53. Destination: Minnesota; Operation: Packing

Friday 11/12 thru Sunday 11/21- While we were super excited to be able to see friends and family while we were home and were hoping to fit in as many visits as we could, our main priority was organizing all of the things we had saved from before our move, shopping for and packing all of the household goods that we wanted to get in the US and send down to Costa Rica. That means this first week and a half would be packing and shopping, and then more shopping and more packing. And we weren’t going to allow ourselves time off until it was done because we were on a very tight timeline.

Now, when we were leaving MN I thought I did a reasonably good job of splitting up our winter clothes and storing some at Taryn & Steven’s house, and some at my mom & dad’s house. That way, depending on where we ended up first, we would have something warm to wear in case we ever came back when it was cold out (like this time!). Well, the first thing that we discovered was that I was WRONG and I did NOT do a good job of packing warm clothes at Taryn & Steven’s house! Yes, we had a bin of winter coats, snow pants, and boots at their house- but somehow we each only ended up with something like 1 hoodie, 1 sweater, and maybe a couple of pairs of socks in the bin in Monticello. Granted, we each came home in a pair of jeans and a hoodie that we had with us in CR (precisely for trips home like this), and we did bring home some underwear so we were good on that, but 1 set of warm clothes just wasn’t going to cut it. Since I knew we packed more, that must mean that the rest of it ended up at mom & dad’s house.

We spent our first few days back in MN shopping and packing. We would start out in the morning packing for a few hours, then we would go out and shop for things we needed for a few hours, then go back and pack for a few more hours. Since we only had our 1 pair of jeans each, we ended up wearing those any time we left the house, but hung out at home in shorts (because we did have a bin of extra summer clothes were for sending to Costa Rica on our next trip at their house). Brr! Have I mentioned that Minnesota is cold this time of year?! What were we thinking coming home in November!?

After a few days we got to the point where we had to pick up the things we had stored at mom & dad’s house so we borrowed Stevens truck and made a trip to Cold Spring. We were also sure that the rest of our jeans and hoodies were there, so we were excited to get a few more pairs of clothes for our rotation! When we got there we discovered we had stored more there than we thought we had and we would have a truckload to bring back with us. Man, we have a lot of stuff!! We found some warm clothes, we packed up all of our things that we wanted to bring back to Costa Rica with us, we somehow made it all fit into the truck, and we were able to chat for just a little while before we had to head back to our pallets and keep working.

Now, how long could this possibly take, you’re asking? Well, when shipping things internationally on a container ship, you have to have a very specific inventory listing. In order to make it through customs we had to make a spreadsheet for each pallet, broken down by box number, and then each specific item. If it is an electronic item, or something very specific, you need to include the manufacturer, the item number, and serial number if applicable. You also have to include an estimated value. If the item is brand new you have to have the exact price AND a copy of the receipt. It turns out that this type of inventory takes longer than just throwing everything in a box like you do when you are packing to move houses. We did get a pretty good system going where Ramie would pack the boxes, tell me what was going into the box, and I would do the data entry portion of it. In the evenings we would go back and assign values to everything and upload the receipts where necessary.

By Ramie’s birthday on 11/17 we started stacking the pallets just to see where we were space-wise. Prior to coming home we were trying to visualize how much stuff we had left back in MN, how much we had ordered and had delivered while we were in CR, and how much additional we would have to go buy while we were in MN. We were prepared for up to 5 pallets worth of stuff. We were absolutely thrilled when we were able to stack everything onto 2 pallets. This would save us some money, plus we were just glad we didn’t have that much stuff (it is kind of liberating to be free of “stuff”). While we weren’t completely finished packing and stacking yet, we were close enough that we called our shipper to schedule a pickup for early next week before Thanksgiving. The sooner our pallets made it to FL, the sooner they could get on a ship to us, and the sooner we would have our things for our house! They figure it takes about 6-8 weeks from the time it’s picked up in MN to the time it’s delivered in Uvita. There are at least a few weeks in December that all port operations shut down in Costa Rica for Christmas, so we were hoping to make the timing of these pallets work so that they weren’t sitting somewhere for a long time. Because of this shutdown, our shipper takes a few weeks break at the beginning of December from shipping any new pallets to avoid the stuff sitting around, so we were on a bit of a schedule with getting these ready to get out the door. 


Since it was Ramie’s birthday and good beef is so hard to come by in Costa Rica, Steven was kind enough to pick up some ribs and smoke them for the birthday dinner, they were fantastic! It’s too bad we won’t be able to make this for ourselves while we’re in Costa Rica!

We spent the next few days really finishing up and finally got it all shrink-wrapped by Sunday 11/21. We went from having a mess of things everywhere and many things that we still had to go shopping for to organized, listed, packed, packaged, and shrink wrapped in only 10 days! Now we were just ready for it to be picked up! 

We used 3 of these rolls of shrink wrap to make sure the things on our 2 pallets weren't going to go anywhere

During all of this packing we did have a chance to visit with Taylor a couple of times but we still didn’t allow ourselves too much socializing time. That would just have to wait. We also have been receiving updates on the house build from Geiner every week. They were moving so quickly on the house! We are getting so excited to see where it will be by the time we get back down there!!


Tuesday 11/23- after all of our chores were done we got to go up to mom & dads for an actual chance to visit. Nicole, Hieu & Elodie came up too and we got to spend a few days with the family that we haven’t seen in months.

Thursday 11/25- I was particularly looking forward to Thanksgiving at Grandma’s house. No one in the extended family knew that we were back in MN. I did my best to keep it a secret because I wanted to surprise the family when we showed up. We enjoyed the day with the whole big family and it was great to see them all again too!

Friday 11/26- Since we didn’t have a lot of time to spare, we headed up to Aitkin already on Friday to spend the weekend with Ramie’s family. We celebrated “Thanksgiving” together on Saturday and got to spend a great few days seeing his family.

Sunday 11/28 after a nice weekend up in Aitkin we headed back to Monticello. We only had a few days left in MN and we had to pack our suitcases full of all of the things we were bringing back with us on the plane. A combination of things for the house that couldn’t wait for the pallets to be delivered and things that couldn’t go in the container. In this whole pallet packing process we learned from our shipper that things like food, clothing, and toiletries (essentially anything that can go ON or IN your body) couldn’t be put in the shipping container, so these types of things would have to go in our suitcases. We had to be very strategic about this since we were only allowed a total of 4 checked bags at 50 lbs each (flying American this time instead of Alaska Air so we didn't have our extra suitcase capacity this time), our 2 carry-on items and our 2 personal items. We can pack a lot of stuff into a suitcase, but the weight limit is what is the most restrictive! You better believe that we packed our carry-ons as heavy as we could since they don’t weigh those!!

Oh– and guess what today is– It has officially been 6 months since we flew away to CR! It still doesn’t feel real to us! We still ask each other about once a week “can you believe we live here?!” Nope, I sure can’t!

Monday 11/29- We have been home for over 2 ½ weeks, we only have a couple of days left here- and this is the first day that we don’t have any actual plans. Either plans to work or plans to visit somewhere. Our pallets were supposed to get picked up today so we had to spend the day close to home anyway, but it was just nice to relax. I did have some work to do so I might as well get that done in my spare time! Well, the day came and went and the trucking company that was supposed to pick up our pallet never showed up! I forgot to mention it before but this happened last week before Thanksgiving already. This was their 2nd or 3rd scheduled day and it still hasn’t been picked up. We called the main shipper to tell them that their MN trucking company was failing us and he’s doing what he can to fix this. We were really hopeful that they would be picked up soon; if the pallets make it to Miami by this Thursday they will make it on the last shipment to Costa Rica for this year. Otherwise they would wait in a warehouse until after Christmas. Even if they get picked up tomorrow, what are the chances they would make it to FL in time? We were kind of bummed, but were assured that they would be picked up on Tuesday.

Tuesday 11/30-Today is our last day in MN. We spent the morning making sure we had everything packed to come back with us and everything that isn’t coming back with us put away and organized as well as we could in Taryn & Steven’s basement. Ramie got a message from Geiner today basically saying “I’m worried”. We didn’t know what was going on, so Ramie quickly tried to get a hold of him asking what he was worried about. He responded back with a photo showing that the walls of the house are going up and that the roof is on. He said that he’s worried that he will finish the house and no one will be here to live in it. Tico’s don't really use sarcasm very much, but Geiner sure does! It was a good laugh. Really though, Geiner was at a point building the house that he needed us for some decision making. Well, in my opinion, that is a very good thing to be worried about! And since we will be able to meet him down at the house on Thursday, he won’t have to wait too long for us to check things out. We were waiting and waiting all day for as long as we could for pallets to get picked up…. and the trucking company still didn’t show up!! After we couldn’t wait any longer, we messaged our shipper to deal with this again. It was early evening by the time we dropped Steven’s mom’s car off & went to stay at a hotel near the airport for the night. Tomorrow would be an early morning, our flight is at 6am!

Wednesday 12/1- 3am came early this morning. With our flight being at 6am this morning, we had to be at the airport at 4. We were hoping that since it was so early that the airport would be empty, unfortunately that was NOT the case! It was actually kind of a zoo this morning. We had a few hiccups with checking in for our flight this morning, and I think it had something to do with all of the problems we had when we were coming home. It took much longer to check in than we would have anticipated, but since we have TSA Precheck we sped right through security without any issues and made it to the gate about 20 minutes before they started boarding the plane. Fortunately none of our planes had any issues or delays and we made it all the way to Costa Rica without any major hiccups. During our layover we were in contact with both our shipper and Steven and found out that they finally fired the company back in MN that was supposed to pick up our pallets, hired a new company, and the new company was there to pick them up within less than 2 hours of getting the call. Well, at least our pallets are on the move now! They won’t be in FL by tomorrow to make the last shipment going out for the year, but at least they are out of Taryn & Steven’s garage now so they can have their space back! With this delay we are expecting that our pallets should probably arrive in Uvita sometime in mid- to late- February.

After landing in San Jose around 2:30pm we made our way to immigration. The line was unbelievably long. It took almost 2 hours to make it through. We were in contact with the company who stored our truck for the last 3 weeks. They showed up about a half hour after our arrival into the country, but because of the long lines in immigration they were patiently waiting nearby. They just needed a 5 minute heads up that we were walking out of the airport. FINALLY we made it through immigration and quickly found a porter. With this much luggage, hiring a porter saves a lot of hassle. We made it through the final customs checks and messaged the car company. We only waited outside for a few minutes before our truck showed up, we loaded up our suitcases, paid for the service and we were on our way back to Uvita.

As I’ve mentioned before, it’s over 3 ½ hour drive south and it was late by the time we got home! If you remember our last blog post, we had stripped the bed down, pulled all of the patio furniture in, and had everything closed up. When we got back to the house we just pushed the patio furniture back out the door, turned the water on, opened up the windows, and put the sheets on the bed and decided we would deal with the rest in the morning. We were ready for bed! I wanted to take a quick shower because I always sleep better when I’m clean, so I went to start the water– and it just STUNK! What was going on? We figured that it was just stale water that sat in the tank for a few weeks, so we turned on all of the faucets and the shower and let it run for a while. It may have gotten slightly better, but it still didn’t smell very good. We had a gallon bottle of water we could use for drinking & coffee in the morning, and we would just take a stinky shower and deal with it tomorrow. We were exhausted- and I don’t know about Ramie, but after another nearly 18 hour travel day, it felt good to lay down, even on the hard Costa Rican mattress! 


Welcome Home to Costa Rica! 

Pura Vida


  1. Nothing like a move to clean things up! Nothing like an International move to clean things up and say "good bye" to all you had known and done! This was a huge move for you and the future looks long and wonderful so once again I congratulate you for having the courage to pull this off.

    1. That's for sure!! You don't realize how much stuff you've accumulated until you are forced to look at every single item and evaluate whether it is something to keep or get rid of. Thank you so much for continuing to follow along on our adventure!


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