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Warmer than Canada

A Family Gap Year in the Era of Trump

Having Already Fled… to Costa Rica

In the summer of 2016, my family of four left the state of Maine and flew to Central America. Our tickets were one-way, and we each carried a single duffle bag and backpack. We were no strangers to international living:... Continue Reading →

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Packing and Comic Care Packages

Moving your family abroad for a year does not come without its challenges. In the month before we left, I wondered if all of the packing could possibly be worth it. Now that we're months into our stay in Costa... Continue Reading →

Nicaragua and Visa Runs

One of the highlights of our year has been our quarterly (and sometimes more frequent) trips north to Nicaragua. As we planned our year in Costa Rica, one problem presented itself almost immediately: everyone we spoke to recommended that we... Continue Reading →

Spanish in Monteverde

The other day I was chatting with a Tica friend about cultural adjustment. Though Costa Rican, this friend lived in California for decades. In her first months there, she cried every time a plane passed overhead, wishing she were in... Continue Reading →

Fútbol and Its Many Lessons

Sometimes being moved abroad by your parents for a year of "intercultural living and enrichment" is a drag. Gone are your Legos, your trusty bike and your favorite picture books; familiar friends and teachers are nowhere to be seen; and... Continue Reading →

Montezuma and Beach Hiking

My family has never excelled at sun bathing and beach sitting. I love the idea of stretching out in the sand and reading for hours, waves crashing right in front of us, but we have yet to actualize that dream.... Continue Reading →

Manzanillo and the Carribean Coast

Though famed Pan-Africanist Marcus Garvey was Jamaican, his start with political organizing happened not only on his island home, but also in Costa Rica. In 1910 Garvey moved to Costa Rica to work as a timekeeper on a United Fruit... Continue Reading →

Bijagua and Rio Celeste

The most stunning turquoise water imaginable--that's how I'd describe Rio Celeste. Just a few months after we moved to Monteverde, a friend showed us pictures of the mineral-infused river located in Tenorio Volcano National Park. This last February we finally... Continue Reading →

Arenal and La Fortuna

Last month the dry season had fully arrived in Monteverde—dust from the roads coated everything, our azalea bush was covered in magenta blossoms, Monstera and banana leaves drooped from lack of water, and instead of being defined by clouds and... Continue Reading →

Getting the Travel Bug

When I was in seventh grade, my parents pulled me and my brother from school for three months to travel through Spain, France, Ireland, Wales and England. We started with a car and a 10-day-long apartment rental in Spain, but... Continue Reading →

More Monteverde Gems

Even during a family gap year, when part of the mission is changing up our surroundings and aiming to see life with fresh eyes, we’ve found it easy to settle into routines. We often frequent the same local eateries that... Continue Reading →

The Monteverde Friends School–Bilingualism, Community and Good Folks

This year Liam and Reid are attending the Quaker school in Monteverde. As I mentioned in an earlier post, a group of North American Quaker pacifists moved to Monteverde in the 1950s after some of them were imprisoned in Alabama... Continue Reading →

Los Migrantes

An American friend living here in Costa Rica recently pointed out that more U.S. citizens live in Costa Rica than Ticos live in the United States. In 2012, Americans and Spaniards tied as the third largest immigrant groups in Costa... Continue Reading →

Forcing Spanish on My Kids

Moving abroad with children has its ups and downs, and there have been moments when I've doubted whether we were being fair to our kids, particularly as we threw them into a new language. For my youngest son, anxiety came... Continue Reading →

Just say sí!

I've already written here at Warmer Than Canada about the logistics of attending Spanish language school in Guatemala and described a day in our lives spent there last July, but two weeks ago the L.A. Times published my article: "Just... Continue Reading →

Monteverde Sister March

Here's to all of the marchers around the world who gave us so much hope this last Saturday at women's marches around the world. In Monteverde, we also broke records--nearly 250 marchers of many nationalities, ages, and genders popped out... Continue Reading →

Travel-Sized Games: Magic for Life on the Road

Travel involves patience and waiting, something kids (and thus their adult associates) don’t often enjoy. We’ve spent many an hour this year waiting for restaurant food to come, sitting on buses or ferries, and killing hours at hotels, on park... Continue Reading →

Monteverde, Beyond the Reserves

So, you've made it up the mountain to Monteverde and visited a cloud forest reserve or two, but now you're ready for something different. How about swimming in warm thermal pools, visiting an artist's workshop en route to fabulous views... Continue Reading →

Monteverde Reserves

During the week between Christmas and New Year's Day, tourism explodes here in Monteverde. For visitors looking for a tropical escape, the cloud forest offers a temperate, naturalist's wonderland, particularly ideal for those who want to be active outdoors but... Continue Reading →

Christmas Tamales

'Tis the season for rainbows, blustery wind, renewable bamboo Christmas trees, and a whole host of wonderful holiday traditions here in Monteverde. Many of the Monteverde Christmas traditions began with the arrival of the North American Quaker pacifists over 50... Continue Reading →

Nationalism without Militarism, a Lesson from Costa Rica

This month Costa Rica observed a unique national holiday, Abolition of the Army Day. I will admit to some confusion about the celebration after I spotted a sign at my kids' school  announcing El Día de la Abolición del Ejército.... Continue Reading →

Guatemalan Spanish School–the Logistics

You may have read my post describing a day in the life of a Spanish-language student in Guatemala. Or, perhaps you've been trying out some of my tips for free Spanish self-study at home and, now that you've begun, you're... Continue Reading →

Wilson and Other Winged Neighbors

Back in March when we signed the lease for our new house, sight unseen, in Monteverde, Costa Rica, our manager assured me the previous tenants hadn't had any pets. Given my allergy to cats, I was relieved. But then she... Continue Reading →

Guatemalan Spanish School: A Day in the Life of a Student

Ready for a true vacation or break from your regular routine? We loved our month of Spanish lessons, in conjunction with a home stay, in Guatemala. Consider this sample day to get a taste of the experience: 6 a.m.: Wake... Continue Reading →

Start Learning Spanish at Home

Before our family left for Central America, I was determined to have us get a jump start on learning Spanish. The trick is we live in white, rural Maine--not Los Angeles--so there was no turning to adult-ed classes, or a... Continue Reading →

American Political Dissent in Costa Rica

When we told friends back home we’d be living in Costa Rica for a year, many envisioned the beach and surfing (and probably rightly wondered exactly how many tubes of SPF 60 sunscreen my pale-skinned family would need to ward... Continue Reading →

Costa Rica’s Moto: Pura Vida

Literally translated into English, pura vida means “pure life,” but after only a few days in Costa Rica, you’ll notice the meaning of pura vida is multifaceted. Ticos, as Costa Ricans refer to themselves, use pura vida in all sorts... Continue Reading →

Choosing the Right Country

There are many financial and logistical questions involved in planning a family escape abroad, but there's also the difficult question of where. The following article explains how our family settled on Monteverde, Costa Rica. We hope this outline of our... Continue Reading →

Why Take the Family Abroad?

Many of the benefits of family life abroad are immeasurable, but let's take a moment to consider some specific advantages for children, parents, and the family as a whole. Why Take Your Kids Abroad? First off, taking young children abroad... Continue Reading →

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