Posts Tagged With: Costa Rica

Has it been over 2 years since my last blog?

Yikes!

I guess it really has been that long! A lot has happened in two years. People have come and gone in our lives. Many have left Costa Rica for good. New people have come to Costa Rica. They say if you can make it past the 6th month in Costa Rica you can stay the rest of your life here, but that doesn’t always seem to be the case. The old country (for us the U.S.) seems to draw people back for one reason or another. Friends who have been here for 7 or more years have gone back to the U.S. for one reason or another. Many where very happy here but their spouses were not. Sometimes they just missed their family too much. Others for health reasons, but this one I don’t understand as the healthcare here is wonderful! Maybe my next blog will be on the healthcare systems here. Whatever the reason they have left many others have come. Seems to be a net effect of people leaving and moving here.

So a little history: A long story short! Kay and Tom opened up Kay’s many years ago. 3 years ago they sold the restaurant to Harold and Lisa. They too have now left Costa Rica about 5 months ago. So they owned it for about 3 years or so. Now it is owned by Ania and Tomek. They moved here from Canada but they are both originally from Poland. Their families both migrated to Canada when they were 11 years old. Great people! They are doing the one and only original Kay proud no doubt.

Kay and Tom were  very missed by the community and we decided to see if we could get them to come back for a visit. We had been trying for years and schedules just didn’t seem to work out, but finally in May 2017 we did it! With the help of our Auntie Laurel (well we call her that and she is sister to Kay not by blood) we were able to bring Kay back for a visit. Tom had other commitments and was unable to join her.

Here are some pictures of Kay’s return:

Here are just a couple of videos:

Mercede’s and Katia see Kay for the 1st time. They had no clue she was coming for a visit. I had to lie to them whenever they asked me about Kay and if I thought she would come for a visit. I think they forgive me. 🙂

We had a party that day where a select group got to see her 1st as well. `

This was about 9 days of food, hugs, tears, and just plain fun! Kay stayed with us at our house for the most part and we were at Kay’s restaurant every day for lunch so people could meet up and get to see her. It was a great time no doubt.

As this blog started so it shall end. Kay returned to the U.S. and life went back to normal. More tears for her departure back, but it was fun! We will always remember the good times!

So to now this blog must end. I hope you enjoyed it. I will try to keep up with it once again. Have a great day and

Pura Vida! 

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Dental Procedure in Costa Rica

I asked a local dentist to send me some information on a new procedure they are doing and this is what I received. My wife uses them and she loves them! I hope you will enjoy it.

Over the past few decades, Costa Rica and plastic or cosmetic surgery have been become almost interchangeable. For the wealthy who wish to have their surgery in private, Costa Rica has become an internationally recognized center for high quality cosmetic surgery. Many consider it the ideal place to have surgery, due to its almost perfect weather and the peaceful natural surroundings in which to recuperate.

Due to the aforementioned reasons, we are able to offer the same or better quality than what you might receive in your own home town at a much better price. All this bined with the highly trained staff and quality medical facilities combine to make Costa Rica a much more desirable place to have dental work done.

If you are considering having cosmetic dental work done, we certainly hope you will consider a visit to Costa Rica. The savings you will enjoy, can also end up paying for a very nice vacation and more. Costa Rica dental implants are considerably less expensive, as are most other cosmetic surgery procedures, materials and treatments in Costa Rica.

Today I would like to speak to you about how much dentistry has radically changed over the past 20 years. For instance, in the past, we performed full mouth rehabilitation using large bone grafts involving complex hip grafting to restore a patient who was edentulous, that is being essentially toothless. As implant dentistry has become more technologically sophisticated we are able to address this condition in a more efficient and less invasive way. This name for this new technique is the All on 4. This new surgical procedure has become very popular because now we can treat many edentulous patients in a more economical and efficient way to obtain the best result for the patient in the shortest amount of time with less trauma. This new technique means fewer bone grafts, less aggressive surgery, more efficient use of implants with the tremendous benefit of having fixed non removable temporary bridges fabricated and attached at the time of surgery. You literally walk out of the office with a full set of teeth in one day! The advanced bone grafting protocol involving a mix of new materials has, in most cases, eliminated the need for complex bone grafts. This new grafting procedure has proven itself to be very successful and has become the medical standard. Using 3D technology permits us to fabricate a custom internal titanium frame structure for your temporary and permanent bridges. This results in a very precise fit over the implants and provides a long term resolution for edentulous patients, plus the maintenance of the bridges is simple and has a very low cost. Once again everything now is greatly simplified. With the new protocol the patient can be seen early in the morning and they can literally walk out with their temporary teeth fixed to their implants for one or both arches in a few hours. I have been doing this protocol for over two years now with excellent results. I will be more than happy to make myself available to call you to go through the process and explain it in greater detail. Also, I now operate my practice in a new, English fluent, multi-million, state-of-the-art facility with its own laboratory in San Jose.

I invite you to come and visit us at your pleasure to meet the staff and tour our new facilities. Please call 305.517.5172 to arrange a phone consultation or tour of the new facility.

Pura Vida!

 

 

 

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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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Be on the lookout for this scam, it could cost you thousands of dollars

July 16th, 2014 (InsideCostaRica.com) While not a new problem in Costa Rica, credit and debit card fraud through the use of electronic devices called ‘skimmers’ is becoming ever more common as the skimming devices become ever easier to obtain.

 

The devices do their work after a criminal inserts the thin plastic device into an ATM machine’s card reader.  The device than reads and stores every ATM users’ card information the moment they insert the card into the machine.  The criminal returns later in the day and retrieves the device, which may by then have the full data of hundreds of cards stored on it. That information is later used to create clones of the users’ cards, or for online purchases.

 

Most of the devices allow the ATM machine to function like normal, and as a result many users have no idea that their card information has just been stolen.

 

Inside Costa Rica first reported on a rash of such scams in March 2013.  Recent reports by readers indicate that the scam is back and claiming more victims.

 

One reader reported to Inside Costa Rica that criminals nabbed $600 from her account and $2,000 from two other friends’ accounts earlier this month using ATM skimming devices, one of which was apparently installed at the Banco Costa Rica branch location in Grecia.

 

Upon notifying their banks (both U.S. and Costa Rican cards were cloned), the reader’s friends were directed to file a report at the courthouse, where she reportedly learned that a rash of clonings have occurred in recent weeks in six cities across the country.

 

Francisco Segura of the Judicial Investigation Organization (OIJ) said last year that many cardholders have no idea that they have become victims, and that many times it is instead the banks that alert judicial authorities to possible fraud.

 

In an operation last year, the OIJ conducted 13 raids in various locations, collecting evidence such as payment receipts, skimming devices, and computers.

 

The skimmers are also sometimes placed in the credit card terminals at retail establishments, restaurants, and other places that accept credit cards.

 

The skimming devices used by criminals can be found for sale on certain web sites in Costa Rica, sometimes carrying a price tag of nearly 1 million colones ($2,000).

 

To avoid becoming the victim of these fraudsters, it is suggested to check closely the area on ATM machines where you insert your card for anything that may look like a hidden our out of place device, and also to not allow retail clerks, gas station attendants, and others to take your card out of sight.

 

Image courtesy of Banco de Costa Rica.

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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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Why growing numbers of pot smokers eat mango before lighting up

Not only is the fruit high in vitamin C, it could be the secret to unlocking marijuana’s true potential

Why growing numbers of pot smokers eat mango before lighting up

This article originally appeared on AlterNet.

It’s not a proven scientific fact, but many pot smokers are consuming mangoes an hour before lighting up to boost their highs. According to Marijuana.com, there’s a good chance that the myrcene molecules found in mango can possibly “increase, strengthen and even lengthen” the euphoric feeling from smoking marijuana.

Marijuana already contains more than 100 terpene molecules that are responsible for affecting THC in the brain and giving highs their ebbs and flows. But marijuana contains the myrcene terpene more than any other kind. So, if you eat a mango rich in myrcenes, you can potentially improve the high for low-quality buds or give a high-quality bud a little extra. As for how myrcene and terpene work, the research is still in its infancy.

“I don’t know the answer and the reason we don’t know the answer is because our government in its infinite wisdom didn’t permit any research in this area for many years,” said Christopher Hudalla, chief scientific officer at ProVerde Labs. “In many cases we are just starting to do this research.”

Myrcene is responsible for the aromas of apricots, walnuts and Valencia oranges and is widely used in the perfume industry. It gets its name from the plant mercia and is also found in lemon grass, verbena, hops and the West Indian bay tree used to make bay rum. Its aroma is much like cannabis as it can be woodsy, citrusy and fruity.

But one of its lesser-known qualities is that the myrcene allows THC to pass through the blood brain barrier much faster. On average, it takes THC seven seconds to reach the brain after inhaling. But if you eat a mango — or a mango smoothie — 90 minutes before smoking, you could potentially halve that time.

The “Big Book of Buds” notes that the Cavalo, Rosa, Espada and Paulista variety of mangoes are excellent sources of myrcene.

Pura Vida!

 

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I was just bragging how this stuff doesn’t happen here. :-(

A National Police officer overlooks a crowd gathering at the Fuente de la Hispanidad in San Pedro, San José, after the Costa Rica-Netherlands World Cup match on July 5, 2014. (Courtesy Public Security Ministry)

National Police arrested 90 people in brawls and other incidents during and after Costa Rica’s match against the Netherlands on Saturday, according to a statement from the Public Security Ministry. More than half the arrests involved domestic violence, despite a government campaign to curb a recent spike in domestic abuse complaints during the World Cup.

Members of the national men’s football team, known as “La Sele,” hold signs in Brazil reading “No to violence,” as part of the government’s campaign against domestic violence.

Courtesy Public Security Ministry

 

One of the most dramatic events of the weekend took place in the Plaza de la Democracia in downtown San José, where a brawl broke out between several fans. Police confirmed Saturday evening that two victims were stabbed and another hit with a bottle. Eight arrests were reported, but no motive was disclosed.

More than half of Saturday’s arrests – 48 – involved domestic violence. Violent intrafamily incidents spiked during Costa Rica’s games during the World Cup. Guillermo Aroyo, president of the Costa Rican Red Cross, said that during Costa Rica’s June 29 match against Greece the organization responded to 200 more calls than usual. The Public Security Ministry, Presidency Ministry and other government bodies launched a campaign called “Give Domestic Violence the Red Card” last week to raise awareness about celebrating the games responsibly.

Some 23 suspects were arrested for fighting in alcohol-related incidents during or after the game that knocked Costa Rica out of the World Cup. Most of the arrests took place in San José, where police confiscated drugs and knives. Police also aprehended three suspects in the act of committing a crime, three for property damage, four for drug possession, one for robbery, and two for illegal gun possession, among others.

Some 3,500 police were out across the country and on the streets of San José, including at the Fuente de la Hispanidad, Plaza de la Democracia and Parque Central for Saturday’s game.

Originally posted Tico Times

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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UPDATE: 2 Costa Rica fans stabbed, another hit with a bottle in Plaza de la Democracia while watching Netherlands match

No Costa Rica say it isn’t so. 😦 Don’t be like the U.S.!!!!!!

Police cleared the front of the Plaza de la Democracia where Costa Ricans were gathered to watch the game after a stabbing that injured at least three. Lindsay Fendt/The Tico Times

The Public Security Ministry (MSP) released a statement Saturday evening reporting that Red Cross responders attended to three victims from a fight that broke out in the capital’s Plaza de la Democracia. Two victims were injured from a stabbing and a third received treatment after being hit with a bottle. Police arrested eight involved in the disturbance, including one suspect identified by the last names Delgadillo Ruiz who was wanted on a weapon possession charge.

Authorities still don’t know what started the brawl that interrupted an otherwise peaceful gathering. More than 1,000 fans watched Costa Rica and the Netherlands battle for a spot in the World Cup semifinals on a large LED screen at the plaza in downtown San José.

Tico Times reporter Lindsay Fendt, who was at the scene, said that fans toward the back of the plaza did not realize what was unfolding in front of them and continued cheering the national team.

An ambulance arrived soon arrived to the area and removed the injured on stretchers.

Original article continues here:

A Costa Rican fan lies in the Plaza de la Democracía in downtown San José after being stabbed in the back while watching Costa Rica play the Netherlands in the World Cup quarterfinals.AFP

Police and spectators rushed to assist injured Costa Rican fans at the Plaza de la Democracia in San José. Three people were reportedly injured, although the extent of those injuries has not yet been confirmed by authorities.

Fans  gathered in the capital’s public plaza to watch the match. Police have sealed off the scene of the alleged crime and are investigating.

A Costa Rican fan lies on the street after being stabbed in his back in the Parque de la Democracia in downtown San José, while watching Costa Rica play the Netherlands in the World Cup quarterfinals on Saturday.AFP

Lindsay Fendt/The Tico Times

 

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Originally Posted Tico Times
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!

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

Zarcero, boy did you have a surprise for us!

Today we decided to take a trip to Zarcero and boy and I glad we did! I went with the wife and 2 friends. It was a really good trip. Good company beautiful town and just a wonderful feel. Boy if I knew about this place it could have been in the running for where we may live instead of Atenas, but I really do lover our town of Atenas.

Our morning started at 10:45 as we drove off out on our adventure. We stopped to pick up one friend, the other drove to our house. We went to the gas station to fill up. Not that it was that far, but I have learned that in Costa Rica you should always fill up before you go on any adventure to anywhere you have never been before. You just don’t know what will happen.

It was a pretty uneventful drive. We had good company so the drive went pretty quickly. The roads can be a little twisty and windy from Atenas, but during the day and when it isn’t raining its pretty easy.

We got there right at 12:00 on the dot! It was time for lunch and we really wasn’t sure where to go. As we drove into town one of our friends saw a little shop area that had 2 restaurants listed. One had fast food in its name so we figured we would check out the other. So we go in and can’t find the one that was listed that wasn’t fast food. I went upstairs and saw what could have been it, but it wasn’t open. So we decided to take a chance. Here are some photo’s of the little center.

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Oh my are we glad we took the chance. The food was amazing and the prices were just as amazing! Dingo’s fast food  is where we ate. Don’t let the words Fast Food fool you. It was nothing like fast food!

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Patacones were ok. So at this point we were not 100% sure this was a right decision, but than we tasted the salsa! It was delicious! So we had hope. The only problem with this was there was way too much breading and too little plantains. This was 1,450 colones.

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My friends call me the Salad Nazi and with good reason. I am very picky over my salads. Now this doesn’t have a lot of nutritional value to it, but let me tell you it was good. The chicken was a pleasant surprise. This was the Ensalada Dingo. I don’t think that was dingo on our plate! The croutons were toasted bread and not too soft but not too hard either. The dressing was a ranch and just ok, but he chicken was the hero here. The added ham and cheese was nice as well.  This was 2,950 colones and actually it was enough to be a nice lunch in and of its self. \WP_20140625_12_44_22_Pro

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Next up our friend got the Super Hamburgesa. This is a direct quote from our friend who ordered it, “This is the best hamburger I have ever had in Costa Rica.” This is high praise coming from her. It had 2 kinds of cheese, pickles and just a small piece of bacon, but it was about 1/2 lb of burger! It came with a side of fries. This cost 2,950 colones as well and well worth the price!

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There is that wonderful salsa again! This was a Burrito and again direct quote, “One of the best I have had!” So again another winner and it comes in at 2,800 colones.

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Ok so Alitas Buffalo and there are 7 of them here. I took some flack for putting Hooters on my top 10 restaurants list and this place knocks them off! I would have liked a little more heat, but there was enough to make me happy and not too much that some who doesn’t like a lot of heat wouldn’t want to eat them. They were crispy and the breading was very different, but wonderful. They were very generously sauced as you can see. 7 of them cost 1,900 colones. Amazing price!

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This was the Costilla BBQ which is BBQ ribs. They cut them into pieces which made it easier to eat. Left the bone so you have to watch when you bit them. Pretty good. Wasn’t a wonderful BBQ sauce, but it was good. Now these potatoes were amazing! I don’t know what they did to them, but they were very tasty and flavorful! This dish was 4,000 colones.

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Ok so I was a little skeptical about getting the Churrasco. I am glad I did. Again served with those wonderful potatoes! The side salad was the same minus the chicken as our main salad. So the steak I am going to let this video speak for me.

Yes it was that tender. It needed a little salt, but other than that it was really good! So very surprised and wasn’t not expected this from a little shop that had Fast Food in its name! It was a good 6oz cooked so a good size. It cost 3,450 colones. I was shocked!

We also got 2 Cafe Negro, 1 Te frio and 4 Coke lights. The cold drinks were 1,000 colones each and the coffee was only 600 colones. We also got a dessert that we shared. I didn’t get a picture of it. There was a cinnamon roll and a fruit roll and I swear it was made from angle food cake batter. We couldn’t believe it. Very nice and it was only 500 colones for each one. Very good deal.

So total for our lunch for 4 with all that food and drink was only 29,450 colones or $53.69 for those who don’t know the conversion. I was amazed! It is one of those great accidental finds that you just never know will happen. We are so glad we decided to take a chance and not go anywhere else.

Now we get to the reason we were in Zarcero. We went for the garden and the church. Both were amazing! Love the beauty of the gardens and the church. So here are the pictures I took at the garden.  Click on the images below to see larger views.

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The other reason we went was to visit the church. It is one beautiful place, no doubt. The art and paintings are amazing. So here are the photo’s I took while at the church. Again click on the images below to see larger views.

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Over all it was a very nice day. Good friends, Good food, beautiful town and a wonderful drive. If you get a chance you should go visit this wonderful place and eat at that wonderful restaurant. Here is the blog of one of the friends that went with us. Check it out. Keeping you in Stitches

The only downside was the drive home. The rain held out until we were ready to leave, but I had to drive those twisty windy roads in the rain. We made it home safe and sound and that is all that matter.

Pura Vida!

Categories: Costa Rica Life Experience, Food, News, Restaurant Reviews, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Lightning kills 18 year old

So for those living here or just visiting you need to know about this story.

On Sunday 6/22/14 at Playa Penca in Costa Rica an 18 year old died when he was struck by lightning. He was identified as David Otoniel Rocha Rivera. It is said he was getting out of the water when the bolt hit. Rainy season is very beautiful and also can be very deadly as well. As soon as you see the clouds turn dark get inside! Do not take a chance.

This is a sad story and one that hopefully can be prevented in the future.

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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Medical Tourism in Costa Rica

 Medical Tourism in Costa Rica

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

 RESEARCH

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

 TRAVEL

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

 COSTS

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

 PROCEDURE

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

 RECOVERY

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

 RISKS

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

 BENEFITS

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

 CONCLUSION

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

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

Pura Vida!

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

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

Cost of Living Update days 17 – 23rd.

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

day 17 thru 23

 

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

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

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

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

Pura Vida!

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

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Eat Costa Rica Today!

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

Breakfast or Desayuno

Costa Rican Rice and Beans With Fried Eggs

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

Ingredients: 

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

Directions:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Time Prep 10 min. Cook 20 min. Serves 4

Lunch or Almuerzo

Hearts of Palm Parmesan Salad.

Ingredients: 

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

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

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

Directions:

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

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

Dinner or Cena

Appetizer or Aperitivo

Black Bean Quesadillas

Ingredients: 

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

Directions:

Step 1
Spread black beans on half of the tortilla.

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

Step 3
Spread the cheese on top of the spinach.

Step 4
Fold tortilla in half.

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

Step 6
Top with salsa and enjoy

Serves 2 Prep to cook time about 5 min.

Entree

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

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

Ingredients: 

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

Directions:

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

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

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

Step 4
Lay fish steaks on top of vegetable mixture.

Step 5
Cover with remaining vegetables and seasonings.

Step 6
Drizzle remaining annatto oil over top.

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

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

Dessert or Postre

Oven Baked Sweet Plantains. Photo by Sue Lau

Oven Baked Sweet Plantains

Ingredients: 

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

Directions:

Step 1
Preheat oven to 450°F.

Step 2
Coat a nonstick cookie sheet with cooking spray.

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

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

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

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

Serves about 2 Prep and cook time about 17 min.

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

Pura Vida!

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

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

Unlock your iPhone?

How do you Unlock your iPhone? 

Well I had this same question just recently. I have and iPhone with a US phone number on AT&T. No one really calls me on it. I never really make any calls out on it. So why am I paying over $150 a month for a phone with an international plan with data on it? I decided to figure out this Unlock thing so I can use a local sim card.

I could not believe how easy it was!!!!

I can only tell you the way I did it on AT&T. I have no clue if there is a way to do it on the other service providers. AT&T will unlock for free up to 5 devices that have or have had their service. Now if you had it and you switch this won’t work and they won’t do it for you. The last or current service provider has to be AT&T. It has to be their sim card in when you do it. So here is what  you do.

Step 1:

You go to this website AT&T unlock portal fill out all requested information and submit

Step 2:

Wait for the confirmation email that looks like this


Thank you for contacting AT&T Customer Service about unlocking your AT&T Mobile device. We have received your request to unlock your AT&T Mobile device. Your Request Number is: (some number here)

Please click here within the next 24 hours to confirm your request.

Your request is subject to AT&T Mobile device unlocking requirements. If we have further questions or instructions, we’ll contact you by email.

You may also check the status of your unlock request by clicking the link for AT&T’s Device Unlock Status Portal.


Sincerely, 

The AT&T Customer Care Team 

Now click on the line where it says click here and wait.

Step 3:

You will hopefully now get an email that looks like this:


Request number:

Thank you for contacting AT&T Customer Care about unlocking your AT&T Mobile device.

We have reviewed your request and confirmed that the device may be unlocked. You should complete the unlock process before porting out your number for use with another carrier.

Please allow 24 hours upon receipt of this notification to complete the unlock process.

1. Open iTunes on your Mac or PC and verify that you have Internet connectivity.

2. Ensure the original SIM card that came with this device is inserted in your iPhone.

3. Connect your iPhone using the dock connector to USB cable that came with your iPhone.

4. Backup and restore your iPhone using iTunes. For information on backup and restore, please visit http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1414.

5. After restoring, your iPhone will be unlocked.

Additional information on unlocking can be found at http://support.apple.com/kb/TS3198

For questions regarding AT&T Mobile device, please visit the Phone/Device Learning Center.

Thank you for your business. For other questions about our AT&T wireless service or other Mobile devices, please visit att.com.


Sincerely, 

AT&T Customer Care Team 

Follow these instructions and in less than 48 hours you phone is unlocked free of charge! I did it and it was simple, easy and no issues. I am now using my moviestar SIM card in my iPhone.

Pura Vida!

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

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In Search of Wild Costa Rica

Clockwise from top left: Rain forest in Corcovado National Park; a tapir in the park; a cabin at Bosque del Cabo Rainforest Lodge; spying on a toucan at the lodge. CreditScott Matthews for The New York Times

By the end of our fourth day on the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica, we had seen, according to the tally kept by my 9-year-old, Sasha, dozens of species of animals. We had peered at leafcutter ants, army ants and zombie ants. We had been deafened by howler monkeys, beguiled by squirrel monkeys and strangely stirred by capuchin monkeys, whose feet bear an eerie resemblance to human hands. That afternoon, in the national park that covers a third of the peninsula, we had even spied two tapirs, endangered mammals that look like hornless rhinoceroses with long snouts.

To sample this extravaganza of biodiversity, we had risen early each morning of our vacation. So when our guide informed us that he would be taking us out at 4:30 a.m. to witness the rain forest waking up, I — the motivating force behind, and thus bearer of responsibility for, this trip — glanced apprehensively at my family and swallowed hard.

“We’ll be up!” I said brightly.

I had shepherded Sasha and my husband, Scott, to Osa in hopes of a tropical wildlife experience that was, in fact, wild. But as we crawled into our tent that night, the beaten path from which I had so resolutely steered clear was starting to look more inviting.

Photo

Nito Paniagua, a guide, finds an anole lizard. CreditScott Matthews for The New York Times

Costa Rica, home to large tracts of untouched yet accessible rain forest, had seemed the obvious place to immerse ourselves in nature for a week in February. On Facebook, people responded with the Costa Rican phrase “pura vida!” (“pure life”) at the mere mention of the country. We had admired photographs of bright-colored birds, frogs and butterflies from the preserves near the capital, San José, which could be reached by direct flight from New York. The ubiquitous “canopy tours” through the treetops seemed a great way to indulge Sasha’s love of zip lining.

But as I researched where to go in the West Virginia-size country, I began to suspect that its popular ecotourist destinations might not quench my yearning for the untamed. On TripAdvisor, phrases like “well-developed” and the less-charitable “Disneyfied” arose in regard to the storied Monteverde Cloud Forest in the central highlands. Manuel Antonio National Park on the central Pacific Coast, widely loved for its beaches and restaurants, was reportedly better for night life than wildlife.

The more people who can enjoy the rain forest without destroying it the better, of course: The 70,000 or so who visit a sliver of Monteverde each year help pay to preserve the rest of it. But the remote Osa Peninsula, which juts into the Pacific Ocean from Costa Rica’s southwestern corner, seemed to hold an increasingly rare chance to observe the rain forest in all its fecund, carbon-storing, oxygen-producing glory, without quite so much human company.

Mostly mentioned in travel guides as an alternative for those who had hit the other highlights, Osa did not rank on Lonely Planet’s list of “Top 10 Costa Rica Spots for First-Timers.” To get there requires a second flight or a seven-hour drive from San José. And while the draw is the 160-square-mile Corcovado National Park, accommodations there are limited to a few dozen bunks and a tent platform at the Sirena Ranger Station.

I mapped a tentative itinerary that would bring us to each of two jumping-off points to the park, Puerto Jiménez to the southeast, and Drake Bay to the northwest, both of which have several excellent lodging options. In between, we would stay one night in the park, perhaps the last refuge in the country, I read, of the sweet-looking Baird’s tapirs Sasha and I had fallen for while searching online for “Costa Rica animals.”

An email from a well-traveled friend sealed the deal: “Costa Rica is very touristy,” he wrote. “Osa is not.”

Our first stop, Bosque del Cabo, was a 40-minute ride by taxi from Puerto Jiménez, the biggest town on the peninsula with a population of 1,780. I had chosen one of the two cabins at Bosque just steps from the rain forest, at the edge of a large clearing planted with native trees and plants. A half-mile away from the main lodge area, these “garden cabinas” are reached by a trail through the forest that crosses high above a river over a suspension bridge.

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The author and her daughter in a tide pool near Bosque del Cabo Rainforest Lodge.CreditScott Matthews for The New York Times

“We ask that only guests that feel they will be comfortable with the walk and the increased isolation of these accommodations book into them,” the lodge’s website warns.

Any pangs I might have had about passing up the dozen or so bungalows with ocean views disappeared as soon as we found ourselves in the company of spider monkeys, swinging from branch to branch at eye level on our first pass over the bridge. The lodge staff member escorting us waited patiently, albeit with the amusement of a New Yorker watching tourists marvel at pigeons.

“Do you feed them?” I couldn’t help asking. He assured me they did not.

A few steps off the bridge, we stopped short with the odd sensation that the earth was shifting under our feet. The highway of leafcutter ants hauling their leaf-bits toward the entrance to their underground caverns was our first inkling, repeatedly confirmed over the next few days, that they were in charge there. (“Are there more ants in Costa Rica than there are humans in the world?” Sasha would ask. Answer: many more).

Bosque itself sits on 750 acres that encompass some primary-growth rain forest and large swaths of “jungle,” rain forest that has grown back on land that had once been cleared — in Bosque’s case, for cattle grazing. We would have virtually no chance of seeing a tapir on the hotel’s trails, the staff told us candidly (even in Corcovado, we were told, our chances were 50-50). But we spotted poison dart frogs, lizards and monkeys dozing in the sun. A wild pig called a peccary often visited the lodge’s modest pool, where we cooled off and sipped ginger lemonades.

The hotel also offered nature-oriented activities: One morning we rappelled 70 feet down a strangler fig tree, another we hiked down the empty beach to a waterfall, splashing in the tide pools that form in the reef formations along the way. On an evening wildlife tour, the hotel naturalist taught us the trick of holding our flashlights against our temples, revealing the reflection of thousands of spider eyes shining in the grass.

Dinner, served buffet-style with a bounty of delicious choices (panko-crusted eggplant, roasted hearts of palm, crispy chicken with figs) was eaten at communal tables. And if I needed validation on my destination choice, we found ourselves dining more than once with others who had firsthand knowledge of Costa Rica’s well-traveled spots.

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Capuchin monkeys near Drake Bay. CreditScott Matthews for The New York Times

“Osa is — crunchier,” said one civil rights lawyer from Washington, D.C., as Sasha and another girl her age excused themselves to look at the bats hanging from the bamboo light fixtures.

His wife, a judge, concurred about their desire for a less-processed experience.

“More what we had in mind when we thought about Costa Rica,” she said.

In our cabin, open on three sides, we felt less like observers than residents of the forest, along with monkeys playing in the trees directly above us and the leafcutter ants below. One late afternoon, a rainbow of toucans and scarlet macaws flew by a few feet away, on their way to the fruit trees in the clearing behind us.

Yet knowing that the trees had been planted to attract the birds undercut, just a bit, the pleasure of their proximity. Perhaps it was our own fault, too, for being diverted by rappelling adventures and poolside lemonades. But when we landed the next morning at the ranger station, the headquarters of Corcovado park, it quickly became apparent that there would be no distractions from the natural world. Other than lounging on the shaded porch of the low-slung ranger station, there was really was nothing to do but be in it.

Our guide, Nito Paniagua, who met us in Puerto Jiménez for the 15-minute charter flight, lost no time snagging us a spot on the tent platform at the station and heading out on a trail to the river.

The park has just started requiring tourists to be accompanied by a guide, but in any case we would have been lost without Nito’s six senses. He caught lizards and hung them from our ears, trained his scope on resplendent birds no one else could see and produced bats from furled-up leaves.

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Tent platform at the Sirena Ranger Station in Corcovado National Park. CreditScott Matthews for The New York Times

“Look at the two species playing together,” he said at the trail’s entrance, pointing his viewing scope so we could see the howler and spider monkeys teasing each other in the branches above. “That’s so nice to see.”

Unlike the many hardy backpacker types who had walked 12 miles or more to camp at Sirena, we were not big hikers. But the walk down to the river where we ate lunch was not so much strenuous as it was intense. It took two hours only because we stopped every few steps for a new creature: the bird with the small heart, the carnivorous cricket, bright blue butterflies, the notorious fer-de-lance snake.

And because Nito had quickly divined that we were keen to see tapirs, he brought us to a spot where they are known to nap.

That we were lucky enough to see two of them through the trees from perhaps 50 feet away was one reason for the collective groan that night when Nito announced the 4:30 a.m. wake-up call.

What else, we wondered, did we have to see that couldn’t wait until dawn?

In my grogginess I left the tent without my glasses and had to run back to get them while Scott, Sasha and Nito waited for me on the grass beyond the porch of the ranger station. We stopped to admire a spider web at the start of the dirt trail, then traipsed on toward the beach where Nito wanted us to watch the sky grow light.

That was when the tapir came crashing out of the forest right in front of us. My heart beating hard, I held my breath, wishing I could freeze the moment. Scott and Sasha, too, stood transfixed. For just a split second, the large, strange animal seemed to register our presence. Then the tapir lumbered away from us, down the trail, toward the river as we followed, until it veered off into the darkness.

map ny times

I didn’t know it until then, but this, more than anything, was what I had hoped we would find on the Osa Peninsula. It wasn’t like seeing an animal lured to a spot by human guile, or to where all the guides know it’s likely to go on its own. If I hadn’t forgotten my glasses, we might well have missed it.

It felt wild.

There was no shortage of moments like that in our short time at Sirena. Sasha’s favorite siting may have been the anteater carrying a baby on her back all the way up to the top of a tree, spied that morning after a breakfast of eggs and ham that was, like our dinner there the night before, plain but tasty. We all oohed over the baby hummingbirds in the nest Nito found, and the baby hawks the ranger showed us through his scope in between his other chores at the understaffed station.

Before we left, we walked one more trail, cooler and less dense than the one we had taken the previous day because the soaring tree canopies blocked the light others might use to grow. The logging and slash-and-burn agriculture that had prompted the formation of the park in 1975, Nito told us, had never reached here. As we stumbled into a clearing where one tree, an espavel, or wild cashew, towered some 150 feet above us, we stood again in silent awe. That tens of thousands of acres of such forest are destroyed each day worldwide seemed inconceivable.

Most life in the rain forest, Nito reminded us, lives in the canopy, and never descends to the forest floor. Speaking of untamed, no one even knows entirely what’s up there.

We might have been happy staying longer at Sirena had our tent been pitched on the lawn, rather than the platform, which was hot and crowded at night. (Nito was scheming to go in with other guides on tents with rain flaps that could be used on the lawn.) The ticks, albeit not disease carrying, were also not a plus, especially for Sasha, who pried five off her legs.

As it was, we were happy to get to our final Osa destination, La Paloma Lodge on Drake Bay, after an hourlong boat ride from Corcovado that afternoon. It felt good to take a hot shower and to enjoy the rain forest as a view from the hotel’s elegant dining room, set high on a cliff above the Pacific Ocean.

At night, Tracie Stice, a local naturalist universally known as the “bug lady,” showed us a scorpion (“Don’t sit down,” she suggested as we leaned against the stone wall) and gently pried open the well-camouflaged home of a “trap-door” spider so that we could see the creature promptly slam it shut again.

On our last day, we went on a decidedly human-manufactured, 13-zip-line canopy tour arranged for us, a highlight of the trip for Sasha. But when Scott asked her which leg of the trip she would eliminate, if she had to lose one, she couldn’t choose. Like her parents, she could have happily lived for decades in our first cabin. She wouldn’t give up zip lining.

“And I can’t take out Sirena,” she said. “Because that’s where we saw everything.”

By 

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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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

top-10-list-231x300

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.

WCCR2

Catch a Saprissa Soccer Game

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

Our Lady of the Angels Basilica

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

Poas Volcano

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

Veragua Rainforest

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

Doka Coffee Plantation

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

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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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GALLO PINTO EFFECT?

Ticos consume some 49,000 tons of beans per year. Most are imported as Costa Rica only produces some 14,000 tons. Ronald Reyes/The Tico Times

 

Call it the gallo pinto effect.

Officials from Costa Rica’s Agriculture and Livestock Ministry (MAG) this week warned of a shortage of beans in the country, and issued an order to allow tax-free importation from any country in order to meet an estimated shortage of 21,000 tons needed to supply local demand from July to January.

The country currently has reserves of 3,200 metric tons of black beans and 1,200 metric tons of red beans. But with domestic consumption at 4,100 tons per month, there are barely enough beans for this month. Beans and rice are essential in Ticos’ daily diet.

According to the National Production Council (CNP) a change in agricultural production strategies in Nicaragua – Costa Rica’s main bean provider – severely decreased supplies from that country.

But local producers blame the possible shortage on a requirement of MAG’s State Phytosanitary Service (SFE), which states that all imported beans must be completely clean, without any residue or dirt. The rule this year has prevented some 100 containers of beans – mainly from Nicaragua – from entering the country, producers say.

Alejandro Monge, executive director of the National Association of Bean Industrials (ANIFRI), confirmed that Costa Rica currently produces only 20 percent of all beans consumed in the country, and the remaining 80 percent must be imported from Nicaragua, Argentina and China.

“Strict SFE measures are preventing the entry of imported beans in time to meet current demand,” he said.

The shortage particularly affects red beans. Nicaragua in 2013 supplied 99 percent of Costa Rican red bean imports and 50 percent of all imported beans, according to the CNP.

The situation already is affecting consumers, as the price of red beans this year increased by 10 percent, according to the CNP. Prices likely will continue to increase if the shortage extends longer. The Costa Rican Consumers Association last week asked the Economy Ministry to conduct periodic inspections to prevent price speculation from retailers.

The Grain Industries Chamber agrees with the consumers’ group, forecasting a significant increase in prices in coming months, especially for red beans. They also said in a press release that the situation will not be resolved with MAG’s shortage alert, and they urged the government to modify SFE guidelines and regulations.

ANIFRI requested a change in SFE legislation during a meeting with Agriculture and Livestock Vice Minister Joaquín Salazar. At the meeting they suggested an amendment of legislation to allow up to 2 percent of impurities in imported beans, depending on the grains’ quality. They also suggested fumigation of trucks that might represent contamination risks. However, both sides failed to reach an agreement at the meeting.

ANIFRI will continue pushing for a change in legislation, and in coming days will meet with officials from the Foreign Trade Ministry and the Economy Ministry to propose an amendment of SFE regulations.

 

Originally posted Tico Times

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5 extraordinary treetop hotels

Wow Costa Rica made  this list as well!!!! 

Tree 1 tree 2 Tree 3 tree 4 tree 5

 

 

Book your trip today using the link below:


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I.R.S. makes major changes to Offshore Compliance Programs

WASHINGTON – The Internal Revenue Service announced today major changes in its offshore voluntary compliance programs, providing new options to help both taxpayers residing overseas and those residing in the United States. The changes are anticipated to provide thousands of people a new avenue to come into compliance with their U.S. tax obligations.

The changes include an expansion of the streamlined filing compliance procedures announced in 2012 and important modifications to the 2012 Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP). The expanded streamlined procedures are intended for U.S. taxpayers whose failure to disclose their offshore assets was non-willful.

“This opens a new pathway for people with offshore assets to come into tax compliance,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “The new versions of our offshore programs reflect a carefully balanced approach to ensure everyone pays their fair share of taxes owed. Through the changes we are announcing today, we provide additional flexibility in key respects while maintaining the central components of our voluntary programs.”

Balanced against the modified programs is the government’s ongoing effort to combat the misuse of offshore assets. The IRS, working closely with the U.S. Department of Justice, continues to investigate foreign financial institutions that may have assisted U.S. taxpayers in avoiding their tax filing and payment obligations. In addition, on July 1, the new information reporting regime resulting from the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) will go into effect. Thousands of foreign financial institutions will begin to report to the IRS the foreign accounts held by U.S. persons.

The current Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program was launched in 2012 and is the successor to prior voluntary programs offered in 2011 and 2009. Since the launch of the first program, more than 45,000 taxpayers have come into compliance voluntarily, paying about $6.5 billion in taxes, interest and penalties.

The expansion of the streamlined procedures and modifications to OVDP reflect the thoughtful input of the tax community given the growing awareness among U.S. taxpayers of their offshore tax obligations.

“Through our enforcement efforts and implementation of FATCA, taxpayers are more aware of their obligations, and we believe want to come into compliance,” Koskinen said. “In this rapidly changing environment, we listened to feedback from the tax community as well as the National Taxpayer Advocate about our voluntary programs. We have made important adjustments to provide opportunities for all U.S. taxpayers to come in, including those who are not willfully hiding assets.”

Streamlined Procedures Expanded

The changes announced today make key expansions in the streamlined procedures to accommodate a wider group of U.S. taxpayers who have unreported foreign financial accounts.

The original streamlined procedures announced in 2012 were available only to non–resident, non–filers. Taxpayer submissions were subject to different degrees of review based on the amount of the tax due and the taxpayer’s response to a “risk” questionnaire.

The expanded streamlined procedures are available to a wider population of U.S. taxpayers living outside the country and, for the first time, to certain U.S. taxpayers residing in the United States. The changes include:

  • Eliminating a requirement that the taxpayer have $1,500 or less of unpaid tax per year;
  • Eliminating the required risk questionnaire;
  • Requiring the taxpayer to certify that previous failures to comply were due to non–willful conduct.

For eligible U.S. taxpayers residing outside the United States, all penalties will be waived. For eligible U.S. taxpayers residing in the United States, the only penalty will be a miscellaneous offshore penalty equal to 5 percent of the foreign financial assets that gave rise to the tax compliance issue.

Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP) Modified

The changes announced today also make important modifications to the OVDP. The changes include:

  • Requiring additional information from taxpayers applying to the program;
  • Eliminating the existing reduced penalty percentage for certain non–willful taxpayers in light of the expansion of the streamlined procedures;
  • Requiring taxpayers to submit all account statements and pay the offshore penalty at the time of the OVDP application;
  • Enabling taxpayers to submit voluminous records electronically rather than on paper;
  • Increasing the offshore penalty percentage (from 27.5% to 50%) if, before the taxpayer’s OVDP pre–clearance request is submitted, it becomes public that a financial institution where the taxpayer holds an account or another party facilitating the taxpayer’s offshore arrangement is under investigation by the IRS or Department of Justice.

Full details of the changes to both the streamlined procedures and OVDP can be found on IRS.gov.

Related Items:

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s what Ticos got right:

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

What Ticos got wrong:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Originally posted at the Tico Times

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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 2

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

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

Day 2

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

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

Pura Vida.

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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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Top 10 reason I picked Costa Rica

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

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

Maryland Weather 2013

Maryland Weather 2013

Atenas Costa Rica 2013

Atenas Costa Rica 2013

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pura Vida!

 

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5 Top things Costa Rican Restaurants need to know

no inconsistency

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

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

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

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

Pura Vida!

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

 

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The True Meaning of Pura Vida

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Categories: Andrea MacEachern, Travel, Writers | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

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

Coopenae logo

The banking culture in C.R.

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

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

How secure is to invest in C.R.

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

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

The C.R. financial system

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

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

How to access C.R. banking system

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

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

Current CD Rates at COOPENAE:

cd rates

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

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

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

Regards, Asdrúbal

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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:

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Now that is a good salad.

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

Pura Vida!

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

Costa Rica Expensive? What? Part I Housing Costs

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

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

 

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Housing Costs

 

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

  • Electricity is expensive here. so I.C.E. is the electrical power supplier in Costa Rica. The current rates at the time of writing this blog are about .37 per kwh. Now this equates to anywhere from $40 a month to $2K a month in electric bill. The size of your house, the number of toys you have, like computers, laptops, iPad, TV’s, etc. Do you have a pool? Do you need A/C. Yep there you go the bill just went up even more. When you add a pool, a big screen TV, a couple of electronics and A/C you are talking big bucks. Do you have an electric water heater? Electric water heater is going to jump the costs as well. An on demand systems will be a little lower, but not much. Going propane for water heater I am told is much less expensive. Do you have a hot tub? Now that will jump your bill. I found that out the hard way. I did convert it to solar heating system with a propane heater to keep it hot at night when in use. That took off about $150 from my monthly bill. If you have a clothes dryer that will jump you bill. These are all things we don’t think about in the states until we come here. Oh and if you live way up high in the hills where it is cold a heating system will also increase your bill. If you are up there you won’t really  need A/C,  so its kind of washes out cost wise. OK, lets just say you have a 2500 sqft house with one large screen tv, a couple computers, couple  laptops, a pool, washer and dryer, electric water heater and A/C and or heat and that is going to run you about $1200 a month in electric. It could be more I have heard stories of $2K a month in the beach areas.  Now take that same house  with a number of TV’s and laptop and such, and a pool but no A/C, an on demand hot water system and it will cost you about $400 a month. A smaller house with 1 regular size tv and one computer and one laptop, no pool and no A/C, no dryer will run you about $50 a month. Things you need to think about when doing a budget. Estimate high for your bill, be pleased when it doesn’t reach that, and adjust your lifestyle when it goes above! Unplug anything that is not in use. Items like TV’s, computers and almost anything that plugs in draws energy as long as it is connected.
  • Water believe it or not, is not that expensive compared to the states. When I lived in the states I had a well on my property so pretty cheap, but before that I used public water and our quarterly bill for 2 adults and 2 teens was about $100. Here my bill is about $35 on average for 2 adults. I do have a pool and sometimes it is higher and gets even higher when you have to fill your pool because of a earth quake splitting the pipes and the pool going empty. That is another blog. Or your Gardener leave the hose run in a part of the yard you don’t go visit and its on for almost a day. Those are very unusual so water cost isn’t much of an issue for a budget. It is however an issue in some areas as you will have water outages a lot in dry season which is from Dec. to about May. My current house is on a well for the community so we have very few outages. The only time it goes out is when someone makes a mistake. One time they were getting service to a new lot that was being built on and they cut the line and had to shut it down. Another time someone left the valves open on the tanks and drained them so they had to cut it off to let the tanks fill. A friend went without water in one of the areas of Atenas (public water system Aya) for over a week. Others tell stories of it being out form like 8pm until 8am every day. So even though it isn’t expensive it could be a challenge. I have been lucky and I know it and count my blessings!
  • Renting is an option for a lot of people here. They like to move around to the different areas of Costa Rica and or just don’t want to be tied down. Again size plays a factor in what you will pay. You can find some very nice homes for as little as $300 a month (very small tico style home) to something with a little more room for $1800 a month. All depends on what you are looking for. Many of the rentals will include utilities such as cable and TV. Most won’t do the electric, but some do.
  • Buying a house in Costa Rica can be tricky and exciting and expensive or cheap. You have to 1st figure out what can you afford and go from there. Now I will leave most of this to the experts at Remax who will be doing an article for me. I will tell you this much don’t buy unless you know 100% that Costa Rica is the place for you and only go with someone you know or someone who you know, knows and trusts to take you though this process. Now if you are buying there is always going to be more costs associated with it vs renting. As an example my house has a lot of wood and every so many years it will all have to be sanded and re-varnished. This can be expensive. Keep maintenance and upkeep in mind when you are doing your budget and looking at the house you will buy. Don’t let the WoW factor of your house overwhelm you and cloud your judgement on what you can afford or the maintenance that will be involved in the upkeep of that house. Costa Rica does have unique maintenance issues not found in other countries.
  • TV and Internet  I am not going to talk a lot on this point just going to refer you to my blog post about this. https://bestofcostarica.org/2014/03/20/buffering-buffering-buffering/ In that post I talk mainly about internet and how you can get it. I also talk about you can get all your TV via the internet and have no need for real cable television. In my opinion this is a better option. Now for TV you can go with any number of services if you want real cable. The cost will vary greatly on the service plan and the service provider you use. I pay $30 for Cabletica as it is only a basic service, see my blog why I even have it, as I do not use it. Claro is running about $28 for basic cable and if you go with the movie channels and the HD service it is going to cost you about $55 a month. I know my cable TV with all the movie channels (now we had a lot more channels in the states mind you) and HD ran about $175 a month on Comcast. Comcast basic TV is running about $55 a month now.You will need un-block.us to use all the services out there.
  • Pool service isn’t too bad here. If you have a pool and don’t want to service it yourself you can get it for fairly cheap. Well here in Atenas anyway. I’m not sure about other areas what the costs is, I pay about $64 a month for the service and than chemicals add about another $20. This is the cost for service once a week. They come clean, treat, fill the pool and our hot tub which is attached to the pool. Now in the states I was paying $80 a service plus chemicals. So for service alone I was paying $320 a month plus chemicals. Now some people here allow their gardener to service their pool. Not a good idea people, but I guess if you have him trained by someone who knows what they are doing it can be OK, but most gardeners have no clue about pool maintenance.
  • Housekeepers are everywhere and just about everyone has one and it doesn’t  matter if your house is 1k sqft or 10K sqft. Some come once a week, while others come every day or like me I have our here on Mondays and Friday.I use this schedule to help with clean up before the weekend parties and than clean up after  the weekend parties! 🙂 So your cost will vary on the number of times you want your house cleaned. They do everything from the floors, to the windows and even laundry. Pretty much almost anything you need them to do while they are here, and they are willing to do it with no issues or additional costs unless you are asking them to stay later or come another day. So cost is about $3 an hour. Yes you heard me right $3 an hour. There are other costs involved as well such as Caja (gringo speak Health insurance) Costarricense del Seguro Social (gringo speak Social Security) and than there is vacation pay which I believe is 15 days a year and holidays. There is also something they call 13 month pay in December. This is where  you pay them 1 months salary before the end of the year. So, its like a year end bonus that is required. There is also workers comp insurance you can get that runs between $80 and $150 a year.  So once you factor in all those costs and if you want to do it right you are talking under $15 a hour. It can be a lot under in most cases, but that’s a pretty good number to do it right. You compare that to costs in the states of $45 to $90 an hour or higher and you now know why almost everyone has one. If we are being honest here most use housekeepers who are not legal and get them for $3 an hour flat or less. That is just how it works here for some people. I don’t suggest doing this, but people do all the time doesn’t make it right, but I pass no judgments. My advise is to use a service or share with a friend who knows what they are doing as all the rules get confusing and its not like it is in the states. If you fire them it can be a huge mess of bills for you and the cost can be high. Some people will put the money away each year into a CD just in case they have to fire them. If they quit not an issue. While others pay it at the end of the year for that years service. So, its like firing them and rehiring them on a yearly basis.
  • Gardeners are even cheaper than a housekeeper. You can get them for about $2 an hour or less again depending on if the are legal or not. All the same things apply for the Gardeners as the housekeepers. So the cost will be more once you add all the additional costs, but still going to be way cheaper than if you had one in he states. Especially in some areas. I know I pay almost $100 an hour to have a company come in and take care of my property while I am not there.
  • Community Fees vary from community to community. Some have no fees while others have many fees. Depending on the area and the house you are looking to rent or buy check into the fees! Not everyone or every agent will tell you about these fees upfront. They are not trying to deceive they just don’t think about it. So be sure to ask!  Our house is in a gated community, but the only fees we have is for the security guard at the gate which we pay about $40 a month for. In addition to that we have a trash pickup fee of $8 a month. Now we do not have this and other do pay what would be the equivalent of HOA fees in addition to all of  those. It can range from $10 am month to $100 a month. It all depends on what is offered by the community or what the builds want to make off of you each month. Again you must ask as they won’t always tell you. Is there a pool, playground, shared community center? All these things raise the price of the fees. There is one community here that offers nothing outside of your house and the lot and they still charge a fee for nothing. I guess it is for the privilege of living on the developers land.  Community fees are really no different here than in the states and I think these fees are pretty much the same and or lower. I owned a house once and the HOA fees were $125 a month and they really didn’t have anything to offer. Now if you are buying you are fully responsible for those costs. If you are renting you may want to verify all those costs are included in your monthly rental fee.
  • Homeowner or Renters Insurance like in most countries is a necessary evil. Doesn’t matter where in the world you live you have to have a number of types of insurance. I pay about $1200 a year for my homeowners policy and other have stated as low as $250 a year. I think I may be getting ripped off. My research for this article has me thinking. Again this varies with the house value and the options you select on your policy. This will be covered in full detail when we get our article from the owners of the Remax here in Atenas. Now I will say I was talking to some people in a Facebook group to get what they pay and the responses were “Whats insurance” So I assume not everyone has this. Some said too expensive for what was covered and etc. So same complaint we have anywhere in the world when talking about insurance. In another blog I will detail my 2 claims that I have had so far this past year. Not sure it is worth having really, as I have not been happy with what I have to do and how long it takes to finish a claim out. I’m stilling fighting with them over an issue that happened back in Oct. of 2012.

So that just about covers it for housing costs. We will go into more detail on some of these points when Remax does a write up. So look for that one in the coming weeks. This concludes part I. Just remember that living in Costa Rica sometimes requires you to make adjustments to get the most out of your life here. Some are easy and others are very hard, but Costa Rica is worth the changes you may have to make to your life. Not sure yet how many parts this piece will have, but we will see. My next post in this series is going to be on transportation costs and groceries. I guess it really all depends on how much I have to say, and as we all know by now I always have a lot to say! So to wrap this up Electric is high, water comparable to the US if not cheaper (but can be a challenge), renting can be cheaper than buying,  and buying is way cheaper when you look at what you get here verse  what you can get in the states for the same price. TV and Internet cheaper but slower, but more than what you will need to do the things you will do. Pool service, housekeepers, Gardeners are most defiantly cheaper here by a lot! Insurance is pretty much the same as it is in the states. It can be cheaper here, but claims are just as difficult to collect. .So over all housing costs in Costa Rica as compared to the US it is much cheaper!!!!! What do you think? Am I right or do you have a different opinion? Let me know what you pay for this by leaving a comment on this post. If you do state the area you live in and as much info as possible along with what the costs are. This will help people be better informed and get real life data. Not just variables and ranges. So I give Housing Costs in Costa Rica 3 seashell1out of 5. Only because of the Electric costs and the water outages some people will have to face. Otherwise it would be 4 if you move to an area that doesn’t have water issues and you don’t need A/C or heat.

Pura Vida!

 

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

Pizza! Pizza!

Home made pizza by me!

Home made pizza by me!

Doesn’t this pizza look so good! Its round and gooey and cheezy and has a little tickness to the crust. This is a picture of a pizza I made myself. I use to own my own Pizza and Sub shop. We had the best pizza in the area. Its not just me saying it I was told that by customers and even other pizza shop owners. This one I made here in Costa Rica. The cheezy goodness and the sauce and the pepperoni was just a blend and a wonderful explosion of flavor in your mouth. The crust was so nice and hand tossed with just the right thickness and herbs added in. The smell while it was cooking was amazing.

So is your mouth watering and do you wan to put a piece of pie in your pie hole yet? I’m know you do. You want to run out right now and go get a pizza like this one. Well guess what, YOU ARE NOT GOING  TO FIND ONE LIKE THIS IN COSTA RICA!!!!! Nope you won’t. What you will find is what my wife and I like to call cheese and cracker type of pizza. No don’t get me wrong in the right mood I can eat a true Italian style crust pizza, but that is a very rare mood and it better have some good cheese, sauce and toppings.

Now there are 3 important things that make a really good pizza. The 1st is the crust. It has to be light an airy and have a little substance to it. It can’t be too dense or too airy. Doesn’t have to be 3 inches thick either. Again some people like that and that is ok and I prefer a thicker crust over a thin one. The crust should have some flavor to it and not be just dough. There should be some herbs and spices mixed in with the crust. It should be hand tossed and slapped out like a pizza was meant to be. This helps with the rising of the crust in the oven. It allows some air to get into the dough.  When you cook the crust you don’t want to over cook it. A nice brown crunchy bottom and sides with a soft, but not raw texture inside.

The 2nd items is the sauce. It has to be a very good red sauce! Don’t give me none of that white pizza crap or the oil and garlic sauce crust! Yea ok it can taste good, but that isn’t a really good pizza sauce for a really good pizza. You can’t put too much on the pizza. if you over sauce it the dough won’t cook properly and if  you under sauce it what is the damn point of putting sauce on it? You have to put a light coating of sauce on the pizza but not too light. Nice even coating. You want to think about a night breeze that is just cold enough for you to put on a light covering and not a huge winter jacket!!!!!!!!!!  If you put the sauce on too heavy you crust won’t cook and can even be raw. Raw dough is not good at all! The sauce is where most of your flavor comes from.

The 3rd item is the cheese. You have to have good cheese. It should be a mozzarella and provolone blend. Don’t go buying that crap in the market ok. Go to a good store and buy some good cheese. Not shredded you want the kind that are in the shape of a ball. The shredded sits on top of the pizza like bamboo shoots  a crossed its surface. It just doesn’t give it a good texture. The ball shape cheese melts very nicely and evenly over the entire pizza.

Now toppings are unimportant to a good pizza. They are just toppings people. Those 3 things are really all you need to make a good pizza. Now toppings do lend to make up for a fault in one of the three things above, but if any two of the three are bad you might as well be french kissing your dog! Its going to be about the same experience. People they are called toppings for a reason! They go on top of the pizza! Not burried on the bottom of the cheese or even worse the sauce!!! So put those things where they belong!!!!

Here are some example of what you will find and get here in costa Rica.

Riu palace pizza Bella Vita 995045_10200243694280279_1829861480_n

As you can tell from these pictures cheese and cracker. That is all you are going to get. Not that much cheese either and if you look the one even has the TOPPINGS under the cheese. Not good people not good! Now for what it is worth if  you want a pizza these will do in a pinch. There is only one place I recomend here in Atenas for this type of pizza an that is Alida’s.

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

They have a good pizza, but it is a little expensive, but when you want a good pizza mind you cheese and cracker, Oh I mean traditional Italian pizza this is the best place to go. My wife likes to get their 4 cheese pizza as it has a little kick to it. Me I don’t get it at all really and only because their other food is so good! So she gets pizza and I get good Italian food! Works out well.

I give Alida’s pizza 3 seashell1out of 5 as their sauce is pretty good! They are a bit pricey I think their pizza is like $18. It is worth it if you are craving a pizza and are ok with the cracker crust. I gave them 3 because of their other food options are so good! If I had reviewed them as a hole they would have gotten 4 out of 5. Oh wait I just did! 🙂

Now mind you that isn’t the most expensive pizza either. There are some places that charge upwards of $25 for a 14 inch cheese pizza. Insanity!!!! I won’t go to those places to have pizza.

Now a really good pizza in Atenas is at Pizza Rica! Their crust is thicker than any crust I have seen in Atenas. Now you have your pizza hut and your papa johns pizza here, but I really don’t like those chains. Their crust is the traditional hand toss with a good thickness to it, but I just don’t like their sauce or their cheeses and their crust while thick has no flavor other than flour. Pizza Rica on the other hand has a very good pizza. No doubt and it is reasonable priced.  Her is a link to them.

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

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

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

 

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

Pura Vida!

 

 

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

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…..Update

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

Pura Vida!

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

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