Archive | March, 2013

SO YOU WANT to LIVE in COSTA RICA the Adventures, Trials and Tribulations of Settling in Paradise

30 Mar

This is the continuation of a series of blogs 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

chapter 18 continued

Here’s the crazy scenario: the bull entering the ring is being ridden.  The ring has anywhere from 50 to 75 young men in it who attempt to prove their macho by touching the bulls horn (most never get within 10 feet of it).  There will also be two guys with a piece of red cloth on a stick (but not nearly as dazzling as in Spain).  Now, since the bull has been zapped, you can guess where, with a cattle prod about one second before the gate opened and he has someone on his back, he’s pissed.  So the object for the rider is to hang on to the rope that has been tied around the bull with both hands and hopefully keep from being thrown off (for I think six seconds) or dismount, not in front of the bull.  What usually happens is the bull throws the guy off but is distracted by all the crazy’s running around him and the two guys with the red cloth so that he usually doesn’t immediately gore the guy he just threw off (trample, yes, but that’s more just because the guy landed in front of him).   However, ask me how the crowd reacts when the distractions didn’t work (an interesting mixture of terror and excitement).  It’s what they paid to see!

SO YOU WANT to LIVE in COSTA RICA the Adventures, Trials and Tribulations of Settling in Paradise

29 Mar

This is the continuation of a series of blogs 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

chapter 18 continued

Now for the bulls and some examples of ways in which you can lose your marbles (or worse).   It amazes me how quickly they can put up a bull ring that seats several hundred people.  From outside to outside I’m guessing it’s about 300 feet in diameter and inside at ground level about 200 feet.  Starting from about 10 feet above ground level it tiers up to form seating to about 20 feet high at the top of the ring.

They build it out of what looks like well used lumber and whole timbers of native trees.  You are able to enter the seating area by walking up one of three steep stairways.

That takes you to the 10 foot level and from there you walk up the seats until you get to where you want to sit.  As much as it sounds rickety these bull rings are very well reinforced with heavy lumber and very stable.  I was surprised by the fact that in spite of the crowd and the people movement, there was no movement in the structure.  And just like in your favorite stadium where there are vendors walking around selling things, they do it here too.  Except it’s comical.  These guys have amazing balance.  I have almost fallen just traversing up or down and around people on those seats.  These guys balance a large plastic pale full of ice/water/variety of beverages on their shoulder or carry trays of hot meat on skewers or a variety of other foods/treats/candies and go up down and around with the sure footedness of mountain goats.

Then of course there is the announcer’s platform.  That’s right in between where the bulls go in and out.  The whole place is well lit with bright lights all around.  There is the usual advertising although I noticed that the bank that had the most large and identical banners had them all on one side rather than spacing them evenly around the ring.  So only the people on the opposite side could see them.  Not to seem smug, but I’ve seen many examples of senseless marketing here in C.R. that would get someone fired in Ca.   There’s loud music blaring out of the speakers interrupted by the announcer excitedly saying (god knows what.  I have a hard time understanding announcers over loud speakers in English let alone in Spanish).  But finally it’s time for the bull to enter the ring.

 

SO YOU WANT to LIVE in COSTA RICA the Adventures, Trials and Tribulations of Settling in Paradise

28 Mar

This is the continuation of a series of blogs 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

chapter 18 continued

Fiestas range in the length of time they go on for from one day/night, as in P. Junquillal to two weeks, as in Liberia.  I just went to one in Santa Cruz that will last for a week.  Since the towns have no designated place for fiestas, like in the U.S. where there are fairgrounds, they simply take a section of town and block it off.  The streets become pedestrian walk ways; they post “no parking” signs where parked cars would cause congestion.  Which is a joke.  People line up and park right in front of the signs.  There are plenty cops around but I don’t see any of them writing tickets.  People park wherever they feel like; headed in whichever direction they feel like, as usual.   And people open up vacant lots for paid parking.  All the stores, restaurants and shops in the fiesta section remain open for business.  With all the people milling around I would think that fiesta time would be good for them.

And just like in Ca. not all the people have all their marbles.  On the night while I was enjoying strolling around the usually congested with traffic and therefore dangerous streets, listening to the various Marimba bands, I came across one band that there happened to be an extremely unattractive woman in a blue print dress dancing in font of.  Not only was she unattractive but she was wearing white socks and a pair of old beat up tennis shoes.  In a country where you almost never see a woman wearing less than 3 inches of heels, I thought that was quite unusual.  But Marimba music is very rhythmical and ticos look great dancing to it and she was obviously enjoying herself.  I mentioned the fact that she was about the ugliest tica I had ever seen to the tico friend I was with and he said “oh, that’s Sonia.  She’s a man”.

SO YOU WANT to LIVE in COSTA RICA the Adventures, Trials and Tribulations of Settling in Paradise

27 Mar

This is the continuation of a series of blogs 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

chapter 18 continued

All fiestas have the usual assortment of open air eating places and open air bars.  The food is quite varied and delicious.  Costa Ricans don’t like real hot spicy food like the Mexicans so you can trust that whatever looks good to you won’t take the top of your head off.   Unfortunately they only have three or four brands of beer in C.R., all about the same type and quality as that fizzy yellow yuck so popular in the U.S.  I’ve found a way of bringing good Ca. wine here in my suitcase.  Now I’m looking for a way to bring some of the wonderful micro-brews we have access to in Ca. also.

(Since writing that last sentence I’ve found a way!)

Many of the bars have an area for dancing with music blaring at a level that makes conversation meaningless.  It’s comical to walk around because unless you are right in front of a bar you’re hearing a mix of whatever the D.J.’s are playing in the other nearby bars.  But the folks here do like to dance.  Once the party gets rolling, so to speak, the dance floors are packed and those who can’t find room on the floor are dancing anywhere else they feel like.  Fiestas are always just packed with people having a good time.  They don’t wait for the fiesta to happen in their town.  They drive to wherever one is.

Of course there are also the booths that sell stuff or give you an opportunity to win something.  Since its C.R., there is actually some interesting and unique stuff for sale.  But also a lot of junk.  And, it amazes me that anyone would buy some of that stuff.  Or attempt to sell it.  Like the people walking around with 2 foot by 3 foot boards covered with pairs of cheap sunglasses long after its dark.

SO YOU WANT to LIVE in COSTA RICA the Adventures, Trials and Tribulations of Settling in Paradise

26 Mar

This is the continuation of a series of blogs 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

chapter 18

FIESTA del TOROS

When it comes to bullfighting, Costa Rica is very civilized.  As a matter of fact, the bull always wins, sometimes big time.

What a fun loving country (people) this is.  Literally every weekend there is a fiesta somewhere in C.R.  Small towns, big towns, it doesn’t matter (next to San Jose the second biggest town, Liberia, only has one traffic signal so I guess the terms are relative), they are all going to have a fiesta at least once a year.  I haven’t been here long enough to keep track but it seems like they actually have more than one per year.  They just choose a different occasion to party.  And party they do.

Depending on the size of the town, the area devoted to the festivities can range anywhere from a couple acres in a park, as in the two I’ve been to in Playa Junquillal where my house is, to a half mile x a quarter mile as in the one I had the good luck of going to because it coincided with the night once a month I spend in Liberia so I can catch the plane to Ca. that leaves early in the morning.

There seems to be two types of fiestas.  One is as the title of this segment implies, it has something to do with bulls.  I’ll get to that in a minute.  The other also has a theme but the themes vary depending on… whatever they think is a good reason to party.  For example, the two I’ve been to in P. Junquillal had to do with turtles.  One was in December.  The next one was only a month later in January.  P. Junquillal is one of the worlds protected turtle nesting beaches.  There is more than one type of turtle that nests here so the two fiestas were in celebration of the two different types of turtles.  To protect the turtles from poachers there is a group of volunteers that walk the beach at night and look for signs of a nest or an actual turtle nesting.  They then transport the eggs to a protected area, re-bury them in sand and a few weeks later, when they hatch, release the baby turtles to the ocean.  It’s quite a thrill to hold a baby turtle in your hand.  These are the kind of turtles that grow up to weigh a couple hundred pounds and when they hatch they’re about the size of the cute little guys you see in the pet store that you put in your aquarium.

SO YOU WANT to LIVE in COSTA RICA the Adventures, Trials and Tribulations of Settling in Paradise

25 Mar

This is the continuation of a series of blogs 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

chapter 17 continued

And hallelujah, merry Xmas, etc., they finally ran a grader down the road!  They seem to do that once a year right after the rainy season ends.  You get about one week of good graded road before the potholes begin to form again.  So for a week or so the one hour drive down the dreaded road to Santa Cruz becomes a thirty minute drive.  What a pleasure!

Rumor has it that the road will be paved all the way to P. Junquillal and there are huge concrete culvert pipes piled at various spots along the way.  Maybe in years to come it will actually happen.  Do I sound cynical?

I wrote a letter to the president of C.R., Oscar Arias, which was published in the Tico Times, suggesting that he might win the respect of his fellow citizens if he were to become the first president, in a long list of past presidents, to do the easiest thing for a country to do, which is to fix its roads.  He has already done the hardest thing for a country to do, which is to declare peace with its neighbors.

He did that twenty years ago during his first term as president when he brokered the peace between all the war torn Central American countries, for which he won the Nobel Peace Prize.

I’m sure my letter falls on deaf ears but I feel better.

SO YOU WANT to LIVE in COSTA RICA the Adventures, Trials and Tribulations of Settling in Paradise

23 Mar

This is the continuation of a series of blogs 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

chapter 17 continued

It’s known here that ticos are very resourceful.  Drunk or otherwise they find ways to keep their vehicles running (good news or bad news?).  But this next event tops the list.  In the states if someone gets in a wreck, their car is undriveable and blocking a major artery it’s only a matter of time until the police show up and soon after a tow truck.  Well, you’ve read my description of narrow bridges which are literally only one car wide.  There usually (but not always) will be a sign on both sides of the bridge warning drivers of that fact and indicating that they are to yield the right of way.

The unwritten rule is that the first vehicle to approach the bridge from either side has the right of way and any vehicles(s) on the other side pull over before entering onto the bridge and wait for their turn to cross.   The good news is that most of these narrow bridges have a sign on one side indicating that vehicles on that side must yield to allow the oncoming vehicle to pass first.

In My Toldo I describe one such bridge where the pavement ends and the dreaded dirt road starts.  It was at this bridge that as I approached from the paved side there was a line of a dozen or so cars stopped on my side.  This is out in the country so that “many cars” are a lot and as it turned out there were about the same amount on the dirt side as well.  I stopped in line and decided to get out and walk up to see what had caused this unusual situation.  There on the bridge was the damndest sight I’ve ever seen not involving any human injuries.  Some Tico in an SUV had hit his brakes too late and had gone sideways into the railing about twenty feet into the bridge.  The impact had torn his bumper off, which was hanging over the side of the bridge, and crumpled the rest of the parts into his left front tire making it impossible to move the vehicle.  Now, what would you do if faced with the fact that you have just made the only road to several populated areas impassable and you know there will be no police or tow trucks to the rescue?  Hope that with any luck an eighteen wheeler with a humongous tow chain will come along?

That is exactly what occurred and as I approached the scene the big truck was using the chain to pull the various parts of the car away from the tire.  In about twenty minutes he had the crumpled parts pulled away enough so that the wheel was able to be turned and the guy was able to back his car off the bridge.  Someone pulled his bumper out of the bridge railing and he parked off to the side, where he probably should have to begin with, so traffic could pass.  I’m sure he was sober by then.  I hope he had his cell phone with him because he wasn’t getting much sympathy, only a few snickers, as all the cars that had been backed up began to continue on their merry way (it’s mid December and this country party’s till mid January.  Another reason to love it).