Do your research!

Oh, how many times have I seen people move down here and have no idea what they are doing.  They have no idea of what paperwork is needed to immigrate here.  They think they can come down here and just get a job.  It doesn’t work like that.  It’s not like moving from one state to another; this is a completely different country.  There are different laws and regulations.  Know what type of residency you want.  Know that you are not going to be able to work right away, if at all.  Pay here for work is a fraction of what it is in the US.  Also, please note that Costa Rica is the most expensive country to live in in Central America.  If you want to continue the same lifestyle that you have in the US, you will probably find it more expensive to live here.  But if you want a more simple life, without all the “stuff”, it will be less expensive.

For us, it is cheaper to live here.  Our mortgage payment is around $265, depending on the exchange rate.  We don’t use A/C so our electric bill is around $32, we also use a gas stove.  Gas for the stove is about $11 ever couple of months, you have to buy the bottle like you do for your gas grill and exchange them out.  When I am not cooking, I actually turn the tank off.  I do this so if something happens it will not leak, cat breaks the line or an earthquake hits and the line gets knocked off.  Our internet is $32 a month, and our water goes between $6-8 a month.  Our mandatory insurance we have to pay for the public system is around $100 a month; this is based off of our income as pensioners.  We also have a car payment of around $330 a month, but we got a four year loan.  Cars down here are very expensive and hold their value for years.  I have seen some beaters that are over 10 years old going for $8,000, that is with four wheel drive though.  Our groceries for the week can go anywhere between $80-125 for the two of us.  We drink a lot of milk, which is about $2 a half gallon.  I noticed at the supermarket it was a little cheaper to buy a half gallon than a gallon of milk.  We also eat a lot of cereal!  Fruits and veggies are really cheap here, which helps.  I have also never seen carrots as big as what they are here.  I can get a pineapple straight from the farm for just over $1.  Now, these prices are just for the area that I live in.  Please keep that in mind.  I live in a small town, not even close to the beach, not a lot of tourists, and very few expats.  There are less than 10 expats that live in my area, including my husband and I.

About that immigration paperwork.  You will need your birth certificates, certified and apostille.  You will need a background check, certified and apostille.  If you are married you will need your marriage certificate, certified and apostille.  If you are a pensioner, you will need a letter from your company or from Social Security stating that it is a life time benefit of at least $1,000, certified and apostille.  You will need a copy of your entire passport, you will need passport photos, you will have to be finger printed down here.  You will also need a letter, written in Spanish on why you want to live here. You will have to have patience also.  We used a small office that is not very busy, I did all of our paperwork myself without an attorney, and we had our residency in six months.

You have to maintain temporary residency for at least three years before you can switch over to permanent residency.  While you are a temporary resident, you cannot work.  You can own and operate a business, but you cannot work for a wage.  So, don’t think that you are just going to go out and apply for a job.  You can, but it’s not legal.  If you work for a company that is sending you to Costa Rica for work, that is different.  They should do all of your paperwork for you and have your work visa with no problems.

There are other types of  residency that you can apply for other than the Pensionado status.  I have not personally dealt with those so I do not have a lot of information on them.  Google is your best friend when it comes to finding information about moving here.  There is a group called the ARCR that has a lot of great information, I would recommend checking them out.  But please, do your research.  I have had people message me asking me how to get their background check because they already moved here and didn’t know they needed one.  Or people come down here and not know that since they have not applied for residency that they have to leave the country every 90 days.  Also, that 90 days is not a guarantee either.  You may get to the border and the border guard is having a bad day and decide to only give you 14 days.  It happens.  Another thing, you can drive here on your US license but only for 90 days.  You can only get a Costa Rica drivers license once you have residency.  So, if you have submitted your paperwork to immigration and don’t need to leave the country but you are driving, you will still need to leave to keep your US license active here.  Once you hit that 90 day mark, you are no longer allowed to drive on a foreign drivers license.

Do your research.  Make sure you have all of your paperwork before coming here.  Once you are here, make it a top priority to get your paperwork in to immigration, don’t wait!  There may be something that you missed and will need to get before turning everything in.  Make copies of everything!  Immigration will need a copy of everything and keep copies for yourself.  Scan it all and put it on a flash drive in case you need it again.  You never know if something will get lost.  Make copies of all your receipts for your deposits, scan those too.

Until mañana, Pura Vida!

Life’s been crazy

I know it has been a little while since I posted anything.  Let’s see where to begin.

My biological family.  I have several aunts and uncles that are looking forward to meeting me and many cousins as well.  My sister and I are talking a lot and really getting to know each other.  I am going up to the States next month to visit and meet as many as I can; it is a rather large family.  I have many aunts that wish I would just go away, and my brothers want nothing to do with me.  It’s OK because I am not going to let the negative outweigh the positive.  I was very happy about getting a family medical history and a family tree.  We have ancestors going all the way back to one of the kings of Ireland.  I also found out that we are related to the McCoy’s, as in the Hatfield and McCoy’s.  I had to laugh at that as my husband’s son-in-laws last name is Hatfield.  I found out a lot of really interesting information though, much of which I would have known earlier in life.  But it’s all good.

We had independence day here on the 15th and had a great time.  Saw some friends of ours that we hadn’t seen in a while.  Enjoyed the parade and all the drum bands from the schools.  It is so neat how they celebrate it down here.  The night before they have a lantern walk, where the kids make homemade lanterns and walk around town.  This represents when the people found out about them gaining their independence how they went into the streets to celebrate while holding their lanterns up high.  Each school has a competition to for the lanterns for each grade and the kids win prizes.  We went to one our first year here and had a great time.

About that same time we were coming home one day and seen a dog in the neighborhood that I had never seen before.  The poor girl was very emaciated.  I started taking her food.  I found out who she belonged to and after several attempts we finally got a hold of the lady.  I had a friend of mine go with me to interpret, I still stumble on some things.  We found out that the lady had been ill for the past three months and wasn’t able to work.  She had another dog also that was very thin.  We told her that we could take the dogs, take them to the vet, get them better, get them fixed, and find them homes.  She agreed.  I know this was very hard for her to do, give up the dogs, but she did admit that they needed better than what she was giving them.  We also asked her if she had any food in her house and the answer to that was no.  So, we took her to the supermarket and loaded her up for a while.  She about cried on us.  We had a lot of people come together to help out with all of this.

Today, we found the dogs new homes.  The girl went to a guy down the road from us.  He walks his dog past our house all the time and you can tell he takes great care of him.  The little boy went to a girl who is going to give him to her grandmother.  Her grandmother had been wanting a little dog to keep her company.  The dogs have not been fixed yet, but we told them that when they put on a little more weight we can go to the vet and get them fixed and we will pay for it.  We gave them the leash, collar, and harness for the one.  The little guy had  a leash and a chain.  We also gave them some dog food to get them started for today.  The dogs were both very happy to go with them.  I think it is a good match and they are close enough that we will be able to check on them.

So, a lot happened last month.  Hoping this month will be more relaxing for us.  It just seems so quiet now.  But we still have our two puppies and the cats.  Until mañana, Pura Vida!

Hoping to meet her

As many of you read my blog the past couple of days you know what has happened.  Well, I have learned more about what happened all those years ago.  But on a great note, my little sister wants to meet me!  I will discuss that later in the post.

As it turns out, my bio-mom actually had a relationship with my bio-dad.  She was in college at the time and he was one of her professors.  Oops.  The story that is being told to me was that he told her that he loved her, would always be there for her, and wanted to take care of her.  Up until she got pregnant.  That is when he told her he would take her to the hospital and pay for the abortion.  She refused, so here I am today.  From my understanding she basically had to hide from him out of fear.  So, she hid out in a battered woman’s shelter until I was born.

Now, fast forward many years.  Bio-grandmother lied to me about me causing problems between her and her husband.  Bio-mom’s husband still doesn’t know about me, she never told him.  So, I am the big dark secrete.  I told my little sis to not tell her dad as it could really cause more problems and I don’t want that.  I have her and that is all that matters to me.

Bio-mom has turned the boys all against me, telling them that I am a drug addict just looking for money to buy more drugs.  I guess she forgot how to be a good Catholic and not break the 10 Commandments, thou shall not bear false witness.  Seriously though, if I were a drug addict, I wouldn’t be this overweight.  Also, I am allergic to opiates.  We found out the hard way when I was in the hospital.  They gave me a morphine shot and the next thing I knew I couldn’t breathe and was in more pain than I came in with.  Happened again at another hospital with a different pain medication.  I am also allergic to codeine.  Even better, the smell of marijuana makes my throat swell.  So, I will stick to wine.

So, all the boys are freaking out about me, thinking I am some terrible person.  It’s OK though.  I am really not going to let it bother me.  Little sis is not buying into bio-moms lies and we are still talking on the phone and over Skype.  I have a US phone number so it is easy to call each other.  She sent me a friend request on Facebook and I waited for her to mention me on her page before I said anything or commented on any of her posts.  I let her make the first move there since she does have other family members on there.  She is a very smart lady studying law, raising a beautiful son, and doing it all on her own.  What a strong young lady.

My little sister is considering joining the military, but isn’t sure yet.  We both have a very military family, both of her parents were in and so was I.  I would like to see her as soon as possible.  I need to go before winter, as I only have two sweaters and one pair of jeans, I don’t want to freeze to death.  But I need help getting up there.  My husband and I just had to redo our entire septic system for our house and we are still paying for that.  We live on a small pension and wasn’t planning on this happening either.  I was hoping to buy the ticket soon before prices started going up.  I would like to go see her the last week of October as it would give me a lot of time to plan ahead.  I do have a go fund me page.  I have waited 40 years for this moment, and she has always wanted a sister.  Can you please help us to meet?  I just want to give her the biggest hug ever.

Thank you.  Pura Vida.

A very emotional weekend

These past several days have had many ups and downs for me.  I have been overwhelmed with joy, then crying my eyes out, then overwhelmed with joy again.  Let me try to explain, as this is a little off the topic of living in Costa Rica, but some does relate.

At an extremely young age, 6 weeks to be exact, I was adopted.  I had always hoped to find my biological family and find out where I came from and why I was put up for adoption.  These are normal things that those of us who were adopted want to find out.  I do believe that there is a biological desire there in our DNA for us to try to connect with those that were are physically related to.  Not all of us feel this way though; it is more common for girls than boys to seek out the biological family.

When I was 21 years old I was pregnant with my daughter.  This stirred up a lot of emotions for me and got me to think about how I could try to locate my biological family.  Before this, I had no idea where to start and back then we didn’t have all the databases like we have now making it much easier to locate people.  There was no social media back then, if you needed to find someone you had better have some money to hire a private investigator.  But, with the help of my mother, the one who adopted me, we contacted Catholic Charities who I was adopted through.  I was told that I could submit a letter to my file and if my biological mother or father had submitted a letter they would then be exchanged.  They couldn’t tell me if a letter had been submitted, but they highly encouraged me to submit a letter.  So I did.  A little time went by and I got a letter in the mail, it was from my biological mother.  We exchanged letters that way for a while until she gave me the name and phone number of her sister and mother.  Then I was able to call them.

I met my biological mother’s sister and grandmother not long after my daughter was born.  It wasn’t the happy reunion that I was hoping for, like the ones you see on TV, but it was a reunion.  Lots of information was exchanged between us, my adoptive mother was there with me also.  We all had a nice lunch and went on our way.  I can tell you that my biological grandmother was extremely upset that I was not adopted by a Catholic family.  She stated that she wanted me to be raised by a Catholic family and they is why they went through Catholic Charities.  Well, I guess God had other plans for me.  I was told that my biological mother had several other children and they could not know about me until the youngest was of adult age, and in their family that was considered to be 21.

I would send letters to my biological mothers sister and then she would mail them to her.  I did this for a few years.  My biological mother did say that she hoped someday she could hold me again in her arms like she did when I was first born.  This meant so much to me.  Then I called my bio-grandmother one day to see how she was doing.  She then informed me that I needed to quit writing letters to my bio-mom as it was causing problems between her and her husband.  Her husband didn’t want her to have anything to do with me.  Whether this is true or not, I still don’t know yet.  So, I stopped sending letters.  I still tried to stay in contact with her, bio-grandmother, over the next few years, calling every so often just to check in so to speak.  That is when I found out that bio-grandma had a mini-stroke.  I never heard from her or my bio-moms sister after that.

Out of respect for the family, I waited, and I waited until I knew that the youngest child had at least reached the age of 21.  At this point in my life, life was happening.  I was going to school full time, and working full time.  I didn’t have time for anything else.  I was so focused on my studies that most other things fell into the background.  (Except my husband and child of course.)  The day I graduate college is the same day we got on a plane and moved to Costa Rica.  It was a very rough start down here.  For a long time we didn’t have internet at home.  So I would go to town and use it at one of the internet cafes.  I wouldn’t spend a lot of time there, just check in with friends and family to let them know that we were still kicking.

We have spent most of our time and money working on the house we bought.  It was a shell at first, but we turned it into a beautiful home and we still have work to do.  Finding my biological family has always been in the back of my mind, but I had no idea how to do it now.  I tried contacting Catholic Charities again, but got no where.  Then, the most amazing thing happened this year.  The state of Ohio unsealed the adoption records.

The major problem I had was trying to get a notary for signing the document for getting my original birth certificate.  US notaries are not an easy thing to get when you live in a foreign country.  I would have to make an appointment at the US Embassy here, travel all the way there, and then pay $50.  After that I would have to mail it to Ohio with a check or money order for $20.  Well, I don’t have a checking account here and I have never seen money orders here, not even sure if they would accept one from another country to begin with.  But I had another break-through.

I received a message on my Facebook from someone asking me about my brother.  He is my adoptive brother who I grew up with, so we are not blood related.  I spoke with person on the phone for a long time and got as much information from her as possible.  I spoke to her sister as well.  They were hoping that my brother was their biological brother.  Unfortunately, he wasn’t.  They were pretty devastated, especially the younger one who has been trying for 6 years to find her brother.  I know how they feel.

The lady that first contacted me about my brother told me of the person who was helping her, she was called a search angel.  She gave me her name and I went from there.  I contacted her and gave her as much information that I had.  My biological mother’s name, maiden and married name.  Her sisters name, the number of siblings that she had, how many children she had, and where she used to live.  I had more information also that I gave her.  It was in a matter of days that she had names for me, phone numbers, and addresses.  So I decided to try to reach out.  This way I could say that I at least tried.

I started off by sending messages via Facebook to find out if they were related to my biological mother.  I know these messages would go to the other box and may not be seen for a while.  I am one of those people who check that box often as I have people message me about living down here and about the immigration process for Costa Rica.  I then decided that I would try to call.  I did try the number that I was given for my bio-mom, but it was no longer in service.  I talked it over with my husband and we decided to give it a chance and to try the number of my bio-brother.  It worked!  I asked him several questions first to make sure that I had the right family.  I did.  I can’t imagine what was going through his mind when I told him that I was his biological sister.  They still had no idea about me.  We talked for a while, he asked me lots of questions which I was expecting, and he said he would have to think things over and call me next weekend.  I am OK with that.  I know that this is a lot to take in.  After all, in this day and age you never know who might be trying to scam you.  I told him that all I wanted was a chance to know him, nothing more.

I got up the next morning and found that he had blocked me on Facebook.  This devastated me to no end.  I spent all day crying my eyes out.  I was so depressed.  My poor husband didn’t know what to do for me, but he was there for me.  He held me and kissed me gently and gave me words of encouragement.  He did exactly what I needed him to do.  Then that night I got the call that I had been waiting for, the call of acceptance.

I had sent a message to my biological sister.  She seen it while she was at work and saw my picture.  Her co-workers even said that we look alike.  So she called me.  We had a very nice and long conversation about things.  It seems like we have a lot in common.  I don’t know how long we talked for, but I could have talked for hours.  She couldn’t believe how much we looked alike and how much I look like her (our) mother.  She said there was no denying it.  I was her sister!  She called me again later and told me that my bio-mom finally admitted that indeed, yes, I was her daughter that she had put up for adoption.  I have a beautiful sister that is very intelligent.  This makes me so proud.  I did find out about a few  more medical things in the family that explains a lot with me.  It seems that certain things really do run in the family.  But I can’t wait to find out more about her and I can’t wait to meet her.

A bit more to the roller coaster.  I got a call last night from another biological brother of mine.  He was not the nicest person, putting it very nicely.  Letting me know that I am nothing but a stranger to him and why would he want to know a stranger.  I kind of feel sorry for him in a way.  From the way he went off on me it seems like he has a lot of hate in his heart, a lot of anger.  An intelligent young lady once told me, a stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet.  I started to wonder how he ever made friends if he wants nothing to do with a stranger.  I find his reasoning difficult to understand, especially after living here for over four years now.  People here are extremely friendly and outgoing.  I walk down the street and as people walk by they say hello.  I walk into the supermarket and I am greeted with a smile, hello, and how are you.  I am often asked about my daughter and how she is doing.  I was at the clinic this morning and there was a little girl that I used to teach who told me hello, in English.  I have had kids that I taught run up to me and hug me and give me a kiss on the cheek while at the supermarket.  If you have met someone just once, the next time they see you they act as if they have known you for years.  But everyone has their own thing.  I guess I am just a people person, so living here is good for me.  I don’t like living in a bubble, I like to learn about people and cultures.  Maybe that is why I host people from all over the world in my home.  I will respect his decision of not wanting anything to do with  me.  It is not what I had hoped for, but at least I know.  I look forward to talking with my little sister again tonight.  I hope that my oldest brother will at least give me a chance now that he knows the truth.  I still have one more brother that I don’t know about, if he will or won’t.  Only time will tell.

So, I wish you all the best and enjoy each day and treat each other with love and kindness.  A smile could completely change someones day.  Until manaña, Pura Vida!

Homeless and Helpless

Two weeks ago my husband and I made a trip up to Nuevo Arenal.  It is a great little town, very beautiful, right along Lake Arenal.  It was about a two hour drive from where we live.  We dropped of two people who stayed with us for a few days in La Fortuna and then went on our way.

We drove all the way up there just to adopt a kitten.  Call me crazy, but I love animals.  We adopted a cute little black male kitten that is about 4 months old now.  We had originally named him Cotton because he was all black.  I have an all white cat named Coal and I used to have another all black cat named Snowball; I like opposite names.  I have since changed Cotton’s name to Pancake.  It just seems to fit him better.  He is such an adorable little guy with a very big purr.  He loves to play and cuddle and practice his pouncing at 3 in the morning on me while I am trying to sleep.  Needless to say I haven’t had much sleep in the past two weeks; but it is so worth it.  Almost reminds me of having a baby in the house, but not as much work.

The shelter I adopted him from is called Homeless and Helpless, they do have a webpage.  They need some help also.  Their vehicle has recently broken down and they can’t get it fixed.  They are taking a taxi, sometimes several times a day, to the vet and back.  They take several animals at a time, cats and dogs to the vet.  They really need a vehicle to be able to take care of the animals, to get them the medical care they need.  Many of the animals they take in are street animals that have been abandoned and left to fend for themselves.  They have several people that foster animals for them and they pay for that.  It can get really expensive for them and they rely completely on donations; there is no governmental help with this at all.  If you can make a donation, even a small one it would be greatly appreciated.  They spay and neuter all the cats and dogs that come through their shelter so no one can breed them once they are adopted out.  They have a go fund me page that I will share the link to.  Tell them Pancake said thanks for helping all the homeless and helpless pets.


He looked flat as a pancake and that name just stuck with him.

He looked flat as a pancake and that name just stuck with him.


This can be a touchy topic for a lot of people.  There is a lot of talk about it in the US, so I thought I would let you know what it is like down here based on my experiences.  Now, when people look at me they think I am a local.  I have natural black hair, brown eyes, and a natural tan.  I don’t like a normal white girl at all.  But I have seen and heard things that make people wonder and question how race is perceived here.

Racism does happen, there is no denying it, it happens everywhere in the world.  I have friends here who don’t like black people, they let me know that.  We were riding in a taxi one day and our friend was driving, we saw a black guy walking down the street and his reaction was, “Ugh, negro.”  You could tell by the look on his face that it wasn’t a good thing.

The culture down here can be a little different also when it comes to referring to someone by their race.  I spent 6 days in the hospital here and had a few black nurses there.  There was this one nurse who was black, extremely nice, and a wonderful nurse, but the other nurses would just call her, “Negrita.”  I guess if I tried to translate it to what they meant it would mean something along the lines of little black girl.  (Negrita is just little black.)  But they didn’t mean it to be anything bad, they were just calling for her.  If it bothered her she didn’t show it or let them know.

Now, if you go the east side of the country, you have a huge Caribbean influence.  There you will see more people of African decent.  The food can be different, the music, the whole atmosphere is different.  It is almost like going to another country.  If it wasn’t for everyone speaking Spanish you could forget that you are in Costa Rica and think you were on an island.

Now when it comes to racism against Gringos.  Gringo is not a derogatory term here either, it is just their way of saying either North American or European.  Again, I haven’t experienced this because I blend in.  My husband has a little but not much.  His biggest problem here is that he is half deaf and has had a very difficult time trying to learn Spanish.  We have tried many programs for him to learn but he just can’t hear them well enough.  Usually once I tell people that he has tried and that he has hearing problems, they are pretty cool with him.  A lot of people here think that just because you are from the US or Europe it means you have money.  I know we don’t have a lot of money.  So some places will try to Gringo price you.  Always take a local with you if you are unsure about the price on something.  The most this happens is when it comes to buying property or land.  Shop around.  The real estate market here is all sorts of jacked up.  I have seen nice homes sell for very little and complete dumps listed for an outrageous amount.  From my experience most people don’t mind Gringos, they like us to spend our money here for one thing and I can’t blame them; it’s good for business.  But there are always a few that will not welcome us, that is to be expected anywhere though.  In my town, we are part of the community, they know us, and they like us.  We treat them with respect and they do the same in return.

Asian people.  If you are from anywhere in Asia, or have an Asian background, you will be called Chinese.  Don’t take offense to this.  When they look at you and say Chino or China, it is their way of saying Asian.  It doesn’t matter if you are from Thailand or Cambodia, they will call you Chinese.  It doesn’t matter how many times you try to correct them either.  You will only frustrate yourself.  Just go with it.

I haven’t heard of anything bad happening just because of race.  No shootings, murders, muggings, just because someone is a different color.  But if you are pale you are more likely to get pulled over by the police.  So, all in all it’s not so bad when it comes to race.  If anything I think the tensions are less here than in the US, but we still have a long ways to go yet.  Just give people a chance, smile, be polite, and don’t take offense.  Until manaña, Pura Vida!

How bad is the crime?

This is a topic that everyone likes and doesn’t like to talk about.  Crime happens, it happens everywhere.  The more people you have in an area, the more crime that is going to happen.  That is just a fact of numbers.  Have I been robbed?  Yes.  I was also robbed in the US.  The person, or people, who robbed our house knew us. That much we do know.  We just couldn’t prove it, but we knew who it was.  The night we got robbed at our home there were about four other houses that got robbed that night.  All of this was planned by someone.  We live in a small town with only a couple of police officers.  So, while the cops were at one house taking a statement of what happened the people were onto another house robbing that one.  They knew the cops would be at the last house taking the statement so they knew they had time to rob another house.  It was very well planned.  It really brought our community together though.  It made us to be more aware of each others home, even letting neighbors know that they would be gone.  We make sure to keep our bushes on the side of the house cut down so our neighbors can see our house and we can see theirs.  We also have a couple of dogs now.  A lot of people won’t go near a house with a dog because they will bark and wake up the owners, or fear of being bit.  We have a small chihuahua mixed dog, she is the alarm system, and we have an American Stafford, he is the Calvary. It’s a good mix for us.

When we go out in town, I always carry my purse across my body, this prevents someone from just snatching it and running off.  Locally, my husband will keep his wallet in his back pocket, but when going to San Jose or another big city he carries it in his front pocket.  Petty theft is the biggest thing to really worry about.  Documents and credit cards can be replaced, so I don’t recommend carrying around a bunch of cash.  Don’t be flaunting your cash either, that just makes you a target and look arrogant here.  Expensive jewelry, leave it at home.  If you want to wear something that looks nice, just get some costume jewelry, no one here is going to really know the difference.  People here don’t really care what brand your clothes are, what brand your phone is, if you have the most high fashion purse, they care if you treat them well.  They also don’t care if you have the biggest house or the nicest car.  They care more about the kind of person you are.  But that is another topic.

When in the city, just be aware of your surroundings.  If something doesn’t feel right, then it probably isn’t.  And never let a taxi driver tell you the meter is not working.  They are lying.  Just get out of the taxi and get a different one.  Pure and simple.  In the city, only use official taxis, they are red with a yellow triangle on the side.  Be street smart, which I know for a lot of people is very difficult.  This is a foreign country with different laws and a different language.  The court system can be extremely slow and hardly any results for petty theft.  Always file a report though, even though it will take a while to do so.  Most of this goes unreported by the locals.

I will say about the night we got robbed.  The police came out to our house at 2 am.  We filled the report with them.  They told us that the OIJ will be out later in the day to investigate and for us to not touch anything.  The OIJ is like the FBI in the US.  Well, they did actually come out to the house and dusted for prints, found nothing.  I do believe that they went to the other houses as well and did the same thing.  They called me about a week later to ask if I knew anything else or had anymore information for them.  I had nothing.  Then one day, about two weeks after the break-in, someone showed up at my gate telling me they found my purse.  We followed him to his house, I think he was drunk at 10 am, and he had my purse with all my documents in it.  The cell phone, camera, and MP3 players were gone though.  But the IDs were more important.  Also, the turtle eraser and gorilla key chain was gone.  I was most upset about the turtle, long story.  I went back to the OIJ and told them what had happened, they were shocked.  Then about two months later they called me again to do a follow up.  Still nothing new.  I feel this is one of the advantages to living in a small community.  More people seem to care.

I have gotten to know several police officers in my town, they get rotated out every so often.  I was taking my dog to the vet and one stopped me to ask about him.  He was very impressed with him.  He was very nice and respectful to me.  One cop I gave a puppy to, since we had 5 that needed homes.  He looked like a kid at Christmas when I finally gave it to him.  This guy was over 6 feet tall and had a lot of muscles and he was just glowing with joy over this little pup!  It was so cute.  I have never had a problem with the cops in my area, many have stopped us just to talk about where we are from.  We have never been asked for ID.  It’s good here.  I know a lot of people have had very bad experiences with cops and the justice system down here.  But that to happens everywhere.  Well, if you have any questions just ask.  Until manaña, Pura Vida.

The Bus

Taking the bus, you either love it or hate it.  Taking the bus can be a very good thing.  After all you can go anywhere in the country for very cheap.  You let someone else do the driving while you take in the sights.  A lot of people ride the bus so it cuts down on how many cars are on the road so it cuts down on emissions.  It’s a really good thing…most of the time.

Now, remember this is just my personal experiences so I can’t say what everyone else goes through.

Waiting for the city bus, even in San Jose, you need to flag them down like a taxi.  Just because you are standing at a bus stop, doesn’t mean they are going to stop for you.  I have seen people sit at a bus stop for hours not wanting a bus.  Why?  I have no idea.  I think they just wanted out of the house and probably away from the kids.  You really need to pay attention when waiting for your bus as well, otherwise they are going to pass you by.  Make sure you read the front of the bus to know it is the right one or not as it is approaching.  Wave that arm until they stop, or you see them put on their turn signal to pull over.

Waiting at the bus terminal can be a real bear at times.  They start lining up about 30 minutes before the bus is scheduled to leave.  We always got in line then so we could get our favorite seats, way in the back with leg room and no one kicking you in your back or the person in front of you reclining their seat into your lap.  Some buses are much nicer than others.  You have your typical city buses that do short routes, then you have your bigger buses that do the longer routes.  Those are usually the 2-4 hour rides.  Some of those have A/C, but not all of them.  Oh, and we do have some double-decker buses down here too.  I have seen those going to and from San Jose and Limon.  I was always very happy to get on a bus that had A/C.  When they first started these buses in our area people didn’t realize that they had A/C and always tried to open the windows.  The bus driver would yell at them to close it, they finally got the hint about it.

So, we do have some really nice buses here.  Not the chicken buses like you used to see in the movies, not an old school bus, but real buses.  The old school buses are usually used as work buses for pineapple farms and such.  Also, in my area we don’t have real school buses.  We have the 15 person passenger vans that pick up the kids.  The parents are responsible for paying or the transportation also, not the government.  I have a friend that drives one of these.  They are trying to get it changed to where the government does pay for the transportation, it would really help out a lot of the families who are poor and don’t live close to the school.

Well, some days are better riding the bus than others.  My husband and I would do our best to not take the bus on a Friday, that is when everyone gets paid.  Also, never go to a bank on Friday because it is packed.  There were times that there would only be a few of us on the bus at a time, then there were times it was standing room only.  Imagine taking a two hour bus ride through the mountains while standing.  Done that before.  I have seen it so crowded that the bus driver will get up and tell people to keep moving to the back of the bus to make more room.  Then you have someone who needs to get off the bus through this crowd of people.  It can take them several minutes just to try to make it to the door.  This makes the ride that much longer.

The bus is very reliable though.  It is cheap too.  It can just take a while.  We finally did buy a car.  My back was getting to the point that riding the bus was extremely painful.  Standing and waiting and then sitting for a few hours without getting up, after that I am in a lot of pain.  I have to be able to get up and move every so often.  I have included a link to a youtube video that I think you will enjoy.  It does help to explain how the bus can be at times. It is not always like this though, but it does happen.  Until manaña, Pura Vida!

Losing friends along the way

It has been just over four years since my husband and I moved to Costa Rica.  We packed up our two cats, lots of clothes, and a few nick-nack items and away we went.  We had three suitcases, several large duffel bags, and a couple of hiking backpacks (those have really come in handy here, they are great for going to the farmers market and loading up with goodies, makes it much easier to carry everything) and away we went.  Within those four years I have been back to the US a total of three times and my husband has never been back.

Before the big move you will have a couple of types of friends and family.  You have the ones who say they are happy for you and can’t wait to come and visit you.  Then there are the ones that say you are being selfish and only thinking of yourself.  Still, there are some who say you are going to hate it and be back.  You also have people who will tell you that they will keep in touch no matter what.  Now, we do have a US phone number through Skype.  I pay $30 a year for the number and $20 every three months for the service.  We get unlimited calling to and from the US.  I had one friend that I really kept in touch with and she kept in touch with me.  She has since passed away this year from cancer.  I had best friends who said they would call and never have.  I have called them and they never returned my calls.  This will happen to you also.  Be prepared.

It is one thing to have them on Facebook and for them to comment on something you post.  It is a whole other ball of wax to even get a simple message from them.  I get very few.  But it is OK.  I know they have their lives that they have to live, they have work, they have kids.  My child is an adult now and moved out.  We are retired.  But do prepare yourself for this if you move to a foreign country.  I pretty much knew it would happen.  I have made more friends along the way, some have become like family to me here.  I am grateful to be here in this beautiful country.  But never believe someone when they tell you that they will come and visit you after you move.

Oh, and don’t forget about the guilt they will put on you for not going and visiting them in the US.  Hello!  We moved down here for a reason.  I really don’t want to go back.  My husband doesn’t either.  You will get all sorts of people telling you that you need to go and visit them.  They will try to lay a guilt trip on you about not seeing your family, not being there for a special occasion, or something else.  Don’t let it get to you.  Seriously, if they wanted to see you in this beautiful place they would.  Now, I do have many friends that I know can’t afford to come down to visit.  They have kids and can’t afford to fly all of them and take a few weeks off work.  This I do understand.  But they need to understand also that we are on a fixed income and can’t just pack up and go back whenever they want us to.  We are still investing in our little home fixing it up.  Are we being selfish?  Maybe.  Do I care?  Not really.  I spent years working two and three jobs at a time getting nowhere fast.  This is my time here.  If you want to be a part of it, great!  If not, that’s OK too.  Until manaña, Pura Vida!

On a side note I will say that I have made many wonderful friends along the way, many who have become like family.  I do not regret moving here at all and love it.

Important decisions

The husband and I had been trying to sell the house.  We were thinking of going to either Nicaragua or Panama.  Our main reason for this was the cost of living.  It is high in Costa Rica when compared to other countries in Central America.  But we sat down and really talked about things.  We aren’t getting any younger, we had to have one of those conversations that you hate having when you get older.  At our age, why would we want to go through this whole process again of immigrating to another country.  That is a lot of time and money right there.  Plus, getting all the paperwork to take the pets and take them on the long trip.  The main thing that got us is that we bought this house.  Yes, we do still have a mortgage, but it’s not that much.  If we move to another country we would be going back to renting.  Again, at our age that could be a problem.  If something happens to one of us, the benefits are going to be cut down and it will make it difficult to afford rent with everything else.  If we stay here, the house can be paid for and the other one will always have a place to live.  So, we took the sign down today.  We figured why not just stay here?  We have great friends, neighbors that treat us like family, completely covered healthcare, and it is a great town that we live in.  I asked our neighbor the other day if he would cut down a tree for us in the yard; it was really in the way and causing problems with the car.  My husband and I both asked him how much to cut it down and he told us nothing.  His son even came over and helped him remove it from the yard. I think I need to bake him a cake or something for this.  We have planted other trees in the yard.  This tree though was going into our power and internet lines, the leaves were very small and falling into the car clogging up the vents also.  So now that it is out of the way we can also build our car port; if it ever stops raining.  We have a lot of plans for our little home.  We have been slowly adding to it since we bought it, it was an ugly little house and now it is a beautiful little home.  My new cleaning lady started today and she did an amazing job!  Very happy with her right now.  So, here we are and we aren’t going anywhere.  Until manaña, Pura Vida!  (Oh, and if you can’t tell…I love the color purple!)

When we first bought the house.

When we first bought the house.

The house after a lot of work. ( The roof is now green though.)

The house after a lot of work. ( The roof is now green though.)