Tag Archives: House Hunters International

Indoor-Outdoor Living


There is a show that I like to record and watch when I have sole domination of the remote control.  I indulge my travel itch by watching HGTV’s House Hunters’ International.  If you haven’t seen it, the half hour show follows around folks who are looking for homes overseas.  I like seeing the inside of houses in other countries.  I like seeing what is important and unimportant to other cultures.  I like seeing what catches a foreigner’s attention.  And sometimes I just like to laugh at the naive people who are looking for their “dream” home.


For example, there are a few episodes that are filmed here in Costa Rica.  The realtors lie… frequently.  They will show a young couple a half million dollar property in a very exclusive part of town and describe it as “traditional Costa Rican” in it’s style.  Are they serious??  And the foreigners are so gullible.  In one episode that is filmed in the surfer town of Jaco, the American buyers ask the realtor, “Why are there bars on all the windows?”  Everyone who lives here knows that Jaco is a dangerous, druggie town inhabited by transients and moral-less bohemians living the surfer life-style.  It’s a rough town full of bars and night clubs.  So when the woman on the screen says, “The bars are there to keep the wild animals out,” we howl in laughter at her double meaning which is completely lost on the wide-eyed buyers.

Sometimes I wish I could give those inexperienced folks some advice.  I would tell them to keep these things in mind:

~  You think  you want to be in the center of town and not own a car, but have you thought about lugging your groceries home without a vehicle?  Have you carried a gallon of milk for over a mile?  I don’t care how ecological that lifestyle is, it’s rough on Americans to be without a car.

~  Window bars are there for a reason.

~  Construction will take about 5x as long as you think it will, and it will cost you double what it costs a local family.  So think twice before you decide to remodel something.

~  Bathtubs are over rated.  Get over them.  You will probably only miss having a tub about 3 times per year.  It’s not worth crossing a good property off the list just because it lacks a tub.  You can bathe the children in Action Packer boxes while they are little.

~  You don’t need granite counter tops or stainless steel appliances to be happy.

~  Walls, windows and doors that are open to a pool or patio area are nice in the day time, but you have no idea what kind of critters will fly into your house once the sun goes down.  You might think it’s beautiful, you might think you’ve always wanted indoor-outdoor living, but unless you are prepared to feel like you’re camping in your own house, walk away from that one.

~  A washer and drier should be high on the priority list, but you can do without a dishwasher.

~  Finally, you will not find space like you had in your home back in Texas.  There’s a reason why they say everything is bigger in Texas.  You do not really need that guest bedroom.  Your family won’t come to visit as frequently as the rent check will be due on your oversized house in a far away land.

Photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/stuckincustoms/305212697/”>Stuck in Customs</a> / <a href=”http://foter.com/Art/”>Foter.com</a&gt; / <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>CC BY-NC-SA</a>

Vegan Church


Last Saturday morning, my husband and I went on a coffee date to Starbucks.  We drove about a half hour to a very ritzy part of town called Escazu.  (Whenever you see Costa Rica on House Hunters International it’s either a beach location or a multimillion dollar house in this part of town.)  It’s very American over there.  As a matter of fact, we just got our first Starbucks in Costa Rica and, of course, it’s in Escazu.

We noticed as we were pulling into the parking lot that there was some kind of festival or market happening down the block.  There were cute white tents like the kind they use at the Uptown Art Festival in my hometown.  So I got excited, thinking that maybe it was an art exhibit or something.  After our coffee, we wandered down to the tents to take a look.

It was an organic, vegan and whole foods farmers’ market.  There were all kinds of foods that I have never eaten before and had to read the labels to identify.  And everything was suuuuuper expensive, like $20 for a bag of hemp chips.

All the vendors had a certain look about them.  At first I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but I finally decided that I would call the look “Rich-Modern-Urban- Spiritualist.”  If “Hippie” ever became trendy, this would be the look.  If “Boho” married “Yuppie” this would be the prodigy.  I concluded that everyone obviously “belonged” in this kind of market because of their look.

It was kind of like crashing a convention of home school moms.  Everyone sort of had the same look, except for us.  (I say this with no malice because I WAS a home school mom for many years.)  My husband and I sort of didn’t fit in.

Yep, that’s the home school mom look.

Maybe it’s because we had both showered that morning and neither one of us smelled like Patchouli.  Maybe it was because we don’t drive a hybrid car or recycle religiously… I don’t know.  But whatever were the elements required to be a member of this group, we didn’t have them.  I walked away with an odd feeling of being excluded.  (Maybe I should have bought that $30 jar of seaweed jelly just to fit in.)

I asked Josh, “What do you think people think of us?”  I mean, I pegged those people into a category upon first sight, but what category would WE fit into?  It really is difficult to see how others view you. I wonder if my husband and I have any distinguishing characteristics or fashions that would allow people to guess how we voted in the last election, how many times a week we eat fast food, and if any seaweed has ever been ingested by either of us.

Then I got to thinking about the church.  Is this how people feel when the visit our churches?  Do they feel like they need to have some “cool factor” in order to fit in?  Does our appearance communicate how rich we are?  Are we more likely to enter church with a Starbucks cup in our hands or a Bible in our hands?  Is our church language designed to give newcomers the information they need to become a member of our group, or is it exclusive so that only long time members would understand the announcements?  Do new people walk away with a vague sense of “High School Cliques Deja-Vu” or do they feel warmly accepted and excited to return?

We should give careful thought to the kind of culture we are creating at church.  We should put ourselves in the position of a Newcomer and try to see how THEY would view us.  “What would other people think of us?” is a valid question.

Pulling it back together again


This last month we got all stretched out.  We got out of our regular routines and now our family feels all wonky and disjointed.  This last month we hosted 3 missions teams… at.the.same.time.  After the “promise me we’ll never do this again” tears and the nagging lessons in how to say “NO” there came a point where I just had to hold my nose and dive under the flow of work to be done.  I have surfaced now.  The teams have gone.  I have my husband back now… sort of.  And life can get back to normal… after we pull it all together again.

Josh was gone from the family life for 24 days.  For over 3 weeks he would come home after I was asleep and collapse into bed and then roll out again when the alarm sounded before the sun rose.  I held the family life together.  I drove the kids to school, went to work myself, picked the kids up from school, went to gymnastics and soccer and guitar lessons and youth group, made breakfast-lunch- and dinner (usually) and helped with homework.  I also grocery shopped for the teams, made at least one meal a week at our house for 30 people, chauffeured the team around a bit, and made sure the teams had all the supplies they needed in the right places at the right time.  (Oh and I forgot to mention, during one of those weeks I was so sick that the doctor thought I had dengue fever.  Turns out it was just a virus, but it took 8 days to run its course!) Let’s just say, these last 24 days have reaffirmed my deep respect for single moms.

So now we have Josh back.  I am always dismayed that we have to adjust to being a family again.  Everyone comes back together and the irritations begin.  We have held our awkward position for too long, and now the frozen joints creak and the over extended muscles burn when they are forced back into their natural position.  The kids are naughty, they need attention.  They are pushing buttons and pushing boundaries.  I’m trying to muster up some patience and understanding, but my tank is empty.  I’m trying hard not to treat Josh like another child, trying not to order him around with chores and routines that have been left undone for far too long.  He’s tired.  His tolerance for the kids is too thin.  His fuse is short. Mentally he hasn’t really quit working yet, hasn’t reengaged with the family yet.

The adrenaline that has carried us for the last few weeks has left us in a spent heap.  We crash.  It feels like “post event depression” but it’s just exhaustion.  Loose ends must be tied up, receipts tracked on spread sheets and money accounted for.  Personal evaluations are processing in each of our minds.  How did this go?  What will we do differently next time?  How did we survive that?

The Cirque du Soleil contortions are over and the wet noodle exhaustion leaves us staring vacantly at the television that we haven’t touched in 24 days.  Is this a rerun of American Idol?  Who cares.  It’s going to take some work to get us pulled back into shape again.  It’s going to take a few weeks to get through all the episodes of House Hunters International that I have on the DVR now.  It’s going to be nice to be just us for a few days… then we do it all over again when the next team arrives.