So I bet you’ve been wondering what kind of roof has been over my head here in Costa Rica . Or more importantly, more details about who I’ve been living with. Or maybe you haven’t. Bygones. I’m gonna tell you anyway.

When Julie first told me about my house parents, Natalia and David, she said they were like the “cool kids” on the block. The hip, young couple in the neighborhood.

Which, in fact, is totally true.

Natalia is twenty-six and David twenty-nine. Once I mentioned how they were my “house mom and dad” and Natalia immediately refuted, “Naaooo! You and me, we’re amigas!” David then cracked a joke about how I needed to ask permission to go hang out with Julie.

Natalia bucks the Tica trend with short, short hair and maybe-she’s-born-with-it makeup. And, she loves playing Guitar Hero. Especially with me.

David has a motorcycle. One of those need-for-speed Honda getups. I have, yes Mom, taken a ride on this thing – and man, did we fly. It was one night when David offered to give me a lift to Julie’s, which is a fifteen minute walk from the house. David said, don’t worry, we go slow. So of course, we scream up and down the hills, zipping through the blocks. I was hanging on by the whites of my knuckles and had molded my feet as best I could around the foot peddles. No sooner than we had started, we arrived at Julie’s front gate with a short skid of the tires. I jumped off the bike and yelled, “David, you said SLOW!” David said something to Julie in Spanish. She says to me, “Lauren, you were going like 40 MPH tops.”

A productive Saturday.

A productive Saturday.

Nice & Shiny

Nice & Shiny

Smile for your close-up.

Smile for your close-up.

Natalia and David (and me at the present) live in a cozy 2 bed/1 shower house with a combo dining/livingroom. The exclusively tile floors spill out of the front door and mesh into the concrete of the covered garage area. All of which is enclosed by tall fencing and barbed wire. Oh the barbed wire. Just about as easy to find in Costa Rica as a taxi in Manhattan.

Natalia & David's

Natalia & David's

Kitchen & Dining/Livingroom

Kitchen & Dining/Livingroom

My Bedroom

My Bedroom




Then there’s Rasta.

Oh Rasta, mi amor! (Sorry Kirk.) Rasta is part neighborhood mutt, part family dog. He floats around our street and a little beyond, but seems to be devoted to one of three houses in a tight group: mine, Olga’s across the street, and Candice & Aaron’s. Here’s a map:

Every day after lunch, when the heat is reaching its peak, Rasta comes galloping down the road toward our gate. I let him in, and he wags his big fluffy tail in helicopter motion, longing for a good massage. He’ll sleep on the cool patio tile until I head off for my afternoon shift at the project.

Rasta on the patio.

Rasta on the patio.

Rasta always gets our leftovers. One day Julie and I were making the trek from my house to hers. Rasta was trotting alongside us. I had a little shortbread cookie in my hand. I broke off a piece and threw it to Rasta, and he proceeded to sniff it – and nothing more. “Rasta!” I said, “I gave you the big half of my favorite cookie, and you don’t even eat it?!”

Apparently, he’s well taken care of by more people than we know, and has quite the refined palate to show for it. He’s a certified heart-stealer.

I gave Rasta a bath on Sunday. I hope he knew it was out of the kindness of my heart…

I don’t think he was amused.

Sometimes late at night I need to go use the wireless internet at the project. The gate is usually locked, so I sit on the ground just outside. The glow of my laptop both reveals and underlines the fact that I’m a gringo with an expensive piece of technology. Perhaps not the most ideal situation. Rasta, however, will accompany me on these not-so covert missions. He sits with me in the dark and I stroke his back with one hand and type with the other.

And the list has begun. The Everything-I’m-Going-To-Miss list.