Central America Costa Rica North America

Grateful to Be Complaining

There is nothing in the world as important as a comfortable place to sit when you don’t have one. Or warmth when you can’t get out of the cold. There is nothing like a really good book when you only have five minutes to read. And there is nothing like warm food when you’ve been eating Power Bars for every meal.

I complain a lot in blog posts because I’m trying to keep our experience “real”. I mean, I do complain in everyday life as well, but I’m grateful for many things too. Often, the things that I’m most grateful for surprise me when we’re out and about traveling. For example, rather than being upset about cold showers (at least the first 7-12 cold showers or so), I tend to just be glad to have a place to shower. Rather than being upset that our refrigerator doesn’t really work, I am grateful to be able to jog for the first time in a month (even though we could almost climb up our street it has such a steep incline). Rather than be pissed off when the dogs start barking through the window again, I am grateful to have four rather quiet cats at home.

Honestly, I’m not upset about everything all day every day, but I tend to want to only write about the stuff that would make our trip sound “fluffy” or unrealistically positive. The truth is, travel is hard. If I don’t write down the parts that are taxing to me, I simply forget about them within a month or two after we get home.

I think that if I were a traveler-wanna-be living in the United States right now, I would think that someone who complains as much as me should just stay home. And perhaps this is true. I should perhaps be more mesmerized by tourist attractions. I should spend volumes elaborating on the florid environment here in Costa Rica so that readers might be able to really get a sense of “place” from my descriptions. And I should go on more heroic adventures…like surfing.

But I’m not living in luxury accommodations. Our landlord let us move a couch from another unit into our little house today (reluctantly) because the other couch reeked. This couch reeks too, but it smells musty rather than having a non-specific smell reminiscent of death/feces. Sure, it sinks in the middle and it’s giving me a backache, but it is soft; the first soft thing I’ve spent more than five minutes sitting on since we arrived in Costa Rica over a month ago.

We could afford to spend money on nicer places, but I like the difficulty (up to a point) of having to adapt to less than ideal circumstances. At home, I can build my home to be any way that I want it to be, but when we travel, we force ourselves to adapt. It’s hard, but I like knowing that I can adapt. Being able to adapt is more valuable than having a lot of money saved up in the bank.

I could claim that adaptation comes easily for us, but it’s actually a daily struggle. I don’t think that we’re good at making decisions, at least not in bulk like we have been for the past 30+ days. A lot of adaptation has to do with making decisions…specifically, the right decisions. And when I’m tired, scared, hungry, rushed, irritated, or experiencing any other type of extreme discomfort, I start to really not care. Which is perhaps why going to tourist attractions seems so unattractive to me right now. I have other decisions to make that matter more than deciding whether to turn right or left on a paved loop trail that will lead me right back to where I started.

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