We have been in Tamarindo now for 6 months! It has been quite the experience and while we have been lucky to have friends and family visit, we also did a few key things to help make this feel like home. (Note: I say HOME not VACATION…. a vacation is “an extended period of relaxation” and between raising twins and J starting his own business this year, I wouldn’t say we’ve been relaxing. We have been enjoying the community and culture that has created the ‘happiest people in the world“. It’s what I’m going to miss the most.
It all began when we met with our amazing nanny/babysitter Yury (pronounced Jur-dy). She was the first non-family member to ever look after the twins. I was concerned about leaving them with someone at first, but it was really the “someone” I was concerned for. Handling 13 month old twins is NOT easy – they were just starting to walk – they were still nursing every few hours and well – there are 2 of them. When we first met Y she sat right down, put W on her lap and began stacking blocks with the two of them as she told us about Tamarindo and her (then) 6 month old son. It was an instant connection and I was not only impressed but also excited that we had found someone to slip into our unusual situation. (long term – english speaking visitors with twins who needed care multiple times a week and occasional evenings… did I mention con Mellizos).
First the logistics. I found Y through her Facebook page Sunshine Babysitting. I noticed that she had cared for a family whose blog, 10FeetTraveling I was following and reached out for their thoughts. Both husband and wife responded separately with nothing but high praises for Y. When I spoke to her and explained our needs she gave me a competitive rate (I was speaking with other Nanny’s too) and we decided to meet (see above paragraph for first meeting impressions).
My first real “AH” moment came when J, Y and I took the twins down to the beach. The first time J and I did a beach day was pretty crazy and I was still new to the whole “there will be sand everywhere” concept. When Y joined us she instantly dug a hole and dropped both kids in it. Partially because there is a superstition that this will help a kid learn to walk (which L did shortly after) and partially because she grew up here and that’s what you do at the beach (obvs).
I won’t lie, I did hang around the first couple of times Y came over to babysit… it’s tricky when you have a set nap routine that you can’t really afford to lose – and I wanted to be nearby to help if Y needed it. It quickly became clear that she didn’t. Before no time she was taking the twins on walks and coming home with stories of people they had met and kids they had played with. This was confirmed when people would come up to us on the street to tell us how much they love the twins – and occasionally show us the photos they had taken earlier in the week. Because of Y’s connection to this town, we were welcomed quickly and with open arms and by we I clearly mean the TWINS and then by association J and I :).
My next “AH” moment came when Y invited us to join her and her son to the local Rodeo/Fiesta which included local food, a beer tent, music, rides and their traditional bull riding – although the real entertainment is the fact that ANYONE can go into the ring and be a “rodeo clown”. After weeks of getting to know each other it was nice to have a friend to show us a little local culture not to mention hanging out with another mom.
Once our friends and family started visiting we set a standard Wednesday night “date night” with Y where we could go out for a nice dinner and check out some of the night life in Tamarindo. We discovered the “open mic” nights at PasaTiempo which pretty much became our go to. Imagine a kick ass band “The Leatherbacks” who play classic rock to a room full of expats dancing and drinking up a storm and then every few songs a guest musician comes up and either plays guitar, sax, harmonica, drums or in my case – sings a song that the rest of the band knows flawlessly – essentially an impromptu, yet pretty professional jam session. It became a meeting place for our friends and reconnecting to singing and performing made me feel like ME again. Both the comfort of Y watching the twins and The Leatherbacks welcoming me on stage each week was just the bump I needed to settle in here.
It’s not always fun and carefree when you live abroad. It can be lonely and difficult to put yourself out there in a culture and language you are not familiar with. When we first got here I thought my best option was to learn Spanish, find a “mommy and me” group and set up play dates – when that didn’t work due to the ever changing population here – I realized that my best option was to find things I enjoyed doing and incorporate them back into my life. Finding someone you can trust to care for your kids (the way Y does) and an outlet that gives you the confidence to be creative (like singing does) allowed me to find my joy here and to create our home.