There are so many things that we just take for granted in Canada, and coming out here to live as part of a farming family in Costa Rica really puts that into perspective.

For example, we don’t have any hot water on the farm. The water that comes out of the tap is cold, and that’s just the way it is. If you’re the first person to shower, you’ll get about three seconds of sun-warmed water from the pipe, and then you have a cold shower. Funnily enough, I am ridiculously grateful for that cold shower. It has to be brief, because we conserve water, but that short splash of cold water feels amazing after a hard day’s work. One of the other volunteers brought a sponge, and I thought, “Wow, what luxury! I didn’t think of bringing that!”

Ellen and I each have two outfits here on the farm. We wear one of them for farm work and keep the other outfit relatively clean for our afternoon post-shower adventures. We have a few other items of clothing – I keep one dress as pyjamas – but they mostly stay in our backpacks. I loving living this simply and paring down my life into basic pleasures like changing into my clean dress for the afternoon.

Another basic source of much pleasure is food. The family does buy some staples, but much of the food we eat is grown on the farm. This means that if the bananas aren’t ripe, we’re not eating bananas. If sweet potatoes are ripe, then sweet potatoes are what’s for dinner. It’s a great way to live! There are ripe oranges falling off the trees, so Ellen and I made orange juice and experimented with making orange wine. I think we appreciate the food so much more because it’s in season and we’ve worked to grow it and waited to harvest it.

Consider meat, as well. In Canada, when
we’re planning dinner, we pick our meat, and then choose a starch to go along with it, and then a vegetable side dish. Here, if there’s any meat in a meal at all, it’s more of an afterthought. The dinner planning process consists of deciding how to serve the rice, how to serve the beans, and what to serve alongside them based on what foods we have available. I don’t miss the meat in the meals here, but I do enjoy the tiny taste of it I get every once in a while.

Living here reminds us to appreciate all the little pleasures in life. I take the time to watch butterflies visit the flowers and see the birds perching on the fences. We stop to look at the worms in the garden and the ants crossing the path. The bathroom has a composting toilet with a view of the cow pasture and mountains, with hummingbirds darting past and toads hopping by.

And every day, Ellen and I look at each other and say, “What an amazing place. I’m glad we’re here.”