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Jennifer- Day 32- Working Online in Costa Rica

It is September when kids return to school and parents begin the arduous transition back to a busy schedule that includes very early mornings, homework, and extracurricular activities. Traditionally during this time of year, we tend to have less work. When we owned the web development company, our sales would drop back precipitously for at least 6 weeks into the middle of October. Now that we work online as contractors, a similar phenomenon happens. Employers (who are also parents) are preoccupied with their families and the new schedule. As a result, we have less work.

Despite knowing what’s going on, however, it is difficult to stay Zen about not having as many hours of work to do. Work is a sort of touchstone that keeps us sane while we travel. It helps us moderate our outbound travel activities and keep things within normal limits. Without it, we have a hard time balancing our time. Do we stay at home and sit on our hands waiting for work? Do we go out and enjoy our time off? Neither seems like a responsible thing to do in the moment. And when you’re income drops off, “responsibility” and thoughts related to it bear down on us heavily.

But being in a foreign country this year when the September work decline happens has been helpful in some ways, I think. At home, I would have more time to contemplate the fearful possibilities and become reactive, but we’re too busy for that here. And because we’re in Costa Rica on a tourist visa, we can’t just run out and get a job at a local gas station or something in the midst of freaking out.  We have to ride the wave and just trust where it leads us, much like riding with a crazy taxi driver or on a bus in the middle of the night. We just have to trust where the road leads us because we don’t have any control anyway.

There are really few times in life when a person has to think deeply about the whimsical nature of life and recognize that they are never in control. There are times when I’m coasting; when I get to do what I do while my life just takes off and “goes” all by itself and then there are times when everything is uphill. Straightaways tend to be boring, but one can get a lot of work done when the road is very straight and flat. But never do I ever have control of the road ahead of me, only the vehicle that I’m traveling in. I can’t control the road, the landscape, the environment, the deer, pedestrians, or raccoons, or other crazy drivers on the road. Sometimes I just like to believe that I can.

Needless to say, working online in a foreign country has many virtues. I am grateful for the ability to go away and yet still earn a respectable American income. Working makes me feel grounded in the new places where we take up residence and I appreciate it for that reason alone. If John and I can ever chill out about the September work decline, this is a great time of year as an online contractor to travel and take it easy.

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