Planning Your New Life in Costa Rica and Making Plans for the End of Your Life Too…

Before the serious stuff, I’m pleased to say the Queen’s Birthday Party in San Jose was a huge success with a huge turn-out on a glorious day.

Over US$20.000 was raised for schools in Costa Rica, so rewarding for the stalwarts who organize this annual event. We’ve just enjoyed the Royal Wedding too – up at 3.00 a.m. to watch it live, loved the pomp and pageantry that UK does so well, got all nostalgic for the sights and sounds of London, and had a load of laughs with the silly hat parade.

Catherine was stunning and Oh! So natural, this young couple feel like a breath of fresh air in our somewhat stuffy monarchy.

Midst the fun, we’ve had sadness too with the death of our dear friend, Charles, who’s been a much loved member of the expat community for many years. I could write lots about his illness but there are too many sensitivities; suffice to say that, sadly, he colluded with a myriad of spurious diagnoses and kept delaying the investigations he needed.

When colon cancer was finally diagnosed, he returned to the US to have surgery near his family and although that was successful, with the added complication of serious heart disease, he didn’t make it. His determination to be back in ‘three weeks’ didn’t work out; we’re all desperately saddened and miss him greatly.

At Christmas, his decline was so serious I had an ‘end of life’ discussion with him. Essential questions – who knew where to contact his family; should he pass quietly at home, who had keys and access to his home; what were his wishes for his funeral; who would take care of his estate, and were there mementos he wished to leave to people who had been important in his life.

Subsequently he did do more of that ‘planning’ but as he died in the USA, his final important wishes have been confused and compromised.

I know it’s a morbid subject but the truth is, none of us know when our number might be up. I had sleepless nights about killer bees and driving off scary mountain sides when we came here… that passed, but though we have a Will, we still haven’t done the list of who we want to inherit precious little momentos, and if we died together (say in a road accident) no one would know what our final wishes were. Its an issue for all of us, no matter how old you are, either here, or coming to live in Costa Rica, far away from family members.

So far, we’ve registered with the British Embassy, so they have details of next of kin. And we have information in our vehicles saying (in Spanish) ‘if the body is this car is unconscious or dead and matches this passport photograph, the blood group is X and please contact…’

Blood type and organ donor status are included on a Costa Rican driving licence but this kind of information can be critical for emergency services if you don’t yet have the licence.

Not much really, there’s more to be done – first step? Stop prevaricating and pretending it won’t happen.

I want a bottle of whisky, a Scottish pipe band and a little blue pill to slip into peaceful oblivion when the money runs out, but I doubt it will happen like that. Perhaps the best we can do is take whatever steps are necessary to make sure our wishes are known, and at the least, that we don’t leave our friends and neighbours with painful confusion.

We’re going to have a bumper crop of Malay apples, not much on their own but terrific in a pie with raisins and cinnamon sugar. Charles loved that pie, my first one is going to generate some tears.

Written by VIP Member Sheelagh Richards. Sheelagh is originally from Scotland and her husband John who is from Wales are two inveterate British travellers who fell in love with Costa Rica, the beauty of the Talamanca mountain range and the perfect climate of the Rio General valley where they have established a small Bed & Breakfast called Casa de Los Celtas.

You can see more about John and Sheelagh’s very affordable B&B outside San Isidro here and photographs and prices here and you can also see a free online video interview with John & Sheelagh Richards here.

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