Tomás the Cat needs a home before the end of June!

This was posted on Facebook. See if we can’t help her out with this! 
32 mins · 

Hi, I am Tomás, and I need a new home by the end of June. I was supposed to go to a new home but there are too many cats there already and I wouldn’t like that. I am little, 6 pounds and I prefer to be the only cat but a dog is ok. If you can open your home to me, I can teach you what I like, meaning I will…., I like to snuggle at night and roam around in the daytime. I don’t know how to purr tho I try, maybe you can help me. Please? 6073 2757

Pura Vida!

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Cost of living up date days 11 – 16

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 11 thru 16

 

Pura Vida!

 

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

Five US tourists survive after fire sinks yacht sailing from Los Sueños

Five US tourists survive after fire sinks yacht sailing from Los Sueños (via http://insidecostarica.com)

What is this? June 17th, 2014 (InsideCostaRica.com) Five tourists from the United States were able to escape the sinking of a 40-foot sportfishing yacht after the vessel caught fire and sank while at sea yesterday morning.   The boat, an American-flagged

vessel named “Foxy Lady,” was sailing about four kilometers off the shores of Herradura after departing from the Los Sueños marina when the fire broke out.

Five passengers were on board, including the owner and captain of the vessel, Peter Wishney and his wife.  All of the passengers were U.S. citizens.

Eduardo Lizano, a dock manager at Los Sueños, said the tourists had planned to go sportfishing.

The emergency began at 8:20 a.m. yesterday morning, when Wishney reported to the marina that he was having engine problems.  After requesting assistance, he added that there was also a small fire below deck, which he believed could be controlled.

Apparently, at some point it became evident that the fire could not be controlled and all of the passengers were evacuated with the assistance of an emergency vessel sent by the Coast Guard from the port of Caldera, which also sent a naval fire extinguishing unit to attempt to put out the blaze.

Despite their efforts, the fire eventually consumed the vessel, sinking it.

Back on land, the passengers were taken by ambulance to a private medical center.  All were reported in stable condition.

Authorities said the fire is believed to have started in a bedroom on the vessel, adding that a full investigation would not be possible as the vessel had sunk.

Continue reading

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Banco Popular Selling Homes at 50% Discount All Over Costa Rica

Banco Popular Selling Homes at 50% Discount All Over Costa Rica

Banco Popular Selling Homes at 50% Discount All Over Costa Rica

The Costa Rica News (TCRN) – The People’s Bank and Community Development announced it will sell 775 properties across the country, which will have attractive financing up to 50% off.

The supply of houses and lots will have alternative financing up to 100% of its value with terms ranging up to 30 years to repay.

Milagro Hernandez, head of the Popular Credit Bank and Community Development, said that these properties allow families to buy a property at a good price with excellent financing options.

Those interested in one of these properties may obtain further information at their web site or in any of the 100 banks nationwide.

The Costa Rica News (TCRN)

San Jose, Costa Rica

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Costa Rica’s president says no plans for corruption probe

Costa Rica’s president says no plans for corruption probe

NEW YORK Mon Jun 16, 2014 6:24pm BST

Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solis poses before an interview in New York June 13, 2014. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solis poses before an interview in New York June 13, 2014. CREDIT: REUTERS/SHANNON STAPLETON

 

(Reuters) – Costa Rica’s new president, Luis Guillermo Solis, who won a landslide victory in April after campaigning against poverty and corruption, said in an interview on Friday there are no plans to open a formal investigation into his predecessor’s tenure.

Instead, Solis said he will tell the nation what he has discovered about the government’s operations during his first 100 days in office. He took office on May 8.

Solis, the centre-left academic who never before held elected office, swept into power on April 6 by tapping into public anger at rising inequality and government corruption scandals. The address to Costa Rica’s roughly 4 million citizens should occur around Aug. 15.

The incumbent Laura Chinchilla sparked outrage by accepting flights on a private jet to Peru and Venezuela despite laws barring public officials from accepting sizeable gifts. Her first finance minister resigned in a tax evasion scandal.

Asked if he would launch an investigation into corruption allegations of the prior administration, Solis said: “Not opening a probe on my predecessor, but I do want on the 100th day of my administration to issue a state of the union address and let the people of Costa Rica know what I found.”

“I think it is honest. I think it requires a lot of care so that I don’t act arbitrarily, but it is necessary to know exactly what are the things that we are facing. What are the challenges that I find,” he said in an interview.

Solis was finishing up a multi-city visit to the United States, meeting with investors and officials to try and drum up investment to help fuel improvements in the Central American country.

The coffee-producing tourist haven has seen unemployment steadily rise alongside a public debt burden that at the start of the year was over 50 percent of gross domestic product.

“My government comes at a time when we have an accumulated amount of issues that are pending in the agenda. Dealing with infrastructure, with education, with energy, with security … if we do that and we do it very transparently it is going to be easy to move on from there,” he said.

Infrastructure has suffered from under-investment, while average growth of 4.3 percent per year since 2000 has failed to dent a poverty rate of about 20 percent.

The International Monetary Fund has Costa Rica’s gross domestic product growing at 3.8 percent versus 2.5 percent for the Latin America/Caribbean region this year.

The projection was given in April, around the time of his election and a time when technology powerhouse Intel, struggling with a shrinking personal computer market, announced 1,500 job cuts in Costa Rica. Intel’s output from Costa Rica accounted for roughly 20 percent of the country’s exports.

Solis, who worked in Costa Rica’s Foreign Ministry, said he would stick to the IMF’s projections, even with the layoffs at Intel as well as Bank of America’s decision to pull out of the country.

The sting of the job losses was soothed slightly by Intel’s announcement this week that it would open a “Mega Laboratory” for testing new products in Costa Rica and add back a fraction of the positions.

It might take a year for the economy to make up for those lost jobs, he said.

Addressing infrastructure deficiencies and high electricity costs may take longer, but Solis said the first decrees he has signed in the first month in office have been focused on these two areas.

Road and bridge repairs, and a commitment to building an electric train linking principal cities of Costa Rica’s central plateau are among his priorities.

“And regarding electricity costs, which again are a challenge for us, in the next few weeks I am going to join an effort to reduce them,” he said, referring to a review of taxes, how costs are calculated and how tariffs are established by the regulatory services.

On taxes, where he famously said there would be no new ones levied for at least two years, he reiterated better collection where evasion was “scandalous” and corruption needed to be stopped.

“The first transition we want to accomplish is from the sales tax (13 percent)… into a VAT (Value Added Tax), which if successful and I think it will be, will allow us to do the regulation and controlling of evasion.”

 

(Reporting by Daniel Bases; Editing by Dave Gregario, Bernard Orr)

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Oh by the Gods!!!!! Look out Vegas!

Betting on Costa Rica’s 3-1 Win Made Millionaires in Las Vegas

Costa Rica News – As I saw on a friend of mine’s Facebook wall yesterday, “That sound you just heard was the human-enduced earthquake in Costa Rica.” He was not far from the truth.  No one expected Costa Rica to win yesterday and that included the odds makers in Las Vegas.

soccer bettingThe odds were very low for Costa Rica to even win the game but a few people in Vegas not only bet on them to win but bet on them to win 3 to 1.  On average the odds were 1800 to 1 at sportsbooks but they were even higher game time in Vegas, for the score to end the way it did.  There were some people counting their dollars in Vegas even though at least 2 of them made the bet by mistake.

So far the damage for sportsbook and Las Vegas is estimated at several billion dollars.

According to a report from MGM casinos group, it only takes a few bets to completely make a business go under.

“For some reason 3 people bet in favor for Costa Rica winning with this score, and there is nothing we can do except pay,” said the MGM spokesperson.

One of the winner was an America named Robert Green who said he wanted to bet on Cristiano Ronaldo when he saw CR on the screen.

Green said that he thought that Cristiano Ronaldo could beat Uruguay and it made him a millionaire. Nice mistake to make.

Another gambler won during a drunken haze.  He was completely drunk when he placed the bet and admit that he knows nothing about soccer. His bet while drunk netted $3.2 million dollars. Some people wake up wondering where their money went in Vegas this guy actually woke up a millionaire.

Finally was a 3rd sport bettor who as of yet does not have a face.  He bet on Costa Rica to win 3 to 1 but placed the hefty amount of $10,000.  At the odds of 1800 to 1 this would make him $18 million richer.  There are several investigations going on about this bet as no one believes someone would place it.

Not only were the hearts in Costa Rica filled with joy yesterday, many people had their pockets also filled from wagers on the game.

Originally posted at Costa Rican Times

Pura Vida

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Dog Festival in Cartago Costa Rica

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Cast your Vote Today!

Update 6/18/14

Well we have only raise $18 so far since yesterday and that includes my matching contribution. Does not bold well for the charity that wins. 😦 Whatever money will roll over into the next month and than may go to another charity that wins in that month. I’m pushing as best I can and trying to come up with some good designs.  There has to be a min. of $100 in the pot in order to send to the charity, other wise it rolls over into the next month where the votes start all over again. Any suggestions on designs send them to me at Email Best of Costa Rica. Just as an FYI if you want something other than Costa Rica and Pura Vida and the CR flag, send me what you want and on which design and I will swamp it out. So you Canadians and US Citizens just let me know. I will make the same designs with your home country in place of Costa Rica.

Update only 1 purchase has been made. So without purchases the voting will be moot for this month. It will have to carry over to next month. If you don’t see something you like let me know what you want to see and I will get working on creating it for you.

Thanks!

Pura Vida!

 

As promised here is the poll. So vote for your favorite. the money for the Charity that wins the poll will come from 3 sources.

  1. Best of Costa Rica CafePress Shop where we will put $3 of every item sold for the month of June and July into the pot.

2. Amazon Deals and Discount shop (visit the shop for full details on how we calculate what will be added)

  1. I will match what is generated up to $100 personally.

So spread the word!!!!!!

Pura Vida!

 

 

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Costa Rica #1 again!!!!

‘Oh, you should go to… Costa Rica’. Latin state is shock winner in list of countries people would recommend to other travellers

  • Austria also ranks highly as a place travellers would commend to friends
  • Britain fares relatively well in the survey, coming joint tenth with Greece
  • Indonesia, China and Malaysia comprise surprise bottom three in results

By TRAVELMAIL REPORTER

Many of us would run a mile rather than listen to the travel recommendations of friends who have just returned from an exotic part of the world complete with sun tans, very long anecdotes and overly effusive comments about how ‘you really should go yourselves.’

But if we were all to base our future holiday arrangements on the advice of others, it seems that – according to a new study – we would all be packing our bags for Costa Rica.

Top of the world: Costa Rica has two coastlines - and proffers beauties such as Drake Bay, on its Pacific side

With scenery like the Arenal volcano, Costa Rica is the destination travellers would most recommend

New research conducted by the Global Tourism Monitor Survey asked a total of 23,000 holidaymakers, in 26 different countries around the world, to name the destination that they would most recommend to others based on their own travel experiences.

Those questioned as part of the survey were restricted to countries they had visited in the previous 12 months, and asked whether they would or wouldn’t tell others to follow suit.

The number of people who criticised a recent holiday destination was then subtracted from the number praising a place as visit-worthy, to produce a net score for each country.

And the Central American republic came top of the tree with a score of 63 – finishing a clear five points ahead of Austria and Israel (both 58), New Zealand (57) and Italy (56).

Not too shabby: Britain, with the sights of London to the fore, came a respectable tenth in the survey

Although not, perhaps, well known to British holidaymakers, Costa Rica’s appeal is easy to fathom.

It is one of only seven countries able to boast coastlines on both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea (the others are Colombia, Panama, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico), and as such, is home to a wealth of wonderful beaches.

Britain performed relatively well in the survey, polling a score of 52, finishing in joint tenth position along with Canada and Greece.

Other countries fared less well in this court of popular opinion.

Tunisia was the only country in the survey to ‘achieve’ the dubious feat of a negative score, polling a dreadful -7.

The ten most recommended destinations…

1. Costa Rica
2. Austria
3. Israel
4. New Zealand
5= Italy
5= Japan
7= Croatia
7= USA
9. Norway
10= Canada, Greece, UK

…and the ten with the fewest fans

64. Bulgaria
65. Russia
66. Albania
67. Cambodia
68. India
69. Ukraine
70. Malaysia
71. China
72. Indonesia
73. Tunisia

And the Far East also fell foul of plenty of tourists.

Although it can boast the sunshine island of Bali, and some of the world’s most pristine areas of rainforest, Indonesia finished second bottom of the pile with a score of just four.

Perhaps surprisingly, China – home to the exciting cities of Beijing and Shanghai, plus the historic wonder of the Great Wall – came third last, polling a meagre five.

And Malaysia contributed to a miserable survey for the Far East, slumping to fourth bottom with an unimpressive recommendation rating of six.

Eastern Europe also found itself on the receiving end of traveller discontent.

Ukraine was the fourth of over 70 states included in the survey to manage a rating of less than ten, with a score of only eight – a vote of no-confidence from holidaymakers which will not, perhaps, come as the biggest shock in light of the current troubles in the country.

But Albania (18 points), Russia (20) and Bulgaria (21) will wonder who they offended.

‘This study is one of the most broadly based assessments of recent tourism experiences and future intentions,’ says Jon Young, on behalf of the Global Tourism Monitor Survey.

‘It looks at destination appeal and the likelihood of recommending a country based solely on personal experience in the last 12 months.’

Beautiful, but at the bottom: Despite the allure of Bali, Indonesia did not fare well as a recommended destination

The results, Mr Young says, make happy reading for Britain.

‘It’s a credit to the UK that it has achieved a high joint tenth position in a league table.of more than 70 countries, especially given the competition of countries with more favourable climates,’ he continues.

‘Overseas visits rose to 32.8million in 2013, up 5.6 per cent on 2012, and the prominence of the UK is good news for our tourism sector and the overall economy.’

Half of the 26 countries consulted as part of the survey were in Europe (Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Romania, Russia, UK and Ukraine).

Eight Asian countries (India, China, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam) were also involved, with four countries in the Americas (USA, Canada, Mexico and Brazil), plus Australia, rounding out the line-up.

Originally posted on Mail on line

Pura Vida!

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pura Vida!

 

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45 percent of Ticos think they can get HIV from a mosquito bite, says University of Costa Rica report

A couple embaces in Parque Morazán in San José. Alberto Font/The Tico Times

Over 75 percent of young Costa Ricans surveyed do not know how HIV is transmitted or contracted, according to a new study from the University of Costa Rica released Wednesday.

The report’s results suggest that Costa Rica is in need of a serious overhaul of its sexual education policy. Many respondents said that the human immunodeficiency virus was passed through mosquito bites or through kissing someone who is HIV-positive. More than 84 percent surveyed said they don’t use condoms.

The report, which used information from a 2010 national health survey and received support from the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, PEPFAR, analyzed responses from over 3,000 men and women in Costa Rica aged 18-80.

Here’s what Ticos got right:

  • 91.8 percent correctly responded that risk of HIV infection was reduced by limiting sexual activity to one HIV-negative partner.
  • 93.7 percent said that using a prophylactic every time they have intercourse would reduce their chance of contracting HIV.

What Ticos got wrong:

  • 55.5 percent did not know how to correctly use a condom.
  • 45 percent incorrectly answered that a mosquito bite could transmit HIV.
  • 48.6 percent said that an HIV-positive person would always show signs of infection.
  • 40.2 percent said that the virus could move between people through sweat or saliva.

Only 18.2 percent of Ticos aged 15-17 demonstrated comprehensive understanding of the disease. Knowledge of HIV-AIDS increased after age 18, but remained below 26 percent for respondents aged 18-35.

Awareness and knowledge about HIV-AIDS improved with years of education and if the respondent lived in an urban area.

One of the problems highlighted in the report is where young people get information about HIV-AIDS and sex in general: their peers. Barely 18 percent of young Ticos had a good grasp of sexually transmitted diseases. This same group was the largest source of information about the subject for respondents under 18 years old.

Parents, apparently, are not having the birds and the bees talk with their kids, according to the report.

Mothers (62.3 percent) and fathers (46.2 percent) were the most desired sources of information about sex, but respondents’ friends (28.8 percent) were the most commonsource of information about sex. Only 24 percent said their mother was a source for this information, and just over 10 percent named their father.

The report also pointed out that there was a correlation between men and women who are the victim of verbal or physical sexual abuse and “risky” sexual behavior. The UCR report defined risky sexual behavior as infrequently using a condom and having more than one sexual partner in the last 12 months.

Adrián Barrientos, a sociologist involved in the study, told The Tico Times that more needs to be done to change how Costa Ricans think about condoms. Barrientos said that Ticos are more likely to use a condom when they want to avoid having more children than to protect against STDs. Unwanted children are a more effective motivator to use a prophylactic than STDs.

Presenters noted that men who have sex with men, male to female transgender people, and intravenous drug users are among the groups with the highest risk of contracting HIV-AIDS. Researchers said that they hope the report’s results can help target these groups and better educate the wider public about safe sex and STDs.

Some 1.4 million people had HIV-AIDS in Latin America in 2011, according to the report. One hundred and thirty eight Costa Ricans died of HIV-AIDS in 2010, according to the Health Ministry.

Originally posted at the Tico Times

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Costa Rica Ranked #1 vacation destination!

Selvatura Adventure Park, Monteverde Ronald Reyes/The Tico Times

Rain forests, volcanoes, world-class beaches, great weather, sloths, what’s not to like? A new global survey confirmed that tourists love Costa Rica, naming the country most recommended tourism destination in the world.

The Global Tourism Monitor Survey asked 23,000 globetrotters from 26 countries where they had traveled during the previous 12 months and which destination they would more recommend based on their experience there. The report, released Monday, ranked the top 65 most recommended destinations.

Austria came in second, followed by Israel, New Zealand and Italy.

Ukraine, Malaysia, China, Indonesia and Tunisia were the five least recommended destinations, according to the survey conducted by BDRC Continental.

While Costa Rica placed atop the list of most recommended destination, no other Latin American country made the top 10.

Latin America and the Caribbean placed among the least popular regions with only 6 percent of respondents saying they were “seriously” planning to travel to the region. Europe ranked the highest among potential travelers with 43 percent planning to travel there, followed by 27 percent in the Asian Pacific. Only 4 percent said they planned to take their holiday in Africa or the Middle East.

Costa Rica received a record-breaking 2.4 million tourists during 2013, according to the Costa Rican Tourism Board.

Here’s the list of the top 10 most recommended destinations (with a three-way tie for 10th place):

  1. Costa Rica
  2. Austria
  3. Israel
  4. New Zealand
  5. Italy
  6. Japan
  7. Croatia
  8. USA
  9. Norway
  10. Canada
  11. Greece
  12. United Kingdom

…and the 10 least recommended:

  1. Bulgaria
  2. Russia
  3. Albania
  4. Cambodia
  5. India
  6. Ukraine
  7. Malaysia
  8. China
  9. Indonesia
  10. Tunisia

Originally posted to the Tico Times

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Cost of living Day 7, 8, 9 and 10!

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

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

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

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

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

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29,205 colones or $52.67

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

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739 Colones or $1.33

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

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1034 colones or $1.86

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

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1,800 colones or $3.25

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

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336 colones or $0.61

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

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

Gizmo

Gizmo

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

Consult 9000 colones

Complete Hemograma 9500 colones

lopelisan shot 2300 colones

jeringa shot 1700 colones

poop sample 1150 colones

So the total bill was 23650 or $42.65

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

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

day 7 thru 10

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

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

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

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

Pura Vida!

 

 

 

 

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Cost of living day 7

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Day 7

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

Pura Vida!

 

 

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Cost of living Day 6

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

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

Day 4 5 and 6

 

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

Pura Vida!

 

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Cost of Living day 4 and Day 5

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

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

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1100 colones or $1.98

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3700 colones or $6.67

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2600 colones or $4.69

 

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

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

Here are the groceries I bought on this day.

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

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1,275 colones or $2.30

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788 colones or $1.42

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559 Colones or $1.01

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Here are some of the pictures from dinner.

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

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

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

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Now add the tomatoes and keep it moving.

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Now the mushrooms!

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

Pura Vida.

 



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How to Avoid Personal Banking Disasters in Costa Rica

Coopenae Bank Costa Rica

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 – The Frustration of Debit Cards Not Working Overseas

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

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

3 – Zombie Certificates of Deposit in Costa Rica

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

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

4 – Exorbitant Credit Card Rates and Unreasonable Collateral

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pura Vida!

 

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Cost of Living day 3

So you know that one thing you can count on in Costa Rica is that your day will never go as you planned, but it will go as it should be. I actually went out to have lunch at one of our favorite restaurants and thank finish my grocery shopping and look for some gym equipment. Well I got most of that accomplished in 5 hours. 🙂

So lets start with lunch shall we. Got to Kay’s at about 12. Had a very nice lunch see pictures below. It was a much better price than we had the other day at Hard Rock Cafe and there was more food! it didn’t cost me 2 additional trips to the Treadmill to work it off either, so it was a win all the way around by eating local and not at a chain. The price of 10,500 colones in addition to what you are about to see 2 coke lights as well.

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This was the Mama’s Meatloaf special. It was very tasty. The meatloaf was seasoned well and it was not dry! Always a plus! The string beans were very good and the potato was a nice touch and there was bacon!!!!! The side salad was good as well.

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This was 2 veggie omelets that had a good taste, lots of veggies and very filling.

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That is the chocolate cake that came with my meatloaf special. It was good as usual, but a little on the small size. I know it was free with the meal, but a little bigger would be nice.  It was smaller than what is usually served. I’m sure Kay was looking after my diet for me! 🙂 Over all still a good price for 2 coke zero’s, and unlimited ice tea (came with my special) and a full size piece of chocolate cake my wife ate, that I forgot to show which was about 3x bigger or more than this one. Cost was 10,500 colones.  Much better deal than yesterday!

So, after lunch we went off to find the gym equipment store that a couple people told me about. Guess what! Its not there any more! Go figure! It always seems to work that way. When you want something it just all of a sudden goes away. So that wasted time. Ok so lets go to the mall and visit the GNC. I did not include those purchases as it is very special items for our diet. That really shouldn’t count in the budget. We did get everything we wanted to get there. Some protein powder and protein bars and such. Mainly for snacking. You will notice no fruit in my shopping. So finally we are off to the grocery store.

This trip I decided to shop at Pricesmart for the few items. I say a few items as I forgot to make a list and didn’t get everything. So I will be going out later today to get what I forgot yesterday. What I would like to do is pick up the same items in the same quantities at other places each week so you can see the difference. I should have bought less but its Pricesmart so everything is in bulk!  Here is what I bought and the cost. This will last me about 2 weeks. I still need to get me some eggplant, onions, fish, and dog food. Hopefully that will  happen today. May check out the dreaded Maxi Pali that just opened up yesterday. If its not too crowded.

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6500 Colones $11.73

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950 colones or $1.71

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1350 colones or $2.44

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2125 colones or $3.84

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5195 Colones or $9.38 I get these to handle my sugar drops. They are the best calories for the carbs.

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1175 colones or $2.12

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7173 colones or $12.95 this will make about 4 meals for us or more.

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5198 colones or $9.38 There are 60 eggs total. Yes I had 3 for breakfast today.

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3695 colones or $6.67 I buy this as I use mushroom in everything. i like fresh but a small tray of fresh is almost this price. They are good if you marinate them before you use them. I put them in a bowl in the fridge with garlic since I put them and garlic in almost everything I make.

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7295 colones or $13.17 in the states this would be under $10 a bit more, but really what else can you use? Never looked if there is a local brand?

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8995 colones or $16.23 Dog treats. This might last a week. Remember I have 10 dogs. 🙂 I’ve tasted them they are pretty good. 🙂 I wouldn’t eat a whole one, but I understand why my dogs love them!

 

So there are the groceries for the day. Yes you can get them cheaper other places and I will try to do that next time. I like the broccoli at pricesmart as it is precut and always looks good. Sometimes the local Ferria or Grocery stores have dark areas all though out so I don’t like getting it there. Ok now for the budget update.

day 3

Doesn’t look good for me. Still have electric, pool service, and community fees to pay. We are eating out again today for lunch. Again local place so cross your fingers.

Pura Vida!

 

 

 

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When Buying Real Estate …

Very good information that I thought I should share with everyone!

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10 days of fun in Costa Rica when a friend visits!

Keeping You In Stitches

April 27th was a busy, busy day – picked up a friend from the U.S., Pat at 5 a.m.; finding nothing open for breakfast, we ended up coming home.  We really aren’t far from the airport, which is a good thing, because Mark was arriving home at 11:00 that same morning!

We certainly had three happy dogs; they were happy Mark was back home, and they remembered Pat!!!  Didn’t do much since Pat had an overnight flight and was exhausted.

But Friday morning we were up and at them!  Took her to the Feria first and she was flabbergasted at the size of some the veggies and fruits here.  Then we headed for massages…..and we were toTireParrottally wasted for the day!

Made a trip to Grecia and Sarchi…..I’m still in awe at watching the painters work on the souvenirs, etc.

Hooked up with Lee and went to Salitral to…

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Another busy day…..

Lover her stuff check her out!

Keeping You In Stitches

bingo towels

Up early this morning and thinking about Bingo on June 14th.   Everyone takes a prize for the table for those lucky enough to Bingo…..we have yet to Bingo!  Decided I would do dish towels, everyone can use them, right? One for every day of the week!

My metal drying rack “died” because of the plastic joins on it so we decided to head to EPA to find another one. When we moved here almost 3 years ago, I bought the drying rack for $50 and nearly choked! Well, today the price was $100!!!! Decided that if I need to dry the clothes, I’ll pay the electricity to use the dryer! Try to use it sparingly, so as long as I can get up early, and use the “outdoor” dryer, I’ll be fine…..I do use the dryer, just not as freely as I did in the U.S.

We went to EPA…

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Cost of living day 2

Well didn’t get as much done today as I would have liked to. We didn’t really go grocery shopping at all. I got distracted by a mall our nutritionist send us to for food. Well that was a bust. It was just a food court and I didn’t see anything I wanted to eat. So we decided to go somewhere else. We finally ended at the Hard Rock Cafe. Boy was that a mistake on many levels. I will be writing a review and you really need to read it! You will be shocked by the information I have found out about their food!!!!!!!! You won’t believe it! Back to the budget.

So did go and get diet food and paid some monthly expenses. So here is the chart.

Day 2

Oh my as you can see I have went though 1/2 my budget by day two. Now if you take out the diet food my balance would be $1239 left. As you can also see I pay a good bit for Internet. Most people only pay a fraction of this. If you read this please post what you pay for internet in the comments section. Say what your location is, how much bandwith, which company please.

Looking at this I may not make it. I still have Electric and Community fees to pay as well as pool service as my monthly expenses. So cross your fingers! What is the lesson we learned? Don’t eat at the Hard Rock Cafe as it will Cost you big time! Granted not as expensive as some places but still up there for a meal for two. Again see my review it will detail everything.

Pura Vida.

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My bag! Where the hell is my Bag!

Best of Costa Rica

http://codygear.com/costa-rica-safety/ http://codygear.com/costa-rica-safety/

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…

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Cost of Living Day 1

Hello all. Day one of my 3 day Cost of living was pretty uneventful. We really didn’t go anywhere kind of stayed at home and watched TV and had some pool time. It was a really beautiful day out today. So nothing really spent today as we ate what we had in the house. Manly diet food and veggies. My breakfast was a diet drink, 2nd breakfast was diet pancake mix, Denise was diet drink, our lunch was grilled veggies and a diet drink. Her dinner was steamed broccoli and 8oz of chicken cooked with a little EVOO , salt and pepper. Mine was 2 cups of veggies sauteed in I can’t believe its not butter and garlic and I had a chocolate protein drink.

Today we maybe spent on Breakfast, lunch and dinner:

Veggies $3

Diet food (very expensive) $45

Misc food consumed about another (chicken and protein drink) $2

So total without diet food $5 for the day. AS we mostly drink water. So no cost here. $45 for the diet food. So total for today is $50.

Well see you tomorrow. Tomorrow we go out for our weigh in and grocery shopping and such. So I will update you on how that goes at the end of the day.

Pura Vida!

 

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Cost of living update

So, I keep seeing people say how expensive Costa Rica is still. What I am going to do is blog each day how much I spend and on what and where I got it. It is my hope to be able to spend less than $2K next month for myself and my wife. Now we are on a special diet and the food is expensive. So I will include it but also show how much we spent without it as well. I eat at 6 am breakfast (diet package), 9 am morning snack (diet package), 12 pm lunch is 2 cups veggies and diet package or 8 oz of protein in place of a diet package, 3 pm afternoon snack (diet package), 6 pm dinner is either 8 oz of protein and 2 cups of veggies or if I had protein for lunch its a diet package instead of the protein, 9 pm evening snack (diet package). This is why I will in the final amount show both with and without the diet food. Hopefully I can get this done under budget. We will see. 🙂

Pura Vida!

 

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Open letter to my Dogs!

Freckles, Leeloo, Dobby, Ginger, Pepper, Nina, Bubbles, Bella, Gizmo, and Pixy,

We love you and some of you we would have never meet and adopted if we hadn’t moved to Costa Rica. Here is the thing, you really need to let me sleep in a few days a week. I know you have to go to the bathroom and I know the Sun can be annoying, as it annoys me from time to time as well. All I ask of you is for 1 hour extra of sleep a few days a week. Its really not that much to ask so if you could help me out with that it would be great!

Now I know you are protecting the house and the property, but when the leaves rush across the ground from the wind this is not an intruder that must be barked at! So if you could limit your barking to those things that are important I would again greatly appreciate it. Yes a person comes to the door, or walks near the property or comes in unannounced feel free! I love that you let me know this, but when I call you come to me please. If you do you will get a great big cookie!!!!!!

_DSC5457Freckles, I love that you go swimming with me. Dude you really do need to get in and out yourself. I guess it is my fault that I have started to pick you up and put you out instead of making you use the steps. So going forward you are just going to have to get in and out yourself.

_DSC5460Leeloo, if you do not stop chewing on everything! You are older now and should have more control. We have a ton of toys around for you so please limit your chewing to those items and I will give you many more belly rubs!

Dobby one of our Local Rescue dogs we adopted.

Dobby one of our Local Rescue dogs we adopted.

Dobby, you are actually the best behaved of all your brother and sisters. You come when I call, you go into the kennel when you want a treat, you only poop and pee outside. You do not chew on anything! Now you are  a little pushy, but that is only because you want so much love. I am happy to give you the love you want. Just don’t scratch me all up. 🙂

Pepper

Pepper

Pepper, you also are very well behaved. You are so needy! You need more attention than I think any human can give to any animal. I try as much as I can, but please the jumping up on me has got to stop. Especially the unexpected hug from behind the sofa as I sit watching TV or doing facebook! Its cute, but it sometimes is a shock!

Pepper

Pepper

Ginger, you also are very well behaved. Maybe if you can teach Ginger to be a little less needy and maybe if you would take some of her neediness for yourself, you two would be a perfect balance. Also while I have you here stop eating things that will make you sick. You keep eating bugs, and trying to drink out of the pool. The grass I understand why you are eating it, but don’t eat it and than come in the house and puke it up please. Stay in the grass when you do that.

Nina another rescue dog we adopted.

Nina another rescue dog we adopted.

Nina, Nina, Nina! the 3 am and or 5 am wake up call is getting old. You are a good dog, but you need to learn that just because you hear a rooster or another dog bark out in the valley somewhere it is not a wake up call for you. If you could stay asleep or let me sleep until 6 am or 7 am that would be amazing. If you do I will give you an extra cookie!

Bubbles

Bubbles

Bubbles, you are one crazy ass dog! The way you jump and the heights you get to are amazing. I can’t believe how active you are. I will ask when you take a cookie from me please stop biting my fingers off! You always act like you are starving to death. I know you can’t be as you eat so much food! I don’t know where you are putting it. Just keep in mind as you get older you will start to gain weight and you will start to look like Freckles and won’t be able to do all that jumping you do!

Gizmo

Gizmo

Gizmo, how do you not get dizzy all the time. Your running in constant circles is insane! I know that your right leg is shorter than you left leg, but I don’t think that would cause you do always move in circles. I think that you might have a disorder, but I’m not sure. You do circles while waiting for a cookie, you do circles before you eat, you do circles before you settle down to sleep, and you do circles when you pee and poop? What is really funny is when you do circles while you are pooping. I always know which is yours as its in a nice circle of drops on the ground. I would love to give you more love, but you really have to come see me more. The food will still be in the pantry you don’t need to guard it all the time.

Pixy

Pixy

Pixy, my dirty little dog. I can bath you every day and sometimes 2x a day and you will still be black from the dirt. You are such a small dog, but act like Ginger, Pepper and Nina the Shepherds and Golden lab. You play with them like you are this huge dog. They just love to rub you in the dirt and the mud. So if you could may run faster and escape the big dogs when they put you in their mouth and rub you in the ground that would be great!

Bella

Bella

Bella, you are the princess as you were Mommy’s 1st pom. You act like the queen, but if you could just be a little nicer to the big dogs that would be great. They only want to lick your face and and your ears. They only want to show you the respect you want. You are the reason we have so many dogs. You were just a little love bug and you were so good and nice that mommy just wanted so many more of you, but that did not happen. So thanks for giving us false idea of what a pom really is. 🙂 You are cute and you are wonderful!

So, to all my dogs we love you and we will work with you to make our life together here in Costa Rica much better! Love and belly rubs!

Pura Vida!

 

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Open Letter to Costa Rica

Dear Costa Rica,

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

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

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

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

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

Pura Vida!

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VIDEO: Vegetable oil bus stalled in San José

Pura Vida!

 

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So a little vacation

I am back and will start to post again. Just needed a little break. Still looking for some active writers who want to help out. Thanks!

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Way to good not to share!

I know nothing to do with Costa Rica, but sometimes you just gotta share!

Pura Vida!

 

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Its Doggie day here on Best of Costa Rica!

Pura Vida!

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Real value? Let…

Real value? Let’s see… I gave away my Rolex to my oldest grandson, gave away my boat to my adopted son and his family, gave away my hunting gear and rifles to my younger brother and his son to pass on to my younger grandchildren, gave away my suburban to my adopted son and his family… What is real value? A wife who supports you through good and bad times; a dog that only wants the tennis ball; neighbors who appreciate you living next door.

Frank Gould ask this question, “Question for the day for those still awake, what is missing of real value in Costa Rica that you had in Canada, the US or Europe? Really good pastry does not count.” 

The quote was taken from a Facebook group and I think it really says it all! Posted by Pat Joffrion! Thanks Pat! 

Pura Vida!

 

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Top 10 reason I picked Costa Rica

top-10-list-231x300

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

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

Maryland Weather 2013

Maryland Weather 2013

Atenas Costa Rica 2013

Atenas Costa Rica 2013

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pura Vida!

 

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Nicaragua in 3 hours – 23 hours later

I did this trip a long time ago and haven’t done it again and I am glad I was not on this one. I am diabetic and if I didn’t have my meds or my cpap there could have been huge issues! I will be posting another situation with this group in the next couple of days. One that didn’t turn out so well for a few.

Just Costa Rica

We had read about it on the ¿Que Pasa Grecia? website,our local source and resource for all things Gringo. Quick VISA renewal run: take a chartered flight with Blue Wing International  to San Juan de Nicaragua, have lunch at the Rio Indio Lodge, and return three hours later to get your coveted 90-day visa stamp and remain legal (or in our case, to keep our U.S. drivers’ licenses valid) in Costa Rica.

That sounded like fun! Everything except the entry and exit fees for both countries was included in the $225.00 per person price. So we decided to take this route for a change.

The charter plane’s capacity was 15 people. We scored the last two seats for the April 12 run. The scheduled departure time from Tobias Bolanos International Airport in Pavas was 7:00 AM, back at Pavas by 12:00 PM. But a couple…

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5 Top things Costa Rican Restaurants need to know

no inconsistency

In the wake of last night dinner and a friend making the suggestion to create a post about the top things Restaurants in Costa Rica need to know that they are doing wrong!

  1. INCONSISTENCY!!!!!! Yes please just say no! This if you listen to nothing else I say can save your Restaurant. Everything you serve should come out the same every time. If you salad calls for cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes and onions. Make sure that is what it has on it every time. How do you combat this? Keep a recipe for every item listed on you menu. Say what you do and do what you say! Keep things measured. If one day your plate has 6oz of beef on it and the next there is only 4oz you will lose a customer or two or more when they talk to their friends or write a blog seen by hundreds  of people a day all over the world!  For the love of all that is the Food Gods if you have it on your menu be sure you have it at every service! Telling a customer you are out is bad! Yes it happens sometimes, but it shouldn’t always happen. Offer a discount on another option. They will lover you for it!
  2. Service believe it or not can actually make your restaurant a success even if you just have ok food and prices. A great wait staff that knows what they are doing, is attentive, knows when to play with the customer and when to leave them alone is golden! A glass should never go empty unless the customer says so. There should never be a dirty dish on the table. You should not have to ask for salt, pepper, napkins, or for gods sake silverware. You are in the service industry and you need to stand out above the rest! If a customer asks a question about a menu item you server should not have to run and go check for you. They should know the menu in and out.
  3. Price for Quality is again a big point and one of the hardest points for a restaurant to control. You are not going to pull the wool over a customers eyes buy charging more and serving less. I like most, but not all customers are willing to pay a little more if #1 and #2 are there and the quality of the food being served is there as well. In Costa Rica local fruits and veggies are the cheapest anywhere. You should be shopping and looking for those bargains. If you are selling a $12 salad it better be one amazing salad! If your steak dinner is $30 you better have over 8oz of meat and it better be tender and juicy. Don’t be greedy. Higher prices will kill your business. Restaurants thrive on repeat business not the one timers. If your price for the quality is way too high that is all you are going to get is one timers.
  4. Presentation of the food is the cherry on top of the Sunday. If what you are serving looks like you just slopped it on a plate it tells the customer you really don’t care. If you don’t care whey should they care to come back. I’m not talking big and fancy and swirls and stacks that like like you created a master piece, but something presentable. It should be neat and organized on the plate. There should be room and space for people to cut their food without it falling off the plate. This doesn’t mean give them less. See #3 it means get new plates! If it doesn’t look appetizing it may not be appetizing!
  5. Cleanliness is that which binds all these things together and makes you THE RESTAURANT to go to.  The tables should be neat and in order and bused. See #2. Utensils, floors, counters, etc should be clean. Here is a big tip! Bathrooms need to be clean, orderly and functional! Nothing will turn off a customer faster and have them not return than a bathroom that is disgusting. If that is  how you keep the bathroom, the customer is going to wonder how do you keep your kitchen! I have been to places where there is no running water to wash your hands, no toilet seats, no paper towels.

So in summary Good food, good service, good prices, good presentation, and a clean place will keep your customers coming back time and time again. They will also tell their friends who will tell theirs. People will blog your praises to hundreds of views a day all over the world! So please restaurant owners of Costa Rica heed my words and take care. You never know who is there and what reach they have to either praise you or bury you in the sand!

Want to turn your restaurant around? Email  me at info@bestofcostarica.net I would be happy to come in and evaluate (not review) your place and help you to make it the best place in town!

Pura Vida!

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

 

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The True Meaning of Pura Vida

I opened my inbox one day to find an email with a peculiar subject line.  “Congratulations, you have won a trip to Anamaya Yoga Retreat in sunny Costa Rica”.  I promptly deleted it but a nagging feeling prompted me to retrieve that email and read it again to be sure it was, in fact, just another scam.  Four months after I reread that email, I boarded a plane for San Jose, Costa Rica. A long drive through the countryside that led to a ferry that took me across the gulf of Nicoya and onto the small Pacific Coast village of Montezuma was the beginning of an unforgettable journey…one that taught me an important lesson in life and in living it to the fullest.

There wasn’t much going on at Anamaya Yoga Retreat on my 4th day in Montezuma, Costa Rica.  I developed a routine of waking early, watching the sunset, reading in the hammock, taking a dip in the infinity pool and checking emails all before breakfast was even served. On this day, I decided to break the routine and do something a little different.   I didn’t want to waste the day sitting by the pool so I strolled down the hill into the village and spent the day exploring the little streets and surf shops and enjoying the beach.  The village had so much energetic ambiance.  Smiling, energetic people of all walks of life, embracing the day and one another.  I can still feel that ambiance now if I close my eyes and bring myself back there.

It was the hottest morning in Montezuma since I’d arrived and the walk down the hill was torture.  I was only half way down the hill when a young man on a motorbike stopped.   “Senorita, I take you to bottom of the hill if you like.”  He was wearing a nice shirt and khaki shorts which gave him an air of coolness and confidence – like he often picked up strange women who were about to pass out while walking down that hill.  I usually don’t take rides from strangers but I didn’t think I was going to make it any further without collapsing. I took him up on his offer and a few minutes later he dropped me off at the beach.  With a wave and a friendly “Buenos dias”, he sped off.

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I walked a few feet to the beach and plopped myself down in the sand in a shaded area and relaxed for a bit.  A storm had passed near Montezuma the previous night and the water was extremely rough.  I tried to go for a swim but the waves were too powerful and the undertow too dangerous.  The smell of Cerviche and Empanadas in the restaurant a few meters away filled the air.  The sounds of palm trees rustling in the gentle breeze and locals and tourists going about their daily business lulled me.  A dog chased a stick nearby while some children egged him on.  A stray cat sat near a food cart, waiting for a hand-out.  The rhythmic sound of the waves coming ashore, like a lullaby, gently rocked me to sleep.

Shouting zapped me out of my trance to see people on the beach pointing to something in the water; some brave, fool-hardy surfers were attempting to surf dangerously rough waters close to some jagged rocks.  It looked like the scene might end in tragedy but, fortunately, the surfers made it safely to shore.  Welcome to Costa Rica – home of adventure seekers, lovers of life and daredevils!

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By late-morning, the heat was really getting to me and I started to feel dehydrated.  I was craving a refreshing fruit smoothie but didn’t want to pay the going rate of about 7 dollars for one at a tourist trap.  So off I went, up and down those little streets, in search of a reasonably-priced smoothie.  At the end of a side street, I noticed an interestingly-decorated, outdoor smoothie bar.  The thatched-roof and colorful plants sprouting from the walls caught my eye.  It looked like just my kind of place!

A free-spirited and friendly, young man was eager to take on the challenge of making me something that was refreshing but not-too-sweet.  It took a long time for him to make it as he carefully thought out each ingredient and made sure it was mixed to perfection by allowing me to taste it at intervals.  After some mixing and shaking and adding of various exotic fruit, some of which I never heard of, he placed his finished masterpiece before me.  For the price of 3 dollars, I received a delicious, orange-colored smoothie in a massive glass.

I stayed at the bar and took a seat.  “So, are you from around here?” I asked him.  “Yes, born and raised in Costa Rica, just down the road a little bit.”  He obviously loved his life in Montezuma and at one point, he asked if I knew what “Pura Vida” meant.  To me “Pura Vida” meant The Pure Life and it was what I had witnessed over and over again while traveling through the country.  Natural, untouched, simple and pure.  He went on to explain it in more depth for me. “That is how most people interpret it.  You see, ‘Pura Vida’ can be a greeting, a state of mind, a way of life.  You meet someone walking down the street, you say ‘Pura Vida’.  You catch the perfect wave while surfing, you say ‘Pura Vida’.  You have a wonderful day, instead of saying goodnight, you say ‘Pura Vida’.  You find a great smoothie bar while walking the streets of Montezuma, you say ‘this is Pura Vida’.  It can mean anything but always something good.  Anytime something good happens, “Pura Vida” is the appropriate thing to say.”  Made sense to me.  How can you not be living the “Pura Vida” in a country that is considered to be one of the happiest in the world according to the Happy Planet Index?

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It was mid-afternoon when I started walking up that steep hill to Anamaya.  I made it to the top without collapsing in the ditch.  There was still enough daylight left to hike to Montezuma Falls.  I had gone there the day before and chickened out of jumping off the falls into the pool below but now I was determined not to leave Costa Rica without taking that plunge.

The path to the falls was steep and rocky.  I stopped to take a rest mid-way down the trail and that is when I became fully aware of my surroundings.  The growling of nearby howler monkeys, the buzz of millions of tropical insects, the sound of the distant waves crashing onto the beach below, the trees rustling in the gentle breeze.  The rainforest sounded so alive. It was like the forest itself was living and breathing.

I made it to the waterfalls and again, paused to take in the beautiful sight before me.  Beautiful, cascading water falling into a crystal clear, blue pool beneath a canopy of thick rainforest.  Before I could talk myself out of it again, I took the leap into the clear, refreshing water.  If there is one thing I absolutely hate, it is missed opportunity.  I take every chance that comes my way because, sometimes, you only get one chance to do something.  And to think, if I had not listened to that little voice in my head telling me to read that email again, I would have missed out on the time of my life and would never know what it is like to live the Pura Vida.

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Spanish names for Cuts of Meat!

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

This was posted byt Ninfa DePalma on a facebook group. 

Spanish meat cuts

Pura Vida!

 

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Boomerang Lessons, How My Kids Inspire Me

Great Story!!!

mom2nomads

“Boomerang lesson” is the term I’ve decided to start using for things I tell my kids that I need to pay attention to myself; in other words, listen to yourself speak, Heather, you might learn something. This past Sunday we ran a 5k race with our two oldest children, our 13-year old boy and 10-year old girl. It was a charity run for the Children’s Museum here in San Jose, my husband ran with our son and I ran with our daughter. Our kids are athletic and, despite the fact that if we let them they would immerse themselves for hours in electronics, they really enjoy being active. Since the time they were pretty young our kids could hike for miles and miles, the hubby and I are not parents who would push a 5-year old in a stroller–move forward and push on are lessons our kids learned early…

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Ripped from the headlines: Unidentified man devoured by crocodiles after jumping from a bridge over the Tárcoles River, Red Cross says

crocs01-1000x670

 

Update, Wednesday, April 30, 2014: Search continues for missing man eaten by crocodiles in Costa Rica

Conflicting reports continue about how the man entered the water, but he has been identified as 32-year-old Nicaraguan Omar de Jesús Jirón. See above link for details.

Update, Thursday, May 1, 2014: Human head found in Costa Rica river likely belongs to Nicaraguan man attacked by crocodiles

Clothing recovered at the scene has led officials to say victim likely entered the river from the shore, but witnesses on the bridge still claim Jirón jumped. 

Original story continues here:

An unidentified man leapt from the main bridge over the Tárcoles River, near Costa Rica’s central Pacific coast, on Tuesday evening at approximately 5:20 p.m. in what is believed to be a suicide, Jim Batres, assistant director for the Costa Rican Red Cross, told The Tico Times.

After falling into the water, the man reportedly was eaten by the river’s famously abundant crocodiles.

Citing the testimonies of unidentified witnesses at the scene, Batres said the man had been causing a disturbance on the bridge earlier in the evening and was removed by police. He then went to a bar before returning to the bridge and leaping into the river.

Batres said the man’s identity could not immediately be confirmed, and members of a Red Cross search team were unable to recover the body as of 7:50 p.m. Tuesday night.

conflicting report in the daily La Nación said the victim did not jump from the bridge, but tried to swim in the river from the shore when he was attacked by a crocodile and disappeared. The report said a friend identified him as a Nicaraguan named Omar, but gave no last name.

Situated on the highway between San José and the popular beach town Jacó, the bridge over the Tárcoles River has become a popular pit stop for tourists looking to catch a glimpse of the river’s many American crocodiles. Recently, photographers and tour guides have grown more adventurous, filling up YouTube with videos of Tárcoles croc feedings and near misses.

Updated 8:28 p.m.

This story is developing. Follow www.ticotimes.net for updates.

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

just say no

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pura Vida!

 

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When a bee and a butterfly feed on the tears of a crocodile

Very Cool!

boldcorsicanflame's Blog

caiman_bee_butterfly1

This very patient caiman leaves a bee and a butterfly sucking her tears for a quarter of an hour to Costa RicaAccording to researchers, the sodium content in tears carnivores attracts insects who need for their development.

This is an original trio Carlos de la Rosa and his team had the chance to observe on the banks of the Rio Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica: an alligator lounging on a tree trunk while a butterfly ( Dryas iulia) and a bee (Centris sp.) drink her tears. 

caiman_bee_butterfly“This is one of those moments of natural history that one day we hope to observe closely,” said Carlos de la Rose, director of La Selva Biological Station, specializing in the study of tropical areas. The biologist, students and photographers navigate the Puerto Viejo River in northeastern Costa Rica, when they see the caiman and two insects. 

“I learned that you should always have a…

View original post 295 more words

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Costa Rica Expensive? What? Part II Groceries

 

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

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Groceries

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

grocery prices

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

groceries compared

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pura Vida!

 

 

 

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

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

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

Pura Vida!

 

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

Live in or near Atenas?

Well why not join this Facebook group!

https://www.facebook.com/groups/atenascrafting/members/

Members meet and craft together. Help each other and have a good time. So come join the group!

Pura Vida!

 

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Q&A on 12% Return! Banking in Costa Rica a followup

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

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

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

Regards, Asdrúbal

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

Coopenae logo

The banking culture in C.R.

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

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

How secure is to invest in C.R.

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

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

The C.R. financial system

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

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

How to access C.R. banking system

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

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

Current CD Rates at COOPENAE:

cd rates

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

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

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

Regards, Asdrúbal

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

Great Costa Rica Salad War of 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

tico french toast

Tico French Toast Stuffed with all kinds of fruit!

tico eggs benedict

Tico Eggs Benedict

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

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

Salad

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

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

good salad 2 good salad ok salad

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

Now in Gringo speak those items are:

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

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

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

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

Here is what the salad looks like:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Now that is a good salad.

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

Pura Vida!

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

Costa Rica Expensive? What? Part I Housing Costs

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

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

 

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Housing Costs

 

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

  • Electricity is expensive here. so I.C.E. is the electrical power supplier in Costa Rica. The current rates at the time of writing this blog are about .37 per kwh. Now this equates to anywhere from $40 a month to $2K a month in electric bill. The size of your house, the number of toys you have, like computers, laptops, iPad, TV’s, etc. Do you have a pool? Do you need A/C. Yep there you go the bill just went up even more. When you add a pool, a big screen TV, a couple of electronics and A/C you are talking big bucks. Do you have an electric water heater? Electric water heater is going to jump the costs as well. An on demand systems will be a little lower, but not much. Going propane for water heater I am told is much less expensive. Do you have a hot tub? Now that will jump your bill. I found that out the hard way. I did convert it to solar heating system with a propane heater to keep it hot at night when in use. That took off about $150 from my monthly bill. If you have a clothes dryer that will jump you bill. These are all things we don’t think about in the states until we come here. Oh and if you live way up high in the hills where it is cold a heating system will also increase your bill. If you are up there you won’t really  need A/C,  so its kind of washes out cost wise. OK, lets just say you have a 2500 sqft house with one large screen tv, a couple computers, couple  laptops, a pool, washer and dryer, electric water heater and A/C and or heat and that is going to run you about $1200 a month in electric. It could be more I have heard stories of $2K a month in the beach areas.  Now take that same house  with a number of TV’s and laptop and such, and a pool but no A/C, an on demand hot water system and it will cost you about $400 a month. A smaller house with 1 regular size tv and one computer and one laptop, no pool and no A/C, no dryer will run you about $50 a month. Things you need to think about when doing a budget. Estimate high for your bill, be pleased when it doesn’t reach that, and adjust your lifestyle when it goes above! Unplug anything that is not in use. Items like TV’s, computers and almost anything that plugs in draws energy as long as it is connected.
  • Water believe it or not, is not that expensive compared to the states. When I lived in the states I had a well on my property so pretty cheap, but before that I used public water and our quarterly bill for 2 adults and 2 teens was about $100. Here my bill is about $35 on average for 2 adults. I do have a pool and sometimes it is higher and gets even higher when you have to fill your pool because of a earth quake splitting the pipes and the pool going empty. That is another blog. Or your Gardener leave the hose run in a part of the yard you don’t go visit and its on for almost a day. Those are very unusual so water cost isn’t much of an issue for a budget. It is however an issue in some areas as you will have water outages a lot in dry season which is from Dec. to about May. My current house is on a well for the community so we have very few outages. The only time it goes out is when someone makes a mistake. One time they were getting service to a new lot that was being built on and they cut the line and had to shut it down. Another time someone left the valves open on the tanks and drained them so they had to cut it off to let the tanks fill. A friend went without water in one of the areas of Atenas (public water system Aya) for over a week. Others tell stories of it being out form like 8pm until 8am every day. So even though it isn’t expensive it could be a challenge. I have been lucky and I know it and count my blessings!
  • Renting is an option for a lot of people here. They like to move around to the different areas of Costa Rica and or just don’t want to be tied down. Again size plays a factor in what you will pay. You can find some very nice homes for as little as $300 a month (very small tico style home) to something with a little more room for $1800 a month. All depends on what you are looking for. Many of the rentals will include utilities such as cable and TV. Most won’t do the electric, but some do.
  • Buying a house in Costa Rica can be tricky and exciting and expensive or cheap. You have to 1st figure out what can you afford and go from there. Now I will leave most of this to the experts at Remax who will be doing an article for me. I will tell you this much don’t buy unless you know 100% that Costa Rica is the place for you and only go with someone you know or someone who you know, knows and trusts to take you though this process. Now if you are buying there is always going to be more costs associated with it vs renting. As an example my house has a lot of wood and every so many years it will all have to be sanded and re-varnished. This can be expensive. Keep maintenance and upkeep in mind when you are doing your budget and looking at the house you will buy. Don’t let the WoW factor of your house overwhelm you and cloud your judgement on what you can afford or the maintenance that will be involved in the upkeep of that house. Costa Rica does have unique maintenance issues not found in other countries.
  • TV and Internet  I am not going to talk a lot on this point just going to refer you to my blog post about this. 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 seashell1out of 5. Only because of the Electric costs and the water outages some people will have to face. Otherwise it would be 4 if you move to an area that doesn’t have water issues and you don’t need A/C or heat.

Pura Vida!

 

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

Pizza! Pizza!

Home made pizza by me!

Home made pizza by me!

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.

Riu palace pizza Bella Vita 995045_10200243694280279_1829861480_n

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.

http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g1177889-d1775006-Reviews-Ristorante_Pizzeria_el_Paraiso_de_Alida-Atenas_Province_of_Alajuela.html

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 seashell1out 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.

http://www.tripadvisor.ca/Restaurant_Review-g1177889-d2615210-Reviews-Pizza_Rica-Atenas_Province_of_Alajuela.html

As you can see from the reviews very good! I would not doubt suggest you go visit them and have a taste of their pizza as you won’t regret it.

I will give Pizaa Rica 4 seashell1out of 5! No doubt the best in town. Still not perfect but it will do what you need when you crave a pizza.

 

Now sad to say though I only give Costa Rica 1 seashell1out of 5 as I have tried so, so many places and only these two stand out! I’m sorry Costa Rica, but you need to get people to make a better pizza!

Pura Vida!

 

 

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

Sharks! Get out now! No really get out!

Better yet don’t go in!!!!! So this video is getting a lot of attention today. This video was shot between Playa Avellanas and Playa Langosta in Northern Costa Rica. It was upload by Mario Chacon and it was taken by his friend. I’ve been told this is very common. You are not going to see me swimming in those waters, but I also understand that it is uncommon for swimmers to be in this area. So we are OK, I guess?  Lets just hope there is no News at 11 about someone being bitten by a shark in this area. The beaches are very populated right now because of the holiday! Be safe! You can turn on captions for this video and change them to English if you do not speak Spanish. Pura Vida!

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