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Follow-up on the Exchange Rates and Banking

November 28th, 2007

I expect my readers are might be a bit tired of all these posts about banking and the revaluation of the colon last week, but things are happening here that affect (especially) those expats living here.

But, I have also received a lot of email about this topic, so here are some things I am noticing in my travels around San Jose in the past few days. I think they may be important.

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Hooked into Costa Rica

November 26th, 2007

The end of the school year in Costa Rica is the beginning of December. Thus cometh November, we parents bringeth thy children all over the place. We’ve got to be everyplace at once….end of the year ballet receiptal;several theater productions; gymanstic’s holiday show; tests; grades; first communions, graduations, and on and on it goes.

I pack snacks; drive; wait; drive; empty snack packs and repeat.

My kids are exhausted, and so am I. I wonder if all this running around amounts to anything other than bags under our eyes. The problem is the hook. What’s the hook?

I laugh at the plays. I cry at the ballet performance. I’m a sucker for anyone, or anything, giving it “their all.” My eyes well up the moment I see the effort; the moment performers – ballerina, thespians, dolphins, volleyball players – take to the stage, field, or course.

It’s like that great shot in golf. The entire game may suck, but then on that one hole, you step up and whack….it’s a perfect shot…and you’re hooked. You return to play again despite it all.

When anybody gives it their best shot, reel me in because I’m hooked.

Central Bank Revalues the Colon

November 22nd, 2007

So sweet!

Back on August 12, 2007, I wrote a post entitled “The Colon Vs The Dollar – Watch your money!” In that post, I cautioned my readers that the weakening dollar could not long stand firm against the Costa Rica colon. I urged readers to move their funds from their dollar accounts (in Costa Rica banks) to colon accounts as I anticipated that the Central Bank had to act soon to bring the dollar down and increase the value of the colon.

Last night, they did just that. The colon has been revalued to about ¢497 and ¢498.39 to the dollar.

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Tattoos on Women in Costa Rica

November 19th, 2007

The first time I received an email from a woman who expressed concern about her tattoos while visiting Costa Rica, I was about 40% sure I was being shined on a bit. I replied of course as that is not covered in either the REAL Costa Rica web site nor this blog. Later, she sent me photos, and she was for real.

Since then, I have received two more emails asking the same question, the most recent today. As I am one of those people who think for every person who will ask such a question, there are probably ten others who have not the courage to write.

So here is her letter and my reply for all those tattooed ladies coming to visit Costa Rica!

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Books and Reading in Costa Rica

November 17th, 2007

I get a fair number of questions from people who ask about bringing their books to Costa Rica when they move.

I have been fond of reading all of my life, and when I first came to Costa Rica, moving all my books (maybe 2,000 or so) was a big decision. Most were hard bound, but I had a fair number of paperbacks as well.

On the one hand, I really wanted my books but was not thrilled with the idea of packing those babies. Then, there was the cost of shipping them. Books are not exactly light, and when you are paying by the pound for an international move, you start to re-think every item in terms of its weight (cost to ship) and duties (taxes) that will have to be paid upon entering the country.

Sadly, when I was planning the “big move” there were NO Blogs to help me and very few resources other than the ARCR to advise me on the realities of Costa Rica.

If I had just know then what I know now, the decision making would not have been such a big deal, and my long term solution to reading (see below) would never have been part of my decision making. I would have brought far fewer books. That is because many of the books I brought with me are now gone.

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Trade-Offs

November 16th, 2007

Up until two months ago, my family and I were living in a contemporary three-story house on a beach in Southern California. We had every convenience available. We were only limited by our imaginations. Now, here we are in the jungle with electricity that goes out from time to time, severely pot-holed roads and surrounded by people whose lives and backgrounds could not be more different than our own.

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Yeah, It’s Cold but not for long!

November 16th, 2007

It is windy and cold still, but the GOOD news is that verano (summer) is coming and coming fast!

November marks the beginning of the transition from the rainy season to the dry season, and the telltale signs are almost non-stop winds and the lessening of the afternoon rains. It also is great sleeping weather! Nights are chilly and breezy and because of the constant air movement, the air smells fresher, even in the Central Valley that is occasionally troubled by smog. Days are warm, less humidity here in the Central Valley, and just going out to do choirs is pleasant. The beaches of course will continue to be hot,but there too, there is a pretty contstant breeze to keep things manageable.

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It’s Chilly Here

November 12th, 2007

As most know by now, it’s chilly for Costa Rican standards. For the last few nights, I’ve donned my toasty ski pants and two pairs of socks (one of them being wool) while at home. But, I’ve tried to see the good things in through the chill in the air. For one thing, I get to wear those three jackets I brought down with me nine years ago. All my “warmer” clothes are getting a work out, which is a good way to keep away mold. And finally the most important thing of all is: IT’S NOT SNOW OR ICE OR FREEZING RAIN! And odds are, the sun will be out tomorrow.

Salsa Lizano and Other Stuff

November 11th, 2007

Gallo PintoWhere can I buy that??

The first time I started to get that question was right after I posted my daughter-in-law’s recipe for Gallo Pinto. Her recipe is, in my not too humble opinion, the absolute hands-down best I have had anywhere in all the years I have lived here and the years before when I was a visitor. She got the recipe from her mom and who knows before that… but it is superb! Those of you who know me are aware perhaps that I am not exactly an amateur eater!

Gallo Pinto, the basin ingredients are rice and beans, is perhaps the most famous of all Costa Rica foods and is served mostly as a breakfast dish, but also for other meals or even as a snack.

However, it is the seasoning ingredients that make the dish!

The key ingredient in her Gallo Pinto, or for that matter a large number of Costa Rican typical food dishes is Salsa Lizano. This dark brown sauce has a pretty unique flavor, and not a few tourists have loaded up on it before returning home. The problem, of course, is that they run out! That’s when I get the emails.

So, I decided to add a small online store to The REAL Costa Rica web site that sells not only Salsa Lizano and Costa Rica coffee, etc, but a variety of other foods gifts, clothes (check out the baby clothes!) and even a Costa Rica flag.

To get to the store, just click here. Then just click on the Salsa Lizano category.

Of course there are also the usual books on Costa Rica, but I also threw in stuff like music and DVD’s as well as learning Spanish. Just for yucks, I also added references to Mexico, Nicaragua and Panama as I get a lot of email from people asking about those countries.

All stuff is shipped from the USA. Enjoy!

Time to Make Changes…

November 10th, 2007

… to the look and feel of this Blog.

One of the zillion neat things about using WordPress as your Blog software is the ability to change the theme (look and feel) of the Blog pretty much any time you get the urge.

The last theme, brownish in nature, was OK, but some folks found hard to read. The prior theme that I really liked (the one with the raindrops on green leaves) was excellent, but after 6 months of trying, I could never get the ‘search’ feature to work properly. Searching in a Blog this size is important as there are years of Posts on many different topics. Many people just click one of the Categories that are listed to the right, but that is dependent on the Post author correctly ticking off check marks in all the appropriate categories.

Anyway, while changing a WordPress theme talkes about 10 seconds, adding back the custom coding on this blog will take days and will most assuredly screw up the site until I fix it! So please be patient if you click here and the display is truly fouled up. Trust that I am all over it! Sadly (or happily), I am buried in work and this Blog must come behind my actual income producing labors.

Love it? Hate it? Could give a hoot? Feel free to leave a comment.

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