Posts Tagged With: Facebook

Monkey Monday

Monkey Monday Youtube Videos

This is from a recent trip to a local beach.  Its a blue flag beach. It has a very nice restaurant that is open Thursday – Sunday. Shaded areas, tables, and grills. Really a nice place to take the fam…
To read the rest of the blog goto Mylifebook and sign up for an account today. $5 a year is all you pay and until 12/31/14 you can get a coupon in the coupon section that will make that $5 a year turn into $5 one time fee!!!! What a deal!!!! Join Today!!!!!
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Expats, Expats, Expats!

Expats, Expats, Expats!

Why are expats so set on setting themselves up to be an easy target? I can understand making a mistake here and there. I know don’t blame the victim. I get that, but why do something if you know you…
 To read the rest of the blog goto Mylifebook and sign up for an account today. $5 a year is all you pay and until 12/31/14 you can get a coupon in the coupon section that will make that $5 a year turn into $5 one time fee!!!! What a deal!!!! Join Today!!!!!
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John Christopher Seeks Crowdfunding via Kickstarter for Word Battle: An Addictive Word Game on the My Life Book Social Network.

John Christopher Seeks Crowdfunding via Kickstarter for Word Battle: An Addictive Word Game on the My Life Book Social Network.

My Life Book is Facebook, Myspace, YouTube, Angie’s list, CareerBuilder, WordPress, Ebay and many others all rolled into one.

Baltimore, MD – November 18, 2014.

Crowdfunding is sought for a Scrabble-type of game that will be offered on My Life Book. Designed for anywhere from 2-4 players, Word Battle will pit players against each other as they prove their vocabulary skills on the newest social media platform My Life Book.

The founders of My Life Book were tired of the advertisements, the selling of their private information, the endless invitations from their friends to play games they didn’t care about and so much more.  Being fed up gave them the fire to create their own social media network that captured the very best of everything social media has to offer without the associated hassles and privacy intrusions.

Other social media websites promise to pay their partners a percent of their advertising revenue which sounds great until one considers that all of that user’s information and related content is up for sale to the highest bidder.  Millions of people are giving up their rights every day without even realizing it.

Their Kickstarter project is intended to change the entire paradigm in social media games through a fundamental change in the backend processing of these games which is driven by how game makers monetize the players of those games. On top of that is the philosophy of the founders who were tired of the data mining and psychological profiling that is built in to almost all the social media games out there not to mention the endless amounts of dollars players are enticed to part with.

Our plan is to build our own games minus all that crap. Host them on our servers and our social media site. No information will be transferred to anyone about anything you do. You won’t need to post and beg your friends to help. Games will be 100% fully functional.

If their crowdfunding goal is met, all costs to develop and build the game will be covered as well as all related Kickstarter and Amazon fees.  Should they exceed their crowdfunding goal, those funds will be devoted to creating new games for My Life Book.

The Word Battle Kickstarter Page – http://kck.st/1vkccO3

The Official My Life Book Website – https://www.mylifebook.me/

About My Life Book LLC:  Their #1 mission is to provide a private, advertising-free social platform giving people an oasis and a sanctuary from the increasing incursions into the private lives of anyone who wishes to engage in social media without sacrificing privacy. They create My Life Book allow users to get away from all the privacy intrusions of other sites. They have a firm commitment to never sell any information or use any user’s your information to sell anything while giving users total control over their privacy.

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Life in Costa Rica

Do you want to know more about Costa Rica? Do you have questions? Are you thinking of moving here? Maybe just a vacation? Join this group and find out everything you need to know from people who live here! What is the best places to stay. Where are the best places to eat. How does the healthcare system work? You name it we have the answer for you!

 

https://www.mylifebook.me/index.php?do=/expatscostarica/

 

Pura Vida!

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Win an amazon gift card today!

9/5/14: Update Contests begins!

Lets start a contest!!! It will start today 9/5/14 and end on Thursday 9/26/14 at 11:59 pm Eastern Standard time. The contributor who raises the most money via referrals will get a $5 amazon gift card for every $2k raised by the end of the contest. There will only be 1 winner. Every Friday until the contest ends I will post who is in the lead and how much they have raised so everyone knows. See the Gallery for the current graph. So lets get to sharing!!!

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/my-life-book/x/8546605#home

Pura Vida!

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Best of Costa Rica on Mylifebook.me

All new posts will now be on the blog section of My Life Book. You can find it at http://www.mylifebook.me

You can find us in the Coffee House section at Best of Costa Rica

There you can find my blogs, there is a live chat, videos, we can have discussions. You name it. Its a more interactive blog! So come join me there!

Here is what a current My Life Book member sent to his friends and us.

Here is a message from head of Marketing for My Life Book, LLC

 

Also My Life Book is running a crowdfunding project to raise money to place games on their site. Their games will have no advertising, no need to beg friends for help,they will be fully functional and not crippled and no privacy issues! So check out their funding site My Life Book Games.

If you own a business or sell products on ebay you want to check out these features of My Life Book!


Check out this other cool video telling you what My Life Book has to offer for members!



Pura Vida!

Categories: Costa Rica Life Experience, Finance, Food Chick, News, Photo, Restaurant Reviews, Travel, YouTube | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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!

Categories: Costa Rica Life Experience, Facebook Posts, Food, News, Photo, YouTube | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Life Book

The beta is open up and ready to go. There is a free blog application that I just installed! You can blog there and export to your site or you can blog on your site and import to My Life Book. Your choice. It works great! Fast and easy! I am accepting the 1st 2K users will get free membership for life! After I reach 2K it will be a $5 yearly subscription fee. That is nothing for the privacy you will get unlike other social networks. There will be true freedom at My Life Book. Come join us! Click on the images below.

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Ready for Beta Testing!

Ok my new social media site is ready for Beta testing. So come and join us at My Life Bookprofile-jaylincostarica_2 (1)_1024

 

 

 

 

Pura Vida!

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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!


Categories: Costa Rica Life Experience | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

YouTube Video of the Day Sloths!

It is sloth saturday! Since I have been running all week and doing so much today is a sloth day. I’m going to sit at home blog, I have a lot to write about after our trip yesterday and over 400 pictures taken!!!!!!! There will be 2 restaurant reviews you won’t want to miss in the trip post. So look for that, but until than check out the sloth. I think you will really like this one.

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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Solis Demands Explanation From ARESEP for High Gas Prices

The Costa Rica News (TCRN) – Due to the constant increases in the price of gasoline that have been adopted in at least the past two months, President Solis shall request for the Regulatory Authority of Public Services (Aresep) to provide a precise explanation of why these increases have occurred.

“I want to know if the formula they are using is the best way. We will request a review of the tariff model because gasoline keeps rising. I am not a technician. I want someone to simply explain to me why we are paying so much,” said Solis.  

In particular, the president wants to know if there are alternative formulas for calculating the price of oil.. 

Franklin Chang, someone you know very well told me about this formula. He’s an astronaut and he can’t figure it out,” he added.

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

Medical Tourism in Costa Rica

 Medical Tourism in Costa Rica

As we all know, our bodies are far from perfect. At times, medical intervention is necessary for recovery. Other times, medical intervention is essential for our comfort. However, American healthcare can be quite costly and a pain to schedule. A root canal, hysterectomy, (removal of the uterus) rhinoplasty, (nose job) or a shot of Botox to smooth wrinkles may not be readily available to eager patients. Some patients have opted to travel in order to receive medical treatment. This is known as “medical tourism”. Many choose to seek it in Costa Rica.

 RESEARCH

Of course, medical tourism holds many unique challenges in obtaining quality medical treatment. Firstly, the tourist would have to research the procedure, the doctor, and facility thoroughly. Some cases of malpractice due to unqualified “doctors” have been reported. However, in the age of information, it is quite possible to gain knowledge and a honest reputation of any medical practitioner, even if (s)he lives in a different country.

 TRAVEL

Even if someone is traveling for medical treatment, it is still traveling. A plane ticket and luggage is essential (or a lot of money to cover all the costs). A passport would also be necessary. And, of course, a place to rest (before and after the procedure) may also need to be planned before the trip. Depending on the procedure, schedule, and recovery, it is possible to enjoy and explore a different country. It would be a shame to travel anywhere and fail to explore its beauty and unique culture.

 COSTS

It has been reported that costs for medical or dental procedures in Costa Rica is 40%-70% less than that in the USA. And this figure is a major reason for medical travel. However, there are other costs one must consider. There is the costs of the flight and travel, necessities during the trip, (such as toiletries and clothes) food, boarding, and anything else that may be needed for a successful trip, glitch-free procedure, and a full recovery. Costs should be carefully researched and considered.

 PROCEDURE

There are many procedures that could be obtained in Costa Rica, although cosmetic and dental procedure are among the most popular. Americans have sought treatment in fields such as dermatology (skin) and more serious medical issues. The need for any procedure cannot be life threatening as the patient will face an increased risk of death.

 RECOVERY

Although recovery can be an unpleasant time, it is just as essential to the patient as the procedure itself. There is no point in getting a gastric bypass surgery if the patient eats an entire pizza to him/herself daily. As with any surgery, it is important to follow instructions. Costa Rica has several ‘recovery spas’ to help patient recover. Of course, it is important to include those costs while planning the trip (or verifying coverage with your insurance company).

 RISKS

Every procedure carries potential risks every surgery has a risk of infection, for example. It is important to know these risks. Medical tourism, however, may present even more risks. As stated before, it is important to do thorough research on any doctor before receiving treatment from them. It is imperative that the patient confirms (or plans) that the costs for the procedure (and trip) is covered. Some insurance policies will dismiss the claim because the treatment did not take place in the USA, or in their network. Recovering in a foreign country may add stress to a patient, and that is never a good thing after a major medical procedure.

 BENEFITS

Obviously (as stated before) medical costs are much lower in Costa Rica than in the United States of America. Also, there is minimal waiting for procedures there. In the USA, patients could possibly wait a while before receiving treatment. And, you cannot ignore the excitement of being in a foreign land!

 CONCLUSION

There is much to think about when discussing medical tourism. Weighing the pros and cons is essential in deciding if it is the right move for you. But, with all the controversy in healthcare in the USA today, medical travel has the potential of becoming more popular than ever before!

source: http://www.anywherecostarica.com/travel-guide/medical-tourism

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 Dave, Health, Healthcare | 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!

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

Eat Costa Rica Today!

I have decided to every now and again, unless you all want this more often, to post a days worth of meals starting with Breakfast and working our way though dinner. all Costa Rican Style meals and how to prepare them. So hope you enjoy it!

Breakfast or Desayuno

Costa Rican Rice and Beans With Fried Eggs

Not the actual dish there was no picture to go along with this dish. Sorry.

Ingredients: 

3/4 cup long-grain white rice
kosher salt, to taste
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 small yellow onion, cut into small dice
1/2 medium red bell pepper, seeded and cut into small dice
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup tomato sauce
1 (16 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
3 tablespoons Lizano sauce, more to taste
fresh ground black pepper, to taste
8 large eggs
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped

Directions:

Step 1
Put the rice, a big pinch of salt, and 1 1/2 cups of water in a 3-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the rice has absorbed the water and is tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside with the lid on.

Step 2
Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, garlic, and a pinch of salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened about 3 minutes. Add the cumin and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Step 3
Add the tomato sauce and stir for 1 minute. Add the beans and 1 cup of water and simmer until the liquid reduces to the level of the beans, about 4 minutes.

Step 4
Add the rice to the beans and mix well. Stir in the Salsa Lizano and season to taste with salt and pepper. Keep warm.

Step 5
Heat the remaining 1 Tbsp of oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat, swirling the pan to coat evenly. Gently crack the eggs into the pan. Season with salt and pepper, cover, and cook until the yolks’ edges have just begun to set, 2 to 3 minutes. (The eggs should cook gently, so lower the heat if needed.) Separate the eggs with the edge of a spatula.

Step 6
To serve, put a heaping spoonful of the rice and beans on a plate and slide 2 eggs on top. Sprinkle with the cilantro.

Time Prep 10 min. Cook 20 min. Serves 4

Lunch or Almuerzo

Hearts of Palm Parmesan Salad.

Ingredients: 

1 (14 ounce) can hearts of palm, drained & rinsed
2 medium tomatoes, seeded & chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 green onions, chopped (use white & green parts)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper (Use fresh cracked pepper)
2 ounces parmesan cheese, freshly shaved
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped

If you want this to be a meal add the following:

2 medium sized Cucumbers chopped, 1 Shredded carrot, 2 oz each shredded cabbage (Purple and green), 1 while onion chopped or sliced, optional but very nice to have is some sliced mushrooms.

Directions:

Chop and mix in a a large bow. Let sit in fridge for about 1/2 hour to marinade.

Serves 2 to 4 depending on your cutting abilities about 10 min. prep.

Dinner or Cena

Appetizer or Aperitivo

Black Bean Quesadillas

Ingredients: 

1/4 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed, mashed with a fork
1 whole wheat tortilla
1/4 cup spinach, cleaned and dry
1/4 cup shredded Monterrey jack pepper cheese
1/4 cup salsa

Directions:

Step 1
Spread black beans on half of the tortilla.

Step 2
Spread the spinach on top of the black beans.

Step 3
Spread the cheese on top of the spinach.

Step 4
Fold tortilla in half.

Step 5
When time to heat up, cover tortilla with a napkin and heat in the microwave until heated through 1 – 1.5 minutes.

Step 6
Top with salsa and enjoy

Serves 2 Prep to cook time about 5 min.

Entree

Corvina a La Chorillana (Peruvian Fish in Spicy Tomato Sauce). Photo by vvoci

Corvina a La Chorillana (Peruvian Fish in Spicy Tomato Sauce)

Ingredients: 

1 tablespoon annatto oil, divided (see note)
2/3 large onions, thinly sliced, divided
1 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped, divided
2/3 fresh hot chili peppers, seeded and cut into 1/8-inch strips, divided (red or green)
1/4 teaspoon finely chopped garlic, divided
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, divided
1/3 teaspoon salt, divided (or to taste)
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper, divided
1 lb sea bass (cut into 1/2-inch steaks)

Directions:

Step 1
Heat 1 tablespoon annatto oil in a heavy 4-quart pot over moderate heat, tipping pot to spread oil across the bottom.

Step 2
Spread half the onion slices, tomatoes, and chili strips in the hot oil.

Step 3
Sprinkle with half the garlic, oregano, salt and pepper.

Step 4
Lay fish steaks on top of vegetable mixture.

Step 5
Cover with remaining vegetables and seasonings.

Step 6
Drizzle remaining annatto oil over top.

Step 7
Cover and simmer over low heat until fish is opaque and firm, 20-30 minutes. Do not overcook.

Step 8
NOTE: to make annatto oil, heat 1/2 cup vegetable oil in a saucepan over moderate heat. Stir in 1/4 cup annatto (achiote) seeds. Stir for 30 seconds. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, cool, and strain. This will keep several months if tightly covered and refrigerated, but it will lose flavor as it ages.

Dessert or Postre

Oven Baked Sweet Plantains. Photo by Sue Lau

Oven Baked Sweet Plantains

Ingredients: 

2 very ripe plantains (when the skin is yellow with spots of black they’re perfect)

Directions:

Step 1
Preheat oven to 450°F.

Step 2
Coat a nonstick cookie sheet with cooking spray.

Step 3
Cut the ends off of the plantains and peel.

Step 4
Cut each plantain on the diagonal into 1/2 inch slices.

Step 5
Arrange in single layer and coat tops with cooking spray.

Step 6
Bake, turning occasionally, for 10-15 minutes, until plantains are golden brown and very tender.

Serves about 2 Prep and cook time about 17 min.

So there you have it! A complete day of meals Costa Rican Style! I hope you enjoy it. Please let me know if you try and how it turned out. Either comment here or send us an email. If you want us to show your creation email us what you did and the pictures and we will post on our blog. Thanks!

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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Joke of the day

I will apologize to all my viewers in England now. I did chuckle and little at this one and said. Oh my out loud. Go England!

The wife said to me, “Whenever a World Cup game is on, let’s eat something to do with that particular team for dinner that night.”
Mexico was on, we had burritos.
Japan was on, we had sushi.
USA was on, we had burgers.
Italy was on, we had pizza.
Tuesday is England, so we’re going out.

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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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!

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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!

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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.

WCCR2

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.

p8

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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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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Blogs and how we promote them

A number of people have been complaining about blog posts in Facebook groups. So in an attempt to clean up Facebook I have created this group. If  you like to read blogs from all over the world or write a blog of your own? Pleas go to this group! The idea is once we have a large enough following people will only advertise their blog in that group. This will help with all those posts that you see all the time in all the groups you belong to. So join us on Facebook today

https://www.facebook.com/groups/440054546126401/

Also if you want to know even more about Costa Rica we host a facebook group called Gringo’s Expats in Costa Rica. Check that out as well.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/57769307059/

We also have a facebook page for Best of Costa Rica you can find it here. Stop in and give us a like please.

https://www.facebook.com/bestofcostarica1

Last but by no means least we have an Amazon store. So please visit this page to buy all the things you would on amazon. You can reach it by going to http://www.bestofcostarica.net and clicking on the link to the Amazon deals and discounts page. We get a 4% commission on anything you purchase and we take a portion of the commission and donate it to local Costa Rican Charities. As of now one is really using it so we have not raised much money. If you are shopping for something not listed in our store let me know and I will be happy to fix that so you can get what you need. We have listed as many categories as possible. So let us know. Also on that page is a list of affiliates that we get a % from. Again we get from there also adds to that charity fund. The trip adviser pays us the most in commissions. So if you are planning a trip to Costa Rica or anywhere else in the world use our link on that page!

Pura Vida!

 

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Enter our contest and win amazon gift card!

Follow our blog and if we reach 10K followers before 6/30/14 we will give at random a $100 amazon gift card to one of our lucky followers on 7/1/14.

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.

IMG_2218[1]

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.

IMG_2219[1]

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.

IMG_2220[1]

 

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!

IMG_2221[1]

 

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.

IMG_2222[1]

 

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.

IMG_2223[1]

 

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!

IMG_2224[1]

 

 

 

 

 

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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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.

IMG_2165

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.

IMG_2166

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.

IMG_2167

 

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

 

IMG_2192

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.

IMG_2193

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

IMG_2194

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.

 



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

How to Avoid Personal Banking Disasters in Costa Rica

Coopenae Bank Costa Rica

Personal banking at the large state-sponsored institutions in Costa Rica is not for the squeamish. There are many horror stories among expatriates about frozen funds, incorrect account information, blocked debit cards, lost term deposits, excessive red tape, etc. Most of the time, these problems can be avoided in the first place with the assistance of a bilingual account executive who really cares. Asdrubal Zamora of credit union COOPENAE tells us more about this:

About 30 years ago, I remember going to a state-sponsored bank and standing in line for over an hour. More than 15 years later, I returned to that bank and endured a similar experience. In late 2013, I happened to visit that same bank and noticed that the building had been nicely remodeled, but the long lines and slow customer service had not changed at all, which did not surprise me.

Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity of listening to expatriates in Costa Rica talk about their experiences in dealing with state-sponsored banks. I am going to share some of them, and I should mention that they are not the usual complaints about long waiting lines, dubious service and excessive red tape: The following experiences are caused by the sad fact that major language and culture barriers persist at state-sponsored banks to this very day.

1 – Residency Status and the Future of Personal Banking in Costa Rica

Every day, I get inquiries by expats who ask about the possibility of opening a personal account or a fixed term deposit such as a Certificate of Deposit (CD). In general, this will require a residency permit; in fact, even some who opened bank accounts in Costa Rica with just their passports in the past may have troubles using the SINPE transfer system these days.

What everyone should be aware of is that inquiring about the possibility of opening an account is a good first step. Each case may be different, and there may be a chance to open an account, but it is highly recommended to do it. The current political climate is ripe for the creation of new taxes and levies, which in the future may very well apply to expats who wish to open bank accounts. Personal banking in Costa Rica is bound to get more restrictive and invasive in the future, which is why expats should try to get their accounts now so that they can be grandfathered later.

2 – The Frustration of Debit Cards Not Working Overseas

One of the most unfortunate situations travelers can run into is having their debit or credit cards declined abroad. Imagine going back home and trying to access funds deposited in Costa Rica, only to find out that it is impossible. On top of that, there’s also the likelihood of the card being blocked upon return.

Account executives must be notified when a debit card is intended to be used outside of Costa Rica, but this is something that many expat account holders are not aware of because they are never notified inasmuch. There goes the language and cultural barrier again, but the fact is that must be done at all banks, I always tell my clients to contact us before they travel to activate their cards overseas, and to also keep all their purchase and payment receipts, which must be attached to all claims and chargebacks within one month.

3 – Zombie Certificates of Deposit in Costa Rica

An expat couple once contacted me for assistance in transferring their CD, which was issued by a state-sponsored bank, into a COOPENAE account. On the maturity and expiration date of the contract, they personally went to their bank and were not able to get cash in their CD. The problem? It was set to renew automatically; the account holders were expected to notify the bank well in advance to prevent this feature from being triggered.

The couple was able to withdraw the funds and terminate the CD the next day; albeit by having to pay an expensive penalty. This is what I tell my clients: If you are going to be away from Costa Rica when your term deposit matures, it is better to be able to renegotiate the terms than to have renew by default. In terms of customer service, the bank should be making an effort to contact the CD holders beforehand to notify them of the upcoming maturity and expiration.

4 – Exorbitant Credit Card Rates and Unreasonable Collateral

Credit card rates in Costa Rica tend to be extremely high. We are talking about 23 to 52 percent, depending on the bank. Under such terms, I cannot recommend them. Still, some people like them and such was the case with this expat couple who wanted to transfer their money from their bank into COOPENAE so that they could take advantage of certain investments that were performing well at the time. It turns out that their money was tied up because their CD served as a collateral for their high-interest credit card!

Naturally, the couple’s request to cancel their credit card and liberate the funds in their CD was denied by the stuffy state-sponsored bank, which had created a Catch-22 situation by using the term deposit as collateral for the credit card. In the end, I went to the bank and performed the required, yet confusing, steps on behalf of the couple: Paying off the balance on the card with funds outside of the collateral, terminating the credit account, turning over the CD to my clients, and finally having them endorse it to my bank. It is important to remember that physical bonds in Costa Rica are as negotiable as check.

The lesson here is that complex personal banking transactions such as putting up term deposits as guarantees for credit cards should not be attempted by expats who are not familiar with the language or the system. It’s ok to handle certain basic transactions in rudimentary Spanish or English, but more involved procedures require bilingual assistance.

5 – The Case of the Lost CD and the Four-Year Wait

So an expat CD investor asked for a replacement since he lost the original paper certificate. It should be noted that CDs in Costa Rica, whether they are issued by a state-sponsored or private bank, can be obtained in physical or virtual (electronic) formats. Investors who take their physical CDs are responsible for their safekeeping.

By law, investors who lose their physical CDs in Costa Rica must wait four years until they see get their money, and only after filing a report with OIJ, sitting down with a notary to issue a public affidavit, and publishing the latter in the newspaper of record. This should not have to happen since:

  • Banks should be encouraging virtual CDs, which are eco-friendly and cannot be lost.
  • Virtual CDs promote savings and disciplined investing since they cannot be negotiated as checks before maturity.
  • Banks should offer physical CD investors to keep custody of their paper certificates in their safe or strongbox.

For more information about COOPENAE’s services and investment options, please contact Mr. Zamora directly.

Originally posted at http://news.co.cr/how-to-avoid-personal-banking-disasters-in-costa-rica/34452/

Pura Vida!

 

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Food Chick tip of the day Part 3

Today’s Chick Tip…..day three of this nearly meatless meal. The sandwich is a Portabella mushroom slider!

  1. Marinate the mushrooms in the vinaigrette we made on day one. When I marinate mushrooms I like to fill the cap first and let it sit for about thirty minutes and then flip it over and add a tad bit more marinade to the top for about 10 minutes (you can marinate for up to 3 hours without the shroom shriveling).

 

  1. Over medium high heat cook the tops first for about 3-5 minutes, being sure to turn for grill marks), flip and cook for another 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat.


3. Serve on your favorite slider style bread or roll (I used the gluten free Rosemary Focaccia bread from last week’s Chick Tips).

4. Top with sliced avocado and lettuce!

To put this meal together simply toss the BACON and bean salad with watercress and baby spinach. (I like the bacon and bean warm and tossed with the greens)

This is a great summertime meal, I hope you all enjoy it SOON!

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

just say no

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

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

Menu 1

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

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:

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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

Costa Rica Facebook Group

So are you looking for find out more about Costa Rica? This is the Facebook group for you. Doesn’t matter if you are just coming for a visit or looking to move here there are a lot of people on this site who can answer any question you may have. So check it out.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/57769307059/

Pura Vida!

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

A new writer for the Blog

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

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

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

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