Posts Tagged With: Atenas

Costa Rica starts imposing immigration law from 2010 as of 8/1/14

Costa Rica News – Seems that Costa Rica has finally decided to start getting imposing laws in regards to illegal immigration and visa status in the country. The $100 a month fine for over staying your visa is finally being implemented. There are also fines for hotels and landlords that are housing those that do not have legal visa status.  The question is will this have a negative effect in Costa Rica down the line?

nicaragua-costa-rica-border 1On 1st August, the Director General for Migration and Immigration announced that from that day forward, they would be imposing fines on employers with workers in either construction or the domestic service if they couldn’t prove the legal residency of these workers.

Kathya Rodríguez, the General Director of Migration, explains that the penalty range between ¢798.800 to ¢4,8 million, depending on the degree of the breach of the law.

This is how the General Migration Law is set up, which became valid on 1st March 2010. However, collection of these imposed fines was often not properly organised; firstly due to an amnesty, and then due to an extension period which lasted around 2 years.

Rodriguez and the Government’s vice-Minister, Carmen Muñoz, explained that they were awarded a new extension, but one which would apply only to employers in agricultural industries.

Businesses in this sector would have from now until the 31st January 2015 to put themselves down on a special register. Following that, they would have a year in which to work through the entire legalisation process.

Migration Police, by paying attention to complaints and general disruption, will be working to detect any sorts of irregularities surrounding migrant workers.

In the case of domestic workers they will be assessing their treatment, if they are receiving minimum wage and any bonuses or benefits they may be receiving; not just their own immigration status. The higher the number of breaches found, the higher the penalty to the employer will be.

For cases outside the agricultural sector, Migration will keep the same entry policy as normal. During past extensions, it was possible to begin the immigration process for a person who illegally entered the country; from the 1st August, this will no longer be an option.

Rodriguez said that they would only process cases where the person in question has had some sort of migration status, or where they still hold a valid passport.

First paragraph added by Dan Stevens, rest of article translated by Leah Hendre from La Nacion

Pura Vida! Well maybe not any more for some! This could get ugly.

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Driving in Costa Rica

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not taken in Costa Rica, but it sums it up! 🙂

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

Pura Vida! 

 

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What you can see and enjoy in Costa Rica

What you can see and enjoy in Costa Rica

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by CostaRicaDave Best of Costa Rica Author

Pura Vida!

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Final Update on Budget report June Recap

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

day 24 thur 30

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

final summary

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

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

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

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

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Medical Tourism in Costa Rica

 Medical Tourism in Costa Rica

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

 RESEARCH

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

 TRAVEL

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

 COSTS

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

 PROCEDURE

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

 RECOVERY

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

 RISKS

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

 BENEFITS

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

 CONCLUSION

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

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

Pura Vida!

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

Categories: Costa Rica Dave, Health, Healthcare | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Crocodile problems in Costa Rica!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watch Jason Vargas feed crocodiles on the Tárcoles River:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Five of these attacks occurred in the past year.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Originally posted at Tico Times

Pura Vida!

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

 

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Cost of Living Update days 17 – 23rd.

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

day 17 thru 23

 

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

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

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

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

Pura Vida!

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

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Marriage of pork, beans and rice was invented here as chifrijo

Chifrijo

Bar food, whether it´s fried, spicy or starchy, is a necessity with beer, friends and sporting events. This cultural fact is not lost in Costa Rica. The bars and restaurants have a litany of dishes to choose from, but one stands out because of its origins in the country.

The chifrijo is a dish that has been around since the early 90s when it started being served in local bars and restaurants in and around San José. Shortly after the genesis of the chifrijo, the dish began to spread through Latin America and was registered by the dish’s claimed creator Miguel Angel Araya Cordero, the owner of bars and restaurants.

The term chifrijo was coined by Cordero and comes from the combination of two terms. Chicharrones, or fried pork rinds, and frijoles, which is basically what the dish is at the core.

The combination of pork and beans is combined in a bowl with rice and then topped with diced onions, tomatoes, peppers and cilantro. After corn chips and a spritz of lime are added, the chifrijo is complete.

There are subtle variations on the dish from bar to bar, but the chain of Cordero´s restaurants maintains the original can only be tasted at their locations. The price is from 800 colons ($1.60) to 1,300 colons (about $2.60) depending on the restaurnt and the size of the serving.

To date, the chifrijo is the only culinary invention in Costa Rica to be patented in the Registro de la Propiedad, the bar owner said.
By Zach McDonald
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

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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Green coffee is bitter, but study says it takes off the weight

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Scientists today reported striking new evidence that green, or unroasted, coffee beans can produce a substantial decrease in body weight in a relatively short period of time.

In a study presented at the 243rd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, Joe Vinson and colleagues described how a group of overweight or obese people who consumed a fraction of an ounce of ground green coffee beans each day lost about 10 percent of their body weight.

“Based on our results, taking multiple capsules of green coffee extract a day — while eating a low-fat, healthful diet and exercising regularly — appears to be a safe, effective, inexpensive way to lose weight,” Vinson said at the society meeting being held in San Diego, California. He is with the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania.

The study involved 16 overweight or obese people aged 22 to 26 years who took capsules of the extract or capsules containing a placebo, an inactive powder, for a total of 22 weeks. The subjects alternated between a low dose and a higher dose of the extract. The low dose consisted of 700 miligrams of the coffee extract, and the high dose was 1,050 miligrams. It was a so-called cross-over study in which people cycled through the two doses and the placebo, each for six weeks. Such studies have advantages because each person serves as his or her own control, improving the chances of getting an accurate result, researchers said.

All of the participants were monitored for their overall diet and exercise over the study period. “Their calories, carbohydrates, fats and protein intake did not change during the study, nor did their exercise regimen change,” Vinson said.

Participants lost an average of 17 pounds during the 22 weeks of the study. It included an average of a 10.5 percent decrease in overall body weight and a 16 percent decrease in body fat. Vinson noted that weight loss might have been significantly faster, except that participants received the placebo and the lower dose of green coffee extract for part of the study period.

Vinson pointed out that previous studies have shown weight loss with green coffee. But this was the first to use higher amounts of the coffee extract and the first to measure the response to various doses. Based on those studies, Vinson believes that green coffee beans’ effects likely are due to a substance called chlorogenic acid that is present in unroasted coffee beans. Chlorogenic acid breaks down when coffee beans are roasted, usually at a temperature of 464 to 482 degrees F. Roasting gives coffee beans their distinctive color, aroma and flavor. Green coffee beans, in contrast, have little aroma and a slightly bitter taste.

By the American Chemical Society news staff

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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Best of Costa Rica’s Top 10 Restaurants

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Update: Who knew this would be so controversial. :-)Let me clarify a few things about this list. 1. It mainly covers the Central Valley area. While we do travel out of the area we do not eat out of the area enough at any one place to be able to evaluate it property. 2. You must be able to get a meal for 2 for under $60. and 3. Consistency is key. Please visit my blog I wrote on this subject to understand more of my guidelines that I used to select the following places. Yes there are 3 US chain restaurants. That is just the way it is. There are none that I have found that can replace them for the items I suggested you eat at each one. They meet all my requirements for being on this list.

Best of Costa Rica’s Top 10 Restaurants you must visit when you are here in Costa Rica. We will start with 10 and count down!

10. SOLO Camaron – It is reasonably priced and the food has good flavor. Don’t go in there with a large crowd. It is a small space, but comfortable. Clean and the service is very good. Everything and I mean everything has shrimp. So if allergic you may want to avoid it!

9. Hooters – Is pretty much the same as they are in the states. You only go in there for 2 thing. One is the wings and the other well it is what it is. 🙂 We have tried a few other items on the menu and were not impressed. They do have a limited selection of wings sauces, unlike in the states. If you are in the mood for wings this is your place to go no doubt!

8. Tony Roma’s It is a little on the pricey side, but not as bad as some places. If you are looking for a good Italian meal this is your place to go. Don’t get the beef products as tey are on the tough side, but pasta is delicious!

 7. Chilis – After being here for over a year we finally went and we were pleasantly surprised. It was really good. It had the best pizza I have had in Costa Rica. I know sounds strange, but it is true. So for no other reason you should go here for the pizza! The prices are reasonable. Our friend who was with us said they had the best ribs he has ever eaten in Costa Rica as well. Give it a try.

6. Sisso Another new find and we loved it. If you are a vegetarian this is one of the best places to go no doubt. They don’t have a salad bar, but they do have a make your own salad. So always a plus in my book. Food was good, prices were very good for what you got and the place was nice. Service was very good.

5. Los Antojitos – This is one of our favorite places to have lunch. I’m sure dinner would be just as excellent. We have been to two different ones and the food and services was great at both of them. So if you see on in your travels stop in and have a bite. You won’t regret it. I love their grilled salad!

4. Alida Ristorante – If you like a true Italian pizza this is your place. It has that thin crust you are hoping for and they are tasty. They have a great salad and the other food is good as well. It is a little pricey, but worth it. Nice place and great service.

3. Grego’s Bar and Grill – We do go here often. The prices are a little high for a bar, but not really that bad. The food is good! The only problem with it is the consistency of the food. One week its good, next its ok, than it is good again. I love their chicken soup! It is served with an egg that is cooked by the heat of the broth. Our favorite is the Chicken and the Corvina and I do like their churrascos as well but it is hit and miss as to its toughness.

2. Kay’s Gringo Postres – Is one of our favorite places to go in Atenas. The food is good, reason prices, and the desserts are a little bit of heaven. They are only open for breakfast and lunch, but worth a stop on in no doubt. It is the Cheer’s of Costa Rica just no booze. The staff is friendly and helpful and you will always find helpful people.

1. La Trocha – If you want a good steak this is the place to go! We love their steaks! Their ceviche is very good as well. Service is wonderful and the owners are just great people. If  you get their pasta dishes they do sauce it very generously! They have a signature sauce that is great! I love their jalapeno sauce!  If you want just a bit of heat or full tears and red lips you can get it. Just tell them how hot you want it! They will cook your steak medium rare! The only way to have a steak!

So that pretty much covers it. If you are here for 7 days or 10 days this list pretty much has you covered. Check these places out and let me know about your experience.

Pura Vida!

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

 

 

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Fun In Costa Rica’s Central Valley

Fun in Costa Rica’s Central Valley

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

National Theatre of Costa Rica

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

Jade Museum

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

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Catch a Saprissa Soccer Game

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

Our Lady of the Angels Basilica

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

Poas Volcano

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

Veragua Rainforest

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

Doka Coffee Plantation

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

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Tarcoles Bridge

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

Botanical Orchid Garden

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

Atenas Central Park

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

Farmers Market

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

Atenas Swimming Pool

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

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

Pura Vida!

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

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Cost of living up date days 11 – 16

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 11 thru 16

 

Pura Vida!

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pura Vida!

 

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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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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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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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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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Spanish names for Cuts of Meat!

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

This was posted byt Ninfa DePalma on a facebook group. 

Spanish meat cuts

Pura Vida!

 

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

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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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!

 

 

 

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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!

 

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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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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

Top 5 things I have learned

Ok so a couple things I have learned to help me adjust to Costa Rica and hopefully they will help you also.

10431230-pura-vida-costa-rica1. Pura vida is taken very seriously by the locals and is really a way of life and a philosophy. Most expats don’t see it this way. They see it as a way to show up when you want, do what you want and just be lazy. This is not true. It is how they express the slow living. Yes it can be frustrating at times, but it is their way and we are not and should not try to change it. Even if you have residency or even have citizenship, but you were born somewhere else you are still a visitor to this country. Embrace their way of life and keep it simple. This one is what I think is the most important of all the tips I can give. It will help you in every aspect of living here in Costa Rica. Enjoy it and take it to heart and don’t let your life in your home country spoil the experience you will have here.

buy_it_now.jpg2. Going..Going…Gone If you see it, you like it, you better buy it! It won’t be there when you get back. This equates to many things and in different ways. 1st example furniture. If you go into a store like Ashley’s and see a sofa you like. Get it now! Don’t walk away from it! Some might buy it out from under you. They don’t have a stock room! What you see is what you get. 2nd example is food products. I buy a number of things and minced garlic is a necessity in my house! I buy it at Pricesmart. Now they usually have it and I buy maybe one jar. Well they were out of it for 3 months at one point. So when it came in I bought 5 jars and anytime I go I buy 1 jar and try to keep a min of 6 in my pantry. That will get me though any drought. 🙂 Than there is the times when it just won’t be sold anymore. My wife loves the pineapple jelly at Pricesmart. We would buy it every time we went there. One day we go and its gone. That was over 6 months ago. 😦 So I asked a couple people and what I was told was if an items sells really well they will stop selling it. Its more trouble to keep restocking it , so its better to not carry it. So keep this in mind when you are shopping. If you have space buy the bulk quantity or follow the buy it now policy! Good luck!

  1. Consistency? The lack of this can drive an expat insane here. As an example you can go into a restaurant and order the same food over and over again prepared by the same cook and get a different dish every time. Now this doesn’t happen everywhere and all the time, but it does happen a lot. 1st example is a restaurant where I get consume de pollo (Gringo speak chicken soup) sometimes they use real chicken broth and it is a wonderful soup with a poached egg and chicken meat. There are other times it is made with the powder stuff they have here which I really do not like. 2nd example is salads. This happens a lot. You order one and it comes with certain items lets take for instance a chef salad. You get your lettuce, tomatoes, onions, broccoli, cucumbers, and avocado  all standard in a salad. Now what makes it a chef is it is topped with meat like bacon, ham, cheese, and sometimes chicken or steak. You my order it one time and it has all these things. Next time it has none of the meat items except maybe bacon. The next time bacon, ham, chicken. You get the idea. Again all this is from the same place and the same cook who prepares it every day. I just look at it like every time I eat out it is an adventure and what I get I get and no matter what it is going to be tasty! Well most times. 🙂 Go with it people its an adventure!

hours of operation4. Posted hours of operation We learned very quickly that yes most places have their hours that they are open posted, but we have also learned that is subject to change and be altered without notice. Also keep in mind most are closed for lunch. Yes even a restaurant will close for lunch! Now that can range from 1 hour to 3 hours in the middle of the day. So we head out for dinner and  we know that we should not have our heart set on any one place to eat. We go to the 1st place that should be open and it isn’t so we drive until we find a place that is and we eat there.  There was one time when we drove to 4 places before we found one that was opened. Next day I asked around to see if there was some holiday or event I didn’t know about? Nope there wasn’t. Now why is this? See #1 above as one of the answers to this question. The next answer did shock me a little when I was told this by a couple owners. If they make enough money they will close and take the day off. Again see #1. There are also family emergencies that happen. You have to remember most of these places are family owned and run so if something happens they are closed. There is also the no show of the employees. Again this could be for many reasons but see #1. They don’t have a lot of employees that if one or two or Gods forbid all of them get sick that they can just call someone else to fill in for them. So they close. All of this is understandable. So you have to be a little relaxed and understanding and know that you may head to one place, but end up somewhere totally different!

4416_1155105753829_776392_n5. Ouch my ears! Costa Rica can be a noisy country. The locals love their music and they love it loud! Not all areas are this way, but most will have some sort of noise you may not be use to. Parties start at 9 pm or later and can go all night long. Can’t tell you how many times a neighbors house has had a party and they did loud Karaoke until 2 or 3 am. Now mind you I have had my party or two, but lets face it us old expats go to bed pretty early here so my party started at 5 pm and ended at 10 and the music and loud horrible Karaoke stooped at 9 pm. 🙂 They do love their fireworks here! You never know when you are going to hear the bangs and see the light show.  Than there is the wild life and depending on the areas you live in there could be Howler monkeys, you will mostly have birds, there can be roosters, cows, horses, pigs, and dogs! There are all manner of sounds. The animals of Costa Rica do not know what time it is. So i f you think you are only going to hear a rooster 1st thing in the morning you are so wrong. They make noise all hours of the day and night! Dog you can hear barking all the time. Most locals don’t keep their dogs in the house so they are outside all day and all night  or even roaming the streets. So be prepared for dogs barking! So you can either complain about all the noise or adjust your habits. I recommend a good set of headphones to sleep with at night. Me I can sleep though almost anything. My wife on the other hand puts in ear buds and listens to something I have no clue what she is listening to while she is sleeping. It is an adjustment no doubt. Again it may be noisy but the beauty that comes with it is well worth the noise. the birds and the monkey’s and the wild life is so great here.

Well those are my top 5 tips to help you visit and live in Costa Rica. I hope you find it informative and helpful and just remember we are here and this country is what it is and they have a way of life that is different from our own. We are not here to change them or make them more like us, if that is what you want to do while you are here you are going to be very, very unhappy. Embrace the difference. Live in the moment and enjoy the wonders that Costa Rica has to offer you while you are here.

Pura Vida!

Categories: Costa Rica Life Experience, Food, Pets, Rants, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Why do Gringos make things so difficult?

So I just read an article on the Costa Rica times and it got me to scratching my head. I am going to pull specific points that I want go go over and explain how I feel he made it harder on himself. I had this same issue and it was nothing to fix it. Easy and was done in 24hrs.

“I hate calling customer support in Costa Rica as it ends up being a complete waste of time and energy so I thought I would circumvent this nuisance by going to the office in Jaco and speaking to an actual person to explain my problem.

I think I decided to make my errand running day on the hottest day of summer at the beach, Checking the temperature it was 89 degrees but felt like 107.  After picking up a couple of packages at Aerocasillas I went by the Cable Tica office at about 12:30.  I expected it to be closed as it was lunch time but the sign on the door said “We will be back at 2:30″. I can normally kill 30 minutes to an hour but killing 2 hours is not all that easy.”

1st you may hate calling them, but you can do it from the comfort of your own home and you would not have had to stand out in the heat of the day and or kill time. Especially when you know it is going to feel like 107 outside! That is insanity. I don’t know about you, but I know that if they close for lunch, which mind you they all do why would you show up at 12:30? You expected it to be closed. So why go there? I’m confused by this. Again I know that most places that close for lunch I assume won’t open back up until 3pm. So you leave your house, you do an errand you could have done on the way home not on the way there an you arrive at lunch time when you knew they would be closed? You think it is their fault? So that was your 1st mistake here. You should have made it your 1st stop when they opened. Actually your 1st mistake was not calling customer service.

“The answer was one that most of us living in Costa Rica have received……that is not my job, here is the number of customer service.  I tried desperately to have her arrange a technician to come to my home……..the answer was no, there would be no thinking outside the box nor proactive client support.”

Well of course this was your answer. Its not a matter of them thinking outside of the box it is a matter of the way things are done. In the states you can’t just walk in and say I need a technician to come out to the house and they will send one. Just doesn’t happen. You call the customer service number. Again if we did do mistake #1 by not calling them in the 1st place this would not have been an issue.

“I wonder how people that do not speak Spanish get to the English menu on the customer support lines in Costa Rica. “Para ingles marque dos” – if you do not know Spanish how would you know to push 2 for English?”

Ok so you come to  a country and you expect it to be in English? ok another mistake. Here is the thing. I don’t have a lot of Spanish, but I knew a few things before i got here. If I made a call and I heard that I would have picked up Ignles and Dos, Which I think 99% of English speakers would know to press 2 for English from that. I know that on my cabletica its 9.

” I then went through explaining my problem in Spanish after which he said please hold and hung up on me.  YAY!!!!”

Yes because this never happens in the states at all when you call big companies. I can’t tell you how many times I would spend a ton of time on the phone with someone telling them my issue and they go, “Please Hold” and the call is disconnected.

“Can you please send someone out to my house to check the signal for more than 3 seconds?” I begged.

“No…let me tell you how to reset your modem.”

I hung up as I was not in my house nor did I want to hear her anymore.”

OH my god really? This is what they all do. I can’t tell you how many times this has happened to me in the states. It is part of their check list and it is what they have to do in order to go though it. Why did you call when you were not at your house and couldn’t do what she asked? Again you mistake not theirs.

“I returned home that evening and spoke to a friend of mine on Skype during which the call dropped about 6 times in a matter of 20 minutes. I asked him what can I do to get someone at my house. The answer although ridiculous I knew was true. When I called customer service I needed to unplug the modem and tell them that the lights were on but that there was no Internet.

This is Costa Rica, it is just one of the games you have to learn to play to adjust to life in the country. I still love it here but sometimes I need to vent.”

OK this isn’t ridiculous at all. I have had to do this in the states a number of times to have them come out.

This experience would have been no different in the states if the writer did this same thing. He would have went thought all the same stuff. So no Costa Rica is no different in this regard than anywhere else in the world!

Now let me tell you how I handled it when our got hit by lightning here and it wasn’t dead, but it was having issues. So I unplugged it and I called the customer service number and pressed 9 for English. Now I had to hang up and do this a couple times as it still gave me Spanish options, but that is ok I was in the comfort of my own home so no worries. I did get someone who spoke English. I than told them my problem and he said, “let me walk you though resting your modem” I did not move off my couch. I said I did it all and he said, “Ok we will send someone out”. I than said, “Can you send a new modem with him it seems the lights are all non-functioning so I think it should be replaced.” He than said, “Yes sir that is not a problem” Guess what the next day someone was here with a new modem and my issue was fixed!

Ok so why do we make things so hard on our selves? Really if you don’t know how things are done here and have been here more than 3 months you should know. If you don’t know maybe call a friend or ask someone on Facebook who has lived here. Check out one of the many Expats groups that have a ton of information on just about everything when it comes to living in Costa Rica. This guy was just looking to cause himself more problems than what was needed.

Have a great day!

Pura Vida!

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

Where there is smoke! Dry season in Costa Rica

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WP_20140310_12_57_21_Pro WP_20140310_12_58_12_Pro

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pura Vida!

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

Toto we are not in Kansas any more!

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

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

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