Rural living in Costa Rica

The children walk this path to the main road to catch the bus to school. It must take them at least 30 minutes in the hot afternoon sun to get home.
A Caballero and his Ox and cart on a ranch outside of our town.

Rural Ticos live a family centered life in very close knit communities.   Each evening the community center has a party with music and laughter we can hear from our balcony.

Just a few hundred meters off the main road and it looks like it must have 100 years ago.  Clap-board and corrugated metal homes and many generations live on the same driveway.  Their yards are kept with pride…pretty flowering hedges outline their property…free running chickens…turkeys…pigs in a pen…and fruit trees.  Lots of fruit trees!  🙂  Beauty and bounty grow easily in the climate with a little TLC.

Very few people own cars in rural Costa Rica.  Ticos walk everywhere…to the bus stop, work or church.   

Daily we see people who walk 7 kilometers to the bus and back along our road.  Lots of people use a bicycle to get around.  We often see Dads or Mom’s with a kid dressed in their school uniforms riding the handle bars on their way to school in the mornings.  Some families have a motorcycle and balance everyone on including the dog to go to town (no joke!).  It’s another post altogether to talk about the crazy things we have seen loaded on motorcycles..ladders, pulling wheelbarrows like trailers, even a toilet once!)

Grapefruit is not popular here. The fruit his family doesn’t eat usually rots on the ground. He didn’t want to charge us at all for this amazing fruit! He finally settled on 100 colones which is about .20 US. per grapefruit.

Our next door neighbors seem to have this life.  Federico’s multi-generational family live together on about a half acre.    In the evening I always hear laughter of the young cousins horsing around.  In the mornings I hear their chickens scratching in the lot below.  As I walk by their gate I get a smile and a friendly “hola” and maybe even a short conversation. 

living fences line the property borders Everything is open.

A few weeks ago we were invited to get some grapefruit from a friend’s neighbor.  You can’t find grapefruit in the stores here and I love love love grapefruit.  Well, I was like a kid on a field trip, picking up this grapefruit.  We parked at a gate which was on a very steep dirt road and no houses were in sight.  We passed through the gate and walked half a mile and finally to a walking path that led to their home.

Can you see Jorge high up in that tree?…DH shading his eyes to watch

He climbed these 40′ trees with a home made ladder in his bare feet to pick the grapefruit! He filled a giant feed bag with grapefruit 4 times.  Amazing!

the sweetest grapefruit I have ever tasted. What a treat!

The walk to grapefruit

Make room in the garden

I started reading my Bible every morning somewhere in July. Yes, I’ve been a Christian for 25 years…and have ‘found’ time for study in the past…even consistent study for a few weeks. Always, after a short time something felt more pressing and my study time fell away. Like seeds rooted in rocky soil the habit had nothing to hold it to it’s place in my day.

I love this old worn out chair!

In order to create room for anything new, something old needs to be removed. We always fill all the space we have with things…the time we have with ‘to-do’s… I think about when I rearrange furniture. Something has always got to go to make room for the new. It is common sense, yes, but it’s not easy. What needs to go isn’t always something useless, bad or unhealthy. It’s hard to get rid of what is comfortable and familiar to make room for something that is better or healthier…It’s hard to get rid of our old worn out chair that is comfortable and full of memories…the one I read to my kids in…the one in all the Christmas pictures for the past 25 years… The new chair will be just as comfortable, no holes in the upholstery and look fantastic! I’m even excited about the new chair. But still, the familiar and comfortable has to go. I need to make room for the new and better.

This story I read this morning says it well from Discovering Joy in Philippians by Pam Farrel, Jean E. Jones and Karla Dornacher. It’s a garden analogy which is always easy for me to understand. 🙂

“One spring I decided to grow lettuce. I bought a pony pack each of romaine and red leaf lettuce. I nestle some among just-sprouting amaryllises and planted the rest in the empty pots. I figured when the amaryllises finished blooming, the growing lettuce leaves would hide their fading leaves and within weeks take their place entirely.

All went well…for a while.

But by mid spring, the lettuce tucked among the amaryllises was stunted and tough, while the other plants were round and tender.

I don’t have amaryllis in my garden but I do have beautiful Iris

That’s when it hit me. Amaryllises aren’t annuals-plants that completely die back after blooming. They’re bulbs, so even though what’s on the surface dies back, what’s under the soil multiplies. The lettuce roots had no room to grow and couldn’t produce healthy leaves.

Amused at my cluelessness, I thought, Isn’t this like what happens when we try to add a new spiritual habit without making space for it? After all, adding a spiritual habit doesn’t happen magically. We usually need to eliminate something to make room.

Nestling lettuce among amaryllis bulbs doesn’t work, so if you feel God tugging you to take on a spiritual habit of eternal value, creatively make space for it.”

It’s true for any healthy new habit. We need to remove something in our day for the new habit to have room to sink deep roots.

Colorado September 2019

Glorify the Lord with me;
let us exalt his name together.
I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears. Psalm 34:3-4