Monday, August 18, 2008

¿Where does the time go?

People frequently ask , “What do you do all day, living in Central America? Don’t you ever get bored?!” These queries are understandable from newcomers; it is common for most people to have a travel experience in Central America that consists of an all-inclusive resort or a trip from the vacation rental to the local pulperia to refill the stock of margarita mix in the fridge. Fortunately, when one decides to make the transition from tourist to ex-pat in Central America, s/he can expect to develop new interests, meet new people and even revisit old hobbies. In essence, create a new life experience in a foreign country.

In an effort to bring insight to a potential future ex-pat’s lifestyle ideal, the following is an example of how his/her day might go:

5:15am-Why am I awake at 5:15am? Is my clock right? Does it always get light this early? Note to self, drink more Chilean Malbec tonight.
5:30am-Cup or organic coffee (or green smoothie), perhaps and select one of the following options:
Check surf
• Bust out fishing rod
• Yoga on ocean view patio
• Run on beach
• Horseback riding on beach (if low-mid tide)
• Collect seashells
• Make business phone call to Japan
• Go back to sleep

8am-By this time unless the waves are epic or the fishing is good, you will probably be making your way back home for breakfast. Say, a fresh tropical fruit plate or scrambled eggs with gallo pinto and toast (fresh baked bread, of course).

9am-Unless the waves are going off, at this time you will be getting into your main activity of the day. This can be any of the following options (including but not limited to):
• Go to work (that would be me)
o Put out fires, make pho calls, check e-mail, run to nearest civilized town for some sort of meeting or errands
• Check on construction, like my friend Holly Beck
• If you have a house, do some gardening or planting
• Hang out in pool at the Marina
• Read a book
• Test out machete technique on unsuspecting tropical plants
• Head to nearest civilized town for grocery shopping, bank, yadda yadda yadda and maybe pizza or Subway

Noon-Even if the waves are still firing, by this time people are starting to drop like flies. The rest of us are still out and about but thinking about lunch, at least by 1pm.

2pm-It’s hot at 2pm. Hopefully you’re somewhere with a/c (doubtful) or an ocean breeze and a beer (probable). Also a good time for a dip in the ocean or nap in the hammock. For me, if it’s a day at the office I usually have an appointment with clients from

3-6pm. If not, I could be anywhere from the border of Honduras to the border of Costa Rica to an island in the Caribbean, you know, scouting out property.

5:30-Sunset. What, sunset already? Yes, sunset. Daylight savings time is an invention of the US. Again, I can’t stress enough how important it is to have beer in hand and be strategically positioned with view of and breeze off the ocean. Only not for the heat this time… mosquitoes…

7pm-After some good conversation with whomever you were watching the sunset with, it’s dinnertime! A possible menu could be the following:
• Fish you caught in the morning (snook, mahi, snapper or corvina, likely)
• Fish that the guy who took you surfing in the boat caught (see above)
• Ceviche or cocktail of shrimp or clams
• The chicken that either a) you almost hit driving this morning or b) woke you up with its squawking
• BBQ Peliguey, a cross between a sheep and a goat (don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it)
• Any of the above accompanied by rice, beans, salad, vegetables, fried plantains and some salsa picante. And beer.
• If you’re a veg, replace the fauna with a soup, salad or stir-fry prepared with any selection of the plethora of fresh veggies available in the area. Buen provecho!

After dinner-When you live in Central America, it takes longer than 30 minutes to eat dinner, because we are not rushed and enjoy our meals here. By now it’s probably close to 9pm. Or if you are my French neighbors, you start eating after 9pm. The following are some standard options:
• Switch from beer to Flor de Caña, chilled, with lime (get ready for karaoke of Red Red Wine later)
• Continue chatting with friends and/or listening to music
• Leisurely read a book or magazine
• Call it a night and sleep (or other)

See!? Time flies when you’re having fun. Of course, other life responsibilities will get in the way of having a perfect day every day, but just by rotating the above activities you will wish the days were longer.

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