Wildfire In Costa Rica

Costa Rica Cost Of Living Update: 1 Pound of Kiwis— $2.81

It’s a rare occurrence when we have all three of our utilities (electric, water and phone/Internet), working at the same time. We just survived a month without the Internet due to a wildfire that came uncomfortably close to our house. Thankfully, a new line was installed and it started working again. And when I mean working, I mean my upload speeds are equivalent to the World Wide Web circa 1988. While others are enjoying Google Glass, it takes ten minutes to open my inbox. If you gave me a spiral perm and a few floppy discs, it’s my freshman year in college all over again.

Now, it’s not my Internet but my water that is off. This creates anxiety since dishes pile up, dirty laundry accumulates, and anything that gets sticky stays sticky. And since my husband is currently on a mango kick, he seems to get the stickiest of all.


Rob doesn’t mind any of this. You can send him off into the deepest part of the Amazon jungle and he’ll find a way to amuse himself with just a roll of duct tape and a tin can. He remains cheerful no matter what you toss at him. Rob considers showers and clean clothes to be some of the fancier things in life. On the contrary, I always feel like I need to be on a schedule or things will slowly get out of hand. It’s a routine I find hard to break, but maybe I feel this way because I’m the one responsible for these chores.

The amount of dishes Rob uses is never even on his radar. I’m convinced of this when I find fourteen dirty forks in the sink by lunchtime.  What is so difficult to eat that it requires fourteen forks? I imagine he dances in the kitchen like Yul Brynner from the King and I, waltzing across the floor while singing his own Broadway tune, “Need another sip of water? Why not grab a glass or two. A second cup of coffee? Four or five clean mugs will do.”

A week ago I just couldn’t take it anymore. There were so many dirty dishes in the sink, I thought I was going to go nuts. So in an effort to control my frustration, I told Rob I was going running.

“You don’t run,” he mumbled while eating cereal with two spoons and a fork. He’s right: I don’t run.  In fact, when I do run Rob laughs. Everyone laughs. I think the monkeys laugh as well.

Running was one of those things I never quite understood. Sure, I’ll walk at a leisurely pace on the treadmill for the heart benefits. (And when I say leisurely, I mean slow enough to actually fill out the People magazine crossword puzzle. I like to keep my intellectual pursuits as underachieving as humanly possible.)

Despite Rob’s surprise that I would do something I avoided for the better part of my life, I did indeed run. It was truly a Forest Gump moment, but it felt good. I was sweaty and dehydrated: all the characteristics of a person with athletic ability. However, when I returned to the house I realized that being sweaty and dehydrated are not ideal conditions when living in a house with no water.  So I just sat there like I was waiting for a bus.

In spite of our water shortage, I woke up the next day and ran again. I quickly learned that getting a side stitch is a great way to forget about your malfunctioning utilities. It was a happy accident, and I concluded that I actually do like running. It clears my mind and makes me appreciate that my body still has the capacity to put one foot in front of the other.

Today I ran and came back to a house with running water. However, I now have the opposite problem: the water blasts out the spigot like a naval cannon. When I turned on the kitchen faucet, the water exploded across a smelly pan, ricocheting the red snapper bits across the countertops, refrigerator, and my already sweaty face from running. This is splendid. Apparently, I’ll be power washing my dishes, as well as my complexion, from now on.

No matter how you slice it, I live in a place where there is a degree of uncertainty, but it’s this uncertainty that always seems to lead to happy accidents. They never come when everything is going as planned, but when only two out of three things are working. And in these moments, I learn that I’m capable of doing more than I ever thought I could. When I look back on this Costa Rica experience, the two out of three rule appears to be a running theme. If I can remain patient long enough, something fabulous is usually waiting for me on the other side.

Right now the electricity is off.  Another reminder not to take the magical world of kilowatts and joules for granted. I am excited to write that I can take a shower today… albeit, a cold one. I’m looking forward to sand blasting off my epidermis.  Surely, it will be like a 5-star spa’s exfoliating experience.

I may even take a cue from Rob and dry off with four towels. Heck, why not five? Two out of three of my utilities are working, and it’s time to celebrate.

(To be fair, my husband does have a list of chores that include: sewer drain clearance, high voltage wire repair, and rodent removal. While he’s busy, you can usually find me humming my own show tune while sipping a cold beverage on the terrace.)

About Nadine Hays Pisani

Nadine is the author of the best-selling series, Happier Than A Billionaire. Join her as she navigates living as an expat in the sometimes confusing, always beautiful, country of Costa Rica.
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  1. Matt says:

    Two spoons and a fork! Love it! Would things with the utilities be better in other areas?

  2. Sybille Ahlstrom says:

    Ok, I hope that I am not posting this twice, I just left a reply but I never saw it posted, I might have erased it instead If posting… Nadine, Just like everyone else I so enjoyed your books not just because of the invaluable information or because it makes me laugh out loud, what I cherish is the hilarious but loving way you write about Rob and your adventures. You guys are an amazing couple! I have been to Costa Rica several times and I am eventually going to move there and thanks to your books I can see the good and the more complicated side of doing that. My kids are grown and they are reading your books now and my boyfriend says he will upload them too. Thank you for your blogs and books and PLEASE write a third book!!! Sybille

    • Nadine says:

      Thanks so much Sybille! Finishing up the third one as we speak. It’s been such a joy to share my story with you, and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you stopping by my blog.

  3. Jill says:

    Hi Nadine,

    I have been thoroughly enjoying your books (now on the sequel), as my boyfriend and I are heading to Costa Rica at the end of May. You have really helped us prepare! I don’t think I’ve ever researched so much about a place prior to take off.

    We are struggling to find a place to rent near the beach (we’re both surfers). I was wondering if you know a decent property management company to contact? We don’t do hostels, as my boyfriend works online. I know it may be a long shot, but I thought what the heck.


    • Nadine says:

      Hi Jill,

      Try sending Randy Toltz and email: rantol (at)
      Also try Colleen : colleen_stacey (at)

      They are great to work with!

  4. Chantale says:

    My husband and I are thoroughly enjoying your blogs. Will soon purchase your books too.

    Your ability to see the world and circumstances around you, through rose coloured glasses has taught us that attitude is key to a succesful move to another culture. It is our hope that as we soon retire to Costa Rica from our posh home in Canada, that we too may be able to see this beautiful country with all its beauty and prickles with the same positive attitude as you. You and Rob are amazing!

    Hope to meet you someday;)

    • Nadine says:

      Thanks Chantale. It really has been great. Now it’s the rainy season so it’s cooled down a bit. It’s my favorite time of the year!

  5. Kathie Raab says:

    Love this! Another example of needing to be able to “just roll with it” when living in Costa Rica. Your humor is greatly appreciated, Nadine and Rob. Keep it coming !!!

  6. barb says:

    Loved your post! Sounds like a lot of trouble to me, but it makes for some funny stories. I can’t wait for your next book.

    • Nadine says:

      Thanks Barb. Third book is going through the editing process. But I promise, there are going to be some pretty funny stories in there.

  7. iag says:

    What an awesome read. Whitty, charming, funny and engaging are a few words that come to mind! Thank you for sharing and providing me with some enjoyable moments in time!

  8. The whole bit about you running and coming home to no water then sitting there like you were waiting for a bus cracked me UP!!! Wonderfully written and so real! :)

  9. Hilarious. I loved it. I just started running last year and although there are days I love it and ‘get’ it there are still days where I’m ‘this is dumb.’ Hope it continues to grow on you!

    • Nadine says:

      It’s so strange I never did it before. I had friends who ran marathons and I just never had the urge to join them. Now it seems to fit. Go figure. Just proves that there are so many more things we learn about ourselves as we grow older.

  10. Ann Ellison says:

    Love your posts. Thanks for sharing your adventures.

  11. Stacey says:

    Sooooooo funny!!! Thanks for the laugh:)))

  12. Linda says:

    The times I remember the most – are when things didn’t go as planned & we had to make due. These are some of my fondest memories of all! I enjoyed your adventure going from being without internet – to going without water. In our neck of Washington state – we have power outages during the winter. We eat & read by candle light and enjoy each other’s company.

    It sounds like your adventures in Costa Rica are creating wonderful memories for you both. Enjoy!

    • Nadine says:

      Thanks Linda. Always important to keep that good attitude. You can get through anything with a smile on your face. And in the end, it’s not like the world was falling apart. It can be so easy to blow things so out of proportion, you don’t even realize that soon it shall pass.

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