Friday, January 17, 2014

My 9 month search for lampshades in Costa Rica

When we decided to move to AtenasCosta Rica from our small Texas town last year, we studied hard for over 1 year, learning everything we could about moving abroad. One of the important and expensive decisions was whether or not to bring our belongings and/or vehicle. We interviewed shippers and talked to other expats and teetered back and forth for quite a while. After weighing all the pros and cons, we decided to pack the old truck and as many valuables as we could fit into a 40' container and ship it all. It made sense for us because our truck was purchased at auction for a low price and we dropped a brand new engine in it making the value more than the import tax. We could never make the money back in Texas selling it since it was an older model and we could never purchase the same vehicle in Costa Rica for the cost of shipping, so the math made sense. I am very happy we decided to bring everything because it was like Christmas in July when our shipment arrived. After spending weeks in hotels and rentals, and an empty house for almost 2 weeks, we all jumped for joy when the delivery trucks showed up. The kids got their toys, bikes, costumes and books, Matt and I got our sleep number bed, much appreciated, and much more.
While I am sure many people have success with coming empty handed, we were so happy with our decision to bring our belongings. We really feel at home now and the kids were so happy to see some familiar furniture, I think it made a huge difference in our transition as a family. Our shipper was wonderful and his crew worked hard at unloading our treasures, but I wish I would have been more careful while packing. Our shipper, Charles Zeller, of Ship To Costa Rica, told us to wrap the vintage piano in a crate and we ignored him. We wrapped it in a blanket and the 70 year old basketweave backing has a hole in it. He told us to hire professionals in the states to pack the container with extreme care for an overseas voyage and we hired a cheaper company who did an ok job, but definitely not perfect, matching price with quality. I wish we would have listened to Mr. Zeller and taken heed to his 30+ years experience. Nothing was beyond broken and I am not even complaining, because we were so excited and nervous to begin our Costa Rica adventure, we took a few shortcuts to get here. The most damage was actually inside a few of my boxes. All my lampshades were crushed, but 2. All the lamp bases are in perfect condition, but all the shades were trashed. Now, normally this would not be a big deal, since these are easily replaced in Texas, but I am not in Texas anymore. I have been to several stores, most of which were referred to me by every Tica I meet, and to no avail, I can't find any lampshades or pantallas. There are many lamps sold, but never the shade by itself. Believe it or not, Walmart does not even sell shades. I decided to make the best of the situation and involve the kids in a fun art project. I have seen plenty of DIY shows and remember making paper mache things as a kid, so we gathered our art supplies, not too difficult to find: a large balloon, newspaper, flour and water to make a homemade lampshade.
The kids had so much fun and we made the ugliest lampshade ever. I sprayed it bronze and it even stunk a little, but over time, in the humidity, it began to take shape of its own, no longer the sphere it was when we finished. It began looking so ugly, we started making jokes about it. So here I am, about to give birth to a new baby girl, and I have 3 lamps with no shades. Lamps might not be important to some people, but to me, they are not only part of my nightly ritual, they are the light by which I read books. Every night, I go around the house and turn on some lamps for a soft glow, check for spiders, scorpions, snakes, whatever else might have crawled in during the day, and sit with a book while the family watches a movie. Currently, I have not had as much pleasure in reading because a lamp without a shade is blinding, not soothing. I have one more place to visit before I give up and buy all new lamps. We noticed an Ashley Furniture store on the highway to Escazu and, with any luck, I can buy some lampshades. If anyone living in Costa Rica, around the Central Valley, knows where I can purchase lampshades, please let me know. Until then, I am 9 months into my search for lampshades in Costa Rica. 

1 comment:

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