Top 7 (or 10) Things I Miss About the United States While Living In Costa Rica

It's bound to happen when you travel, especially long term.  Or even when you move.  There will be things you miss about your previous home.  Here's my short list:

  1. Target (or even Walmart):  I miss having ONE store I can count on to have pretty much everything I need.  Toilet paper?  Check.  Band Aids? Check.  Sewing Kit?  Check.  Contact lens solution?  Check.  Watch battery?  Check.  Here, to buy these items, I would have to go to five separate stores.  Yes, the walking is good exercise, but with the hot days we've had lately, I'd love to just run into a Target and pick these things up almost without thinking about it.  I will note that there are Walmarts here, but we haven't been inside one yet and they involve at minimum a 45 minute bus trip to get there.
  2. Convenience Foods:  There was always some comfort in the US that I could whip up a decent last minute meal with some convenience foods I had in the pantry or freezer.  Things like chicken nuggets, Rice A Roni, Kraft Mac n' Cheese, a bag of individually frozen chicken breasts.  All of these were staples and either just aren't available here or I haven't found them OR they're more than I'm willing to pay for them.  Except the chicken nuggets…don't know that I trust the local frozen chicken nuggets. :o)
  3. CHEESE!   I'm not a cheese snob.  Promise.   I don't search high and low for some weird cheese with a name only the creators can pronounce.  I'm talking about normal cheese like cheddar, pepper jack, mozzarella, parmesan, colby jack, sharp cheddar.  *sigh*  How I miss you cheeses…my cooking just isn't the same without you.
  4. Pillsbury Crescent Rolls:  Yes, these count as a convenience food, but they're so good, they have to be their own item missed.  Without them, I can't make my mom's famous pizza pie and THAT, my friends, is a real tragedy.
  5. Having a car:  Not having a car has not been that bad, really.  We have a reliable taxi driver (or two) that we can count on most days, but it's expensive, especially since we have to use the BIG "buseta" taxis that are like a minivan, but so NOT like a minivan.  If you can image a US minivan without cup holders, DVD player, good a/c and automatic everything, you're close. :o)
  6. A Good Church:  No offense to any local friends who may read this, but I miss our last 2 churches.  Most Evangelical (non-Catholic or Jehovah's Witness) churches we have attended (or tried to attend) have literally drummed us out of the service.  Imagine local college bar band meets hyperactive teenage drummer meets the most charismatic church you've ever been to.  I miss the good preaching and learning every Sunday from men who have really studied the Bible.  Yes, I know I can download the mp3 audios from both our old churches, but it's not the same.  I get easily distracted by audios and children.  In fact, I have been "listening" to an audio while typing.  I need to get more disciplined about this.
  7. Good Kitchen Knives:  I don't know what I was expecting from a rental home, but I had hoped I would have one decent knife to work with.  Then, I bought a new knife at a local grocery store (for about $2) and again was disappointed.  Why did I think $2 could get me a knife that cuts well?  If it wasn't for all the anti-terrorism laws, I think it would totally be worth bringing my knife set that got saved back in a suitcase.  Maybe I can do it even with those laws?  Better look into that one!

Whew…I feel better having vented about what I miss most.  And the funny thing is that I didn't even think about air conditioning until the list was done.

I'm going to venture a guess that it's because it's night time and it is quite cool outside right now.  If I'd written this about 7-10 hours earlier, that probably would have been at the top of my list, in bold and ALL CAPS.  Where we're living is supposed to have one of the best climates in the world.  I'm guessing the folks based that on being here in the dry season and staying in a luxury hotel with air conditioning.  Not that it isn't pleasant here for most of the day.   It's just that the several hours in the middle of the day (for the past 3-5 days) have been VERY hot.  So hot I couldn't even enjoy my siesta and a cold shower didn't fix.

And a good public library.  Can't forget that!  The Hillsborough County Public Library system in Florida is BY FAR the BEST public library system we've ever seen.  My oldest is a voracious reader and she misses her weekly trips to check out 5 or 6 books and be done reading them in 4 days.  Their DVD collection is wonderful and inter-library loan system is super.  I am able to access some ebooks online with my library card number thankfully, but the selections aren't that great.

Oh, and I have to add just one more, if you don't mind…toilets that can handle toilet paper.  Even just tiny amounts of toilet paper.  I won't go into any more details.  You can just call me the official expert plunger around here, but make sure the toilets are flushing properly when you say it or you might get a swift blow with a plunger to your shin!.  :o)

So that's 7, or wait, it's 10 things I miss about life in the US.  It started off as only 5, then grew to 7 when I remembered about church and then I couldn't leave out the toilets, could I?  And I didn't even include shopping at my favorite grocery store, Publix, and couponing.  I had better stop writing or this post will make it seem like I don't like anything here!  I do really enjoy being here, but enjoying one thing doesn't mean I can't miss aspects of another!  Right?!?

What are some of the things YOU miss when you travel, outside of friends and family?

Image: digitalart /

If you liked this article, you may like:

One Response to “Top 7 (or 10) Things I Miss About the United States While Living In Costa Rica”

  1. Rebeca Says:

    I always bring a good knife along in my checked luggage! It's not a problem as long as you don't try to put it in a carryon. I'm a bit of a knife snob, and it drives me nuts to have to cut food with a dull knife. I've even been known to bring my own knives when I am cooking elsewhere here in the US. (Like if I'm preparing food at church, I'll bring my own knife.) My husband likes to say you need the right tools for the job, and for me, a good knife just makes the whole cooking experience so much better. 
    Do they have local cheeses there? 
    I loved reading this list, as it makes me think about what it will be like for us, and how different each person's list would be! I read it to my husband too. Because of some health issues and foods we needed to avoid, I pretty much don't use any convenience products, which can be a LOT of work when cooking for a large family. He pointed out though, that it will make it easier when we travel, as we're already used to cooking and eating that way. (Trust me, there are days and moments when I would LOVE to open a can of biscuits or pop a frozen pizza into the oven!) 
    Anyway… hoping to meet up with you in a few months. Sorry for writing a book here. :>

Leave a Reply