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Help Wanted

March 21st, 2016

There is a lot going on in Costa Rica and I’m always happy to get some help!

With my various obligations, I find I cannot post to this Blog as often as I would like (at least every day), so I’d like to invite a few folks to contribute their thoughts, opinions, humor or whatever to The Real Costa Rica Blog. There are also a ton of subjects about which I know something, but am certainly not an expert. An example might be the wildlife in Costa Rica, churches, etc. Here is a chance to show your expertise!

Interested?
Continue reading »

US Veterans in Costa Rica

August 21st, 2010

Costa Rica US veterans medical services availableI receive a fair number of inquiries from US veterans who are considering a move to Costa Rica. We also have a fair number of US vets living down here now. I do not have a handle as to exactly how many, but is has to be a few thousand or so with many more coming every year. I know this as I have met many on my private tours.

One vet who has lived here for a while is reader Rick Deahl who asked me if I would like to publish some information regarding medical and hospital services available to United States veterans living here in Costa Rica.

I jumped all over that, and this post is the result. If this topic is of interest to you, read on! Continue reading »

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.

Questions from Readers

November 6th, 2007

I guess this is going to turn into its own permanent post as the number of emails I am getting is just crazy. So here again are my replies to some of the better requests:

Is residency required to obtain a driver’s license in Costa Ria and is a test required?

Not yet! However there is now a bill before lawmakers that requires this, and it looks like it has a good chance of passing. As your right to drive here is tied to your being in the country legally, this might spell problems for those here illegally (past their 90 or 30 day tourist visa).

Do you know if the CCSS insurance covers pre-existing conditions?

They do. I actually hope this changes and I think it must. Too many people are coming to Costa Rica with VERY costly illnesses and this places an enormous burden on the already financially strapped CAJA.

I loved your website, very helpful. I do have a suggestions; maybe you can include more information for MOPT offices, hospitals, clinics, etc; in other areas, like Guanacaste where the expat populations is very high.

The hospitals (CAJA) are listed in the Real Costa Rica. There are VERY few private hospitals in Guanacaste and the “clinics” would shock the average expat. This is why I have ranted about 400 times that if you are over 50, you should consider whether you wish to be 4-5 hours from quality medical care. Expats love that beach, but seem to forget that over 50, your chances of needing emergency medical care go way up. Even in San Jose. getting an ambulance and getting to the hospital can take an hour. Just two weeks ago, three persons died in Escazu (10 minutes from Cima Hospital) because the ambulance arrived 50 minutes after it was called. Consider this when moving here!

There are MOPT (Ministry of Public Transportation) in Liberia and Limon, but the reason I have not listed them is that I have been told my many expats that those offices cannot issue driver’s licenses and are not full service.  I’d love some feedback on this as I am getting mixed signals.

Your website is very informative. Thank you. Quick question: I have an opportunity to work in Costa Rica for a couple years (have been there several times). My wifes main objection is that she does not want to live where she cannot fluch (sic) toilet paper. Is it possible to rent homes with plumbing that can handle TP?

I was not going to answer this, but then I remembered why I wrote The REAL Costa Rica in the first place which was to debunk these generalities!

Yes, there are about a jillion places to buy or rent homes with toilets that can handle paper. This is one of those truly dumb urban legends that surface on occasion… probably based on either plumbing from the last century or places that used really cheap toilets. Also, there are some older homes where the pipes are too small. Easy to find out! FLUSH before you BUY (or rent)… something you should be doing anyway! Now if you are one of those people (read GUYS) who use about a half a roll to take care of your business, then you may have a issue.

 

old-1412.jpgHello, my name is Dave, I am the fire chief at Nancy Run Fire Department I am trying to locate one of our old fire trucks that was sent to Costa Rica some time ago, I was seen at a parade called the fiesta palmares, see photo attached, I am hoping to find where it is currently located and contact information for the department that is using it. The fire truck is a 1964 Mack, yellow in color with the above listed fire company name on it.

So here is the photo (click to enlarge)! Any of you readers able to help? If so, email him at djb2328@rcn.com

When a cable company advertises cable modem speed 4 mb would that really be 4 mb? After reading your segment on the internet I wondered if they could really deliver that speed.

Probably not. I know I have never received even close to what I pay for (2MB). First, the infrastructure is generally crummy and second, you are sharing the connect with your neighbors. Order 50% more than you need and you will probably be happy. Also, expect a fair bit of downtime from the company you mentioned in your email.

We are planning our first visit for June 2008, and would appreciate any
feedback you have on the tentative following itinerary for myself, my wife,
and our two daughters, ages 11 and 9:

June 24 depart LAX – redeye
June 25 arrive San Jose around noon and take private van to Monteverde
June 26 fun and games in Monteverde
June 27 private van to Arenal
June 28 fun and games in Arenal
June 29 private van to Tamarindo
June 30 fun and games in Tamarindo
July 1 private van to Grecia
July 2 shuttle/van to airport, San Jose – LAX

I almost never answer these questions (or even reply) as I tell people I am not a travel agent. It occurred to me though, that this is a great example of why not to plan your own trip without the assistance of a good travel agent. Let’s take a look at this.

Monteverde is about 5-6 hours from the San Jose airport and about 2 hours from the Liberia airport. Is Liberia a better option?

Next, there are few vans that can handle the truly horrible road to Monteverde. A 4X4 is required. A tank would be better! Beautiful place though for sure! I love it!

Then to Arenal? Same issue. 4X4! Lovely drive – 2-3 hours depending on roads. Go North around the top of Lake Arenal.

To Tamarindo? 3-4 hours I am guessing. Loooong drive with young kids on bad roads (until you reach the Pan American Highway.

Tamarindo to Grecia? 5-7 hours. Lose a day just driving. Good roads though and a van would be OK.

You chose some GREAT places to visit, but after counting your drive hours (about 17-20 including the trip to the airport), you should be prepared for some grumpy kids and the perhaps serious loss of some vacation time. Now if you and the kids all really enjoy driving… well then give it a shot! You’ll pass through some beautiful country.

In summary, it is very tempting to look at a Costa Rica map and make plans based on what you THINK looks close. When traveling here, plan on an average travel speed of 20-25 MPH. Sound low? It is not. A 100 mile (150KM) trip here is at least 3-4 hours if you know where you are going. Bad roads are everywhere. Just this week I informed two of my tourist customers that the Pan American highway south is closed. They had no idea and had they followed their original plans, would have lost 6-8 hours getting back on track.

There are some excellent US based travel agents who really do know Costa Rica. Sadly, the majority read the same travel brochures and web sites you do and that is not enough. I always suggest a good Costa Rica based TA as they know what is happening here.

That’s it ’til the next batch.

We have a new Contributor!

November 6th, 2007

Nora StraightPlease welcome Nora Straight who moved here from California with her husband and two sons aged 18 and 14. Half Chilean and half Mexican, it is no surprise she is Spanish fluent. She and her family live in Rio Seco which is about 15 minutes inland from Parrita, approximately 25 minutes north of Quepos.

Her bio indicates she likes Books, politics, cookbooks, travel, and knitting. It also indicates she likes chocolate. Having visited her Blog and seen her picture, it is clear that this is just nonsense. No serious chocolate lover could look like that. She probably doesn’t even sweat on the stairmaster either.

Welcome Nora! Now write something!

TLC – A Civics Lesson

October 7th, 2007

Today is the Big Day.

Today the citizens of Costa Rica go to the polls to vote for or against approval of the Tratado de Libre Comercio (TLC) or in English, the Free Trade Agreement with the USA.

Copies of the TLC are currently available online, but only the brave need download and read entirely this document. It is mammoth and confusing and requires a huge amount of cross referencing to other places within the document. I admit that I tried, got through maybe 30% of it, then spent a little more time looking only for certain things like the effect on ICE (communications) and insurance. Thus here is my disclaimer that I am not an expert.

This is the first public referendum in the history of Costa Rica, and I will say that I am very impressed! They did this right and all Costa Ricans should be very proud of themselves and their country.

There have been debates, presentations and countless meetings given almost daily by both sides in all parts of Costa Rica. What has to be clear to all who live here is that any Costa Rican who wanted to learn about this document has had almost unlimited resources at their disposal to do so. The point is… if you wanted to learn, you could.

Some did. Some did not. Here is what I found.

Continue reading »

ICE Incapable of Satisfying the Internet Needs of Costa Rica

September 14th, 2007

Wow! Whatta surprise, huh? That was one of the headlines in yesterday’s La Nacion. It seems that once again, our friendly local communications monopoly has been caught totally unawares by the now 15 year old Internet revolution. Apparently, someone in the “strategic planning group” felt that the unprecedented growth of the Internet world-wide simply was not going to affect little old Costa Rica. According to this article, some 36 localities are affected to the point where new connections are very limited.

Continue reading »

Jacó in deep Doo-Doo?

September 10th, 2007

The unrestrained growth of Jaco has been of concern to a lot of people. More and more condos, apartments, houses are jamming the area from Jacó to Quepos. Too much and without proper planning. Couple that with the huge growth in the central valley, and you have a recipe for serious problems.Well now the piper is in line to be paid.

Continue reading »

BAC San Jose – A total joke! Their New Rating? ZERO

September 8th, 2007

A few weeks ago, I wrote about three banks here in Costa Rica and how they compare. You can review that post HERE if you wish.

In that post, I left readers hanging a bit regrading BAC San Jose and their policies regarding the depositing of checks from outside Costa Rica. You may recall they have this little “gotcha” policy that prohibits the depositing of any check from outside Costa Rica for the first year, a truly stupid and needless policy for most people and for businesses especially. After 18 months of 100% trouble free banking, I asked that my company accounts be allowed to deposit checks, all from the USA. Here is what I was told:

Continue reading »

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