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Travels with Della and Joanna

July 8th, 2008

The LadiesThis post was actually sent in as a comment to an earlier post about crime in Costa Rica, but after reading it, I thought it not really relevant to crime… or maybe it was as these ladies apparently did a lot of cool things and experienced nothing but a fun time.

However, I did not want to discard it, and I decided it might be of general interest to a lot of readers, especially to older folks considering a trip to Costa Rica and more especially to older women who might like to travel together! Here is the account or the trip taken by Della and her female companion and written by Della.

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The Bug Man Cometh

July 7th, 2008

Ahhh Bugs! Bichos! Things with many legs! If you live here in the tropics, they are as much a part of your life as the sun, the beach, the mountains, and the bad roads! Certainly one of the most visited web pages in The REAL Costa Rica is about the creepie crawlies that are everywhere in Costa Rica. Not surprising I guess… hell, there was even a snake in the Garden of Eden right?

Those of you who follow my writings probably already know about Rolando, the Flying Cucaracha Affair, and the occasion tarantulas that come avisitin’ at Casa Ticogrande. However, for sheer annoyance, nothing can top the ants (hormigas). that look at this house as a giant smörgåsbord.

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Renewing Residency

July 4th, 2008

It is a bit hard to believe, but in all the years I have lived here, I have never had to make “the trip” to immigration (migración) to renew my residency. I have always been “legal” but the rarely used form of residency I began with was a true pain in the butt. Migración ran me in circles for several years, never approving my residency, but thankfully, never denying it either. Every time I thought they would approve it, they came up some new requirement that was never even in the law.

North Americans and others always have a real problem understanding “how things work” in Costa Rica. In the USA, for example, laws are more or less clearly defined. The “rules” are clear. If you go to renew a drivers license, you know what has to be done, and you are confident that all the clerks and others who assist you will follow these rules. Nobody does things on-the-fly.

This is NOT the case in Costa Rica, and most assuredly it is not the case when dealing with migración.

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Learning Spanish

July 1st, 2008

Coffee Break SpanishPlanning to move to Costa Rica to live, retire or work? Regardless of how well traveled you are, culture shock almost assuredly will be a big factor in how much you and your family will enjoy living in a foreign country and whether you will be able to adjust and enjoy the experience.

I was speaking to the owner of one of the larger moving companies some while back, and he told me that he is now moving back “home” more than 50% of the customers he moved here originally. That is a helluva statistic, and he should know. I tend to believe this as I get more and more email from people who have made the decision to move here after spending little and sometimes no time in this country. Sadly, some have no option as they are just now realizing that they simply cannot afford to retire and live in their home country. This is true especially of many folks from the USA.

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Oops!

June 30th, 2008

My Brain SometimesI really do try to make sure everything I write is exactly correct (personal opinions excepted!), but on occasion, I experience what my late great-grandmother termed a “brain fart”. She was an earthy sort of woman!

This phenomena occured on 9 June when I wrote the post entitled “3,000 Jobs Gone? Why?“. I am 99% sure I read in La Nacion that the new regulation had been published in La Gaceta. It appears I was wrong and it was not published. As Bugs Bunny would say, “Whatta maroon!”.

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Costa Rica Takes Action to Control Gasoline Usage Part 2

June 27th, 2008

This week, the government of Costa Rica asked for an increase of ¢145 in the price of gasoline, this to offset their recent request to lower the price of diesel fuel by exempting diesel from government taxation.

The price of super gasoline would go up to ¢801 per liter and diesel prices would fall by ¢97. Gasoline today is $5.10 per gallon for super, $4.97 for regular and $4.82 for diesel. One US gallon = 3.79 liters, so after this change, a gallon of super will be ¢3,036 or $5.88. With the regular monthly increase coming in July, $6.00 per gallon gas is pretty much assured.

Currently, the cost for a gallon of diesel is $4.82, so this will drop to about $4.11. Sounds like a nice windfall for those who chose to buy dieseled vehicles right? Nope… the government giveth and the government taketh away.

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Costa Rica Takes Action to Control Gasoline Usage Part 1

June 27th, 2008

Mopt restrictionsFor quite some time now, the government has placed restrictions on what vehicles could enter San Jose. This was more done to lessen the overwhelming traffic in San Jose during peak hours than to control gasoline usage. All non commercial vehicles were affected.

The system was/is simple enough. You were restricted from entering San Jose for about 2 hours each morning rush hour and two hours during the afternoon rush based on your license plate. For me it was rarely an issue, and when it was, I just drove the circunvalación, the road that runs around San Jose and locally known as “the rotundas” because of the numerous traffic circles in that route. Sometimes I’d drive the La Uruca route. No big deal.

Well this all changed this week as the government expanded enormously the restricted areas and the hours of restriction, and yesterday, over a thousand folks learned this the hard way and got a little $10 traffic citation for their ignorance.

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Arenal Volcano is Putting on a Show!

June 19th, 2008

Arenal volcano eruptingTourism is getting big boost these days as travelers from all over the world are descending on Costa Rica to see the Arenal Volcano, always a big draw at any time.

Lately, the active volcano has been strutting her stuff, and this has been going on for some weeks now. Customers of mine witnessed a fine show just this week.

The volcano is near the town of La Fortuna de San Carlos, about three hours northwest of San Jose by car. We go fairly often and rooms are always easy to get, especially now in the low season. The beds in many of the hotels are positioned so you can watch it at night. Beats Leno!

Wanna see something cool? Come take a peak! Bring the camera.

Costa Rica Eateries is Back

June 18th, 2008

Get ready to EAT!There certainly is no shortage of restaurants and sodas in Costa Rica. The problem as anywhere, is to find the good ones with great food, decent service and reasonable prices. With that in mind, I opened a Forum a couple of years ago so people could post their favorites and warn others away from those places that are not-so-good.

I had an issue a few months ago, and was forced to remove and reinstall the web site. Today I was able to get it back online with all the original Posts and reviews. There is also a nice section for trading recipes!

All my readers are invited to join and give your opinion, good or bad, on any restaurant, soda or other eatery here in Costa Rica. The Web Site is Costa Rica Eateries and I hope you will call visit and add your favorite places to eat in Costa Rica. Enjoy!

ICE to Discontinue TDMA Cell Phones in 2009

June 15th, 2008

Those of you who live in Costa Rica are probably quite familiar with the cellular phone system here and most of you are also aware of just how lousy is the GSM system in particular. TDMA is still the only reliable system here in Costa Rica.

To provide a bit of background for newcomers, visitors and tourists, there are currently two cell phone systems here in Costa Rica. The first, TDMA , often referred to as “the old system” and GSM, “the new system”. New is better, right? Often true, but in this case… totally not true.

The GSM system was installed some years ago by Alcatel, a French company under contract to ICE the government-run monopoly that controls all telecommunications in Costa Rica. Apparently not satisfied with just trying to win this huge contract in a competitive manner, Alcatel decided to spend some cash in order to bribe some key decision makers in ICE and in the Costa Rican government. About $11 million as I recall! This was also distributed to at least two and probably three ex-Presidents of Costa Rica, two of whom spent some time in prison for accepting these bribes, and a third who is currently hiding out in Switzerland, unable and apparently unwilling to return to Costa Rica for fear of also passing a few hours in the slammer.

This is important to know because the GSM system installed by Alcatel simply did not and still does not work well at all… and it will soon be the only system available.

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