Tuesday, August 28

The "Pig Farm" in Hermosa

In a year from now, I doubt this will be here. I hope so but it's beachfront property and it will probably get gobbled up by developers. Just to the south of this is Hermosa Palms residential community. It has grown in leaps and bounds in less than 5 years. I'm glad I knew it when it was this.

Monday, August 27

Weather Chica in San Jose

I noticed that my Ms. Weather Pixie on the left sidebar has been replaced with the Costa Rican flag. It's horrible weather right now in San Jose... rain, lightning. Maybe that's why she's not there. Her little umbrella wouldn't hold up to that. She'll be back when the weather clears.

All you will see in Costa Rica for the next few weeks are flags and the Coat of Arms (above) for the celebration of Independence Day, September the 15th. Red, white, and blue everywhere.

My first trip ever to Costa Rica was on Sept. 15th in the year 2000. It is also my birthday and what a surprise celebration I landed in. The whole country was in a fiesta state of mind.
I celebrate my independence as well as living in the country of my dreams, everyday.

Jaco Boom Town

Take a look at our new and improved gasoline pumps. It's still full service and there's no slot to slide your credit card to pay for gas at the pump. It is nice though and hopefully, more accurate than before. They are also replacing the holding tanks so maybe no more water in the gasoline. Here, you buy super if you want your car to run right. I was told I could use regular gas by an American but a Costa Rican corrected me and said it was better to use super, no alcohol in the gas. I don't know. I just tell them "super, diez mil colones Por Favor."
Did you know you get less gasoline when you get gas on hot days? Something to do with gas expanding with the heat and you get less gas for your money. They don't advertise gas prices around here. It's a set amount controlled by the government. I think it's about $4.50 a gallon but it's pumped in liters and they charge in colones. Too much to calculate for me. AND No, I don't know how many kilometers I get to the liter. I never knew when it was all in gallons and miles, either. I just know when the light comes on, it's time to get gas. The stations can be far and few between here in Costa Rica so if you're on a trip, don't miss a chance to get gas if you need it. There may not be another for MILES, or rather kilometers. One day I may get it all these metrics figured out.

This is Jaco's new water truck. I see it coating the road with water come rain or shine. It's to cut back on all the dust but this is rainy season. I'm not sure why they need it now but I have lived here long enough to not question why. It just IS and that's it. I think they are proud to have it and putting it to good use regardless of the weather.

Here is Jaco's latest eye-sore. Gilligan's used to be located here but it was shut down long ago and finally torn down. Now, a five-story building is being constructed right at the main Jaco entrance downtown. The location where there should be a red traffic light but that hasn't come yet. Jaco is definitely growing too fast to handle all the cars and needed parking. If there is a city planning committee, "I can't tell." Only Mr. Patrick Hunley and his Day Star development company which states their intentions are to make Jaco a "Better Community". All this development to make Jaco "better" is highly debatable.

These are Mr. Hunley's Day Star developments. I think there are seven high rises currently under Day Star construction. Changing the skyline of Jaco Beach.
Mr. Hunley also established the Chamber of Commerce here and has done other things to improve Jaco (like help pay for the main road) and the area. I guess there's no stopping progress. Jaco Boom Town. Y'all Come. We have plenty housing now if you have plenty money.

Add on: If you click onto Chamber of Commerce, you will see what Jaco USED TO look like. It's not like that now!

Sunday, August 26

Sunset Sunday

Photo taken January 2005 in Herradura (around the corner from Jaco).
Rain, rain, rain, rain, rain, rain, rain, rain ...

Here's last week's sunset on Sunday with "the Hubble.
That's Nicoya Peninsula, way, far away, up in Guanacaste. Look on the map of Costa Rica in my side bar to see how far away it really is from Jaco.

Saturday, August 25

It's my Blog's Birthday!!!

I find it hard to fathom that I have stayed with this blogging a solid year this month. My attention span is typically much shorter but I celebrate ONE YEAR blogging as of the 15th of August. I started this blog during rainy season for something to do. I never dreamed it would become addictive and I would go through my day assembling thoughts and pros for the thing. Funny how things work out. To all my steady readers, a BIG THANK YOU for visiting and keeping it a work in progress.

I am reprinted my very first article I ever wrote here (cause most never get down that far in the posts).
I will have five years here in Costa Rica come Oct. 2007 and I am now a resident of my beloved Costa Rica.
I probably will never leave again.
Thanks everyone for your support!

"You Can't Handle the Truth"

Great line - Colonel Jessep, A Few Good Men.

So you think you may want to move to
beautiful, lush Costa Rica?
It takes a brave soul to "Sell off and
Sail Away" to a place you never LIVED...

Visiting here is NOTHING, and I repeat,
Nothing like living here.

I think after living here 2 years,
one is not considered a Rookie
but not a Vet yet.
After 5 years, you show some tenacity
and (hopefully) gain the local respect
You're a Veteran.
You deserve some sort of special Medal.
Chances are, you'll stay here forever.

Some days, I still feel like Dorothy in Oz,
clicking my heels like hell to get "home".
I'm going on my fifth year soon.

I don't get this "ex-pat" status us gringos have here.
I'm not in exile - I'm a North American (from the South) in paradise.

Friday, August 24

Too Good to be True

I still can't get over my good fortune the first time I used my telephoto. I've never seen a wild toucan so close. The scarlet macaws ("Lapas") pass over my house everyday. Lately, I've heard them mating in the trees down by the beach. This weekend I plan to get some surfshots and maybe the Lapas, too. Surf and weather pending. It's commencing the real rainy season now.

"Look at the Birdie"

This photo was taken when we visited the schools to see what could be improved. The kids in Tarcoles had this bird for a pet. By now you guys know, I love photography and it's a lazy bloggers way out of writing by posting photos. Besides, it's really the reason why I blog... to share my photos.

Thursday, August 23

Tigress and her new litter

In a zoo in California, a mother tiger gave birth to a rare set of triplet tiger cubs. Unfortunately, due to complications in the pregnancy, the cubs were born prematurely and due to their tiny size, they died shortly after birth.

The mother tiger after recovering from the delivery suddenly started to decline in health, although physically she was fine. The veterinarians felt that the loss of her litter had caused the tigress to fall into a depression. The doctors decided that if the tigress could surrogate another mother's cubs, perhaps she would improve.

After checking with many other zoos across the country, the depressing news was that there were no tiger cubs of the right age to introduce to the mourning mother. The veterinarians decided to try something that had never been tried in a zoo environment. Sometimes a mother of one species will take on the care of a different species. The only "orphans" that could be found quickly, were a litter of weanling pigs. The zoo keepers and vets wrapped the piglets in tiger skin and placed the babies around the mother tiger. Would they become cubs or pork chops? Take a look...you won't believe your eyes!!

Thank you Beth for sending this to me. I wish everyone could get along as well.

Monday, August 20

Two Toucans

I feel so fortunate that my first shots with my telephoto were of the Toucans, I had to add another photo to my blog. They are amazing to watch, moving their long beaks in unison. The dance of the toucans.

Sunday, August 19


Hubble's first run - more photos here. This is the Peninsula de Nicoya, really close.

Two Toucans, too!

I was totally amazed I got lucky. I've wanted to take a photo of a toucan for years. Now I can with my new telephoto which I have been afraid to take out of the house until today (one week later). I heard the toucans calling and had to go find them. Just as I walked up, they joined each other.

Church on Sunday

Tárcoles, Costa Rica

Saturday, August 18

Weekend Wrap-up

This has been a week worth noting. In order....
A church group from Santa Barbara, California visited our school and worked miracles in just two days. There were 44 kids on a mission (and adults), traveling throughout Costa Rica and leaving a better trail behind them. They had their own tools (the saws all and cordless circular saw impressed me!) and they bought all the materials. Plus, they bought items to use in the kitchen and for the kids. They made a incredible pathway to the soccer field. Before, it was not possible to walk that way. Now it's graveled and they have a little bridge to cross over the small river. It's incredible what a group can do empowered by the Holy Spirit and God's love. They saw a need and filled it. Thank you Santa Barbara Calvary Church Youth Group. I have the photos posted here under "Help Wanted" album. If you click through all the pages in the Flickr album, you'll have to hit the back button a few times to get back here. Don't get lost.

This is typical CR. I've waited for over a year for my appointment with Immigration for my residency. The attorney called me Tuesday afternoon to BE AT HER OFFICE the next day IN SAN JOSE. Luckily, I had just gotten my clutch, starter and gasoline filter replaced on my car and I was ready to go. It only took an hour at Immigration but the two+ hours driving there and two+ hours back is murder (Calle de Muerte).
It's a done deal though. I am a resident.

Wednesday was D-Day. It was Mother's Day in Costa Rica, It was the day I became "from Costa Rica" (referring to my past post) AND.... drum roll......
I was taking dance lessons when we got the news. Everyone headed for the mountains. I had my four dogs who were freaking out every time someone would walk by the car. It was a pilgrimage up the mountain on foot for many, carrying babies, bags, dogs and I was stuck in between cars part-way up the mountain, can't turn around, with my dogs barking/fighting, windows rolled up and the a/c on so they wouldn't get the people passing next to the window, AND my car was overheating. The police finally came up the mountain and MADE everyone return (they didn't want to). I will have a better plan next time and it will not be as stressful. Pura Vida.

At school the next day, we only had eight children show up. Most of them stayed up late the night before. My only lesson for them was the correct pronunciation of "Thank You God" (not "tank chu gud"). Thank you God we had no tsunami and Thank you God for sending the youth group to help our school. They all started working on their thank you letters in English to send to the church in Santa Barbara.
So precious.

Thursday was also the day the stock market turned south in a free fall. I was glad my computer was disconnect and stored for the tsunami the night before. I didn't have to watch good companies get cut off at the knees. Friday Fed. Chairman Ben Bernake did his 50% rate cut for the banks and "saved" the banks from the market (for now). On Options Expiration Friday, it was on a tear back up in "irrational exuberance" - Former Fed Chairman Greenspan's words. I'm sure Jim Cramer is strutting like a Banty Rooster since the Fed made this move. "They know NOTHING" - Cramer.

Whirlwind tour of ten schools in the area on Friday (no watching the stock market). I went with a group to see what problems are present at each school and to collect information. I took photos and loaded them to my Flickr account. Check it out but I'm warning ya, there's MORE THAN A FEW. Check on the right hand column for "Escuela". We have 15 more schools still to go. I never knew we had all these school within a 20-25 mile radius. Some are in seriously poor condition. There are people that want to help and schools that need help. "You can't fix the problem until you acknowledge the problem" - Dr. Phil.

This week in a nut shell. I have gotten to spend some time with my friends Beth and Jack while they are visiting for the week. They brought me "the Hubble" that is still safe and sound at my house, I haven't taken it out for photos, yet.

"It's all good", my friends John and Alfie in Naple$ that never read my blog.

Sunday, August 12

Blog Break

Until I have a totally awesome photo to post taken with my new telephoto lens.
Thank you Beth for bringing it and making my future photos with it possible!
It's a new world now!

Friday, August 10

It's just different here (CR) than there (USA)

Most recent additions are posted first. TBC (To be continued...)
* "At the bank, you don't have to wait in line if, 1. pregnant, 2. old, 3. have an infant, 4. are handicapped and 5. last but not least, CRAZY, you get to go to the front of the line. Also, the line police cannot arrest you!"

* No signature pads here for signing a credit card and hardly no place has a card scanner.

* Drive-thru windows for fast-food restaurants are rare except in San Jose.

* Not many fast food restaurants unless you are in San Jose.

* Most restaurants are family owned and are called "Sodas", typical Tico food.

* The days of the week are not capitalized (i.e. lunes). Only Domingo.

* The date is written like this: 22/11/07 - day, month, year.

* None of the months are capitalized (i.e. augusto)

* It's metric, all of it.

* It's all Spanish, naturally.

* Everyone cheek kisses, hello AND goodbye.

* Your address is a description of the location. No numbers on houses or businesses.

* Most utility companies do not send out bills, you pay at designated sites.

* Pura vida time means late or "mañana" (mañana means any day but today).

* Dogs can run the beach free.

* You can ride a horse on less populated beaches (or get a fine, maybe never).

* At the gas pump, the attendant pumps your gas and checks under the hood.

* There's a 13% sales tax on everything and an extra 10% service tax at restaurants.

* At the restaurants, you must ask for the check.

* Cell phones calls are charged on both sides, the caller and the receiver of call.
I'll have to verify this with ICE (check comments).

* The whole country has the same area code and calling anywhere in CR is almost free.

* Pay phones are not coined phones. You need to buy a card to use pay phone.

* Monopoly ICE (service for electric, phone, etc.) is alive and doing well.

* Most people do not have hot water heaters in their homes or restaurants.

* Most homes are not equipped with 220 voltage.

* In the banks, you stand in a "snake" line or take a number.

* Vehicles on the road have to be inspected every year. Your car needs that sticker from RTV.

* Yearly taxes must be paid on a vehicle in use. Another sticker for your car from MOPT.

* No mandatory vehicle insurance. The car tax paid yearly provides some coverage.

* No personalize license plates here. A sequential numbered tag is issued when the vehicle is registered. Older cars have a lower number.

* There is one medical insurance company, INS.

* Thefts under $500 are not prosecuted. Petty theft is common (no wonder).

* There is no daylight savings time - the time is always the same, year 'round.

* Prostitution is legal even though the Catholic church reigns here.

* People have long names. First name, middle name, dad's name and mother's name.

I've been here too long. What used to seem strange, seems normal now.
Any other differences come to your mind? Help me out here.
I'll be adding to this, I'm sure.

Thursday, August 9


Jim Cramer's Meltdown rant last Friday on CNBC's "Stop Trading". "They know NOTHING" - J.C.
Watch Cramer at 6pm and 9pm on CNBC - Costa Rica time - "Mad Money".

Thanks for sending SaraTica. I enjoyed watching again and again. Will someone listen NOW?

"Red Skies at Night"

That's what I'm singing as I'm watching the streaming quotes for the 50 or so stocks I follow faithfully. I check other stocks when I see big red or green alerts (i.e. ticker up/down big and/or big volume) on CNBC. Either up or down big, I like to know why.

Today it is bleeding red. I am blogging so I am not buying. It's like Sak's having a sale! BUT, I've been there and I don't "catch a falling knife".

I couldn't resist buying some Harman International ("HAR" - they do GPS , too) since GRMN (Garmin) has turned on me and gone the complete opposite direction I "had a leg on".
Thank you Frogbog blog for that expression and Brandon.

Never short a stock you love. The heartache in a trade gone bad is not worth it. I have resolved that the $2,500 I averaged down buying on seven Oct/70 puts has/is evaporating. Breaks my heart but I'm an optimist and it's not October "Witching Friday" , YET. That's when options expire. A volatile day at the market, indeed.

If you check the two month chart for GRMN (click here), it's has blazed beyond belief. A Rocket.

If I listen to Cramer ("$80 stocks that go to $120"), I have lost the faith. I truly believe everyone else was doing what I did and we all shorted the stock up that fast. I believe in a break-out but come on. GRMN rose over 40 points in two months? That's why I'm switching horses and jumping on some Harman International Industries (HAR) today. (I hope I didn't jinx myself by telling you, HAR was trading at $100 just four months ago - look-ee here)

BTW - The China and Asian Market is doing Great! (...Boycott...)

My Kids

I am so excited. Today, instead of teaching just five kids at a time,
I taught the WHOLE CLASS.
It was exhilarating! We did verbs. And how to make sentences.
We practiced "this, that and the other", too. I love that one.
Of course, we work on PRO-NUN-CI-A-TION. I'll have them "taukan" with a Southern drawl in no time :) JUST KIDDING! I can talk English.
I thought I was too shy and inadequate to teach all 22 kids but something happened. I've been at the school long enough that I know these kids and I got lost in time teaching them English. Amazing. I like that rush.

Google Earth

I just downloaded this and it's amazing.
It's pretty easy to get around but what I need to
know is HOW DO YOU POST PHOTOS? onto a location.

Anyone out there can help lead the way and tell me how?
I've set up an account but can't find how to download photos.
I asked Mr. Google and got a ton of answers.
Which is the easiest way for a non-techy kind of person like me?
Do you need a GPS?

Thank YOU WolfieCR for showing me the way.

My good buddy, pal, friend Beth is bringing me "the Hubble" telephoto lens for my camera. I should have some excellent shots to post there! It's the lens of my dreams - 100-400 mm. I can't WAIT!!

Wednesday, August 8


Yep, yep. One year from today, "we" will be over there in Beijing China.
What the hell? Who picked there?
I say Boycott China, period.
Dog food, toothpaste, kids toys, stock market, CARS, Olympics,
the whole lot of it.... until they get their crap together (or not).

(sorry, I just had to say that)
(getting down from my soapbox)

If you think you get crap from China in the U.S.A., what do you think we get HERE in Costa Rica?
It's always about the money isn't it. How to make it, how to save it, how to spend it.

B O Y C O T T .... C H I N A

Check this out: "By the Balls" - that's my term for it and thanks WolfieCR for sending me this article. This is all I hear about on CNBC, that and the mortgage lenders and big banks may fall on their face! At least terrorism has taken a backseat to all of this new form of fear.

Monday, August 6

Buyer Beware - Lesson #1

In the year 2000, I made four trips to Costa Rica in the last quarter of the year with each trip being over 10 days. I had decided that "one day" I wanted to live here and I wanted to buy property close to the beach and wait until I had the money to build on it. I worked with an English speaking lady that communicated with the Tico owner for this purchase and I hired an attorney for all the legal stuff.

Having a real estate license in the State of Florida for over 20 years, I thought I had my bases covered and knew what I was doing. What I didn't know is "things are not like they are in the United States". I was very diligent to have the contract interpreted so nothing would be missed. I had the property surveyed to make sure I was getting what I thought I was paying for. I even had my deposit for the property secured with Stewart Title here in Costa Rica. All my t's crossed and i's dotted, right? WRONG!

I was unaware that a contract in Costa Rica that is NOT registered with the Municipal can be changed. The owner of this property decided that he wanted $10,000 more than what we had agreed upon in the SIGNED and notarized contract. When I contacted my attorney and asked if this was possible he change the price at the last minute, my attorney said yes since I did not REGISTER the contract. I asked him why didn't he do this important final step and he said, "because you didn't ask me".

Lesson to be learned... You can read all the books but there is nothing like experience. I got mad about the whole ordeal and swore I'd never return to Costa Rica. After about a year, I realized it was my fault and I was still in love with Costa Rica regardless of this bad experience. I did get my deposit back but if it had been held in the seller's hands, well, I don't know if I would have ever seen that money again.

When I moved here in 2002 to rent until I found something to buy, the guy that wanted $10,000 more at the last minute came to me and said he felt really bad about what happened. He offered to let me build a house on part of his property to make up for it. "Fool me once...."

I did get to buy my dream house but there again, BUYER BEWARE.
That is another horror story. There is NO DISCLOSURE in Costa Rica. If anyone ever tries to help you by sharing their experiences and they have nothing to gain from your purchase, you'd better listen to them!

This blog's for you, Kim. You can check on-line at www.registronacional.go.cr to make sure when you do purchase your property that the title was indeed changed to your name/corporation. This is very important and I had a different attorney make this check for me to guarantee that the property title on my house had in fact been changed to reflect my new purchase. People sell the same property over and over here because foreigners do not know to check. You DO NOT need a real estate license to sell real estate in Costa Rica. AND most of those selling R.E. are doing it illegally because they are not citizens of Costa Rica. "Residency" only means you don't have to leave every three months, not much else. If you are working through an agent and not dealing directly with the owner, the agent needs to be a citizen of Costa Rica.
Now that's totally something else to consider when buying property.

Thursday, August 2

Amazing One-Legged Salsa Dancer

Thank You Sally at www.abroadincostarica.com for featuring this amazing talent. I wouldn't have seen it without her posting it on her blog.

"Let's Dance"

"Let's dance put on your red shoes and dance the blues" - David Bowie

Nope, I ain't dancing the blues... for kicks and giggles I joined a dance class. We'll be learning Salsa, Merengue, and four other dances. I don't go to bars so I don't dance much. In fact, I haven't danced in many years but instead of just growing older (and stiffer), I decided it was time to spice up my life! Last night was my first class and it was a challenge to keep up with the steps. The trick to the spins is DON'T LOOK DOWN! My head was spinning after a few turns. We began with the modern Salsa and ended the class with learning Cha-Cha-Cha. It's good fun!

I am so happy that Jaco is finally getting big enough to support a business such as this. We need some fun stuff. The SalsaStar Dance Academy is owned by a lovely and talented couple, Andres and Wendy Castellanos (643-3886). Click onto their website (www.SalsaStar.com). Their beautiful, air-conditioned studio is located in the new Plaza Coral Mall where the Kentucky Fried Chicken is. They also have other classes like Belly Dancing, Hip-Hop, Breakdancing, etc. Go by and check it out, you'll be dancing in no time.

Have you ever heard of Matt Harding? This guy has traveled the world TWICE dancing his little simple jig. Check out HIS SITE to see how a little happy dance can really take you places. His site is called - "Where the Hell is Matt" and here's his happy dance video for Stride. Here's his first video. Wait for the commercial to end to see him dance. Makes me smile.

Come on, "Spice Up Your Life" (Spice Girls) and let's dance!

Where the Hell are Matt's Outtakes

The takes that didn't make it to the video of Matt Harding. Good for the spirit.