I guess it really has been that long! A lot has happened in two years. People have come and gone in our lives. Many have left Costa Rica for good. New people have come to Costa Rica. They say if you can make it past the 6th month in Costa Rica you can stay the rest of your life here, but that doesn’t always seem to be the case. The old country (for us the U.S.) seems to draw people back for one reason or another. Friends who have been here for 7 or more years have gone back to the U.S. for one reason or another. Many where very happy here but their spouses were not. Sometimes they just missed their family too much. Others for health reasons, but this one I don’t understand as the healthcare here is wonderful! Maybe my next blog will be on the healthcare systems here. Whatever the reason they have left many others have come. Seems to be a net effect of people leaving and moving here.
So a little history: A long story short! Kay and Tom opened up Kay’s many years ago. 3 years ago they sold the restaurant to Harold and Lisa. They too have now left Costa Rica about 5 months ago. So they owned it for about 3 years or so. Now it is owned by Ania and Tomek. They moved here from Canada but they are both originally from Poland. Their families both migrated to Canada when they were 11 years old. Great people! They are doing the one and only original Kay proud no doubt.
Kay and Tom were very missed by the community and we decided to see if we could get them to come back for a visit. We had been trying for years and schedules just didn’t seem to work out, but finally in May 2017 we did it! With the help of our Auntie Laurel (well we call her that and she is sister to Kay not by blood) we were able to bring Kay back for a visit. Tom had other commitments and was unable to join her.
Here are some pictures of Kay’s return:
Here are just a couple of videos:
Mercede’s and Katia see Kay for the 1st time. They had no clue she was coming for a visit. I had to lie to them whenever they asked me about Kay and if I thought she would come for a visit. I think they forgive me. 🙂
We had a party that day where a select group got to see her 1st as well. `
This was about 9 days of food, hugs, tears, and just plain fun! Kay stayed with us at our house for the most part and we were at Kay’s restaurant every day for lunch so people could meet up and get to see her. It was a great time no doubt.
As this blog started so it shall end. Kay returned to the U.S. and life went back to normal. More tears for her departure back, but it was fun! We will always remember the good times!
So to now this blog must end. I hope you enjoyed it. I will try to keep up with it once again. Have a great day and
I get this question all the time, “Should I rent a car when I come to Costa Rica to drive myself?” That is actually a very good question. When we came to Costa Rica for the 1st time in Nov. 2012 we brought a friend with us who has a son who lives here with his mother. He is familiar with the area and how they drive here so it was a win for us. He made it seem so easy. He found everywhere we wanted to go, driving was a breeze for him and it just seemed so simple.
We go home and decide this is the place for us. Our purpose of our trip was to look at houses and to live here for 10 days to see if we would like it. We did! Feb. of 2013 we moved here. Our friend Will made driving here look so easy I decided I would rent a car. We get into the airport at 8pm. Great! We head out and can’t seem to find where to go pick up our car? Damn! We walk though the parade of taxi and bus people trying to get us to use them. We finally walk past all of those and are looking around. Nope nothing. So I call and they send a pickup for us. Great!!! Now we are on our way.
We get to the rental place and get all signed in and they get our car ready. A nice gentleman puts our bag in the car. I am talking to the rental agent and trying to get directions to our hotel. He gives me this map (I am horrible with maps!) OK, no problem he writes on it which directions to go and tells me to go out turn, than turn at the end of the road take it down past the bridge and yada yada yada giving me land marks to look for in true Tico (I didn’t know this than) fashion. Many times they use places like the Coke factory (Which has been closed for years) as a land mark, but luckily the sign is still there. Or you get turn left after the cow tied to the big mango tree. Sorry for people if that farmer ever lets that cow loose or has it for dinner. Off we go me thinking I can do this! My wife thinking, “Oh God we are never going to find this place!”. She knows me so well.
We get in the car and off we go. OK made the turn, yep I see the bridge OK going good. Wait what? That’s not a road! Keep going. Oh wait maybe it was. Nope didn’t look like one and there was no sign. Keep going, and going, and going. Nope I think we missed it.
So to make a long story shorter than it already isn’t. We arrive at 8 pm we didn’t get to a hotel (not ours) until midnight. After driving and driving and driving I stopped and asked a taxi driver to take me to the hotel. Well little did I know there were two of them with that name so he took me to the old one not the new one. I got a room and the actual hotel send a car in the morning to take us to the right hotel that was and I kid you not 10 min drive from the car rental place! Yep that was our 1st adventure in Costa Rica. I did however get to see a lot of Costa Rica that day! Back to what this article is about.
We have now been hear in Costa Rica for 1 year and 5 months! I have learned a number of things that will help you should you decide to drive yourself here in Costa Rica. Before I give you my top things you need to know one of the basic things you need is a course in defensive driving! You will need it! Here are my top things to know about driving in Costa Rica.
1. Laws we don’t need no damn laws! All traffic laws are just suggestions. You come to an intersection with a stop sign, expect someone isn’t going to stop! Be careful of any intersection no matter if it is a stop sign, a red light, a flashing yellow on their end, it doesn’t matter. Always check and be on the look out. Now should you be caught in violation of those rules you will be stopped and fined. So follow them, but know others may not!
OH and by the way this bike is for sale. 🙂 It is located in MD. Titan 9/11 tribute bike called “Rudy” That is Peter Reckell from Days of our lives. I bought it from him.
2. 2 Wheels Cool and 4 wheels drool! 2 wheel vehicles will come out of no where and dart in and out like nobody’s business. They will cut you off, they will come up behind you and along side of you even if there isn’t really a lane on either side. They are going to be hard to see and God help you if you are not on the look out for them. They seem to think they rule the road and they really do not have to pay attention to any rules at all! None!
3. Honk if I’m sexy! Oh yea! They love to honk their horn! All the time and for any and all reasons. In the states we were always taught that you don’t honk unless it is an emergency! Here if you sit 2 seconds past the light changing they honk. They like your car they honk. You are going to slow for them they honk. They want you to get the hell out of their way they honk. They win the world cup match they honk like mad!!!! That one I understand! Go Tico! They didn’t win but they did one hell of a job. They see a pretty girl or a nice looking guy they honk. I think you get it they honk a lot!
This is a 2 way 2 lane highway. See a problem?
4. Leap Car anyone? If there is a car in front of you than you must pass it! It doesn’t matter if they are going the speed limit if they are in front of them they must speed up and pass any vehicle that is in front of them. I totally understand when there are slow moving cars or those big trucks that can’t do the hills. If I am going 10 km over the speed limit and you still feel the need to pass me you go right ahead. Make sure you honk at me as you pass me as well. 🙂
5. Chicken anyone? Watch for vehicles coming at you in your lane!!! Again the whole passing thing. If they have to drive in the wrong lane to pass they will do so and will do so as long as they feel they can. I was driving on day and we had two lanes on our side and there was a very slow moving 18 wheeler on my right side lane so I was in the left. There was only a single lane for the oncoming traffic and it was a down hill thing. We had a double yellow line meaning neither I nor they should cross as well all know. Well good luck with that. A truck pulls out into my lane to pass the 18 wheeler and 3 other vehicles that were in front of him moving slowly down the hill. So I keep going and going and he is getting closer and closer and closer. Finally I had to speed up to pass the cars on my right so that I can swerve to the right so that he misses me by inches and he cuts off the 18 wheeler to miss me. Vehicles coming at you in your lane is not uncommon here. Either for passing or because the road on their side is so bad they need to move into your lane. Its just how it is.
6. No Hay Paso (gringo speak Do not enter one way) Yea ok sure! remember rule number 1. I can’t tell you how many times vehicles have come the wrong direction on a road just because it is quicker. I understand it to a point because sometimes in towns the way they have roads flowing just doesn’t makes sense. If it say do not enter don’t enter just because you are in a hurry.
7. Here a Tico there a Tico everywhere a Tico. Yes most don’t have cars so they walk everywhere. Day, night doesn’t matter the time you will have people walking in and along the street. Why? There are no sidewalks really. So driving at night can be a little dangerous as some like to walk in the road and wearing all black!!!!!!! Some do have reflective gear. Some don’t. People will ride bikes everywhere they go as well so they fall under rule #2 above. Now most people on bikes do wear reflective gear or have something reflective on their bike and some don’t.
8. Bark, Bark, Hissss, Moo, and Cockadoodledo. When driving please, please watch for the animals. There are a lot of street dogs that wonder the roads, or just sit in the middle of the road. That one I don’t understand as you would think as hot as it gets here the road would be so hot for them. Not sure how they can stand to do that. Most won’t chase your car. I always say if a dog barks at your car and chases you its an expat its not from here. Yes dogs, cats, cows, horses, rooster and chickens can all be found wondering the roads. Not just the back roads, but the main highways as well. So don’t think just because you are traveling a highway like 27 that there won’t be an animal or two or 20 that you must contend with!
9. Stop Police! There are a couple different types of police here, but for this article I will only speak about the Traffic police. There are usually somewhere a check point setup. If you are here for a few days or a week or living here now you will at the very least see one. If they step out and wave you down stop!!!!! You really don’t want them to come chance you and they will. They are checking to see if you are here legally. They will ask for the drivers passport and valid drivers licenses. Now a couple schools of thought on this. Most will only carry a copy of the front of their passport and the current visa stamped page. I hear that is ok. I carry my actual passport. I have heard stories of the police taking the actual passport and requiring you to pay them to get it back. I have never had that issue (*knock on wood) I also have only been stopped 1 in 15 months. The one time I was stopped my passport was in the back seat in my man purse. Yes I have a purse and I am secure enough to admit it! 🙂 They did let me get it, but he was willing to accept my wife’s as well who was sitting next to me. So up to you, but stop if they stop you! Only the traffic police can give you a ticket. The regular policía are for criminal activities only. The tráfico policía can only stop you for traffic violations. Now the tráfico policía are usually accompanied by regular policía at the traffic stops so that if you are in violation of immigration rules or criminal laws they can lock you up.
10. Last and by no means least! GPS systems actually do a fairly decent job here. Not wonderful, but most do work. So if you have one and it has Costa Rica maps that you can download you should do it. Get that done before you come and bring it with you. Do not leave it in plain site or anything of value when you leave your car. There is one system that I happen to love! It is called Waze! If you have a smart phone download it! You will love it. Our GPS is about 90% accurate with roads and such but Waze is 99.99% up to date at all times. Its great! If you have data on your phone it will give you live up to date traffic conditions from accidents to traffic stops! All entered by other Waze members as it happens. It really is great!
Not taken in Costa Rica, but it sums it up! 🙂
So, that pretty much covers it. I am working on compiling some video’s of how they drive here and once I get that done I will post it. I have a lot of footage to go though to pull out the specific examples so that is going to take a while to get done. I will get it done and post it here. So enjoy visiting Costa Rica and driving here. Really just use your head and be alert at all times and you should be fine. Think of it this way if you get lost what an adventure! Be sure to stop at the local places where you are lost and check things out, takes some pictures and enjoy it! Sample the local food and maybe just maybe if you don’t speak English you will run into someone who does and they will help you find your way. Even sometimes when you don’t speak Spanish you can still get a taxi driver to help you out like I did! Just pay them for their meter to take you where you need to go! That is what I did! Oh I almost forgot make sure you rental is a min. of 6 cylinders under the hood or you could be one of those slow moving cars on the road!
A tropical paradise you could never imagine–that’s the simplest and most appropriate way of describing this stunning country in Central America. The Panama Canal is to this country’s southeast. Beautifully located, this country is home to the most verdant tropical rain forests, lush and dense.
It is also home to the most amazing variety of exotic animals and plant life. Here’s a peek in to what you can see and be fascinated about on your trip to Costa Rica or the “rich coast” in Spanish:
Pristine and stunning beaches: Perhaps you want a quiet holiday by the beach or you may want to indulge in thrillingwater sports. Whatever your level of adrenaline rush, you can visit this miniscule country of 1,200 miles-long of beaches, with rocky coves and bustling coastal small towns.
Lush, dense tropical rainforests: You can also see a wealth of birds, insects and reptiles at the tropical rainforests and the most spectacular views on Earth.
Active volcanoes: Bang on the Pacific Ring of Fire, you will have the opportunity to see Costa Rica’s five volcanoes–each of them active! You can visit them by hiking here and enjoy a lava eruption.
Take your pick of national parks: With over 60 national parks, biological zones in 12 ecologically dense areas, wildlife refuges, you can get a never-before experience of the national parks insideCosta Rica has more than 60 national parks, wildlife refuges and biological zones spread across 12 ecological areas, offering the ultimate rainforest exploration experience. Visit the Manuel Antonio National Park, which though small, is home to four stunning beaches, unforgettable views of the Pacific Ocean, animal life like monkeys, sloths, ocelots, anteaters, etc. Coral reefs here will amaze you just as the occasional dolphin and whale will. You can also go scuba diving from here.
Another national park not to be missed here is the Corcovado National Park, home to over 100 amphibian and reptile species, and big cats, bats, jaguars and over 400 bird species. Don’t miss a trek from here.
Water sports–ride the waves here: If you’re a water sports buff, this is home for you. You can enjoy the water in an amazing array of water sports here, or go out for a small excursion where you can go bungee jumping, horseback riding or hot air ballooning.
Bird life watching: If you love being in the midst of Nature, you can’t leave Costa Rica without bird watching. This country regularly invests inenvironmental protection, so it has a huge and impressive wealth of biodiversity that is home to the world’s endangered species. This makes it a wonderful spot for bird watching tropical birds. You’ll be in the wonderful company of 900 bird species that you can’t find anywhere else.
However you may want to spend your holiday, you can’t do it better anywhere else than in Costa Rica. So, pack your bags and get here soon. There’s so much to see and enjoy here and memories to go home with.
Ready to book your vacation? Click on the link below!
Written by CostaRicaDave Best of Costa Rica Author
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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. \
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
A crocodile slithers into the water from the muddy bank of Costa Rica’s Tempisque River. Lindsay Fendt/The Tico Times
For 14 years Jason Vargas has made a living by dangling raw cuts of chicken breast in front of massive crocodiles.
As the main tour guide for Crocodile Man Tours, based at the Tárcoles River, Vargas usually spends his workdays wading barefoot down the river’s banks, putting himself within inches of the beasts’ deadly maws for the amusement of tourists. Born and raised near the Tárcoles, in the country’s Central Pacific, Vargas’ unusual career path has roots tracing back to a childhood fascination with the giant reptiles.
“When I was a boy we used to drive up and down the river in a boat,” Vargas said. “Eventually we started throwing the crocodiles food and I just became obsessed with it.”
Vargas’ death-defying antics have turned him into a celebrity. He has been the subject of news stories, a French documentary and an episode of Animal Planet. But his success came to a screeching halt in May when officials from Costa Rica’s National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC) held a meeting and told all Tárcoles tour operators to stop feeding the crocodiles.
“If we had 100 people on our tours before, now we have about 50,” Vargas said. “The hotels in San José and Jacó can’t sell a river boat tour as well as they can sell a crocodile feeding tour.”
But Vargas’ tour woes are of little concern to SINAC, which says operations like his make crocodiles more aggressive, and have spurred a sea of other croc-related complaints from the rest of the tourism sector.
In the past year, crocodiles have lounged on beaches, attacked surfers, closed down national park entrances and eaten a man alive. The mounting number of incidents has sparked public concern, and members of the tourism industry are now asking for a crocodile intervention.
Though Environment Ministry officials have appointed a task force to assess the state of the crocodile population, they say it may be the tourism industry, not the crocodiles, that needs to change.
Watch Jason Vargas feed crocodiles on the Tárcoles River:
The Tárcoles River is among the most polluted waterways in all of Central America. Full of trash and teeming with crocodiles, the river is hardly an appealing place for a swim. But for one reason or another, the murky waters managed to tempt Omar de Jesús Jirón, a 32-year-old Nicaraguan man who drunkenly attempted a swim near the Tárcoles’ main bridge on April 29 of this year.
Police and Red Cross responders still dispute the exact details of why and how Jirón entered the water that evening, but one thing is certain: He never came back.
After swimming for several meters, Jirón was nabbed by a group of the river’s crocs. Unable to pull Jirón from the reptiles’ jaws, witnesses watched helplessly as the crocs ripped the man apart. Several days later a woman on a walk near the river’s edge discovered the only part of Jirón police were ever able to recover: his head.
The horror of Jirón’s death captivated Costa Ricans for weeks, and drew attention to the river’s unusually aggressive American Crocodiles.
Though crocodile attacks are not statistically common, the reptiles still sit among the top 10 most deadly animals in the world. According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s crocodile specialist group, there have been 1,159 reported crocodile attacks on humans since 2010, and many other attacks go unreported.
The Nile crocodile and the saltwater crocodile are responsible for nearly all of these attacks, neither of which can be found on the American continents.
“Nile crocodiles view humans as prey, but new world crocodiles won’t hunt humans,” said Brandon Sideleau, a crocodile attack specialist with the IUCN. “With that said, Costa Rica sits at the top in the new world for croc attacks.”
Though country-by-country comparisons of crocodile aggression can be misleading due to inconsistencies in reporting, the number of recorded attacks in Costa Rica is significantly higher than most in the region.
According to CrocBITE, a worldwide crocodilian attack database that reports attacks from as far back as 1816, only the much larger American crocodile populations in the U.S. and Brazil outstrip Costa Rica’s in terms of aggression. Other than those two countries, in the Western Hemisphere, Costa Rica has seen more fatalities and more than double the amount of attacks than any other nation.
Five of these attacks occurred in the past year.
In rural parts of the Caribbean Coast, a 14-year-old girl lost her leg to a croc, and another crocodile pulled a 65-year-old man from his rowboat and killed him. But these types of attacks have always been common.
“People who live in rural areas near crocodiles have always been at risk, but education has helped with that,” said Juan Bolaños, a former professor at Costa Rica’s National University and a local crocodile expert for the IUCN. “Crocodile attacks as a whole are not increasing.”
According to Bolaños, crocodile attacks in communities near rivers used to be a common occurrence; the media just never reported them. Both Bolaños and MINAE say that any seeming growth in the number of crocodile attacks is due to better reporting rather than an actual increase.
Attacks near beaches and tourist hotspots, however, are increasing.
In February, a man nearly had his legs ripped off by a croc in a river near the popular Pacific surf beach Tivives, and a Spanish surfer was attacked in the ocean near the northwestern party hub of Tamarindo. The spot where Jirón was attacked, the Tárcoles River, has more than 100,000 tourists a year who stop off at the bridge to gawk at the crocodiles, according to local business owners.
“People near the Pacific Coast are worried because it seems like crocodiles are leaving rivers for beaches,” said Flora Ayub, executive director of the Costa Rican Chamber of Hotel Owners. “At this rate, an accident could happen to anyone.”
Earlier this month, the Chamber of Hotel Owners sent out an open letter to members of the government asking for controls on the crocodile population. In the letter, the chamber’s president, Gustavo Araya, wrote that tourists were getting scared of the high numbers of crocodiles near beaches, and asked that MINAE take action. The letter noted that in the case of overpopulation, MINAE officials can legally kill or relocate crocodiles.
“We aren’t necessarily asking for them to kill all of the crocodiles,” Ayub said. “What we want is for MINAE to do something.”
Siquirres native Gilberto Sheedon, or Chito, became famous for his close friendship with an American crocodile named Pocho. The Tico Times
While owners of tourism businesses complain of the lack of croc protection from MINAE, ministry officials claim that tour operators are part of the problem.
As the country develops, crocodiles’ traditional habitat has come under threat from agriculture, human settlements and, most recently, eco-tourism. Tourists who visit Costa Rica no longer stick to the well-treaded beaches and volcanoes that made the country famous, but also explore the lesser-traveled corners of the country that used to harbor wildlife.
“You didn’t used to have surfers and kayakers coming into close contact with crocodiles,” Bolaños said. “Tourists have invaded the areas that crocodiles used to be, so now crocodiles are invading the areas where tourists are.”
But some tours go beyond just entering croc territory. According to experts, crocodile feeding tours like Vargas’ Crocodile Man Tours actually change the way crocodiles perceive humans.
“As a rule feeding crocodiles makes them more aggressive,” Sideleau said. “Feeding a crocodile makes it associate people with food, even if it does not traditionally consider humans as prey.”
Costa Rica has a long-standing law that prohibits feeding crocodiles, but MINAE officials tolerated the Tárcoles tours for years because they were not perceived as a threat. After the recent attacks on tourists, MINAE decided it was time to enforce the regulations. They gathered the area’s tour operators, explained the law and told them if they did not conform they would be fined. According to Adrian Arce, MINAE’s director of wildlife for the Tárcoles region, not all of the tour operators have been cooperating.
To Vargas, it is not the tours that are causing a problem, but the dozens – if not hundreds – of other tourists who visit the Tárcoles bridge every day.
“On our tours we will feed one crocodile every hundred meters or so. That kind of feeding doesn’t make them aggressive,” Vargas said. “The problem is all the people feeding them from the bridge. Crocodiles don’t stay in groups like that anywhere else. The crocodiles there are crazy and aggressive because they have to fight for food.”
A quick search of “Tárcoles River” on YouTube, confirms Vargas’ claims. Coming from all corners of the world, camera-touting tourists have saturated the Internet with videos of near misses with the river’s massive reptiles. Some of the bridge’s visitors drop meat from above to watch the crocs fight, while the truly courageous (read: stupid) will approach the riverbank and stand face-to-face with one of the river’s massive beasts.
Surprising to most crocodile experts, Jirón’s accident was the first crocodile attack on the Tárcoles since 1995, but officials say if the indiscriminate feeding continues it’s only a matter of time before a tourist is taken out.
“It’s time we get a handle on what is going on at the Tárcoles,” Arce said. “The situation is dangerous and out-of-control.”
Though wildlife experts point to tourism as the probable cause for the crocodiles’ aggression, they remain unsure if overpopulation is also a contributing factor.
MINAE has had to address crocodile overpopulation before — just last month, SINAC officials killed 80 crocodiles in the Tempisque River, in the country’s northwest, to lower the population before breeding season — but a lack of resources has prevented the organization from studying most of the country’s rivers. The Tárcoles has not had a comprehensive population study for six years.
“For now we are educating the public about how to avoid an attack,” Arce said. “We are trying to do population studies as quickly as we can, but we are not going to allow indiscriminate killing of crocodiles just because tourists are scared.”
Watch this guy nearly fall into the jaws of a Tárcoles crocodile at 1:42:
For now, MINAE is managing the problem with a special crocodile task force charged with creating education programs and conducting population studies when funding is available. But crocodile experts say that the only real solution is to develop a comprehensive management system for all of the country’s rivers.
This would require population studies of all of the country’s rivers and personnel to continually monitor the animals. Those studies require money, money that the universally disliked crocodile has never been able to attract.
“Crocodiles have killed 14 people in the past 20 years, but still no one wants to give money to help manage them,” Bolaños said. “Jaguars, on the other hand, never kill anyone, but they are beautiful and people like them so they get all the money. Apparently people care more about saving pretty animals than they do about saving lives and protecting reptiles.”
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!
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!
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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
Sign in to My Verizon Mobile
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:
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.
Call *611 from your mobile phone or (800) 922-0204 to check your international eligibility and add Global Services.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
By the end of our fourth day on the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica, we had seen, according to the tally kept by my 9-year-old, Sasha, dozens of species of animals. We had peered at leafcutter ants, army ants and zombie ants. We had been deafened by howler monkeys, beguiled by squirrel monkeys and strangely stirred by capuchin monkeys, whose feet bear an eerie resemblance to human hands. That afternoon, in the national park that covers a third of the peninsula, we had even spied two tapirs, endangered mammals that look like hornless rhinoceroses with long snouts.
To sample this extravaganza of biodiversity, we had risen early each morning of our vacation. So when our guide informed us that he would be taking us out at 4:30 a.m. to witness the rain forest waking up, I — the motivating force behind, and thus bearer of responsibility for, this trip — glanced apprehensively at my family and swallowed hard.
“We’ll be up!” I said brightly.
I had shepherded Sasha and my husband, Scott, to Osa in hopes of a tropical wildlife experience that was, in fact, wild. But as we crawled into our tent that night, the beaten path from which I had so resolutely steered clear was starting to look more inviting.
Costa Rica, home to large tracts of untouched yet accessible rain forest, had seemed the obvious place to immerse ourselves in nature for a week in February. On Facebook, people responded with the Costa Rican phrase “pura vida!” (“pure life”) at the mere mention of the country. We had admired photographs of bright-colored birds, frogs and butterflies from the preserves near the capital, San José, which could be reached by direct flight from New York. The ubiquitous “canopy tours” through the treetops seemed a great way to indulge Sasha’s love of zip lining.
But as I researched where to go in the West Virginia-size country, I began to suspect that its popular ecotourist destinations might not quench my yearning for the untamed. On TripAdvisor, phrases like “well-developed” and the less-charitable “Disneyfied” arose in regard to the storied Monteverde Cloud Forest in the central highlands. Manuel Antonio National Park on the central Pacific Coast, widely loved for its beaches and restaurants, was reportedly better for night life than wildlife.
The more people who can enjoy the rain forest without destroying it the better, of course: The 70,000 or so who visit a sliver of Monteverde each year help pay to preserve the rest of it. But the remote Osa Peninsula, which juts into the Pacific Ocean from Costa Rica’s southwestern corner, seemed to hold an increasingly rare chance to observe the rain forest in all its fecund, carbon-storing, oxygen-producing glory, without quite so much human company.
Mostly mentioned in travel guides as an alternative for those who had hit the other highlights, Osa did not rank on Lonely Planet’s list of “Top 10 Costa Rica Spots for First-Timers.” To get there requires a second flight or a seven-hour drive from San José. And while the draw is the 160-square-mile Corcovado National Park, accommodations there are limited to a few dozen bunks and a tent platform at the Sirena Ranger Station.
I mapped a tentative itinerary that would bring us to each of two jumping-off points to the park, Puerto Jiménez to the southeast, and Drake Bay to the northwest, both of which have several excellent lodging options. In between, we would stay one night in the park, perhaps the last refuge in the country, I read, of the sweet-looking Baird’s tapirs Sasha and I had fallen for while searching online for “Costa Rica animals.”
An email from a well-traveled friend sealed the deal: “Costa Rica is very touristy,” he wrote. “Osa is not.”
Our first stop, Bosque del Cabo, was a 40-minute ride by taxi from Puerto Jiménez, the biggest town on the peninsula with a population of 1,780. I had chosen one of the two cabins at Bosque just steps from the rain forest, at the edge of a large clearing planted with native trees and plants. A half-mile away from the main lodge area, these “garden cabinas” are reached by a trail through the forest that crosses high above a river over a suspension bridge.
“We ask that only guests that feel they will be comfortable with the walk and the increased isolation of these accommodations book into them,” the lodge’s website warns.
Any pangs I might have had about passing up the dozen or so bungalows with ocean views disappeared as soon as we found ourselves in the company of spider monkeys, swinging from branch to branch at eye level on our first pass over the bridge. The lodge staff member escorting us waited patiently, albeit with the amusement of a New Yorker watching tourists marvel at pigeons.
“Do you feed them?” I couldn’t help asking. He assured me they did not.
A few steps off the bridge, we stopped short with the odd sensation that the earth was shifting under our feet. The highway of leafcutter ants hauling their leaf-bits toward the entrance to their underground caverns was our first inkling, repeatedly confirmed over the next few days, that they were in charge there. (“Are there more ants in Costa Rica than there are humans in the world?” Sasha would ask. Answer: many more).
Bosque itself sits on 750 acres that encompass some primary-growth rain forest and large swaths of “jungle,” rain forest that has grown back on land that had once been cleared — in Bosque’s case, for cattle grazing. We would have virtually no chance of seeing a tapir on the hotel’s trails, the staff told us candidly (even in Corcovado, we were told, our chances were 50-50). But we spotted poison dart frogs, lizards and monkeys dozing in the sun. A wild pig called a peccary often visited the lodge’s modest pool, where we cooled off and sipped ginger lemonades.
The hotel also offered nature-oriented activities: One morning we rappelled 70 feet down a strangler fig tree, another we hiked down the empty beach to a waterfall, splashing in the tide pools that form in the reef formations along the way. On an evening wildlife tour, the hotel naturalist taught us the trick of holding our flashlights against our temples, revealing the reflection of thousands of spider eyes shining in the grass.
Dinner, served buffet-style with a bounty of delicious choices (panko-crusted eggplant, roasted hearts of palm, crispy chicken with figs) was eaten at communal tables. And if I needed validation on my destination choice, we found ourselves dining more than once with others who had firsthand knowledge of Costa Rica’s well-traveled spots.
“Osa is — crunchier,” said one civil rights lawyer from Washington, D.C., as Sasha and another girl her age excused themselves to look at the bats hanging from the bamboo light fixtures.
His wife, a judge, concurred about their desire for a less-processed experience.
“More what we had in mind when we thought about Costa Rica,” she said.
In our cabin, open on three sides, we felt less like observers than residents of the forest, along with monkeys playing in the trees directly above us and the leafcutter ants below. One late afternoon, a rainbow of toucans and scarlet macaws flew by a few feet away, on their way to the fruit trees in the clearing behind us.
Yet knowing that the trees had been planted to attract the birds undercut, just a bit, the pleasure of their proximity. Perhaps it was our own fault, too, for being diverted by rappelling adventures and poolside lemonades. But when we landed the next morning at the ranger station, the headquarters of Corcovado park, it quickly became apparent that there would be no distractions from the natural world. Other than lounging on the shaded porch of the low-slung ranger station, there was really was nothing to do but be in it.
Our guide, Nito Paniagua, who met us in Puerto Jiménez for the 15-minute charter flight, lost no time snagging us a spot on the tent platform at the station and heading out on a trail to the river.
The park has just started requiring tourists to be accompanied by a guide, but in any case we would have been lost without Nito’s six senses. He caught lizards and hung them from our ears, trained his scope on resplendent birds no one else could see and produced bats from furled-up leaves.
“Look at the two species playing together,” he said at the trail’s entrance, pointing his viewing scope so we could see the howler and spider monkeys teasing each other in the branches above. “That’s so nice to see.”
Unlike the many hardy backpacker types who had walked 12 miles or more to camp at Sirena, we were not big hikers. But the walk down to the river where we ate lunch was not so much strenuous as it was intense. It took two hours only because we stopped every few steps for a new creature: the bird with the small heart, the carnivorous cricket, bright blue butterflies, the notorious fer-de-lance snake.
And because Nito had quickly divined that we were keen to see tapirs, he brought us to a spot where they are known to nap.
That we were lucky enough to see two of them through the trees from perhaps 50 feet away was one reason for the collective groan that night when Nito announced the 4:30 a.m. wake-up call.
What else, we wondered, did we have to see that couldn’t wait until dawn?
In my grogginess I left the tent without my glasses and had to run back to get them while Scott, Sasha and Nito waited for me on the grass beyond the porch of the ranger station. We stopped to admire a spider web at the start of the dirt trail, then traipsed on toward the beach where Nito wanted us to watch the sky grow light.
That was when the tapir came crashing out of the forest right in front of us. My heart beating hard, I held my breath, wishing I could freeze the moment. Scott and Sasha, too, stood transfixed. For just a split second, the large, strange animal seemed to register our presence. Then the tapir lumbered away from us, down the trail, toward the river as we followed, until it veered off into the darkness.
I didn’t know it until then, but this, more than anything, was what I had hoped we would find on the Osa Peninsula. It wasn’t like seeing an animal lured to a spot by human guile, or to where all the guides know it’s likely to go on its own. If I hadn’t forgotten my glasses, we might well have missed it.
It felt wild.
There was no shortage of moments like that in our short time at Sirena. Sasha’s favorite siting may have been the anteater carrying a baby on her back all the way up to the top of a tree, spied that morning after a breakfast of eggs and ham that was, like our dinner there the night before, plain but tasty. We all oohed over the baby hummingbirds in the nest Nito found, and the baby hawks the ranger showed us through his scope in between his other chores at the understaffed station.
Before we left, we walked one more trail, cooler and less dense than the one we had taken the previous day because the soaring tree canopies blocked the light others might use to grow. The logging and slash-and-burn agriculture that had prompted the formation of the park in 1975, Nito told us, had never reached here. As we stumbled into a clearing where one tree, an espavel, or wild cashew, towered some 150 feet above us, we stood again in silent awe. That tens of thousands of acres of such forest are destroyed each day worldwide seemed inconceivable.
Most life in the rain forest, Nito reminded us, lives in the canopy, and never descends to the forest floor. Speaking of untamed, no one even knows entirely what’s up there.
We might have been happy staying longer at Sirena had our tent been pitched on the lawn, rather than the platform, which was hot and crowded at night. (Nito was scheming to go in with other guides on tents with rain flaps that could be used on the lawn.) The ticks, albeit not disease carrying, were also not a plus, especially for Sasha, who pried five off her legs.
As it was, we were happy to get to our final Osa destination, La Paloma Lodge on Drake Bay, after an hourlong boat ride from Corcovado that afternoon. It felt good to take a hot shower and to enjoy the rain forest as a view from the hotel’s elegant dining room, set high on a cliff above the Pacific Ocean.
At night, Tracie Stice, a local naturalist universally known as the “bug lady,” showed us a scorpion (“Don’t sit down,” she suggested as we leaned against the stone wall) and gently pried open the well-camouflaged home of a “trap-door” spider so that we could see the creature promptly slam it shut again.
On our last day, we went on a decidedly human-manufactured, 13-zip-line canopy tour arranged for us, a highlight of the trip for Sasha. But when Scott asked her which leg of the trip she would eliminate, if she had to lose one, she couldn’t choose. Like her parents, she could have happily lived for decades in our first cabin. She wouldn’t give up zip lining.
“And I can’t take out Sirena,” she said. “Because that’s where we saw everything.”
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
Costa Rica is a small country located in Central America with a population of around 4.7 million with 7 provinces and a lot of beautiful places to visit. It’s a very popular country for tourists to come visit when they want to be in the heat, relax at the beach and see nature. But what most tourists don’t see is what the country is like, so read on to learn all about Costa Rica, from the eyes of a Tico!
I am proud to say that I am Costarican even though I know that we have a lot of things to improve. But every time I watch the news or read about attacks, terrorism or nuclear weapons, I say to myself that I am lucky to live in a country like this.
We might not have super fast Internet speed like South Korea, the USA infrastructure or huge cities, but we don’t have to worry about paying taxes to finance an army or paying deep student loans since Costa Rican education is not as expensive as other countries.
The education in Costa Rica is for free and mandatory at the age of 6, kids starts kindergarten, then elementary school for 6 years, and finally to high school for 5 years. After you graduate from high school you can apply to go to a public university. Most of the Costaricans go to public universities since they are nearly for free and most of the times you get scholarships. The education level here is very good, people go to NASA and work for huge companies that move here because of the quality of our education.
My brother is a doctor and he works for the government. Every time I go to the EBAIS (that’s how we call the local clinics), I feel so lucky because we get all the medication and tests for free as we pay 9.17% tax out of our salaries for health insurance. I am very happy with our medical system. Sometimes you have to have a little bit of patience but you do receive excellent service.
Our economy is not as good as our beaches but we are number 11 in Latin America and like I mentioned before, several companies are moving to Costa Rica to open their operation centers such as: P&G, Amazon, HP, IBM, Microsoft, Bank of America and many more.
The Costa Rican minimum salary is 270 000 colones (Around $540) a month which depends on your education. For example, a doctor can make a base salary of $2,000 a month and a janitor around $600 but thanks to all the offshore companies, salaries are getting better. If you work for Amazon, the minimum you can make is $800 a month.
I know it doesn’t sound like $85,000 a year but if you compare it with our cost of living it makes sense. I pay $400 a month for my apartment rent which is average for the coast. In the city, you can rent a house for $300 a month.
I love beer and it is an excellent economy indicator because the price in the supermarket is around $1 and $2 in a bar. The price of gasoline is high compared to the US, a liter cost around 700 colones (around $5.3 a gallon) but prices are changing constantly.
Just like any country you can find poor people and wealthy people but on average we have a good life. We don’t have that much money to spend on new things but we do what we can to have quality time. It is common for people to live well into their 90’s and 100’s here.
Nowadays it is normal to find people from all over the world living in Costa Rica. I went to the mall the other day and I thought I was in the states as everyone was gringo and Chinese people own 90% of all the minimarkets. But I love the diversity here, you can have a Chinese New Year celebration and a Thanksgiving dinner. I love food so every celebration is more than welcome for me!
Most of the Costarican are Catholics (80%) but you can find big groups of Christians, Jews, Mormons and any other kind of religion here, we respect everyone’s beliefs.
We are a democratic country so we chose a new president every 4 years. The main political groups are Liberación Nacional and PAC.
Our main transportation system is the bus system. It needs a bit more work but if you have patience you can go to almost anywhere in the country and it is very cheap.
But our biggest treasure of all is our nature, 25% of the territory is protected and we shelter almost 6% of the world’s biodiversity which is not bad for a country that covers only 0.03% of the world. So if you are looking for rainforests, jungles, black and white sand beaches, volcanoes, rivers, or any kind of flora and fauna, this is the right place. I’d probably have to write a hundred different posts just on the types of birds that are here!
Quality time and life: that’s the most important thing you can have, you don’t need to have too much in order to have a quality life. Costa Rica has given me so much, every day I learn something new. Ticos (nickname of costaricans) are very nice people, we love to talk to people even if we don’t know them and we try to help as much as we can. We respect laws but we are not afraid of the police or the government.
This post was about Costa Rica through the eyes of a Costarican and I may be missing some more points but feel free to ask me whatever you want in the comment section and you will get a Tico point of view!
So here we are at day 16 and budget is almost gone! 😦 Lets see how we end up at the end of the month and see what we have learned from my mistakes while living in Costa Rica.
Most of the days were pretty easy and simple. Hang out at the house. Life is pretty simple and easy here in Costa Rica. I caught up on the current season of Orange is the New Black #OITNB. Started watching Breaking Bad. Pretty good show. You have to love a psychopathic chemistry teacher with nothing to lose. He can cook up some trouble no doubt!
Day 9Paid all the monthly bills finally! Did a lot of running around.
Day 10had lunch At Kay’s Gringo Postres. As you can tell we like to eat there a lot. The food is good, prices reasonable, but the company is usually amazing. Its like Cheers in Atenas, just no booze! Its where everyone knows you name!!! Well the new owners are working on it, but Kay let me tell you she is one sharp lady! We call her mom!
This was the special that day. Yummy!!! You get all this plus the dessert for 3,500 colones or $6.31
Again very yummy home made cheese cake! Still a little on the small side for my taste, but hell its FREE!!!!!!!!
Denise got a garden salad with an order of bacon! We love the bacon here!!!!
Day 11Didn’t really do much just hung out. I did finally have to put diesel in the car! I think even with all the trips we make to either Santa Ana or Escazu I only fill up once a month maybe 2x. Love my Toyota Furtuner.
Day 12 It was time to go to church! Well not that kind of church. Greggo’s Bar has a deal on Thursdays certain things you drink if you drink a min of 5 next week when you come in you get that number for FREE so its like a delayed BOGO deal on beer and some liquors! It is only Thursday and you have to redeem the next week or it is lost. Here was our meal at Greggo’s.
Oh and we had Ceviche, but I forgot to take a picture of it. Sorry! Consider my hand smacked! Steak was tasty. It was a little tough this night, but still not bad at all.
Day 13 Yep you guess it had lunch at Kay’s again. Normal stuff this time. Just salads and drinks. Again good lunch! We did go to a new place for dinner El Tronco and here is what we go for dinner. Everyone should eat here! Good food. Review will be coming. I know I owe you guys a lot of reviews! I will get them out I promise.
Day 14 was a do nothing day. I get a lot of those. Well I didn’t do nothing. Did lots of stuff around the house. Played with the dogs, went swimming, worked out. I cooked. We did eat after all. 🙂 If you want to see the food I cook you need to let me know. I’m not going to take the time to post it if you don’t want to see it. So drop me a comment on this post and tell me you want to see my cooking. 🙂
Day 15 I got to have Fathers day dinner at one of my favorite places! La Trocha!!! I will review them the next time we go. I love their food and the owners are wonderful. I am proud of myself we almost had a conversation in Spanish with them. The owner/chef doesn’t speak English and with our limited Spanish we actually had a conversation!!!!! Yea us! Every day we get better! Denise more than me, but we did it! Here is what we had:
Its hard to tell but that is a hell of a lot of food. If you go here and you eat there is no way you will go home hungry! We love all their pasta’s and steaks.
Day 16 We decided to try a different place for lunch today. Again I will review it in another post, but here is the food we had for the price listed on our budget.
Since we were out and we were in the area I did stop at PriceSmart. I got very little there. I mainly went in for dog good. This is what I come out with. You can never just go in and get the one thing you need. You always have to find more! Well I do anyway.
I got the 50lb bag of Kirkland dog food. So now I am set for dog food for a while. I had just ran out of this one. Remember I use it and the Super Perro just in case I can’t find one or the other. So I mix them. We did go in for treats as I’m running low, but guess what. NONE!!! No dog treats at all. No biscuits, not cookies nothing! This is why I buy so much when I do buy. You never know when it is going to be there or not. So you buy a few. I still have some left, but I’m going to start cutting them in 1/2 or else I may run out before Monday when I go back again or they may not have them yet again. So we will see.
Here is what the budget looks like. Yep day 16 and I have gone over my $2K budget. We can learn from this and we will keep going and see where I end up at the end of the month. Thank we can analyze it and see where I can do better. Thanks for reading and drop me a comment or two!
Don’t forget to check out our Amazon Page, and our Cafe Press page. Almost all our profits after expenses have been paid go to local Charties here in Costa Rica. So buy some stuff would ya!!!!! Also don’t forget to vote on which charity will get the money we raise. We have only raised like $12 so far. So that $24 with my matching donation. We need more people to buy more stuff! Come on help us out! Lets buy the stuff we want or need and at the same time help charity! The poll is at the top of the page. Vote and buy today!!!!!
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.
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.
If you have submitted your paperwork for residency and received your expedente papers you should have that as well.
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.
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.
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.
Sorry for the long update, but 7th and 8th were pretty boring days. Just sat at home, watched some TV. Started to watch the Orange is the new black, and trying to catch up on American Horror story. We are starting season 3 The Coven. Hopefully it is as good as the others were. We did some shopping and stuff on the 9th so lets get to that.
Day 9 was a busy day as Monday’s usually are. The housekeeper and Gardener was here. So that is when we do a lot of our running for the week as they will keep and eye on the dogs for us. We did happen to have a little mishap while we were gone. The gardener accidentally hit the pipe coming from the solar hot water on our rancho roof to the pool. 😦 He ran down to the gate and had them call our pool guy who came right out and patched it. He fixed it today on the 10th. So won’t see that bill until next month. He only sends a bill once a month. Otherwise the house ran smoothly while we were gone.
We went to see the dietitian as we do on Mondays. Had a good week my wife and I both lost weight. So cheers! Even though I am no longer on the diet she till wanted to weigh me and measure me. She is interested in how I am doing. She follows me on facebook and looks at my fitbit auto post to my timeline that shows what my exercise is and what I am eating. Its a great tool for weight loss.
After we were done there we heading to Escazu to go to Pricesmart to pick up dog food. Well we decided to have lunch at the Avaneda. We scoped out a place we have never been before. You will see it on the budget. It is our 1st time there and I doubt we will be back. I will be writing a review in the next couple of days so look out for that as well.
Lunch ran pretty long about 2 hours so by the time we were done I was kind of done so I wanted to head home. Then I realized we really need dog food and really need to pay the electric bill. So we head off to the bank to take out some cash. We head to the local grocery store which is really nice and in expensive. I also realized once we were there I needed to pick up a few other things as well so we walked the entire store. We also pay our Electric and Cable/internet bills there. I did make a mistake on my internet bill and have corrected it on the budget sheet. It was $90 a month but $57 for my 5Mbps download and 500Kbps upload service. Here is what I got at the market.
29,205 colones or $52.67
This is a 66lb bag. I will last a good while. I would say almost a month along with the 50lb bag I buy at pricesmart of the Kirkland brand. I buy both so I can mix them as there are times when for whatever reason I can’t find one or the other. So mixing them allows me to be out of on or the other without upsetting tummies. I will need a bag of Kirkland soon so hopefully in he next day or two I will go pick one up.
739 Colones or $1.33
It takes about 3 of these to equal the amount I got at Pricesmart. So that puts this at $7.98 and I paid $11.93 at pricesmart. ok I’m convinced I will get my Broccoli from Coop from now on!!!!!
1034 colones or $1.86
The onions I bought at maxipali same amount and actually these are a little bigger cost me 788 colones or $1.42 not worth an extra trip to save a few pennies. So Coop wins again! These actually looked better.
1,800 colones or $3.25
Again looks like the coop wins! This is 10 for $3.25 and they are bigger than the ones I got at Pricesmart where I paid $2.12 for 5.
336 colones or $0.61
We have a very clear winner on this one. Coop! These were bigger then what I got at Pricesmart and I paid $1.03 for 3 smaller ones. I’m starting to see the light how about you?
The next expense on our budget is the vet bill. When we came home out housekeeper showed us a spot where one of our dogs made a mess. The reason she left it for us to see is that it had some blood in it. So we had to run our poor little gizzy to the vet to be checked out. Here is Gizzy!
We still as of yet don’t know what is wrong, but Dr. Solano thinks it is some sort of intestinal something or other. He did put him on medication just in case. He wasn’t acting sick or looking sick. The bill was for the following:
Consult 9000 colones
Complete Hemograma 9500 colones
lopelisan shot 2300 colones
jeringa shot 1700 colones
poop sample 1150 colones
So the total bill was 23650 or $42.65
Most people say that Dr. Solano is one of the more expensive vets in town. That could be true, but he is well worth it! He is one great vet and is a pleasure to deal with and is very knowledgeable! We love, love, love him! That price is nothing compared to what I would have had to pay back it the states!
That pretty much covers I think everything. Here is the budget so far.
As you can see we had lunch at Kay’s again! We do love the place. We were there from 11:30 until about 3:30 today. Ate and had some good conversation with friends. So its a little more this time. I only got 2 salads and my wife got her 2 egg veggie omelets, but we got a lot of Coke Zero and Gin Light. Again the food was good as always! The salads have gotten much better!
Oh and Friday I will have a cost for repair of our weed whacker that I dropped off today. The gardener has not been taken care of it the way he should and he refused to use it until I got it fixed. Which is why he cut our pipe with the machete. As the repair guy told me nothing really wrong with it, but he replace the part that had a piece that broke off and he did some maintenance that needed to be done as its not being handled well. You are suppose to mix oil and gas together and than put it in the machine??? I had no clue and apparently neither did the gardener. So I am taking him with me Friday so they can show him what he needs to do from now on!
Still have 20 days left and I know I am not going to make it for under $2k. Well we will see. Once I am done we will do a recap of the month and see where things could have been eliminated and or saved money and such and see where that lands our final budget. Have a great day!
Oh and drop me a comment if you want to see more pictures and instructions on the food I cook here at the house.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
So day 7 nothing! Whoot! Have a great day! Onto day 8. Which is going to look a lot like day 7.
Day 6 was pretty uneventful. We didn’t do much other than go out to Kay’s Gringo Postres again for lunch. Had some good conversation with friends who happen to stop in while we were there. I did go out and buy a bowflex used, but I’m not putting that in the budget as it is an expense that isn’t normal every day stuff.
I got it for $400. Its in almost new shape so I think I got a deal on it. Now if I can figure out how the damn thing works I will be good to go. Have my own personal gym at this point. I brought down with us a treadmill and stationary bike. Now the bowflex. I should be all buff in no time at all! 🙂 So her is the budget to get you all caught up. Still have not gotten to the store to pay the electric or pick up the dog food. I should do that today! Or maybe go to a movie? Not sure we will see how the day goes. Have a great one!
Oh and the lunch at Kay’s was higher because I had 3 of the garden salads instead of 1. I was hungry. They had no dressing on them and I had them grilled. So it was 3 garden salads, 2 veggie omelets, 1 gin light, 2 coke zero’s and a full size chocolate cake! I love their chocolate cake!
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.
1100 colones or $1.98
3700 colones or $6.67
2600 colones or $4.69
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.
Gin light 1,800 colones $3.25 and the Coke Zero 1,460 colones or $2.63. Which is pretty good prices.
1,275 colones or $2.30
788 colones or $1.42
559 Colones or $1.01
1,000 colones or $1.80 These were really, really good!
4,517.50 colones or $8.50 this is 1/2 kilo or 1lb of sea bass.
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!
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.
You put the onions and peppers in with just a 1/2 teaspoon of evoo. Let them cook until they are nice and tender.
Than you add the mushrooms! Let it cook make sure you keep moving thing around so nothing burns.
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!
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.
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.
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?
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.
Add the peppers! Add salt and pepper at this point.
Now add the tomatoes and keep it moving.
Now the mushrooms!
The final product! It is very tasty! Sorry picture is a little blurry. So that is it for day 4 and 5.
I wake up in the morning at 5 am, but try to stay in bed until 6 am and then take in your beauty and I am thankful for that which you decided to present to me. It doesn’t matter if you have given me bright sun in my eyes that make me cringe as I pull my head out of the covers, or clouds that will bring rain. You bring something beautiful to me each day.
After I wake and you are presenting to me rain that my dogs will go out and play in and track mud all over the house and on the furniture and even me, I do wonder about your wisdom, but I understand that you must water yourself in order to bring that beauty to me each day.
Could you ask some of your creatures like the cane toads, snakes, tarantulas, and scorpions to see shelter in other areas and not in my yard or house that I share with my 10 dogs. They are a handful in and of themselves and well your wonderful and totally needed creatures do make it more of a challenge for me. So if you could direct them in another direction I would greatly appreciate it!
Oh and while I have you can I just say I can’t wait to explore more of you. You really are a super model of countries in the entire world. If I do say so myself I would rank you as the #1 super model!
Thanks for being who you are and all your wonders and challenges you bring to me every day I am thankful! Keep up the good work and we will talk again soon!
As of late people have been asking me why did I pick Costa Rica. So i have come up with my top 10 reasons I picked Costa Rica out of all the other places in the world to retire to.
1. Weather – Back in the Old country as I like to call it, Maryland we had extreme weathers. In our summer it would be 100+ with 95+ humidity. In the winter we would get below 0 temperatures, snow as deep as I am tall and ice! Oh by the Gods ice! Horrible. Here are two chats that kind of says it all about he weather really. Why wouldn’t someone want to live. Now this is Westminster Maryland where I lived and Atenas Costa Rica where I live now. Other areas and charts will look different. Costa Rica has so many climates within miles of each other. 🙂 So you can pick an choose without going far from where you want to be.
Maryland Weather 2013
Atenas Costa Rica 2013
2.Healthcare – I have only had a couple experiences so far and they have all been good. Check out this blog (Toto we are not in Kansas any more) I did on my experience with Cima hospital and the associated costs. Healthcare here is a fraction of what it is in the state. There are some complaints about the Caja, but I have also heard some really good stories about it. Yes if you have an elective surgery that isn’t an emergency you can wait a very long time to get it taken care of. This video explains a lot about the healthcare system. Getting up in age this was a major factor. Medical Tourism is very big here and it is growing each and every day. People are coming from all over the world to have procedures done.
3. People – They have been the best. I have never heard a bad word. They are polite and pleasant. They have always been helpful to us with anything we need. Now there are bad people just like everywhere, but the people we have had dealings with have been wonderful to us! Check out my post Just say no? I don’t think so! for an example. 🙂
4. Lifestyle – It is very laid back, and slow. I love that! In the States I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off. I never stopped to smell the roses. I didn’t have time for anything. Here it is very tranquil and easy. Check out this post on Pura Vida for a much better example.
5. Beauty of the land – Everywhere you go there is beauty. Even in the dry season you can find something beautiful to look at. The sunset, the ocean, the mountains, the volcanoes. You name it and it is so pretty here. Oh by the Gods when the rainy season comes and everything comes to life! The green is such a green I have never seen. The flowers just seem to bloom all year long. Rainy season or dry season they just seem to thrive. Its just beautiful here! You have to see it 1st hand to experience it fully. You can check out some of the wonderful beauty by clicking on the Categories tap and select photo and it will bring up all our photo’s of the day that we post every day!
6. Fun things to do – Where else can you go on a zip line, than see a volcano, soak in a hots spring, than visit a butterfly sanctuary all in one day. So much to do and so many places to do it at. Costa Rica has just about everything anyone can want to do. Scuba, rock climbing, nature preserves. We have been here over a year and still have not done all the stuff we really want to do. Granted we are living life, but there is so much it is going to take us a long time to do everything and see everything! You can’t stay for less than 10 days in order to get in enough stuff that you can say you truly sampled what Costa Rica has to offer. Once you have you will just want to keep coming back!
7. Cost of living – You will hear people say, “Oh it is so expensive here. It wasn’t like this 10 years ago!” Well guess what people it wasn’t like this 10 o 20 years ago ANYWHERE!!!!!! Cost of living increases each year. Nothing you can really do about that, but the cost to live here vs in the states is much lower. I’ve done two pieces so far on the cost of living comparisons. I’m working on more and will release them as I get them done. Here are links to the two that I have done so far. Housing and Groceries.
8. Property value – The property values here in Costa Rica are rising. So if you want to buy get it now! Go to our friends at Remax and start looking for a place now. More and more people are moving here and when you have a population explosion housing prices go up! Overall the costs is nothing compared to other places around the world. You can get a wonderful 3 bedroom 3 bathroom home with a pool and a wonderful views for under $150K. You can find houses for rent like this for $500 a month. Where in the US can you find a 3 bedroom 2 bathroom and a pool for $500 a month?
9. The view – Everywhere there is a wonderful view! Ocean view, Mountain views. You can’t turn around without seeing a wonderful view. Yes if you are in the heart of a city the view may not be so wonderful unless you know where to look. All the towns have the most beautiful churches and some wonderful parks. You can’t beat the view here! You just can’t! You can see some of them by going to the categories menu and select photo and it will bring up our Photo of the day posts! I think you will enjoy them a great deal!
10. The energetic feel of it is hard to explain. You step off the plane and it just feels good. You drive around town and you just feel good. You visit the beach and it just feels good. You take a drive to a mountain peek and look over the whole of Costa Rica and is just feels good. I love the energy of the land and I love the feel of everything here. Its like being wrapped up in your mothers arms and being held tight.
So that will do it. These are my top ten reasons I moved to Costa Rica. How abut you share yours with us as well in the comments section so others can see!
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. 🙂
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.
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! 🙂
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.
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.
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.
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!
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 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.
So while I was out gathering up prices for my Part 2 I took some video. We went to he Friday Faria in the center of Atenas. It is always nice to get out and support the local community. You can shop, eat, meet people and just have a nice time. So I hope you will enjoy this offering until my Part II is completed. I want to be sure to bring you all the correct pricing and information that I can. So grab your favorite drink, be it coffee, tea, or something with a little kick, watch and enjoy the video is about 12 minutes long, but worth the watch. I want to thank Eunice for coming a long and helping me with this video. She was a dream and a pleasure and showed me many things! Enjoy!
Costa Rica has a very particular banking culture. A couple of weeks ago, an expat related a story to me about her relative in the U.S. who was dissatisfied with his bank there. He had to wait for service, felt that he was being ignored, so he closed his accounts and withdrew from the bank. In Costa Rica, if you expect immediate service you will be disappointed.
The financial system in C. R. is small, just $ 40.639 US Million $ (Jan. 2014), however it is very stable. You can get all kinds of financial services and first order banking, including excellent access to internet banking, however, you must arm yourself with a little patience and prepare to wait an average of fifteen minutes in line at the bank. Lines can be long and service slow, especially in the national banks.
How secure is to invest in C.R.
The vast majority of financial institutions in C.R. are regulated by the government through the Sugef (Superintendent of Financial Institutions ) which issues a monthly rating on major financial indicators for each bank. It’s a pretty demanding state agency whose guidelines are obligatory for all institutions within the financial system. There are also several financial institutions which are not regulated, due to their small size.
In terms of financial and bank auditing, some banks are turning to local audit companies. Others, particularly some of the larger banks, use international auditing firms especially highly recognized worldwide such as Deloitte, Peat Marwick and Price Waterhouse. Coopenae is audited by Peat Marwick. These three audit firms are supported by Sugef to audit local financial institutions in C.R.
The C.R. financial system
The financial system consists of 51 financial institutions regulated by Sugef (Jan. 2014). Of these, there are 4 state banks, 9 private banks, 2 mutuals, some financial companies, and several credit unions. The majority of the 51 are small credit unions. In the past, there were more private banks, however in the last two decades, some have merged, leaving us with the present 9. The largest by assets is BAC San José and the third is Banco Davivienda, both from Colombian capital. The second is Scotiabank and the fourth, my bank, Coopenae, a credit union, the largest and strongest in C.R., which is internationally audited, with an outstanding financial performance and 100 % “Tica”.
Coopenae has been in the local financial market for more than 47 years and currently is the 4th largest credit union in Latin America. Our credit default rate for loans paid late (more than 90 days) has been under 1% for the last decade, it is currently well rated by Fitch Ratings and, as of March 2014, has more than 90.000 members, including expats investors from all over the country.
How to access C.R. banking system
Keep in mind that to perform banking transactions in C.R. (opening accounts, investments, internet banking, etc.) a “cédula” or residency card is required. The residency card is a permit to reside in the country (not as a tourist) but permanently while the document is in force. If you do not have yours, I suggest you start the process to get legal residency so you can open a bank account in Costa Rica.
The foregoing information has been provided by Mr. Asdrúbal Zamora of COOPENAE. He is in charge of investments and routinely helps foreign investors in Costa Rica with earning sound profits from their investment money. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Current CD Rates at COOPENAE:
A question was asked that I felt would be good to add tot his posting.
If you have a corporation could you open an account with that cedula.
As we are a credit union we cannot deal with corporations, only nonprofit corporations. Also, we don´t manage checking accounts, only savings accounts.
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 Stuffed with all kinds of fruit!
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!!!!
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.
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!
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!
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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:
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. https://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 out 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.
Doesn’t this pizza look so good! Its round and gooey and cheezy and has a little tickness to the crust. This is a picture of a pizza I made myself. I use to own my own Pizza and Sub shop. We had the best pizza in the area. Its not just me saying it I was told that by customers and even other pizza shop owners. This one I made here in Costa Rica. The cheezy goodness and the sauce and the pepperoni was just a blend and a wonderful explosion of flavor in your mouth. The crust was so nice and hand tossed with just the right thickness and herbs added in. The smell while it was cooking was amazing.
So is your mouth watering and do you wan to put a piece of pie in your pie hole yet? I’m know you do. You want to run out right now and go get a pizza like this one. Well guess what, YOU ARE NOT GOING TO FIND ONE LIKE THIS IN COSTA RICA!!!!! Nope you won’t. What you will find is what my wife and I like to call cheese and cracker type of pizza. No don’t get me wrong in the right mood I can eat a true Italian style crust pizza, but that is a very rare mood and it better have some good cheese, sauce and toppings.
Now there are 3 important things that make a really good pizza. The 1st is the crust. It has to be light an airy and have a little substance to it. It can’t be too dense or too airy. Doesn’t have to be 3 inches thick either. Again some people like that and that is ok and I prefer a thicker crust over a thin one. The crust should have some flavor to it and not be just dough. There should be some herbs and spices mixed in with the crust. It should be hand tossed and slapped out like a pizza was meant to be. This helps with the rising of the crust in the oven. It allows some air to get into the dough. When you cook the crust you don’t want to over cook it. A nice brown crunchy bottom and sides with a soft, but not raw texture inside.
The 2nd items is the sauce. It has to be a very good red sauce! Don’t give me none of that white pizza crap or the oil and garlic sauce crust! Yea ok it can taste good, but that isn’t a really good pizza sauce for a really good pizza. You can’t put too much on the pizza. if you over sauce it the dough won’t cook properly and if you under sauce it what is the damn point of putting sauce on it? You have to put a light coating of sauce on the pizza but not too light. Nice even coating. You want to think about a night breeze that is just cold enough for you to put on a light covering and not a huge winter jacket!!!!!!!!!! If you put the sauce on too heavy you crust won’t cook and can even be raw. Raw dough is not good at all! The sauce is where most of your flavor comes from.
The 3rd item is the cheese. You have to have good cheese. It should be a mozzarella and provolone blend. Don’t go buying that crap in the market ok. Go to a good store and buy some good cheese. Not shredded you want the kind that are in the shape of a ball. The shredded sits on top of the pizza like bamboo shoots a crossed its surface. It just doesn’t give it a good texture. The ball shape cheese melts very nicely and evenly over the entire pizza.
Now toppings are unimportant to a good pizza. They are just toppings people. Those 3 things are really all you need to make a good pizza. Now toppings do lend to make up for a fault in one of the three things above, but if any two of the three are bad you might as well be french kissing your dog! Its going to be about the same experience. People they are called toppings for a reason! They go on top of the pizza! Not burried on the bottom of the cheese or even worse the sauce!!! So put those things where they belong!!!!
Here are some example of what you will find and get here in costa Rica.
As you can tell from these pictures cheese and cracker. That is all you are going to get. Not that much cheese either and if you look the one even has the TOPPINGS under the cheese. Not good people not good! Now for what it is worth if you want a pizza these will do in a pinch. There is only one place I recomend here in Atenas for this type of pizza an that is Alida’s.
They have a good pizza, but it is a little expensive, but when you want a good pizza mind you cheese and cracker, Oh I mean traditional Italian pizza this is the best place to go. My wife likes to get their 4 cheese pizza as it has a little kick to it. Me I don’t get it at all really and only because their other food is so good! So she gets pizza and I get good Italian food! Works out well.
I give Alida’s pizza 3 out of 5 as their sauce is pretty good! They are a bit pricey I think their pizza is like $18. It is worth it if you are craving a pizza and are ok with the cracker crust. I gave them 3 because of their other food options are so good! If I had reviewed them as a hole they would have gotten 4 out of 5. Oh wait I just did! 🙂
Now mind you that isn’t the most expensive pizza either. There are some places that charge upwards of $25 for a 14 inch cheese pizza. Insanity!!!! I won’t go to those places to have pizza.
Now a really good pizza in Atenas is at Pizza Rica! Their crust is thicker than any crust I have seen in Atenas. Now you have your pizza hut and your papa johns pizza here, but I really don’t like those chains. Their crust is the traditional hand toss with a good thickness to it, but I just don’t like their sauce or their cheeses and their crust while thick has no flavor other than flour. Pizza Rica on the other hand has a very good pizza. No doubt and it is reasonable priced. Her is a link to them.
Ok so a couple things I have learned to help me adjust to Costa Rica and hopefully they will help you also.
1. Pura vida is taken very seriously by the locals and is really a way of life and a philosophy. Most expats don’t see it this way. They see it as a way to show up when you want, do what you want and just be lazy. This is not true. It is how they express the slow living. Yes it can be frustrating at times, but it is their way and we are not and should not try to change it. Even if you have residency or even have citizenship, but you were born somewhere else you are still a visitor to this country. Embrace their way of life and keep it simple. This one is what I think is the most important of all the tips I can give. It will help you in every aspect of living here in Costa Rica. Enjoy it and take it to heart and don’t let your life in your home country spoil the experience you will have here.
2. Going..Going…GoneIf you see it, you like it, you better buy it! It won’t be there when you get back. This equates to many things and in different ways. 1st example furniture. If you go into a store like Ashley’s and see a sofa you like. Get it now! Don’t walk away from it! Some might buy it out from under you. They don’t have a stock room! What you see is what you get. 2nd example is food products. I buy a number of things and minced garlic is a necessity in my house! I buy it at Pricesmart. Now they usually have it and I buy maybe one jar. Well they were out of it for 3 months at one point. So when it came in I bought 5 jars and anytime I go I buy 1 jar and try to keep a min of 6 in my pantry. That will get me though any drought. 🙂 Than there is the times when it just won’t be sold anymore. My wife loves the pineapple jelly at Pricesmart. We would buy it every time we went there. One day we go and its gone. That was over 6 months ago. 😦 So I asked a couple people and what I was told was if an items sells really well they will stop selling it. Its more trouble to keep restocking it , so its better to not carry it. So keep this in mind when you are shopping. If you have space buy the bulk quantity or follow the buy it now policy! Good luck!
Consistency?The lack of this can drive an expat insane here. As an example you can go into a restaurant and order the same food over and over again prepared by the same cook and get a different dish every time. Now this doesn’t happen everywhere and all the time, but it does happen a lot. 1st example is a restaurant where I get consume de pollo (Gringo speak chicken soup) sometimes they use real chicken broth and it is a wonderful soup with a poached egg and chicken meat. There are other times it is made with the powder stuff they have here which I really do not like. 2nd example is salads. This happens a lot. You order one and it comes with certain items lets take for instance a chef salad. You get your lettuce, tomatoes, onions, broccoli, cucumbers, and avocado all standard in a salad. Now what makes it a chef is it is topped with meat like bacon, ham, cheese, and sometimes chicken or steak. You my order it one time and it has all these things. Next time it has none of the meat items except maybe bacon. The next time bacon, ham, chicken. You get the idea. Again all this is from the same place and the same cook who prepares it every day. I just look at it like every time I eat out it is an adventure and what I get I get and no matter what it is going to be tasty! Well most times. 🙂 Go with it people its an adventure!
4. Posted hours of operation We learned very quickly that yes most places have their hours that they are open posted, but we have also learned that is subject to change and be altered without notice. Also keep in mind most are closed for lunch. Yes even a restaurant will close for lunch! Now that can range from 1 hour to 3 hours in the middle of the day. So we head out for dinner and we know that we should not have our heart set on any one place to eat. We go to the 1st place that should be open and it isn’t so we drive until we find a place that is and we eat there. There was one time when we drove to 4 places before we found one that was opened. Next day I asked around to see if there was some holiday or event I didn’t know about? Nope there wasn’t. Now why is this? See #1 above as one of the answers to this question. The next answer did shock me a little when I was told this by a couple owners. If they make enough money they will close and take the day off. Again see #1. There are also family emergencies that happen. You have to remember most of these places are family owned and run so if something happens they are closed. There is also the no show of the employees. Again this could be for many reasons but see #1. They don’t have a lot of employees that if one or two or Gods forbid all of them get sick that they can just call someone else to fill in for them. So they close. All of this is understandable. So you have to be a little relaxed and understanding and know that you may head to one place, but end up somewhere totally different!
5. Ouch my ears!Costa Rica can be a noisy country. The locals love their music and they love it loud! Not all areas are this way, but most will have some sort of noise you may not be use to. Parties start at 9 pm or later and can go all night long. Can’t tell you how many times a neighbors house has had a party and they did loud Karaoke until 2 or 3 am. Now mind you I have had my party or two, but lets face it us old expats go to bed pretty early here so my party started at 5 pm and ended at 10 and the music and loud horrible Karaoke stooped at 9 pm. 🙂 They do love their fireworks here! You never know when you are going to hear the bangs and see the light show. Than there is the wild life and depending on the areas you live in there could be Howler monkeys, you will mostly have birds, there can be roosters, cows, horses, pigs, and dogs! There are all manner of sounds. The animals of Costa Rica do not know what time it is. So i f you think you are only going to hear a rooster 1st thing in the morning you are so wrong. They make noise all hours of the day and night! Dog you can hear barking all the time. Most locals don’t keep their dogs in the house so they are outside all day and all night or even roaming the streets. So be prepared for dogs barking! So you can either complain about all the noise or adjust your habits. I recommend a good set of headphones to sleep with at night. Me I can sleep though almost anything. My wife on the other hand puts in ear buds and listens to something I have no clue what she is listening to while she is sleeping. It is an adjustment no doubt. Again it may be noisy but the beauty that comes with it is well worth the noise. the birds and the monkey’s and the wild life is so great here.
Well those are my top 5 tips to help you visit and live in Costa Rica. I hope you find it informative and helpful and just remember we are here and this country is what it is and they have a way of life that is different from our own. We are not here to change them or make them more like us, if that is what you want to do while you are here you are going to be very, very unhappy. Embrace the difference. Live in the moment and enjoy the wonders that Costa Rica has to offer you while you are here.
So I just read an article on the Costa Rica times and it got me to scratching my head. I am going to pull specific points that I want go go over and explain how I feel he made it harder on himself. I had this same issue and it was nothing to fix it. Easy and was done in 24hrs.
“I hate calling customer support in Costa Rica as it ends up being a complete waste of time and energy so I thought I would circumvent this nuisance by going to the office in Jaco and speaking to an actual person to explain my problem.
I think I decided to make my errand running day on the hottest day of summer at the beach, Checking the temperature it was 89 degrees but felt like 107. After picking up a couple of packages at Aerocasillas I went by the Cable Tica office at about 12:30. I expected it to be closed as it was lunch time but the sign on the door said “We will be back at 2:30″. I can normally kill 30 minutes to an hour but killing 2 hours is not all that easy.”
1st you may hate calling them, but you can do it from the comfort of your own home and you would not have had to stand out in the heat of the day and or kill time. Especially when you know it is going to feel like 107 outside! That is insanity. I don’t know about you, but I know that if they close for lunch, which mind you they all do why would you show up at 12:30? You expected it to be closed. So why go there? I’m confused by this. Again I know that most places that close for lunch I assume won’t open back up until 3pm. So you leave your house, you do an errand you could have done on the way home not on the way there an you arrive at lunch time when you knew they would be closed? You think it is their fault? So that was your 1st mistake here. You should have made it your 1st stop when they opened. Actually your 1st mistake was not calling customer service.
“The answer was one that most of us living in Costa Rica have received……that is not my job, here is the number of customer service. I tried desperately to have her arrange a technician to come to my home……..the answer was no, there would be no thinking outside the box nor proactive client support.”
Well of course this was your answer. Its not a matter of them thinking outside of the box it is a matter of the way things are done. In the states you can’t just walk in and say I need a technician to come out to the house and they will send one. Just doesn’t happen. You call the customer service number. Again if we did do mistake #1 by not calling them in the 1st place this would not have been an issue.
“I wonder how people that do not speak Spanish get to the English menu on the customer support lines in Costa Rica. “Para ingles marque dos” – if you do not know Spanish how would you know to push 2 for English?”
Ok so you come to a country and you expect it to be in English? ok another mistake. Here is the thing. I don’t have a lot of Spanish, but I knew a few things before i got here. If I made a call and I heard that I would have picked up Ignles and Dos, Which I think 99% of English speakers would know to press 2 for English from that. I know that on my cabletica its 9.
” I then went through explaining my problem in Spanish after which he said please hold and hung up on me. YAY!!!!”
Yes because this never happens in the states at all when you call big companies. I can’t tell you how many times I would spend a ton of time on the phone with someone telling them my issue and they go, “Please Hold” and the call is disconnected.
““Can you please send someone out to my house to check the signal for more than 3 seconds?” I begged.
“No…let me tell you how to reset your modem.”
I hung up as I was not in my house nor did I want to hear her anymore.”
OH my god really? This is what they all do. I can’t tell you how many times this has happened to me in the states. It is part of their check list and it is what they have to do in order to go though it. Why did you call when you were not at your house and couldn’t do what she asked? Again you mistake not theirs.
“I returned home that evening and spoke to a friend of mine on Skype during which the call dropped about 6 times in a matter of 20 minutes. I asked him what can I do to get someone at my house. The answer although ridiculous I knew was true. When I called customer service I needed to unplug the modem and tell them that the lights were on but that there was no Internet.
This is Costa Rica, it is just one of the games you have to learn to play to adjust to life in the country. I still love it here but sometimes I need to vent.”
OK this isn’t ridiculous at all. I have had to do this in the states a number of times to have them come out.
This experience would have been no different in the states if the writer did this same thing. He would have went thought all the same stuff. So no Costa Rica is no different in this regard than anywhere else in the world!
Now let me tell you how I handled it when our got hit by lightning here and it wasn’t dead, but it was having issues. So I unplugged it and I called the customer service number and pressed 9 for English. Now I had to hang up and do this a couple times as it still gave me Spanish options, but that is ok I was in the comfort of my own home so no worries. I did get someone who spoke English. I than told them my problem and he said, “let me walk you though resting your modem” I did not move off my couch. I said I did it all and he said, “Ok we will send someone out”. I than said, “Can you send a new modem with him it seems the lights are all non-functioning so I think it should be replaced.” He than said, “Yes sir that is not a problem” Guess what the next day someone was here with a new modem and my issue was fixed!
Ok so why do we make things so hard on our selves? Really if you don’t know how things are done here and have been here more than 3 months you should know. If you don’t know maybe call a friend or ask someone on Facebook who has lived here. Check out one of the many Expats groups that have a ton of information on just about everything when it comes to living in Costa Rica. This guy was just looking to cause himself more problems than what was needed.
Isn’t that just a wonderful picture? So todays blog is going to be about power outages in Costa Rica. Yes Virginia there is a power outage fairy living and loving Costa Rica. Why not it is a great place to live so the outage fairy came here as well. The truth be told my power went out more in the States in my little town of Westminster than it has here, but it does happen just as it happens everywhere in the world.
Some of the biggest reasons for power outages are Storms like the one in the picture above, high winds, fires, and last but not least upgrades. Costa Rica’s power infrastructure isn’t the best in the world. It isn’t the worst either. In the states the average cost per kw is 12.9 cents. Here in Costa Rica it is 32 cents. That is a huge difference. It is estimated that about 93% of their power comes from renewable sources such as wind, solar, hydro and such. So one would think it would be cheaper. So I looked into this. It seems from my research that Costa Rica owes the world bank a huge debt to maintain its current infrastructure. The price is what the price is. If you wish to come here and use A/C all the time you may want to rethink where you are going to live and the need for A/C. I was an A/C hog back in the states. I use to keep my thermostat set at 65 all year round. We never opened up our home and it was horrible, but I didn’t know that until I started to live here in the Central Valley where it is the perfect climate and I have no need for A/C. We like to say we live indoors, but outdoors at the same time. Its great! So back to my point.
During the rainy season we do get more outages than I would like, but they are quick and painless. I think the longest my power has been out due to some natural interference has been 6 hours. The shortest was 20 minutes. I do have to give them credit in that when it goes out rain, sun, or wind they are out trying to restore the power. I have seen them on poles in the pouring rain with lighting flashing all around trying to restore power. It is insane, but I want to thanks them for their service. Many people complain about the power outages. I look at them as natures way of telling me to unplug and go enjoy the day!
During the dry season it isn’t as bad. No rain and no lightning. There is however high winds and fires. So far this year I can only contribute one outage to fire and none to high winds. It was not out that long, but only because they had to get the fire under control 1st and then they could repair the electric. Which they did both very swiftly I might add.
The hardest part for me and the only reason I would even think about a generator here is when it goes out in the middle of the night. Back home it went out so many times I install a very large propane generator. I have a condition called sleep apnea. It is a condition which requires me to use a machine while I sleep to keep air flowing into my lungs so I get the proper amount of oxygen while I sleep. Now when the power goes out I no longer had the use of this machine. Back in the old country as a lot of expats like to call their originating country, I had to have a generator our power went out so many times and could be out for days. If I sleep without the machine it puts my life at risk from not breathing and my wife killing me from the snoring! 🙂 I am still thinking of adding a small battery backup system to keep my bedroom powered while I sleep so I live though the night and my wife doesn’t go to jail for murder. 🙂
So lets wrap this one up. If you are coming to Costa Rica either to live or to visit expect that you are going to have power outages. You can be thankful if you don’t get one while you are here, but know you might. If you are living here you will have them and electric is going to cost you. Make sure the house you buy its electrical systems is done well. Try to use as little as possible. It will save your pocketbook. So if the power does go out unplug, go outside and enjoy the day. When you return it will be back on no doubt and if it isn’t read a book, sit in the sun or breeze, meditate and just relax! All things will return to normal in time.
This is a screen that many of us in Costa Rica are use to seeing. this blog I am going to be talking about the internet, providers, and various services and tips to help you navigate the world wide web in Costa Rica. There are a lot more then you would think. In my little town of Atenas we have I.C.E., Cabletica, Crwifi, Metrowireless, Kolbi, Sky, and Claro. Other areas have other services like Tigo, Japi, and many others. I can’t speak to all of these services in this blog, but I will try to touch on them all. I will however speak to a couple that I am using and testing here in Atenas and what others have said about them.
So where to start? Lets start with what services like Neflix you can get in Costa Rica. NONE! Nope None! Well that isn’t true. You can get a modified version of US Netflix in Costa Rica. You however can not get any of the major TV stations like ABC, NBC, CBS, etc. You can nto use amazon or hulu either. Now wait before you say, “Oh hell no I am not moving to visiting Costa Rica!” There is hope. There are a number of services you can use that will make it look like you are in the US or some other country. Is this legal well lets just say no one is coming after anyone yet so it seems to be a big business. I have tried two of these services. One I was happy with and than Hulu and Amazon figured it out and I could not use them any more. The other I have been with and happy for a long time now. That service is called unblock-us. Don’t let the name fool you as it unblocks everywhere. I watch BBC shows from Costa Rica using this service. It is seamless and I have not experience any slowdowns. Some of these VPN services slow your system down and you are already going to be slower then you are use to so you don’t want this. Now some of these services say they are free, but they are not. Don’t be fooled. Nothing in this world is free. unblock-us at the time of this cost $4.99 a month. It is well worth the price. If you are tech savvy you can change your router settings and every device in your network will be able to access any and all services anywhere in the world. You can also use it to change settings on your device as well. This is great! Lets say you go to the local Cafe and want to stream a movie while you are there. If you don’t have the settings on you device then it won’t work. This service allows you to do both ways! Its great! I am not being paid to say this. It is the service I use and I love it!
So now you know you can get these services with a little help from our friends. Now you need to decide what is the speed you need? Back in the states I had over 175Mbps dowloand and 75Mbps upload. I was a faster is better type of person. Get that the hell out of your head now! You are not getting those speeds in Costa Rica. You are not even going to get close.
Now my history. I am a huge gamer. I play everything from Facebook games to MMORPG’s like WoW, Rift, ST:TOR, Guildwars, etc. Right now my main game is Rift. So yes with the right provider and speed you too can still game. Don’t expect a FPS of 27 or a ping rate below 100. I do everything from PvP to Dungeons and raids and have little to no issues. So what are you going to do? I game, stream video, take video conference calls, skype, use vonage (us phone number), and I have even live streamed to Facebook my dogs playing in the back yard! 🙂 So yes there is hope! You may do some of these things or all of these things. You can do them. So here is a chart that explains what they say you need to use these services.
Note: Internet speeds listed representDownloadspeeds.
0.5 Megabits per second – Required broadband connection speed
1.5 Megabits per second – Recommended broadband connection speed
3.0 Megabits per second – Recommended for DVD quality
5.0 Megabits per second – Recommended for HD quality
7.0 Megabits per second – Recommended for Super HD quality
12 Megabits per second – Recommended for 3D quality
I currently have two services in my home. I have a company called Cabletica at 5Mbps and Metrowireless at 2Mbps. I have streamed on the 2Mbps Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and a few other services at HD quality. I have not tested 3d and I have no clue and have not seen anything listed as Super HD quality. So I can’t speak to those. You can bet they will work on less if I can do HD with 2Mbps when it is 5Mbps recommended. Also keep in mind I stream a movie and play a video game online all at the same time with the 2Mbps and the 5Mbps and I have seen no difference in the quality. Now your results could vary from mine. There are so many factors. So let me explain how I got to where I am.
When I first moved to Costa Rica I had Cabletica at 10Mbps. We had all kinds of issues. Stops, starts, buffering, and outages. So needless to say I was getting frustrated. I couldn’t even stream youtube without an issue. You are then going to say, “But you still have cabletica?” That is correct I do. I will get to why in a minute depending on how fast you read. So, I decided to start looking for other services. I heard about a company called CrWifi. Great! So I call and talk to them. I explain I am a heavy user and wanted to be sure they are an unlimited services. They told me yes. I then spoke to a couple friends who have or had them and they tell me No. If you use to much bandwidth they will call you and complain and start to slow you down and even cut you off. So not really an unlimted data plan. So I called back to verify this for myself and this was true. So I had them put a router in my home to test our usage and see what they would charge me. Was I surprised? Oh hell yes. I was looking at a 12Mbps service at bursting. You don’t want a bursting service. They came back with a monthly total for my usage at $500 a month! Yes I said $500! They were crazy. So my search continued. So I found Metrowireless in my search. They seemed reasonable with their prices. I called and verified their prices and what they had was unlimited and it was. So I started out with them at 6Mbps. Now I decided and glad I did to keep the cabletica until I was sure metro was better. Well it wasn’t! So now I have 10Mbps and 6Mbps and can’t even get 8Mbps combines between the two. So I was paying for service that I wasn’t not getting. So I was not happy. So I began to use speed tests on each service at various times of the day. Yes your service does change depending on the time of day. You have to remember that your service is being shared and there is a finite amount of bandwidth. So my average on each servuce was 5Mbps with Tica and 2Mbps with metro. I down graded my services to those numbers and have been very happy. You experience could be different with the higher speeds. The only way you will know is get the higher service and if it doesn’t work out, test your speeds and then down grade like I did.
Now why 2 services? Well that is simple. When one goes down the other is up! I have yet to have both services go out at the same time. I pay $55 for Tica and $33 for metro. Now tica will only give you internet if you have TV as well. I pay about $30 for the Tv service. So my total monthly is about $125 a month with taxes and fees.
In the states most people pay more than this for TV, Phone and Internet. Now granted their internet speeds are faster, but to be honest I don’t notice the difference. I still do all the things I did in the states here. Now uploading video and pictures and such is a little harder. All of these services do not offer very fast uploads. I have .5Mbps on cabletica and 1Mbps on Metro. So uploading is a but of a challenge. Large video’s are an over night thing. So I try to keep my video’s to a min or less in length. Pictures are not too bad. If you do have large files I would suggest put them in a Que and let them run all night while you are sleeping. 🙂
So lets look at how much this really is. unblock-us $4.99, Hulu 7.99, Netflix 9.99, Amazon prime (free streaming) $7.00 and Cable Tv and internet with two providers is $125. So for me to stream and watch all my TV shows it costs roughly $155. I get all my TV and movies. When I look at what I was paying back in the states it is cheap. In the states I had all the channels and the fastest speeds available and it cost me over $250 a month so $100 a month cheaper and my life is no different when it comes to my TV and internet habits.
So if TV and internet is important to you then expect to pay for it and expect to have slower speeds then you are use to. Like I said my wife and I are heavy users and we found a system that works for us and I am sure you can find a system that will work for you as well.
So lets wrap this up. Slower speeds, Higher prices, and outages should be expected. Streaming TV and movies, playing online games, skype, video conference, telephone and other services do work. So yes you can have a good experience with your internet here in Costa Rica if you are willing to change you mind set!
Yep you guessed it there is fire!!!!! So I have been living here in Costa Rica Atenas area for 13 months now. We are now deep into our 2nd dry season. Last season we didn’t personally experience too many fires. What we did experience were either far away or done by the time we knew about them. This year we had a scare. A fire came very close to our home in Atenas. So that got me to thinking, “Why are there so many fires? How do they start?” So I started to look around as we travel though our daily lives paying attention to the burnt areas and current fires and I have picked my top 3 reasons which I will go into later.
The reason for this blog is to explain to people who are thinking of moving here or visiting why we who live here now are not that thrilled with dry season and why we like Rainy season so much better. Lets look at it from the perspective of someone who is coming here for a vacation or to check it out. You are going to come during dry season. So what you are going to see is black hill sides , brown grass and just a very dry place. You won’t have rain no doubt, which is what you are trying to avoid, but Costa Rica is so pretty in the Rainy season. You must come and visit both times of the year if you are thinking of moving here.
Now because most people avoid coming here during Rainy season prices jump! Hotel prices, food prices, everything goes up in dry season. Yes it is all your fault you vacationers. 🙂 So those coming to live here see it as expensive. Those vacationing see it as a little expensive, but expect it as its a tourist area they are in and are only going to be here for a short time and they budgeted for the costs so no worries on their end. You who have come to visit to see if you want to live here really did pick the bad time of year to experience it.
Now those of us who live here we do love our Rainy season. The landscape is lush and pretty and colorful. These same areas are now black from a fire and brown from no rain. The rainy season varies from area to area. So right now I can only speak from my experience here in Atenas. Last rainy season we got a lot of rain, but it was in the afternoon for an hour or two. The morning was bright and sunny and so was the afternoon. It did rain every day like this. We only experienced one day where it was cloudy and rainy all day and even then the rain was light with the exception of an occasional heavy down pour. The afternoon shower isn’t just a shower. Its like the heavens opened up and is just dumping huge buckets of water on your head. Its amazing and it is beautiful to watch when you are up in the mountains like we are. I love watching the clouds move in and cover everything. The cloud actually comes into the house. Now it is as scary as it is beautiful. The lighting is crazy! Its beautiful and deadly. We do usually have power outages, but the longest it has ever been out is 4 hours. Our home back in the states we needed to put in a generator as if the power went out from a storm it could be days before it comes back on.
The other issue in rainy season is insects. They do come out more as they are looking for a dry place to be. So that is a bit of a challenge. If you are coming to live here and have pets you will need to be watchful of cane toads. They are deadly to pets like dogs who may bite them. They are always here, but you see them in large quantities during rainy season as there are more insects for them to eat. If a small dogs bits one they will die in a manner of 15 minutes if they do not receive treatment. Larger dogs you have a little longer. So while rainy season is beautiful and wonderful it does have its challenges. We currently have 10 dogs and I am not looking forward to the cane toads.
Rainy season may not have fires, but they do have landslides. So you do have to be very careful when walking or driving in rain storms. The landslide can come out of no where.
This dry season we had a fire that came very, very, very close to our house. It started on one of the main roads out of town and worked its way up the hill to our community and started down the hill toward our house. Here is a picture.
This picture is from our yard when we began to smell the smoke. There is a White house with a red stripe at the top of the hill. That is the house where it began to come down into the community. The house to my knowledge thanks to the bomberos (gringo speak fire department) only had smoke damage and lawn burned. The house I believe sustained no fire damage. It began to travel down the hill side of that house and toward our house. It go so close we could hear the crackle of the fire. In most cases this wouldn’t be an issue. We have insurance that covers fire and things are things. All our memories are on a hard drive I can grab and run, but we have 10 dogs! 3 large and 7 smaller. So fire makes this not a fun idea for us if we need to run. I know, I know have less dogs. That isn’t going to happen so we have to figure out how to get 10 dogs in a car quickly and get out of dodge. This fire has made me realize the need for speed! It came quick and fast and we hung in there, but we were just minutes away from saying lets get the fuck out of here! Here are just a few more pictures of the damage that happens in dry season.
This is the hill it came down. So it went up to here and then down.
This is where it started and made its way to our house.
So why are there so many fires in dry season, well other than the obvious that everything is dry? Fires don’t just start something has to cause them right? Yes, I would say that is a good assumption. So then why so many and how do they start. I have a couple of theories and these are my top ones.
During dry season they harvest Sugar Cane. When they do this they burn the fields for one reason or another. They have been doing this for many, many years. It is actually illegal to do it, but no one says anything and it continues to happen. So they do their “controlled” burn. Well winds pick up and carry embers to other areas that than hit the dry ground and start another fire.
Litter is one of the biggest reasons, in my opinion for these fires. You will drive along the road and see the side of the road a fire had been there. You look around and can’t see why it would have started. There are a couple of factors when it comes to litter.
The 1st and most dangerous is a lit cigarettes being tossed out the window. I would hope the locals would know better, but people can be stupid. Now tourists have no clue so I think they are more at fault with the throwing of lit items out the car window.
The second is glass bottles discarded on the side of the road. They are as dangerous as a lit cigarette. The sun here is very hot and very strong. A glass bottle will act as a magnifying glass, so the sun will start a fire just as quick as if you put a match to the dried grass. I do believe this is how a lot of those road side fires start. Broken glass anything laying in the ground that could magnify the sun.
So lets wrap this one up shall we. Dry season is just that dry. Everything is brown and dirty and dusty and there are fires. Rainy season don’t avoid it, it really isn’t that bad. Everything is lush and green and much more beautiful than dry season. You do have increased insect activity and landslides. So nothing is perfect. If you are just a tourist come dry or rainy season you will enjoy it. If you are looking to live here, be sure to visit at the peek of both seasons so you know what you are getting yourself into.
I guess you are expecting a post about wind or weather or some other nature event that will sweep you away? Nope not what I am going to be talking about in this blog. Today I am going to tell you about my experience at Cima Hospital, but to do that I have to give you a little background. So One Tuesday I went out with friends for dinner and the next morning I woke up and felt like death warmed over. I didn’t want to move and I was exploding out of the area below my belly button, well to put it nicely. I think you will get what I am talking about. This went on all day. So go to bed and wake up Thursday morning and I feel right as rain. No more issues and felt good. So I thought something I ate or just a 24 hour bug or something. Thursday night I go to bed and I start to feel dizzy and light headed. I am diabetic so my 1st thought was low blood sugar. So I check it. Nope blood sugar normal. So what is this feeling? Maybe vertigo? So had a pill to take for that. Few hours later still feeling bad. Got into bed and the room started to spin! OK now what? So maybe my blood pressure. So I pull out the blood pressure cuff and check that. We have a winner! Give that artery a prize! My blood pressure was a bit high and it isn’t usually that high, but the kicker was my pulse was very low for me. It was 54. I’m usually at low 80’s. So I watch it thought the night. I wake up Friday and again feeling right as rain! So I head off to my dietitian for our weekly meeting to go over our diet, how much we lost and such. Yes when I came to Costa Rica I was 298lbs. I am now 237lbs in a year, but that is for another blog. So I get started and all of a sudden I feel like shit. I cancel my appointment and go straight to dra. Candy here in Atenas. She runs some tests and decides I need some meds and to be monitored. So over he weekend I take my pressure and pulse and watch it so that I can call her on Monday. I call give her the readings and she say, “You should make a cardiology appointment right away.” She then gives me the name and number of someone over at Cima. Now keep in mind that back in the states this would take forever to do. I would have had to go back to the doctor to go over my numbers. I couldn’t just call them up or email them or Facebook them like we do here. So I hang up and call the number she gave me. I have an appointment the next day at 11:20. No way! Really? Cool! Never would have happened in the states. Tuesday comes and I go in. Her office is a little crowded. We wait our turn and 11:20 comes and goes, but we get in at about 11:50. Not bad if you ask me. I have been to my doctor in the states and had to wait 1 to 2 hours past my appointment time. Now also keep in mind all I did was check in at this point and let the receptionist know I was there. No information other then my name was given. Go into the office and meet the doctor. We sit down and she then takes my information and my history and puts it right in the computer. Wait what? I don’t have to give it to like 2 or 3 different people and than have the doctor ask me all the same questions again? Really? Ok nice. So we are done and she has me get undressed and puts me on the table. She take and hooks me up to an EKG and a sonogram machine. She does all the tests. Says it looks good, but would like to run a couple more to be sure, since I am diabetic and I have lost a lot of weight. She says, “You have a new body now we should see how it is working.” I love that! So I say ok when can we get this scheduled. She gave me a couple different options that same week, but we had a wedding to go to so I asked if it was ok to do when we get back. She said yes and we made the appointment for Monday. No keep in mind I would have been able to have these tests done the same week. I also need to get some blood tests. This I can do in Atenas. So go the next morning to do the blood tests. I walk into the lab, give them my name, and the paperwork from the doctor. I go to sit down to wait and she calls me right in. So in and out in less than 10 minutes. Tells me to come back in two hours to pick up results. Wait really? I don’t have to wait for them to be sent to the doctor and then set up a new appointment? Nope pick them up. So I do and than I, now get this, email them over to the doctor myself and she lets me know via email they are all good! Again not another appointment? Ok cool. Fast forward to toady Monday less than one week from my appointment and we are at Cima to have the other tests run. So my appointmenst are Eco Stress test at 9am, abdominal sonogram at 10am and sonogram of my carotid arteries at 10:30am. I’m thinking ok this isn’t going to be good. Go in show the receptionist my paperwork from the doctor. She takes my passport and puts the info in the computer. Tells me how much and I make the payment. I then go to the next room, show my receipt and than 5 minutes later they call me in to give me my 1st test. Oh my god guess who is there to give me my test? Yep my doctor! The nurse take a little info for Cima’s records as it was my 1st time there and than hooks me up for my Eco stress test. Test was conducted by my doctor! Amazing! Not some lab tech, but my doctor. She gives me the results right then and tells me everything looked wonderful. So no stressing over waiting for the results. So now I go out to wait for the other two test. Now I’m early. So appoint was at 9 and I was in and out by 9:20. Now I have to wait for my 10am. So I wait. Now this one was a little longer. My last appointment was at 10:30. They didn’t call me in until 10:50. I go in they sit me down. They have all my info don’t ask me anything else. Tells me what I am here for and why and what I have. Doesn’t ask but tells me. He than does his thing and takes care of all the other tests and sends me on my way. Now I have a 2pm appointment to see my doctor to go over the tests. So we go have lunch. We go back to the hospital after a nice relaxing lunch with some really good food and pick up my last two test results to take to the doctor with us. Yes 2 hours later pick up results and take with us! Amazing! Go in and sit and by 2:10 we are called in. We talk and chit chat a bit. She tells me I am healthy with some minor issues. So she gave me a med for my blood pressure to see if it keeps it low, but she will take me off if it looks ok. She also gave me a pill as my liver and pancreases did have some fat issues, but very minor and not to worry about it. So she gives me 10 days worth of pills and send me home and tells me to try them and email her if I have any issues and she will reevaluate me. Now here is the real kicker. I had 3 or 4 pages of blood work done, 1 Eco stress test, a complete sonogram of my liver, kidneys, pancreases, and heart. and 2 doctor office visits. The entire bill was under $1K. That is out of pocket with no insurance. Well I have insurance, but I will have to summit it on a claim form to get it back. c7
OK, so now that I got your attention. 🙂 Recently I have been discouraged by people talking smack about Costa Rica and decided to ask a question and see how it gets answered. I went on Facebook and posted the following message on a couple expat groups I belong to.
“So here is a question for those who have lived in Costa Rica for more than 12 months. Would you do it all over again? If you would what is the 1 thing you would do differently. If you wouldn’t why wouldn’t you do it again? I will use some of the responses in a blog I am writing. I will give your Facebook name as credit or let me know you don’t want me to use your name and I will just do anonymous.”
So before I give you their responses and there were a lot of them, I should give you my response.
Yes I would do it all over again. I guess the one thing I would have done differently is came here sooner. I could have moved here many years ago and I didn’t. If I had I could have tried to make some opportunities for some family and friends to have join me here if they wanted to. Do I miss my family and friends? Yes with all my heart. We Facebook and Skype to keep in touch and up to date. We do however go back 2x a year and see everyone and some have come to visit us here. So it does work out. Is it hard? Very much so, but for me it was a great decision as my health has improved 100%. I may blog about those changes later.
Now I did hand pick them only because so many of them actually said the same thing. Not that I was surprised by that, but no need to have 100 posts saying the same thing. So here are the responses in no particular order. Great advise if you are thinking of moving here.
Rick Vollman I would do it all over again. I am extremely humbled and never have to worry again about what I have and I don’t have. Washing dishes by hand, filling up ice trays. I don’t miss a thing from the states.
Sara Pompey Ford I would do it all again without the slightest hesitation. If I was going to do anything differently, it would be to have brought more friends and family with me.
Nel Cameron I would do it again in a heartbeat. Differently? I would have brought more stuff in my container. We had loads of room but just no time to think it through.
Steve Johnson Would do it again, but would not live near my totally useless in-laws!!!!!!!!!!
Cathy Glasner We moved 13 months ago and would do it again!! What would we do differently?? Would not have shipped a car, would have bought one in CR!
Sarah Starkey I would have imported a good 4WD car, with a known maintenance / ownership history, from the US instead of renting from overpriced CR rental agencies for months, renting a REALLY crap car from a private party for several months and finally, buying a REALLY REALLY crap car from a “trusted friend” who, it turns out, would probably sell his own mother if there were money involved. In the end, I would have saved thousands of $$ and the headaches of paperwork, etc. would have been worth it.
Dianne Hill Fischer Would do it again. I Would work harder on learning Spanish before I came. Would make things a lot more enjoyable.
Lori Sanders Been here almost a year. I would have come sooner too! I wanted to make sure it was a go so I only recently went back and shipped some things I knew I could either not get here or would be outrageously expensive here. Hindsight is 20/20 but I wish I would have shipped my stuff sooner. . And I don’t even regret the one and only tattoo that I have. I got it here. A Golden Orb spider and the words Pura Vida!!
Steve Johnson Many people advised us to sell everything before we came. Our antiques, our memorabilia, our family heirlooms???????? We shipped EVERYTHING, and are very happy with that decision.
Sarah Carling I would have kept my life more minimal so we could pack up and move easily round the country rather than settling in San Jose. We realized after we had our baby here that we had recreated our old lives rather than seeking out new ones.
Jon Graham I would have rented longer to experience life in different parts of the country.
Chris Poindexter Yes, I’d do it all over again. Differently? I’d have brought our leather couches.
Wendy Tayler 23+ years… had my residency in the works before moving down. Yes. Would do again. Raised 5 children here. What I would have done differently? Not married the tico I married…. glad he is gone.. glad I stayed after.
Peggy Stewart Absolutely would do it again. The only things we would do differently are to sell our house in Canada BEFORE moving here & to take some sort of instruction in Spanish BEFORE moving.
Ann Duff-Ealy Lyons I’ve been here 20 years and made just about every mistake that is possible… still, I wouldn’t change anything because I learned a lot from every mistake and became much stronger for it… and besides that, I felt so much at home here from the very beginning and fell so much in love with this country, that I could never leave… it’s home, and I’m blessed to have 2 homes now… the one where I was born and the one where I chose to be.
Chitown Gal I’ve been here 14 months and I wish I would have enrolled my son in his current school right out of the gate. The primarily Tico private school he attended initially was a really bad experience for him as one of the only expats plus he is leaps and bounds ahead of where his Tico peers are academically. Now that we have found a good fit with his school, I could definitely see us here longer than initially planned.
Rachel Loughery Been here six years. What would I do differently? Brought a couple of extra bikinis!
Ross Lustman I’d have started studying Spanish sooner, and I’d have started shopping at the Feria sooner.
Nancy Van Patten Absolutely, I would do it again! One thing I would do differently, I would have brought more of our furniture; even tho’ the house was purchased with furniture, I still would prefer my “comfortable ” stuff now!
Pat Cheek Certainly do it again – have never looked back–but I wish I would have brought my tools! hammer, saw , screwdrivers. jut the usual stuff….can;t really think of a thing I miss other than my kids and Dad! oh yes and a few friends –all of which can visit whenever they wish and most have chosen not ..go figure???
John Wegner Just like we said in Texas: “I wasn’t born here but I got here as fast as I could.” I’ve been here 3 years and several years of vacations. Wife here for “a lotta years.” Took way too long to get here. Do something different? Nothing, really. Maybe have the guts to throw out a pile of “stuff” that we brought down in the sea container and will never use here.
Debbie Rudd I would definitely do it again. You couldn’t pay me any amount of money to leave. I brought two suitcases with me and basically still have only the essentials. I feel like I am actually getting to live a life here which is something I didn’t get to do in the US. I enjoy the people, the culture, the beauty of the country, and am very happy to have settled in Grecia.
Frank Gould Would I come to Costa Rica again? Yes. Definitely yes. But let me be the group’s curmudgeon for a moment. There are lots of Costa Rica’s in the world. Some with richer cultures and certainly better cuisines. A good example is Portugal. Slow paced country, friendly people, low crime (at least relative to the amount spent on police resources) and a tyrannical bureaucracy. However, in one way Portugal and a few other places are better–lower cost of of living.Costa Rica like some other countries have mismanaged their fiscal activities (introducing huge import fees and inflation) in an attempt to support a bloated bureaucracy and periodically to win elections by spending money on poorly thought out public works . A case in point is Guanacaste. Regarding the bureaucracy, on any given day, the people dining at sodas are over represented by gringoes and Costa Rican government workers and by not by the local population.
What saves the governments of Costa Rica and Portugal from doing more harm to theirselves and their own people appears to be that those countries are simply not strategic in world affairs–forgotten places except as vacation destinations and (in the case of Costa Rica) as “mule” trails for drugs into the US.
On balance, Costa Rica is a great place–certainly not for every expat. For those few, it is nice to be in a forgotten part of the world. Let me take a guess as to those people you know who find contentment here–adventurous souls who are not only tolerant of different cultures but embrace (with some occasional complaining) those differences.
So the following Facebook user made a good point:
Faye Witcher Yes, but Bunky, this audience is 100% of the people who stayed. Presumably there are a lot of people who tried it but left, and they wouldnt be on a forum like this.
The following was a follow up by another Facebook user:
Margaret Aliff The people I know who have left here mostly did so to be closer to their families…children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and some still spend part-time here. I do not think the cultural differences are for everyone and imagine many are not able to adjust. Too many who stay here still seem to expect ?
Faye and Margaret do have a point, but I did get this one in private and they don’t want their name released for fear of backlash from the expat community on the open forums and I don’t blame them. I’ve seen some of those expats online tear people up for talking bad about Costa Rica, but I have also seen them tear people down because they talk good about it. It viscous out there! Hater are going to hate and Lovers are gonna love. Just watch your back.
Anonymous We live near Tamarindo, for context. 1)Too hot 2) Not much to do beyond beach and pool with three year olds (see number 1). 3) Not a good “value” (i.e. things are more expensive than they should be) 4) Shitty dealings with other expats (our landlord and his property manager are both unprofessional, cheap, know-it-all turds) 6) Dangerous drivers 7) Poor air quality. Smells like a campfire all dry season, but especially now, which is really, really bad for your lungs. 8) Expats that blindly lash other expats for complaining. Sometimes there is a better way. I will judge (silently). It is not ok to ride your bike on the side of the 55 mph road with your 18 month old on the handle bars. I will complain (to other expats). What if the Founding Fathers hadn’t complained? 9) Restaurants suck and are overpriced. Bad combo. Lots of people who leave would cite Tico time. I don’t have a business, only have a house keeper (though she shows up when she wants), am not trying to build or repair anything, so it doesn’t bug me that much. The concept bugs be a lot, especially because I think those that engage in it are doing themselves a disservice to their credibility, and by reputation now (it is called Tico time, not Jose time), the credibility of their fellow countrymen, but I haven’t had a lot of experience with it, especially compared to those who are actually trying to get things done. I was told recently by an expat who has a business that he believes there are a lot of Ticos that have a carefully crafted story designed to eventually get money out of you. It doesn’t start right away; the “long con,” if you will. Its sad that he has had enough of those types of experiences that he mentally rolls his eyes anytime any Tico starts a tale of woe.
Kimberly Beck Hovland 4 years in and we are on the fence. We have both started looking for work in the US again just to keep up with the cost of living down here. We are not pensioners. One thing that I have trouble dealing with on a daily basis is being worried about leaving the house alone. I have this fear that one day I am going to drive up the hill and see our dogs hurt and our house broken in to. I heard one guy say “we traded our stresses for worries when we moved down” and that is kind of how we feel. Let it be known that we don’t live the “normal” expat life either though. We farm most of our food and take care of a decent sized farm. We haven’t hired help in a long time because of the things that would go missing. Wondering if I misplaced something or if it was taken is not fun.
This was just a sample of the responses I received, but as you can see very positive, for the most part. The point of this blog is don’t let all the negative people out there scare you. The person who had the courage and trust to privately emailed me has very valid points you also should consider. There are areas of Costa Rica where those concerns are minimal. I just think they pick the wrong area to live in. Sometimes that happens. There is always the good in every bad and bad in every good. No place is perfect and no place is without its faults, but as you can see a majority have no regrets! Do your research and follow in these wonderful people’s steps and take their advise and their cautions.
So today’s blog is going to be about meat in Costa Rica. So if you are vegetarian or by the Gods a Vegan! Do no read this blog post. Really don’t read it. See now there you go reading this blog and I told you not to. Don’t yell at me, I did warn you!
When we came to Costa Rica in 2012 one of my major disappointments was the Steak here. It was tough, it was dry, and they refused to cook it medium raw. There is nothing like a nice juicy piece of medium raw (yes raw not rare) piece of steak. The taste of the flavor and the blood. Sometimes, but not always I just want you to cut the meat from the bone, show it to the grill and slap it on my plate! If it can still moo when I stab my knife into it than that is a good steak. 🙂 Steak Tartare is one of the best ways to eat steak! You don’t even have to show it to the grill in this case. 🙂 Rare steak meat and I really love it when they place a raw egg on top of it. Yummy!
So now you know how I like my steaks and lets go over my issue with the steaks here in Costa Rica. One of the major issues is that they do not age their beef. They cut it from the cow and slap it in the cooler and sell it. You have to age the meat in order for it to have that tender texture us hard core meat lovers want. A steak at minimum has to age for 14 days. Longer is better, but 24 days “wet aged” is the best, the juiciest and the most tender of meats!
Now you are saying what is “wet aged”? Wet aging is the process of placing the meat in a vacuum sealed bag so that it retains its moisture. The moisture accumulates and the amount depends on the length of aging, there seems to be little to no weight loss unlike dry aging which can have other issues like mold on the meat and more waste.
The next major issue is the butcher the meat. When I say butcher I am not talking about the art of cutting the meat from the carcass. They “BUTCHER” it. They just cut it any old way they happen to fell at the moment. When it is sitting in the display case it looks horrible. It is so thin. They really don’t have any thickness to it at all. Depending on what you are doing with the steak it need to have some depth to it. Not a lot. If you are going to grill or pan fry it then it needs to be a minimum of 1/2 inch thick. Now if you are going to sear it and finish it in the oven than you need min of 1 1/2 inches to have a nice steak.
How it is cut from the cow and the various parts are very important as each one has a different flavor and texture and needs to be treated differently. Now there are some parts of the cow I just won’t eat. Like the cheek, tongue and tail. I have tried it, and just don’t like it.
This brings us to our 3rd issue of how they cook it. They seem to think it must be cooked so that there isn’t a single drop of blood left in the meat or any juice for that matter. They cook it until it is black and chard. That is the best way to ruin a good piece of steak, but since most of them don’t use good pieces of steak, I guess it doesn’t matter.
So I of course at this point said to myself, “Well self I guess you won’t be eating red meat when you come to live in Costa Rica. On the bright side the chicken and fish here is amazing!”. Well I couldn’t have been more wrong. Now that I live here I have found a number of restaurants that have good tender meat and will cook it the way you want it. You should never, ever, ever ask for a steak to be cooked more then medium and even that is pushing it. I have had a number of steaks here cooked the way I wanted it. Here are just a few examples:
Now with all that said it can be expensive to get this quality of steak eating out. A good steak meal as I have described and cost you from $15 to $100 a person depending on where you go. That is just for the entree. Than add to your bill drinks, and appetizers and doing this all the time or a couple times a week adds up in price. So how do you get good steak at home? I am so glad you asked me that question. 🙂
I found a place called Uncle Earls fine meats! This was a god send! I don’t have to go out every time I want a really tender and juicy steak any more. Sure I can if I want to, but I can have them right in my freezer ready for me to pop one in the oven or slap it on the grill. I can get one at a reasonable price!!! That is the most important part.
So a little about Uncle Earl’s. They are located at the Centro Comercial Trejos Montealegre (across from Walmart), next to Scotiabank in Escazú, Costa Rica. I know to those of you who don’t live here in Costa Rica that means nothing and you will never find it on your own. Those that do live here will know right where it is.
All their products are offering high quality meats, all grass fed, hormone free, no blood or saltwater injections. The only preservative they use is Himalayan pink salt, one of the purest of salts. They also wet age their meat a minimum of 14 days!! In 2010 Uncle Earl had a place in Coco that was also a restaurant. He than decided to focus on the meats and moved to a spot in the Mulitplaza in 2012. He needed a bigger shop and that is how he made his way to where he is now.
Now also keep in mind they do more then just steaks. 🙂 They do pork, bacon, sausage, bratwurst and all manner of other pork items. They also have lamb, and sometimes turkey and corn beef. You name it and if they don’t have I can bet you he may be able to get it for you. You never know until you ask. 🙂 This is won of the better finds in Costa Rica! I love, love, love this place. You need to go if you want some really good meat and really good prices. You may never eat meat out again! 🙂
So lets wrap this one up shall we. Costa Rica has some really bad meat and the way they handle meat, but you can find some places that will serve it the way you want and it is tender, but that is the exception to the rule. So for that I give Costa Rica 2 out of 5 and I only gave them 2 because the chicken and fish is so wonderful here, just about everywhere we have gone. You can never go wrong ordering those two items.
Now Uncle Earl’s I give 5 out of 5. They get this for their quality and price. I love that place! Check out their facebook page for more information. https://www.facebook.com/UncleEarlsFineMeatsAndSpecialtieProducts
So, this is going to be my 1st rant type of my blog. So just focus on the warm waters of the picture and everything will be OK. 🙂 I recently was asked to admin a Facebook group. Oh by the Gods can these gringo’s and others in other groups, talk some smack about Costa Rica. They seem to only want to focus on the bad, and not one of them has anything good to say. I have heard them say things from , “Its too hot”, “Its dangerous”, “The people are all thieves”, “The government is corrupt” and I think my favorite of all is, “Why can’t it be more like the united states!”. A question comes to mind, “Why the hell are you here?” So this is going to be the topic of this blog.
I guess that all depends on where you come from and what area you will live and or visit in. My personal opinion is that some areas are too hot. I love the town we live in of Atenas. It isn’t called the Best Climate for nothing! Now I will not live in the beach areas. I have no problem going there for a day trip or a weekend, but it is way to hot, for this Gringo, but I come from Maryland and we get some harsh winter weather. I used to keep my thermostat in my house set at 68 all year long. Our house was never open and it was always cold. I loved it. As I got older and the weather in MD got worse I looked forward to sun and warm. So here I am and no in my opinion most of Costa Rica is not too hot! So please don’t come here and say, “Oh my God why is it so hot?” or “I didn’t realize it would be so hot!”. You are near the equator. It is Central America, its hot. Hello? Are you new?
Let me 1st briefly explain what Pura Vida is. Pura Vida is a saying that means a couple different things. Pure life, slow life, easy life, whatever. It equates to slow it down and enjoy the world around you is how I take it. Now this coming from someone who worked 70 hours a week and was the poster boy for a workaholic back in the states. If you can not embrace the Pura Vida life style of this country you will not make it here and you will run screaming back to your home country.
What does this mean to every day life. You should not expect that if you hire someone to do work for you that they will be here on time and every day. Always keep in mind the pay as you go plan here. You pay them for the work they do that day. Sometimes you get a few days before they ask for a payment. You usually have to give them money for materials 1st and a little for them. Now if you gave them enough that day and something comes up, they may not be back tomorrow. That is ok because the day after the will be back, well hopefully. I did do a job here at the house and they came the 1st day and than didn’t show up for 3 or maybe it was 4 days later. Not the people showed in the picture above. These guys are great. If you want their names let me know. They got the job done and it was a good job. They got paid and everyone was happy.
Why was I happy? I knew before I came to Costa Rica that this is how life is here. We are in no rush. So, you say to your self this job is going to take 3 days to do. Ok that is is good. Now say to yourself, but I know that it could take 3 weeks to get it done. You have to be ok with that happening. The same goes for the price. You budget for $100, but understand that it could cost you $300. So plan for it. Now I do have to say all the work I have had done has cost what they quoted me. Don’t expect everything to be done yesterday. This is how I lived my life back in the states. I wanted it yesterday! Hurry, hurry, hurry! What over budget! Are you mad!!!!!!!!
So I would have to say in my personal experience that the Pura Vida life style is one of the major reasons people leave this country. They can’t handle it. It is also one of the best things about this country as well. It does give you a Pure life. One that can lower your blood pressure and fix many of your problems, if you can truly embrace it!
I don’t feel safe!
Let me 1st start off by saying yes! I feel very safe. Yes those are bars on the windows of that house. There is less crime in the town I am in here in Costa Rica than the City I lived in back in the states. Just like everywhere, you do have to use common sense. Don’t leave your camera on a table in a restaurant and come back 5 minutes later and expect it to be there still. In the states you will be lucky if it is still there. Don’t leave your GPS and Iphone sitting int he car unlocked and then complain that the crime rate is so high and it is horrible here. Don’t wear a ton of expensive jewelry and flash it around like no body’s business.
Bars on windows, high fences with razor wire along the time is common place here. Yes there is crime. Just like everywhere else. Here they take more precautions than we do back in the states. So you are going to see things you don’t see there as much. You do see bars on windows and door in the states. It is rare to see high walls and razor wire just everywhere, but it is there.
Now you will go to a store or a mall and there will be guards everywhere. They will be armed. I’m not talking just a pistol at their side either. Some of them have very big guns! That did take a little getting use to, but not long at all. I know they are there for my protection and to keep the peace. So it makes me feel safe.
I have been here over a year as I write this and back in the states there has been 1 maybe 2 school shootings, a mall shooting, and countless other gun related large events. That is just in the state of Maryland. Here I have never heard of any of that happening. So do I feel safe? Yes. Again use common sense. If you are a gringo living here or visiting here and don’t feel safe go back home. Really go. Where the violent crime rate in most states is much higher and your chances of getting killed at a mall or at school is much higher.
Really? Why? Are you daft? Are you on crack? Really? Ok yes that chart look bad! You have to understand a few things about rainy season. In most areas and not all so you have to do your research, it is once a day for about 2 hours. Here in Atenas last rainy season we got a storm that came though sometime after about 1pm and lasted for about 2hrs. When it rains it rains! Don’t go anywhere, don’t drive in it, stay where you are and enjoy the show. It is beautiful and deadly. The lightning is amazing and especially from our patio. We go out and sit and watch it as it comes in.
The rain comes and cools everything off, it lets the flower bloom and the plants grow lush and green. The country is so much more colorful during rainy season. Yes you may get the occasional non-stop all day rain, but that is usually very light so you can go out and do thing and not worry about it. I can only remember 1 day last season where it rained all day. We stayed in that day.
Now don’t get me wrong it does bring its challenges as well. If you have pets the cane toads are out more and that is dangerous for your dogs mainly. If you dog bites one or it spits its poison at your dog, you have 15 minutes to get them proper treatment or they will die. Most of the wildlife and insects comes out more during rainy season. They are looking for a dry place to stay and your casa is it! Lets remember people we live in a jungle. It may not look like it, but we do. So stop the bitching and moaning that it is raining during rainy season. Remember in the dry season everything is brown and nasty and you have water shortages.
The food here sucks!
Really? Again smoking crack? I can’t tell you how many times I hear this. I hate when they say, “All they eat is beans and rice. Breakfast beans and rice, lunch beans and rice, dinner beans and rice. I hate it.” So don’t eat beans and rice. Not like you don’t have a ton of options here. Eating out, depending on the area can be expensive. Eating at home is cheaper and healthier.
Let me allow the food to speak for itself.
I had to put one beans and rice dish in there. 🙂 Let me tell you each and every one of those dishes in those pictures were amazing. Its fresh and its natural and its not covered in sugar or preservative. You have to ask and you have to experiment, but you can find some great food here. Not all are good. Beef can be very tough and very dry. They don’t like to cook it medium or medium rare or rare. You can find some really good meat if you look. The chicken and seafood is never disappointing. Pork is hit and miss depending on where you get it. So please give me a break, “Beans and Rice”. Yea sure…No problem…I got your beans and rice right here. 🙂
Yep you damn unhappy gringos got me on that one. It is a noisy country. They love their music, dancing and karaoke to all hours of the night. There seems to be a bar in every block. They have the cars with the big speakers on the roof that is just junk mail advertising.
tipscostarica.com / Via tipscostarica.com
There are the dogs, the monkeys, the birds and all manner of jungle creatures that howl and bark, and make sounds all hours of the day and night. Yes this is a noisy country. Some areas more so than others, but you are going to have noise no matter what. Than again so are most countries. You eventually get used to it and if you don’t you find yourself a nice set of noise canceling headphone and you put on some tunes and you go to sleep. OH and don’t forget you sleep mask, cause the sun is going to wake your ass up at 5am every day! 🙂
It so expensive to live here!
Well lets see are you trying to live like you did back in your home country? I’m thinking you are. I’m thinking you are looking for all the foods you are use to and looking for those brands you love so much back there. Well guess what? It is expensive if you live like that. Now I have to admit I do look for my name brand stuff. I do shop in places that are more expensive. The only difference is I don’t complain about it all that god damn time! I make that choice to shop at the pricesmart and the automercodo. I don’t have to. I can get everything I need right here in our little town of Atenas and for much cheaper mind you. Tico’s live on $700 or less a month. Now I wouldn’t want to do that, but most gringos who come here and embrace the life can do it for under $2K a month. Here is a budget from a friend who does a blog about living here cheaply.
Yes it is expensive if you try to live like you use to. It doesn’t have to be that way. I have made some changes on where I shop for some items, but I need to do more. If you eat out every night of the week, and complain about beans and rice, than again I say to you go back to the old country. You really are not happy here.
Ok, so I could go on and on and on, but why. I think I covered the top reasons gringos are unhappy here. What I think the top reason a gringo is unhappy here is they didn’t do their research and they can’t change their life style. That is what makes them unhappy. Sometimes they are just people who like to complain about everything!
So lets wrap this one up. Food sucks, its too expensive, its not safe, its noisy, its too hot, it too rainy, its dusty and dirty and the workers are horrible. So I would have to say I give unhappy gringos -100 out of 5 because they really have missed the point. Now I give living in Costa Rica especially Atenas 5 out of 5 for its beauty, wonderful food, friendly people, and just pure and simple way of life!
Update: After I posted this blog Roman Savin on a facebook group said and I quote: “There are two types of expats: parasites and fertilizers. Parasites come with “you owe” me attitude and look at locals not as humans, but a source of cheap food, labor, entertainment. Fertilizers are trying to integrate and enrich foreign culture with their own.
We live just once and Costa Rica is an amazing place to be. Let’s be fertilizers!”
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