Mango Jam, Cousin Matt, & Migration Consideration

In the past few weeks, since the last blog posting, we’ve had some major decision-making moments.

We debated and thought much about living here in Costa Rica – and if so, full time or part time? We weighed the pros and cons, did a lot of research, and talked and talked and talked – with each other and with those who’ve taken the plunge, either full or part time.

Along the way, a few things happened.

We had about a week of intense wind. Branches flew off of the trees that held them. Dust floated in the air like fog. Road signs were removed from their spots. Roofing material decided that the ground was a better place to lie.

And mangoes dropped like bombs from the sky.

What to do with all those mangoes? Make jam, of course!

1½ – 2 cups peeled chopped RIPE mango
¼ cup sugar (or less, depending on taste preference)
Juice squeezed from ½ lemon

Cook over medium heat until it’s thick and the mango is mushy, about 20 minutes – stirring almost constantly to avoid sticking. Mash mango with a fork. Pour into jars, cool, and enjoy! Easy and soooooo delicious 🙂


As Corissa was making this sweet-smelling amber-coloured concoction, Jesse sat back, intently watching his bride.

“Have you ever made jam before??” he asked with amazement.

Has Corissa ever made jam before??!! What kind of a question is that!?

For those who knew Corissa before she met Jesse knows that she not only mastered the art of jam and jelly making, but successfully and precisely preserved many food items – especially those grown from her gardens of abundance.

Jesse hadn’t seen that part of Corissa yet – as we’ve been living in an apartment in Kingston, then in limbo while in Winnipeg, and now in a condo in Costa Rica. No gardens. And no place to store produce even if we could have preserved it.

The small act of making mango jam spurred on conversations about living simply … and about what each of us enjoyed doing in our lives prior to each other, and what we thought we would enjoy together as a couple. These conversations became lively and passionate as one idea would ignite another and another until we became quite excited over the life we could envision living together.

While we reexamined what living simply meant to us – as individuals – not surprisingly we found that the majority of our checkpoints matched perfectly. Check ✔

Part of this reexamination was figuring out if living in another country would allow fulfillment of the majority of our checkpoints, as individuals and as a couple … or could we match them while living in our home country of Canada.

This was a difficult process for us to go through, especially for Corissa as she has dreamed for over a decade of “living abroad” – specifically in Latin America.

All of Corissa’s checkpoints can be matched in Canada – except for that one: “no winter.” After peeling away the many many layers of this dream, she came to the conclusion that what she was really craving was a life without winter. For her, it came right down to weather. Winter takes such a toll on her, emotionally, mentally AND physiologically. Her dream to live in Latin America, and all that it encompassed – sunshine, warmth, ability to be more active, eat more fresh produce YEAR ROUND – was based upon her desire for enhanced health and wellbeing. The other benefits of living abroad, such as language and cultural learning, were like the icing on a cake – sweet welcome bonuses.

Jesse, on the other hand, could match all of his checkpoints while living in Canada. He doesn’t feel the need to escape winter, and has, in fact, missed some of the fun stuff Canadian winters can bring – ice fishing, snowmobiling, warming up by a fireplace with a steaming mug of hot chocolate, etc.

We’ve come to the conclusion that we won’t be able to make this one checkpoint mesh unless we both agree to “some winter.” What that looks like, we have yet to explore. But we know that purchasing a place here in Costa Rica to live 1-3 months out of the year doesn’t make sense – besides, there are soooooo many other places in this world to discover!

And Canada is a pretty great country … especially if we arm ourselves with our own defined mindset of living simply.

While we were figuring out some of this deep stuff, Jesse’s cousin Matt from Ontario came to visit with the intent to dive and surf. He was a great sounding board for some of our checkpoint issues, asking some important questions and encouraging us when we felt that we had reached a let’s-move-forward decision. Having Matt here was also great for Jesse – someone he loves from “home” with whom he could just hang out with and talk about anything and everything … or not say anything at all … with someone other than his wife 😉

Before Matt left, the three of us made a trip across the border to Nicaragua. This was an eye-opening experience that showed us what a lot of CR ex-pats have to do – most are issued a 90-day tourist visa which must be renewed by hopping across a border, typically Nicaragua or Panama (depending on which border is closest to where the ex-pat is living). The border-crossing experience was an adventure, to say the least! And costly, if one calculates transportation to get there and back plus all the entrance and exit taxes.

We spent 2 nights in Granada, taking in the sights, sounds, and smells of a Central American Spanish-Colonial city. The City’s architecture reminded us much of Cuba. The grand cathedrals, the streets lined with rows and rows of attached buildings, and the vibrant paint colours. We loved the food and drinks – and the cost of them. We could eat full meals, indulging in a few alcoholic beverages, for around $4-6 per person.





See a volcano in the background?



The BEST part was the volcanoes – we saw at least 3 on our drive to Granada. This is Volcan Concepcion.


We participated in the Volcan Masaya evening tour – hiking to the top of the volcano and peering down into the layers. The sulfuric gas (visible in cloud form) was quite thick and strong, but it dissipated just a bit for us to see further than most people get to see. Even our guide was excited at how much he could see!




And yes, the sunset overlooking the volcano was breathtaking…


We spent our last night in San Juan del Sur. This is a neat little coastal town, packed with a myriad of hostels for backpackers and surfers. We’d need to be there longer to find out what the draw to this town would be, except for cheap food and beer, and the surf – but it was good to see another Pacific Playa town. And, of course, the sunset didn’t disappoint! Incredible!




Traveling to another country affirmed in us that there is so much of this world we have yet to see and experience.

We leave here in less than 3 weeks, returning to Canada as our home base.

Will we come back to Costa Rica? Absolutely! When? Not sure.

What we do know is that the time spent here has been life-changing and we’re so glad we’ve done it 🙂

Mango Jam, Cousin Matt, and Migration Consideration … all part of this one pretty amazing (un)expected life. And we’re continuing to figure it out as we go along…

Thanks for reading and sharing in our journey!

Any questions, comments, concerns, encouragement? Drop us a note at the link “send us a message” above, private message us on Facebook, or email at cdlevair @

Hasta luego!