Pura Vida, Part 11: – Expats Chuck & Anna

Join us as we explore Pura Vida with Chuck and Anna – Expats.

Hi There. Paul Carter here back in the US from Costa Rica where I interviewed Anna and Chuck Molenkopf about their experience of Pura Vida as Expats.

(Chuck) Buenos dias. My name is Chuck Molenkopf, and my wife (Anna says Anna), and we live in Revas, Perez Zeledon. We’ve been here in Perez Zeledon almost two years now. And we’ve lived in Costa Rica for almost five.

We are from Utah. We met, married. I’m originally from Indiana, and she’s from Maine. We had a good life in Utah. But it just didn’t… it had some emptiness to it. We were still young, sixties. Still had excellent health. We talked about doing an adventure.

And I remember back in 1967-68 I way laying in a hospital bed in Vietnam and was reading a magazine – Time, Look, Life, I’m not sure which one it was – about Costa Rica, and how they had no military. They were going to focus on improving health care, education, tourism. And as I followed them over the years sustainability became important. And I always wanted to come here.

So we planned our trip. It was interesting. When we were planning to come down here all kinds of obstacles (got) in the way. Ya can’t to this. Ya can’t do that. The house won’t sell. Whatever. And finally one day I kinda lost it, and using my Dutch Uncle’s favorite words I said I was not going to let anything stop me. I’m going to Costa Rica. She said it wasn’t going to stop her either.

And ya know, all the obstacles disappeared. Now, I don’t think they went anywhere. I think we changed. I think we made a commitment at an emotional level that we had not made before. Anyway, stuff fell into place so quickly. We came down in March 2012, started our residency, found a place to live. Went back to the States. Took care of some business. Came back to Costa Rica two months later, and we’ve lived here ever since.

The only – we’ve talked about this before – the only doubt I had is we were flying just about over Cuba on the way down here in May. And I’m sitting there. She’s got some music going. And I had this shudder come over me. Holy cow. I’ve committed both of us here. Did I really do the right thing? If I’ve messed up, fine. I’ll deal with it. But to drag someone with ya. And she says, No. We’re going. We’re doing it. And we did, and we never looked. back.

(Anna) We love it here. It’s just so calming and peaceful. Tranquil. And it’s the way the Ticos (Costa Ricans) welcomed us. I have no complaints other than losing electricity two or three times a week. But that’s not a big deal because we know it will eventually come back on. Like this morning. But that was a short one. That was only about fifteen or twenty minutes I think. And you just learn to live with it. There’s no point in getting upset or rant and rave, because that’s not going to fix the problem. You just wait, and it will get fixed. So if you don’t stress out over these things you’re a lot better off. And I think why the Ticos call it Pura Vida is just – Pura Vida is the Pure Life. And it sure is. They just take life as it comes. They enjoy it.

(Chuck) My grandson and I used to go hiking down a the Cacao River, and we had to hike through our neighbor’s property. And then we would notice a couple of hours after sundown we’d hear this voice singing. I don’t know how to even describe it.

(Anna) Oh, he had a beautiful voice.

(Chuck) He would sing a capella for two hours, maybe more sometimes. No instruments, no radio, no music. He would just sing. Pura Vida.

Pura Vida is that fact that everything plays nicely together. We have birds here. We have squirrels here. We have kinkajous. We have iguanas when someone is not eating them. We have critters going all around the place. And they just play well. You stick a stick in the ground. It grows. We wake up in the morning with the sound of a half a dozen birds singing. Watching the sun come up over Mount Chirripo. Sitting down at a new soda or restaurant, and you get talking with the new waiter there or the chef. Or they come out and say How’s the food. Do you like it? Good. And it just keeps getting better and better.

We’ve been very fortunate. We’ve had wonderful people help us find lovely homes. And because we have a lot of family come down (our house is) a little over three thousand square feet, three bedrooms, two baths. It has the most peaceful feeling in it.

Our biggest challenge has been the language. We did not study and plan for that when we came down here. I thought we could pick it up quicker. I am definitely language challenged. I sometimes think that English is my second language.

And that’s again another part of Pura Vida. If you’re trying down here, someone is going to step in at the store, at the restaurant, wherever, and say Oh! I can help. Or at the auto mechanic shop or repuesta (parts) store – language – that’s very important.

But the one thing for me that’s let me know we done right is a lot of times I’ll just be sitting at the desk or in town having a cup of coffee or something, and I’ll have this whole emotional wave go over me. And it’s a good feeling. And it’s kind of an emotional patting on the head or patting on the back. You know, Chuck. You did this one right. This one, ya done right. Pura Vida, old friend.

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And in the mean time, let’s go reFire.