Travel

Why do Gringos make things so difficult?

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.

Have a great day!

Pura Vida!

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

Where there is smoke…..Update

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

Pura Vida!

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Dogs and Cats and Birds Oh my!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ginger

Ginger

Bubbles

Bubbles

Freckles

Freckles

Gizmo

Gizmo

Leeloo

Leeloo

Pixy

Pixy

Dobby one of our Local Rescue dogs we adopted.

Dobby one of our Local Rescue dogs we adopted.

Bella

Bella

Nina another rescue dog we adopted.

Nina another rescue dog we adopted.

Pepper

Pepper

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

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

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

Bringing you pet back to the US

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pura Vida!

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

I love this little town!

Great story!

Keeping You In Stitches

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

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

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

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

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

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Fun thing to do within 3 hours of Atenas

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

Pura Vida!

 

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Dust in the wind

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

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

Pixy clean

Pixy dry season

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

Pixy rainy season

Pixy rainy season

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

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

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

Pura Vida!

 

Categories: Travel | 2 Comments

Zap! Bang! Ouch my toe!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pura Vida!

Categories: Costa Rica Life Experience, Travel | 2 Comments

Smoke and Haze

Smoke and Haze

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

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Buffering….Buffering…Buffering

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

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

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

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

Note: Internet speeds listed represent Download speeds.

0.5 Megabits per second – Required broadband connection speed

1.5 Megabits per second – Recommended broadband connection speed

3.0 Megabits per second – Recommended for DVD quality

5.0 Megabits per second – Recommended for HD quality

7.0 Megabits per second – Recommended for Super HD quality

12 Megabits per second – Recommended for 3D quality

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pura Vida!

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

Where there is smoke! Dry season in Costa Rica

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WP_20140310_12_57_21_Pro WP_20140310_12_58_12_Pro

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pura Vida!

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

Toto we are not in Kansas any more!

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

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

The Not-So-Great About Costa Rica

Its good to see a different perspective.

Perpetual Saturdays

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

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

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My bag! Where the hell is my Bag!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pura Vida!

Categories: Travel | 3 Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Pura Vida!

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

Yikes my Visa is about to expire!

When you enter Costa Rica, if you are from another country they will stamp your passport and this gives you a tourist visa. Now in the past they would usually give you 90 days. This is not so true any more my friends. One time last year we were coming back from a trip the the United States and the gentleman behind the desk stamped us. He had noticed that we had been here a couple times and gone in and out. So I don’t know if he was just upset that day about something or just being a smart ass, but when we looked at our passports he only gave us 30 days. Oh and did I mention he smirked at me when he gave them back? Yes he did.

You may ask why does this really matter? There are a couple of reasons it does, but only if you are living here. Myself like many expats have decided to live here in Costa Rica. You hopefully get a 90 day visa and at the time your visa expires you must leave the country. So every 90 days you have to make a trip out of the country. It can be a hard and long day and sometimes very expensive to keep doing this. I personally do not understand why anyone would not submit their paperwork to become a temp residence. If you do this you no longer have to leave the country every 90 days.

Well that is if you don’t want to drive in Costa Rica. See here they right hand doesn’t always know what the left hand is doing. So they changed a law and now you can’t get a Costa Rica license until you have your cedula (Residence card). In the past before the law changed you could go and show your passport, a valid drivers license from some other country and a medical exam and there you have it a Costa Rica license. Now in addition to all that you need your cedual. Here is the kicker, if your visa expires than you can no longer drive on your out of country license. If you have insurance on your vehicle it is no longer valid either. Everything you do is tied to that visa. Just my luck the law changed just before we moved here. So as soon as we could we submitted our paperwork and now we wait and continue to leave every 90 days and hope we get 90 when we come back in.

They have also begun to impose very strict rules on going back and forth across the local borders to try and get people to stop being what has been coined as, “Perpetual Tourists” I totally get that, but if they really want to stop it then they have to approve people quicker. Their own law says they have to have it done within 90 days. That never happens, unless you have a big corporation you work for that is bringing in a lot of dollars and is hiring a lot of local people. You can then have it pushed though in a matter of weeks. We submitted our paperwork in June of 2013. We arrived here in Feb. of 2013 and the only reason it took that long is we have to go back to the states to get more paperwork that was needed, because again they changed the law just before we got here.

So why am I telling you all this? Just to give you some background so I can do a review of a border run. Now we have done a few of them since we moved here. We went to the Nico border and we have gone to the Panama border. Our very 1st border run was terrible! We went to the Nico border with a company that said they could get us though. The drive from Atenas was long and some of the roads lets just say were typical Costa Rica roads and you really need to make sure you go pee before you hit any of those roads. 🙂 It was a very long day as they all are when you drive from Atenas. You leave very early in the morning about 5am and you won’t get home until about 8pm maybe a little earlier if the traffic Gods have decided to smile upon you. Nicaragua and Panama are very hot compared to what we are use to in Atenas, so be prepared for that. There are also rules now that were not in place when we 1st got here. You have to have a plane ticket to your home country. You have to have proof that you have $500 per person in a bank account. You have to stay out of the Costa Rica for 3hrs min. and upto 3 days. Depends on what you do while you are out and what the boarder patrol says you have to do. It gets very complicated and if you do that long drive and have not check on the current rules and are missing something you are in trouble now. There is no, “but I didn’t know” in these countries. You just won’t get your visa. So you will have paid all that money to drive here and not get your stamp and have to do it again. Not a good deal at all. 

So now you have the Why of this review and its time to get to the review. We recently went on a trip for a border run and it was the best trip we have done to date. We still had to get up early but we were home by 1 pm. There were a few things I didn’t like, but they are my issues not the company that hosted the trip for us. I don’t like to fly, but do it because I know I have to in order to get to certain places. Part of this trip you have to fly. Now part of this trip you also have to take a boat. Yes I am one of those people who get seasick if I even look at the water! Its terrible. I did find a really good medication that helps. Its called Zofran. I love it! I can take a cruise and do just about anything on the water when I have this in my system. Check with your doctor to see if you can take it before trying it.

So the trip is done by a resort called The Rio Indio Lodge Just click on the name and you can see their website. It is a wonderful lodge with some really good food. They fly you into an area called Greytown. Then you take a boat to the lodge. They usually give you a little boat tour of the local area and tell you about the history of the town. It is very interesting and I will let them tell you all about it when you go visit. 🙂 So as they say a picture is worth a thousand words. So here are some pictures of the trip to the lodge.

rioplane

The plane

Now I am told this is bigger than the one they usually fly in. YIKES! I may not have been able to do a smaller plane this one was small enough for me. We just had to fly out on a day where the winds were really bad. I pretty much kept my eyes closed and kept thinking good thoughts the entire flight which was actually very short.

the boat

The boat that takes you to the lodge 

the airport in nico

The airport

The boat ride was not bad at all. Since I took my medication it wasn’t a problem. The little tour through the town was nice and giving us the history of the area. Not sure if they do that all the time, as we were running early and I think they needed time to get supplies back to the resort for lunch. If they don’t do the tour all the time make sure you request it before you get on the plane. Here are some random pictures from the water tour.

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Oh and did I happen to mention that no one owns a car here. That is because in this town there are no roads! Nope none. You must travel by boat to get to any place in this town.

So this was just a short trip for us so we didn’t stay at the lodge overnight. We did have a wonderful buffet lunch of fresh fish and lobster along with rice and veggies and an assortment of other items. It was all good and I am a bad foodie as I can’t find my picture I took of the buffet bar. 😦 So you will just have to trust me on this one the food was excellent.

So here are some photo’s I took of the Lodge. It is so beautiful. This place was put together by some people with really good and expansive taste. You will love these pictures.

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 I did not take any pictures of rooms. We had to rush and get back as the winds were picking up and they didn’t want to have a major issue and I am so glad they thought of us in that regard. You will need to go to their website to see pictures of the rooms.

The cost of this trip was about $250 a person. There were some border fees and such that is not included and you need to take cash in US for these fees.  They will go over all that with you when you book the trip.  Now both our trips to the Nico and Panama border with hiring a vehicle and then all the border fees and “TIPS” to get you there we would spend about $600 a trip. That did not include food so that was extra. So all in all this trip saved us money and it wasn’t a hard trip at all. Our 1st trip to the Nico boarder was painful. We had to stand in lines and it was hot and a lot of walking. It was not fun at all. This one was fun! Denise my wife and I plan on going back for a long weekend. It was a really great place.

Lets wrap this up. Great trip, friendly people, less expensive than our other boarder run, good food, great lodge, fast. I would say that if you have to do a boarder run this is the way to go without a doubt! So I give them 5 seashell out of 5!

Pura Vida!

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

Remax Real estate in Atenas Costa Rica

ShellyHere is the link to their website and you must give it a look: Remax

They not only sell real estate, but also do rentals as well. So if you are looking to move to Costa Rica or just spend a little time here you should really check out their website. If you don’t see what you are looking shoot them off an email or give them a call. They may have something that isn’t listed or they can hunt around to find what you are looking for. They will try to make your experience here as pleasant as they possible can. They are great!

We used their services to buy our house here in Costa Rica. We came down in Nov. of 2012 not having a clue what it would be like and what we had in store for us. they made it simple and easy and painless. They found us a rental in our budget. They took us out on our schedule to show us houses, not only in Atenas, but worked it out for an area call Grecia as well. We did finally settle on a house here in Atenas.

They held our hand though every step of the process and even help us to find a good lawyer for the closing.

So to wrap it up great team, Trustworthy, honest, friendly, informative and just really good people all the way around. You should use them if you are looking to buy or rent in this area. I give them 5 seashellout of 5.

Pura Vida!

Categories: Travel | Tags: , , | 9 Comments

Riu Palace Guanacaste Costa Rica

Rui Lobby

The lobby of the Hotel

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Let me start off by saying this is one of the best Lobbies I have ever seen. I have seen many. This hotel is just that a Palace. It is huge and so beautiful. It is a must see. It is also an all inclusive resort and you can’t beat that. Staying here is like going on a cruise ship and not being on the water. You will want for nothing at all hours of the day and night. There is food and drink everywhere.

Here take a look at the mini bar:

Mini-Bar

Not that is what I am talking about. Full bottles with single shot spouts. When you are empty they just replace them and you start all over again. Its going to be hard not to find a hard drink when you have a mini bar like this in your room.

So now that I have your interest. 🙂 Room rates vary from $320 to upwards of $800 a nigh. Keep in mind once there all your food, drink, and entertainment is included in the price. Really those are not bad prices.

So here are some pictures of the room we stayed in. It was an amazing room.

Riu Room Riu Room Riu Room Riu room Riu Room

It was a most comfortable room. Now the water in the room is not drinkable. So don’t drink it. They always make sure you have bottled water in your room. There is also free Wifi something every hotel should have in the room! So you can upload those pictures to your friends at all hours of the day and night. The shower was amazing. It had good water pressure and it just made you feel so good when you were done.

Now onto the most important aspect of the trip, THE FOOD!!!!! It was amazing. Now we were only there for a short trip and most of the restaurants require you to make a reservation. So we didn’t eat in those. There were a number of them. You have to make the reservation by 2 pm the day before your dinner. Now we did eat at the one restaurant you didn’t need a reservation. Again the food was amazing.  It was a buffet style and each night they had a different theme to the foods. Remember what I said about a cruise ship? Yes it is just like that. Here are some samples of the food that was presented one night.

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Shame on you if you leave this place hungry! This was all in just one night and I think I may have missed a few stations. There was a waitress who brought us our drinks and they were very attentive to our needs.

So the beach and the pool were very nice no doubt. We did not get in the water only because the pool area was so amazing and we were only there for 2 nights. They have 6 pools and there are pool bars in and outside of the pool itself. They have chairs and other items for the beach as well if you decide to be a beach bum instead of a pool bum like me. So here are pictures of the pool and beach area.

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So, my review wrap up is a great place to stay with amazing food, comfortable room, great pool and beach, and friendly attentive staff. So I give this place 4 1/2 seashells out of 5.

Just in cast you want to stay there, here is a link to their website:

Riu Hotels for Families with speacial activities

Pura Vida!

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

 

 

Categories: Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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