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

11 May

chapter 36 continued

Ask me what kind of problems those statistics present here in ticolandia.  Whew!  I could go on and on and I’m sure if there are any psychologists reading this they will roll their eyes at those stats.

In my companion book COSTA RICA on the CUSP  I have several chapters on experiences that are not specifically about women but do involve women.  If you read them you’ll see that it is the circumstances around which the women played a part that made the experiences interesting.  Not just the women.

Therefore I’m always careful to point out to my friends in the U.S. that the reasons I have so many funny or interesting stories that involve women are not because I’m so handsome, suave and debonair.

It’s because I’m a gringo! (And all gringos are perceived as rich… sound familiar?)

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

11 May

chapter 36 (and this is the last chapter… so if you’ve read all the others then you’ve read the whole book. But you haven’t seen any of the photos, only because I couldn’t figure out how to include them with my posts here. If you want to see them, I guess you have to pay Amazon $2.99 and download the ebook version. Which, by the way, will give you an opportunity to read all the chapters that were not included in this book, because they did not relate directly to a decision to live/not live in C.R., and also to see the photos included with those chapters.)

Sex – The truth about ticos

Did I save the best for last?  You can be the judge of that.

I want to be very clear about a couple things before I jump into this.

First, the word “tico” is a warm generic term that everyone here uses.  If you’re a man you’re a tico.  A woman is a tica.  But generically they are all ticos and that is how they refer to themselves and each other.  So don’t be afraid to use that term liberally.

Second, as in every other section of this guide, I am only relating my personal experiences and in no way am I attempting to come across as “the expert”.

There, now that I have made that disclaimer, here is some fun stuff about ticos.

Is this ever a sexy country!  I have had more fun conducting an informal statistical survey.  I have talked to both sexes in about equal amounts and here are the results of the survey.

I ask three questions:

  1. What is the percentage of ticos that are unfaithful?  For men the answers range from 75 – 100% with the median being 90%.
  2. What is the percentage of ticas that are unfaithful?  For women the answers range from 50 – 75% and I can’t put my finger on a median for them.
  3. Have you ever been unfaithful?  The men just laugh.  The women?  “Me, never, no!”

That’s when I get my chuckle  🙂

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

9 May

What happened next amazed me.  As the parade passed, the people fell in behind it and walked with it clear to the end.  At the end was the fireworks show.  Three fizz bang sparkles and it was over!  I didn’t stay around for the “fiesta” because the parade ended next to the biggest bar in Paraiso and I could see that the “fiesta” was going to consist of a bunch of drunken ticos stumbling around on the dance floor.

I went home to tranquility.

Now, this is embarrassing to report, but I didn’t have my camera with me because a lady friend of mine took hers and told me I could download all her photos… but after the parade she pressed the wrong button(s) on her camera and deleted all of them!  Yes, she’s a tica too and lives in Paraiso so she was tranquil.  Hasta el próximo año. Que será será.  Pura vida. 

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

8 May

chapter 35 continued

Now for the “juxtaposition”:

My beach, Playa Junquillal, is about two kilometers from a little “pueblo” called Paraiso.  The parade is the big Paraiso Christmas Eve event but it starts at the far end of Junquillal in a park and ends at the other far end of Paraiso. 

All the spectators gather along the part of the route that is in Paraiso, which is about the length of two football fields.  I asked Mario how many people live in Paraiso.  He said about 200.  I think they all turned out.

It was a typical parade crowd.  Most of the people were there early to get a good vantage point to watch the parade from.  Everyone was in a great mood, having fun, kids running around playing, and general feelings of good will being shared.  It was very much like what I remember from the years I was a resident of Pasadena, before I was a T of R member, and would go to the parade with my family.  Of course when there are only a couple hundred people it’s quite a bit more tranquil.

Finally the parade arrived at the little bridge that signifies the beginning of the Paraiso part of the parade route.

The first entry in the parade was the clowns, six of them.  In C.R. the typical clown costume is something that they wear on their shoulders that creates a figure that is about ten feet tall and has material that reaches all the way to the ground so you can’t see the person underneath.  Following them was a small fire engine from the town of Santa Cruz, which is 35 kilometers away and is the nearest town big enough not to be called a pueblo.  It didn’t have its siren or lights flashing but it was the “leader”.  Following that was a small Red Cross ambulance.  It did have its siren sounding and lights flashing.  Following that was a flat bed truck with the skinniest Santa I’ve ever seen sitting on the roof and a nativity scene on the truck bed and balloons tied all around it.  Following that was another flat bed truck, also with balloons and another skinny Santa sitting on the roof.  On the bed were eight pretty young ladies dancing to the music and rhythm of the next two entries.   The next entry was a group of youngsters playing drums.  I don’t know what it is about this country but they do have a fascination for drums, and they pound those drums like they’re trying to break them!   Following that was a pickup truck with a few youngsters in the bed playing trumpets and trombones.  Together with the drums, they were creating the sounds that the girls were dancing to.

That’s it folks!  That was the whole parade that the good people of Paraiso had gotten all dressed up for and came out to enjoy.  And enjoy they did!

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

7 May

chapter 35 continued

In Pasadena California there is a world famous parade.  You’ve probably heard of it.  The “Rose Parade”, which is put together by an organization called “the Tournament of Roses”.  The T of R organization is composed of 900 + volunteers plus a staff of paid professionals.  The volunteers put in an average of 100 hours each, per year, to bring together all the elements that produce that spectacular event.   That does not include the businesses such as the professional float builders/decorators and all that the city must provide for that event.  It’s an unbelievable undertaking and it’s miraculous that it occurs so beautifully and smoothly every year.

The parade rout is five miles long and on average is lined by approximately one million spectators.

Coincidentally, I was a member of the T of R organization for ten years.  In those ten years I had an opportunity to become very familiar with most of the facets that need to come together for that parade to happen.  I still watch that parade every year, on television of course, and get teary eyed every time.  For me it is very emotional because I know what goes into it and what “behind the scene” kind of stuff had to happen for it to be so beautiful.

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

6 May

chapter 35

A CHRISTMAS PARADE (small town Costa Rica style)

The biggest celebration of Christmas in C.R. happens Christmas Eve.  That’s when the family comes together in one place, gifts (if they can afford them) are exchanged between adults and Christmas day is when the kids get their gifts.   On Christmas Eve, in even the tiniest of towns, there is usually a parade followed by a fiesta.  The fiesta can include food stands, a bar and dancing.  Depending on the size of the town, it can really be a pretty big celebration.

I missed the Christmas parade and fiesta last year because I didn’t realize they even had one.  I asked Nidia on Christmas day why I had heard sirens and that’s when she explained about the parade and other festivities.

So this year I was ready.

Now, before I go into the details, I need to give you a little background.  I’m going to share a little of my history with you so you get the full affect of the juxtaposition and the fun that I experienced from that based on what I know about parades.

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

5 May

chapter 34 continued

So with that, the friendly cop and I took off for the place to copy my passport.  When we got back it seemed that I should be able to hand over the order to release and the copy of my passport and they would hand over my license.  Nope.  The “desk sergeant” proceeded to study the order like he had never seen one before.  The thought occurred to me that maybe he hadn’t.  Because if it hadn’t been for the help of the U.S. Embassy and Cesar that license would rot there like the rest of them.  I had already planned my plan B which was to report it lost to the D.M.V. in Ca. and get another.  Incidentally, before the desk guy received the suggestion to look through the “recent” stack of licenses he was randomly pulling out stacks of licenses and I saw several others from the Golden State as well as other states amongst all the Costa Rican licenses.

Obviously I’m not the first to come up with that particular plan B but apparently those other victims of macho and bureaucracy, who’s licenses I saw, just gave up on trying to work through the system.  That would be the easy solution if you were only a tourist, maybe never to return.   I wonder about the ticos though.  I guess they just keep on driving without a license.

You do not need to present anything other than your passport to exit the country.

Anyway, after he became convinced that he couldn’t quite fathom what that paper was about he called someone else over to study it with him.  More rapid fire Spanish ensued and they finally got the meaning of the order to release figured out.  Then he opened this ledger book that had 100’s of pages of hand written reports and began writing.  Five minutes later he was done writing.  I have no idea what he wrote, but when he indicated  that he needed me to sign it and had my license in his other hand I knew that was the final bureaucratic touch.

I’m happily back home in Playa Junquillal with my license.

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

4 May

chapter 34 continued

I walked in the door of the cop shop and announced the purpose for my presence before they had a chance to draw their guns.  You think I’m exaggerating but I’m not.  I guess not too many gringos barge into their office because when I saw one cop flip the holster strap off the hammer of his pistol I knew I better appear to be friendly.  

I handed the one who appeared to be the “desk sergeant” the order to release my license and he said that if they had my license they would only release it if I gave them a copy of my passport.  Remember, I had just given the lady at the court, which by now was an hour behind me, the only copy I had with me?! 

I did have my actual passport with me but they didn’t have a copy machine. 

Esparza is hardly more than a wide spot in the road so it’s not like you just go to your local copy place in that town.  But there was one friendly cop there who asked if he could get in my car and direct me to a store that had a copy machine. 

I snatched that order to release out of the hands of that other cop immediately because that was the only security blanket I had and no way was I leaving there without it and said “wait a minute, before we go any farther, lets see if you actually have my license”.   They pulled open a drawer and there must have been 300 licenses in there!  They actually had them cataloged and grouped by date of confiscation.  The “desk sergeant” started showing me licenses from stacks that were dated long before my incident and I saw lots of gringo licenses and of course tons of tico licenses.  Finally, one of the other cops realized that this idiot wasn’t looking at the correct stacks and told him to go to the group that was only three days old and there I was, right on top!

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

3 May

Esparza just happens to be a town that I know the location of because it’s exactly half way between Sta. Cruz and San Jose and the busses stop there for a fifteen minute potty break.  I asked the ladies in the court house where the police station was in Esparza.  They had no idea. 

No problem.   I have an ace up my sleeve for that one.  The ace is a gringo named Bob from New York that has a little restaurant/gift shop about ten minutes before Esparza and he makes a good old fashioned American hamburger and a not bad milk shake.  If I happen to be driving to San Jose I try to plan my trips both ways so I can get my good old fashioned hamburger fix because Costa Ricans have not figured out how to make a hamburger (or a real milk shake).  You’d think it would be pretty simple, considering that a hamburger is a pretty simple thing.  I have no idea what their problem is but they have no idea what a hamburger is supposed to be like even though practically every menu here has one on it.

Anyway, I had a burger and a shake, got good directions from Bob and went to what I thought would be the final step.

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

2 May

chapter 34 continued

After about fifteen minutes some lady employee of the court calls me over and hands me an official looking paper.  I have no idea what, in her rapid fire Spanish, she’s trying to say.  Another person comes over and in Spanish that is much clearer explains that this paper is an order to release my license to me.  I don’t need to stand before a judge!!  Thank you Cesar!  It appears that the U.S. Embassy is given some respect.

In the last phone call I had with him on Friday after I had found COSEVI and paid I asked him to call the court to inform them that I was on the way there and to confirm to me that they were aware I was coming and the reason why I was coming.  When he got back to me he reminded me again that I would need to plead my case to the judge but confirmed that they were expecting me.

Ok, now I’ve got the official order to release my license to me in my hand, signed by a judge I never had to see, so I ask the lady to give me my license.  No.  It’s not there. 

I must go to the police station in a town called Esparza.  Except she kept pronouncing it Sparta.  I know where Esparza is but I’ve never heard of Sparta.  I ask her to show me this town on a map.  That’s when another lady in the office took pity on me and pronounced it correctly and pointed to it on a map they happened to have hanging on the wall.

With that problem solved, as incredulous as it seems that my license wasn’t at the court as Cesar was told by the court that it would be, the next challenge was to find the police station where the people at the court said it would be.  

Incidentally, Cesar really did save the day for me, so to speak.  Even though he never got accurate information from any of the bureaucracy’s, he was diligent in getting what he was led to believe was accurate and got that information to me quickly.  And he was also obviously influential with the court.  I’ve emailed him a “thank you”.