovative practices for sustainable development will take place and where the students will do their fieldwork. This way I can start with the arrangements.

The return to work has made me realized all the things that we have been living without this past year.

To start with, I have been one year without an agenda. I guess that it is the first time in 25 years or more that I have not been carrying an agenda at all times (sorry, I am still of the paper agenda kind of person). It was simply not needed since I have had maybe two or three meetings in the entire year (another wonderful outcome of the job downgrading) and they were set up from one day to another so, there was only a slim chance to forget. The only thing that we needed to be aware of, was the day of the week since we couldn’t drive on mondays and saturdays (Covid restriction). Unfortunately, the no-agenda time is over. When the number of zoom meetings scheduled for January went over five, I went on the quest to find an agenda. Sigh!

The “agenda issue” made me think about what else we have lived without. Oh well, as many of you already know, we have been without a reliable internet connection for almost a year. During the first half of the year, while we were in Osa, we were using our phones to create hotspots and connect the computers. This did not work so smoothly as it sounds, but we managed. During the second half of the year, we have been in a nature reserve with zero internet connection, so we needed to drive to the village to get online. The result (in both cases) is that one needs to be more strategic with regards to internet use. We connected when we had a purpose and disconnected right after we had done what we needed to do. No distractions or very little. I noticed how easy it is to get lost in futile internet searches as soon as we arrived in Monteverde and had a good internet connection. I suddenly found myself checking whatsapp, email, the news, etc almost every time that I was idle. And as soon as I noticed, I stopped and will try to discipline myself to work offline and connect only when I truly need to do so.

And talking about distractions, we also have been one year without TV. Frank already wrote about this a long ago in this blog. The result is that we have been reading more, gone to bed earlier and spend more time enjoying the nature and watching wildlife. Just in the last two months or so, we borrowed 8 films from a colleague at the JRC of which, we have seen half. But now, we have Netflix and the temptation to “get distracted” at the end of the year catching up with the newly released sci-fi and fantasy films and series is high. So, we have decided to watch TV only during the weekend. Let us see how it works out.

I also realized that it has been the first time in my entire life that I did not take any flight in one year!! I guess that it is not so extraordinary taking into account that traveling is currently very limited because of the corona. But, in our case, it would have been like this in any case. We had not planned to travel outside Costa Rica in this entire year.

We have also been one year without a winter. And what can I say? It felt GREAT to live in a permanent summer. No cold feet. No cold noses. No cold fingers. And almost no long sleeves, except when the termomether reached a freezing 25 degrees. Almost 365 days with t-shirts, shorts and flip-flops. So different from now. Yes, we are still in Costa Rica, but we are now in the mountains, 1500 meters above sea level … in the “cloud forest”. And it is cold. We have been forced to unpack all long sleeves, jumpers, socks and long trousers. I even saw Frank with the woolen hat today… It made me realize how much I dislike being cold.

The cold had made me aware of another fact. We have been one year without being sick. No colds. No flu. No strong migraines. No stomach problems. No sciatic pain. Only the occasional insect bite or toxic plant rash. I guess that it is the combination of warm weather, an active life (outdoor), no stress and loads of fresh tropical fruit and veggies. No wonder why Costa Rica hosts one of the world’s blue zones….


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