Believe it or not Costa Rica has quite a few museums and a pretty active art culture as well theater. I took this picture at the National Museum. This is a large stone sphere and they have been found all around the country and in different sizes. They are not exactly sure what the significance of them was for or why they were even made. But no matter what size they are they are almost completely spherical. I have even known people to find them along some river banks.
What is interesting throughout Costa Rica is that you will not find a lot of the Colonial Spanish style buildings, like in many other Latin and South American countries. The reason for this is because when the Spanish arrived in Costa Rica there was really nothing here for them. They wrongly named Costa Rica, which means rich coast, because they never found a lot of gold or other precious metals. This left the new Spanish population with little support from Spain, most of the indigenous people got wiped out from disease and this pretty much left everyone to fend for themselves. They had no slave labor and had to do it all themselves. You will still see this today in the work ethic of a lot of people. They truly know the meaning of a hard days work and the satisfaction that they get from that. I have hired people here locally to do work on my house and they will work from sun up to sun down. They will take an hour off for lunch, but take no other breaks throughout the day. I had one person start work at 7 in the morning and not quit until 10 at night. They also take a lot of pride in their work as I have mentioned before. If something is not right, they will fix it without question. Their work is a reflection of themselves. In the small town I live in the only advertising is word of mouth. They can put up signs, but they prefer people who know them and have seen their work. This is just one of the many reasons I love it here so much.
I know everyone hates the dentist and when it comes to health care insurance it is not covered, it is a separate entity. Well, here it is not. It is one and the same. I have had many people tell me that they are afraid of socialized health care, that they may not be able to get an appointment. Well, here if you need to see the doctor you just go, no appointment needed. Granted, depending on how many people are in line in front of you it could take a while. But how many of us has had an appointment and still sat in the waiting room way past our appointment time? I know I have. My husband needs some dental work done and it is all covered by the social security, their insurance program here. There are a few things that are not covered and are extra, but not very many. Bridges are not covered, but plates and false teeth are. The cost of out of pocket expenses are around 1/3 of what they are in the States and that is with insurance! When we lived in the States we were paying over $500 a month for health insurance! That did not include dental or vision and my husband and I both wear glasses. Here we pay $93 a month and it is all covered. We are lucky also in the fact that the dentist here at our clinic speaks English. I am so happy that we have moved to a country where they actually care about the health of their people. One of my neighbors was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, all of her treatment was covered and she is currently cancer free. They did not have to pay anything out of pocket for her treatment. She never had to wait a long time to see her doctor also. Yes, she had to go to a specialist in another city, but that is often the case in the States. After all we do live in a very rural area of the country. I am very happy that she is doing so well now. I just wish more people would be open minded about it.
If you know about Skype then you probably don’t need to read all of this, if you don’t know about Skype let me tell you. Skype is a great tool for keeping in touch while abroad, especially if you need to actually talk to someone. When traveling to a foreign country you can set up a phone number through it for your home town, or where ever you wish. God forbid your bank card gets lost or stolen and you actually need to call the bank at 3am. It’s very reasonable also. I pay for a phone number once a year and then pay for the service every 3 months. I have this also so anyone can pick up a phone and call me without international fees. Not everyone has Facebook or internet, like my 94-year-old grandmother. Also, you can do the video phone for free. But that is only going to work if the other person has a computer with web-cam. I love doing the video phone, this way I can see my family and friends, I find it to be a little more personal. But I do suggest the phone number. If there is an emergency and your family needs to get a hold of you, they can at least leave a message on the voicemail. It’s so easy to use, if I can figure it out I think anyone can.
Costa Rica is full of waterfalls. This is just a small one but it is in a great location that you can go swimming at. Even when I ride the bus from where I live to San Jose, the capital, I see several along the side of the road. I just can’t get enough of them. They are so relaxing to watch and listen to.
This is that wonderful spice we love, ginger. It comes from the root of this very interesting flower. The little flowers on the side will actually come in and out of the main flower, it comes out in the morning and goes back in at night. Some people refer to them as maracas. The more they grow the more red the main flower becomes, it starts off very yellow and changes with time. I would love to find some and plant in my yard now. Then I could have my own ginger to grind up for baking. I think the husband would like that.
I saw this bird when we made a trip to Playa del Coco last year. This is a bird that you will find on the pacific coast. We stopped into a restaurant to eat and there he was. He is so pretty. Many of the restaurants are open air so you will get birds and animals in there while you are eating. Also, it seems that no matter where you go there will always be a gecko. I was in the bank last week and saw one running down the wall. Most people aren’t bothered by them, but there is always that one little child who is scared of them for some reason. I like them, they eat bugs.
Got up this morning and took the long 2 hour bus ride to San Carlos to try to get my cedula card replaced. I thought I had everything. I have the copy of the police report, my new insurance card, a copy of my cedula, my passport and a printout from the bank where I paid my insurance this month. Well, the copy from the bank was not good enough, they want an actual copy of the receipt. I can understand why. If someone were good enough on a computer they could fake the payment from just a print out. So, now I have to wait until next month when I pay my insurance to have an actual receipt. But it wasn’t a wasted trip. I went to my favorite vet and got some dog treats for the puppy, a new collar and a new toy. Then took the 2 hour bus ride back home. My back was definitely not happy with me today, I had to do a lot of walking and riding on the bus through a lot of curves is never easy on me. The doctor has pretty much gone ahead and said I am disabled at this point. I am not going to let it get me down though. But on the up note, the puppy was very happy when we got home and he loves his new treats and toy!
September 20, 2012 here in La Virgen de Sarapiqui, Costa Rica. It was around 90 degrees today outside and very sunny. I made it to my doctor’s appointment with time to spare, for my physical thereapy. Thanks to a good friend of mine I was able to give my doctor a note about the certain types of pain that I am having and what is causing it. I also told him that the last exercises that he gave me hurt too much, so he told me not to do any more for now. I just get a little down at times because of back, when I was growing up I was in gymnastics, dance, judo and marching band. I was always very active, even had an inground swimming pool. Now I am luck if I can walk 2 kilometer, I used to do a 10k road march when I was in the military in full gear. But I do believe that I am going through this for a reason, what that reason is I have no idea. But at least it was a beautiful day today and I found out I lost about 6 pounds! That made me feel pretty good. When I went to the States this summer I put on 9 pounds in only 5 weeks! I eat so much healthier here, and it is easy and inexpensive to do so. I am just happy to be here with a wonderful husband, I don’t know what I would do without him. I can no longer stand long enough to wash the dishes so he does them for me. He takes such good care of me, I feel very lucky to have him. I love you baby.
I am going to apologize in advance if I don’t post anything over the next few days. It has been crazy busy for me. Tomorrow I have to go to the bank and get a document proving that my husband receives his pension here and then to the doctor. Friday I have to go to a different bank so I can pay for my new cedula card, that is about a 2 hour bus ride each way. Today we had our Spanish class, it went really well, I even learned a few new things. Our next class is on Saturday. I can’t wait to get all this stuff together and finished so I can get back to normal. I haven’t even practiced my cello in a week, I am feeling really guilty about that. My husband just had to walk down to the store to get our a new gas tank for the stove. We do not have underground gas lines here because it is a high earthquake zone, so we change them out like you would for a gas grill. So things have been busy and look like they are going to continue to be busy for a while, or at least for the next few days. All I want is to be able to relax again.
This is no easy task to get done. When they stole my purse they got my cedula, residency card, and my carnet, insurance card. I have to get my carnet replaced in order to get my cedula replaced.
So, I had to go to the social security to get a document that shows I am paid up on the insurance, next I had to go to the bank to get a copy of the receipt for paying the insurance, then to the clinic to get my new carnet. OK, now I have that. Now I have to call a 900 number, yup you gotta pay to call them, and make an appointment to go to a different bank and pay another $98 to get a new copy of my cedula. The copy that I have of my card is not that great, I don’t think I could read the numbers right and the guy couldn’t find me under my name. He was probably spelling it wrong even though I spelled it out for him. So I now need to find a better copy of my card so I can make sure I have the right number and call them back again just to make an appointment. I am starting to get depressed. It is just such a hassle.
The other hassle is trying to get a new bank card from my bank in the States, they won’t mail them internationally. I had to change my address to my parents, the account has to have that address for at least 30 days before they will mail out a new card. Then once my parents get the card they can then mail it to me. This is going to take me about two months to get a new card. The bank also will not do a wire transfer without me coming into the bank or sending them a notarized statement. I need this money to really live off of. But I came up with a way around it. I can still send checks out of my bank through on-line banking. Send my dad a check and then have him wire the money to me. Problem solved. Just out about $50 for the wire transfer, but it is cheaper than Western Union. So that is my helpful advice to all of you if you find yourself in a situation where you have lost your bank card or had it stolen. Use an on-line bank to send a check to a trusted family member or friend and then have them wire you the money. Just make sure you send them enough money to cover the wire transfer. Now I have to figure out how to get my driver’s license from the States. Wish me luck with that one.