Monthly Archives: March 2014

Where there is smoke…..Update

Well I put out my 1st fire today. I was sitting at our favorite restaurant Kay’s Gringo Postres here in Atenas when someone said, “I smell smoke.” Now here is the bad part none of us gave it a second thought. We continued to talk and have our lunch. Suddenly one of the patrons looks over and points and says fire. We all turn and sure enough the fire we were smelling was right next door. So I look and go for my extinguisher that I have in my car. As I go to get it I notice people walking past it looking and moving on. Cars driving past and just slowing down looking and moving on. So I go over and put the fire out. Did my good deed for the day. I save Kay’s and the Caja as it was on their property that the fire was going to burn down. Now I have to get that damned extinguisher filled! :-) 

Pura Vida!

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Vacation

So I shall be going on vacation from Friday 3/27 until Sunday April 6th. When I return I should have a huge review to write. We are going on a cruise and I will be reviewing a new ship. Now keep in mind I get nothing for these reviews. No compensation no freebies nothing. So they will always be honest opinions.   Thanks and see you all when I get back. 

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Dogs and Cats and Birds Oh my!

Freckles! Or as we like to call him "Fat Boy"

Freckles! Or as we like to call him “Fat Boy”

OH a dog, cat or bird OK. No wait someone asked to bring a pig? A pig is harder than a bird to get in if you even can. Traveling with you pets no matter if you are coming just for a visit or to live here can be a challenge. Is not only getting them here a bit  of trouble once here there are many things you will have to look out for. This blog is going to document our journey from the US to Costa Rica with our dogs. Here are some pictures of our current Fur Family.

This is what we see when we pull up into our car port and they are out in the back yard. Aren't they just so cute!

This is what we see when we pull up into our car port and they are out in the back yard. Aren’t they just so cute!

This was Shadow she recently passed from a heart condition that no one knew she had. she was my little fur baby girl.

This was Shadow she recently passed from a heart condition that no one knew she had. she was my little fur baby girl.

Ginger

Ginger

Bubbles

Bubbles

Freckles

Freckles

Gizmo

Gizmo

Leeloo

Leeloo

Pixy

Pixy

Dobby one of our Local Rescue dogs we adopted.

Dobby one of our Local Rescue dogs we adopted.

Bella

Bella

Nina another rescue dog we adopted.

Nina another rescue dog we adopted.

Pepper

Pepper

So Pepper, Ginger, Dobby, Pixy and Nina we got here in Costa Rica one way or another and the rest we brought down from the United States back in March of 2012. So a total of 6 dogs we brought with us. So that is our current fur family! I know crazy right? It has its moments of joy, sorrow and “OH MY GOD!” We love them all. I can’t speak to bringing down cats, but I am told pretty much the same process as I am about to talk about. Now Birds I have been told are worse and hard and unless you love that bird with all your heart and soul and think of it as a son or daughter you may want to rethink about bringing it down. Again I can’t speak directly to what is involved, but we have a friend who brought his African Grey down and the long stories of what he had to do and the issues he has here as no vet in Atenas knows how to take care of an African Grey.  So lets get to it shall we.

What is needed to bring down your dogs and or cats? 

Now, before I even begin I need to tell you the rules are always changing so what I type here is what we had to do. Depending on when you do it the rules could be different. So be sure to check before you bring them! Once you have get it all done quickly before they change it again. You are going to need proof of vaccinations and you are going to need certification statements and everything is all about the timing of things. Dogs need to be vaccinated against distemper, hepatitis, Leptospirosis, parvovirus and rabies and Cats just need rabies. Now the vaccinations have to me more than 30 days old, but not more than a year. We had an issue with 2 of our dogs as we had given them 3 year rabies vaccinations and they were in their 2nd year. So it had been longer than a year, so they would not accept that, even though it was a 3 year and they still had over a year left on their certificate. It really is all about the timing people so pay close attention to those details. You are also going to need a health certificate from a properly licensed veterinary. Not all vets can do this health certificate. Ours could not so we had to take them somewhere else. It has to say at minimum that your pet was examined and found to be healthy and free of any clinical signs of infectious disease. I know any vet should be able to do this one. Not sure why ours couldn’t. It is what it is. The health certificate also needs to be endorsed by the US Department of Agriculture as well. If I were you I would make sure I had at minimum 3 copies of everything just to be on the safe side. You will also need an international health certificate form 7001 from  Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). This is a lot of stuff to do! Now I am going to tell you we looked into all of this and it scared the crap out of us. We were so afraid that we may screw up and not dot an i or cross a t and we would be stuck when we got here. So we went with a service to get this all done. We paid for door to door service. Since we had the vaccination issues of the whole 30 days thing our dogs could not travel with us. We left the states in Feb. and they followed 30 days later in March. So we were not there to bring them. The door to door service at Capital Pet Movers was a god send!  Yes it was a bit costly, but they took care of all of the above. Picked up our dogs at the the house in the States, put them on the plane, sent us tracking information all along the way so we knew where they were and had someone pick them up here and bring them right to us to our house in Atenas. It cost about $9K for 6 dogs. Now the crate is a bit of a challenge and things get a little more sticky if you have a larger animal. The crate has to be the size big enough for your pet to stand and turn around in. Larger dogs and larger crates create a problem on some airlines. I have heard some horror stories of pets dying while being transported and being left on hot tarmac’s and just all manner of stuff. Again which is why we went with a service to be sure they were taken care of properly. Another concern is how well your pet travels? If they have to be sedated to travel the airlines will not take them. They do not want the responsibility should something happen to your pet because of the medication. If you have one small pet and bring them on the plane with you in the cabin its a little easier from the shipping stand point. Larger or more dogs becomes more complex and more problematic. There are issues with time of year and heat and water and food and all kinds of stuff. So do your research with each airline as each one is different.

Bringing you pet back to the US

It is pretty much the same process. You will need a Certificate of Good Health from your veterinarian in Costa Rica and an authorization issued by the Costa Rican Ministry of Agriculture. There are some stamps you will need and there are fees that will need to be paid to the country. The vet you use should know all of this information and help guide you better than I can on this point. My suggestion is if you are not coming here to live with you pets don’t bring them. Now if you are going to be here for a month or two or 3 then maybe.

Things you should know that we did not know about having pets in Costa Rica This is a beautiful country and you pets are going to love it here as much as you do, but there are hazards here that we did not have in the states. We knew about some but not all of them. Not that if we knew would we have done anything different, but we may have planned our life here a little better for our animals.

Lets start with fleas and ticks. Oh my god the ticks were so bad here! Our poor dogs in a matter of a week were covered in them. We had them treated before they left the states, but it was horrible! We were grooming and picking anywhere from 5 to 15 a day off every dog. So we got a fumigator. Well no change we picked one who didn’t have  a clue what he was doing so our hunt for a new one began. We talked to people and looked online and searched and finally found one who was amazing! We also got our vet involved and we got shampoo and collars. I didn’t think collars did anything really, but they do! They were great! It did cause some issues which I will talk about later.

Cane Toad this one is a small one! They get much bigger!

Cane Toad this one is a small one! They get much bigger!

Toads! this is a big problem here in rainy season! Toads can kill your small pets and large. They are very dangerous! Dogs love to play with them and lick them and bit them. If they do they will die within 15 minutes if you do not get them treatment. Now I have heard that if you use milk or a honey, milk and egg combo or seltzer water or a number of other things you can save you pet. To many stories what our vet says is to wash out their mouths as quickly as you can with running water and do not let the dogs swallow the water. Use a tooth brush to clean their mouth out. Be sure to wash any area that may have gotten venom on it and get them treatment as quickly as possible. Which isn’t always easy as Atenas doesn’t have a 24/7 vet here. The closest is in Santa Ana about a 20 minute drive if you speed and the best is in Heredia about 30 minutes if you speed. So 15 minutes just won’t work out. So vigilance is the key! Night time I go out and check the yard and KILL yes I said KILL any toad I find and dispose of it before I let the dogs out. They are only out a short time to do what they need to and then brought back in. Walking 10 dogs on a leash is not an option. I will leave the details of how they meet their ends out of this post. Know I try to make it as painless as possible.

Bady fer-de-lance we found right on our deck outside our living room. Just glad the dogs were not running out the door at the time we opened the doors.

Bady fer-de-lance we found right on our deck outside our living room. Just glad the dogs were not running out the door at the time we opened the doors.

Snakes are pretty much in the same category as the Toads with the exception of there is an anti venom available to give to your pets. Depending on if it is an adult or baby determines how much time you may have to get them to the vet. Again see above about vets. You may want to check to see what you local area vet has to offer and where the closest 24/7 one is to you. You do not want to do that drive at night, in the rain, in a panic the 1st time.

Scorpions are less dangerous of the things here in Costa Rica that can harm you pet. I think it is the least out of all of them even the ticks are more dangerous and I will tell you why next. Ticks carry a disease call Ehrlichiosis. The following comes from the CDC website. Ehrlichiosis is the general name used to describe several bacterial diseases that affect animals and humans. Human ehrlichiosisis a disease caused by at least three different ehrlichial species in the United States: Ehrlichia chaffeensis,Ehrlichia ewingii, and a third Ehrlichiaspecies provisionally called Ehrlichia muris-like (EML). Ehrlichiae are transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected tick. The lone star tick (Amblyomma americanum) is the primary vector of both Ehrlichia chaffeensis and Ehrlichia ewingii in the United States. Typical symptoms include: fever, headache, fatigue, and muscle aches. Usually, these symptoms occur within 1-2 weeks following a tick bite. Ehrlichios is diagnosed based on symptoms, clinical presentation, and later confirmed with specialized laboratory tests. The first line treatment for adults and children of all ages is doxycycline.  Ehrlichiosis and other tickborne diseases can be prevented. Now what they just said for humans can be applied for dogs. They get the same symptoms. They can not communicate to you that they have a majority of them, so what you look out for is fever, fatigue and limping. If you dog starts to manifest any of these and you have pulled a tick off of them get them to a vet asap. They can go down hill quickly. Since you don’t always see it in the dogs they could have had the symptoms for some time. We almost lost 3 dogs to this disease as we were uneducated on it and what to look for. We have a great vet Doctor Salono here in Atenas and we love, love, love him! We fumigate 2x a year our entire property inside and out. We do it just before rainy season starts and just before dry season starts. That has helped, but still doesn’t stop it all. Ticks and fleas are rampant here. Our wonderful fumigator is highly trained and knowledgeable. He showed us how to prune our plants and grass to help with keeping scorpions away and snakes. He has given us advise on all manner of things to do. Make sure you keep a dirt barrier of about 1 to 2 feet from any surface. The creepy crawlers like to hide in the grass and travel that way, and if they come to dirt they tend to turn around. All your shrubs should be trimmed a the bottom about a foot from the ground. Again removes the hiding places. All drains should be capped off with wire mesh so as to not allow entrance into your property. If you want to be very diligent you can build walls. Just make sure there are no trees that over hang the wall or snakes can get in that way. Now I have also been told to plant Garlic grass as it will keep the snakes and toads away they don’t like it. I have also been told to throw moth balls around the property where the dogs can not get them. So this rainy season I am going to try both and let you know what happens. Now we have used the collars and we have also used two controversial items to help keep the fleas and ticks off our dogs.  Our vet comes every 2 months and injects our dogs with Ivermectin and imizol. Look them up and educate yourself about them and use or not. I also use a little minced garlic in their water and that seems to help a good bit as well. We have been told to give them a bath once a week in dawn dish soap and we are going to start that as well. Our dogs health is one of the most important issues for us here in Costa Rica. Its a tricky thing here to keep these creatures out. So diligence is you best defense to keep you pets safe. So lets wrap this one up as well. Educate yourself, be diligent and take all precautions you can while traveling or living with you pets in Costa Rica. Know where you vets office is and where a 24/7 hospital is. Keep these things in mind and you could save your pets life! Lets end this with a nice video of out dogs playing in the yard shall we. Hope you enjoy it!

Pura Vida!

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Restaurant Review: Restaurante La Finca

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is a little restaurant in the town of Sarchi called Restaurante La Finca. Here are the directions:

 I could not find a web page for them but did find a four square page so that is the link I used. We decided to finally make it to Sarchi after being here almost a year and check out some of the furniture shops. Well we go a bit hungry and decided to stop in this place. We are so glad we did. The food was excellent. The place was clean and nice and it had a great view. The prices were reasonable and some were down right cheap for the amount of food you got. All of it tasted very good! A picture is worth a thousand words so lets see that food porn shall we!

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Now doesn’t all that look good! I know it tasted good! Granted that wasn’t all my food, but my friends said it was all really good. Now I will have to say as you can see the salad wasn’t anything to rave over. It was OK just lettuce, tomatoes and palmetto.

So to wrap this one up, food was good, prices were fair if not cheap on some items, place was clean and had really nice bathrooms. So all in all I give them 4 seashell1out of 5. I took off some points as the salad wan’t that great.

Pura Vida!

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Review: Tabacon Hot Springs

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATabacon Hot Springs at the base of Arenal Volcano and is a beautiful place. The jungle feel and the warm waters is a great way to spend the day. You can check out their resort by following the following link. We did not spend anytime at the hotel portion, but you should know that the hotel and the Hot Springs are in different locations. They are not far and from what I could see they have  a shuttle service that takes you back and forth.

There is a spa on site, but we did not use it facilities either. We were so enjoying the environment and the waters the time just got away from us. The picture to the left was just one of many streams you are allowed to get in and splash around. There are so many of them. The place is huge and so beautiful! There are sitting areas and there is even a bar way deep in the middle of the place. It was so nice! We found it by accident on our second trip there. Yes we have been there 2 times so far we liked it that much.

There is a restaurant on site which had some pretty good food. We were there for lunch and ti was a buffet style meal. The food can be included with the price of admission and I think it only adds $10 per person. The buffet is well worth $10. Here are some pictures of the food they had to offer.

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There was another section of food that was all closed trays. It was all the hot entrees. They had beef, chicken, pork, and fish. There was also a pasta section as well. The food was very good! I loved the salad bar! I always love a good salad bar!

There we so many place to get into the water. I’m just going to let the pictures of the place speak for themselves here. So check them out.

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These are just a few pictures the place is huge and it is wonderful! We were there 2x in a month. We went once on Xmas even and than again with friends a week or so later. Now most people will go and stay the night and I didn’t understand why until our trip with our friends. Our 1st trip we left early and got there around lunch time. Went in had lunch and then explored the pool and rivers. We finished and were completely exhausted by like 2 or 3pm so we left to head home. It was great. The drive there was about 3 hours from Atenas, but I did get lost a bit. I think the drive home was about 2 1/2 hours.

Now the 2nd time we went with friends we left a little later and stooped along the way for lunch instead of at the Hot springs. So we were there much later and we left around 4:30 to head home. Well that was a mistake! It gets dark, and foggy, and very dangerous in my opinion to drive. The roads are twisty and windy and some are just horrible. It took us about 4 to 4 1/2 hours to get home as I was driving very slowly and very cautiously.  So if you plan on driving there and back leave early and give yourself plenty of time and leave at about 3pm. N o later or you could be in trouble. Unless you like white knuckle driving! Which I don’t.

So lets warp this one up. Price reasonable for the day and the meal, food was excellent, the waters were wonderful. The staff was helpful and friendly. So I give this resort 5 seashell1out of 5! I don’t do this often, but this place deserves it! Without a doubt!

Pura Vida!

 

Categories: Costa Rica Life Experience, Food, Restaurant Reviews, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

I love this little town!

Originally posted on Keeping You In Stitches:

Headed into town shortly after noon today to go to the Post Office and a few other places.

Stopped at the P.O. and voila!  I had a small package…..so exciting!  There were 4 males and one female in the P.O. laughing like crazy.  Two of the men were laughing so hard, their shoulders were shaking – you couldn’t help but giggle at them. I have no clue what they were laughing at; but, it was infectious!!!  Smiles were all over in the P.O. this afternoon.

Then I headed to Dra. Victoria’s to get my glasses adjusted. She was really busy!!!

Saw Julie and Norman next door at Dennis’ and Gerardo’s….said they had finally recovered from Bunky’s party on Monday.

Then on to Coope…as I was checking out, the checker grinned and acted like she was sniffing the air – you could hear raindrops on the roof; not enough to get…

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Fun thing to do within 3 hours of Atenas

These are just a few things to do. If you know now more please comment in the comment section and let us know what you think is fun to do in and around Atenas! I can’t wait to see your comments.

Pura Vida!

 

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Restaurant who knows how to treat regulars!

Every now and again you find a place you love to eat at. We love La Trocha. Every now and again for some really good customers they host a Breakfast and Frank serves up this amazing egg casserole and the most delicious gallo pinto I have ever tasted! They are wonderful owners and operators and really know how to treat customers! My greatest thanks to them for including us and serving us that wonderful treat!

If you have not been you really need to go. Great food, good prices, great owners and just a wonderful experience. Be prepared to bring you Spanish, but if you don’t speak Spanish don’t let that stop you! You will love it! Again thank you!

Pura Vida!

 

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Dust in the wind

*Cue the music All we are is dust in the wind. All we are is dust in the wind! So moving and or visiting Costa Rica? Well Dust in the wind is what you will experience during dry season. This picture has nothing on the amount of dust that carries in the air during Dry season. So if you are thinking of moving here keep this in mind.

When we 1st got here back in Feb. 2013 we were in the heart of dry season. Every morning I would wake up, grad the bucket, mop and cleaner and mop all the floors. I would than walk from room to room and dust off the furniture. This went on for 4 months. I finally said enough is enough. No sooner did I finish a room the room I cleaned before was already covered in dust and would need to be done again. So I decided I would do it in the morning and that is it. I was doing it all though the day as well. It was driving me crazy. Then in March of 2013 our Dogs joined us. We had 6 of them shipped down. They were small dogs, but still 6 of them. Not too bad except the dust now increased as they started to run around and track more of it in. So the only days I got a break was on Mondays and Fridays when the housekeeper comes.

Pixy clean

Pixy dry season

So flash forward to June and the rainy season and the addition of 2 more dogs. So now we are up to 8. If you think dry season was bad rainy season is even worse!!!! Dust has now become mud!!!!!!! We now have a total of 10 dogs and them running in and out all day during rainy season is insane! My moping increased as now I had to keep changing the water in the bucket as I was moping up mud not just dust. I did this for about another month and then I said to myself, “Self you are nuts and this is nuts!” I stopped cleaning it up all the time. As a friend once said in dry season you get a new condiment while eating “Dust”. During rainy season you get use to washing your feed off every night before bed. They are going to be muddy. Just no getting around it.

Pixy rainy season

Pixy rainy season

So it really doesn’t matter if you come here during dry season or rainy season you are going to have to deal with dirt either dry or wet dirt, but you are going to have to deal with it. The best defense against this is Pura Vida. If you are worried about what your friends and family will think when they come to visit don’t. Are they coming to visit you or are they coming to see your house? If it matters to them they can stay home. Now if you are one of those clean and neat people who has to everything cleaned up all the time you may want to rethink coming here.

Now if you live in an area where you use A/C this isn’t as bad. Yes you still have it but when you run the A/C the house is closed up. Most houses here are not even built to be closed up. Our house has so many openings in windows and doors and cracks and such that even if we wanted to put in A/C it wouldn’t work. I would have to seal up a room to do it. Really here in Atenas it isn’t needed. We live in the outdoors while inside. Our doors and windows are open all the time. The breeze blows and cools us off. The sun shines in the house and no need for light until night fall. Dirt is the only draw back to this beautiful aspect of living here.

So lets wrap this one up shall we. Costa Rica + sun +rain +  wind = dirt everywhere! Its just a fact of life. If you can’t deal with that might want to pick somewhere else or pick an area like the beach where you will be using a/c all the time. That will cut down on the dirt. So get out there and play in the dirt and mud and have a ball!

Pura Vida!

 

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Tardis Travel Agency!

Tardis Travel Agency!

OK so if you have not read my post about a Visa run this won’t make any sense to you. Sorry go read it 1st and come back to this one. I will wait…OK waiting….Just a little longer….OK come on you can read faster than that! Oh well I’m gonna start without you and you can come back to me later. :-) 

We went on one in Jan. and we have to leave again before April the 11th. So this time we thought OK lets do something worth wild this time. So we decided we wanted to do a cruise. So I contacted this company and let me tell you Mrs. Carpenter was amazing! Found us flight, cruise and hotel so quick! It was amazing. All this we dropped on her at the last minute. How can you not just love the name! Its great! I love Doctor Who so I will be using her every time we have to go away. Even when we need to go back home to the states I will just let her do it all for us. 

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Zap! Bang! Ouch my toe!

Isn’t that just a wonderful picture? So todays blog is going to be about power outages in Costa Rica. Yes Virginia there is a power outage fairy living and loving Costa Rica. Why not it is a great place to live so the outage fairy came here as well. The truth be told my power went out more in the States in my little town of Westminster than it has here, but it does happen just as it happens everywhere in the world.

Some of the biggest reasons for power outages are Storms like the one in the picture above, high winds, fires, and last but not least upgrades. Costa Rica’s power infrastructure isn’t the best in the world. It isn’t the worst either. In the states the average cost per kw is 12.9 cents. Here in Costa Rica it is 32 cents. That is a huge difference.  It is estimated that about 93% of their power comes from renewable sources such as wind, solar, hydro and such. So one would think it would be cheaper. So I looked into this. It seems from my research that Costa Rica owes the world bank a huge debt to maintain its current infrastructure. The price is what the price is. If you wish to come here and use A/C all the time you may want to rethink where you are going to live and the need for A/C. I was an A/C hog back in the states. I use to keep my thermostat set at 65 all year round. We never opened up our home and it was horrible, but I didn’t know that until I started to live here in the Central Valley where it is the perfect climate and I have no need for A/C. We like to say we live indoors, but outdoors at the same time. Its great! So back to my point.

During the rainy season we do get more outages than I would like, but they are quick and painless. I think the longest my power has been out due to some natural interference has been 6 hours. The shortest was 20 minutes. I do have to give them credit in that when it goes out rain, sun, or wind they are out trying to restore the power. I have seen them on poles in the pouring rain with lighting flashing all around trying to restore power. It is insane, but I want to thanks them for their service. Many people complain about the power outages. I look at them as natures way of telling me to unplug and go enjoy the day!

During the dry season it isn’t as bad. No rain and no lightning. There is however high winds and fires. So far this year I can only contribute one outage to fire and none to high winds. It was not out that long, but only because they had to get the fire under control 1st and then they could repair the electric. Which they did both very swiftly I might add.

The hardest part for me and the only reason I would even think about a generator here is when it goes out in the middle of the night. Back home it went out so many times I install a very large propane generator. I have a condition called sleep apnea. It is a condition which requires me to use a machine while I sleep to keep air flowing into my lungs so I get the proper amount of oxygen while I sleep. Now when the power goes out I no longer had the use of this machine. Back in the old country as a lot of expats like to call their originating country, I had to have a generator our power went out so many times and could be out for days. If I sleep without the machine it puts my life at risk from not breathing and my wife killing me from the snoring! :-) I am still thinking of adding a small battery backup system to keep my bedroom powered while I sleep so I live though the night and my wife doesn’t go to jail for murder. :-)

So lets wrap this one up. If you are coming to Costa Rica either to live or to visit expect that you are going to have power outages. You can be thankful if you don’t get one while you are here, but know you might. If you are living here you will have them and electric is going to cost you. Make sure the house you buy its electrical systems is done well. Try to use as little as possible. It will save your pocketbook. So if the power does go out unplug, go outside and enjoy the day. When you return it will be back on no doubt and if it isn’t read a book, sit in the sun or breeze, meditate and just relax! All things will return to normal in time.

Pura Vida!

Categories: Costa Rica Life Experience, Travel | 2 Comments

A new writer for the Blog

ImageSo a friend of mine is starting up a business. She is called The Food Chick. She makes some wonderful food! She has been a partner in one restaurant and owned another in MD. She just recently got married and her husband is a chef as well, with his own restaurant. So she closed her restaurant to help him out in his so they can spend more time together. She wants to start up a cooking show, but 1st we want to get her to come in and blog some wonder meal ideas. I’ve convinced her to blog a meal prep to plate and it should be 20 min. or less. She will include pictures and reviews from those who sample the meal. So give her some love and like her Facebook page and cheer her on as she starts a new chapter in her life. Please encourage her to do some YouTube video’s! Here is the link to her Facebook page. 

https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Food-Chick/109929182384033

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Father and Son Jam

This video was just too cute not to share. Sorry I know it isn’t on topic of the blog, but its cute.

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Smoke and Haze

Smoke and Haze

Fires burn in Atenas and smoke and ash fill the air. This is Dry season In Costa Rica. Today 5 fires are burning in our little town. What will tomorrow bring?

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“He who joyfull…

“He who joyfully marches to music rank and file, has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would surely suffice. This disgrace to civilization should be done away with at once. Heroism at command, how violently I hate all this, how despicable and ignoble war is; I would rather be torn to shreds than be a part of so base an action. It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder.” Albert Einstein

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Buffering….Buffering…Buffering

netflix-bufferingThis is a screen that many of us in Costa Rica are use to seeing. this blog I am going to be talking about the internet, providers, and various services and tips to help you navigate the world wide web  in Costa Rica. There are a lot more then you would think. In my little town of Atenas we have I.C.E., Cabletica, Crwifi, Metrowireless, Kolbi, Sky, and Claro. Other areas have other services like Tigo, Japi, and many others. I can’t speak to all of these services in this blog, but I will try to touch on them all. I will however speak to a couple that I am using and testing here in Atenas and what others have said about them.

So where to start? Lets start with what services like Neflix you can get in Costa Rica. NONE! Nope None! Well that isn’t true. You can get a modified version of US Netflix in Costa Rica. You however can not get any of the major TV stations like ABC, NBC, CBS, etc. You can nto use amazon or hulu either. Now wait before you say, “Oh hell no I am not moving to visiting Costa Rica!” There is hope. There are a number of services you can use that will make it look like you are in the US or some other country. Is this legal well lets just say no one is coming after anyone yet so it seems to be a big business. I have tried two of these services. One I was happy with and than Hulu and Amazon figured it out and I could not use them any more. The other I have been with and happy for a long time now. That service is called unblock-us. Don’t let the name fool you as it unblocks everywhere. I watch BBC shows from Costa Rica using this service. It is seamless and I have not experience any slowdowns. Some of these VPN services slow your system down and you are already going to be slower then you are use to so you don’t want this. Now some of these services say they are free, but they are not. Don’t be fooled. Nothing in this world is free. unblock-us at the time of this cost $4.99 a month. It is well worth the price. If you are tech savvy you can change your router settings and every device in your network will be able to access any and all services anywhere in the world. You can also use it to change settings on your device as well. This is great! Lets say you go to the local Cafe and want to stream a movie while you are there. If you don’t have the settings on you device then it won’t work. This service allows you to do both ways! Its great! I am not being paid to say this. It is the service I use and I love it!

So now you know you can get these services with a little help from our friends. Now you need to decide what is the speed you need?  Back in the states I had over 175Mbps dowloand and 75Mbps upload. I was a faster is better type of person. Get that the hell out of your head now! You are not getting those speeds in Costa Rica. You are not even going to get close.

Now my history. I am a huge gamer. I play everything from Facebook games to MMORPG’s like WoW, Rift, ST:TOR, Guildwars, etc. Right now my main game is Rift. So yes with the right provider and speed you too can still game. Don’t expect a FPS of 27 or a ping rate below 100. I do everything from PvP to Dungeons and raids and have little to no issues. So what are  you going to do? I game, stream video, take video conference calls, skype, use vonage (us phone number), and I have even live streamed to Facebook my dogs playing in the back yard! :-) So yes there is hope! You may do some of these things or all of these things. You can do them. So here is a chart that explains what they say you need to use these services.

Note: Internet speeds listed represent Download speeds.

0.5 Megabits per second – Required broadband connection speed

1.5 Megabits per second – Recommended broadband connection speed

3.0 Megabits per second – Recommended for DVD quality

5.0 Megabits per second – Recommended for HD quality

7.0 Megabits per second – Recommended for Super HD quality

12 Megabits per second – Recommended for 3D quality

I currently have two services in my home. I have a company called Cabletica at 5Mbps and  Metrowireless at 2Mbps. I have streamed on the 2Mbps Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and a few other services at HD quality. I have not tested 3d and I have no clue and have not seen anything listed as Super HD quality. So I can’t speak to those. You can bet they will work on less if I can do HD with 2Mbps when it is 5Mbps recommended. Also keep in mind I stream a movie and play a video game online all at the same time with the 2Mbps and the 5Mbps and I have seen no difference in the quality. Now your results could vary from mine. There are so many factors. So let me explain how I got to where I am.

When I first moved to Costa Rica I had Cabletica at 10Mbps. We had all kinds of issues. Stops, starts, buffering, and outages. So needless to say I was getting frustrated. I couldn’t even stream youtube without an issue. You are then going to say, “But you still have cabletica?” That is correct I do. I will get to why in a minute depending on how fast you read. So, I decided to start looking for other services. I heard about a company called CrWifi. Great! So I call and talk to them. I explain I am a heavy user and wanted to be sure they are an unlimited services. They told me yes. I then spoke to a couple friends who have or had them and they tell me No. If you use to much bandwidth they will call you and complain and start to slow you down and even cut you off. So not really an unlimted data plan. So I called back to verify this for myself and this was true. So I had them put a router in my home to test our usage and see what they would charge me. Was I surprised? Oh hell yes. I was looking at a 12Mbps service at bursting. You don’t want a bursting service. They came back with a monthly total for my usage at $500 a month! Yes I said $500! They were crazy. So my search continued. So I found Metrowireless in my search. They seemed reasonable with their prices. I called and verified their prices and what they had was unlimited and it was. So I started out with them at 6Mbps. Now I decided and glad I did to keep the cabletica until I was sure metro was better. Well it wasn’t! So now I have 10Mbps and 6Mbps and can’t even get 8Mbps combines between the two. So I was paying for service that I wasn’t not getting. So I was not happy. So I began to use speed tests on each service at various times of the day. Yes your service does change depending on the time of day. You have to remember that your service is being shared and there is a finite amount of bandwidth. So my average on each servuce was 5Mbps with Tica and 2Mbps with metro. I down graded my services to those numbers and have been very happy. You experience could be different with the higher speeds. The only way you will know is get the higher service and if it doesn’t work out, test your speeds and then down grade like I did.

Now why 2 services? Well that is simple. When one goes down the other is up! I have yet to have both services go out at the same time. I pay $55 for Tica and $33 for metro. Now tica will only give you internet if you have TV as well. I pay about $30 for the Tv service. So my total monthly is about $125 a month with taxes and fees.

In the states most people pay more than this for TV, Phone and Internet. Now granted their internet speeds are faster, but to be honest I don’t notice the difference. I still do all the things I did in the states here. Now uploading video and pictures and such is a little harder. All of these services do not offer very fast uploads. I have .5Mbps on cabletica and 1Mbps on Metro. So uploading is a but of a challenge. Large video’s are an over night thing. So I try to keep my video’s to a min or less in length. Pictures are not too bad. If you do have large files I would suggest put them in a Que and let them run all night while you are sleeping. :-)

So lets look at how much this really is. unblock-us $4.99, Hulu 7.99, Netflix 9.99, Amazon prime (free streaming) $7.00 and Cable Tv and internet with two providers is $125. So for me to stream and watch all my TV shows it costs roughly $155. I get all my TV and movies. When I look at what I was paying back in the states it is cheap. In the states I had all the channels and the fastest speeds available and it cost me over $250 a month so $100 a month cheaper and my life is no different when it comes to my TV and internet habits.

So if TV and internet is important to you then expect to pay for it and expect to have slower speeds then you are use to. Like I said my wife and I are heavy users and we found a system that works for us and I am sure you can find a system that will work for you as well.

So lets wrap this up. Slower speeds, Higher prices, and outages should be expected. Streaming TV and movies, playing online games, skype, video conference, telephone and other services do work. So yes you can have a good experience with your internet here in Costa Rica if you are willing to change you mind set!

Pura Vida!

Categories: Costa Rica Life Experience, Internet, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Quote of the day: 3/19/14

Italo Calvino said: The more enlightened our houses are, the more their walls ooze ghosts. Describe the ghosts that live in this house: Image credit: “love Don’t live here anymore…” – © 2009 Robb North – made available under Attribution 2.0 Generic

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Where there is smoke! Dry season in Costa Rica

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYep you guessed it there is fire!!!!! So I have been living here in Costa Rica Atenas area for 13 months now. We are now deep into our 2nd dry season. Last season we didn’t personally experience too many fires. What we did experience were either far away or done by the time we knew about them. This year we had a scare. A fire came very close to our home in Atenas. So that got me to thinking, “Why are there so many fires? How do they start?” So I started to look around as we travel though our daily lives paying attention to the burnt areas and current fires and I have picked my top 3 reasons which I will go into later.

The reason for this blog is to explain to people who are thinking of moving here or visiting why we who live here now are not that thrilled with dry season and why we like Rainy season so much better. Lets look at it from the perspective of someone who is coming here for a vacation or to check it out. You are going to come during dry season. So what you are going to see is black hill sides WP_20140311_14_17_05_Pro, brown grass and just a very dry place. You won’t have rain no doubt, which is what you are trying to avoid, but Costa Rica is so pretty in the Rainy season. You must come and visit both times of the year if you are thinking of moving here.

Now because most people avoid coming here during Rainy season prices jump! Hotel prices, food prices, everything goes up in dry season. Yes it is all your fault you vacationers. :-)  So those coming to live here see it as expensive. Those vacationing see it as a little expensive, but expect it as its a tourist area they are in and are only going to be here for a short time and they budgeted for the costs so no worries on their end. You who have come to visit to see if you want to live here really did pick the bad time of year to experience it.

Now those of us who live here we do love our Rainy season. The landscape is lush and pretty and colorful. _DSC4952OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThese same areas are now black from a fire and brown from no rain. The rainy season varies from area to area. So right now I can only speak from my experience here in Atenas. Last rainy season we got a lot of rain, but it was in the afternoon for an hour or two. The morning was bright and sunny and so was the afternoon. It did rain every day like this. We only experienced one day where it was cloudy and rainy all day and even then the rain was light with the exception of an occasional heavy down pour. The afternoon shower isn’t just a shower. Its like the heavens opened up and is just dumping huge buckets of water on your head. Its amazing and it is beautiful to watch when you are up in the mountains like we are. I love watching the clouds move in and cover everything. The cloud actually comes into the house. Now it is as scary as it is beautiful. The lighting is crazy! Its beautiful and deadly. We do usually have power outages, but the longest it has ever been out is 4 hours. Our home back in the states we needed to put in a generator as if the power went out from a storm it could be days before it comes back on.

The other issue in rainy season is insects. They do come out more as they are looking for a dry place to be. So that is a bit of a challenge. If you are coming to live here and have pets you will need to be watchful of cane toads. They are deadly to pets like dogs who may bite them. They are always here, but you see them in large quantities during rainy season as there are more insects for them to eat. If a small dogs bits one they will die in a manner of 15 minutes if they do not receive treatment. Larger dogs you have a little longer. So while rainy season is beautiful and wonderful it does have its challenges. We currently have 10 dogs and I am not looking forward to the cane toads.

Rainy season may not have fires, but they do have landslides. So you do have to be very careful when walking or driving in rain storms. The landslide can come out of no where.

This dry season we had a fire that came very, very, very close to our house. It started on one of the main roads out of town and worked its way up the hill to our community and started down the hill toward our house. Here is a picture.

WP_20140310_08_59_23_ProThis picture is from our yard when we began to smell the smoke. There is a White house with a red stripe at the top of the hill. That is the house where it began to come down into the community. The house to my knowledge thanks to the bomberos (gringo speak fire department) only had smoke damage and lawn burned. The house I believe sustained no fire damage. It began to travel down the hill side of that house and toward our house. It go so close we could hear the crackle of the fire. In most cases this wouldn’t be an issue. We have insurance that covers fire and things are things. All our memories are on a hard drive I can grab and run, but we have 10 dogs! 3 large and 7 smaller. So fire makes this not a fun idea for us if we need to run. I know, I know have less dogs. That isn’t going to happen so we have to figure out how to get 10 dogs in a car quickly and get out of dodge. This fire has made me realize the need for speed! It came quick and fast and we hung in there, but we were just minutes away from saying lets get the fuck out of here! Here are just a few more pictures of the damage that happens in dry season.

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This is the hill it came down. So it went up to here and then down.

This is the hill it came down. So it went up to here and then down.

This is where it started and made its way to our house.

This is where it started and made its way to our house.

So why are there so many fires in dry season, well other than the obvious that everything is dry? Fires don’t just start something has to cause them right? Yes, I would say that is a good assumption. So then why so many and how do they start. I have a couple of theories and these are my top ones.

  1. During dry season they harvest Sugar Cane. When they do this they burn the fields for one reason or another. They have been doing this for many, many years. It is actually illegal to do it, but no one says anything and it continues to happen. So they do their “controlled” burn. Well winds pick up and carry embers to other areas that than hit the dry ground and start another fire.
  2. Litter is one of the biggest reasons, in my opinion for these fires. You will drive along the road and see the side of the road a fire had been there. You look around and can’t see why it would have started. There are a couple of factors when it comes to litter.

  • The 1st and most dangerous is a lit cigarettes being tossed out the window. I would hope the locals would know better, but people can be stupid. Now tourists have no clue so I think they are more at fault with the throwing of lit items out the car window.
  • The second is glass bottles discarded on the side of the road. They are as dangerous as a lit cigarette. The sun here is very hot and very strong. A glass bottle will act as a magnifying glass, so the sun will start a fire just as quick as if you put a match to the dried grass. I do believe this is how a lot of those road side fires start. Broken glass anything laying in the ground that could magnify the sun.

So lets wrap this one up shall we. Dry season is just that dry. Everything is brown and dirty and dusty and there are fires. Rainy season don’t avoid it, it really isn’t that bad. Everything is lush and green and much more beautiful than dry season. You do have increased insect activity and landslides. So nothing is perfect. If you are just a tourist come dry or rainy season you will enjoy it. If you are looking to live here, be sure to visit at the peek of both seasons so you know what you are getting yourself into.

Pura Vida!

Categories: Costa Rica Life Experience, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Toto we are not in Kansas any more!

I guess you are expecting a post about wind or weather or some other nature event that will sweep you away? Nope not what I am going to be talking about in this blog. Today I am going to tell you about my experience at Cima Hospital, but to do that I have to give you a little background. So One Tuesday I went out with friends for dinner and the next morning I woke up and felt like death warmed over. I didn’t want to move and I was exploding out of the area below my belly button, well to put it nicely. I think you will get what I am talking about. This went on all day. So go to bed and wake up Thursday morning and I feel right as rain. No more issues and felt good. So I thought something I ate or just a 24 hour bug or something. Thursday night I go to bed and I start to feel dizzy and light headed.  I am diabetic so my 1st thought was low blood sugar. So I check it. Nope blood sugar normal. So what is this feeling? Maybe vertigo? So had a pill to take for that. Few hours later still feeling bad. Got into bed and the room started to spin! OK now what? So maybe my blood pressure. So I pull out the blood pressure cuff and check that. We have a winner! Give that artery a prize! My blood pressure was a bit high and it isn’t usually that high, but the kicker was my pulse was very low for me. It was 54. I’m usually at low 80′s. So I watch it thought the night. I wake up Friday and again feeling right as rain! So I head off to my dietitian for our weekly meeting to go over our diet, how much we lost and such. Yes when I came to Costa Rica I was 298lbs. I am now 237lbs in a year, but that is for another blog. So I get started and all of a sudden I feel like shit. I cancel my appointment and go straight to dra. Candy here in Atenas. She runs some  tests and decides I need some meds and to be monitored. So over he weekend I take my pressure and pulse and watch it so that I can call her on Monday. I call give her the readings and she say, “You should make a cardiology appointment right away.” She then gives me the name and number of someone over at Cima. Now keep in mind that back in the states this would take forever to do. I would have had to go back to the doctor to go over my numbers. I couldn’t just call them up or email them or Facebook them like we do here. So I hang up and call the number she gave me. I have an appointment the next day at 11:20. No way! Really? Cool! Never would have happened in the states. Tuesday comes and I go in. Her office is a little crowded. We wait our turn and 11:20 comes and goes, but we get in at about 11:50. Not bad if you ask me. I have been to my doctor in the states and had to wait 1 to 2 hours past my appointment time. Now also keep in mind all I did was check in at this point and let the receptionist know I was there. No information other then my name was given. Go into the office and meet the doctor. We sit down and she then takes my information and my history and puts it right in the computer. Wait what? I don’t have to give it to like 2 or 3 different people and than have the doctor ask me all the same questions again? Really? Ok nice. So we are done and she has me get undressed and puts me on the table. She take and hooks me up to an EKG and a sonogram machine. She does all the tests. Says it looks good, but would like to run a couple more to be sure, since I am diabetic and I have lost a lot of weight. She says, “You have a new body now we should see how it is working.” I love that! So I say ok when can we get this scheduled. She gave me a couple different options that same week, but we had a wedding to go to so I asked if it was ok to do when we get back. She said yes and we made the appointment for Monday. No keep in mind I would have been able to have these tests done the same week. I also need to get some blood tests. This I can do in Atenas. So go the next morning to do the blood tests. I walk into the lab, give them my name, and the paperwork from the doctor. I go to sit down to wait and she calls me right in. So in and out in less than 10 minutes. Tells me to come back in two hours to pick up results. Wait really? I don’t have to wait for them to be sent to the doctor and then set up a new appointment? Nope pick them up. So I do and than I, now get this, email them over to the doctor myself and she lets me know via email they are all good! Again not another appointment? Ok cool. Fast forward to toady Monday less than one week from my appointment and we are at Cima to have the other tests run. So my appointmenst are Eco Stress test at 9am, abdominal sonogram at 10am and sonogram of my carotid arteries at 10:30am. I’m thinking ok this isn’t going to be good. Go in show the receptionist my paperwork from the doctor. She takes my passport and puts the info in the computer. Tells me how much and I make the payment. I then go to the next room, show my receipt and than 5 minutes later they call me in to give me my 1st test. Oh my god guess who is there to give me my test? Yep my doctor! The nurse take a little info for Cima’s records as it was my 1st time there and than hooks me up for my Eco stress test. Test was conducted by my doctor! Amazing! Not some lab tech, but my doctor. She gives me the results right then and tells me everything looked wonderful. So no stressing over waiting for the results. So now I go out to wait for the other two test. Now I’m early. So appoint was at 9 and I was in and out by 9:20. Now I have to wait for my 10am. So I wait. Now this one was a little longer. My last appointment was at 10:30. They didn’t call me in until 10:50. I go in they sit me down. They have all my info don’t ask me anything else. Tells me what I am here for and why and what I have. Doesn’t ask but tells me. He than does his thing and takes care of all the other tests and sends me on my way. Now I have a 2pm appointment to see my doctor to go over the tests. So we go have lunch. We go back to the hospital after a nice relaxing lunch with some really good food and pick up my last two test results to take to the doctor with us. Yes 2 hours later pick up results and take with us! Amazing! Go in and sit and by 2:10 we are called in. We talk and chit chat a bit. She tells me I am healthy with some minor issues. So she gave me a med for my blood pressure to see if it keeps it low, but she will take me off if it looks ok. She also gave me a pill as my liver and pancreases did have some fat issues, but very minor and not to worry about it.  So she gives me 10 days worth of pills and send me home and tells me to try them and email her if I have any issues and she will reevaluate me. Now here is the real kicker. I had 3 or 4 pages of blood work done, 1 Eco stress test, a complete sonogram of my liver, kidneys, pancreases, and heart. and 2 doctor office visits. The entire bill was under $1K. That is out of pocket with no insurance. Well I have insurance, but I will have to summit it on a claim form to get it back.   c7

Categories: Costa Rica Life Experience, Healthcare, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Review: Delfin Beachfront Resort

So this is the picture from their website and this area is the lobby, bar, and restaurant all rolled into one. It is a very nice area. Its located in Playa Bejuco, Puntarenas, Central Pacific, Costa Rica. There seems to be a nice breeze that comes though here almost all the time. We stayed here from Friday afternoon until Sunday morning. We payed $124 a night as it was high season prices. Check their link to see full website and prices. We were there to attend a wedding of a friend which was very beautiful. I think anyone who would like to have a wonderful setting for their wedding this is a nice place to do that. So on to the review of the Resort itself.

I wouldn’t call this a resort and I would only call it a hotel because it has 16 usable rooms. Not sure how many it actually has, but I was told 16 usable ones. It does have a nice pool area with both open seating and covered rancho to stay cool and out of the sun if you like. Well I say cool, but this is the beach so that isn’t really a good description. Lets say, cooler. :-) Here are some pictures of the pool area and rancho.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAVery nice outside area. The pool was a bit warm, but again that should be expected as it is in full sun, its hot at the beach and it really doesn’t cool off much in the evening hours. I didn’t really get in the pool as it was a bit to hot for me outside and we did stay in the room a good bit to soak up the a/c. I am not a guy who likes heat. Where I come from in Maryland we get 100+ temps and 98% humidity in the summer. In the winter we get a ton of snow and ice. I picked Atenas for its more moderate climate. I was thinking of purchasing a beach house once we sell our home in the states, but this week end has shown me I do not want to do that now. Here are a few pictures of the beach.

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Looks amazing and the outside is so amazing I do have to agree. The pool area, the beach area, the restaurant area are all wonderful. So lets get into the really important part the food! Being on the diet we are on I was a little hesitant that we would find things we could eat, but we did! It made us very happy! We had also been told the food was only just ok. Again we found it to be very good. Yes again a little pricey, but you are on the beach, you are in a hotel and you should expect that. They got ya and they know it. It wasn’t horrible prices, but it wasn’t reasonable either. So we had 2 lunches, and one dinner there. The other dinner was the reception for the wedding. Here are pictures of our food we had.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis was the salad we had for lunch our 1st day there. It was full of veggies and it tasted pretty wonderful. Not sure it was worth $10, but it did have a good amount of veggies and not a lot of lettuce. Its seems I did not take a picture of the salad I got for dinner and lunch the next day. It was different and was mostly lettuce, did have a good taste, but not worth $10 again no doubt. Was hoping to get this one again, but it just didn’t happen. :-( The one I ordered at dinner the same night we got this one I said, “Can you make us a salad like we had for lunch it was amazing.” Nope I guess not. :-( Here is what we had for dinner our 1st night.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANow we are not fans of Ceviche, but we had this one at Lunch, dinner and again at lunch! It was that good! The other plate is a fish in a garlic sauce with mushrooms, a side of veggies in a garlic sauce, some rice and some coleslaw. We could not eat the rice or the coleslaw, but I did taste it and it was very good. Over all the food was very good. The day we left I sat with friends and had coffee. They did and they said the omelet was amazing and it looked amazing and since I wasn’t expecting to have breakfast I didn’t bring my camera.  Breakfast was included in the price of the room which was a nice touch. There was a good number of items and drink on the breakfast menu.

So you are excited and you are ready to go to the hotel? Hold on to your pants. Now let me preface this by saying if you are a beach bumb, love the pool and want to surf then don’t let what I am about to say and show you stop you from going to this hotel. The beach is wonderful, but I was not going to go swim in it. They had this sign every few feet.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo I was not going to be that gringo on the news who went to a Tico beach wedding and was pulled out by the riptide and killed. So I did not go into the water. If you do you should be a strong swimmer or someone who surfs. There were a number of people who surf in our group and they were out there a number of times. So like I said if you love the surf, sand, pool, bar, and everything outside do not let what I am going to say now stop you.

If you like these things, but would like a comfortable room this is not the place for you. This hotel is designed that you do not spend a lot of time in your room. Here are pictures of our room. Now I have no clue if they are all like this, but this was room number 12.

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So the towel animals were a nice touch, but the room left a lot to be desired especially at $124 a night. The beds were hard as a rock so if you like a firm mattress than it will be fine, but if you don’t you could be in trouble. The room was not the cleanest I have seen. The one curtain had a black streak on it and not sure what it was. The bathroom was very tiny. The shower head was very clogged. There was hot water so that was good. The shampoo and body wash was the same thing and there were no wash cloths in our room and another guest told us the same thing. So not sure if they had them? If you need cream rinse bring you own. Actually you should bring the following when you come. Cream Rinse, shampoo, body wash, a power strip, bug spray, and your own towels. Theirs were not soft and they were small. You are going to need a lot of bug spray! The 1st night I didn’t spray and got all bite up.  Yes a power strip there was two outlets in the room and if you are like us and have a couple different electronics that will need to be plugged in to charge you are going to need it. The view from this room was pretty good. Loved the beach and the sound of the waves crashing. The A/C did work well, so that was a plus. Yes that TV is that small. My HP Split tablet screen was bigger than the TV. Like I said the room is not designed for you to be spending any time in it at all. They expect you to be pool side or at the beach most of the day.

Oh and don’t expect to be able to upload your photo’s right away to Facebook. The internet kept going up and down and up and down and up and down. It was very poor connection.

So lets wrap this one up shall we. The outside of the hotel is wonderful! Great place to have a wedding or if you are one who loves the heat, humidity, sun, surf, and sand. The pool was great, but warm. The room left a lot to be desired, but the restaurant had good food that was a little over priced, but still good!

I give this place 2 seashell1out of 5. You not being me may give it more if you spend all your time outside. I do not especially in the heat and humidity. I mainly gave it 2 for the restaurant and the beauty of the area and the beach. Would I go back? Yes to spend the day and have lunch and dinner, but not for a weekend or longer. If they improve the cleaning of the room, change the mattress,  give wash cloths, change the shower products in the bathroom and get a bigger TV, and fix the internet issues I could stay a weekend and would give it maybe 3 or 4 seashells.

Pura Vida!

Categories: Costa Rica Life Experience, Restaurant Reviews, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Yikes! Costa Rica! What have I done?

OK,  so now that I got your attention. :-) Recently I have been discouraged by people talking smack about Costa Rica and decided to ask a question and see how it gets answered. I went on Facebook and posted the following message on a couple expat groups I belong to.

“So here is a question for those who have lived in Costa Rica for more than 12 months. Would you do it all over again? If you would what is the 1 thing you would do differently. If you wouldn’t why wouldn’t you do it again? I will use some of the responses in a blog I am writing. I will give your Facebook name as credit or let me know you don’t want me to use your name and I will just do anonymous.”

So before I give you their responses and there were a lot of them, I should give you my response.

Yes I would do it all over again. I guess the one thing I would have done differently is came here sooner. I could have moved here many years ago and I didn’t. If I had I could have tried to make some opportunities for some family and friends to have join me here if they wanted to. Do I miss my family and friends? Yes with all my heart. We Facebook and Skype to keep in touch and up to date. We do however go back 2x a year and see everyone and some have come to visit us here. So it does work out. Is it hard? Very much so, but for me it was a great decision as my health has improved 100%. I may blog about those changes later.

Now I did hand pick them only because so many of them actually said the same thing. Not that I was surprised by that, but no need to have 100 posts saying the same thing. So here are the responses in no particular order. Great advise if you are thinking of moving here.

  • Rick Vollman I would do it all over again. I am extremely humbled and never have to worry again about what I have and I don’t have. Washing dishes by hand, filling up ice trays. I don’t miss a thing from the states.
  • Sara Pompey Ford I would do it all again without the slightest hesitation. If I was going to do anything differently, it would be to have brought more friends and family with me.
  • Nel Cameron I would do it again in a heartbeat. Differently? I would have brought more stuff in my container. We had loads of room but just no time to think it through.
  • Steve Johnson Would do it again, but would not live near my totally useless in-laws!!!!!!!!!!
  • Cathy Glasner We moved 13 months ago and would do it again!! What would we do differently?? Would not have shipped a car, would have bought one in CR!
  •  Sarah Starkey I would have imported a good 4WD car, with a known maintenance / ownership history, from the US instead of renting from overpriced CR rental agencies for months, renting a REALLY crap car from a private party for several months and finally, buying a REALLY REALLY crap car from a “trusted friend” who, it turns out, would probably sell his own mother if there were money involved. In the end, I would have saved thousands of $$ and the headaches of paperwork, etc. would have been worth it.
  • Dianne Hill Fischer Would do it again. I Would work harder on learning Spanish before I came. Would make things a lot more enjoyable.
  • Lori Sanders Been here almost a year. I would have come sooner too! I wanted to make sure it was a go so I only recently went back and shipped some things I knew I could either not get here or would be outrageously expensive here. Hindsight is 20/20 but I wish I would have shipped my stuff sooner. . And I don’t even regret the one and only tattoo that I have. I got it here. A Golden Orb spider and the words Pura Vida!!
  • Steve Johnson Many people advised us to sell everything before we came. Our antiques, our memorabilia, our family heirlooms???????? We shipped EVERYTHING, and are very happy with that decision.
  • Sarah Carling I would have kept my life more minimal so we could pack up and move easily round the country rather than settling in San Jose. We realized after we had our baby here that we had recreated our old lives rather than seeking out new ones.
  • Jon Graham I would have rented longer to experience life in different parts of the country.
  • Chris Poindexter Yes, I’d do it all over again. Differently? I’d have brought our leather couches.
  • Wendy Tayler 23+ years… had my residency in the works before moving down. Yes. Would do again. Raised 5 children here. What I would have done differently? Not married the tico I married…. glad he is gone.. glad I stayed after.
  • Peggy Stewart Absolutely would do it again. The only things we would do differently are to sell our house in Canada BEFORE moving here & to take some sort of instruction in Spanish BEFORE moving.
  • Ann Duff-Ealy Lyons I’ve been here 20 years and made just about every mistake that is possible… still, I wouldn’t change anything because I learned a lot from every mistake and became much stronger for it… and besides that, I felt so much at home here from the very beginning and fell so much in love with this country, that I could never leave… it’s home, and I’m blessed to have 2 homes now… the one where I was born and the one where I chose to be.
  • Chitown Gal I’ve been here 14 months and I wish I would have enrolled my son in his current school right out of the gate. The primarily Tico private school he attended initially was a really bad experience for him as one of the only expats plus he is leaps and bounds ahead of where his Tico peers are academically. Now that we have found a good fit with his school, I could definitely see us here longer than initially planned.
  • Rachel Loughery Been here six years. What would I do differently? Brought a couple of extra bikinis!
  • Ross Lustman I’d have started studying Spanish sooner, and I’d have started shopping at the Feria sooner.
  • Nancy Van Patten Absolutely, I would do it again! One thing I would do differently, I would have brought more of our furniture; even tho’ the house was purchased with furniture, I still would prefer my “comfortable ” stuff now!
  • Pat Cheek Certainly do it again – have never looked back–but I wish I would have brought my tools! hammer, saw , screwdrivers. jut the usual stuff….can;t really think of a thing I miss other than my kids and Dad! oh yes and a few friends –all of which can visit whenever they wish and most have chosen not ..go figure???
  • John Wegner Just like we said in Texas: “I wasn’t born here but I got here as fast as I could.” I’ve been here 3 years and several years of vacations. Wife here for “a lotta years.” Took way too long to get here. Do something different? Nothing, really. Maybe have the guts to throw out a pile of “stuff” that we brought down in the sea container and will never use here.
  • Debbie Rudd I would definitely do it again. You couldn’t pay me any amount of money to leave. I brought two suitcases with me and basically still have only the essentials. I feel like I am actually getting to live a life here which is something I didn’t get to do in the US. I enjoy the people, the culture, the beauty of the country, and am very happy to have settled in Grecia.
  • Frank Gould Would I come to Costa Rica again? Yes. Definitely yes. But let me be the group’s curmudgeon for a moment. There are lots of Costa Rica’s in the world. Some with richer cultures and certainly better cuisines. A good example is Portugal. Slow paced country, friendly people, low crime (at least relative to the amount spent on police resources) and a tyrannical bureaucracy. However, in one way Portugal and a few other places are better–lower cost of of living.Costa Rica like some other countries have mismanaged their fiscal activities (introducing huge import fees and inflation) in an attempt to support a bloated bureaucracy and periodically to win elections by spending money on poorly thought out public works . A case in point is Guanacaste. Regarding the bureaucracy, on any given day, the people dining at sodas are over represented by gringoes and Costa Rican government workers and by not by the local population.

    What saves the governments of Costa Rica and Portugal from doing more harm to theirselves and their own people appears to be that those countries are simply not strategic in world affairs–forgotten places except as vacation destinations and (in the case of Costa Rica) as “mule” trails for drugs into the US.

    On balance, Costa Rica is a great place–certainly not for every expat. For those few, it is nice to be in a forgotten part of the world. Let me take a guess as to those people you know who find contentment here–adventurous souls who are not only tolerant of different cultures but embrace (with some occasional complaining) those differences.

So the following Facebook user made a good point:

Faye Witcher Yes, but Bunky, this audience is 100% of the people who stayed. Presumably there are a lot of people who tried it but left, and they wouldnt be on a forum like this.

The following was a follow up by another Facebook user:

Margaret Aliff The people I know who have left here mostly did so to be closer to their families…children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and some still spend part-time here. I do not think the cultural differences are for everyone and imagine many are not able to adjust. Too many who stay here still seem to expect ?

Faye and Margaret do have a point, but I did get this one in private and they don’t want their name released for fear of backlash from the expat community on the open forums and I don’t blame them. I’ve seen some of those expats online tear people up for talking bad about Costa Rica, but I have also seen them tear people down because they talk good about it. It viscous out there! Hater are going to hate and Lovers are gonna love. Just watch your back.

Anonymous  We live near Tamarindo, for context. 1)Too hot 2) Not much to do beyond beach and pool with three year olds (see number 1). 3) Not a good “value” (i.e. things are more expensive than they should be) 4) Shitty dealings with other expats (our landlord and his property manager are both unprofessional, cheap, know-it-all turds) 6) Dangerous drivers 7) Poor air quality. Smells like a campfire all dry season, but especially now, which is really, really bad for your lungs. 8) Expats that blindly lash other expats for complaining. Sometimes there is a better way. I will judge (silently). It is not ok to ride your bike on the side of the 55 mph road with your 18 month old on the handle bars. I will complain (to other expats). What if the Founding Fathers hadn’t complained? 9) Restaurants suck and are overpriced. Bad combo. Lots of people who leave would cite Tico time. I don’t have a business, only have a house keeper (though she shows up when she wants), am not trying to build or repair anything, so it doesn’t bug me that much. The concept bugs be a lot, especially because I think those that engage in it are doing themselves a disservice to their credibility, and by reputation now (it is called Tico time, not Jose time), the credibility of their fellow countrymen, but I haven’t had a lot of experience with it, especially compared to those who are actually trying to get things done. I was told recently by an expat who has a business that he believes there are a lot of Ticos that have a carefully crafted story designed to eventually get money out of you. It doesn’t start right away; the “long con,” if you will. Its sad that he has had enough of those types of experiences that he mentally rolls his eyes anytime any Tico starts a tale of woe.

Kimberly Beck Hovland 4 years in and we are on the fence. We have both started looking for work in the US again just to keep up with the cost of living down here. We are not pensioners. One thing that I have trouble dealing with on a daily basis is being worried about leaving the house alone. I have this fear that one day I am going to drive up the hill and see our dogs hurt and our house broken in to. I heard one guy say “we traded our stresses for worries when we moved down” and that is kind of how we feel. Let it be known that we don’t live the “normal” expat life either though. We farm most of our food and take care of a decent sized farm. We haven’t hired help in a long time because of the things that would go missing. Wondering if I misplaced something or if it was taken is not fun.

This was just a sample of the responses I received, but as you can see very positive, for the most part. The point of this blog is don’t let all the negative people out there scare you. The person who had the courage and trust to privately emailed me has very valid points you also should consider. There are areas of Costa Rica where those concerns are minimal. I just think they pick the wrong area to live in. Sometimes that happens. There is always the good in every bad and bad in every good. No place is perfect and no place is without its faults, but as you can see a majority have no regrets! Do your research and follow in these wonderful people’s steps and take their advise and their cautions.

Pura Vida!

 

Categories: Costa Rica Life Experience | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

The Not-So-Great About Costa Rica

bestandworstofcostarica:

Its good to see a different perspective.

Originally posted on Perpetual Saturdays:

Everyone talks about how perfect Costa Rica is.  It has the perfect climate, the pura vida lifestyle.  Just as many love it as hate it.  I personally think it’s a good vacation location, but not long term.  As one foreigner told us as he was quickly packing to leave, “Costa Rica is for the wanted and unwanted.”  Wanted, as in criminal, and unwanted, as in mid-life crisis men who skip out on their families and create new families (intentionally or unintentionally) with poor, but beautiful, Costa Rican women.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy living in a touristy beach town and not working.  I am perpetually on vacation and every day is Saturday.  But after being in the Tamarindo area for 6 months, there are things that drive me crazy!  Being in la la land doesn’t mean that everything is unicorns, rainbows, puppy dogs, and butterflies.  Maybe there are some things that I…

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My bag! Where the hell is my Bag!

So I keep hearing that Costa Rica isn’t safe and that you will get robed every time you turn around. So I am here to tell you the truth of it. Yes this does happen! Yes be you in Costa Rica or somewhere else bad people are out there and looking to take what you have and make it theirs. Guess what, it happens in every city in every town in every country around the world. Its not just Costa Rica where it happens. Does it happen here yes. So this blog is some common sense rules to keeping yourself and your things safe while traveling and living in Costa Rica, or anywhere for that matter. It falls on us to be sure our stuff is safe and make it hard for those who wish to take it, to take it. Its sad, but if we do something stupid we shouldn’t be surprised when its taken from us. I know it sounds like blaming the victim, but if you use common sense you won’t be a victim. There are times when we do all the things we can and it still isn’t enough. Bad people are everywhere.

liberace-behind-the-candelabraSo 1st of all don’t go flashing your wealth around like a $2 bill or Liberace. If you are going out wear a minimum amount of jewelry or no jewelry. Who are you trying to impress? You are on vacation don’t flash it. If you live here wear it around the house or to places you trust, but don’t be flashy about it. This will not only make you a target it could cost you your life. Is you life, and the life of those around you more important than the big diamond necklace you have to wear and show to all your friends while you are in a restaurant? If you are going to a beach or resort leave your flashy baubles at home. You know you are going to take them off to get in the water, so why wear them at all? You can be sure someone is watching for that person to take off their rings or necklace and put it in a bag or on their blanket or wrap it up in their towel. Once you do that they will look for ways to take it.

So no matter if you live here or you are visiting for a vacation you are always going to be carrying stuff around with you. Either your wife or significant other will have a bag you put everything in or you will have one as well. Here is a big tip take as little as possible when you go out. You know that big camera you carry around so you can get those wonderful pictures of the beautiful country, the people and its food. Well if you are anything like me. So maybe you have a camera like this. spy_lensIts large hard to carry and very obvious to someone who would target you. I have this one and do take it out from time to time, but not when I am going to a beach, or rain forest, or any other place where it may get wet or I will put it down to do something. Now if I am shooting things in a town or at the house or while I’m driving. Well not driving but you know what I mean. :) This camera is good. Now I usually carry a camera like this one. olympus cameraI love this camera. I can take it anywhere. Its small and can fit in my pocket. It is shock proof, water proof so if it is in my pocket and I walk into the water no worries. I can get those wonderful under water pictures of the fish and reefs. If it starts to rain again no worries. If a monkey takes it from me and throws it, I’m still good. Yes this can happen. Its easy to hide and people don’t notice it and it isn’t a big target for a thief. It takes some great pictures. Here is one I took of the view outside my living room. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANow there is a picture with some color and yes it was an overcast day and I shot it from my sofa so I zoomed in. This is a great little camera and no I am not getting paid for this blog. I just like what I like. Sometimes bigger is not better. It also takes great video as well!

American_PassportOK two schools of thoughts on your passport. Carry with or carry a color copy? I have had my passport in my bag for over a year now. It really is up to you. If you want to be safe take the color copy with you. It is my understanding that it should be accepted as Identification, but like most things in Costa Rica it depends on who you talk to and what mood they are in today if they will accept the copy. I will tell you some passports are targets. A US passport can be sold for a lot of money. Should it be stolen or lost contact the local consulate a.s.a.p.

Currency-of-the-world-006Money, money, money. Very simple rule keep it in small amounts and don’t go flashing it. Keep it in your pocket or bag and find what you need and only pull out the amount you are going to use. Don’t pull out a big wad and count it out. Use a credit card or debit card where possible. Most places accept all major banks here in Costa Rica. If you do carry money and credit cards, put them in various places. A little in your bag, some in a pocket and some in your bra. :-) If you have one. :-) Now don’t go to the ATM at night. Don’t take the money out and than count it while you are there or walking back to your car or house. Take it and put it right in your bag or pocket. Once somewhere safe count it. You should be ok, but if not than you have to go back to the bank anyway so doing it in the ATM or outside of it is more dangerous. Keep it safe.

prescription_drugsPrescription medications are a big one. Keep them locked away. You should only carry with you what you need for the day. Leave the rest at home or if you are on vacation at the hotel in the safe or somewhere that is locked. You could get home and notice you are a few pills short. Like in most countries there is a black market for drugs. Many hotel staff will skim them off the top if you are not careful. Again if you are in a restaurant or on the beach and you pull out an entire bottle of pills to take one someone is going to notice. Again this puts a big target on your back.

beach-bag-1Ok so we talked about this bag someone is going to have. Now it doesn’t matter if you live here or you are vacationing here. Someone is going to have a bag when you go out to carry your stuff in. Like I said my wife and I both have a bag. This picture is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. Never, ever, ever leave your bag unattended. It doesn’t matter if you are in Costa Rica, US, or any other country this is a big mistake. Don’t expect that if you leave anything, phone, camera, bag, or you kids unattended that it will be there when you go back for it. Well depending on how behaved your kids are you may not have to worry about them. :-) All joking aside, kidnapping isn’t out of the realm of possibilities either, especially if you have flashed your jewelry, are carrying a huge expensive camera, and have a designer bag. Yes don’t carry a designer bag around. Who are you trying to impress? Are you trying to get your shit stolen? You must want it stolen. Nice plain no thrills bag like the one in the picture is good. OK, so you are in a restaurant and you put your bag on the back of your chair. How many of us have done this raise your hand. hand_raisingYep that is my hand. I’ve done this and I’ve been lucky. You might get lucky as well. What prompted this blog was someone on Facebook told a story of being in a local restaurant and she placed her bag on the back of her chair. Well, she was in a group of about 12 people and they were all talking and joking and eating and having a good time. Well someone lifted her bag right off the chair and walked out. No one noticed. Keep you bag in your sight or out of sight at all times. I usually put it under the table or on the floor next to my legs and leave the strap wrapped under my leg. You could put it on an empty chair but make sure it is in your sight. You carry your life in that bag, especially when you are on vacation. Keep it safe!!!!!!

If you travel by car, cab or bus you have to be careful. Keep your things in your sight and reach at all times. Now if you rent or won a car and drive places you need to do a check before you leave your car. Lock your car, use your alarm and keep all items out of sight or on you at all times. As an example if you have a GPS that isn’t installed in the car, remove it. Take it with you. If you have a stand it sits on and you leave that in your window than they will break in and check your glove compartment and console to see if you put it in there. Leave nothing of value in your car especially if you park it on the street. If you are in a parking lot with guards it is a bit safer, but don’t get use to not taking your stuff out as you could get lazy and that one time you forget is the one time it will happen.

Also if you can drive with your windows up and don’t put them down for the street people! I have heard stories of people walking up and taking rings and watches off of peoples arms and hands. if you must have your window open don’t wear jewelry. Don’t think you can wear it on the other arm or hand. I have heard about them burning people with a cigarette so that you reach it over and then they take it. They are smart and you have to be smarter. Sorry that is a fact of life.

My last common sense item I am going to take a line from one of my favorite shows, “How I met your Mother”. “Nothing good happens after 2 am.” how I meetYou should not be out late alone! Period, end of story, don’t do it. Even if it is just two of you you are taking your life and you valuables in your own hands. Really you live in Costa Rica, you wake up early and there is no reason for you to be out on the streets after, say even midnight much less 2am. Don’t wonder the streets or dark alley ways or lone roads late at night. There is no reason for it! Drive or take a taxi to your party and if it gets out late, drive or take a taxi home. Don’t walk! This is good advise no matter where you live or vacation.

So no need to rate anything so lets wrap this up. Use common sense, don’t be out late, don’t flash your wealth, don’t leave things unattended. I think that pretty much covers it. Have a good trip and enjoy your new life if you live here. Now follow these rules and many others and Costa Rica or whatever country you life in or vacation in will be a wonderful time! You will be able to enjoy the beauty and wonder of the place you are in.

Pura Vida!

Categories: Travel | 3 Comments

Moo…Moo…Slaughter…Grill….Eat!

food5So today’s blog is going to be about meat in Costa Rica. So if you are vegetarian or by the Gods a Vegan! Do no read this blog post. Really don’t read it. See now there you go reading this blog and I told you not to. Don’t yell at me, I did warn you!

When we came to Costa Rica in 2012 one of my major disappointments was the Steak here.  It was tough, it was dry, and they refused to cook it medium raw. There is nothing like a nice juicy piece of medium raw (yes raw not rare) piece of steak. The taste of the flavor and the blood. Sometimes, but not always I just want you to cut the meat from the bone, show it to the grill and slap it on my plate! If it can still moo when I stab my knife into it than that is a good steak. :-) Steak Tartare is one of the best ways to eat steak! You don’t even have to show it to the grill in this case. :-) Rare steak meat and I really love it when they place a raw egg on top of it. Yummy!

rawsteak2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So now you know how I like my steaks and lets go over my issue with the steaks here in Costa Rica. One of the major issues is that they do not age their beef. They cut it from the cow and slap it in the cooler and sell it. You have to age the meat in order for it to have that tender texture us hard core meat lovers want. A steak at minimum has to age for 14 days. Longer is better, but 24 days “wet aged” is the best, the juiciest and the most tender of meats!

Now you are saying what is “wet aged”? Wet aging is the process of placing the meat in a vacuum sealed bag so that it retains its moisture. The moisture accumulates and the amount depends on the length of aging, there seems to be little to no weight loss unlike dry aging which can have other issues like mold on the meat and more waste.

The next major issue is the butcher the meat. When I say butcher I am not talking about the art of cutting the meat from the carcass. They “BUTCHER” it. They just cut it any old way they happen to fell at the moment. When it is sitting in the display case it looks horrible. It is so thin. They really don’t have any thickness to it at all. Depending on what you are doing with the steak it need to have some depth to it. Not a lot. If you are going to grill or pan fry it then it needs to be a minimum of  1/2 inch thick. Now if you are going to sear it and finish it in the oven than you need min of 1 1/2 inches to have a nice steak.

How it is cut from the cow and the various parts are very important as each one has a different flavor and texture and needs to be treated differently. Now there are some parts of the cow I just won’t eat. Like the cheek, tongue and tail. I have tried it, and just don’t like it.

This brings us to our 3rd issue of how they cook it. They seem to think it must be cooked so that there isn’t a single drop of blood left in the meat or any juice for that matter. They cook it until it is black and chard. That is the best way to ruin a good piece of steak, but since most of them don’t use good pieces of steak, I guess it doesn’t matter.

So I of course at this point said to myself, “Well self I guess you won’t be eating red meat when you come to live in Costa Rica. On the bright side the chicken and fish here is amazing!”. Well I couldn’t have been more wrong. Now that I live here I have found a number of restaurants that have good tender meat and will cook it the way you want it. You should never, ever, ever ask for a steak to be cooked more then medium and even that is pushing it. I have had a number of steaks here cooked the way I wanted it. Here are just a few examples:

steak steak2

 

Now with all that said it can be expensive to get this quality of steak eating out. A good steak meal as I have described and cost you from $15 to $100 a person depending on where you go. That is just for the entree. Than add to your bill drinks, and appetizers and doing this all the time or a couple times a week adds up in price. So how do you get good steak at home? I am so glad you asked me that question. :-)

Uncle EarlsI found a place called Uncle Earls fine meats! This was a god send! I don’t have to go out every time I want a really tender and juicy steak any more. Sure I can if I want to, but I can have them right in my freezer ready for me to pop one in the oven or slap it on the grill. I can get one at a reasonable price!!! That is the most important part.

So a little about Uncle Earl’s. They are located at the Centro Comercial Trejos Montealegre (across from Walmart), next to Scotiabank in Escazú, Costa Rica. I know to those of you who don’t live here in Costa Rica that means nothing and you will never find it on your own. Those that do live here will know right where it is.

cutsofsteakAll their products are offering high quality meats, all grass fed, hormone free, no blood or saltwater injections. The only preservative they use is Himalayan pink salt, one of the purest of salts. They also wet age their meat a minimum of 14 days!! In 2010 Uncle Earl had a place in Coco that was also a restaurant. He than decided to focus on the meats and moved to a spot in the Mulitplaza in 2012. He needed a bigger shop and that is how he made his way to where he is now.

Now also keep in mind they do more then just steaks. :-) They do pork, bacon, sausage, bratwurst and all manner of other pork items. They also have lamb, and sometimes turkey and corn beef. You name it and if they don’t have I can bet you he may be able to get it for you. You never know until you ask. :-)  This is won of the better finds in Costa Rica! I love, love, love this place. You need to go if you want some really good meat and really good prices. You may never eat meat out again! :-)

So lets wrap this one up shall we. Costa Rica has some really bad meat and the way they handle meat, but you can find some places that will serve it the way you want and it is tender, but that is the exception to the rule. So for that I give Costa Rica 2 seashell1 out of 5 and I only gave them 2 because the chicken and fish is so wonderful here, just about everywhere we have gone. You can never go wrong ordering those two items.

Now Uncle Earl’s I give 5 seashell1out of 5. They get this for their quality and price. I love that place! Check out their facebook page for more information. https://www.facebook.com/UncleEarlsFineMeatsAndSpecialtieProducts

Pura Vida!  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Costa Rica Life Experience, Food, Restaurant Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Here a gringo, there a gringo oh my god unhappy gringos!

waterfallSo, this is going to be my 1st rant type of my blog. So just focus on the warm waters of the picture and everything will be OK. :-) I recently was asked to admin a Facebook group. Oh by the Gods can these gringo’s and others in other groups, talk some smack about Costa Rica. They seem to only want to focus on the bad, and not one of them has anything good to say. I have heard them say things from , “Its too hot”, “Its dangerous”, “The people are all thieves”, “The government is corrupt” and I think my favorite of all is, “Why can’t it be more like the united states!”.  A question comes to mind, “Why the hell are you here?” So this is going to be the topic of this blog.

Is Costa Rica to Hot?

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I guess that all depends on where you come from and what area  you will live and or visit in. My personal opinion is that some areas are too hot. I love the town we live in of Atenas. It isn’t called the Best Climate for nothing! Now I will not live in the beach areas. I have no problem going there for a day trip or a weekend, but it is way to hot, for this Gringo, but I come from Maryland and we get some harsh winter weather. I used to keep my thermostat in my house set at 68 all year long. Our house was never open and it was always cold. I loved it. As I got older and the weather in MD got worse I looked forward to sun and warm. So here I am and no in my opinion most of Costa Rica is not too hot! So please don’t come here and say, “Oh my God why is it so hot?” or “I didn’t realize it would be so hot!”. You are near the equator. It is Central America, its hot. Hello? Are you new? 

Pura Vida is a bunch of Crap!

Let me 1st briefly explain what Pura Vida is. Pura Vida is a saying that means a couple different things. Pure life, slow life, easy life, whatever. It equates to slow it down and enjoy the world around you is how I take it. Now this coming from someone who worked 70 hours a week and was the poster boy for a workaholic back in the states. If you can not embrace the Pura Vida life style of this country you will not make it here and you will run screaming back to your home country.

workersWhat does this mean to every day life. You should not expect that if you hire someone to do work for you that they will be here on time and every day. Always keep in mind the pay as you go plan here. You pay them for the work they do that day. Sometimes you get a few days before they ask for a payment. You usually have to give them money for materials 1st and a little for them. Now if you gave them enough that day and something comes up, they may not be back tomorrow. That is ok because the day after the will be back, well hopefully. I did do a job here at the house and they came the 1st day and than didn’t show up for 3 or maybe it was 4 days later. Not the people showed in the picture above. These guys are great. If you want their names let me know. They got the job done and it was a good job. They got paid and everyone was happy.

Why was I happy? I knew before I came to Costa Rica that this is how life is here. We are in no rush. So, you say to your self this job is going to take 3 days to do. Ok that is is good. Now say to yourself, but I know that it could take 3 weeks to get it done. You have to be ok with that happening. The same goes for the price. You budget for $100, but understand that it could cost you $300. So plan for it. Now I do have to say all the work I have had done has cost what they quoted me. Don’t expect everything to be done yesterday. This is how I lived my life back in the states. I wanted it yesterday! Hurry, hurry, hurry! What over budget! Are you mad!!!!!!!!

So I would have to say in my personal experience that the Pura Vida life style is one of the major reasons people leave this country. They can’t handle it. It is also one of the best things about this country as well. It does give you a Pure life. One that can lower your blood pressure and fix many of your problems, if you can truly embrace it!

I don’t feel safe!

Back CameraLet me 1st start off by saying yes! I feel very safe. Yes those are bars on the windows of that house. There is less crime in the town I am in here in Costa Rica than the City I lived in back in the states. Just like everywhere, you do have to use common sense. Don’t leave your camera on a table in a restaurant and come back 5 minutes later and expect it to be there still. In the states you will be lucky if it is still there. Don’t leave your GPS and Iphone sitting int he car unlocked and then complain that the crime rate is so high and it is horrible here. Don’t wear a ton of expensive jewelry and flash it around like no body’s business.

Bars on windows, high fences with razor wire along the time is common place here. Yes there is crime. Just like everywhere else. Here they take more precautions than we do back in the states. So you are going to see things you don’t see there as much. You do see bars on windows and door in the states. It is rare to see high walls and razor wire just everywhere, but it is there.

Now you will go to a store or a mall and there will be guards everywhere. They will be armed. I’m not talking just a pistol at their side either. Some of them have very big guns! That did take a little getting use to, but not long at all. I know they are there for my protection and to keep the peace. So it makes me feel safe.

I have been here over a year as I write this and back in the states there has been 1 maybe 2 school shootings, a mall shooting, and countless other gun related large events. That is just in the state of Maryland. Here I have never heard of any of that happening. So do I feel safe? Yes. Again use common sense. If you are a gringo living here or visiting here and don’t feel safe go back home. Really go. Where the violent crime rate in most states is much higher and your chances of getting killed at a mall or at school is much higher.

I hate the rainy season!

Really? Why? Are you daft? Are you on crack? Really? Ok yes that chart look bad! You have to understand a few things about rainy season. In most areas and not all so you have to do your research, it is once a day for about 2 hours. Here in Atenas last rainy season we got a storm that came though sometime after about 1pm and lasted for about 2hrs. When it rains it rains! Don’t go anywhere, don’t drive in it, stay where you are and enjoy the show. It is beautiful and deadly. The lightning is amazing and especially from our patio. We go out and sit and watch it as it comes in.

The rain comes and cools everything off, it lets the flower bloom and the plants grow lush and green. The country is so much more colorful during rainy season. Yes you may get the occasional non-stop all day rain, but that is usually very light so you can go out and do thing and not worry about it. I can only remember 1 day last season where it rained all day. We stayed in that day.

Now don’t get me wrong it does bring its challenges as well. If you have pets the cane toads are out more and that is dangerous for your dogs mainly. If you dog bites one or it spits its poison at your dog, you have 15 minutes to get them proper treatment or they will die. Most of the wildlife and insects comes out more during rainy season. They are looking for a dry place to stay and your casa is it! Lets remember people we live in a jungle. It may not look like it, but we do. So stop the bitching and moaning that it is raining during rainy season. Remember in the dry season everything is brown and nasty and you have water shortages.

The food here sucks!

Really? Again smoking crack? I can’t tell you how many times I hear this. I hate when they say, “All they eat is beans and rice. Breakfast beans and rice, lunch beans and rice, dinner beans and rice. I hate it.” So don’t eat beans and rice. Not like you don’t have a ton of options here. Eating out, depending on the area can be expensive. Eating at home is cheaper and healthier.

Let me allow the food to speak for itself.

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I had to put one beans and rice dish in there. :) Let me tell you each and every one of those dishes in those pictures were amazing. Its fresh and its natural and its not covered in sugar or preservative. You have to ask and you have to experiment, but you can find some great food here. Not all are good. Beef can be very tough and very dry. They don’t like to cook it medium or medium rare or rare. You can find some really good meat if you look. The chicken and seafood is never disappointing. Pork is hit and miss depending on where you get it.  So please give me a break, “Beans and Rice”. Yea sure…No problem…I got your beans and rice right here. :-)

Its so damn noisy!

Yep you damn unhappy gringos got me on that one. It is a noisy country. They love their music, dancing and karaoke to all hours of the night. There seems to be a bar in every block. They have the cars with the big speakers on the roof that is just junk mail advertising.

tipscostarica.com / Via tipscostarica.com

tipscostarica.com / Via tipscostarica.com

There are the dogs, the monkeys, the birds and all manner of jungle creatures that howl and bark, and make sounds all hours of the day and night. Yes this is a noisy country. Some areas more so than others, but you are going to have noise no matter what. Than again so are most countries. You eventually get used to it and if you don’t you find yourself a nice set of noise canceling headphone and you put on some tunes and you go to sleep.  OH and don’t forget you sleep mask, cause the sun is going to wake your ass up at 5am every day! :-)

It so expensive to live here!

Well lets see are you trying to live like you did back in your home country? I’m thinking you are. I’m thinking you are looking for all the foods you are use to and looking for those brands you love so much back there. Well guess what? It is expensive if you live like that. Now I have to admit I do look for my name brand stuff. I do shop in places that are more expensive. The only difference is I don’t complain about it all that god damn time! I make that choice to shop at the pricesmart and the automercodo. I don’t have to. I can get everything I need right here in our little town of Atenas and for much cheaper mind you. Tico’s live on $700 or less a month. Now I wouldn’t want to do that, but most gringos who come here and embrace the life can do it for under $2K a month. Here is a budget from a friend who does a blog about living here cheaply.

Yes it is expensive if you try to live like you use to. It doesn’t have to be that way. I have made some changes on where I shop for some items, but I need to do more. If you eat out every night of the week, and complain about beans and rice, than again I say to you go back to the old country. You really are not happy here.

Ok, so I could go on and on and on, but why. I think I covered the top reasons gringos are unhappy here. What I think the top reason a gringo is unhappy here is they didn’t do their research and they can’t change their life style. That is what makes them unhappy. Sometimes they are just people who like to complain about everything!

So lets wrap this one up. Food sucks, its too expensive, its not safe, its noisy, its too hot, it too rainy, its dusty and dirty and the workers are horrible. So I would have to say I give unhappy gringos -100 seashell1out of 5 because they really have missed the point. Now I give living in Costa Rica especially Atenas 5 seashell1out of 5 for its beauty, wonderful food, friendly people, and just pure and simple way of life!

Pura Vida!

Update: After I posted this blog Roman Savin on a facebook group said and I quote: “There are two types of expats: parasites and fertilizers. Parasites come with “you owe” me attitude and look at locals not as humans, but a source of cheap food, labor, entertainment. Fertilizers are trying to integrate and enrich foreign culture with their own.

We live just once and Costa Rica is an amazing place to be. Let’s be fertilizers!”

I love love love this saying!

Pura Vida!

Categories: Costa Rica Life Experience | Tags: , , , , | 25 Comments

Solo Camaron (Gringo Speak Only Shrimp)

solo shrimp

Plaza Itskatzu local 110 —-Coronado, (Complejo LONE STAR) De la Municipalidad 200 Este, 200 Norte, 400 Este, 300 Norte
San José, Costa Rica

So after our movie our friends decided to go here for dinner. It was a small, but very nice place. It was clean, the restaurant and the single unisex bathroom, bathroom review is always important! The table and chairs were comfortable and the place was nicely decorated and it had a tv or two with sports on them at the time and some nice music was playing in the background. The staff was friendly and helpful. The waitress didn’t speak much English, but I think she understood some, but the cook in the back did speak English which was good as I forgot to tell them we wanted our shrimp steamed and not fried.

solo menuSo this is their menu. As you can see nothing but shrimp! Which is ok. They do it wll and you get a nice portion for your money. They gave us an English version of the menu. Which can be a plus, but I don’t usually need it. As I have said before my restaurant Spanish is pretty good. :-) as I like to say, “Mi restaurante español es bueno!” They do get points for having a menu in English.

WP_20140304_18_33_51_ProSo onto the food which is the most important thing in a restaurant review. :-) I had the Shrimp Salad on this menu it is the Florida one. It was a meal in and of itself. There was enough of it that you didn’t need any more shrimp. It had a good bit of veggies that were of nutritional value. The bed of cabbage was nice! Instead of all that lettuce which has no value other then to fill you up and is cheap from a cost stand point.

WP_20140304_18_33_42_ProMy wife and I also ordered the steamed shrimp with the buffalo sauce. Not much to it, but we did get our monies worth with the shrimp no doubt and the sauce I believe tasted like Franks Hot Sauce which is the original buffalo sauce which was very good! I am glad they use that sauce. I believe that was the 600 gram plate.

Here are some photos of the food out friends had.

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So lets wrap this one up. Good food, fair price, clean, good service. I give this 4 seashell15. You should go and give them a try. The only reason they didn’t get 5 out of 5 was the size of the place. It was small.

Pura Vida!

Categories: Restaurant Reviews, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Movie Review: Homefront

homefront reviewSo this movie is about a former DEA officer who moves his daughter to what he thinks is a small, quiet back woods type of town. I guess after his long undercover mission he was ready to spend some time with his daughter. Now comes the plot. He just finished a case busting a meth ring and wouldn’t you know it he runs into a a meth ring in this town. Go figure right?

So its a pretty simple plot. Nothing new and nothing amazing about this movie. Now don’t get me wrong it was a good movie. It had all the elements of an action movie. There were a lot of fight scenes and some car chases. So if you into that stuff this movie has it all for you. I did like the kick ass scene in the beginning of the movie where his daughter kicks the ass of a bully! I would of like to see her do more in this movie. Izabela Vidovic who plays Maddy did a wonderful job. Jason Statham did an excellent job as always. I love all of his films and this one did a good job as well.  There were a number of other big name actors in this movie and all did well.

The movie was a little short for my liking. I like my movies to be a minimum of 2 hours, but not more then 4 hours. I like longer movies as I feel I am getting my money’s worth when I go see them. Well, that is provided they are good movies and not a wast of 3 hours.

So lets wrap this up. Good action movie with some big name actors. Plot was simple and done many times. I would have liked to see Izabela’s part be a little bigger, but it was done well. So I give this move 3 seashell1 out of 5. The only reason it didn’t get 4 was the plot and story line were just to predictable and there was nothing special. You should go see it no doubt.

Pura Vida

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Movie Review: The Wolf of Wall Street

wolf of wall street 2A groups of friends went to the movies the other day and we saw The Wolf of Wall Street. We went to the movies at the Avenida Escazu . Their webpage is here: http://www.avenidaescazu.com/

What I love about going to the movies in Costa Rica is tha you get to pick the seat you are going to sit in the theater when you go to purchase your tickets. What I hate is that they don’t have butter for the popcorn!!! Well not at this theater. The do have caramel popcorn and you can get yours 1/2 and 1/2. I was actually thinking of taking my own melted butter next time in a container. Well once I can eat real butter again. :-)

Now at this theater they have 2 movies theaters that they call VIP. They are just that VIP! The seats are leather recliners and you get waited on like in a restaurant. There is a selection of real food you can order as well as the normal popcorn and candy. You can also order alcoholic drinks!  So its like being at home watching the movie only you have people to wait on you as well. Let me tell you the prices are very reasonable and nothing like back in the states.

The regular tickets are $6 and the VIP tickets are $10. Getting a popcorn and soda isn’t going to take you broke either. Movies in Costa Rica are a nice cheap way to spend some time with the family not like in the States.

Now onto the movie review. So if you like sex and the glorification of drug use than this movie is for you. If you don’t I would advise you not to go see it. There is a lot of sex scenes in this movie. I’m not just talking tasteful in bed loving scenes. These are graphic orgies with full frontal nudity. They do it everywhere! I have a hard time seeing how this was a R rated movie and not an X. Now I wouldn’t say it was a XXX, but it should have at least 1 x . Now there is the drug use. It is constant and it is made out to be the best thing ever. It covered everything from Cocaine to prescription medication abuse. They do it all in this movie and sometimes all of them all at once. So avoid this movie if any of that offends.

Now that I have that out of the way I can get to the movie. This is a story about a simple guy who lead a very simple life until he started to work for a firm on wall street. Does his life change and go wild. It is an interesting story to say the least. If this guys life was really like this movie and they didn’t take artistic license, I have no clue how he is even alive. The acting by Leonardo was again amazing. They put together a great cast  who all brought their A game on this one. This was a movie of rages to ritches to jail movie. It was well done, but be warned it is a long movie. It is about 3 hours. It had many moments where I was like, “OH my god they didn’t just do that!” I was laughing many times though out the movie.

So lets wrap this up. The movie was long but worth it, the plot was good, a little over the top with the sex and drugs which I am ok with but could be a problem for others. Overall not a waste of 3 hours a good movie to go see with your significant other. Don’t take your mother, father or kids that is for sure. So I give this one 4 seashell1out of 5. It was really pretty good. I was surprised. Pura Vida!

Categories: Malls | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Arroz con Mango

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200 metros al Este del Puente Manolos, camino a Zooave, 2022-4050 La Garita, Alajuela, Costa Rica

 

So we heard so many good things about this restaurant that we just had to go. My wife and I and our friends headed out to have some lunch. The place has a good bit of parking and from what I could see it needs it. We were the 1st few there for lunch, but by the time we left the place was filling up. So does a busy place mean it is a good place to eat? Well I guess we will see.

Here are pictures from their Facebook page of their menu. Lets start with those so you can see what they have to offer and what the prices are and then I will get into what we had and was it worth what we paid.

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The restaurant its self is very nice. It is large and the seat were comfy, the tables are nice and the place is clean. There are a number of people there who speak English. However our waiter spoke very little. As I stated in another post my wife and I are on a strict diet. My restaurant Spanish is actually pretty good. So I can go in and know what the menu says and order the food the way I like it. Now with the strict diet it does make it a little hard. Most restaurants can figure it out and are very helpful. Here it was a little difficult.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe food we got was good. Well the main entree was. We were given an option of 2 sides. This picture shows what I ate. I chose as my two side ensalada verde (green salad for my grino friends). I am required to eat a minimum of 2 cups of veggies, and lettuce doesn’t count. This salad had very little nutritional value to it and was no where near even 1 cup of veggies. Now the chicken was very good! It wasn’t dry and the sauce was ok. I have a feeling, but I could be wrong it was sauce from a jar. I do not think it was homemade. Now the salad dressing was very good. It was a lemon juice based sauce. Very tasty and went a long way to making the salad better. Was this meal worth $11 sorry to say no. It wasn’t just he poor salad that was the issue. The quantity of meat and the taste of the sauce wasn’t matching the price.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis was my wife’s meal. It is the filet mignon. I did taste it and it had a very good taste to it. She is on the diet so she too got the double salad as her veggie choice. Now unlike me she did not like the dressing at all. The steak was in a wine sauce which is technically a no no on our diet. It was a tender piece of steak. It was cooked the way she requested it as medium rare. Was this meal worth $15? I would say yes it was, even though the salad was again lacking.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis meal belonged to one of our friends. She enjoyed it very much. She and her husband like this place a lot. While we were there I found out this was their 3rd visit in the last 5 days or so. I would say they like the place. Her meal was the chicken cesar salad. She also got a side of fried with it. She said it was very good. Is this meal with $6? I would say yes it was.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA This was our other friends meal. It was a burger and fries. He said it was very good and the burger was stuffed with cheese. Which is always a nice touch. Back in the states a restaurant we used to go to had stuffed burgers and they were amazing. Our friend said the burger was good and the onions were exceptionally good as well. They were fried and very sweet. Now was this meal worth $9? $9 for a burger and fries is a little steep. So I am going to say a maybe on this one. Since I didn’t taste it I don’t want to say no.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis was the brownie. I forgot to take a picture of it before it was eaten. It was very good. They usually serve it warm with ice cream. I got it because we were a little late getting lunch and my blood sugar was very, very low. Now after this meal and once I got home my sugar level was normal without insulin. Which was a good thing. Now if this was warm and with ice cream worth $4? I would say oh yea!

It is a family oriented restaurant, no doubt. There are a couple of play areas for the kids. I also understand they do live music as well. So all these add to the value of this restaurant.

So lets wrap this one up. Food was good, place was clean, staff was friendly and service was very good. Some items were over priced while others were worth it. I would say I give them 3 1/2 seashell1out of 5. If the prices were a little better, the sauce didn’t taste like it came from a jar, and the salad actually had some good stuff it in I would have given it a 4.  I know some of my friends who have been there are going to give me some flack for this one, but this was my experience. I will give them another try later on, but I won’t go out of my way to go back. Defiantly when I am off the diet we will go back and I will review it again.

Pura Vida!

 

Categories: Restaurant Reviews, Travel | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Flowers and plants and trees OH MY!!!!!

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Vivero Central La Garita Address: Diagonal crossing the Manolos, the Garita de Alajuela. Phone: 2433-1756 Fax: 2433-7364

So I decided that today would be the day to go to the Vivero in La Garita. I was told that on Sundays they have people there who speak English. I do speak very little Spanish and my restaurant Spanish is so much better then my garden flower Spanish, I decided Sunday would be a good day. So we get there and the place is packed! Tons of cars everywhere. Glad they have a lot of parking. After some walking around and taking pictures, I started to look for someone who spoke English.  So go up to person number one, ¿Hablas Inglés? No. Person number two ¿Hablas Inglés? No. Person number three ¿Hablas Inglés? No So at this point starting to get worried that I was told incorrect information or the one person who speaks English is out today. I than go up to person number 4. ¿Hablas Inglés. No pero Frank hace and he pointed to a gentleman waiting on a nice young lady. So I waited until they were done their conversation and said, Are you Frank? He replied, “Yes”. Score! English! So I said, “When you are done can you please help me”. Again his response was, “Yes I can, I will be 10 minutes.” So if you go on a Sunday and ask for Frank wonderful young man and he speak English.

Let me tell you this place is huge!!!!!! I can not explain how large it is. Some stuff you have to get in your car and drive to go see and pickup. There is miles and miles and miles of plants and trees and all manner of things. I found all sorts of stuff I wanted. I was trying to be a little frugal and I was concerned about space in my car so I bought a few things. I was looking to spend about $200.

Now nothing had any prices on it that I could see out in the field. The stuff inside close to the check out line did. As we were walking around and I was asking him questions, I was figuring things in my head as to what they may cost in the US. So we walked for about an hour and picked up a good bit of stuff and when we went back my wife had picked out another items as well. So he writes up everything on a little slip of paper and hands it to me to go to the check out while he gets boxes to put everything in. I look over the list and my jaw drops on the floor! Oh my god! I could not believe my eyes. I had figured in my head with US prices it should have been about $250 to $275. So as soon as I get home I jump on the internet and double check my prices. Yep I was just about right. If I would have bought these items in the states it would have cost me $265. What did I pay for this you ask? $80. Yep that is right $80. Not 80,000 colones. $80 us dollars. I am so going back and picking up so much more!!!!!

So here is a gallery of pictures of the Vivero. I hope you enjoy them. This is only but a sample of what was right in front of the place. There was so, so, so much more! Next time I think I am going to buy orange trees! Come rainy season we are thinking the part of our property we don’t use to plant a bunch of fruit trees on and I know where I am going to get those trees!

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So lets wrap this one up. Good service, huge selection, close to Atenas, and cheap!!!!!!! I give them 5 seashell1 out of 5.

OH I almost forgot here are pictures of what I got. It doesn’t look like much but it is all clumped together in the boxes. There are a good number of plants there.

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Pura Vida!

Categories: Garden, Travel | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

How safe is Costa Rica?

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Heredia: Plus size shops and more!

So after our visit to our nutritionist today we had some time to kill before we took the care in for its 5K kilometer oil change. Daniela our nutritionist suggest we go to the mall to kill time. Our plan was to go to the nutritionist, get some lunch than go for the oil change. So we took her suggestion. The mall was very nice! Lots of shops, lots of places to get food, very clean. Here are some pictures of places in the mall. I don’t know if Daniela sent us here to help us or test us.

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There was a Pops, a Cup cake House, a Misses Fields and a number of other place that we can not eat at. ;-) These were not the places she sent us there fore. While we were here we figured we would walk around. They had a pretty nice size food court that had every fast foot restaurant you could ever want. If you go there and don’t find a place to eat you are one very, very picky person. Here are some  photo’s of the food court.

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As you can see very large. Our target goal was not the food court, although we could have eaten at some of the places there. There were a number of places that had very healthy options and some that had some amazing looking salads! I will eventually get to the restaurant we actual ate at I promise. :-)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe one thing we have found that is lacking in Costa Rica is plus size shops. Women who  are not a size 1 or 2 will find it hard to find clothing here. This mall actually had two plus size shops. So if you are a plus size woman this is the place to go! You should check out this website.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis was a shock to see. Laser Tag!!!! I have not played this in years and didn’t think there were any more of them around. The mall had a lot of stuff for kids. A couple of play areas. It is most definitely geared toward families without a doubt.

The mall have very good parking. There was free parking as well as paid parking. We used the free parking as there were many spaces, but you have to keep in mind we were there at 10:30 am on a friday. When we left at about 1:30 or so it did have a number of cars and less free parking spaces open. I didn’t not go through the paid garage area so not sure what that was like.

Now onto the restaurant which was our main reason for coming to the mall today. Here is the place that we ate at:

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I really loved this restaurant. OK,  so keep in mind we are on a special diet. We need to eat 8 oz of protein and 2 cups of vegetables for lunch today. This was the perfect place! Good food at reasonable prices.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy wife and I both had a the same salad, which when we were done we both said, “Wow that was a meal!” After our salad we each had an entree. The vegetables were grilled over a nice bed of lettuce. Can I say the salt they had on the table was amazing. I love the taste of it and went very nicely with the vegetable salad.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis was my entree and let me tell you it was delicious. There was another small salad, a pepper filled with cheese that I could not eat on the diet so I did leave that behind. I did clear the rest of the plate and just wanted to lick it, but I was in public so I fought back the urge. There are 3 kinds of meat on the plate. On the right is a chicken breast that was tender and juicy. The middle was a piece of steak that was cooked to a perfect medium. The only issue I had was the waiter didn’t ask me how I wanted my steak, but it turned out very nice. I like mine a little more rare, but this was nice and it was also tender. Something you don’t always find here. The only reason I got this entree was I wanted to try the steak and this gave me options if it was as bad as most steaks in this country. I will only eat steak from a restaurant that a friend has tried and given a good review. I will on occasion give it a shot, but every time I have done that I was disappointed with the steak. It was usually over cooked and very tough. Now the item on the left is pulled pork. My wife tasted it and wasn’t thrilled by it, but I thought it was good. Not as good as the chicken or steak, but good. Needless to say after I was done with this and the salad I was stuffed!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis was my wife’s entree. She got the corvina (fish) and again it came with a salad and a potato filled with cheese. She could not eat the potato because of the diet. I did take a very small taste of it on my fork and it was a little bland, but add the salt from the table and I’m sure it would be fine. The fish was cooked to perfection and had a very good taste to it. A winner when you go and if you like fish.

The only minus with the restaurant for us was that it only carried Pepsi products. We do not like Pepsi. We are hardcore Coke people. She did get the diet pepsi and I got the diet sprite. The drinks come out in a small pitcher. There is about 2 1/2 glasses in each pitcher and you are charged for each one. I was hoping since it was fountain soda it was free refills but it was not.  Our total meal came to 30,000 colones which is about $60 US. It may seem pricey for lunch, but keep in mind this is our dinner meal. It was a lot of food and very tasty it was well worth the price. We could have gotten away with just the salad and drinks and came out with a very cheap meal.

So lets wrap this up. The mall was very nice. It was clean, the bathrooms were well maintained. A lot of stores so I doubt you wouldn’t find what you are looking for. So the mall I give 4 seashell1 out of 5.

Now the restaurant wrap up. Service was great, food was great, restaurant was nice. so, I also give it  4 seashell1 out of 5.  I would have given it 5 out of 5 if they didn’t sell Pepsi and if they gave free refills.

Pura Vida!

Categories: Malls, Restaurant Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 33 Comments

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