Costa Rica Life Experience

 
 

Sorry to say, but happy to say at the same time

My new project My Life Book has taken over my life. In a week we have already gained almost 5K members! That is great. So much of my time is now spent there I can no longer keep this up over here as well.

So Best of Costa Rica now has a presence on MLB. All blogs and other items will be posted there. This site will stay here for achive purposes, but anything new will be posted on Best of Costa Rica’s coffee house page. Please follow me over on MLB.  You will get everything you get here, but there. If you sign up before Monday you get a free lifetime membership. After Monday there is a yearly subscription fee depending on what you wish to do.

Here are two video’s for MLB. Hope you enjoy them and will join us over there. Look us up.

Hopefully I will see you there!

Pura Vida!

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Top 10 Happiest Countries In The World

Costa Rica made #1!!!!!!!!!!!! We who live here know this! 

The world is just full of happy people, from one stretch of the earth to the other.

Yet, some countries do seem to have a higher concentration of local joy and satisfaction than others,

featuring traits like high life expectancies, booming economies, and great education.

But what’s the secret to these happy countries – is it the location, environment, politics, culture, or just something in the water?

While we may never know the precise reasons, after compiling data from various resources like the Happy Planet Index, the World Happiness report, and Forbes’ list of happiest countries,

we can at least let you know what the 10 happiest countries in the world are.

Then, all that’s left for you to do is pack your bags, pick a country, and make your move.

1. Costa RicaCosta-Rica

Not only does Costa Rica abound with natural beauty, from the sandy beaches and ocean waters to the volcanoes and lush rainforests, but the people of this army-free country also report having one of the highest life satisfactions in the world. With a high life expectancy of 79.3 years, locals get to enjoy the pleasant living for years and years. It’s no wonder that their local saying, “pura vida”, loosely translates to “life is good”.

2. NorwayFjords-Norway

It’s not surprising that Norway tends to rank very high on world happiness reports – it’s one of the most prosperous countries in the world, has the 2nd highest level of satisfaction with standards of living, and three quarters of its residents report that they have more positive than negative experiences each day. The country is also one of the most naturally beautiful places on earth, with an abundance of fjords, glaciers, and mountains.

3. DenmarkDenmark

With its fantastic community, high environmental scores, and people’s great work-life balance, Denmark ranks number three in our list of happiest places. Its hydrocarbon economy is booming and unemployment rates are low, with well-educated people (partially due to their free education system) and a 100% literacy rate.

4. SwitzerlandSwitzerland

Switzerland is simply stunning, with its towering snow-capped mountains, beautiful lakes, and environments that range from lush to frozen. Its people are also some of the happiest, with higher than average life expectancies, strong health rankings, plenty of community involvement, and great safety. Plus, in a place that’s known for its abundance of delectable chocolate, how could you ever be sad?

5. VietnamVietnam

According to several reports, Vietnam is the happiest country in all of Asia. Residents have a very high level of satisfaction with their life, enjoying the gorgeous beaches, green mountains, dramatic scenery, and mouthwatering regional cuisine.

6. CanadaCanada

One of the largest countries in the world is also one of the happiest; Canadian people are incredibly content with their current lives and the direction that they’re heading in. Canadians have one of the highest life expectancies in the world, live in one of the safest of all countries, and have a top performing education system. Plus, 80% of all residents say that they enjoy more positive experiences than negative in the average day.

7. NetherlandsNetherlands

This European country isn’t all tulips, windmills, and clogs – Netherlanders rate themselves as some of the most satisfied people in the world. With their strong job market and great work-life balance, this doesn’t come as much of a surprise. In their very free country, locals also get to enjoy plenty of personal choice, from religion to sexuality and everything in between.

8. SwedenSweden

Sweden has both exciting big cities and stunning natural beauty, with thick green forests, rocky islands, and vast frozen landscapes. The country also scores high in areas of environmental quality, overall health, life satisfaction, and number of business opportunities.

9. FinlandFinland

Known for its great education system, this Nordic country also offers a high quality of life, low levels of corruption, high literacy rates, a small income gap, high life expectancy, and a great work-life balance.

10. AustraliaAustralia

Don’t let all the sharks, snakes, and venomous spiders fool you – Australians are some of the happiest in the world. Not only do they live in one of the most adored spots on earth (who wouldn’t like sunny skies, coral reefs, and white sand beaches?), but they also rank high in many life-happiness categories; they have some of the highest scores for community engagement, health, environmental care, and employment.

Pura Vida and Congratulations to Costa Rica!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Originally posted here: http://www.earthporm.com/top-10-happiest-countries-world/#.U8_kgcgM_PJ.facebook

 

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The More Extreme Sides of Life

After the events that caused me to post (and to remove) my last entry on this blog, I have begun to do some digging and engage in conversation with a few of the locals who have lived here for several years.

It turns out that my sweet little Caribbean town has a serious dark side to it.

Unlike the safer and more established Pacific coast, this side of Costa Rica is heavily influenced by drug traffickers who find particular ease in travel from South America to The United States, a country that boasts a $100 Billion per year illegal narcotic industry.  (Fun fact: Peru has now surpassed Colombia as the number one producer of cocaine and the coca plant.)  Because of this, crime is arguably more rampant in this part of the country than in any other.  Throughout my discussions, I am told stories of shootouts at local bars, violent robberies of tourists and even of a man whose son was killed a few years ago and who subsequently contacted local vigilante groups, offering $20,000 for the murderer’s head.

Want to read the rest? Click here

Pura Vida!

 

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Driving in Costa Rica

I get this question all the time, “Should I rent a car when I come to Costa Rica to drive myself?” That is actually a very good question. When we came to Costa Rica for the 1st time in Nov. 2012 we brought a friend with us who has a son who lives here with his mother. He is familiar with the area and how they drive here so it was a win for us. He made it seem so easy. He found everywhere we wanted to go, driving was a breeze for him and it just seemed so simple.

We go home and decide this is the place for us. Our purpose of our trip was to look at houses and to live here for 10 days to see if we would like it. We did! Feb. of 2013 we moved here. Our friend Will made driving here look so easy I decided I would rent a car. We get into the airport at 8pm. Great! We head out and can’t seem to find where to go pick up our car? Damn!  We walk though the parade of taxi and bus people trying to get us to use them. We finally walk past all of those and are looking around. Nope nothing. So I call and they send a pickup for us. Great!!! Now we are on our way.

We get to the rental place and get all signed in and they get our car ready. A nice gentleman puts our bag in the car. I am talking to the rental agent and trying to get directions to our hotel. He gives me this map (I am horrible with maps!) OK, no problem he writes on it which directions to go and tells me to go out turn, than turn at the end of the road take it down past the bridge and yada yada yada giving me land marks to look for in true Tico (I didn’t know this than) fashion. Many times they use places like the Coke factory (Which has been closed for years) as a land mark, but luckily the sign is still there. Or you get turn left after the cow tied to the big mango tree. Sorry for people if that farmer ever lets that cow loose or has it for dinner. Off we go me thinking I can do this! My wife thinking, “Oh God we are never going to find this place!”. She knows me so well.

We get in the car and off we go. OK made the turn, yep I see the bridge OK going good. Wait what? That’s not a road! Keep going. Oh wait maybe it was. Nope didn’t look like one and there was no sign. Keep going, and going, and going. Nope I think we missed it.

So to make a long story shorter than it already isn’t. We arrive at 8 pm we didn’t get to a hotel (not ours) until midnight. After driving and driving and driving I stopped and asked a taxi driver to take me to the hotel. Well little did I know there were two of them with that name so he took me to the old one not the new one. I got a room and the actual hotel send a car in the morning to take us to the right hotel that was and I kid you not 10 min drive from the car rental place! Yep that was our 1st adventure in Costa Rica. I did however get to see a lot of Costa Rica that day! Back to what this article is about.

We have now been hear in Costa Rica for 1 year and 5 months! I have learned a number of things that will help you should you decide to drive yourself here in Costa Rica. Before I give you my top things you need to know one of the basic things you need is a course in defensive driving! You will need it! Here are my top things to know about driving in Costa Rica.

1. Laws we don’t need no damn laws! All traffic laws are just suggestions. You come to an intersection with a stop sign, expect someone isn’t going to stop! Be careful of any intersection no matter if it is a stop sign, a red light, a flashing yellow on their end, it doesn’t matter. Always check and be on the look out. Now should you be caught in violation of those rules you will be stopped and fined. So follow them, but know others may not!

OH and by the way this bike is for sale. :-) It is located in MD. Titan 9/11 tribute bike called “Rudy” That is Peter Reckell from Days of our lives. I bought it from him.

2. 2 Wheels Cool and 4 wheels drool! 2 wheel vehicles will come out of no where and dart in and out like nobody’s business. They will cut you off, they will come up behind you and along side of you even if there isn’t really a lane on either side. They are going to be hard to see and God help you if you are not on the look out for them.  They seem to think they rule the road and they really do not have to pay attention to any rules at all! None!

3. Honk if I’m sexy! Oh yea! They love to honk their horn! All the time and for any and all reasons. In the states we were always taught that you don’t honk unless it is an emergency! Here if you sit 2 seconds past the light changing they honk. They like your car they honk. You are going to slow for them they honk. They want you to get the hell out of their way they honk. They win the world cup match they honk like mad!!!! That one I understand! Go Tico! They didn’t win but they did one hell of a job. They see a pretty girl or a nice looking guy they honk. I think you get it they honk a lot!

This is a 2 way 2 lane highway. See a problem?

4. Leap Car anyone? If there is a car in front of you than you must pass it! It doesn’t matter if they are going the speed limit if they are in front of them they must speed up and pass any vehicle that is in front of them. I totally understand when there are slow moving cars or those big trucks that can’t do the hills. If I am going 10 km over the speed limit and you still feel the need to pass me you go right ahead. Make sure you honk at me as you pass me as well. :-)

5. Chicken anyone? Watch for vehicles coming at you in your lane!!! Again the whole passing thing. If they have to drive in the wrong lane to pass they will do so and will do so as long as they feel they can. I was driving on day and we had two lanes on our side and there was a very slow moving 18 wheeler on my right side lane so I was in the left. There was only a single lane for the oncoming traffic and it was a down hill thing. We had a double yellow line meaning neither I nor they should cross as well all know. Well good luck with that. A truck pulls out into my lane to pass the 18 wheeler and 3 other vehicles that were in front of him moving slowly down the hill. So I keep going and going and he is getting closer and closer and closer. Finally I had to speed up to pass the cars on my right so that I can swerve to the right so that he misses me by inches and he cuts off the 18 wheeler to miss me. Vehicles coming at you in your lane is not uncommon here. Either for passing or because the road on their side is so bad they need to move into your lane. Its just how it is.

6. No Hay Paso (gringo speak Do not enter one way) Yea ok sure! remember rule number 1. I can’t tell you how many times vehicles have come the wrong direction on a road just because it is quicker. I understand it to a point because sometimes in towns the way they have roads flowing just doesn’t makes sense. If it say do not enter don’t enter just because you are in a hurry.

7. Here a Tico there a Tico everywhere a Tico. Yes most don’t have cars so they walk everywhere. Day, night doesn’t matter the time you will have people walking in and along the street. Why? There are no sidewalks really. So driving at night can be a little dangerous as some like to walk in the road and wearing all black!!!!!!! Some do have reflective gear. Some don’t. People will ride bikes everywhere they go as well so they fall under rule #2 above. Now most people on bikes do wear reflective gear or have something reflective on their bike and some don’t.

8. Bark, Bark, Hissss, Moo, and Cockadoodledo. When driving please, please watch for the animals. There are a lot of street dogs that wonder the roads, or just sit in the middle of the road. That one I don’t understand as you would think as hot as it gets here the road would be so hot for them. Not sure how they can stand to do that. Most won’t chase your car. I always say if a dog barks at your car and chases you its an expat its not from here. Yes dogs, cats, cows, horses, rooster and chickens can all be found wondering the roads. Not just the back roads, but the main highways as well. So don’t think just because you are traveling a highway like 27 that there won’t be an animal or two or 20 that you must contend with!

9. Stop Police! There are a couple different types of police here, but for this article I will only speak about the Traffic police. There are usually somewhere a check point setup. If you are here for a few days or a week or living here now you will at the very least see one. If they step out and wave you down stop!!!!! You really don’t want them to come chance you and they will. They are checking to see if you are here legally. They will ask for the drivers passport and valid drivers licenses. Now a couple schools of thought on this. Most will only carry a copy of the front of their passport and the current visa stamped page. I hear that is ok. I carry my actual passport. I have heard stories of the police taking the actual passport and requiring you to pay them to get it back. I have never had that issue (*knock on wood) I also have only been stopped 1 in 15 months. The one time I was stopped my passport was in the back seat in my man purse. Yes I have a purse and I am secure enough to admit it! :-) They did let me get it, but he was willing to accept my wife’s as well who was sitting next to me. So up to you, but stop if they stop you! Only the traffic police can give you a ticket. The regular policía are for criminal activities only. The tráfico policía can only stop you for traffic violations. Now the tráfico policía are usually accompanied by regular policía at the traffic stops so that if you are in violation of immigration rules or criminal laws they can lock you up.

10. Last and by no means least! GPS systems actually do a fairly decent job here. Not wonderful, but most do work. So if you have one and it has Costa Rica maps that you can download you should do it. Get that done before you come and bring it with you. Do not leave it in plain site or anything of value when you leave your car. There is one system that I happen to love! It is called Waze! If you have a smart phone download it! You will love it. Our GPS is about 90% accurate with roads and such but Waze is 99.99% up to date at all times. Its great! If you have data on your phone it will give you live up to date traffic conditions from accidents to traffic stops! All entered by other Waze members as it happens. It really is great!

Not taken in Costa Rica, but it sums it up! :-)

So, that pretty much covers it. I am working on compiling some video’s of how they drive here and once I get that done I  will post it. I have a lot of footage to go though to pull out the specific examples so that is going to take a while to get done. I will get it done and post it here. So enjoy visiting Costa Rica and driving here. Really just use your head and be alert at all times and you should be fine. Think of it this way if you get lost what an adventure! Be sure to stop at the local places where you are lost and check things out, takes some pictures and enjoy it! Sample the local food and maybe just maybe if you don’t speak English you will run into someone who does and they will help you find your way. Even sometimes when you don’t speak Spanish you can still get a taxi driver to help you out like I did! Just pay them for their meter to take you where you need to go! That is what I did! Oh I almost forgot make sure you rental is a min. of 6 cylinders under the hood or you could be one of those slow moving cars on the road!

Pura Vida! 

 

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Costa Rica Night life? YouTube Videos of the day

What is Costa Rica Night Life like? This question has been asked of me many time. Since I usually am in the house by 9 pm I really couldn’t tell you. Yes I am that old. Well not really. Just not big on the night life scene. So here are some videos that hopefully will show it. Enjoy!

Pretty typical bar type of music and such. Than there is this type. If you don’t want to see 1/2 necked woman dancing on bars don’t play these videos. Also if you don’t like talk about prostitution here in Costa Rica read no further. I try to give all sides and prostitution is a part of the night life here. I just want to state I am not promoting this activity in any way. These are the facts. 

So this brings me to talking about Prostitution here in Costa Rica. Is it legal? The short answer is yes it is. Is it regulated? No. It is not like it is in other countries such as Germany or Amsterdam. In these countries unlike Costa Rica all the girls and guys have regular health checks and ID cards. Health checks are offered and free to prostitutes here in Costa Rica, but very few actually get them done. There is no way to know for sure if they have had it. Again no regulation at all.

Pimping is illegal in Costa Rica, but like most things here it is very lax on its enforcement. Again like most things if you are an expat and think of going into this business where locals are concerned it is lax with you they will not be so. You will at min. be deported if caught and worst jailed! You do not want to spend time for pimping in a Costa Rica jail as an Expat.

The age of consent is 18 year old. No if’s, no and’s,  no “I didn’t know she wasn’t 18″. or “She told me she was 18″. 18 is the age a person can charge for sex and do not get caught with or even offering to compensate them in any way to have sex if they are under the age of 18. Again deportation and or jail! By the gods people on Facebook are insane. So don’t look at, don’t offer, don’t speak to, don’t talk to anther person to have them make an offer to anyone under the age of 18 about sex, compensation for sex or anything else that goes along with sex. Simple 18 good under 18 bad get you thrown in jail and or deported in Costa Rica. I assumed that my The age of consent is 18 years old would have covered all of this, but some people need it spelled out for them. Insanity people insanity. 

So how do you know? Fake id’s are easy to get here. So that doesn’t help. There are a number of options. Massage parlous are you best option. They have set prices and the establishment get about 50% of what you pay. Remember I said pimping is not allowed? This like all things in Costa Rica is the work around. They do not consider this pimping. The reason this is the best option as the rooms are there and available and you do not have to go rent a hotel or bring them back to where you are staying.

Pickup bars are you 2nd best option. The girls hang out there and you will know who they are it is very clear. They are independent and set their own prices. No one takes a cut from them. The will tell you what they are willing to do and not do. It is my understanding everything is negotiable with them unlike other option that have set prices. No negotiations with the other options. The price is the price. Now here is the down side of this way of doing it. You have to provide the room. You have to be very careful when you book your room that they will allow prostitutes in. Many do not! Now other hotels will allow them in, but they will charge you an outrageous fee to do so. Again this is not pimping. :-) yea right. DO NOT and I can not stress this enough DO NOT take them to where you are staying!  Make sure you know what you are getting into before you book your room. Do it a head of time and ask the right questions before you book. If you are embarrassed about saying, “I want to book a room to have a prostitute for the night” you may not want to go looking for one using this option. Use the option above.

You next option is strip clubs. Now these while they are the 3rd best option are very dangerous. They work the same way as the massage parlous as they have a set price. The establishment gets about 50%, but there are many stories of people being held at gunpoint and being robbed or having huge charges on their bills and not being allowed to leave until it is paid. You must be very careful if the option you choose is a strip club.

Your last and final option and really should not be an option is street girls. This is the most dangerous. Really you won’t know what you are getting until you get them back to your room. I have been told that many are not as they seem. You may think you are getting a woman and when you get them back to your room “Crying Game!!!!” Those of you who don’t not understand that reference its really a man and not a woman. Many especially here in Costa Rica make very nice looking woman! So be careful! You are also more vulnerable to being robed this way. There is no way to really verify their age! This is a big problem! The other options above all involve establishments that will be sure that everyone is 18 or older. Please don’t chose this option.

While yes it is mainly men who do this there are many woman who also seek this type of service. The services also extends to people who are looking for gay hook ups as well. Costa Rica does have many options and many choices n this regard. You must know what you are getting yourself into and be very careful. It isn’t a world you want to really do with out knowing what you are doing. Check out everything ahead of time.

NBC report on the Sex Tourism in Costa Rica

So there you have it the Good, The Bad, and the Ugly side of the Night life in Costa Rica.

Pura Vida!

Don’t forget to check out our Cafe Press shop! $3 of every item purchased goes to Charities here in Costa Rica. They do mail to Costa Rica fairly cheap. I did a test of a mouse pad and got it in 12 days delivered to my house! Amazing!!!!



Also check out our House for Sale and Rent listings as well!  If you are traveling and you want a cheap $4.99 a month and good VPN so you can watch hulu, your countries Netflix, and amazon click here. Good for travel or if you live here in Costa Rica. Don’t forget about our Amazon shop as well!

Use this link to see all thing Costa Rica on Amazon! Make your purchase today! All things Costa Rica

Remember if you get an account with the Unblock-US vpn you can than Live stream your movie and tv shows at our link! 

Booking a vacation? Use our link below! 


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What you can see and enjoy in Costa Rica

What you can see and enjoy in Costa Rica

A tropical paradise you could never imagine–that’s the simplest and most appropriate way of describing this stunning country in Central America. The Panama Canal is to this country’s southeast. Beautifully located, this country is home to the most verdant tropical rain forests, lush and dense.

It is also home to the most amazing variety of exotic animals and plant life. Here’s a peek in to what you can see and be fascinated about on your trip to Costa Rica or the “rich coast” in Spanish:

Pristine and stunning beaches: Perhaps you want a quiet holiday by the beach or you may want to indulge in thrillingwater sports. Whatever your level of adrenaline rush, you can visit this miniscule country of 1,200 miles-long of beaches, with rocky coves and bustling coastal small towns.

Lush, dense tropical rainforests: You can also see a wealth of birds, insects and reptiles at the tropical rainforests and the most spectacular views on Earth.

Active volcanoes: Bang on the Pacific Ring of Fire, you will have the opportunity to see Costa Rica’s five volcanoes–each of them active! You can visit them by hiking here and enjoy a lava eruption.

Take your pick of national parks: With over 60 national parks, biological zones in 12 ecologically dense areas, wildlife refuges, you can get a never-before experience of the national parks insideCosta Rica has more than 60 national parks, wildlife refuges and biological zones spread across 12 ecological areas, offering the ultimate rainforest exploration experience. Visit the Manuel Antonio National Park, which though small, is home to four stunning beaches, unforgettable views of the Pacific Ocean, animal life like monkeys, sloths, ocelots, anteaters, etc. Coral reefs here will amaze you just as the occasional dolphin and whale will. You can also go scuba diving from here.

Another national park not to be missed here is the Corcovado National Park, home to over 100 amphibian and reptile species, and big cats, bats, jaguars and over 400 bird species. Don’t miss a trek from here.

Water sports–ride the waves here: If you’re a water sports buff, this is home for you. You can enjoy the water in an amazing array of water sports here, or go out for a small excursion where you can go bungee jumping, horseback riding or hot air ballooning.

Bird life watching: If you love being in the midst of Nature, you can’t leave Costa Rica without bird watching. This country regularly invests inenvironmental protection, so it has a huge and impressive wealth of biodiversity that is home to the world’s endangered species. This makes it a wonderful spot for bird watching tropical birds. You’ll be in the wonderful company of 900 bird species that you can’t find anywhere else.

However you may want to spend your holiday, you can’t do it better anywhere else than in Costa Rica. So, pack your bags and get here soon. There’s so much to see and enjoy here and memories to go home with.

Ready to book your vacation? Click on the link below!

Written by CostaRicaDave Best of Costa Rica Author

Pura Vida!

Don’t forget to check out our Cafe Press shop! $3 of every item purchased goes to Charities here in Costa Rica. They do mail to Costa Rica fairly cheap. I did a test of a mouse pad and got it in 12 days delivered to my house! Amazing!!!!



Also check out our House for Sale and Rent listings as well!  If you are traveling and you want a cheap $4.99 a month and good VPN so you can watch hulu, your countries Netflix, and amazon click here. Good for travel or if you live here in Costa Rica. Don’t forget about our Amazon shop as well!

Use this link to see all thing Costa Rica on Amazon! Make your purchase today! All things Costa Rica

Remember if you get an account with the Unblock-US vpn you can than Live stream your movie and tv shows at our link! 

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

Cooking class at TIPS

Curso de Cocina Básica Profesional
Jueves 31 de Julio a las 6:30 p.m. en Tips Pavas
Mas información al 2543-2100

Kitchen basic professional course Thursday, July 31 at 6:30 p.m. in Pavas Tips more information at 2543 – 2100 
Pura Vida!

Don’t forget to check out our Cafe Press shop! $3 of every item purchased goes to Charities here in Costa Rica. They do mail to Costa Rica fairly cheap. I did a test of a mouse pad and got it in 12 days delivered to my house! Amazing!!!!



Also check out our House for Sale and Rent listings as well!  If you are traveling and you want a cheap $4.99 a month and good VPN so you can watch hulu, your countries Netflix, and amazon click here. Good for travel or if you live here in Costa Rica. Don’t forget about our Amazon shop as well!

Use this link to see all thing Costa Rica on Amazon! Make your purchase today! All things Costa Rica

Remember if you get an account with the Unblock-US vpn you can than Live stream your movie and tv shows at our link! 

Booking a vacation? Use our link below! 


Categories: Costa Rica Life Experience | Leave a comment

Final Update on Budget report June Recap

Well I have to admit I have learned a lot from doing this blog. I have learned where to shop and where not to shop no doubt. Pricesmart was way over priced, but I kind of knew that, just didn’t want to admit it to my self. I am now shopping more at that local Coope. Here are the last few days of the budget.

day 24 thur 30

As you can see we did do a little exploring and really all it cost was lunch one day. The other day because I drove both days they treated us for lunch on the 2nd day. Which was very nice. I still haven’t had to fill my gas tank yet. I love my car!!!!! You can see I am $757.73 over budget, but I think you can do it for less.  You really can live for under $2k a month and even under $1k a month and it all depends on how you wish to live. Size of the house, employees, etc. So lets look at how we can trim this thing down and what I have leaned from all of this.

final summary

If we look at the final summary and see what I have removed. You would have $604.14 left on the $2k budget. Now if we add back an amount for additional food because of the eating home more and not out. I also added back 4 of the cheaper meals so you can eat out once a month. Really you could eat our more on that if you know where to go. As you can see I also added Rent of $700 and I still only failed the challenge by $211.12. Really if I would have shopped more local and not at the expensive places I would have come out of this under budget!

So what are the tings I have really learned? I eat out way to much. The place I eat are way expensive and I will now avoid them, as the food and service isn’t any better than the cheaper places. Some of the cheaper places like Dingo’s the food was amazing! Yes I know I owe you all a ton of restaurant reviews! I promise I will get to them. I have all my receipts right here to be sure I remember which ones I need to do. :-)  Dingo’s review is in our trip overview for Zarcero. You can find that blog here: Zarcero when I finalize the Cartago trip there will be two reviews in it since we ate out 2x. Now the dinner I did not include in my budget as it was hella expensive and I knew I would take it out and not include it at all in any of my calculations. I have learned I need to be smarter about how I shop and not just look for what I am familiar with. I’m not going to do and full blown budget like this one, but at the end of July I will give you an update on how well I did in July. See where we end up shall we. Did I really learn anything and could I put what I have learned into action and change my habits? Only time will tell. Oh wait I can’t do it for July we are going back to the states so that won’t be fair. Ok so August.

I think my Goal is going to be in July to find the cheapest and best places to eat in Costa Rica. Yep that is going to be my goal!

Well that wraps it up. I hope you have enjoyed it and have learned a few things. Keep following our blog and we will keep you updated on where we go and the things we do and the bargains we can find in Costa Rica. Have fun today and thanks for reading!!!!
Pura Vida!

Don’t forget to check out our Cafe Press shop! $3 of every item purchased goes to Charities here in Costa Rica. They do mail to Costa Rica fairly cheap. I did a test of a mouse pad and got it in 12 days delivered to my house! Amazing!!!!



Also check out our House for Sale and Rent listings as well!  If you are traveling and you want a cheap $4.99 a month and good VPN so you can watch hulu, your countries Netflix, and amazon click here. Good for travel or if you live here in Costa Rica. Don’t forget about our Amazon shop as well!


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Thank you!!!!

I just wanted to take a minute and say thanks! to all my readers out there. We have readers from all over the world. So many I can’t get the list in one screen shot. Take a look below!

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So again thank you!!!!!!

 

Categories: Costa Rica Life Experience | Leave a comment

Gay Pride Costa Rica

More than 10,000 LGBT supporters march down Paseo Colón, in western San José, on Sunday, June 29, 2014. Lindsay Fendt/The Tico Times

An historic World Cup football win wasn’t the only thing people in San José were celebrating Sunday. Hours before the big game, more than 10,000 supporters of the lesbian, gay and transgender movement marched down Paseo Colón for the annual Diversity March. This year’s pride parade follows two historic victories for the Costa Rican LGBT movement: the flying of the rainbow flag over Casa Presidencial and the extension of public health insurance benefits for same-sex couples.

Marching alongside the droves of shirtless men, drag queens and rainbow-clad supporters was the U.S. Embassy’s chargé d’affaires, Gonzalo Gallegos.

“U.S. Embassies around the world are participating in these diversity marches,” Gallegos told The Tico Times. “We think that it is really important that people speak out about their rights.”

Former presidential candidate José María Villalta also was at the event as one of the parade marshals. Villalta and his Broad Front Party have championed gay rights in Costa Rica’s Legislative Assembly. With nine Broad Front lawmakers now in the Assembly, Villalta said he hopes they can continue pushing forward with reforms, but he also noted that his coalition faces obstacles.

“We are always working to get reforms passed to support members of the LGBT community,” Villalta told The Tico Times, “but there is also a strong socially conservative block in the Legislative Assembly right now that opposes these human rights advances. We still plan to continue the fight.”

 Originally posted on the Tico Times

 

Pura Vida!

Don’t forget to check out our Cafe Press shop! $3 of every item purchased goes to Charities here in Costa Rica. They do mail to Costa Rica fairly cheap. I did a test of a mouse pad and got it in 12 days delivered to my house! Amazing!!!! Also check out our House for Sale and Rent listings as well!  If you are traveling and you want a cheap $4.99 a month and good VPN so you can watch hulu, your countries Netflix, and amazon click here. Good for travel or if you live here in Costa Rica. Don’t forget about our Amazon shop as well!


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YouTube Video of the day

Ready to book your vacation? Click here to see what deals The Riu in Costa Rica has to offer.  Riu Hotels with All Inclusive service

Wait don’t forget to order your GoPro before you come. Click here to get yours today!

GoPro HERO3: Black Edition

Or use tripadvisor to book your trip to Costa Rica. Click the link below to start!

Find Great Vacation Rental Deals at TripAdvisor
Pura Vida!

Don’t forget to check out our Cafe Press shop! $3 of every item purchased goes to Charities here in Costa Rica. Also check out our House for Sale and Rent listings as well!  If you are traveling and you want a cheap $4.99 a month and good VPN so you can watch hulu, your countries Netflix, and amazon click here. Good for travel or if you live here in Costa Rica. Don’t forget about our Amazon shop as well!

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Zarcero, boy did you have a surprise for us!

Today we decided to take a trip to Zarcero and boy and I glad we did! I went with the wife and 2 friends. It was a really good trip. Good company beautiful town and just a wonderful feel. Boy if I knew about this place it could have been in the running for where we may live instead of Atenas, but I really do lover our town of Atenas.

Our morning started at 10:45 as we drove off out on our adventure. We stopped to pick up one friend, the other drove to our house. We went to the gas station to fill up. Not that it was that far, but I have learned that in Costa Rica you should always fill up before you go on any adventure to anywhere you have never been before. You just don’t know what will happen.

It was a pretty uneventful drive. We had good company so the drive went pretty quickly. The roads can be a little twisty and windy from Atenas, but during the day and when it isn’t raining its pretty easy.

We got there right at 12:00 on the dot! It was time for lunch and we really wasn’t sure where to go. As we drove into town one of our friends saw a little shop area that had 2 restaurants listed. One had fast food in its name so we figured we would check out the other. So we go in and can’t find the one that was listed that wasn’t fast food. I went upstairs and saw what could have been it, but it wasn’t open. So we decided to take a chance. Here are some photo’s of the little center.

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Oh my are we glad we took the chance. The food was amazing and the prices were just as amazing! Dingo’s fast food  is where we ate. Don’t let the words Fast Food fool you. It was nothing like fast food!

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Patacones were ok. So at this point we were not 100% sure this was a right decision, but than we tasted the salsa! It was delicious! So we had hope. The only problem with this was there was way too much breading and too little plantains. This was 1,450 colones.

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My friends call me the Salad Nazi and with good reason. I am very picky over my salads. Now this doesn’t have a lot of nutritional value to it, but let me tell you it was good. The chicken was a pleasant surprise. This was the Ensalada Dingo. I don’t think that was dingo on our plate! The croutons were toasted bread and not too soft but not too hard either. The dressing was a ranch and just ok, but he chicken was the hero here. The added ham and cheese was nice as well.  This was 2,950 colones and actually it was enough to be a nice lunch in and of its self. \WP_20140625_12_44_22_Pro

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Next up our friend got the Super Hamburgesa. This is a direct quote from our friend who ordered it, “This is the best hamburger I have ever had in Costa Rica.” This is high praise coming from her. It had 2 kinds of cheese, pickles and just a small piece of bacon, but it was about 1/2 lb of burger! It came with a side of fries. This cost 2,950 colones as well and well worth the price!

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There is that wonderful salsa again! This was a Burrito and again direct quote, “One of the best I have had!” So again another winner and it comes in at 2,800 colones.

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Ok so Alitas Buffalo and there are 7 of them here. I took some flack for putting Hooters on my top 10 restaurants list and this place knocks them off! I would have liked a little more heat, but there was enough to make me happy and not too much that some who doesn’t like a lot of heat wouldn’t want to eat them. They were crispy and the breading was very different, but wonderful. They were very generously sauced as you can see. 7 of them cost 1,900 colones. Amazing price!

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This was the Costilla BBQ which is BBQ ribs. They cut them into pieces which made it easier to eat. Left the bone so you have to watch when you bit them. Pretty good. Wasn’t a wonderful BBQ sauce, but it was good. Now these potatoes were amazing! I don’t know what they did to them, but they were very tasty and flavorful! This dish was 4,000 colones.

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Ok so I was a little skeptical about getting the Churrasco. I am glad I did. Again served with those wonderful potatoes! The side salad was the same minus the chicken as our main salad. So the steak I am going to let this video speak for me.

Yes it was that tender. It needed a little salt, but other than that it was really good! So very surprised and wasn’t not expected this from a little shop that had Fast Food in its name! It was a good 6oz cooked so a good size. It cost 3,450 colones. I was shocked!

We also got 2 Cafe Negro, 1 Te frio and 4 Coke lights. The cold drinks were 1,000 colones each and the coffee was only 600 colones. We also got a dessert that we shared. I didn’t get a picture of it. There was a cinnamon roll and a fruit roll and I swear it was made from angle food cake batter. We couldn’t believe it. Very nice and it was only 500 colones for each one. Very good deal.

So total for our lunch for 4 with all that food and drink was only 29,450 colones or $53.69 for those who don’t know the conversion. I was amazed! It is one of those great accidental finds that you just never know will happen. We are so glad we decided to take a chance and not go anywhere else.

Now we get to the reason we were in Zarcero. We went for the garden and the church. Both were amazing! Love the beauty of the gardens and the church. So here are the pictures I took at the garden.  Click on the images below to see larger views.

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The other reason we went was to visit the church. It is one beautiful place, no doubt. The art and paintings are amazing. So here are the photo’s I took while at the church. Again click on the images below to see larger views.

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Over all it was a very nice day. Good friends, Good food, beautiful town and a wonderful drive. If you get a chance you should go visit this wonderful place and eat at that wonderful restaurant. Here is the blog of one of the friends that went with us. Check it out. Keeping you in Stitches

The only downside was the drive home. The rain held out until we were ready to leave, but I had to drive those twisty windy roads in the rain. We made it home safe and sound and that is all that matter.

Pura Vida!

Don’t forget to check out our Cafe Press shop! $3 of every item purchased goes to Charities here in Costa Rica. Also check out our House for Sale and Rent listings as well!  If you are traveling and you want a cheap $4.99 a month and good VPN so you can watch hulu, your countries Netflix, and amazon click here. Good for travel or if you live here in Costa Rica. Don’t forget about our Amazon shop as well!

Categories: Costa Rica Life Experience, Food, News, Restaurant Reviews, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Crocodile problems in Costa Rica!

A crocodile slithers into the water from the muddy bank of Costa Rica’s Tempisque River. Lindsay Fendt/The Tico Times

For 14 years Jason Vargas has made a living by dangling raw cuts of chicken breast in front of massive crocodiles.

As the main tour guide for Crocodile Man Tours, based at the Tárcoles River, Vargas usually spends his workdays wading barefoot down the river’s banks, putting himself within inches of the beasts’ deadly maws for the amusement of tourists. Born and raised near the Tárcoles, in the country’s Central Pacific, Vargas’ unusual career path has roots tracing back to a childhood fascination with the giant reptiles.

“When I was a boy we used to drive up and down the river in a boat,” Vargas said. “Eventually we started throwing the crocodiles food and I just became obsessed with it.”

Vargas’ death-defying antics have turned him into a celebrity. He has been the subject of news stories, a French documentary and an episode of Animal Planet. But his success came to a screeching halt in May when officials from Costa Rica’s National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC) held a meeting and told all Tárcoles tour operators to stop feeding the crocodiles.

“If we had 100 people on our tours before, now we have about 50,” Vargas said. “The hotels in San José and Jacó can’t sell a river boat tour as well as they can sell a crocodile feeding tour.”

But Vargas’ tour woes are of little concern to SINAC, which says operations like his make crocodiles more aggressive, and have spurred a sea of other croc-related complaints from the rest of the tourism sector.

In the past year, crocodiles have lounged on beachesattacked surfers, closed down national park entrances and eaten a man alive. The mounting number of incidents has sparked public concern, and members of the tourism industry are now asking for a crocodile intervention.

Though Environment Ministry officials have appointed a task force to assess the state of the crocodile population, they say it may be the tourism industry, not the crocodiles, that needs to change.

Watch Jason Vargas feed crocodiles on the Tárcoles River:

The Tárcoles River is among the most polluted waterways in all of Central America. Full of trash and teeming with crocodiles, the river is hardly an appealing place for a swim. But for one reason or another, the murky waters managed to tempt Omar de Jesús Jirón, a 32-year-old Nicaraguan man who drunkenly attempted a swim near the Tárcoles’ main bridge on April 29 of this year.

Police and Red Cross responders still dispute the exact details of why and how Jirón entered the water that evening, but one thing is certain: He never came back.

After swimming for several meters, Jirón was nabbed by a group of the river’s crocs. Unable to pull Jirón from the reptiles’ jaws, witnesses watched helplessly as the crocs ripped the man apart. Several days later a woman on a walk near the river’s edge discovered the only part of Jirón police were ever able to recover: his head.

The horror of Jirón’s death captivated Costa Ricans for weeks, and drew attention to the river’s unusually aggressive American Crocodiles.

Though crocodile attacks are not statistically common, the reptiles still sit among the top 10 most deadly animals in the world. According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s crocodile specialist group, there have been 1,159 reported crocodile attacks on humans since 2010, and many other attacks go unreported.

The Nile crocodile and the saltwater crocodile are responsible for nearly all of these attacks, neither of which can be found on the American continents.

“Nile crocodiles view humans as prey, but new world crocodiles won’t hunt humans,” said Brandon Sideleau, a crocodile attack specialist with the IUCN. “With that said, Costa Rica sits at the top in the new world for croc attacks.”

Though country-by-country comparisons of crocodile aggression can be misleading due to inconsistencies in reporting, the number of recorded attacks in Costa Rica is significantly higher than most in the region.

According to CrocBITE, a worldwide crocodilian attack database that reports attacks from as far back as 1816, only the much larger American crocodile populations in the U.S. and Brazil outstrip Costa Rica’s in terms of aggression. Other than those two countries, in the Western Hemisphere, Costa Rica has seen more fatalities and more than double the amount of attacks than any other nation.

Five of these attacks occurred in the past year.

In rural parts of the Caribbean Coast, a 14-year-old girl lost her leg to a croc, and another crocodile pulled a 65-year-old man from his rowboat and killed him. But these types of attacks have always been common.

“People who live in rural areas near crocodiles have always been at risk, but education has helped with that,” said Juan Bolaños, a former professor at Costa Rica’s National University and a local crocodile expert for the IUCN. “Crocodile attacks as a whole are not increasing.”

According to Bolaños, crocodile attacks in communities near rivers used to be a common occurrence; the media just never reported them. Both Bolaños and MINAE say that any seeming growth in the number of crocodile attacks is due to better reporting rather than an actual increase.

Attacks near beaches and tourist hotspots, however, are increasing.

In February, a man nearly had his legs ripped off by a croc in a river near the popular Pacific surf beach Tivives, and a Spanish surfer was attacked in the ocean near the northwestern party hub of Tamarindo. The spot where Jirón was attacked, the Tárcoles River, has more than 100,000 tourists a year who stop off at the bridge to gawk at the crocodiles, according to local business owners.

“People near the Pacific Coast are worried because it seems like crocodiles are leaving rivers for beaches,” said Flora Ayub, executive director of the Costa Rican Chamber of Hotel Owners. “At this rate, an accident could happen to anyone.”

Earlier this month, the Chamber of Hotel Owners sent out an open letter to members of the government asking for controls on the crocodile population. In the letter, the chamber’s president, Gustavo Araya, wrote that tourists were getting scared of the high numbers of crocodiles near beaches, and asked that MINAE take action. The letter noted that in the case of overpopulation, MINAE officials can legally kill or relocate crocodiles.

“We aren’t necessarily asking for them to kill all of the crocodiles,” Ayub said. “What we want is for MINAE to do something.”

Siquirres native Gilberto Sheedon, or Chito, became famous for his close friendship with an American crocodile named Pocho. The Tico Times

While owners of tourism businesses complain of the lack of croc protection from MINAE, ministry officials claim that tour operators are part of the problem.

As the country develops, crocodiles’ traditional habitat has come under threat from agriculture, human settlements and, most recently, eco-tourism. Tourists who visit Costa Rica no longer stick to the well-treaded beaches and volcanoes that made the country famous, but also explore the lesser-traveled corners of the country that used to harbor wildlife.

“You didn’t used to have surfers and kayakers coming into close contact with crocodiles,” Bolaños said. “Tourists have invaded the areas that crocodiles used to be, so now crocodiles are invading the areas where tourists are.”

But some tours go beyond just entering croc territory. According to experts, crocodile feeding tours like Vargas’ Crocodile Man Tours actually change the way crocodiles perceive humans.

“As a rule feeding crocodiles makes them more aggressive,” Sideleau said. “Feeding a crocodile makes it associate people with food, even if it does not traditionally consider humans as prey.”

Costa Rica has a long-standing law that prohibits feeding crocodiles, but MINAE officials tolerated the Tárcoles tours for years because they were not perceived as a threat. After the recent attacks on tourists, MINAE decided it was time to enforce the regulations. They gathered the area’s tour operators, explained the law and told them if they did not conform they would be fined. According to Adrian Arce, MINAE’s director of wildlife for the Tárcoles region, not all of the tour operators have been cooperating.

To Vargas, it is not the tours that are causing a problem, but the dozens – if not hundreds – of other tourists who visit the Tárcoles bridge every day.

“On our tours we will feed one crocodile every hundred meters or so. That kind of feeding doesn’t make them aggressive,” Vargas said. “The problem is all the people feeding them from the bridge. Crocodiles don’t stay in groups like that anywhere else. The crocodiles there are crazy and aggressive because they have to fight for food.”

A quick search of “Tárcoles River” on YouTube, confirms Vargas’ claims. Coming from all corners of the world, camera-touting tourists have saturated the Internet with videos of near misses with the river’s massive reptiles. Some of the bridge’s visitors drop meat from above to watch the crocs fight, while the truly courageous (read: stupid) will approach the riverbank and stand face-to-face with one of the river’s massive beasts.

Surprising to most crocodile experts, Jirón’s accident was the first crocodile attack on the Tárcoles since 1995, but officials say if the indiscriminate feeding continues it’s only a matter of time before a tourist is taken out.

“It’s time we get a handle on what is going on at the Tárcoles,” Arce said. “The situation is dangerous and out-of-control.”

Though wildlife experts point to tourism as the probable cause for the crocodiles’ aggression, they remain unsure if overpopulation is also a contributing factor.

MINAE has had to address crocodile overpopulation before — just last month, SINAC officials killed 80 crocodiles in the Tempisque River, in the country’s northwest, to lower the population before breeding season — but a lack of resources has prevented the organization from studying most of the country’s rivers. The Tárcoles has not had a comprehensive population study for six years.

“For now we are educating the public about how to avoid an attack,” Arce said. “We are trying to do population studies as quickly as we can, but we are not going to allow indiscriminate killing of crocodiles just because tourists are scared.”

Watch this guy nearly fall into the jaws of a Tárcoles crocodile at 1:42:

For now, MINAE is managing the problem with a special crocodile task force charged with creating education programs and conducting population studies when funding is available. But crocodile experts say that the only real solution is to develop a comprehensive management system for all of the country’s rivers.

This would require population studies of all of the country’s rivers and personnel to continually monitor the animals. Those studies require money, money that the universally disliked crocodile has never been able to attract.

“Crocodiles have killed 14 people in the past 20 years, but still no one wants to give money to help manage them,” Bolaños said. “Jaguars, on the other hand, never kill anyone, but they are beautiful and people like them so they get all the money. Apparently people care more about saving pretty animals than they do about saving lives and protecting reptiles.”

Originally posted at Tico Times

Pura Vida!

Don’t forget to check out our Cafe Press shop! $3 of every item purchased goes to Charities here in Costa Rica. Also check out our House for Saleand Rent listings as well!  If you are traveling and you want a cheap $4.99 a month and good VPN so you can watch hulu, your countries Netflix, and amazon click here. Good for travel or if you live here in Costa Rica. Don’t forget about our Amazon shop as well!

 

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

Cost of Living Update days 17 – 23rd.

Sorry for the lapse in updates, but really not a  lot to show. A few things and I was waiting on hearing from my Insurance guy on how much I pay for Ins. both house and car to post that for a monthly item. As it is in Costa Rica it took him forever to send it to me. So here is the update. Pretty boring!

day 17 thru 23

 

I can post pictures, but to be honest it really was a boring week. We had great lunch for the Expat’s group. Oh wait I have pictures of that I should post those. Hold on let me get them!

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I had the special This was yummy! and at 4,500 colones along with a piece of cake and all the ice tea I could drink a bargain as well!!!!!! He so should put this in as a regular special! Anywhere that gives you free refills is a place to go!

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Pretty good event. They handled all 20+ people very well. Food was good! Service was excellent. I think we could do it here again. If you are in Atenas you should stop by and see them and have a bite to eat!

So as you can see over budget by $700, but we still have month end to get to. We will evaluate the budget and see where we can trim without too much of a sacrifice and see where we land.

Pura Vida!

Don’t forget to check out our Cafe Press shop! $3 of every item purchased goes to Charities here in Costa Rica. Also check out our House for Sale and Rent listings as well!  If you are traveling and you want a cheap $4.99 a month and good VPN so you can watch hulu, your countries Netflix, and amazon click here. Good for travel or if you live here in Costa Rica. Don’t forget about our Amazon shop as well!

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Unlock your iPhone Part II Verizon

I do not have a Verizon service phone so I have not tried this process. Here is the process as it has been explained to me by Verizon on how to unlock your phone. 

How do I know if my phone is Global ready?

You can use our Global Ready tool in My Verizon Mobile to find out if your device and account are set up for global travel.

  1. Sign in to My Verizon Mobile
  2. Tap Device
  3. Tap Global Ready CheckFollow the prompts to see if your device and account are eligible to use available services in the location you’re visiting.

If your device or features aren’t global ready, you can visit My Verizon to see if you’re eligible for an upgrade, or to add global features to your account.

There’s one more option if your device isn’t global ready or you aren’t eligible to upgrade. The Global Travel program can help for trips of 21 days or less. Visit our Global Travel Program page for more information on how it works.

How do I get my non-global ready (CDMA-only) phone ready to use outside the US?

Before traveling with your non-global ready (CDMA only) device:

  1. Visit our Trip Planner to determine if your device will work in the country to which you’re traveling. The Trip Planner will also provide rates and dialing information for the country you’ll be in.
  2. Call *611 from your mobile phone or (800) 922-0204 to check your international eligibility and add Global Services.

Notes:

  • If you’re traveling to a country that follows the North American dialing pattern, you don’t need to add Global Services.
  • Non-global ready devices can’t add Global Services in My Verizon.

 

The steps required to unlock your device vary by the type of device you have:

4G Global Ready devices – 4G Global Ready devices are unlocked by default. You don’t need to do anything to unlock it.
3G Global Ready devices – If you have a 3G device, call Customer Service at *611 from your mobile phone or (800) 922-0204. For the unlock request to be processed, you must have an active Verizon Wireless account for at least 60 days in good standing.
Notes:

When using a local SIM card, you’ll be using a different (local) number. We can’t troubleshoot network issues when a local SIM card is being used.
SIM cards come in different sizes. Be sure to find the proper SIM card size before inserting into your device.

Remember, if you use a local SIM card/service, you’re receiving service from the carrier that supplied the SIM card and not from Verizon Wireless. Therefore, you’ll be billed by the carrier supplying your service and not Verizon Wireless.

Pura Vida!

Don’t forget to check out our Cafe Press shop! $3 of every item purchased goes to Charities here in Costa Rica. Also check out our House for Saleand Rent listings as well!  If you are traveling and you want a cheap $4.99 a month and good VPN so you can watch hulu, your countries Netflix, and amazon click here. Good for travel or if you live here in Costa Rica. Don’t forget about our Amazon shop as well!

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

Unlock your iPhone?

How do you Unlock your iPhone? 

Well I had this same question just recently. I have and iPhone with a US phone number on AT&T. No one really calls me on it. I never really make any calls out on it. So why am I paying over $150 a month for a phone with an international plan with data on it? I decided to figure out this Unlock thing so I can use a local sim card.

I could not believe how easy it was!!!!

I can only tell you the way I did it on AT&T. I have no clue if there is a way to do it on the other service providers. AT&T will unlock for free up to 5 devices that have or have had their service. Now if you had it and you switch this won’t work and they won’t do it for you. The last or current service provider has to be AT&T. It has to be their sim card in when you do it. So here is what  you do.

Step 1:

You go to this website AT&T unlock portal fill out all requested information and submit

Step 2:

Wait for the confirmation email that looks like this


Thank you for contacting AT&T Customer Service about unlocking your AT&T Mobile device. We have received your request to unlock your AT&T Mobile device. Your Request Number is: (some number here)

Please click here within the next 24 hours to confirm your request.

Your request is subject to AT&T Mobile device unlocking requirements. If we have further questions or instructions, we’ll contact you by email.

You may also check the status of your unlock request by clicking the link for AT&T’s Device Unlock Status Portal.


Sincerely, 

The AT&T Customer Care Team 

Now click on the line where it says click here and wait.

Step 3:

You will hopefully now get an email that looks like this:


Request number:

Thank you for contacting AT&T Customer Care about unlocking your AT&T Mobile device.

We have reviewed your request and confirmed that the device may be unlocked. You should complete the unlock process before porting out your number for use with another carrier.

Please allow 24 hours upon receipt of this notification to complete the unlock process.

1. Open iTunes on your Mac or PC and verify that you have Internet connectivity.

2. Ensure the original SIM card that came with this device is inserted in your iPhone.

3. Connect your iPhone using the dock connector to USB cable that came with your iPhone.

4. Backup and restore your iPhone using iTunes. For information on backup and restore, please visit http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1414.

5. After restoring, your iPhone will be unlocked.

Additional information on unlocking can be found at http://support.apple.com/kb/TS3198

For questions regarding AT&T Mobile device, please visit the Phone/Device Learning Center.

Thank you for your business. For other questions about our AT&T wireless service or other Mobile devices, please visit att.com.


Sincerely, 

AT&T Customer Care Team 

Follow these instructions and in less than 48 hours you phone is unlocked free of charge! I did it and it was simple, easy and no issues. I am now using my moviestar SIM card in my iPhone.

Pura Vida!

Don’t forget to check out our Cafe Press shop! $3 of every item purchased goes to Charities here in Costa Rica. Also check out our House for Saleand Rent listings as well!  If you are traveling and you want a cheap $4.99 a month and good VPN so you can watch hulu, your countries Netflix, and amazon click here. Good for travel or if you live here in Costa Rica. Don’t forget about our Amazon shop as well!

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

In Search of Wild Costa Rica

Clockwise from top left: Rain forest in Corcovado National Park; a tapir in the park; a cabin at Bosque del Cabo Rainforest Lodge; spying on a toucan at the lodge. CreditScott Matthews for The New York Times

By the end of our fourth day on the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica, we had seen, according to the tally kept by my 9-year-old, Sasha, dozens of species of animals. We had peered at leafcutter ants, army ants and zombie ants. We had been deafened by howler monkeys, beguiled by squirrel monkeys and strangely stirred by capuchin monkeys, whose feet bear an eerie resemblance to human hands. That afternoon, in the national park that covers a third of the peninsula, we had even spied two tapirs, endangered mammals that look like hornless rhinoceroses with long snouts.

To sample this extravaganza of biodiversity, we had risen early each morning of our vacation. So when our guide informed us that he would be taking us out at 4:30 a.m. to witness the rain forest waking up, I — the motivating force behind, and thus bearer of responsibility for, this trip — glanced apprehensively at my family and swallowed hard.

“We’ll be up!” I said brightly.

I had shepherded Sasha and my husband, Scott, to Osa in hopes of a tropical wildlife experience that was, in fact, wild. But as we crawled into our tent that night, the beaten path from which I had so resolutely steered clear was starting to look more inviting.

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Nito Paniagua, a guide, finds an anole lizard. CreditScott Matthews for The New York Times

Costa Rica, home to large tracts of untouched yet accessible rain forest, had seemed the obvious place to immerse ourselves in nature for a week in February. On Facebook, people responded with the Costa Rican phrase “pura vida!” (“pure life”) at the mere mention of the country. We had admired photographs of bright-colored birds, frogs and butterflies from the preserves near the capital, San José, which could be reached by direct flight from New York. The ubiquitous “canopy tours” through the treetops seemed a great way to indulge Sasha’s love of zip lining.

But as I researched where to go in the West Virginia-size country, I began to suspect that its popular ecotourist destinations might not quench my yearning for the untamed. On TripAdvisor, phrases like “well-developed” and the less-charitable “Disneyfied” arose in regard to the storied Monteverde Cloud Forest in the central highlands. Manuel Antonio National Park on the central Pacific Coast, widely loved for its beaches and restaurants, was reportedly better for night life than wildlife.

The more people who can enjoy the rain forest without destroying it the better, of course: The 70,000 or so who visit a sliver of Monteverde each year help pay to preserve the rest of it. But the remote Osa Peninsula, which juts into the Pacific Ocean from Costa Rica’s southwestern corner, seemed to hold an increasingly rare chance to observe the rain forest in all its fecund, carbon-storing, oxygen-producing glory, without quite so much human company.

Mostly mentioned in travel guides as an alternative for those who had hit the other highlights, Osa did not rank on Lonely Planet’s list of “Top 10 Costa Rica Spots for First-Timers.” To get there requires a second flight or a seven-hour drive from San José. And while the draw is the 160-square-mile Corcovado National Park, accommodations there are limited to a few dozen bunks and a tent platform at the Sirena Ranger Station.

I mapped a tentative itinerary that would bring us to each of two jumping-off points to the park, Puerto Jiménez to the southeast, and Drake Bay to the northwest, both of which have several excellent lodging options. In between, we would stay one night in the park, perhaps the last refuge in the country, I read, of the sweet-looking Baird’s tapirs Sasha and I had fallen for while searching online for “Costa Rica animals.”

An email from a well-traveled friend sealed the deal: “Costa Rica is very touristy,” he wrote. “Osa is not.”

Our first stop, Bosque del Cabo, was a 40-minute ride by taxi from Puerto Jiménez, the biggest town on the peninsula with a population of 1,780. I had chosen one of the two cabins at Bosque just steps from the rain forest, at the edge of a large clearing planted with native trees and plants. A half-mile away from the main lodge area, these “garden cabinas” are reached by a trail through the forest that crosses high above a river over a suspension bridge.

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The author and her daughter in a tide pool near Bosque del Cabo Rainforest Lodge.CreditScott Matthews for The New York Times

“We ask that only guests that feel they will be comfortable with the walk and the increased isolation of these accommodations book into them,” the lodge’s website warns.

Any pangs I might have had about passing up the dozen or so bungalows with ocean views disappeared as soon as we found ourselves in the company of spider monkeys, swinging from branch to branch at eye level on our first pass over the bridge. The lodge staff member escorting us waited patiently, albeit with the amusement of a New Yorker watching tourists marvel at pigeons.

“Do you feed them?” I couldn’t help asking. He assured me they did not.

A few steps off the bridge, we stopped short with the odd sensation that the earth was shifting under our feet. The highway of leafcutter ants hauling their leaf-bits toward the entrance to their underground caverns was our first inkling, repeatedly confirmed over the next few days, that they were in charge there. (“Are there more ants in Costa Rica than there are humans in the world?” Sasha would ask. Answer: many more).

Bosque itself sits on 750 acres that encompass some primary-growth rain forest and large swaths of “jungle,” rain forest that has grown back on land that had once been cleared — in Bosque’s case, for cattle grazing. We would have virtually no chance of seeing a tapir on the hotel’s trails, the staff told us candidly (even in Corcovado, we were told, our chances were 50-50). But we spotted poison dart frogs, lizards and monkeys dozing in the sun. A wild pig called a peccary often visited the lodge’s modest pool, where we cooled off and sipped ginger lemonades.

The hotel also offered nature-oriented activities: One morning we rappelled 70 feet down a strangler fig tree, another we hiked down the empty beach to a waterfall, splashing in the tide pools that form in the reef formations along the way. On an evening wildlife tour, the hotel naturalist taught us the trick of holding our flashlights against our temples, revealing the reflection of thousands of spider eyes shining in the grass.

Dinner, served buffet-style with a bounty of delicious choices (panko-crusted eggplant, roasted hearts of palm, crispy chicken with figs) was eaten at communal tables. And if I needed validation on my destination choice, we found ourselves dining more than once with others who had firsthand knowledge of Costa Rica’s well-traveled spots.

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Capuchin monkeys near Drake Bay. CreditScott Matthews for The New York Times

“Osa is — crunchier,” said one civil rights lawyer from Washington, D.C., as Sasha and another girl her age excused themselves to look at the bats hanging from the bamboo light fixtures.

His wife, a judge, concurred about their desire for a less-processed experience.

“More what we had in mind when we thought about Costa Rica,” she said.

In our cabin, open on three sides, we felt less like observers than residents of the forest, along with monkeys playing in the trees directly above us and the leafcutter ants below. One late afternoon, a rainbow of toucans and scarlet macaws flew by a few feet away, on their way to the fruit trees in the clearing behind us.

Yet knowing that the trees had been planted to attract the birds undercut, just a bit, the pleasure of their proximity. Perhaps it was our own fault, too, for being diverted by rappelling adventures and poolside lemonades. But when we landed the next morning at the ranger station, the headquarters of Corcovado park, it quickly became apparent that there would be no distractions from the natural world. Other than lounging on the shaded porch of the low-slung ranger station, there was really was nothing to do but be in it.

Our guide, Nito Paniagua, who met us in Puerto Jiménez for the 15-minute charter flight, lost no time snagging us a spot on the tent platform at the station and heading out on a trail to the river.

The park has just started requiring tourists to be accompanied by a guide, but in any case we would have been lost without Nito’s six senses. He caught lizards and hung them from our ears, trained his scope on resplendent birds no one else could see and produced bats from furled-up leaves.

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Tent platform at the Sirena Ranger Station in Corcovado National Park. CreditScott Matthews for The New York Times

“Look at the two species playing together,” he said at the trail’s entrance, pointing his viewing scope so we could see the howler and spider monkeys teasing each other in the branches above. “That’s so nice to see.”

Unlike the many hardy backpacker types who had walked 12 miles or more to camp at Sirena, we were not big hikers. But the walk down to the river where we ate lunch was not so much strenuous as it was intense. It took two hours only because we stopped every few steps for a new creature: the bird with the small heart, the carnivorous cricket, bright blue butterflies, the notorious fer-de-lance snake.

And because Nito had quickly divined that we were keen to see tapirs, he brought us to a spot where they are known to nap.

That we were lucky enough to see two of them through the trees from perhaps 50 feet away was one reason for the collective groan that night when Nito announced the 4:30 a.m. wake-up call.

What else, we wondered, did we have to see that couldn’t wait until dawn?

In my grogginess I left the tent without my glasses and had to run back to get them while Scott, Sasha and Nito waited for me on the grass beyond the porch of the ranger station. We stopped to admire a spider web at the start of the dirt trail, then traipsed on toward the beach where Nito wanted us to watch the sky grow light.

That was when the tapir came crashing out of the forest right in front of us. My heart beating hard, I held my breath, wishing I could freeze the moment. Scott and Sasha, too, stood transfixed. For just a split second, the large, strange animal seemed to register our presence. Then the tapir lumbered away from us, down the trail, toward the river as we followed, until it veered off into the darkness.

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I didn’t know it until then, but this, more than anything, was what I had hoped we would find on the Osa Peninsula. It wasn’t like seeing an animal lured to a spot by human guile, or to where all the guides know it’s likely to go on its own. If I hadn’t forgotten my glasses, we might well have missed it.

It felt wild.

There was no shortage of moments like that in our short time at Sirena. Sasha’s favorite siting may have been the anteater carrying a baby on her back all the way up to the top of a tree, spied that morning after a breakfast of eggs and ham that was, like our dinner there the night before, plain but tasty. We all oohed over the baby hummingbirds in the nest Nito found, and the baby hawks the ranger showed us through his scope in between his other chores at the understaffed station.

Before we left, we walked one more trail, cooler and less dense than the one we had taken the previous day because the soaring tree canopies blocked the light others might use to grow. The logging and slash-and-burn agriculture that had prompted the formation of the park in 1975, Nito told us, had never reached here. As we stumbled into a clearing where one tree, an espavel, or wild cashew, towered some 150 feet above us, we stood again in silent awe. That tens of thousands of acres of such forest are destroyed each day worldwide seemed inconceivable.

Most life in the rain forest, Nito reminded us, lives in the canopy, and never descends to the forest floor. Speaking of untamed, no one even knows entirely what’s up there.

We might have been happy staying longer at Sirena had our tent been pitched on the lawn, rather than the platform, which was hot and crowded at night. (Nito was scheming to go in with other guides on tents with rain flaps that could be used on the lawn.) The ticks, albeit not disease carrying, were also not a plus, especially for Sasha, who pried five off her legs.

As it was, we were happy to get to our final Osa destination, La Paloma Lodge on Drake Bay, after an hourlong boat ride from Corcovado that afternoon. It felt good to take a hot shower and to enjoy the rain forest as a view from the hotel’s elegant dining room, set high on a cliff above the Pacific Ocean.

At night, Tracie Stice, a local naturalist universally known as the “bug lady,” showed us a scorpion (“Don’t sit down,” she suggested as we leaned against the stone wall) and gently pried open the well-camouflaged home of a “trap-door” spider so that we could see the creature promptly slam it shut again.

On our last day, we went on a decidedly human-manufactured, 13-zip-line canopy tour arranged for us, a highlight of the trip for Sasha. But when Scott asked her which leg of the trip she would eliminate, if she had to lose one, she couldn’t choose. Like her parents, she could have happily lived for decades in our first cabin. She wouldn’t give up zip lining.

“And I can’t take out Sirena,” she said. “Because that’s where we saw everything.”

By 

Pura Vida!

Don’t forget to check out our Cafe Press shop! $3 of every item purchased goes to Charities here in Costa Rica. Also check out our House for Saleand Rent listings as well!  If you are traveling and you want a cheap $4.99 a month and good VPN so you can watch hulu, your countries Netflix, and amazon click here. Good for travel or if you live here in Costa Rica. Don’t forget about our Amazon shop as well!

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Fun In Costa Rica’s Central Valley

Fun in Costa Rica’s Central Valley

Costa Rica is one of the safest and most exciting places to visit in Central America.  The Central Valley area has a wide variety of fun activities with something for everyone.  Whether you want to relax, have an adventure, or both, the following things to do will be sure to please novice and seasoned travelers alike.

National Theatre of Costa Rica

If you are flying into or out of San Jose, you will find that Costa Rica’s capital city has plenty of unique attractions.  The National Theatre of Costa Rica is one of the most beautiful and ornate buildings in the country.  With famous paintings, lavish furnishings, and a floor comprised solely of Costa Rican woods, this cultural landmark is not to be missed.

Jade Museum

Pop quiz:  where is the world’s largest collection of jade located?  Hint:  it is not in Asia.  This fabulous and famous collection can be found in the heart of San Jose.  The museum also features many pre-Columbian gold artifacts.  It is a must for everyone who loves rich and sparkly things.

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Catch a Saprissa Soccer Game

Even if futbol is not your favorite sport, taking in a home game at the Estadio Ricardo Saprissa Ayma will give you a taste of local Costa Rican flavor like nothing else can!  Ticos are passionate about Saprissa and many of their players headline Costa Rica’s national team.

Our Lady of the Angels Basilica

Costa Rica is a Catholic country with no shortage of churches done in the old Spanish style.  If you love beautiful architecture, you will adore this Basilica in Cartago, outside San Jose.  Outside the church, a spring with healing waters can cure your ailments.  Inside, the statue of La Negrita the Black Madonna is usually covered with many charms shaped like body parts for Our Lady to heal.  There really is nothing like it anywhere else in the country!

Poas Volcano

Located in the Alajuela Province, this is one of the most active volcanoes in the country.  Scientists think that a new eruption is imminent given the noisy gas that can be seen rising from the crater.  The sulfur and other chemicals give the water in the crater an usual grayish hue.  Get there early because you will enjoy a lovely view of the Central Valley from the crater’s viewing platform.  However at about 9AM clouds will completely obscure it for the rest of the day.  It is called a cloud forest for a reason!  Despite standing on an active volcano, you should dress for the cold and wet.  The hiking trails offer many opportunities for bird watching.

Veragua Rainforest

What can’t you do at this lush rainforest?  Enjoy a tram ride, zip lining, and hiking.  Exhibits include hummingbirds, snakes, butterflies, and much more.  Explore the waterfalls and observe scientists at their work in the biological research station.  You will certainly achieve a better appreciation for this beautiful ecosystem after this fun and educational visit.

Doka Coffee Plantation

What trip to Costa Rica would be complete without a trip to a coffee plantation?  This plantation is unique to the especially immersive tours that are offered.  The tour begins at the seedbed and takes you all the way through the coffee making process.  There are also free samples of Costa Rica’s most notable export for everyone to try.

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Tarcoles Bridge

This bridge in the Alajuela Province is famous for its smiling crocodiles.  Enjoy these wonders of nature from the top of the bridge but don’t get too close!  Disney World this isn’t!

Botanical Orchid Garden

A stop at this beautiful location in La Garita will please any gardener you may be traveling with.  With hundreds of rare and beautiful orchids and other tropical flowers, something is always in bloom for you to admire.

Atenas Central Park

Get a taste of classic Costa Rica at this quaint park.  With lots of trails that wind through the palm trees and other tropical vegetation, you can work up quite a sweat!  Afterwords, grab a refreshing traditional repast at any of the little restaurants around the park.

Farmers Market

In Atenas on a Friday afternoon?  Get a taste of local culture and flair at this market.  Fresh produce and traditional handicrafts are on offer and haggling can be fun!

Atenas Swimming Pool

Atenas is more of a mountain town and is a little bit of a drive from the beach.  If you need to take a dip, there are two public swimming pools.  Bring a picnic lunch and prepare to spend the day swimming and sunning.

I think that about covers it. That is more than you can do in 10 days. :-) Well maybe. So come and enjoy!

Pura Vida!

Don’t forget to check out our Cafe Press shop! $3 of every item purchased goes to Charities here in Costa Rica. Also check out our House for Sale and Rent listings as well!  If you are traveling and you want a cheap $4.99 a month and good VPN so you can watch hulu, your countries Netflix, and amazon click here. Good for travel or if you live here in Costa Rica. Don’t forget about our Amazon shop as well!

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New service to our readers

for sale for rent

We have added a Houses for Sale and Houses for rent  links on the left side of our page. We currently only have one house listed in each, but nice houses! This does give you an example of what your listing can look like if you want to list with us.

We charge $25 a month for you ad to be listed. Houses are listed top to bottom in the order in which they were submitted and paid. For $150 a month you can be the top 5 listed houses. 10% of all listing fees collected for the month will be added to our charity pool for that month. If you want to be in the to 5 it is a 1st paid 1st get for the month. You can pay ahead and reserve your month. Or pay for more than one month at a time to save your space. We only accept US paypal as payment at this time.

You can add up to 15 pictures in the slide show. See the example for space regarding description and additional information. So check it out and let me know if you have a listing you want to list.

If you decide on one of our listing be sure to let them know where you saw it!

Pura Vida!

 

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Our Cafe Press has gone World Cup!

World cup swag is now in our Cafe Press shop. We have done Costa Rica and USA. If you want one of these for your country let us know and we will have it made up for you. Check out our shop by clicking on the link on the side bar or at the top of the page. Here are the designs. Hope you enjoy them. So who will buy the most Tee Shirts? USA? Or Costa Rica? We will see!

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Pura Vida! and Go USA! WE love them both!

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ABOUT COSTA RICA FROM THE EYES OF A TICO

Costa Rica is a small country located in Central America with a population of around 4.7 million with 7 provinces and a lot of beautiful places to visit. It’s a very popular country for tourists to come visit when they want to be in the heat, relax at the beach and see nature. But what most tourists don’t see is what the country is like, so read on to learn all about Costa Rica, from the eyes of a Tico!

I am proud to say that I am Costarican even though I know that we have a lot of things to improve. But every time I watch the news or read about attacks, terrorism or nuclear weapons, I say to myself that I am lucky to live in a country like this.

We might not have super fast Internet speed like South Korea, the USA infrastructure or huge cities, but we don’t have to worry about paying taxes to finance an army or paying deep student loans since Costa Rican education is not as expensive as other countries.

The education in Costa Rica is for free and mandatory at the age of 6, kids starts kindergarten, then elementary school for 6 years, and finally to high school for 5 years. After you graduate from high school you can apply to go to a public university. Most of the Costaricans go to public universities since they are nearly for free and most of the times you get scholarships. The education level here is very good, people go to NASA and work for huge companies that move here because of the quality of our education.

My brother is a doctor and he works for the government. Every time I go to the EBAIS (that’s how we call the local clinics), I feel so lucky because we get all the medication and tests for free as we pay 9.17% tax out of our salaries for health insurance. I am very happy with our medical system. Sometimes you have to have a little bit of patience but you do receive excellent service.

Our economy is not as good as our beaches but we are number 11 in Latin America and like I mentioned before, several companies are moving to Costa Rica to open their operation centers such as: P&G, Amazon, HP, IBM, Microsoft, Bank of America and many more.

The Costa Rican minimum salary is 270 000 colones (Around $540) a month which depends on your education. For example, a doctor can make a base salary of $2,000 a month and a janitor around $600 but thanks to all the offshore companies, salaries are getting better. If you work for Amazon, the minimum you can make is $800 a month.

I know it doesn’t sound like $85,000 a year but if you compare it with our cost of living it makes sense. I pay $400 a month for my apartment rent which is average for the coast. In the city, you can rent a house for $300 a month.

I love beer and it is an excellent economy indicator because the price in the supermarket is around $1 and $2 in a bar. The price of gasoline is high compared to the US, a liter cost around 700 colones (around $5.3 a gallon) but prices are changing constantly.

Just like any country you can find poor people and wealthy people but on average we have a good life. We don’t have that much money to spend on new things but we do what we can to have quality time. It is common for people to live well into their 90’s and 100’s here.

Nowadays it is normal to find people from all over the world living in Costa Rica. I went to the mall the other day and I thought I was in the states as everyone was gringo and Chinese people own 90% of all the minimarkets. But I love the diversity here, you can have a Chinese New Year celebration and a Thanksgiving dinner. I love food so every celebration is more than welcome for me!

Most of the Costarican are Catholics (80%) but you can find big groups of Christians, Jews, Mormons and any other kind of religion here, we respect everyone’s beliefs.

We are a democratic country so we chose a new president every 4 years. The main political groups are Liberación Nacional and PAC.

Our main transportation system is the bus system. It needs a bit more work but if you have patience you can go to almost anywhere in the country and it is very cheap.

But our biggest treasure of all is our nature, 25% of the territory is protected and we shelter almost 6% of the world’s biodiversity which is not bad for a country that covers only 0.03% of the world. So if you are looking for rainforests, jungles, black and white sand beaches, volcanoes, rivers, or any kind of flora and fauna, this is the right place. I’d probably have to write a hundred different posts just on the types of birds that are here!

Quality time and life: that’s the most important thing you can have, you don’t need to have too much in order to have a quality life. Costa Rica has given me so much, every day I learn something new. Ticos (nickname of costaricans) are very nice people, we love to talk to people even if we don’t know them and we try to help as much as we can. We respect laws but we are not afraid of the police or the government.

This post was about Costa Rica through the eyes of a Costarican and I may be missing some more points but feel free to ask me whatever you want in the comment section and you will get a Tico point of view!

Originally posted by  on MyTanFeet

Categories: Costa Rica Life Experience, News, Travel | Leave a comment

Cost of living up date days 11 – 16

So here we are at day 16 and budget is almost gone! :-( Lets see how we end up at the end of the month and see what we have learned from my mistakes while living in Costa Rica.

Most of the days were pretty easy and simple. Hang out at the house. Life is pretty simple and easy here in Costa Rica. I caught up on the current season of Orange is the New Black #OITNB. Started watching Breaking Bad. Pretty good show. You have to love a psychopathic chemistry teacher with nothing to lose. He can cook up some trouble no doubt!

Day 9 Paid all the monthly bills finally! Did a lot of running around.

Day 10 had lunch At Kay’s Gringo Postres. As you can tell we like to eat there a lot. The food is good, prices reasonable, but the company is usually amazing. Its like Cheers in Atenas, just no booze! Its where everyone knows you name!!! Well the new owners are working on it, but Kay let me tell you she is one sharp lady! We call her mom!

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This was the special that day. Yummy!!! You get all this plus the dessert for 3,500 colones or $6.31

 

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Again very yummy home made cheese cake! Still a little on the small side for my taste, but hell its FREE!!!!!!!!

 

Denise got a garden salad with an order of bacon! We love the bacon here!!!!

Day 11 Didn’t really do much just hung out. I did finally have to put diesel in the car! I think even with all the trips we make to either Santa Ana or Escazu I only fill up once a month maybe 2x. Love my Toyota Furtuner.

Day 12 It was time to go to church! Well not that kind of church. Greggo’s Bar has a deal on Thursdays certain things you drink if you drink a min of 5 next week when you come in you get that number for FREE so its like a delayed BOGO deal on beer and some liquors! It is only Thursday and you have to redeem the next week or it is lost. Here was our meal at Greggo’s.

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Oh and we had Ceviche, but I forgot to take a picture of it. Sorry! Consider my hand smacked! Steak was tasty. It was a little tough this night, but still not bad at all.

Day 13 Yep you guess it had lunch at Kay’s again. Normal stuff this time. Just salads and drinks. Again good lunch! We did go to a new place for dinner El Tronco and here is what we go for dinner. Everyone should eat here! Good food. Review will be coming. I know I owe you guys a lot of reviews! I will get them out I promise.

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Day 14 was a do nothing day. I get a lot of those. Well I didn’t do nothing. Did lots of stuff around the house. Played with the dogs, went swimming, worked out. I cooked. We did eat after all. :-) If you want to see the food I cook you need to let me know. I’m not going to take the time to post it if you don’t want to see it. So drop me a comment on this post and tell me you want to see my cooking. :)

Day 15 I got to have Fathers day dinner at one of my favorite places! La Trocha!!! I will review them the next time we go. I love their food and the owners are wonderful. I am proud of myself we almost had a conversation in Spanish with them. The owner/chef doesn’t speak English and with our limited Spanish we actually had a conversation!!!!! Yea us! Every day we get better! Denise more than me, but we did it! Here is what we had:

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Its hard to tell but that is a hell of a lot of food. If you go here and you eat there is no way you will go home hungry! We love all their pasta’s and steaks.

Day 16 We decided to try a different place for lunch today. Again I will review it in another post, but here is the food we had for the price listed on our budget.

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Since we were out and we were in the area I did stop at PriceSmart. I got very little there. I mainly went in for dog good. This is what I come out with. You can never just go in and get the one thing you need. You always have to find more! Well I do anyway.

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I got the 50lb bag of Kirkland dog food. So now I am set for dog food for a while. I had just ran out of this one. Remember I use it and the Super Perro just in case I can’t find one or the other. So I mix them. We did go in for treats as I’m running low, but guess what. NONE!!! No dog treats at all. No biscuits, not cookies nothing! This is why I buy so much when I do buy. You never know when it is going to be there or not. So you buy a few. I still have some left, but I’m going to start cutting them in 1/2 or else I may run out before Monday when I go back again or they may not have them yet again. So we will see.

Here is what the budget looks like. Yep day 16 and I have gone over my $2K budget. We can learn from this and we will keep going and see where I end up at the end of the month. Thank we can analyze it and see where I can do better. Thanks for reading and drop me a comment or two!

Don’t forget to check out our Amazon Page, and our Cafe Press page. Almost all our profits after expenses have been paid go to local Charties here in Costa Rica. So buy some stuff would ya!!!!! Also don’t forget to vote on which charity will get the money we raise. We have only raised like $12 so far. So that $24 with my matching donation. We need more people to buy more stuff! Come on help us out! Lets buy the stuff we want or need and at the same time help charity! The poll is at the top of the page. Vote and buy today!!!!!

Day 11 thru 16

 

Pura Vida!

 

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What do you need to carry with you while traveling in Costa Rica?

There was a question posted today in a facebook group I am the admin of. The person recently got stopped by immigration police and was asked for his passport. Well he didn’t have it on him. Now they could have impounded his car, taken him to the police station and processed him to the immigration center for deportation. He used the “No Habla Espanol” trick which will only work once in a blue moon, so he was very, very lucky. Here is my suggestion to you.

  1. Passport. If you do not want to carry your passport with you you should have a copy of the main page with photo all information. It should be a color copy. You also need your most recent visa stamp page as well.
  2. If you have submitted your paperwork for residency and received your expedente papers you should have that as well.

  3. If you are driving you should always have either your Costa Rican license (if you were lucky enough to have one) or your home country license with you.

  4. If you are lucky enough to have one your cedula. If you have a cedula the other items with the exception of some form of drivers license is not necessary.

  5. Again driving you should have a copy of all the information needed in relation to the car in the glove compartment. Copy of title, registration, and insurance (other than you marchomo sticker if you have it).

That should keep you covered should you be stopped by any of the police that are here in Costa Rica. Any of them can ask for any ID they deem necessary to verify that you are here and you are here legally.

Pura Vida!

 

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Fernando Carballo exhibit showcases 40 years of technique

“Cazando Mariposas” (“Hunting Butterflies”) shows Carballo’s peculiar mingling of realistic portraiture with a surreal twist. Courtesy RedCultura

It’s one of the miracles of art: If you know what you’re doing, you can skip the brush and just dribble paint directly onto paper. The paint plops into lines and curves, drips and splotches, until – voila! – a woman’s face emerges, as human and alive as a painting can be.

Such freeform painting is just one of the techniques Fernando Carballo has used over the past four decades, along with drawing and traditional brushwork. Now 72 years old, Carballo is a revered artist in Costa Rica, where he has won awards for his canvases. This month, Casa del Artista has dedicated its gallery to a Carballo retrospective; simply titled “Graphic Exposition,” the display showcases 15 of his works.

If you happen to be passing through the neighborhood of Guadalupe anyway, the Carballo collection is worth a visit, especially if you have never heard his name. What’s striking about Carballo is that he has tried a variety of styles and media: “Muchacha Bonita” is the portrait of a young woman, a kind of line drawing made from dripped paint. In contrast, “Espalda Masculina” (“Masculine Back”) shows a shirtless man’s shoulder blades. His musculature is richly colored and shaded with colored pencils. The two portraits seem completely dissimilar, as if created by two very different artists.

Yet all of Carballo’s work shares a single trait: it seems slightly unreal. Even his most realistic figures, like the one in “Personaje” (“Character”), is somehow warped or exaggerated. The bald, naked man in “Personaje” is realistically rendered overall, but he has a huge, beckoning hand, like a homunculus in a bad dream. “Madre” (“Mother”) is the haunting image of a woman, drawn in stark pen-and-ink, with a stoic face and bulbous lower belly. Carballo imaginatively renders her curvature, from sharp nose to baby bump, with the anatomical freedom of Frank Frazetta. Many of the other figures look like Freudian doodles, playfully sexual though never exactly erotic.

The Carballo exhibit is the perfect excuse to visit Casa del Artista, an art school operated by the Museum of Costa Rican Art. With a name like “Artist’s House,” you might expect a rundown potting studio in a converted mill, the kind of dusty little workshop you find in quaint U.S. towns. But Casa del Artista is headquartered in a spacious, spotless, super-modern building. The school hosts hands-on classes in every kind of medium. If you have artistic aspirations and you speak even a lick of Spanish, the course catalogue is worth a gander.

In this sense, Carballo’s work is the perfect installation for the school’s lobby. He demonstrates the range of draftsmanship a single artist can attempt. Try everything, he seems to suggest. Something’s bound to turn out right.

“Exposición Gráfica de Fernando Carballo” continues through June 30 at Casa del Artista, Guadalupe. Mon.-Fri., 8 a.m.–8 p.m.; Sat., 8 a.m.–4 p.m. Free. Info: Museum of Costa Rican Art website.

Originally posted on the Tico Times

 

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Top Hotel Pools in Costa Rica

Here is my Top 5 Hotel Pools in Costa Rica.

nikima-ree.blogspot.com

 

 

Pura Vida!

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Cost of living Day 7, 8, 9 and 10!

Sorry for the long update, but 7th and 8th were pretty boring days. Just sat at home, watched some TV. Started to watch the Orange is the new black, and trying to catch up on American Horror story. We are starting season 3 The Coven. Hopefully it is as  good as the others were. We did some shopping and stuff on the 9th so lets get to that.

Day 9 was a busy day as Monday’s usually are. The housekeeper and Gardener was here. So that is when we do a lot of our running for the week as they will keep and eye on the dogs for us. We did happen to have a little mishap while we were gone. The gardener accidentally hit the pipe coming from the solar hot water on our rancho roof to the pool. :-( He ran down to the gate and had them call our pool guy who came right out and patched it. He fixed it today on the 10th. So won’t see that bill until next month. He only sends a bill once a month. Otherwise the house ran smoothly while we were gone.

We went to see the dietitian as we do on Mondays. Had a good week my wife and I both lost weight. So cheers! Even though I am no longer on the diet she till wanted to weigh me and measure me. She is interested in how I am doing. She follows me on facebook and looks at my fitbit auto post to my timeline that shows what my exercise is and what I am eating. Its a great tool for weight loss.

After we were done there we heading to Escazu to go to Pricesmart to pick up dog food. Well we decided to have lunch at the Avaneda. We scoped out a place we have never been before. You will see it on the budget. It is our 1st time there and I doubt we will be back. I will be writing a review in the next couple of days so look out for that as well.

Lunch ran pretty long about 2 hours so by the time we were done I was kind of done so I wanted to head home. Then I realized we really need dog food and really need to pay the electric bill. So we head off to the bank to take out some cash. We head to the local grocery store which is really nice and in expensive. I also realized once we were there I needed to pick up a few other things as well so we walked the entire store. We also pay our Electric and Cable/internet bills there. I did make a mistake on my internet bill and have corrected it on the budget sheet. It was $90 a month but $57 for my 5Mbps download and 500Kbps upload service. Here is what I got at the market.

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29,205 colones or $52.67

This is a 66lb bag. I will last a good while. I would say almost a month along with the 50lb bag I buy at pricesmart of the Kirkland brand. I buy both so I can mix them as there are times when for whatever reason I can’t find one or the other. So mixing them allows me to be out of on or the other without upsetting tummies. I will need a bag of Kirkland soon so hopefully in he next day or two I will go pick one up.

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739 Colones or $1.33

It takes about 3 of these to equal the amount I got at Pricesmart. So that puts this at $7.98 and I paid $11.93 at pricesmart. ok I’m convinced I will get my Broccoli from Coop from now on!!!!!

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1034 colones or $1.86

The onions I bought at maxipali same amount and actually these are a little bigger cost me 788 colones or $1.42 not worth an extra trip to save a few pennies. So Coop wins again! These actually looked better.

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1,800 colones or $3.25

Again looks like the coop wins! This is 10 for $3.25 and they are bigger than the ones I got at Pricesmart where I paid $2.12 for 5.

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336 colones or $0.61

We have a very clear winner on this one. Coop! These were bigger then what I got at Pricesmart and I paid $1.03 for 3 smaller ones. I’m starting to see the light how about you?

The next expense on our budget is the vet bill. When we came home out housekeeper showed us a spot where one of our dogs made a mess. The reason she left it for us to see is that it had some blood in it. So we had to run our poor little gizzy to the vet to be checked out. Here is Gizzy!

Gizmo

Gizmo

We still as of yet don’t know what is wrong, but Dr. Solano thinks it is some sort of intestinal something or other.  He did put him on medication just in case. He wasn’t acting sick or looking sick. The bill was for the following:

Consult 9000 colones

Complete Hemograma 9500 colones

lopelisan shot 2300 colones

jeringa shot 1700 colones

poop sample 1150 colones

So the total bill was 23650 or $42.65

Most people say that Dr. Solano is one of the more expensive vets in town. That could be true, but he is well worth it! He is one great vet and is a pleasure to deal with and is very knowledgeable! We love, love, love him! That price is nothing compared to what I would have had to pay back it the states!

That pretty much covers I think everything. Here is the budget so far.

day 7 thru 10

As you can see we had lunch at Kay’s again! We do love the place. We were there from 11:30 until about 3:30 today. Ate and had some good conversation with friends. So its a little more this time. I only got 2 salads and my wife got her 2 egg veggie omelets, but we got a lot of Coke Zero and Gin Light. Again the food was good as always! The salads have gotten much better!

Oh and Friday I will have a cost for repair of our weed whacker that I dropped off today. The gardener has not been taken care of it the way he should and he refused to use it until I got it fixed. Which is why he cut our pipe with the machete. As the repair guy told me nothing really wrong with it, but he replace the part that had a piece that broke off and he did some maintenance that needed to be done as its not being handled well. You are suppose to mix oil and gas together and than put it in the machine??? I had no clue and apparently neither did the gardener. So I am taking him with me Friday so they can show him what he needs to do from now on!

Still have 20 days left and I know I am not going to make it for under $2k. Well we will see. Once I am done we will do a recap of the month and see where things could have been eliminated and or saved money and such and see where that lands our final budget. Have a great day!

Oh and drop me a comment if you want to see more pictures and instructions on the food I cook here at the house.

Pura Vida!

 

 

 

 

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Update on Visa Runs Rio Indio Lodge

This was posted to a facebook group called Atenas Costa Rica Classified. Since I did a review of this group about visa runs, I thought I would share this with everyone.

I have some bad news for those who enjoy the half day flights to the Rio Indio Resort in Nicaragua. Because the Costa Rica immigration is apparently cracking down on ‘habitual tourism,’ the last trip will be next month. The young immigration agents at the Tobias Bolanos airport have been stamping passports with 30 day stamps instead of 90. Not good for the animal lovers or people who like to save on trips out of the country. It would be very hypocritical of the Costa Rican government to complain about the lack of tourist dollars, and at the same time make tourists leave the country to spend money somewhere else!!!

Pura Vida!

 

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Cost of living day 7

Well today was a relax in the pool and chill day. Nope I did not make it to the Coop to pay the electric bill or to pick up dog food. So I guess that waits until Monday. Pura Vida right? Dogs still have food so we are good and it should last until Monday. :-) So what did I do today?

I went out and worked out on the bowflex. I did about 1/2 hour on it. I had to figure out how it works, but that time isn’t included in the workout time. Ran on the treadmill for about an hour or so. Got in the pool for about 2 hours and swam around and just hung out. I cooked all day so the highlight of this day will be the lunch and dinner I cooked.

My breakfast was just two eggs over easy and 3 plum tomatoes cut and cooked with a little salt and pepper. It sounds very plain but it was very nice. You take the eggs and place them over the tomatoes so when you cut into the egg the yummy yellow center mixes with the tomatoes and and their juiciness. :-) Really yummy you should try it.

lunch was an Asian stir fry. Very simple only need a couple of ingredients but full of flavor! As well as fills you up! I did however forget to get out the mushrooms! :-) It was still yummy here are the pictures and what I did.

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Here is you need. Red cabbage (about 3 oz), orange bell peppers (1/2 regular size) (can be any pepper you want), cucumbers (1/2 regular size), broccoli (2.5 oz), and tomatoes (2 plum). Do whatever quantity you want. Cut everything up into small pieces as you see above.

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This is what makes it an Asian dish. A dish’s ethnicity is created by the spices you use in the dish. Some ingredients will also lend to what region you dish can be assigned to, but he spices are what makes any dish! I only use 1/4 of a teaspoon of each of these in a cast iron pan that is hot!!!!! very hot!!!! We will also be adding 1 tablespoon of soy sauce later so don’t salt the dish until end.

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These items will take the longest to cook so you want to get them in 1st and get the oil moving around and coating them. Here you can start to pepper your dish, but DON”T salt it yet!

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Now we have added the peppers. You only wait about a min or two before you add the next ingredient. Flavor not only comes from what you put in your pan, but also from how you put it in. Layering you food is very important as well.

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Now you add the cucumbers! At this point you will want to taste the dish after about a min or two of cooking to see if you have enough pepper in the dish. If not now is when you want to add it.

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Finally you add the tomatoes and the soy sauce. You let that cook and allow the soy to reduce down along with the juices from the cucumbers and tomatoes. This should take about 3 min. Remember to keep moving that food around. Now taste it. If you think the soy has added enough salt to the dish you are done. If you need to add salt do so and let it cook as you do until you get it to where you want it. Remember salt a little at a time let it mix and heat for about 30 seconds than taste it again and keep doing this until you get it as you like it. Also if you think it needs a little more kick to it either add a little more hot oil or you can add some crushed red peppers!

That was my lunch! So give it a try and let me know how yours turned out as mine was very yummy and just the right amount of kick to it!

Dinner was Chicken and broccoli. It is a pretty simple dish. I just cooked the chicken I bought earlier in the week in a pan with a little evoo salt, pepper, and lemon juice. I than steamed the broccoli in a microwave steamer. Once it was done I added some “I can’t believe its not butter” to it with some salt and pepper and this is what you get!

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Day 7

So day 7 nothing! Whoot! Have a great day! Onto day 8. Which is going to look a lot like day 7.

Pura Vida!

 

 

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YouTube Video Immigration rules

Pura Vida!

 

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Cost of living Day 6

Day 6 was pretty uneventful. We didn’t do much other than go out to Kay’s Gringo Postres again for lunch. Had some good conversation with friends who happen to stop in while we were there. I did go out and buy a bowflex used, but I’m not putting that in the budget as it is an expense that isn’t normal every day stuff.

I got it for $400. Its in almost new shape so I think I got a deal on it. Now if I can figure out how the damn thing works I will be good to go. Have my own personal gym at this point. I brought down with us a treadmill and stationary bike. Now the bowflex. I should be all buff in no time at all! :) So her is the budget to get you all caught up. Still have not gotten to the store to pay the electric or pick up the dog food. I should do that today! Or maybe go to a movie? Not sure we will see how the day goes. Have a great one!

Day 4 5 and 6

 

Oh and the lunch at Kay’s was higher because I had 3 of the garden salads instead of 1. I was hungry. They had no dressing on them and I had them grilled. So it was 3 garden salads, 2 veggie omelets, 1 gin light, 2 coke zero’s and a full size chocolate cake! I love their chocolate cake!

Pura Vida!

 

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Restaurant Review: Hard Rock Cafe

On June 2 2014 my wife and I decided to head to the Hard Rock Cafe to have some lunch. Our original plan was to eat at a mall in the area, but the only thing they had was a food court and that just wasn’t what we wanted. We are both on a diet plan and food court food just isn’t what we wanted to do. So we figured why not the Hard Rock Cafe. They should have some pretty health options and it is close to where we were. Off we go to the Cafe!

Very nice place! Cafe is clean and neat and the service was pretty damn good. WE love the gift shop. We bought a few things for our selves and family members back home. Lets get into why you are reading this. You want to know how the food was! We didn’t get many items, but here is what we did get.

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These were really tasty and really hot! Which I loved! By the time I ate all 10 of them my lips were on fire. They had even turned red and gotten a little swollen. No breading was nice and the skin was crispy. There was a lot of sauce on them. The cost for them was 6,097.56 colones and that is about $11.00 so that is about $1.10 a wing. A bit pricey. We used to sell wings in my pizza shop for .75 per wing regular price and would put them on special for .50 and even sometimes .25. They were very good. These were the Heavy Metal sauce just FYI.

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OK, my wife and I got two of these. It was a pretty good salad. Taste was spot on and they both looked the same so the consistency was there. Very little dressing on it, but you knew it was there. The two salads cost us 13821.14 colones so that is about $24.93 again a bit pricey, but it was a good salad.

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We ended our meal with 2 coffee’s. Got the Americano black of course. Said this was Costa Rican coffee that they used, but I have my doubts. Didn’t like it much. I had to put 3 sweeteners in it to make it drinkable. Now if you like a strong bitter coffee this is the coffee for you no doubt. We paid 2113.82 colones which is about $3.81 so not bad for two cups of coffee. You will pay way more in a starbucks! So really the only reasonable price was the coffee and only if you like this kind of coffee. We also had 1 Pepsi light at 1544.72 colones and an unsweetened ice tea for 1544.72 colones. Their individual prices is about $2.79 and that is expensive. Not as expensive as Te Con Te the other day, but up there. Most times the drinks like this cost about 1000 colones, maybe 1200. Our total bill with tax and tip came to 30,900.00 colones or $55.74. That really is a big pricey for 2 salads, 10 wings, 2 drinks and 2 coffees. Hey Its a chain so you expect to pay more.

All that sound wonderful doesn’t it! Well with the exception of the price. I though so as well. I thought, OK the wings were a stretch on the healthy eating side, but how bad could they be?  They were not breaded! Got the salad and it have very little dressing on it so thought we were doing pretty good. WRONG!!!!!! This meal was almost 3K calories. I went home and looked up the items so I could put them in my fitbit log and have an idea of how many calories I had eaten today. I was shocked and almost fell on the floor when I saw it. When it comes to healthy food this place is not the place for you! It is horrible!!!!! So if you are tying to eat healthy avoid this place like the plague!!!!!!!! Do not and I reapeat do not go here. The following is a food chart from their own website. They only give the calories and sodium. I have looked and looked on the internet to find more information and I can’t. Very strange if you ask me.

Hard Rock Cafe – Print Menu If I would have known I would have picked a salad with less calories and I would have never gotten the wings.

So here are some random photo’s I took just to try and forget what we just experienced. Read over the menu, you will be shocked!

IMG_2162 IMG_2163 IMG_2168 IMG_2170 IMG_2171 IMG_2172 IMG_2173

 

So, lets get to the final on this one. The food was good as far as taste goes, the service was excellent, the place was clean (it is brand new so it should be), the bathrooms were nice and clean. The price is a bit high. I should be able to give them 3 seashell1out of 5, but I just can’t. I have to give them 2. I have to take off for the price to value and the very, very, very bad nutrition of the food. I just can’t bring myself to give them more. I tried to calculate how they could come up with those number on the calories. I just couldn’t do it. I have no clue what they put in there to do that, but it is insane! Well another one down the drain. Lesson here is don’t go to Chain restaurants in Costa Rica! Stick with the local places. You will get a good meal for a fair price.

Pura Vida!

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Cost of Living day 4 and Day 5

The one thing you can count on while living in Costa Rica is your day will never go as planned. I think I have said that already. So, yesterday was going to be a stay at home day and thank I hear my wife’s knitting group is going to eat lunch at a local pizza place that I have been dying to try, but because of the diet I couldn’t. So I jump on that! Not a knitter myself, but figured I could catch up on some writing while they all talk knitting and I can sample some pizza. So we get there and guess what. Not open! They are suppose to be open, but they aren’t. Ok so plan B. We go to the next pizza joint. Again a place that opened while on the diet and have not tried them so cool. Guess what? Not open again! Ok on to plan C. We go to Antono’s. A place we have had a meal or two before. Good food and good prices. After lunch we headed to the Maxi Pali. A very controversial store that just opened in Atenas. Long story short Expats are upset as its a Walmart owned store. Read my blog titled Unhappy Gringo’s it kind of gives my feelings on Gringo’s telling people what they can and can’t do. Again still did not complete all of my shopping. I did pick up a few more items, but I still need dog food. Glad I don’t wait till the last minute or the dogs we be starving by now. :-)

Lets start with lunch Here is what we had. I was starving and I have no clue why.

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1100 colones or $1.98

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3700 colones or $6.67

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2600 colones or $4.69

 

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1800 colones or $3.25 I got it without the bun.

We also had a total of 5 Coke Lights @1000 colones each. So our total bill with tax and tip came to 17620 colones $31.79. Not a bad price really. It is a little more expensive but the food was really good. My salad was entree size. So with the burger and my wife’s meal we actually got 3 entrees.

Here are the groceries I bought on this day.

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Gin light 1,800 colones $3.25 and the Coke Zero 1,460 colones or $2.63. Which is pretty good prices.

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1,275 colones or $2.30

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788 colones or $1.42

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559 Colones or $1.01

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1,000 colones or $1.80 These were really, really good!

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4,517.50 colones or $8.50 this is 1/2 kilo or 1lb of sea bass.

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8,100 colones or $14.61 this again is 1/2 kilo or 1lb.

 Here is what we spend on day 4 $151.57 spent and a total left on the budget of $739.41.  Paid $59.73 for community fees which covers water, security and trash removal. Still have to pay electric once we get the bill.

Day 5 was a pretty much stay at home day. So nothing really spent. At this rate I may have to have more stay at home day. Lets see how it goes. I still need to go get dog food! When I go to Coop to do that on day 7 I will also pay the electric bill.

Here is some of the food I prepared on day 5 while I was home hope you enjoy it!

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So this is the start of Breakfast. 3 eggs, a couple slices of onion, 1/4 of a red pepper, and some mushrooms that were marinated in minced garlic. Yummy! I call it the Maryland Scramble.

 

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You put the onions and peppers in with just a 1/2 teaspoon of evoo. Let them cook until they are nice and tender.

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Than you add the mushrooms! Let it cook make sure you keep moving thing around so nothing burns.

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Here is what makes it Maryland. You put just a pinch of Old Bay. Yea right a pinch! You cover that shit with old bay!

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Scrabble your eggs and poor it in! Again keep that food moving so nothing stick or burns. Cook it to the point that you like your eggs. If you like them a little wet or completely dry. I like mine in the middle.

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Here is the final dish. It was very filling. You can use what ever veggies you want its all good.

Here are some of the pictures from dinner.

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That is onion, broccoli, tomatoes, red bell pepper and of course the garlic marinated mushrooms. Have I mentioned how much I love garlic and mushrooms?

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Place 1/2 teaspoon of evoo with the onions and broccoli. They take the longest to cook. Just cook until they are soft. Keep moving it around don’t burn it.

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Add the peppers! Add salt and pepper at this point.

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Now add the tomatoes and keep it moving.

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Now the mushrooms!

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The final product! It is very tasty! Sorry picture is a little blurry. So that is it for day 4 and 5.

Pura Vida.

 



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Volunteer Opportunity

VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITY (Please email Henry directly if you would like to help):

Hello you all, I hope this message finds you well.

Invenio needs your help with a project we are planning with a group of students that need to finish with the levels of English in order to get graduated. The idea is that instead of being in regular classes, they can go out there and interact with an English native speaker.

You and the student select the best day and time to meet. You also select the topics or the activities you are going to do. The idea is for them to improve their level of English they have.

Can you please, help us and at the same time can you spread the word?

Thanks and have a great day…

Henry Méndez Pérez
English Department Coordinator
Invenio
henrymendez90@hotmail.com

Categories: Charity, Costa Rica Life Experience, Travel | Leave a comment

Restaurant Review: Sisso Taste of Jerusalem

 

I want to 1st say really good meal at a very good price!!! This is a great find. It is in a strip center called Plaza Florencia in Escazu. My wife and I were looking for a place to eat before we went to the movies that had a nice veggie selection. Yes we got our wish here. Very clean place with lots of parking and an attendant. Lots of other places in this center as well to eat and we may have to go try them out. So let us get to the reason we are all reading this specific blog entry THE FOOD!!!!!

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So they started us off with this. On our diet we can’t really have it, but I was already to come off the diet. So as of today I am going to be off. I am however still going to try to use the tools the diet has given me to continue to lose some weight along with exercise. Back to the food. This is a crispy pita bread and I could taste the sunflower seeds in it! It was very tasty by itself. You add that tomato sauce to it and you have a nice flavor. The tomato sauce is a tomato reduction with chili dulce and herbs and spices. Of course she wouldn’t tell me what herbs and spices. :-) It was very good! I did eat all the tomato reduction, but only about 1/2 of the chips. :-)

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This was their version of a Greek Salad and they did a nice one. That was a big plate! The tomatoes and cucumbers were thick cut. They are hidden under the tomatoes you can see them peeking out. :-) Feta cheese and olives. I would have liked my items cut up, but this was worth the work of cutting things up. Had a very good taste and worth going back for.

 

 

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This was called Berenjena Baladi don’t ask me I don’t know. I don’t even know if I spelled it correctly. The hummus was very tasty!!!! The black things that have a sauce on them are eggplant. Again very nicely done. They roast them and than grill it some how. I think that is what she said I’m not 100% sure. Now the salad and the black glob on the left of the plate was a make your own type of thing. She has you come up to the counter and pick the items you want on your side salad. They had a nice selection! I think it was one of the best salad bars I have seen. The black glob is more egg plant. It was an eggplant dinner no doubt! This was my main meal. it was filling!

 

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This is their veggie platter and what my wife got as part of her meal. This is a meal. Again there is eggplant and we have huge tomato a piece of corn which I have to tell you was the best corn I have had in Costa Rica! It was tender and it was sweet! I would go back just for this corn!!!!!! Ant he other items is a potato. Grilled and some onions grilled. All of it had a nice flavor.

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This was the wife’s main meal. She ad to remove the potato and the corn, but she could eat the rest. Again very nice meal. She felt the chicken was under seasoned, but I felt it was nicely done.

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This I’m not sure which one of our meals it came with, but it was just torture having it sitting there. Very nice tasting pita. I had to try and and it was even better when you put it in the hummus!

So there is the food now for the prices:

We had 3 coke lights at 3000 colones, the Baladi plate I had was 3951.22 colones, The chicken plate my wife had was 4849.59 colones, The Greek salad was 4252.03 colones, and the veggie platter was 2252.03 colones. With tax and tip it came to 22,515.00 colones.  Now at today’s exchange rate that is $40.71 for our meal. That was pretty damn good for the amount of food we got and it being in Escazu. You walk away hungry and it is your own fault!!

So lets review: Good good at a fair price, parking is good, wait staff was nice, attentive and spoke some English. The place was clean and the bathroom was nice as well. So I give this place 5 seashell1out of 5. I don’t usually give this kind of rating as I can always find something wrong and take off one seashell, but really I couldn’t find anything! They do a great job and a fair price, who can ask for anything more than that! I will go back as it has now become one of my favorite places to eat!

Pura Vida!

 

Categories: Costa Rica Life Experience, Food, Restaurant Reviews, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Open Letter to Costa Rica

Dear Costa Rica,

I wake up in the morning at 5 am, but try to stay in bed until 6 am and then take in your beauty and I am thankful for that which you decided to present to me. It doesn’t matter if you have given me bright sun in my eyes that make me cringe as I pull my head out of the covers, or clouds that will bring rain. You bring something beautiful to me each day.

After I wake and you are presenting to me rain that my dogs will go out and play in and track mud all over the house and on the furniture and even me, I do wonder about your wisdom, but I understand that you must water yourself in order to bring that beauty to me each day.

Could you ask some of your creatures like the cane toads, snakes, tarantulas, and scorpions to see shelter in other areas and not in my yard or house that I share with my 10 dogs. They are a handful in and of themselves and well your wonderful and totally needed creatures do make it more of a challenge for me. So if you could direct them in another direction I would greatly appreciate it!

Oh and while I have you can I just say I can’t wait to explore more of you. You really are a super model of countries in the entire world. If I do say so myself I would rank you as the #1 super model!

Thanks for being who you are and all your wonders and challenges you bring to me every day I am thankful! Keep up the good work and we will talk again soon!

Pura Vida!

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Restaurant Review: Leno Y Carbon

 

So, at the suggestion of our nutritionist we had lunch here one day. One would think she would keep our diet in mind when suggesting a place. You would think that if the meal says on the menu Zero carbs than it should have zero carbs right? Well that would be wrong. The zero carb meal we purchased had corn, and tortilla and cheese and all manner of things with carbs in them. So that didn’t make me happy, but lets move on.

The restaurant itself was very nice. Good parking, but it was a little busy, which is always a good sign. A very friendly parking attendant. The staff was very friendly and nice and kept us full and our table clear of dishes. So the service was very good.

One major complaint and I don’t know if it was just something on the day we were there or if this was just an issue in general, but there was no water in the bathrooms! The kitchen had water, but the bathrooms did not. You could not flush and you could not wash your hands! Luckily I did not find this out until the end of the meal. Lucky they did have pitchers of water in the bathroom that I used to flush and wash my hands with. My wife was not so lucky as they did not have these in the ladies room. :-( So I am gong to have to take off major points for this issue.

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So lets move onto the most important items the food!

 

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This was the chicken salad and it was ok. The chicken was the hero of the salad as it should be. Very juicy and it was seasoned very well. The salad itself was lacking a few items and like in most restaurants it was not as advertised as far as the items that were suppose to be in it. Over all it was an ok salad.

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This was the zero carb meal I was talking about. As you can see there are a few carbs in here. I forgot, well didn’t realize that the steak was going to have cheese on it. So I didn’t ask to leave it off. The chicken again was very tasty. It did have skin, but ate it before I realized I wanted to take a picture. There was a BBQ pork and the steak that I mentioned. Again BBQ has carbs. Not sure who is calculating the carbs on these meals, but they really need to take a nutrition class. Over all this was a good plate of food. You felt full after eating it and more so if you ate allt he stuff we had to pull off as they were too many carbs for our diet. The steak was a little tough, but not the worst I have had. The pork had a good flavor, but was a bit dry. The side salad was a side salad nothing to talk about there that is for sure.  My wife and I both got this same meal.

After a meal I sometimes like to have coffee. I have gotten in the habit of asking, “Do you serve Costa Rican coffee?” this waiter said and I quote, “hahhaha of course we do!” So out comes the coffee. Here is a video of that experience.

Here is a picture of the final product which was excellent! I loved the show and the taste of this coffee!

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So I guess it is time to wrap this one up. The prices were fair. It was about $50 for 2 entrees, 1 salad,  2 1/2 cups of coffee and about 4 cokes. The food overall was good. I wouldn’t say it was great, but it was good. The service was great! No doubt about that. The bathrooms sucked. That is going to bring the rating way down sorry to say. Hopefully it was just a temporary issue and not a permanent one.  Would I go back and eat again? Yes especially when I am off the diet as I saw the desserts going to another table and if they taste anything like they look I want me some!!!!!!!!!!!

So I give them 2 seashell1out of 5.  I could have given them 4 if it wasn’t for the bathroom issue. I would go and check the bathroom 1st if bathrooms are an issue for you. If not I say go eat and enjoy!!!!!!!

Pura Vida!

 

 

Categories: Costa Rica Life Experience, Food, Restaurant Reviews, Travel | Leave a comment

A Facebook Post

This was a Facebook post by

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A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles roll
ed into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full.. The students responded with a unanimous ‘yes.’

The professor then produced two Beers from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand.The students laughed..

‘Now,’ said the professor as the laughter subsided, ‘I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things—-your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions—-and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car.. The sand is everything else—-the small stuff.

‘If you put the sand into the jar first,’ he continued, ‘there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life.

If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you.

Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.

Spend time with your children. Spend time with your parents. Visit with grandparents. Take your spouse out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and mow the lawn.

Take care of the golf balls first—-the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the Beer represented. The professor smiled and said, ‘I’m glad you asked.’ The Beer just shows you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of Beers with a friend.

 

I find its message to be so true!

Pura Vida!

 

Categories: Costa Rica Life Experience, Facebook Posts | Leave a comment

Top 10 reason I picked Costa Rica

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As of late people have been asking me why did I pick Costa Rica. So i have come up with my top 10 reasons I picked Costa Rica out of all the other places in the world to retire to.

1. Weather – Back in the Old country as I like to call it, Maryland we had extreme weathers. In our summer it would be 100+ with 95+ humidity. In the winter we would get below 0 temperatures, snow as deep as I am tall and ice! Oh by the Gods ice! Horrible. Here are two chats that kind of says it all about he weather really. Why wouldn’t someone want to live. Now this is Westminster Maryland where I lived and Atenas Costa Rica where I live now. Other areas and charts will look different. Costa Rica has so many climates within miles of each other. :) So you can pick an choose without going far from where you want to be.  

Maryland Weather 2013

Maryland Weather 2013

Atenas Costa Rica 2013

Atenas Costa Rica 2013

2.Healthcare – I have only had a couple experiences so far and they have all been good. Check out this blog (Toto we are not in Kansas any more) I did on my experience with Cima hospital and the associated costs. Healthcare here is a fraction of what it is in the state. There are some complaints about the Caja, but I have also heard some really good stories about it. Yes if you have an elective surgery that isn’t an emergency you can wait a very long time to get it taken care of. This video explains a lot about the healthcare system. Getting up in age this was a major factor. Medical Tourism is very big here and it is growing each and every day. People are coming from all over the world to have procedures done. 

 

3. People – They have been the best. I have never heard a bad word. They are polite and pleasant. They have always been helpful to us with anything we need. Now there are bad people just like everywhere, but the people we have had dealings with have been wonderful to us! Check out my post Just say no? I don’t think so! for an example. :-) 

4. Lifestyle – It is very laid back, and slow. I love that! In the States I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off. I never stopped to smell the roses. I didn’t have time for anything. Here it is very tranquil and easy. Check out this post on Pura Vida for a much better example. 

5. Beauty of the land – Everywhere you go there is beauty. Even in the dry season you can find something beautiful to look at. The sunset, the ocean, the mountains, the volcanoes. You name it and it is so pretty here. Oh by the Gods when the rainy season comes and everything comes to life! The green is such a green I have never seen. The flowers just seem to bloom all year long. Rainy season or dry season they just seem to thrive. Its just beautiful here! You have to see it 1st hand to experience it fully. You can check out some of the wonderful beauty by clicking on the Categories tap and select photo and it will bring up all our photo’s of the day that we post every day!

6. Fun things to do – Where else can you go on a zip line, than see a volcano, soak in a hots spring, than visit a butterfly sanctuary all in one day. So much to do and so many places to do it at. Costa Rica has just about everything anyone can want to do. Scuba, rock climbing, nature preserves. We have been here over a year and still have not done all the stuff we really want to do. Granted we are living life, but there is so much it is going to take us a long time to do everything and see everything! You can’t stay for less than 10 days in order to get in enough stuff that you can say you truly sampled what Costa Rica has to offer.  Once you have you will just want to keep coming back! 

7. Cost of living – You will hear people say, “Oh it is so expensive here. It wasn’t like this 10 years ago!” Well guess what people it wasn’t like this 10 o 20 years ago ANYWHERE!!!!!! Cost of living increases each year. Nothing you can really do about that, but the cost to live here vs in the states is much lower. I’ve done two pieces so far on the cost of living comparisons. I’m working on more and will release them as I get them done. Here are links to the two that I have done so far. Housing and Groceries

8. Property value – The property values here in Costa Rica are rising. So if you want to buy get it now! Go to our friends at Remax and start looking for a place now. More and more people are moving here and when you have a population explosion housing prices go up! Overall the costs is nothing compared to other places around the world. You can get a wonderful 3 bedroom 3 bathroom home with a pool and a wonderful views for under $150K. You can find houses for rent like this for $500 a month. Where in the US can you find a 3 bedroom 2 bathroom and a pool for $500 a month? 

9. The view – Everywhere there is a wonderful view! Ocean view, Mountain views. You can’t turn around without seeing a wonderful view. Yes if you are in the heart of a city the view may not be so wonderful unless you know where to look. All the towns have the most beautiful churches and some wonderful parks. You can’t beat the view here! You just can’t! You can see some of them by going to the categories menu and select photo and it will bring up our Photo of the day posts! I think you will enjoy them a great deal! 

10. The energetic feel of it is hard to explain. You step off the plane and it just feels good. You drive around town and you just feel good. You visit the beach and it just feels good. You take a drive to a mountain peek and look over the whole of Costa Rica and is just feels good. I love the energy of the land and I love the feel of everything here. Its like being wrapped up in your mothers arms and being held tight. 

So that will do it. These are my top ten reasons I moved to Costa Rica. How abut you share yours with us as well in the comments section so others can see!

Pura Vida!

 

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

Restaurant Review: California Bar and Grill (Formerly Bar Rill)

So we were asked to join about 19 friends tonight for dinner. We went to a local restaurant now called California Bar and Grill it used to be called Bar Rill. New owners took over about a month and a half ago. The owner seems like a very nice man, as we have met him a couple of times now. We went when they 1st opened up and I decided not to do a review as it was their 1st night open. It wasn’t advertised as such he wanted a soft opening. A friend told us that they were going to have a salad bar! Oh yes there is that damn “S” word again. So we decided to go check it out. This was back before we went on the WCE (Worst Cruise Ever) back in the end of March. So not going to rehash that just click the link for the Salad war and the WCE is back up for this story. Well just an over view in case you don’t want to read those or you already have and don’t remember.

 

So we get there and our friends are already there and as soon as we walk in they let us know there is no salad bar. So we ask the owner and he tells us that they were not ready to open up the salad bar yet, but they will have it next week. Our problem is next week we will be on the cruise. So we figure ok we will check it out on our return. We did and no salad bar. Oh well lets move on. So “S” Word recap done. Flash forward to current!

 

Tonight we get there and a number of our group are already there and eating. They got there early. Cool so hopefully the kitchen won’t be over worked if everyone comes in at different times. So we sit down and about 10 minutes the waiter comes and asks us what we would like to drink. “Diet Coke please” He than says, “No we don’t have diet coke”  we than say, “Oh ok whatever you have that is diet.” He than responds, “Nothing” Oh great than just give us water. Well water is better for us. I think the waiter did tell the owner how upset we were that we had to drink water and they ran next door to the store and bought a 6 pack. Others came in and ordered diet coke as well, so we only had 1 coke. So we nursed it the entire time we were there.

 

Now for this bit keep in mind that this was a large group and the owner knew we were coming days before this event. We were there to support our Doctora Candy’s brother who was doing live music. So he had another big party of the family members for the singer. So he knows this way in advance. We look over the menu and the food seems good. Looks like stuff we can eat on our diet. The prices seem reasonable. So we wait and we wait and we wait. Now we are at about 45 min since we ordered our soda. Finally he comes over to take our order after I flag him down. I asked for Ensalada Verde, Ceveche, and I order the whole fish. Nope they don’t have that. Ok now after 45 minutes of thinking I am going to have a whole fish I now have to look at the menu again. Which i had to borrow from someone else as he took ours to give to someone else as they didn’t have enough menus to go around. He than tells me they have other fish. GREAT! I say, “Sólo el pescado con una ensalada verde y verduras a la parrilla” Now mind you my Spanish isn’t that good, but he spoke English and I said in in English as well be he seemed rushed. My wife than ordered the Filet mignon paused to see if he would say they didn’t have it and ordered it medium rare as usual. He repeated it back and said medium and before she could correct him he ran off. Ok that is fine if it comes out medium she will deal with it. Whatever.

 

So again we wait……..and wait…..Mean while mind you our one set of friends who sat across from us ordered before we did. Again mind you they came in after us. Again whatever. Here he comes with our food. Wait didn’t they order before us? OK oh well Pura Vida. So here are pictures of what we got.

 

 

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Now remember I ordered Ceveche which looks nice, but look at my plate. A breaded fish which I was not told would be breaded. A side salad, rice, beans, avocado and a plantain. Yea so not what I had ordered. So I try the ceveche 1st. Its room tempature? Ok not sure about this. It was ok, but nothing to write home about and may have tasted better if it was actually cold. Ok no problem. Looked at the beans can’t have those but I will try it. Oil just sitting on the top and it was very runny. So ok dip the tip of my spoon in it so I can taste it. Oh my got my sugar just shot though the roof!!!! Ok so I’m thinking haven’t had sugar in a long time so had someone taste it. Yep they agreed. Lots of sugar in the beans. Not what I was expecting. So I move onto the salad. Oh by the Gods do the restaurant owners not know what a salad spinner is? The salad was so wet I could have used it to wash my hands. I tilted the plate and water just ran off it. So I taste it. Nope no taste what so ever. Ok lets move on. I take a tiny piece of the plantain. Nope yuck. On to the fish. It was actually warm inside! Plus! Score! Well other than trying to scrape off the batter. Which I couldn’t so I just ate it as is, because I was so hungry at this point. The fish itself had a good flavor, but it was ruined by the batter and the fact that it was deep fried! So there was grease everwhere. YUCK! The rice was rice. It was ok no salt no flavor at all just rice. Now here it he kicker. This next picture is the same dinner. Do you see any difference? The quality was the same as mine. BAD! Look at it and than look at mine. So consistency in preparation is lacking yet again.

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So the this next picture is my wife’s meal. Again salad sucks. The steak if you remember was suppose to be medium rare, he heard medium. It came out raw!!!!!! It also was just room temperature and the bacon it was wrapped in was almost not cooked at all either. I told my wife to send it back, but nope she didn’t as she was starving at this point as well so she ate it. She did say it was seasoned well and it didn’t seem tough. So two good points.

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This last picture is the price. The owner did knock off 10% for the issues. Well that was nice.Considering I sent back almost my entire plate and 1/2 the ceveche 10% is just a gesture. He would have scored more ponts had he just charged me for the 2 diet cokes and my wife’s meal.

 

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Now remember my friends who ordered before us? Well they got their food last. 3 couples and one single person who had ordered after them (got the same food as them some of them) got their food 1st. Don’t know if they forgot them or what. So I had to flag him down and ask where their food was. He apologized and in about 15 minutes their food came out. Her’s was the same as mine above and his was shrimp tacos. He said the shrimp tacos were ok. The shrimp seem a bit greasy. I guess it was the butter garlic sauce. It only came with the shrimp on the tortilla and a little cup of chopped onions and a little cup of salsa. Not really what I would call tacos but ok.

 

I surveyed the table of 19 people. Some said their food was ok and other said it was not good. Most of the complaints was no flavor and room temperature food. We had one young server doing our table of 19 and a smaller table of 6 or so. I felt sorry for the poor kid. Oh and to top it all off the salad bar is still listed on his menu! Even though two weeks or more ago he told me he wasn’t doing it.

So lets wrap this up shall we they get 1 seashell1out of 5. I’m only giving them 1 as the place was nice, the live music by Clasicos del Almawas really good and the company we were with. I’m sorry to say this is now our 3rd trip there and we were disappointed each time. I have a 3 strikes rule, so we won’t be back! It must be something about that place as when it was Bar Rill we had the same issues with the food and service. If this as a drop in group out of the blue I could have cut him some slack, but he planned the live music and he knew there were going to be two large groups. No excuse. Sorry. I hate doing bad reviews, but sometimes you have to call it as you see it.

Pura Vida!

 

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

Spanish names for Cuts of Meat!

This will come in handy! I know I will be using it next time. Although my butcher speaks English, so but you never know. Always good to have!

This was posted byt Ninfa DePalma on a facebook group. 

Spanish meat cuts

Pura Vida!

 

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Life in Costa Rica: “Just say No? I don’t think so!”

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Recently a friend was in the car with me and said something that made me think. He said, “Costa Rican’s don’t like to say no!” So I thought about it. I can’t remember a single time in the last 14 months that I have been here that any Costa Rican or Tico (male) Tica (female) as they are called here,  has said no to me. Not sure how I feel about that. Can you be so polite and accommodating that you can never ever say “NO”? Is this possible to live this way? If I asked a Tico to do something that he doesn’t know how to do what will he/she do? They won’t say no or sorry I can’t do that. They will say, “No problem” They will than go and find a friend, relative, or even a stranger who knows how to do it and bring them on. Now that I think about it that has happened a number of times with me on the various projects I have had done around the house. Its like every Tico can do everything, with a little help from someone else sometimes. I will give you an example.

I have a guy who was referred to me to do some electrical work around the house. He came with a friend and they looked and said, “No problem we can fix that for you.” I have to admit they did a great job. I was told they were both electricians. So needed some other things done so I asked, “Do you know someone who can weld? My gate hinges need to be fixed.” his response was, “Sure we can do that no problem.” We work out a price and a time to come back and sure enough they fix it. OK this seems to be working out well so I say, “My house needs to be sanded and refinished. All the windows and doors do you happen to know someone?” Again he says to me, “Sure no problem we can do that.” Again work out a price and date they come back and this time there are 5 of them and the work gets done. Great job was done at that. So again I ask, “I have some plumbing issues know anyone?” He responds, “Yep we can do that.” So again he shows up with someone new and fixes the plumbing issues. So my last example is, “I am having a party do you know anyone who can BBQ, bar tend, and do karaoke?” His response and I bet you can guess what it is, “No problem I can do that.” So we work out a price and he shows up with a Bar tender, he cooks the food, a waitress, and a guy to run the music.

So I am thinking they really don’t like to say no. Each time he did a great job. I used him for many other things and each time I ask he said, “No problem”. It was no problem. He was good, fast, effective and not overly priced.

I always ask friend who they use and so far it has not been a bad experience for me. I have heard many horror stories from people who have hired people who said yes to everything and just really screwed it all up. So I know I have been very blessed to have round 2 guys who have done great jobs for me.

Now here is the problem. I have had 2 guys like this now. Why? Well something happens and you can no longer get in touch with them. Their number changes, they move, all sorts of reasons. Its a shame when you find someone who can find anyone to do what you need to do for a good price and good quality of work. So you can’t get in touch with them and more and  you have to go and find another guy, and I can bet you this guy won’t tell you No either no matter what task you ask him to do.

This is one of the many things I love and not so love about this country and its people. Elliot if you are out there and reading this call me. :-)

Pura Vida!

 

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

Costa Rica Expensive? What? Part II Groceries

 

So this is Part II and in this one I will talk about the cost of Groceries and what they cost. So sit back have a cup of your favorite coffee and I really hope you are drinking Costa Rica Coffee and not Nesacafe instant! and enjoy today’s offering.

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Groceries

Like most things in Costa Rica it is really all about location and what you are willing to accept and not accept. As an example I was walking though Pricesmart and there were a couple items I was looking for. One was way to pricey even for me and the other item was way to pricey even for me, but I bought it anyway. So why did I buy one, but not the other. I know the 1st one I could get somewhere else cheaper and I would be going there as my next stop and the other I know I wouldn’t be able to get it anywhere else. Now I could have just done without it as it wasn’t a necessity to have, but I bought it any way. Its all a matter of your outlook and your pocketbook. There are so many options for your grocery needs in Costa Rica. Sometimes I think more than even in the states. I have complied below a list of a couple of those options with prices at each for the same or very similar items. You will notice that I only gave prices for 1 place for meats. I find all the other places to be inferior quality meat and thus would not suggest buying it at any of the places listed on the chart. As you can see his prices are so much better and so is the quality!

So lets 1st talk about Pricesmart. There are a couple of them here in Costa Rica. They are the equivalent to Costco in the states. They do have kirkland brands and a majority of your US brands you are looking for. Some items are cheaper while others are not. The difference between the bulk stores in the US and the ones in Costa Rica, is that bulk doesn’t mean cheaper here. You can go to a local market and buy 6 let say Paper towel rolls and it be the same price as a pack of 6 in Pricesmart. The meat products here are in larger quantities and they just don’t look good to me. Many people get their meat here, but there are better options!

Auto Mercado is the equivalent to Giant in the states. Its design and layout is very much the same. Again many US, Canadan, and German products can be found here. Their chicken and seafood is very good. The meats are hit and miss. They are way more expensive than Uncle Earls. You can find North American style cuts here as well as the local stuff.

Coope is the local Co-operative market here in Atenas. Now the prices I gave for them in the chart is the regular everyday prices. All items have two price stickers on the shelves. One is higher than the other. On Wednesdays the Coop day you get the lower price. Some items it is worth going in when they are busy for while others not so much. You do have options for lower prices if you shop on a Wednesday.

Feria is the local farmers market. Prices are cheaper here. Mostly fruits and veggies. There are many other things you can get at the Feria and many people buy their meat here. Me personally can’t bring myself to do it. Just don’t like the looks of things and again beef you can forget about it!!!!!!! Don’t even bother. If you missed it here is the video of my trip to the Feria with Eunice from Remax.

Uncle Earls is a butcher. A very good one at that. I will only buy my North American style beef products from him. See my blog post where I talk about the meat here in Costa Rica. Moo…Mooo…Slaughter…Grill…Eat!

Last but not least is Walmart! Yes they have Walmart here in Costa Rica. All of them have groceries. They are very much like the Walmarts in the states. I really can’t see a difference. Not even in the prices really. So, it should go without saying but I am going to say it they have US brands here. Walk into a Costa Rica Walmart and you feel like you have just went back to the states.

Now in addition to these you also have the Mega Super’s, The Pali’s, the, Mas x Menos, and the list could go on. There is a war raging right now for your $’s. So I would suggest taking a list and checking out the prices at all of these places and decide which is cheaper and most convenient for you to shop at. Once you know plan out your day and set a driving route that maximizes your drive and you get the best products at the best prices.  It will take a little work on your part, but your pocketbook will thank you!

So below is a price comparison chart for groceries at each one of these places. I used Giant from the US to show US prices. I have used a currency converter to get the most recent exchange rates. I converted everything from KG to Lbs, and gallons to liters or liters to gallons. I tried to match the quantities at each location as best I could. This is pretty much comparing apples to apples. If I couldn’t find a US brand at one of the Costa Rica stores I used a local brand that was comparable to it. So take a look at the chart and than lets talk! :-)

grocery prices

Ok so as you can see Costa Rica is the winner! Most of the items I priced were cheaper here in Costa Rica than in the states. Yes some were more expensive, but over all grocery shopping is less expensive here than in the US. Now this next chart really bring it home.

groceries compared

Now with this chart I made sure that each store I added up the same items. If the items didn’t exist in the big chart at the top in all the stores than I did not include the item in the total. So this is apples to apples again. What you should notice is that for your produce it is cheaper to go to the Feria. As it should be! Again the US loses! Your other items its kind of  a close run. The US did win when it comes to the other non food items, but not by much if you look at Pricesmart. Again because it is mainly a US brand store its pretty close to Giant prices in the US.  It would pale in comparison to a Costco in the states. This isn’t a bad thing, because as you can see the other items are more expensive at the other stores.

Here are a few other things you need to know about shopping in Costa Rica. Let me stress this one point by telling you a little story. I promise to make it short. :-) Well as short as I can tell a story. Oh god its already gone on too long and I haven’t even begun the story yet.

So when we 1st got to Costa Rica and got our pricesmart card we were so happy. We shopped there all the time. There was this one item that my wife loved. It was Pineapple jelly! We bought it every time we went shopping. All of a sudden it isn’t there? Strange? Did they move it? Nope. Ok they are just out. So we go back the next time. Yes its there. We buy a jar. Next time nope not there. Next time nope not there. It has been over 8 months and the Pineapple jelly has not returned to pricesmart. I thought to myself, self ok they discontinued it or can’t get it any more. I started to see this trend in Auto Mercado and Walmart and Coope. Ok there is something to this, so I asked around. What I was told by a couple of people was this. If an items begins to sell like hot cakes, they will discontinue the item. It is more work to keep restocking the shelves so they just don’t carry it any more. This falls under the Pura Vida category. So the moral of this short yet now so short story is do not fall in love with any item. One day it is here and the next it is gone. Make sure you have options and alternatives.

  1. Buy it while you can and every time you can. You never know when it will go away or for how long it will go away. So stock up. I have 7 jars of minced garlic in my pantry right now as it went away for 2 months once.
  2. Price shop. This is common anywhere. Check your prices. Check them closely. Sometimes the local brands are cheaper and just as good, but sometimes they are not. I have been shocked that an imported items was way cheaper than a local product. Don’t just grab the item you know. It will raise the cost of your grocery shopping!
  3. Sometimes once you factor in costs driving around to other places it doesn’t save you money to save on certain items by going to more than one place to shop.

We go shopping once a week. We make a day of it. We go to our dietitian in the morning. We have lunch some where. I than hit the Pricesmart (right near where we usually have lunch) than we hit the Auto Mercado, on the way home, and than Coope if we need. I very seldom every shop at Walmart. Kind of out of the way and their prices are too much like those in the states. So we leave in the am and are home about 4pm. Its an all day event. Now I have to admit that I do not shop at the Feria much. As I get my veggies at either Pricesmart or Auto Mercado or Coope. Its a matter of convenience I am there and the prices are just a little more expensive and the Feria isn’t on the day I do my shopping. I could change the day, but again its a matter of preference really. I have developed my route that I’m only going maybe 10 min. out of my way driving time to visit all 3 places in one day.

There really isn’t anything you can’t either find here in Costa Rica or substitute. Its a matter of changing your mind set. You are in a new land and new ways of doing things and new foods in some cases. Shop local and shop fresh! Change the way you eat and shop and you can spend very little on groceries.

Part III will be on transportation costs. Own a car or take public transportation?

So let me go ahead and wrap this one up. I give Costa Rica 4 seashell1 out of 5 for Groceries! The only reason I didn’t give it a 5 out of 5 is the now you see it now you don’t aspect of what may or may not be available.

Pura Vida!

 

 

 

Categories: Costa Rica Life Experience, Food, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Charities in Atenas: Light House animal Rescue

I have decided to do a series of posts on charities here in Atenas, since I will be donating a portion of the advertising fees and amazon referral fees we receive to them. So here is the 1st in this series. I requested information from the person who runs this animal rescue shelter. Here is what I received from them.

I have been doing animal rescue for 61 years. I started when I was four years old and lived on a farm in Georgia.  My husband of 44 years is also an animal lover and is now the other half of the team.  We call our shelter Lighthouse Animal Rescue. (Faro Rescate Animal in Spanish) We are, of course, a no kill shelter. We have always worked mainly out of our own pocket and don’t ask for donations except in emergencies like the earthquake rescue a few years back.

We have done rescue in Georgia, Tennessee, Florida and now Costa Rica. I also still assist in rescues in the US by internet. People notify me about animals in danger and I locate someone in their area to get the dog/cat and arrange to have the dog/cat fostered  or possibly adopted. We even arrange for transport for the dog/cat from one end of the  US to the other if there is an acceptable home for them in another state. We are an “animal rescue” meaning we rescue not only pets but also some wildlife and farm animals when the need arises. We have raised many orphaned wild creatures, rehabbed them, and released them back into their natural habitat.

When we lived in the states we were a “not for profit” corporation but have never been a 501c3. We always felt that the money it would cost for attorneys and filing for a 501c3 was better spent directly on the animals in our care. Our shelter operates differently from most shelters in that the animals at Lighthouse are only crated or kenneled for a few days of quarantine to make sure they are not carrying any contagious diseases. They are then introduced to the other residents and have free run of the walled, one and a half acre property and our home. They sleep on one of the 15 to 20 dog beds located throughout the house, on the couches, or even in the beds with us.

Most of the animals we get have been through a traumatic experience of one kind or another and we feel that they should be introduced to love and caring instead of being locked away in a kennel or pen. This method also affords them the opportunity to become well socialized with other animals and with people who come to visit. We don’t make them available for adoption until they have lost the fear and wariness of humans and are happy, healthy, spayed/neutered pets ready for a forever home of their own.

We are very selective about where we place the animals. We want the new family to be a loving “forever” home for the pet. The pet must be treated as part of the family and never chained or tied for more than a few minutes.  If, for any reason, they cannot keep the animal they must contact us and allow us to re-home the animal in another proper, loving home. Some, who come to us from terribly abusive situations, retain too many vivid memories.  Some have aggression issues that other people would not understand. Some are badly scarred, physically and emotionally, and most people don’t want to adopt a dog or cat with scars or handicaps. They love us and are comfortable here…but would never be able to adjust to another change in their life. So they remain here as part of our family.

When we purchased our home here, 7 years ago, we did some remodeling, adding a clinic room to our home. This clinic is used to care for local animals, host low cost spay/neuter clinics, and provide care for animals that come into our care.  Since moving here, we are proud to say, we have helped the local animals by offering low cost spay/neuter, vaccines, emergency care, etc. In our village 98% of the animals, who had never seen vets before, are now spayed/neutered, vaccinated and living much better lives.

We have many “special needs” animals, such as the little dog Nadine rescued, come into our care and of course their expenses always run higher than normal. As I mentioned before, we have always done rescue out of our own pocket. If expenses got too high we would just take on another job for extra money. But now, since we’ve retired and with the cost of living rising, that is getting much harder to do. We board dogs/cats and rent out our spare room to vacationing animal lovers in order to raise funds for the shelter but not that many people can imagine what a wonderful feeling it is to be WITH this many animals.

We also participate in a “Shelter Challenge” sponsored by Petfinder.com and animalrescuesite.com. The prize is $1,000.00 and the competition lasts 4 months. In order to win we have to get the most votes. That means sending out reminders every morning during the competition. It’s a lot of work but we have won it a few times and that $1,000.00 pays for food for about 4 months!!

Our doors are always open for visitors and people who just want to see how we operate. We would love to have you visit our shelter at any time. Frances Jones Lighthouse Animal Rescue Atenas Costa Rica

She has the following up for adoption at this time

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Donna, golden retriever, appr. 4 years old. Spayed. Friendly. Gets along well with everybody

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Dolly, lamb, appr. one month old. Being bottle fed. Partially blind. Needs a pet home.

Please check this shelter out and give them some love, Donations and help!

Pura Vida!

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

Restaurant Review: Hidalgo’s Steak House

Hidalgo's logo

Yes Hidalgo’s steak house is up on the chopping block today for review. Can I say I really like this place a lot. So lets start with showing you some pictures of the property. This place is huge! You should go during the day so you can walk around and look and explore. He has what I like to call a little museum. I keep going at night so I don’t get to look around much, but I do plan to go during the day one day this week. So here are some pictures of the property.

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So let us get to the bigger point and the reason we are all here reading this blog. THE FOOD!!!! Well I can actually say I have been here many times before. I have never, ever been disappointed by my meal. Here is what we got the night we were there. We started off with these two dishes.

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Yep you guess it Ceviche! Mine is on the top and my wife’s is on the bottom. Mine was just corvina and hers was a mix of corvina and shrimp. It was very, very tasty. Now I will have to say the shrimp in my wife’s dish did taste like it was steamed not cooked in the juice of the Ceviche. I think he may have been out and didn’t want to disappoint my wife.

Just a quick tip I learned a long time ago in the Restaurant business. It is much better to say you are out and apologize and try to sell something else than to try to throw something together and have it not be as good as what you could have served. As an example in my restaurant we served pizza. Well someone didn’t order enough cheese, not me, and we had this huge rush over the weekend and Sunday (we are closed on Mondays) we run out at like 1pm. We are open until 10pm. I have my guys go out and buy cheese from one of the other pizza shops in the area. (Yes we would help each other out like that from time to time. I sold bread and other items to other shop owners) I got nothing but complaints! They hated the cheese! I explained it to them and offered them a discount on the next order. Now the consensus from the people who complained, as I did ask what they would have liked us to do was that I should tell them we are out and offer them another choice with a discount. That is what I did the next time it happened and I got Zero complaints!

So back to the food. This was very tasty! It was presented well and had a good flavor to it.

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OH the great salad war of 2014 comes to mind with this one. If you have not read that blog post please click on the link and read it before you go any further. This was an ok salad. It had Lettuce, Tomatoes, Cucumber, peppers, and onions. Now if he would just added maybe some Zucchini and broccoli this would be a very good salad. I would also suggest cutting the veggies up a bit. I hate having it on my plate and trying to cut everything and the food falling off the plate as it was full. Plate being full is a great thing, but not when you have to cut up the veggies. The dressing was a mustard and was very tasty!

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Crap didn’t notice not a good picture,but this is the T-Bone! Nice! It was cooked just the way we ordered it. It had a very good flavor, even without a salsa on it. We got double veggies so he gave us grilled broccoli and its under the steak and it was a good amount! Very tender! It did have a bit of gristle on the one side, but that is to be expected on T-Bones. My suggestion would be to check it before it is cooked and trim that off before you put it on the grill. Very nice meal!

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This was the rib eye! Nice! Tender! Juicy!  Cooked just the way I ordered it medium rare! This is in a jalapeno sauce! Not to hot, but has a nice kick to it. I do like my sauce to make me cry and sweat, but this was still a very nice sauce for the normal person! I enjoyed it very much. My wife tasted it and said she is going to get it next time! Again the same broccoli as my wife’s dish. The presentation is very good! This was a great steak dinner!

Now he does have limited hours so be sure to check is Facebook page. The link to his page is at the top of this article if you haven’t already checked it out you should and once you have gone and had a great meal at his place give him a like!!!!!!

So lets wrap this one up shall we. The place was very clean and neat and very nice. The grounds are huge and beautiful even at night. I will tell you at night you need to bring some bug spray. It doesn’t interfere with your dining experience so don’t let that stop you from coming at night. Its Costa Rica after all and all the restaurant are open air. The food was excellent! The service was amazing! The presentation was as you can see very nice! The proprietors are so nice and so accommodating and so, well just wonderful! The husband waits on everyone and the wife cooks. The prices are reasonable. Not the cheapest, but fair. So we had the 2 ceviche, 2 large salads, 2 steak dinners, 4 coke zero, a coffee (local not instant) he grinds the beans for each serving and a tea and it was about $60. Not bad for that!

I give them 4 seashell1out of 5. Now if the salad just had two more items, the steak had no gristle and the shrimp were not steamed I would have given them 5 out of 5!!!!!!!!!!!!!  You must go see them! Facebook message them or call ahead to check that they are open. Sometimes they close for private parties. Love this place!

Pura Vida!

 

 

 

 

Categories: Costa Rica Life Experience, Food, Restaurant Reviews, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Costa Rica Expensive? What? Part I 1/2 (Video)

So while I was out gathering up prices for my Part 2 I took some video. We went to he Friday Faria in the center of Atenas. It is always nice to get out and support the local community. You can shop, eat, meet people and just have a nice time. So I hope you will enjoy this offering until my Part II is completed. I want to be sure to bring you all the correct pricing and information that I can. So grab your favorite drink, be it coffee, tea, or something with a little kick, watch and enjoy the video is about 12 minutes long, but worth the watch. I want to thank Eunice for coming a long and helping me with this video. She was a dream and a pleasure and showed me many things! Enjoy!

Pura Vida!

 

Categories: Costa Rica Life Experience, Food, Garden, Travel, YouTube | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Food Chick Tip of the Day 4/25/14

locarbWith the spring and summer months upon us many folks are looking for some quick fixes for the ex- tra pounds that reached our waist lines over the winter, I know I definitely am! This month we are going to concentrate on low carb snacks and light meals and reiterate the “little” things we can do to help burn some extra calories.

I am going to revert back to my former “life” in Baltimore where I had a small catering company called Dinner at Your Door. We specialized in the South Beach Diet and actually had several clients whom we made three squares and two snacks and a dessert for seven days a week. We helped one couple lose a combined total of 80 pounds in six months. Of course, they were also on a regimented exercise plan. I cannot stress to you enough how important it is to exercise and eat right for both your physical and emotional health!

Don’t be afraid that low carb means low flavor, trust me, it does not. This month’s recipes will show you how flavorful and easy it is to live a low carb life- style. I am not saying don’t eat carbs, I love my breads and starches but I am say- ing that too much might be just that, too much! At the restaurant we use a lot of whole wheat flour for many of our rec- ipes including our wonderful Cream of Crab Soup. Again, just a little twist on a traditional comfort food! Low carb living! For this month let’s do a day’s worth of eating South Beach Style! Beginning with your morning we will have a full day’s worth of food including breakfast, lunch, dinner, two snacks and dessert. Yes, you can even have dessert!

BREAKFAST Swiss Cheese and Vegetable Frittata – be sure to have your ingredients ready as omelets cook quickly and if avail- able use a non-stick pan so your eggs slide off easily. • 2 teaspoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) • ½ small onion, thinly sliced • ½ red bell pepper, thinly sliced • 1 small plum tomato, diced • ¼ teaspoon Italian seasoning or dried basil (I prefer 1 teaspoon fresh basil cut into thin strips) • 3 eggs, slightly beaten • ¼ teaspoon salt and a pinch of black pepper Heat oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and pepper and heat until softened, about 3 minutes. Add tomato and seasoning, cook for three minutes. Meanwhile, season eggs with salt and pepper and whisk. Pour directly over vegetable mixture and swirl pan so eggs completely surround vege- tables until eggs are almost set, about 5 minutes. Finish off under broiler until eggs are fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. This recipe serves 2.

MID-MORNING SNACK Peppery Cheese Popcorn – this would be a great dessert to sneak into the movie
theatre after dinner! • 6 cups freshly air popped popcorn (1/3 cup uncooked kernels) • Butter flavored cooking spray • 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of salt Place popcorn in a large mixing bowl and coat lightly with cooking spray. Sprinkle with cheese, pepper and salt to taste. This recipe serves 2-3.

LUNCH Bulgur, Cucumber and Mint Salad – this is also a great side dish for grilled fish. • 1 ½ cups water • ¾ cup bulgur wheat • 2 plum tomatoes, diced or 8 grape tomatoes cut in half length wise • 1 medium cucumber, peeled and seeded, • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint • 2 tablespoons EVOO • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice • Salt and pepper to taste • Bring water and bulgur to a boil in a medium sauce pan, reduce heat to low and cover until water is absorbed and bulgur is tender, approximately 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Spread bul- gur on a large plate. Toss in ½ the mint and place in refrigerator to cool for 5 minutes. Trans- fer to a mixing bowl and fluff with a fork, adding remaining dry ingredients. Whisk together the lemon juice and EVOO and toss the mixture. Garnish with remaining mint. Serve room temperature or chilled. This recipe serves two.

AFTERNOON SNACK Celery with Herbed Cream Cheese and Walnuts • 1/3 cup walnuts • 1 8 ounce packet reduced fat cream cheese, at room temperature • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped chives • 16 large celery stalks, trimmed • Salt and pepper to taste Heat oven or toaster oven to 375 degrees. Spread walnuts on baking tray and bake for 10 minutes or until fragrant and then roughly chop. Combine walnuts with cream cheese and chives in a mixing bowl and add salt and pepper to taste. Using a rubber spatula fill each stalk with mix. This recipe makes 8 servings. (this is a great make ahead snack that will hold for 3-4 days)

DINNER Lamb Chops with Chimichurri Sauce with Feta, Cucumber and Radish Sal- ad – this Mediterranean style dinner is perfect for dinner on the patio! • 8 3 ounce lamb chops • ¼ cup EVOO • 1/3 cup fresh parsley leaves • 2 peeled garlic cloves • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice • ½ teaspoon dried oregano • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste Heat grill to high. Rub lamb chops with EVOO and salt and pepper. Grill 3 minutes per side for medium rare. Re- move meat from heat and allow to rest for minutes. Meanwhile combine re- maining ingredients in a food proces- sor and combine until just pureed. Sea- son with salt and pepper and serve with lamb. This recipe serves four. Feta, Cucumber and Radish Salad • 2 medium cucumbers, peeled, seeded and sliced • 1 ½ cups thinly sliced radishes • ½ cup fresh mint leaves • 2 tablespoons minced red onion • 2 tablespoons

EVOO • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar • 5 ounces reduced fat feta cheese, crumbled • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste • Combine all ingredients (except feta and salt and pepper) and toss in a mixing bowl. Gently toss in feta and salt and pepper to taste. This recipe serves four.

Don’t forget to stop by her facebook page and give her a like and drop her a comment about what you think of this post.

https://www.facebook.com/TheOriginalFoodChick

Pura Vida!

 

Categories: Costa Rica Life Experience, Food, Food Chick, Restaurant Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: Bella Italia Restaurant in Atenas

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So this place just opened up here in Atenas it is right across from I.C.E. in the town center. Here is a picture from the tables.

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So it is very nice place. There were a few little hiccups, but the Owner fixed them right away so it was all good. Lets get right to the food shall we. While we were waiting they send this out for us for free.

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This was very nice treat. It was toasted well. The salsa we pretty good. I can’t have the bread on my current diet but I did take a taste so I could give a view of it. I did take a taste of all the food that was presented. So the next item up is.

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Ensalada Mixta : Nice looking salad. The salad is where I had an issue. There was a little bit of label left on the peppers that were cut. Good thing is you could see it was cleaned well. They took it away and replaced with a new salad. Perfect and as it should be. Now the other issue which is an issue with restaurant in general in Costa Rica is that the menu made no mention of oranges. Nice treat, but I can’t have them! So I gave them to my friend who also got this salad. So bonus to her she got extra oranges. Now it was suppose to have lettcus, onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, and hard boiled egg. When it came out the 1st time it did not, but the new one did have eggs but still missing the onions.It doesn’t say red peppers but it had red peppers. Again thanks to my friend who pointed it out. She also got a new salad because hers didn’t have egg on it. Now this was a good salad. If it had maybe two more types of veggies in it and remove the oranges, I would put this one in my top 5 salads in Atenas. So to make this to my top 5 it needs to be lettuce, onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, hard boiled egg, chili dulce and another veggie of some sort. Now the price is a little high for what you get. It was $6.

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Margarita pizza: The dreaded pizza debate! The crust wasn’t cracker crust so a plus! See my blog called Pizza! Pizza! on what I think makes a good pizza. A good amount of cheese. It was a little over done. I did try a little piece so I could speak to its taste. It was ok. Not a great pizza but it was an ok pizza. The crust was bland, the sauce was ok, and the cheese was good. It would be #3 on my pizza picks for Atenas. Might even move up as the prices are reasonable! The small one is $7. More than enough for 1 or even two people to eat. So it get bumped up on the value. I think their highest price pizza is $13.66.

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Lomito de Res: This was a good meal. The veggies were done well. I forget to ask for no mash and extra veggies, but that is ok. The veggies were cooked in butter, but oh well. They tasted yummy! I am not suppose to have real butter. The mash potatoes I put a little on my fork to taste it. They were ok nothing impressive and they needed salt. Now lets talk about the steak. I was not asked how I wanted my steak and it came out medium rare! Perfect!!!!! So those who don’t like it that way you may want to be sure to ask how it will be cooked. It wasn’t the most tender steak I have had, but it wasn’t the worst either. I could cut it wth the butter knife I had with a little effort, but not much so it was tender. It needed some spice of some sort. Maybe a little more salt and pepper would have given it a very nice flavor. This meal was $12. Not a bad price. I have had less for more. So it is a good value for a steak meal.

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Vegitariano Mixta: This was to have Squash, eggplant and tomato and it did! It was very good. Seem the owner who was the cook has a light hand with the salt. Which is ok taste the food 1st and be ready to add salt. In a town of a lot of expat retired people that might be a good thing. This one cost $6 as well. I think it would be better priced at $4 but better value for the value than the $6 salad which also if it was $4 would be better priced.

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Filet de Corvena: The fish was grilled well. The veggies were the same as what was on my plate. The potatoes again were the same, but she got double the amount that was put on my plate. This was priced at $8. I think a very good price for the amount of food and again it needed salt but it was good.

This was the only big problem I had with this place!

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Yes cringe now!!!!!! They only serve pepsi!!!! The only bad part!! Really……

Here are some other pictures of the place. It was clean, neat and very nice. The bathroom is for the entire strip center but I did not use them, but I’m told they were clean. Since they are public I can’t use them for a review of the restaurant.

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So lets us wrap this one up shall we. We had two appetizers, 2 dinners (Steak and Fish), and 4 drinks for a little over $36. Not bad at all really!  The food needs to be seasoned a little more. but over all was done well. The price is very reasonable. The owner/cook came out and talk to us. He was very friendly. Only spanish, but I got most of what he was saying. I will go back many times. Especially once I can eat pasta and such! So good job guys.

So I give them 4 seashell1out of 5!

Pura Vida!

 

 

 

 

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

12% Return! Banking in Costa Rica by Mr. Asdrúbal Zamora of COOPENAE

Coopenae logo

The banking culture in C.R.

Costa Rica has a very particular banking culture. A couple of weeks ago, an expat related a story to me about her relative in the U.S. who was dissatisfied with his bank there. He had to wait for service, felt that he was being ignored, so he closed his accounts and withdrew from the bank. In Costa Rica, if you expect immediate service you will be disappointed.

The financial system in C. R. is small, just $ 40.639 US Million $ (Jan. 2014), however it is very stable. You can get all kinds of financial services and first order banking, including excellent access to internet banking, however, you must arm yourself with a little patience and prepare to wait an average of fifteen minutes in line at the bank. Lines can be long and service slow, especially in the national banks.

How secure is to invest in C.R.

The vast majority of financial institutions in C.R. are regulated by the government through the Sugef (Superintendent of Financial Institutions ) which issues a monthly rating on major financial indicators for each bank. It’s a pretty demanding state agency whose guidelines are obligatory for all institutions within the financial system. There are also several financial institutions which are not regulated, due to their small size.

In terms of financial and bank auditing, some banks are turning to local audit companies.  Others, particularly some of the larger banks, use international auditing firms especially highly recognized worldwide such as Deloitte, Peat Marwick and Price Waterhouse. Coopenae is audited by Peat Marwick. These three audit firms are supported by Sugef to audit local financial institutions in C.R.

The C.R. financial system

The financial system consists of 51 financial institutions regulated by Sugef (Jan. 2014).  Of these, there are 4 state banks, 9 private banks, 2 mutuals, some financial companies, and several credit unions. The majority of the 51 are small credit unions.  In the past, there were more private banks, however in the last two decades, some have merged, leaving us with the present 9.  The largest by assets is BAC San José and the third is Banco Davivienda, both from Colombian capital.  The second is Scotiabank and the fourth, my bank, Coopenae,  a credit union, the largest and strongest in C.R., which is internationally audited, with an outstanding financial performance and 100 % “Tica”.

Coopenae has been in the local financial market for more than 47 years and currently is the 4th largest credit union in Latin America.  Our credit default rate for loans paid late (more than 90 days) has been under 1% for the last decade, it is currently well rated by Fitch Ratings and, as of March 2014, has more than 90.000 members, including expats investors from all over the country.

How to access C.R. banking system

Keep in mind that to perform banking transactions in C.R. (opening accounts, investments, internet banking, etc.) a “cédula” or residency card is required. The residency card is a permit to reside in the country (not as a tourist) but permanently while the document is in force. If you do not have yours, I suggest you start the process to get legal residency so you can open a bank account in Costa Rica.

The foregoing information has been provided by Mr. Asdrúbal Zamora of COOPENAE. He is in charge of investments and routinely helps foreign investors in Costa Rica with earning sound profits from their investment money.  He can be reached at azamora@coopenae.fi.cr

Current CD Rates at COOPENAE:

cd rates

A question was asked that I felt would be good to add tot his posting.

 If you have a corporation could you open an account with that cedula.

As we are a credit union we cannot deal with corporations, only nonprofit corporations. Also, we don´t manage checking accounts, only savings accounts.

Regards, Asdrúbal

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

Great Costa Rica Salad War of 2014

So it seems an innocent post on Facebook has erupted like Mount Saint Hellens! Here is the post I made in the Facebook group.

So anyone know if the under new management Bar Rill is actually doing a salad bar like I have been told and have yet to see?”

Who knew what this one little comment would grow into. It was fierce and it was bloody. People blocked people and just was not pretty. Now the issue is Bar Rill a nice enough restaurant has been taken over by new management. One day while sitting at Greggos a bar we go to for dinner once a week, a friend says, “So hey you know Bar Rill is got a new owner and he is going to be doing a salad bar?” He knows we are on a diet and need to eat lots of veggies so this would be great! I love a good salad bar and have not found on here in Costa Rica that is good. Pizza hut had one but it was small, you got one trip  and it cost like $10! STOP THE INSANITY! I digress. So I say cool when do they start? He tells me on Wednesday. So my wife and another couple go to check this out. Well the one couple that joined us the wife is a vegetarian, so she too is excited about his Salad bar. The best part is all you can eat for $6. Amazing. I’m so juiced and so ready for this. We get there and we notice no salad bar. OK lets check it out we are here and see what its all about. So we talk to the owner and he wasn’t ready. Tells us they will have it next week. It just so happens we go on a cruise next week so hopefully it will be up and running and ready to go by the time we come back from our cruise.

We get in on a Saturday from a long flight and airline food. So we are hungry and ready for a great salad bar in Atenas. We go to the restaurant and Nope no salad bar! Really? I had my heart set on a nice, personally made, full of goodness salad bar. So we turn around and head out. The owner comes up and asks us to come back in. I explain we were looking for the salad bar and would be back when it is up and running. His reason was the cook was out sick today. Not sure that is a good reason. Salad bars are the easiest thing to do when you cook is out sick. I still today have not heard of a salad bar being set up. Which is why I asked the question I did in the Facebook group. So now you are all caught up on what prompted me to start the Great Costa Rica Salad War of 2014.

Now the war itself was pretty funny really, but people take their food and salad very seriously. Another shop owner who does a wonderful Sunday Brunch with all kinds of food on it says,”as a matter or fact I may try to add to Sunday brunch” and this is when it started to get stupid and crazy. Here are some of the comments that were said after this message. 

There are a lot of bad food choices at salad bars”

Wow really bad choices? Like what carrots? Broccoli? Nice green veggies? Yes I will agree dressing does make your health salad unhealthy. Use a nice vinaigrette or just some oil and vinegar. Or just a splash of lemon or and or lime juice. bad food choices? Really? 

A “salad bar” in the tropics ….??? Poor restaurant owners … they will lose colones big time.”

Really? With the proper equipment and the proper management of the items its not that hard! A nice cooling table with lids and you are going to be just fine. Which is the equipment that Bar Rill happens to have! Becasue no tropical place has a salad bar! 

So at this point the owner who does the Sunday brunch, keep in mind the above are just highlight of what was said. There were many, many more messages. These were just the ones I found to be the most outrageous. So back to it. He asks if there is an interest in adding (not replacing), but adding a salad items to the bar. Here is what happen and you will just chuckle yourself to death on this one.

 I vote no. It’s not feasible from a restaurant owner’s view I think. And, when I go for Sunday brunch, the last thing I would want to order is salad because I am there for eggs, bacon, hash browns, a bit of fruit, toast. I want breakfast. How much can one person eat at one meal? Salad is for later”

Ok so has this person ever been to Brunch in their life? Really? “Br(reakfast((l)unch) combined. What do a lot of people have for lunch? Oh by the Gods Salad! Say it isn’t so! Who is anyone to say what is feasible or not for a restaurant owner. That is really up to them not us to say. He is only adding it to the bar. Not replacing items or making it some big production. They already do a huge veggie omelet when they have the omelet station so no big deal. This is the part I really love when we started talking about items. This was said.

this is Costa Rica, I want to eat Costa Rican foods”

Ok so no items that anyone listed on the “Brunch” Bar are Costa Rican Fair! Not even the eggs Benedict when they have it! You want to see some Costa Rica items for Breakfast here are some you will love and I think should be added to a “Brunch” Bar. :-)

tico french toast

Tico French Toast Stuffed with all kinds of fruit!

tico eggs benedict

Tico Eggs Benedict

Now that is come Costa Rican “Brunch items” Love love love to have me some of these! I digress again. Food gets me so distracted.

So this thread goes on for day and over 120 comments being posted. It did finally end and there was much blood shed. Here is the real reason I am writing this blog. A salad is a special thing. You can’t just slap some lettuce down on a plate and put a little cucumbers and some tomatoes on it and call it a salad. This is an example of what is not a salad!!!!

Salad

This is what is served at most Restaurants here in Costa Rica as both a side salad (maybe you can get away with it as a side salad), but not as your dinner salad and defiantly not as your entree salad!

You should have some good items in to make it a salad. If it is your starter than just a nice verde (green) salad is good. You can put just about any veggie in it and the more the merrier!!!!!! I’m not talking quantity. I’m speaking of variety is what makes a good salad. 1, 2 or 3 items does not a salad make. An ok salad have 4 or 5 different items and a great salad will have 10 or more!!!!!! Again not in large quantities of each item, but enough that you see you have a good variety. Now if it is your main entree you add some protein to it. Again one or two ounces does not an entree make. You should add a min of 4 to 8 oz of protein to any salad served as an entree. Here are some examples of ok and good salads I have had in Costa Rica.

good salad 2 good salad ok salad

Now there is one place in Costa Rica that I have found a great salad. It isn’t your most traditional of salads as it isn’t a cold salad. It is a grilled veggies salad. It is called Ensalada Mixta de Vegetales al Carbón and has the following in it:
Combinación de berenjena, cebolla, chile dulce, zuchini, hongos frescos cocidos a la plancha con aceite de oliva, sal, especies y aderezo light sobre una cama de lechuga.

Now in Gringo speak those items are:

Combination of eggplant, onion, sweet pepper, zucchini, mushrooms cooked grilled with olive oil, salt, spices and light seasoning on a bed of lettuce.

Now even though it doesn’t have 10 or more items it has a very nice flavor and I get it every time we go! Where do I get this you might ask? I get it here!

http://www.restaurantelosantojitos.com/home.htm

It is well worth a visit! No doubt!!!!!

Here is what the salad looks like:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Now that is a good salad.

So that is my story of the Great Costa Rican Salad war of 2014. I hope you have enjoyed it and you have learned a little something about salads today. I just want to say to all my wonder Costa Rican Restaurants out there please I am begging you please make a good salad!

Pura Vida!

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Categories: Costa Rica Life Experience, Food, Rants, Restaurant Reviews, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Costa Rica Expensive? What? Part I Housing Costs

This will be post #100 on my blog! Wow I had no clue I have made this many posts! Thanks to everyone who has read what I have to say! You guys are great!

So I have had some discussion as of late about the cost of living in Costa Rica. Is it expensive? Well here is the truth from one expat to another. We have lived here for over  a year now and I can tell you that yes it can be expensive, but not as expensive as when we were living in the US. It can also be cheap if you know where to shop, how to shop and if you are willing to give up those things you are use to from your old life in whatever country you come from. So lets break this down into a number of different areas and talk about each one in detail. I will take different aspects of living in Costa Rica and break them down into individual posts. Today we are going to talk about:

 

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Housing Costs

 

There are a number of factors that you have to consider when you are talking about housing costs. What size home, what area, what amenities the house has, Gardener? will you have a housekeeper?, will it be in a gated community with fees? There is really no simple answer to any of these questions as far as costs go, but I will try to give you the range so you can figure out where in that range you want to be.

  • Electricity is expensive here. so I.C.E. is the electrical power supplier in Costa Rica. The current rates at the time of writing this blog are about .37 per kwh. Now this equates to anywhere from $40 a month to $2K a month in electric bill. The size of your house, the number of toys you have, like computers, laptops, iPad, TV’s, etc. Do you have a pool? Do you need A/C. Yep there you go the bill just went up even more. When you add a pool, a big screen TV, a couple of electronics and A/C you are talking big bucks. Do you have an electric water heater? Electric water heater is going to jump the costs as well. An on demand systems will be a little lower, but not much. Going propane for water heater I am told is much less expensive. Do you have a hot tub? Now that will jump your bill. I found that out the hard way. I did convert it to solar heating system with a propane heater to keep it hot at night when in use. That took off about $150 from my monthly bill. If you have a clothes dryer that will jump you bill. These are all things we don’t think about in the states until we come here. Oh and if you live way up high in the hills where it is cold a heating system will also increase your bill. If you are up there you won’t really  need A/C,  so its kind of washes out cost wise. OK, lets just say you have a 2500 sqft house with one large screen tv, a couple computers, couple  laptops, a pool, washer and dryer, electric water heater and A/C and or heat and that is going to run you about $1200 a month in electric. It could be more I have heard stories of $2K a month in the beach areas.  Now take that same house  with a number of TV’s and laptop and such, and a pool but no A/C, an on demand hot water system and it will cost you about $400 a month. A smaller house with 1 regular size tv and one computer and one laptop, no pool and no A/C, no dryer will run you about $50 a month. Things you need to think about when doing a budget. Estimate high for your bill, be pleased when it doesn’t reach that, and adjust your lifestyle when it goes above! Unplug anything that is not in use. Items like TV’s, computers and almost anything that plugs in draws energy as long as it is connected.
  • Water believe it or not, is not that expensive compared to the states. When I lived in the states I had a well on my property so pretty cheap, but before that I used public water and our quarterly bill for 2 adults and 2 teens was about $100. Here my bill is about $35 on average for 2 adults. I do have a pool and sometimes it is higher and gets even higher when you have to fill your pool because of a earth quake splitting the pipes and the pool going empty. That is another blog. Or your Gardener leave the hose run in a part of the yard you don’t go visit and its on for almost a day. Those are very unusual so water cost isn’t much of an issue for a budget. It is however an issue in some areas as you will have water outages a lot in dry season which is from Dec. to about May. My current house is on a well for the community so we have very few outages. The only time it goes out is when someone makes a mistake. One time they were getting service to a new lot that was being built on and they cut the line and had to shut it down. Another time someone left the valves open on the tanks and drained them so they had to cut it off to let the tanks fill. A friend went without water in one of the areas of Atenas (public water system Aya) for over a week. Others tell stories of it being out form like 8pm until 8am every day. So even though it isn’t expensive it could be a challenge. I have been lucky and I know it and count my blessings!
  • Renting is an option for a lot of people here. They like to move around to the different areas of Costa Rica and or just don’t want to be tied down. Again size plays a factor in what you will pay. You can find some very nice homes for as little as $300 a month (very small tico style home) to something with a little more room for $1800 a month. All depends on what you are looking for. Many of the rentals will include utilities such as cable and TV. Most won’t do the electric, but some do.
  • Buying a house in Costa Rica can be tricky and exciting and expensive or cheap. You have to 1st figure out what can you afford and go from there. Now I will leave most of this to the experts at Remax who will be doing an article for me. I will tell you this much don’t buy unless you know 100% that Costa Rica is the place for you and only go with someone you know or someone who you know, knows and trusts to take you though this process. Now if you are buying there is always going to be more costs associated with it vs renting. As an example my house has a lot of wood and every so many years it will all have to be sanded and re-varnished. This can be expensive. Keep maintenance and upkeep in mind when you are doing your budget and looking at the house you will buy. Don’t let the WoW factor of your house overwhelm you and cloud your judgement on what you can afford or the maintenance that will be involved in the upkeep of that house. Costa Rica does have unique maintenance issues not found in other countries.
  • TV and Internet  I am not going to talk a lot on this point just going to refer you to my blog post about this. http://bestofcostarica.org/2014/03/20/buffering-buffering-buffering/ In that post I talk mainly about internet and how you can get it. I also talk about you can get all your TV via the internet and have no need for real cable television. In my opinion this is a better option. Now for TV you can go with any number of services if you want real cable. The cost will vary greatly on the service plan and the service provider you use. I pay $30 for Cabletica as it is only a basic service, see my blog why I even have it, as I do not use it. Claro is running about $28 for basic cable and if you go with the movie channels and the HD service it is going to cost you about $55 a month. I know my cable TV with all the movie channels (now we had a lot more channels in the states mind you) and HD ran about $175 a month on Comcast. Comcast basic TV is running about $55 a month now.You will need un-block.us to use all the services out there.
  • Pool service isn’t too bad here. If you have a pool and don’t want to service it yourself you can get it for fairly cheap. Well here in Atenas anyway. I’m not sure about other areas what the costs is, I pay about $64 a month for the service and than chemicals add about another $20. This is the cost for service once a week. They come clean, treat, fill the pool and our hot tub which is attached to the pool. Now in the states I was paying $80 a service plus chemicals. So for service alone I was paying $320 a month plus chemicals. Now some people here allow their gardener to service their pool. Not a good idea people, but I guess if you have him trained by someone who knows what they are doing it can be OK, but most gardeners have no clue about pool maintenance.
  • Housekeepers are everywhere and just about everyone has one and it doesn’t  matter if your house is 1k sqft or 10K sqft. Some come once a week, while others come every day or like me I have our here on Mondays and Friday.I use this schedule to help with clean up before the weekend parties and than clean up after  the weekend parties! :-) So your cost will vary on the number of times you want your house cleaned. They do everything from the floors, to the windows and even laundry. Pretty much almost anything you need them to do while they are here, and they are willing to do it with no issues or additional costs unless you are asking them to stay later or come another day. So cost is about $3 an hour. Yes you heard me right $3 an hour. There are other costs involved as well such as Caja (gringo speak Health insurance) Costarricense del Seguro Social (gringo speak Social Security) and than there is vacation pay which I believe is 15 days a year and holidays. There is also something they call 13 month pay in December. This is where  you pay them 1 months salary before the end of the year. So, its like a year end bonus that is required. There is also workers comp insurance you can get that runs between $80 and $150 a year.  So once you factor in all those costs and if you want to do it right you are talking under $15 a hour. It can be a lot under in most cases, but that’s a pretty good number to do it right. You compare that to costs in the states of $45 to $90 an hour or higher and you now know why almost everyone has one. If we are being honest here most use housekeepers who are not legal and get them for $3 an hour flat or less. That is just how it works here for some people. I don’t suggest doing this, but people do all the time doesn’t make it right, but I pass no judgments. My advise is to use a service or share with a friend who knows what they are doing as all the rules get confusing and its not like it is in the states. If you fire them it can be a huge mess of bills for you and the cost can be high. Some people will put the money away each year into a CD just in case they have to fire them. If they quit not an issue. While others pay it at the end of the year for that years service. So, its like firing them and rehiring them on a yearly basis.
  • Gardeners are even cheaper than a housekeeper. You can get them for about $2 an hour or less again depending on if the are legal or not. All the same things apply for the Gardeners as the housekeepers. So the cost will be more once you add all the additional costs, but still going to be way cheaper than if you had one in he states. Especially in some areas. I know I pay almost $100 an hour to have a company come in and take care of my property while I am not there.
  • Community Fees vary from community to community. Some have no fees while others have many fees. Depending on the area and the house you are looking to rent or buy check into the fees! Not everyone or every agent will tell you about these fees upfront. They are not trying to deceive they just don’t think about it. So be sure to ask!  Our house is in a gated community, but the only fees we have is for the security guard at the gate which we pay about $40 a month for. In addition to that we have a trash pickup fee of $8 a month. Now we do not have this and other do pay what would be the equivalent of HOA fees in addition to all of  those. It can range from $10 am month to $100 a month. It all depends on what is offered by the community or what the builds want to make off of you each month. Again you must ask as they won’t always tell you. Is there a pool, playground, shared community center? All these things raise the price of the fees. There is one community here that offers nothing outside of your house and the lot and they still charge a fee for nothing. I guess it is for the privilege of living on the developers land.  Community fees are really no different here than in the states and I think these fees are pretty much the same and or lower. I owned a house once and the HOA fees were $125 a month and they really didn’t have anything to offer. Now if you are buying you are fully responsible for those costs. If you are renting you may want to verify all those costs are included in your monthly rental fee.
  • Homeowner or Renters Insurance like in most countries is a necessary evil. Doesn’t matter where in the world you live you have to have a number of types of insurance. I pay about $1200 a year for my homeowners policy and other have stated as low as $250 a year. I think I may be getting ripped off. My research for this article has me thinking. Again this varies with the house value and the options you select on your policy. This will be covered in full detail when we get our article from the owners of the Remax here in Atenas. Now I will say I was talking to some people in a Facebook group to get what they pay and the responses were “Whats insurance” So I assume not everyone has this. Some said too expensive for what was covered and etc. So same complaint we have anywhere in the world when talking about insurance. In another blog I will detail my 2 claims that I have had so far this past year. Not sure it is worth having really, as I have not been happy with what I have to do and how long it takes to finish a claim out. I’m stilling fighting with them over an issue that happened back in Oct. of 2012.

So that just about covers it for housing costs. We will go into more detail on some of these points when Remax does a write up. So look for that one in the coming weeks. This concludes part I. Just remember that living in Costa Rica sometimes requires you to make adjustments to get the most out of your life here. Some are easy and others are very hard, but Costa Rica is worth the changes you may have to make to your life. Not sure yet how many parts this piece will have, but we will see. My next post in this series is going to be on transportation costs and groceries. I guess it really all depends on how much I have to say, and as we all know by now I always have a lot to say! So to wrap this up Electric is high, water comparable to the US if not cheaper (but can be a challenge), renting can be cheaper than buying,  and buying is way cheaper when you look at what you get here verse  what you can get in the states for the same price. TV and Internet cheaper but slower, but more than what you will need to do the things you will do. Pool service, housekeepers, Gardeners are most defiantly cheaper here by a lot! Insurance is pretty much the same as it is in the states. It can be cheaper here, but claims are just as difficult to collect. .So over all housing costs in Costa Rica as compared to the US it is much cheaper!!!!! What do you think? Am I right or do you have a different opinion? Let me know what you pay for this by leaving a comment on this post. If you do state the area you live in and as much info as possible along with what the costs are. This will help people be better informed and get real life data. Not just variables and ranges. So I give Housing Costs in Costa Rica 3 seashell1out of 5. Only because of the Electric costs and the water outages some people will have to face. Otherwise it would be 4 if you move to an area that doesn’t have water issues and you don’t need A/C or heat.

Pura Vida!

 

Categories: Costa Rica Life Experience, Internet, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

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