SO YOU WANT to LIVE in COSTA RICA the Adventures, Trials and Tribulations of Settling in Paradise by Gary Davis plumitapacifica.com

14 Apr

This is the continuation of a series of posts on my blog to promote the e-book SO YOU WANT to LIVE in COSTA RICA – which is a Guide to… the Adventures, Trials and Tribulations of Settling in Paradise… This is a guide book that will give you the kind of insider’s knowledge that you might wish you had before you made your decision to move or not move to Costa Rica.

Every blog entry will start with the appendix because that way when you read whatever else I have posted it will 1. make sense (I hope) and 2. give you a point of reference in case you realize you need to read something that is “archived”.  Because if you read every blog I enter you will have eventually read the whole e-book and won’t need to order it for $2.99 from Amazon or B&N.  All you’ll be missing are the photos that show what you might expect if you choose to undertake the Adventures, Trials and Tribulations of Settling in Paradise.

As I said, I will start each blog with the appendix so that the reader can reference important elements of the book to archived blogs.  The page numbers shown are the actual page they appear on in the book. Here is the Appendix – and these are all the nuggets and their corresponding page numbers:

Definition of “nugget” – 3, Doors & Windows – 7, Manufacturing – 11, Real Estate – 11, Shipping – 12,Maps, – 15, Corporations – 20, Traffic Cops – 23, Know basic Spanish – 30, Panama – 33, Roof Line – 42, Plumita Pacifica Web Address – 65, Getting the Best a Tico has to Offer – 84, Power Surges – 86, Liberia Airport – 88, Attitude – 104, Cellular Phones – 117, Newspapers – 18, Your Embassy – 137, Buying & Selling Cars – 154, Drive Slowly – 161, Arriving at the Airport – 168, Wages & Prices – 170, Undertows – 226, Life Ring – 230, Avoiding Customs Confiscations – 234, Driving Rules – 236, Walking in the City – 249, Purchasing Anything – 258, Buying Fresh Produce – 263, Bus Tickets – 272, to “Bribe” or not to “Bribe” – 313, Traffic ticket Prices – 315, Exiting the Country – 337

And just in case you’re interested… here’s the table of contents:

Introduction and Preliminary Comments – 3, My First Trip -15, Lost in Guanacaste – Playa Coyote – 20, Trust with a Child – 26, Lost in Panama – 29, Attorneys – 35, My Contractor – 38, My Security Guard – 61, My Toldo – 67, Getting a Land Line Phone and Internet – 76, A Cellular Phone – 115, A Country Doctor – 124, A Lesson Well Learned – 130, A Little Green Frog – 138, A Little Brown Frog and a Bat – 146, A “Murphy’s Law” Day – 153, Driving in the Rainy Season – 161, Drunk Drivers – 174, Fiesta del Toros – 185, Getting a Drivers License – 195, INS and a Minor Accident – 203, Lifeguards – 224, Passing through Customs – 232, Rules of the Road for Tico Driving – 236, San Jose – 241, Shopping and Making Tamales – 250, Taking the Bus – 272, Turtles in My Front Yard – 281, Untitled – 287, When it Rains it Pours (sometimes) – 294, She Found My Lot – 307, My First Traffic Ticket – 312, Ticket # 2 – 316, My Radar Detector – 318, Ticket # 3 (after a slow speed chase) – 324, A Christmas Parade – 338, Sex (the truth about ticos) – 343, Photo Album – 347, Appendix – 374

chapter 26 continued

I have learned however, that some taxi drivers will attempt to cheat you.  Their usual technique is to simply turn off their meter without saying anything and when you arrive at your destination they tell you a price which is probably about double what you would have paid if the meter had been running.  Or they don’t have a meter which, of course, you don’t notice until it’s too late.  Or they quote you a price to your destination before you get in the cab and if it’s pouring down rain or you’re in a hurry you may just give in to it.  Whatever, any way you cut it you either have a confrontation or deal with disgust.

But for the most part, I’ve found the cab drivers to be friendly and helpful.  Some even take the opportunity to practice their English.  That’s a comical experience.  Me practicing my Spanish with them practicing their English.  I’m never quite sure either of us understands the other but we at least arrive at my destination having a good time.

And I learn some new words (some I won’t put into print).

SO YOU WANT to LIVE in COSTA RICA the Adventures, Trials and Tribulations of Settling in Paradise by Gary Davis plumitapacifica.com

10 Apr

This is the continuation of a series of posts on my blog to promote the e-book SO YOU WANT to LIVE in COSTA RICA – which is a Guide to… the Adventures, Trials and Tribulations of Settling in Paradise… This is a guide book that will give you the kind of insider’s knowledge that you might wish you had before you made your decision to move or not move to Costa Rica.

Every blog entry will start with the appendix because that way when you read whatever else I have posted it will 1. make sense (I hope) and 2. give you a point of reference in case you realize you need to read something that is “archived”.  Because if you read every blog I enter you will have eventually read the whole e-book and won’t need to order it for $2.99 from Amazon or B&N.  All you’ll be missing are the photos that show what you might expect if you choose to undertake the Adventures, Trials and Tribulations of Settling in Paradise.

As I said, I will start each blog with the appendix so that the reader can reference important elements of the book to archived blogs.  The page numbers shown are the actual page they appear on in the book. Here is the Appendix – and these are all the nuggets and their corresponding page numbers:

Definition of “nugget” – 3, Doors & Windows – 7, Manufacturing – 11, Real Estate – 11, Shipping – 12,Maps, – 15, Corporations – 20, Traffic Cops – 23, Know basic Spanish – 30, Panama – 33, Roof Line – 42, Plumita Pacifica Web Address – 65, Getting the Best a Tico has to Offer – 84, Power Surges – 86, Liberia Airport – 88, Attitude – 104, Cellular Phones – 117, Newspapers – 18, Your Embassy – 137, Buying & Selling Cars – 154, Drive Slowly – 161, Arriving at the Airport – 168, Wages & Prices – 170, Undertows – 226, Life Ring – 230, Avoiding Customs Confiscations – 234, Driving Rules – 236, Walking in the City – 249, Purchasing Anything – 258, Buying Fresh Produce – 263, Bus Tickets – 272, to “Bribe” or not to “Bribe” – 313, Traffic ticket Prices – 315, Exiting the Country – 337

And just in case you’re interested… here’s the table of contents:

Introduction and Preliminary Comments – 3, My First Trip -15, Lost in Guanacaste – Playa Coyote – 20, Trust with a Child – 26, Lost in Panama – 29, Attorneys – 35, My Contractor – 38, My Security Guard – 61, My Toldo – 67, Getting a Land Line Phone and Internet – 76, A Cellular Phone – 115, A Country Doctor – 124, A Lesson Well Learned – 130, A Little Green Frog – 138, A Little Brown Frog and a Bat – 146, A “Murphy’s Law” Day – 153, Driving in the Rainy Season – 161, Drunk Drivers – 174, Fiesta del Toros – 185, Getting a Drivers License – 195, INS and a Minor Accident – 203, Lifeguards – 224, Passing through Customs – 232, Rules of the Road for Tico Driving – 236, San Jose – 241, Shopping and Making Tamales – 250, Taking the Bus – 272, Turtles in My Front Yard – 281, Untitled – 287, When it Rains it Pours (sometimes) – 294, She Found My Lot – 307, My First Traffic Ticket – 312, Ticket # 2 – 316, My Radar Detector – 318, Ticket # 3 (after a slow speed chase) – 324, A Christmas Parade – 338, Sex (the truth about ticos) – 343, Photo Album – 347, Appendix – 374

chapter 26 continued

Well, it’s obvious he knows but he couldn’t tell me how he learned it.  He’s lived there nearly fifteen years.  Maybe it comes to you by osmosis.

I may never work up my courage to try a local bus because the solution to the dilemma of how to get around S.J. is very simple… a taxi.  You can travel for fifteen or twenty minutes in a cab for $6 or $8 and those guys are amazing at knowing exactly (most of the time) where you need to go.   The reason I say amazing is because, as you may have already read, there are no addresses and no street signs in C.R.  S.J. and its surrounding cities contain approximately 2.8 million people.  It’s exactly like L.A. in the sense that there is no division of cities or any indication that you have entered a different area.  But you can give the driver the name of the edifice you need or an approximate location and no problem, you’re there lickety split.  Two examples: Al lives in Colonia Kennedy, enfrente el parque, al lado norte de la auto pista, casa verde (for those of you who speak Spanish, those are the words I say to the “taxista”).  That’s about a fifteen minute white knuckle ride for about $4 and worth every scary penny.  I’ve been to his house many times and no way would I try to get there and back to my hotel in downtown S.J. on my own.  The other example: I couldn’t find the item I wanted at any of the hundreds of stores within an easy walk of my hotel and someone told me to go to a store called Yamuny.  Here are the directions I was given.  100 meters north of the national gymnasium.  No problem, I was there in less than five minutes by cab.  And S.J. is like many of the European cities that grew from nothing to a city of millions with not much planning and before there were many (or any) cars.

Like European cities there are little narrow streets going in crazy directions.  Also similarly, a need arose to create one-way streets.  But in C.R. in many of the towns, including S.J, you can be traveling down a one-way street and come to an intersection where you meet head-on with a one-way street going the opposite direction.  That’s a little disconcerting.  They will at least have a sign across the intersection from you that says “no hay paso” (sometimes) and one on your side indicating which way you need to turn (sometimes).   I have driven around S.J. a little when I know I can travel on major streets and be able to make normal left and right turns.

But my preferred method of getting around S.J. is a taxi.  That can be a real white knuckle ride however.  They have no concept of obeying signals, stop signs, speed laws, the rights of other drivers, pedestrians or even that you may wish to arrive at your destination in one piece and most of the cabs have been so beat up by all the potholes in the streets their suspension systems are shot.

So you bounce along while the driver goes like a bat out of hell swerving to avoid potholes and other vehicles with one hand on the steering wheel and the other on the horn.  It would be downright comical if it weren’t so terrifying.  If you sit up front with the driver you can at least put on a seat belt.

SO YOU WANT to LIVE in COSTA RICA the Adventures, Trials and Tribulations of Settling in Paradise by Gary Davis plumitapacifica.com

9 Apr

This is the continuation of a series of posts on my blog to promote the e-book SO YOU WANT to LIVE in COSTA RICA – which is a Guide to… the Adventures, Trials and Tribulations of Settling in Paradise… This is a guide book that will give you the kind of insider’s knowledge that you might wish you had before you made your decision to move or not move to Costa Rica.

Every blog entry will start with the appendix because that way when you read whatever else I have posted it will 1. make sense (I hope) and 2. give you a point of reference in case you realize you need to read something that is “archived”.  Because if you read every blog I enter you will have eventually read the whole e-book and won’t need to order it for $2.99 from Amazon or B&N.  All you’ll be missing are the photos that show what you might expect if you choose to undertake the Adventures, Trials and Tribulations of Settling in Paradise.

As I said, I will start each blog with the appendix so that the reader can reference important elements of the book to archived blogs.  The page numbers shown are the actual page they appear on in the book. Here is the Appendix – and these are all the nuggets and their corresponding page numbers:

Definition of “nugget” – 3, Doors & Windows – 7, Manufacturing – 11, Real Estate – 11, Shipping – 12,Maps, – 15, Corporations – 20, Traffic Cops – 23, Know basic Spanish – 30, Panama – 33, Roof Line – 42, Plumita Pacifica Web Address – 65, Getting the Best a Tico has to Offer – 84, Power Surges – 86, Liberia Airport – 88, Attitude – 104, Cellular Phones – 117, Newspapers – 18, Your Embassy – 137, Buying & Selling Cars – 154, Drive Slowly – 161, Arriving at the Airport – 168, Wages & Prices – 170, Undertows – 226, Life Ring – 230, Avoiding Customs Confiscations – 234, Driving Rules – 236, Walking in the City – 249, Purchasing Anything – 258, Buying Fresh Produce – 263, Bus Tickets – 272, to “Bribe” or not to “Bribe” – 313, Traffic ticket Prices – 315, Exiting the Country – 337

And just in case you’re interested… here’s the table of contents:

Introduction and Preliminary Comments – 3, My First Trip -15, Lost in Guanacaste – Playa Coyote – 20, Trust with a Child – 26, Lost in Panama – 29, Attorneys – 35, My Contractor – 38, My Security Guard – 61, My Toldo – 67, Getting a Land Line Phone and Internet – 76, A Cellular Phone – 115, A Country Doctor – 124, A Lesson Well Learned – 130, A Little Green Frog – 138, A Little Brown Frog and a Bat – 146, A “Murphy’s Law” Day – 153, Driving in the Rainy Season – 161, Drunk Drivers – 174, Fiesta del Toros – 185, Getting a Drivers License – 195, INS and a Minor Accident – 203, Lifeguards – 224, Passing through Customs – 232, Rules of the Road for Tico Driving – 236, San Jose – 241, Shopping and Making Tamales – 250, Taking the Bus – 272, Turtles in My Front Yard – 281, Untitled – 287, When it Rains it Pours (sometimes) – 294, She Found My Lot – 307, My First Traffic Ticket – 312, Ticket # 2 – 316, My Radar Detector – 318, Ticket # 3 (after a slow speed chase) – 324, A Christmas Parade – 338, Sex (the truth about ticos) – 343, Photo Album – 347, Appendix – 374

chapter 26 continued

But once again, I’ve been reminded that my U.S. expectations need to stay in the U.S.  Having learned that buses can be sold out around holidays, I went to the ticket counter to purchase a ticket one day early during the Semana Santa (Easter week) holiday.  It seems as though the buses are always running so getting where you want to go is not a problem and as long as you have your ticket you also have an assigned seat.  They leave exactly on schedule, which amazes me, because I have not found anything else in C.R. that does anything on schedule.  Except closing maybe.  The stores do seem to close on time.

Anyway, I bought my ticket but in looking at it more closely when I got home I discovered that the date of departure was that same day, but I wanted to go the next day, which was Friday (Good Friday).  The good news is that they have begun preparing the road for asphalt so the drive into Santa Cruz where the bus station is takes only about a half hour (instead of one painful hour).  So after I got over being mad at myself for not checking my ticket closely while I was still at the counter, I got in my car and made the trip back to Santa Cruz.  The guy behind the counter gave me a quizzical look because he knew he had sold me a ticket just an hour or so ago.  I figured I had not made myself clear that I wanted a ticket for Good Friday the first time because the departure time on the ticket was correct; it was that in my mind, the date was not the date I wanted.  So this time I emphasized “Friday”.  He said “no”, I said what do you mean “no”, he said no busses on Good Friday.  That’s when I discovered I had lost a day.  You see, when I asked for a ticket for tomorrow, he had given me one.  Tomorrow was Thursday, I thought it was Friday, I had twilight zoned out.   My friends here tell me that’s good.  I’m finally getting into the tico rhythm.

Buses in S.J. are a different story.  Still no chickens or pigs but tons of people and there are more buses than I would ever attempt to count.  There are buses going all directions and on the narrow streets with an also uncountable number of cabs zipping around.  It’s amazing how few accidents there are.

And do you think there is any such thing as a printed bus schedule?  Or a sign indicating a bus stop?  Or any indication of which bus goes where?  The people who live there seem to know.

I’ve asked Al how does anyone know which bus goes where and when and where do you catch it.  He takes the bus all the time because his vision is to too limited to allow him to drive.  He couldn’t answer the question.  He just said “the people know”.

Well, it’s obvious he knows but he couldn’t tell me how he learned it.  He’s lived there nearly fifteen years.  Maybe it comes to you by osmosis.

SO YOU WANT to LIVE in COSTA RICA the Adventures, Trials and Tribulations of Settling in Paradise by Gary Davis plumitapacifica.com

3 Apr

This is the continuation of a series of posts on my blog to promote the e-book SO YOU WANT to LIVE in COSTA RICA – which is a Guide to… the Adventures, Trials and Tribulations of Settling in Paradise… This is a guide book that will give you the kind of insider’s knowledge that you might wish you had before you made your decision to move or not move to Costa Rica.

Every blog entry will start with the appendix because that way when you read whatever else I have posted it will 1. make sense (I hope) and 2. give you a point of reference in case you realize you need to read something that is “archived”.  Because if you read every blog I enter you will have eventually read the whole e-book and won’t need to order it for $2.99 from Amazon or B&N.  All you’ll be missing are the photos that show what you might expect if you choose to undertake the Adventures, Trials and Tribulations of Settling in Paradise.

As I said, I will start each blog with the appendix so that the reader can reference important elements of the book to archived blogs.  The page numbers shown are the actual page they appear on in the book. Here is the Appendix – and these are all the nuggets and their corresponding page numbers:

Definition of “nugget” – 3, Doors & Windows – 7, Manufacturing – 11, Real Estate – 11, Shipping – 12,Maps, – 15, Corporations – 20, Traffic Cops – 23, Know basic Spanish – 30, Panama – 33, Roof Line – 42, Plumita Pacifica Web Address – 65, Getting the Best a Tico has to Offer – 84, Power Surges – 86, Liberia Airport – 88, Attitude – 104, Cellular Phones – 117, Newspapers – 18, Your Embassy – 137, Buying & Selling Cars – 154, Drive Slowly – 161, Arriving at the Airport – 168, Wages & Prices – 170, Undertows – 226, Life Ring – 230, Avoiding Customs Confiscations – 234, Driving Rules – 236, Walking in the City – 249, Purchasing Anything – 258, Buying Fresh Produce – 263, Bus Tickets – 272, to “Bribe” or not to “Bribe” – 313, Traffic ticket Prices – 315, Exiting the Country – 337

And just in case you’re interested… here’s the table of contents:

Introduction and Preliminary Comments – 3, My First Trip -15, Lost in Guanacaste – Playa Coyote – 20, Trust with a Child – 26, Lost in Panama – 29, Attorneys – 35, My Contractor – 38, My Security Guard – 61, My Toldo – 67, Getting a Land Line Phone and Internet – 76, A Cellular Phone – 115, A Country Doctor – 124, A Lesson Well Learned – 130, A Little Green Frog – 138, A Little Brown Frog and a Bat – 146, A “Murphy’s Law” Day – 153, Driving in the Rainy Season – 161, Drunk Drivers – 174, Fiesta del Toros – 185, Getting a Drivers License – 195, INS and a Minor Accident – 203, Lifeguards – 224, Passing through Customs – 232, Rules of the Road for Tico Driving – 236, San Jose – 241, Shopping and Making Tamales – 250, Taking the Bus – 272, Turtles in My Front Yard – 281, Untitled – 287, When it Rains it Pours (sometimes) – 294, She Found My Lot – 307, My First Traffic Ticket – 312, Ticket # 2 – 316, My Radar Detector – 318, Ticket # 3 (after a slow speed chase) – 324, A Christmas Parade – 338, Sex (the truth about ticos) – 343, Photo Album – 347, Appendix – 374

chapter 26 continued

The buses are not like the ones you saw in the movie “Romancing the Stone” with chickens and pigs inside along with the people.  They actually have the seats numbered and when you buy your ticket it will tell you your seat number.

But because there are times when there simply aren’t enough buses they will allow you to purchase a ticket “de pie” meaning you don’t have a seat and must stand in the isle.  I’ve been on the bus a few times and seen the people standing the whole four and a half hours to S.J.  Looks grueling to me!  One time I arrived too late to get a ticket on the bus I wanted and I decided to try “de pie”.

I lucked out because either someone didn’t show up along the way (the bus stops to pick people up) or maybe someone got off, but when the bus left the terminal there was an empty seat that I was able to keep all the way to San Jose.   (Isn’t that the title of a song?)

I’ve had opportunities since then to go “de pie” and have been glad every time that I didn’t because the next bus that I was able to catch had people in the isle.  So the good news is they’re air conditioned (sometimes) and have almost comfortable seats that recline (about like an airplane seat).  But they’re definitely not fancy.  Oh, one more thing.  Half way to S.J. they make a potty stop at a big restaurant.  That’s a comical experience because they only stop for fifteen minutes.  There is no announcement.  The driver gets back on in exactly fifteen minutes, honks his horn once, closes the door and is off!  No head count.  No exception.  If you’re not on the bus… I’ve often wondered what I’d do if I missed it.

SO YOU WANT to LIVE in COSTA RICA the Adventures, Trials and Tribulations of Settling in Paradise by Gary Davis plumitapacifica.com

1 Apr

This is the continuation of a series of posts on my blog to promote the e-book SO YOU WANT to LIVE in COSTA RICA – which is a Guide to… the Adventures, Trials and Tribulations of Settling in Paradise… This is a guide book that will give you the kind of insider’s knowledge that you might wish you had before you made your decision to move or not move to Costa Rica.

Every blog entry will start with the appendix because that way when you read whatever else I have posted it will 1. make sense (I hope) and 2. give you a point of reference in case you realize you need to read something that is “archived”.  Because if you read every blog I enter you will have eventually read the whole e-book and won’t need to order it for $2.99 from Amazon or B&N.  All you’ll be missing are the photos that show what you might expect if you choose to undertake the Adventures, Trials and Tribulations of Settling in Paradise.

As I said, I will start each blog with the appendix so that the reader can reference important elements of the book to archived blogs.  The page numbers shown are the actual page they appear on in the book. Here is the Appendix – and these are all the nuggets and their corresponding page numbers:

Definition of “nugget” – 3, Doors & Windows – 7, Manufacturing – 11, Real Estate – 11, Shipping – 12,Maps, – 15, Corporations – 20, Traffic Cops – 23, Know basic Spanish – 30, Panama – 33, Roof Line – 42, Plumita Pacifica Web Address – 65, Getting the Best a Tico has to Offer – 84, Power Surges – 86, Liberia Airport – 88, Attitude – 104, Cellular Phones – 117, Newspapers – 18, Your Embassy – 137, Buying & Selling Cars – 154, Drive Slowly – 161, Arriving at the Airport – 168, Wages & Prices – 170, Undertows – 226, Life Ring – 230, Avoiding Customs Confiscations – 234, Driving Rules – 236, Walking in the City – 249, Purchasing Anything – 258, Buying Fresh Produce – 263, Bus Tickets – 272, to “Bribe” or not to “Bribe” – 313, Traffic ticket Prices – 315, Exiting the Country – 337

And just in case you’re interested… here’s the table of contents:

Introduction and Preliminary Comments – 3, My First Trip -15, Lost in Guanacaste – Playa Coyote – 20, Trust with a Child – 26, Lost in Panama – 29, Attorneys – 35, My Contractor – 38, My Security Guard – 61, My Toldo – 67, Getting a Land Line Phone and Internet – 76, A Cellular Phone – 115, A Country Doctor – 124, A Lesson Well Learned – 130, A Little Green Frog – 138, A Little Brown Frog and a Bat – 146, A “Murphy’s Law” Day – 153, Driving in the Rainy Season – 161, Drunk Drivers – 174, Fiesta del Toros – 185, Getting a Drivers License – 195, INS and a Minor Accident – 203, Lifeguards – 224, Passing through Customs – 232, Rules of the Road for Tico Driving – 236, San Jose – 241, Shopping and Making Tamales – 250, Taking the Bus – 272, Turtles in My Front Yard – 281, Untitled – 287, When it Rains it Pours (sometimes) – 294, She Found My Lot – 307, My First Traffic Ticket – 312, Ticket # 2 – 316, My Radar Detector – 318, Ticket # 3 (after a slow speed chase) – 324, A Christmas Parade – 338, Sex (the truth about ticos) – 343, Photo Album – 347, Appendix – 374

chapter 26

TAKING the BUS

I’ve taken the bus all the way from my place to San Jose just for the adventure of it and discovered it’s actually a good way to get to San Jose.  It costs less than $6 one way where as gas would be about $40.  Takes a little longer of course but on the other hand you’re not tired and stressed out from forever trying to get around a black smoke belching truck that can’t go more than ten miles an hour on the mountain roads.   Plus like I said before, it’s a gorgeous drive and from the bus you can actually enjoy the scenery.  And let the driver be stressed trying to get around the smoke belchers.

As of the date of this writing a bus ticket now costs about $10 and of course gas prices have risen too.

With the exception of the day I decided to go to San Jose and a big tree fell across the road between P. Junquillal and Santa Cruz, causing me to miss the connection I wanted for San Jose, that I needed to catch in Santa Cruz, because we had to wait while a bunch of guys chopped that big tree up with their machete’s.  It’s my preferred way to go.  It’s amazing what these ticos can do with a machete.  That has to be one of the most versatile tools in the world.  This tree had a trunk diameter of about 6 to 8 inches.  Those guys whacked the branches off and had the trunk cut up enough to be able to drag it off the road in less than a half hour.

But more on the bus system here.  I’ve been here about 7 months now and have been to San Jose several times on the bus.  I’ve found a place that, at least for now, I can leave my car in Santa Cruz and pick it back up when I’m back from S.J.  The bus from P. Junquillal is a rickety old thing with blown out shock absorbers and on that rough dirt road you must take to get to Santa Cruz it’s just nicer to take my car.  The bus I take from S.C. to S.J. however is much nicer.  Some of them even have a TV and since it’s a four and a half hour ride it’s nice to watch a movie.  (As the years have passed however, the busses to San Jose have deteriorated terribly and there are no more movies.)

It has been interesting though to learn the idiosyncrasy’s of taking the bus.   For example on more than one occasion I have arrived at the terminal too late to get a ticket for the bus I wanted.  Not a big problem because in another hour or two there will be another bus to the same destination.  The reason there are so many buses with such a varied schedule is because something like over 50% of the people in C.R. don’t have cars.  Thank goodness the bus company’s aren’t government controlled!  After my experiences with ICE (see Getting a Land Line Phone and Internet) I can only imagine the nightmare it would be.

SO YOU WANT to LIVE in COSTA RICA the Adventures, Trials and Tribulations of Settling in Paradise by Gary Davis plumitapacifica.com

31 Mar

This is the continuation of a series of posts on my blog to promote the e-book SO YOU WANT to LIVE in COSTA RICA – which is a Guide to… the Adventures, Trials and Tribulations of Settling in Paradise… This is a guide book that will give you the kind of insider’s knowledge that you might wish you had before you made your decision to move or not move to Costa Rica.

Every blog entry will start with the appendix because that way when you read whatever else I have posted it will 1. make sense (I hope) and 2. give you a point of reference in case you realize you need to read something that is “archived”.  Because if you read every blog I enter you will have eventually read the whole e-book and won’t need to order it for $2.99 from Amazon or B&N.  All you’ll be missing are the photos that show what you might expect if you choose to undertake the Adventures, Trials and Tribulations of Settling in Paradise.

As I said, I will start each blog with the appendix so that the reader can reference important elements of the book to archived blogs.  The page numbers shown are the actual page they appear on in the book. Here is the Appendix – and these are all the nuggets and their corresponding page numbers:

Definition of “nugget” – 3, Doors & Windows – 7, Manufacturing – 11, Real Estate – 11, Shipping – 12,Maps, – 15, Corporations – 20, Traffic Cops – 23, Know basic Spanish – 30, Panama – 33, Roof Line – 42, Plumita Pacifica Web Address – 65, Getting the Best a Tico has to Offer – 84, Power Surges – 86, Liberia Airport – 88, Attitude – 104, Cellular Phones – 117, Newspapers – 18, Your Embassy – 137, Buying & Selling Cars – 154, Drive Slowly – 161, Arriving at the Airport – 168, Wages & Prices – 170, Undertows – 226, Life Ring – 230, Avoiding Customs Confiscations – 234, Driving Rules – 236, Walking in the City – 249, Purchasing Anything – 258, Buying Fresh Produce – 263, Bus Tickets – 272, to “Bribe” or not to “Bribe” – 313, Traffic ticket Prices – 315, Exiting the Country – 337

And just in case you’re interested… here’s the table of contents:

Introduction and Preliminary Comments – 3, My First Trip -15, Lost in Guanacaste – Playa Coyote – 20, Trust with a Child – 26, Lost in Panama – 29, Attorneys – 35, My Contractor – 38, My Security Guard – 61, My Toldo – 67, Getting a Land Line Phone and Internet – 76, A Cellular Phone – 115, A Country Doctor – 124, A Lesson Well Learned – 130, A Little Green Frog – 138, A Little Brown Frog and a Bat – 146, A “Murphy’s Law” Day – 153, Driving in the Rainy Season – 161, Drunk Drivers – 174, Fiesta del Toros – 185, Getting a Drivers License – 195, INS and a Minor Accident – 203, Lifeguards – 224, Passing through Customs – 232, Rules of the Road for Tico Driving – 236, San Jose – 241, Shopping and Making Tamales – 250, Taking the Bus – 272, Turtles in My Front Yard – 281, Untitled – 287, When it Rains it Pours (sometimes) – 294, She Found My Lot – 307, My First Traffic Ticket – 312, Ticket # 2 – 316, My Radar Detector – 318, Ticket # 3 (after a slow speed chase) – 324, A Christmas Parade – 338, Sex (the truth about ticos) – 343, Photo Album – 347, Appendix – 374

chapter 25 continued

First let me tell you about two of the non-food items I had to purchase for this adventure, a pot and a wooden spoon.  Now don’t get me wrong.  Even though I’m not much of a cook I do have a couple five quart pots and a good assortment of very useable wooden cooking utensils.  You’ve seen tamales.  They’re not very big so of course when she surveyed my assortment of cooking equipment and said she needed bigger I was in slight disbelief.

She wasn’t thrilled with the biggest pot we were able to find in the stores in Santa Cruz but since it was the biggest she said she could make do.  I have no idea how many gallons it holds but it measures 13 inches deep by 16 inches in diameter.

Then she pointed at a wooden spoon and I thought was making a joke.  But she gave me this serious look and said it too would do.  It’s over 2 feet long!

Ok, so back to the cuadrado leaves.  The first step is to carefully fold them so as not to tear or break them, fill the pot with them, add water to the top and boil the hell out them.  Then take them out of the pot and very gingerly dry each one off with towels while at the same time making sure they are very free of debris.  At 11pm she said she was tired and would finish drying leaves in the morning and we went to bed.

At 5am she was up and at it again (I stayed in bed till about 7 since the night before she had wisely let me know in no uncertain terms that I could be of no help, other than lifting the full pot).  By the time I got to the kitchen to watch she was just in the process of all the ancillary vegetable and condiment preparation.

Then came cutting the two different cuts of pork “just so”.  Then came the cooking, brazing and what only other Latinas might understand about tamale preparation.

By about 10am everything was cooked and ready for the next step… cook the corn meal.  Here’s where that big wooden spoon came in.  Once again that huge pot is on the stove with water and, this time, corn meal.  Now, she is about 5’3” tall.  I have photos of her standing on my step ladder with that big wooden spoon stirring the pot of corn meal.

Then after it had cooked enough she needed me to take it off the stove and put it on the floor so she could stir in a bunch of condiments (prepared earlier in interesting and exotic ways).  I have photos of that too.

Finally, everything is cooked.  Now it’s time to wrap it all up in the cuadrado leaves.  It was like watching an artist work!  First the leaves are laid out and arranged “just so” for each individual tamal.  (No, that’s not a typo.  One is a tamal, more than one are tamales.)  Then a little of the corn meal is placed on the leaves as a base for all of the other pre-cooked items as follows.

A little of the rice goes on top of the corn meal, then a little pork, then a slice of potato on one side of the pork, then a slice of carrot on the other side of the pork, then a slice of chile dulce diagonally across, then a green olive.

Then with great care the leaves are wrapped, folded and bundled over and around it all and now you have this neat little packet that is then gently laid aside.  I have photos of that too.

I counted 84 packets.  I have photos of that too.

Now it’s time to tie all the packets up with string.  I finally get to help.  She let me cut the string.  I don’t have a photo of that.

The packets are bundled two packets together and then tied with string.  I have photos of that too and now I think “we’re” done.  It’s about 1pm, I’m hungry, and it all looks great… let’s eat!

No.  Now all the packets have to go back in the pot with water to cook!  I ask her “why does it all have to cook again?”  She said because if they didn’t cook some more the special liquid pork fat that she stirred into the corn meal after it was done cooking would keep me on the toilet for days!  Ok, I lift the full pot up onto the stove.  She gives me this giggle and say’s no… we have to take it outside and cook it over a wood fire.  I can’t believe it.

I have a beautiful Jenn-air gas range with one special burner that produces a huge flame for rapid boiling and other high heat needs.  She knows this, she’s used it before, and it’s not good enough.

So we each grabbed a handle and lugged it out to a shady place under the coconut palms.  Unbeknownst to me, Mario knew and had brought some concrete blocks to hold the pot above the flames.  Using all of my Alaskan woodsman skills I had a roaring fire going in minutes (finally I felt useful for something).

4pm:  It’s all ready!  We can eat!

And are they ever delicious!  I’ve had restaurant prepared tamales.  I’ve had home made tamales in California.  I’ve had tamales prepared with less care and time investment.  I’ve never had a tamale as delicious as these (am I prejudiced?)  And after doing the math, starting at 6pm the night before – she spentseventeen hours preparing 82 packets, two packets per meal per person = 42 meals…

I told her I would chew very slowly.

SO YOU WANT to LIVE in COSTA RICA the Adventures, Trials and Tribulations of Settling in Paradise by Gary Davis plumitapacifica.com

29 Mar

This is the continuation of a series of posts on my blog to promote the e-book SO YOU WANT to LIVE in COSTA RICA – which is a Guide to… the Adventures, Trials and Tribulations of Settling in Paradise… This is a guide book that will give you the kind of insider’s knowledge that you might wish you had before you made your decision to move or not move to Costa Rica.

Every blog entry will start with the appendix because that way when you read whatever else I have posted it will 1. make sense (I hope) and 2. give you a point of reference in case you realize you need to read something that is “archived”.  Because if you read every blog I enter you will have eventually read the whole e-book and won’t need to order it for $2.99 from Amazon or B&N.  All you’ll be missing are the photos that show what you might expect if you choose to undertake the Adventures, Trials and Tribulations of Settling in Paradise.

As I said, I will start each blog with the appendix so that the reader can reference important elements of the book to archived blogs.  The page numbers shown are the actual page they appear on in the book. Here is the Appendix – and these are all the nuggets and their corresponding page numbers:

Definition of “nugget” – 3, Doors & Windows – 7, Manufacturing – 11, Real Estate – 11, Shipping – 12,Maps, – 15, Corporations – 20, Traffic Cops – 23, Know basic Spanish – 30, Panama – 33, Roof Line – 42, Plumita Pacifica Web Address – 65, Getting the Best a Tico has to Offer – 84, Power Surges – 86, Liberia Airport – 88, Attitude – 104, Cellular Phones – 117, Newspapers – 18, Your Embassy – 137, Buying & Selling Cars – 154, Drive Slowly – 161, Arriving at the Airport – 168, Wages & Prices – 170, Undertows – 226, Life Ring – 230, Avoiding Customs Confiscations – 234, Driving Rules – 236, Walking in the City – 249, Purchasing Anything – 258, Buying Fresh Produce – 263, Bus Tickets – 272, to “Bribe” or not to “Bribe” – 313, Traffic ticket Prices – 315, Exiting the Country – 337

And just in case you’re interested… here’s the table of contents:

Introduction and Preliminary Comments – 3, My First Trip -15, Lost in Guanacaste – Playa Coyote – 20, Trust with a Child – 26, Lost in Panama – 29, Attorneys – 35, My Contractor – 38, My Security Guard – 61, My Toldo – 67, Getting a Land Line Phone and Internet – 76, A Cellular Phone – 115, A Country Doctor – 124, A Lesson Well Learned – 130, A Little Green Frog – 138, A Little Brown Frog and a Bat – 146, A “Murphy’s Law” Day – 153, Driving in the Rainy Season – 161, Drunk Drivers – 174, Fiesta del Toros – 185, Getting a Drivers License – 195, INS and a Minor Accident – 203, Lifeguards – 224, Passing through Customs – 232, Rules of the Road for Tico Driving – 236, San Jose – 241, Shopping and Making Tamales – 250, Taking the Bus – 272, Turtles in My Front Yard – 281, Untitled – 287, When it Rains it Pours (sometimes) – 294, She Found My Lot – 307, My First Traffic Ticket – 312, Ticket # 2 – 316, My Radar Detector – 318, Ticket # 3 (after a slow speed chase) – 324, A Christmas Parade – 338, Sex (the truth about ticos) – 343, Photo Album – 347, Appendix – 374

chapter 25 continued

There was still one ingredient we didn’t have… banana leaves.  You probably know this but in case you don’t, in C.R. tamales are cooked after being wrapped in banana leaves.  We could have bought some leaves in Santa Cruz.  I saw a lady buy a bunch in one of the stores that didn’t have the special pork oil.  I asked my friend if we should buy some.  She said no, because apparently she had talked to Mario and Nidia earlier and Mario had offered to cut them fresh in the jungle.

So at about four that afternoon Mario and I took off in my car for a part of the jungle where he knew there was a plethora of plantanos and cuadrados.   Ok, I need to explain “cuadrados”.  It turns out that tamales are not wrapped in banana leaves.  There are actually about five or six (maybe more) different types of plants that fall into the “banana” category of plant species.  I have four or five of them on my property now and probably will have more in the future since Mario is a master at finding beautiful plants and placing them in strategically decorative locations around my house.

Cuadrados look to me like any other banana plant but while driving with my tico friends in my car I have had them say “that plant is a banana, that ones a plantano, that’s a cuadrado” and so forth.  You’ve seen plantains in the market.

Cuadrados are a little smaller but used the same way as plantains but to me all the different types of “banana” plants look identical so don’t ask me how the ticos tell them apart, even when they don’t have fruit.  At least the fruit of each plant looks distinctively different.

I have a delicious type of banana that is producing fruit now, which is not sold commercially, on my property.

So anyway, it seems that you can’t just use any old type of “banana” leaf.  It has to be from a cuadrado plant.

Mario and I arrived at the place where the jungle is thick with cuadrados (not more than three or four kilometers from my house) and since he is the expert with the machete and also knows exactly which leaves make the best tamale wrappers and how to cut them up and how to leave the plant so it’s not damaged… I wasn’t much help.  But how fun!

We arrived back at my house around 6pm and my friend started the tamale making process.  I’ll describe it as best I can, but let me tell you, I now truly have a new respect!

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