A few things you should know

Well, here I go again.  We have decided to stay here, and why not?  We have great neighbors, our house payment is under $300 a month, our utilities are around $40, water is about $7, phone and internet is $40,  and we love our community.  I have a great cleaning lady that now comes four days a week.  So, we have decided to do some traveling.  Thinking of going to Scotland next year, can’t wait!

Things to know about living in Costa Rica though.  It is a rainforest, which means rain.  It also means bugs.  Lots of bugs.  If you can’t handle them, don’t move here.  We live in a very rural community and pretty much right in the rainforest.  When it rains, ants head for dryer ground, which usually means in your house.  I have lots and lots of Tupperware.  Tupperware is pretty much a must.  I keep my sugar, coffee, flour, rice, bread, cereal, brown sugar, and so much more in them.  I have a small fortune in Tupperware now.  Even with my house being cleaned 4 days a week, they still come in.  It happens, you get used to it.  The only time I worry about them is when it is the entire colony on the move.  I have battled a few colonies and won!  Termites is the one of the other ones, those bastards can be destructive!  I freaking hate termites, I think more than ants just because of the damage I know they can do.  My house is concrete, but we have wood beams in the ceiling.  We do spray every so often as a preventative measure.  Something you always need to be on the look out for.  The last thing when it comes to bugs is cockroaches.  They thrive in this environment.  It is their natural habitat.  If you see one, it doesn’t mean that your house is dirty.  They happen, nothing you can do about them.  You will see one, just kill it.  Some of them fly also!  Like I said, my house gets thoroughly cleaned four days a week and when my cleaning lady is not here I am always wiping stuff down.  I have seen them here too.

One of the other weird things about Central America, is that you don’t put toilet paper in the toilet.  It goes in the garbage can.  I know it is like this in other countries also.  We don’t have the big septic systems like you do in the States.  This took a little getting used to.  It may seem gross to a lot of you, but it’s what we do here.  If you change out the bag every other day it doesn’t smell.

So, that is some of the things that we do go through here.  But I love it.  These things don’t happened everyday or every week, but they happen.  I have gone months at a time without seeing a colony of ants trying to move in, I have gone months at a time without seeing a cockroach.  But I know they are out there.  I also have two indoor cats that help keep on the look out for certain bugs. Also, don’t be alarmed if you here a laughing sound while you are taking a shower, it is just a gecko!  I have several that live in my ceiling, they eat bugs so I love them.  It was definitely something to get used to down here, but I really wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.  My husband and I had a very long talk about things and we believe this is our best decision to stay here.  We have it great here, why give that up and start over, again?  It would be stupid.

I hope you enjoyed this little lesson from me.  If you have any questions, just ask.

New ad for the house 

 

So, I have been trying to figure out how to add the link to the ad on here, but haven’t had much luck.  I am not a full time blogger by any means.  lol  But I do have a new ad for it up, if you contact me on here I can send you the link.  It does have better pictures.  Tomorrow we have someone coming over to finish the ceiling for us and we just put in new light fixtures last month.  Oh, and I bought a new washer last month.  Remember, the house is fully furnished and we are asking $40,000.  It’s a great area with great people.  We are also a $500 finders fee to anyone who finds us a buyer.  This is payable once the sale is final of course.

Thanks.

 

 

Cost of living

People ask me all the time about the cost of living here.  I have to stop and think about it.  For my husband and I, we spend just under $1,200 a month on the two of us.  Keep in mind, we don’t own a car, so this includes our transportation in taxis and taking the bus.  We also smoke, that include the cost of our cigarettes.  Having residency here, we have to pay for our medical insurance.  This amount also includes our mortgage on the house.   There are something that are more expensive here than in the US.  Electronics for one, they have a very high import tax, but that helps with the social security program to help medical cost.  Insurance for the both of us per month is about $130.  This covers everything, prescriptions, x-rays, surgeries, and dental.  If it is something that you have to have, it will be covered.  If it is something that you don’t have to have, you can get it for a discount or go private and pay out of pocket.  Just recently I needed an ultrasound.  I didn’t feel like going all the way to the hospital to make an appointment, then have to go back again for the appointment.  I called a private clinic that is much closer to me.  I saw the doctor, spoke with him, had the ultrasound done, spoke with him some more, he gave me his recommendation to take back to my regular doctor, he spent about 45 minutes with me, and I was charged $80.  That included the cost of the ultrasound.  A few months ago we had our own water meter put in, finally.  Now we can accurately know our water bill, it is under $7 a month.  Our phone and internet are together and it is $40 a month, not bad really.  Lately, our utility bill has been a little on the high side, about $50 a month.  I have been using the clothes dryer a lot.  During the dry season it goes down.  We also run a fan during the day time and two at night, we do not have A/C.  We have satellite TV, which is $25 a month, which we are going to get rid of because we never watch it.  We do spend a lot on food, but I still cook like an American and bake a lot.  We also drink coffee twice a day.  What we spend a month also includes cat litter and food for two cats, I have to buy the high quality food because I have one cat with stomach issues, and we also have two dogs.  The cat food I buy is about $14 for a 3 pound bag, expensive I know, and I need about 3 bags a month.  I will say that fruits and veggies are cheap, pineapples are just over $1 each, sometimes you can get three for $2.  There are farmers markets every Friday, one in each town where you can pick them up even cheaper than at the store.  We do have a little fruit and veggie stand in town that is open everyday.  We get bananas for about $.05 each.  Plantains are around $.35 each.  My problem with grocery shopping is meat, I love meat.  I fix a chicken dish at least twice a week.  Chicken runs about $7 a kilo, which is around $3.50 a pound, but that is for boneless and skinless breast filet.  Ground beef is extremely lean, I sometimes have to add oil to the pan to brown it.  There is almost no fat at all.  To make hamburger patties I have to add an egg in it just so it will stay together.  Ground beef is around $6 a kilo, but it is much better than your ground chuck at 80/20; this stuff is more like 95/5.

So, if we didn’t have the pets and didn’t smoke, you could probably knock off at least $250.  That would put us at under $1,000 a month.  When we were in the States we were spending more than that on just rent.  So you see, it is possible to live on that.  This however does not include any additional expenses, entertainment.  We like to sit at home at night with each other and watch something on Netflix.  We go for walks together to town and look around and talk to people.  Enjoy the park and relax.  We have a lot of simple fun together.  We are like that little old couple you see sitting on the park bench watching the birds, talking and giggling with each other.  Our extra money lately has gone back into the house.  We bought all new light fixtures, had to buy a ladder to put them in, we also bought a brand new washer this month.  Which will be sold with the house, if they want it.  So, if you want to know anything else, just ask.  Hope you have a great day.

Why not to live at the beach

I always have people ask me, “Why don’t you live at the beach?”  It’s constant too, and it can get a little frustrating explaining it over and over.  So, I will put it out there for everyone to read about.  It’s pretty simple.  Everyone always thinks, oh you live in Costa Rica, you must love the beach and live by it.  You must spend all your time on the beach.  Well, I have lived here for three years and have been to the beach once since living here.  A beach is a beach, no matter what country you live in.  Yes, some are prettier than others; some are better for surfing, others better for snorkeling.   But there is so much more to Costa Rica than the beach.  My main reasons for not living there. Where ever you have more tourist, you have more crime.  Even if it is only petty theft, it happens more often.  Then, there is the flooding.  This is a rain forest, it rains a lot here, and in the “green” season, the beaches often get flooded due to the run off.  Then, if there is a big storm, you have the devastating waves that come in and flood everything.  Right now in one area there are a lot of people being evacuated due to the flooding.  In one lovely beach area, they are actually having water shortages.  Yes, you read that right, water shortages in a rain forest.  During the dry season these people get put on water hours and go 8-10 hours a day without running water.  There are just too many people there to supply the demand.  In a beautiful, very popular resort area, beach there s a huge drug and prostitution problem.  It is fine if you are staying confined to the resorts and not going out at night.  But who wants to do that?  Then, there is the constant sand.  I have enough of a hard time cleaning due to my back problems, I don’t need to be sweeping sand up every time I turn around.  So, that is why I don’t live by the beach.

Now, where I live is very inland.  I am surrounded by forest and animals.  I see the Great Green Macaws flying over my house, I see the Blue Morpho Butterfly fluttering through my yard.  I see toucans up close and so many other wonderful and beautiful birds full of color just from my patio.  I have also seen iguanas in my yard and basilisks.   The people in my town are amazing, friendly, helpful, and outgoing.  Today we were at the hardware store and asked about renting a pressure washer.  The owner said we could just use his and bring it back when we were done.  Got home and needed a wheel barrel, borrowed one from a neighbor, no problem.  People here are so laid back it’s almost unbelievable.  Then people ask me why I want to move.  I just want to see more of the world.  I love to travel and I want to see more.  So, if you know anyone who wants to buy a house here in La Virgen Costa Rica for $40,000 USD fully furnished, let me know.  I will be sad to go, but I will be happy to continue on our adventure.  There is a lot to do in our area, it is called Sarapiqui.  Still not completely discovered, but a lot to do.  Easy to get anywhere from here and a joy to come back to.  May you all have a wonderful day/night.  Pura Vida!

I know it’s been a while

I know it’s been a while since I have posted anything.  Sorry.  I have been busy with dogs.  About a month ago I had a very shy and thin dog show up at my house.  She was scared at first, but I manged to gain her trust.  I named her Grace.  She looks to be part shepherd and part black lab.  She is very sweet.  She got sick on us and I rushed her to the vet.  We had blood work done and an ultrasound.  Turns out she had three different infections, plus anemia and an extremely low blood platelet count.  She got lots of medicine and three different injections.  She is doing pretty good now.  She has put on some weight and looking good.  Well, a week ago, we have a small dog, part Chihuahua follow us home.  We tried to shoo her away, but when I woke up on a Sunday morning, there she was on my front porch.  She ended up attaching herself to my husband.  Turns out she is pregnant.  Now we have two cats, two dogs, and more on the way.  I do love animals.  But this got me thinking.  We live here in a rural area of the country, most people don’t make that much money, but most people have at least one dog.  It is difficult for them to afford basic veterinary care.  I am trying to start a non-profit organization to help low income families with this.  I want to help them get their pets spayed/neutered also.  We do have a serious dog population problem down here.  The thing is, I need help.  We live on a fixed income.  If you can’t donate, I do understand. All I ask is that you share the post for the donation site, please.  Grace is on the right and Peanut is on the left.

Thank you.

Cheri

http://www.gofundme.com/96tp1w

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It’s the little things

Well, since we have decided to stay here we have been working towards making the house more comfy.  Last month we invested in a new fridge.  Our last one was only three and a half feet tall and I had to defrost the ice box every two weeks.  So happy to have a big one that I don’t have to defrost.  Yesterday while I was out I saw a nice dinning table and chairs.  The one we had was literally falling apart.  We already lost one chair, while my husband was sitting in it!  This one is very nice, a very hard and heavy wood, it will last.   The old table, we put on the patio and just use the plastic chairs with it.  It’s nice to have a table outside now.   We were going to try to finance the new one so we wouldn’t have to shell out that much at once, but they wanted a co-signer.  So, since we didn’t finance it, they gave me an extra year on the warranty.  The new fridge actually has a 10 year warranty on it.  We still have so much to do.  We are still hooked up to our neighbors water line.  We need to get our own meter and have the lines put in.  We still need gutters on the house also.  We really want to enclose the side patio as well, stepping stones from the gate to the front porch would be awesome.  That would make it a lot nicer during the rainy season.  We still don’t have ceramic tile in the house, our floor is concrete.  Then there is our poor fence…it’s slowly giving into the weather.  It’s just going to take time.  We did just hire a new cleaning lady today also.  About $15 a day, once a week.  This will help me out so much with my back and hip problems.  Plus, the hubby has problems with his knees and shoulders.  (Retired USPS carrier.)  Just a few little things happening around here right now.  But it’s the little things that keep us happy.  You have to treasure them, if you don’t treasure the little things, you can’t appreciate the big things.

Healthcare and children

I know it’s been a while since I have posted anything here.  Sorry.  I will say, that after recent events we have deiced not to sell our house and move.  We are staying right here!  We have a great network of friends and neighbors that truly care.  I am not about to give that up.  So, this is what has happened…

Tuesday, my daughter started saying that she wasn’t feeling well.  She said her stomach was hurting.  Didn’t think much of it at first, probably just a little stomach bug…Nope.  Now, keep in mind that I have had medical training.  I have worked as a CNA and as an MA, had a ton of classes for many different fields.  Plus, last year, I spent a week in the hospital for an appendectomy.

Well, I checked my daughters temperature and noticed that she had a slight fever.  I asked her where the pain was, then I had her lay on the bed and I checked.  Guess what?  Appendicitis.  We hobbled down to the Red Cross, which is very close to our house and got an ambulance to the emergency clinic.  (We don’t own a vehicle.)  The doctor checked her out and then sent us to Heredia to the hospital.  It was an extremely long wait down there.  They may not be very quick, but they are very good at what they do.  I got a hold of my daughters test results and read them first before giving them to the doctor.  They were almost identical to mine last year.  We saw the doctor and he was saying that he didn’t think it was an appendicitis.  I raised some Hell with him and told him that a year ago mine was the same way.  Then we waited some more, and waited some more.  My daughter’s pain was getting worse, so I went up to the desk and started raising some Hell.  Was actually a little worried that they might kick me out.  We waited some more.  Finally there was a cleaning lady.  She asked me what was going on and I told her.  She went and got the pediatrician that was on duty.  He walked us to the back and got us a doctor right then and there!  Here I am, trying to speak to this doctor in Spanish and my brain is turning to mush at this point, I had been awake for more than 24 hours.  Everyone stopped and stared at me, you could have heard a pin drop.  Then a wonderful woman doctor came out that spoke great English for me.  She was so nice to us.  I was about ready to cry on her.  From there, they went ahead and started getting her ready for surgery.  It was still a long wait.  They have only a few operating rooms there and several people having surgery and three of the other people with appendicitis’.  It was about 5 in the afternoon when she finally went into surgery.  So, it was about 16 hours after we got there that she finally went into the OR.

Now, we live about 2 hours from the hospital.  I wasn’t about to come all the way back home.  Luckily I have a very good friend of mine that lives in the same town as the hospital.  I was able to stay with her and she took me back in the morning.  God bless her and her family.

When I got to the hospital, you have to get a security pass first before you can go up and visit anyone.  I actually like this idea.  They had her in the recovery room because there wasn’t room anywhere else.  I had to put scrubs on over my clothes, which is funny because I was wearing scrubs, but they had to be perfectly clean.  I was so happy to see my baby that I did cry.  She was smiling which made me feel good.  She told me that she had wonderful nurses and a few spoke English.  She doesn’t know any Spanish, just a few words.  Then I got great news, she was coming home that day!  Her appendix did not rupture and she had the surgery done laparoscopy.  I was so relieved.  I called my husband and let him know.  Then I had to call another friend to come and get us.

Now, my daughter is not on the insurance yet.  Her residency is still pending.  We went to the cashier to find out how much we were going to have to pay.  I was thinking I will just make payment arrangements.  But I knew the total bill wouldn’t be near as much as it is in the States.  I was thinking a couple of thousand dollars.  The most amazing thing happened.  The lady looked at me and said, since she is a minor there is no charge.  I about fell over and almost started crying again.  She smiled really big at me and I asked her again just to make sure.  She said, “She is under 18 and a minor, there is no charge.”  After that, we were on our way home.

We got home this Thursday and last night we had a problem.  She started having more pain and spiked a fever.  So, I walked quickly to the Red Cross, I can’t run, and got another ambulance.  They picked her up and away we went to the emergency clinic…again.  They immediately took her back.  They checked her out, did some blood work, got her on some strong antibiotics, gave her something for the pain, and back home we went.  We were only there for about two hours.   For pain medication at home, they gave her 500 mg of acetaminophen.  They do NOT prescribe narcotic pain medication.  I like that as well.  Keeps people from becoming addicted, blocks illegal sell of it, and it does cut back on crime.  But again, no charge.

Today she is doing great!  She is up and moving around.  The fever is gone, and the pain is a lot less.  It’s been a long week, glad it’s over.  So, today I am baking a homemade pecan pie, even the crust is homemade.  I love this country!

House for sale

Well, my husband and I have decided to continue our adventure elsewhere.  So, we are selling our house here in beautiful La Virgen de Sarapiqui.  The area is still not full of tourists, which helps to keep the cost of living lower here than in other parts of the country.  Our neighbors are wonderful and sad to see us move.  Give you an idea of how sweet our neighbors are.  I had surgery this past January, and everyday for a week my neighbor would bring me something over to eat that was homemade.  All the people on our street always wave and say hi as they are walking by if we are out.  We can walk to town and have people honk and wave at us.  It’s not a big town, but it is a wonderful town.  The bus stop is close, and we can get to anywhere in the country by bus.  We have never owned a vehicle here, the bus is cheap.  There is a lot to do in our town and surrounding area.  There are canopy tours, horseback riding, rafting, kayaking, guided nature hikes, chocolate tours, coffee tours, river boat tours and so much more.  Our house sits on top of a hill, so there is almost always a nice breeze.  Plus, it is a quiet neighborhood.  The house includes all furniture and cookware.  It is 2 bedroom and 1 bathroom, 57m2 and the lot is 200m2.  Furnishings include: flat screen TV, futon, stove with oven, small refrigerator, cabinets, pots and pans, plates and glasses, silverware, toaster oven, blender, small dinning table, twin bed, dresser, lap top desk, full size bed, closet, hot water shower, three fans, washer and dryer.  Already has internet and home phone, they run around $35 a month.  Utilities run between $30 and $45 per month, just depends on how much you use the dryer.  Local satellite TV is $25 per month, many channels come in in English.  Also, included is a prepaid local cell phone and a bicycle.  (kitten in the cone on the dinning chair is not included!)

We are asking $45,000USD for everything!  Comment if you are interested.  Thanks!

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Independence Day

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Happy Independence Day Costa Rica!  This was in my little town of La Virgen de Sarapiqui.  There is only about 8,000 people who live here and it’s a great place to live.  The people are super friendly, helpful and outgoing.  My camera went on the fritz today and was only able to get these two pictures.  Bummer!  But as you can tell they even get the kids involved here.  Had a great time with my family today.  There is a lot to do here in the Sarapiqui area, a lot of people still don’t know about our area.  Somewhat of an undiscovered part of the country.  It is very beautiful.

Getting your driver’s license

A few days ago my husband and I went for our Costa Rica drivers license.  It was an interesting and long experience.  I will give you the run down of what we had to do.  For starters, you have to have your residency card, Cedula, in order to get a drivers license here.  I do know also, that in September of this year it is going to change a little, everything is supposed to be going digital.  You will need a physical examination in order to get your license.  They used to ask for proof of your blood type, they didn’t ask us for this at all.  You will need two copies of everything.  This includes your Cedula, US drivers license, and your passport; the picture page and the page with your entry stamps.  For the first time you have to go to La Uruca to have it done at the Cosevi.  My husband and I had our physical done before we went, I highly recommend this.  It will save you a lot of time down there.  You will go in and wait in a line, they will call you to a window where you will give them all of your copies and they need to see the originals also, so take everything with you.  Then you will wait in another line to be called to a booth.  Here they will go through your information again, get your phone number and directions to where you live and an e-mail address, if you have one it isn’t necessary.  After this, they will give you a paper that is stamped to take to Banco National, it is only a short walk.  There is where you actually pay for your license.  Ours cost $8 each!  You go and pay then go back and wait in line again, the second line you waited in.  You will give them your receipt to show you paid, they will take your picture, finger print and you will sign.  That is it.  It did take us a couple of hours to get this all done.  It is really an easy process, it’s just a slow process.  I did a lot of reading about this before we went, but I figured it out.  Pretty much everything we have done here I have done myself and learned on the fly.  Also, if you don’t know Spanish, take someone with you that does know Spanish.  My Spanish is very limited, but I can get by.  I just ask them to speak slower and tell them that I am learning little by little.  Pura Vida!