Funniest Things I’ve Heard People Say in Costa Rica #1

Not to make fun of the tourists traveling for the first time in Costa Rica but they really do have some funny questions and comments.  And as you know from reading my blog, I’m the first one to make fun of myself so I’m not trying to hurt anyone’s feelings here.

So here’s the first funniest question…next week I’ll post the rest.

Guests arrive at a hotel on their first day in Costa Rica during a torrential thunder and lightning storm.  Time is approximately 4:00 p.m.

Guest: Do you think it will stop raining soon?

Front desk concierge: No, I think it will probably be raining for the rest of the day.

Guest: Is it going to rain tomorrow?

Front desk concierge gives a look of uncertainty and replies: Well, I don’t know.  Maybe.

There’s no way to tell or know if it’s going to be raining the next day or when the current rainstorm will cease.  Sure, you can look up on the weather sites for the 10 day forecast but most likely, all you’ll see is 85 degrees and thunderstorms.  Even if there aren’t any thunderstorms that actually happen, it will still state that there will be.

The weather here is totally unpredictable.  But that’s what makes it fun.  Just wait until you’re hiking in the tropical rainforest and out of nowhere a rain storm begins.  Listen to the amazing sounds created as the rain tries to fall through the canopy of the trees.  Notice how all of the birds, frogs and crickets have gone silent.  And be happy that you’re in a warm climate so that when it stops raining, your soaking wet clothes will dry off quickly.

Pura vida…Chrissy

A few quick updates

Remember when I was having that really bad week last month? Well, here are some updates…

The protein powder finally arrived – 2 weeks after I wrote the blog and a month after I had ordered it.  It was shipped next day so it was held hostage in Miami and then in San Jose by the Ministry of Health for 4 weeks.  I understand that vegetables are not very common here but please, I am not shipping in pea flavored cocaine disguised as protein powder.  And what was even more frustrating was none of it was even opened!  So they just sat on it for several weeks for no reason other than to get more money out of me (as I also had to pay the Ministry of Health a “fee”).

The accountant who wanted to charge me $500 for year-end tax preparation contacted me about 2 weeks after I told him that I would not pay that much and offered to do it for $300.  What would that mean exactly?  That he knew he was overcharging me to begin with and just wanted to see if I was a naive gringa who would pay it?  Just last week I had another similar situation where I was flat out told I would have to pay more than the Ticos pay for the same services.  This wasn’t a situation like…trying to get into the National Park at the resident rate or getting a resident fare on Nature Air.  In this situation, it wouldn’t have mattered if I had my residency or not (which, yes, is still pending), it was purely based on the color of my skin. To say I was infuriated would be an understatement.

I maybe shouldn’t have complained that there hadn’t been much rain…because we have had some intense storms and I ended up with several leaks in my apartment.  One in my kitchen through the light/fan combo which means I no longer have a light or fan in the kitchen (not great when it’s 80 degrees and 80% humidity inside the kitchen), one over my yoga mat (and that is the only place my yoga mat fits in my small house), three next to my coffee table, two dripping down the wall between my apartment and the studio next to me, five on the sofa and two on opposite sides of my bed. So I couldn’t even move my bed over a few inches to one side to get out of the dripping drops of water.

The owners had attempted a patch repair of the roof:

roof 1

But when that didn’t work, they then decided to construct a new roof over the terrace.  Which then led to more problems because of course there was limited funds and the workers didn’t always show up.  Plus, the municipality showed up because she didn’t have permits for the structure.

When we eventually tried to turn the light back on in the kitchen (just to check it), sparks flew, the owner grabbed her 3 year old son out of fear and there was the smell of fire.  Her husband told me…maybe another few days.  They did kindly offer me one of their other units that was available but I just figured, I’ll deal with the leaks.  At this point, I’m used to life being totally awry.  The roof was put on the next day and with the exception of one random leak over my sofa, it has now stopped raining in my house.

roof 2

My internet speed is still non-existent.  They finally told us (after calling every day for 2 weeks and being told “mañana”) that the “cable they installed to the house is only suited for 2mbs.  It can’t sustain a higher speed and they will try to do something to remedy that.” Who knows when it will be remedied…

I never went back to the bank.  I’ll do it at some point (probably the next time I need to make a transfer) but if you’ve read other posts, you know I really dislike going into the bank.

My computer died again, this time it just wouldn’t start.  Thankfully, after talking really nicely to it, it eventually worked.  Now just the period key doesn’t want to work without a little extra coaxing.

And finally, one of my clients actually paid me on the day I sent her the invoice. And since other clients still hadn’t paid me for September (and it was October 20), my bank account did a little happy dance when the money was received.

One of my friends in Canada recently asked me – how are you not a raging alcoholic?

Good question.  One that I think deeply about every day.


Still Waiting for the Rain in Costa Rica

Today's Weather
Today’s Weather

We’re now in the lowest part of “low season”, “winter”, “the rainy season”, “the green season”… whatever you’d like to call it…and once again, for the 3rd year now, I’m wondering where all this dreadful rain is that people always told me about.

I had heard there were drought conditions happening in the Guanacaste province and southwest Nicaragua as of a few weeks ago but I don’t live in the tropical dry forest.  I live in the rainforest of Manuel Antonio.  Where people have told me that it rains for days on end and the canals in town flood into the streets.

We’ve had some wild storms, yes, but they only last a few hours.  Not days.  Hours.  I’m still waking up to blue skies and sunshine nearly every day.

Of course I’m grateful for the sunshine but there’s two reasons why I want it to rain (and they are the same two from the last 2 years).

1. We can always use more water.  That’s just a given.

2. I keep planning these big projects to work on during the months of September and October, thinking I’ll be stuck inside my house for days on end and then when the rain doesn’t come, I feel torn between enjoying the sunshine and actually doing my work. (It’s a hard life, I know).

So I’m waiting for the rain and hopefully (if I can actually stay glued to my computer long enough to finish my work!) I’ll have an announcement for you all in the coming weeks.

Pura vida…Chrissy

What I’m loving right now about living in Costa Rica

Sunset in Manuel Antonio

This is my third August, living in Costa Rica…here’s what I’m loving right now…

  • Cool winter nights
  • Indian summer days
  • Sunset in front of my house (although it’s rapidly moving south behind the mountain)
  • Longer days (by only about 30 minutes but still, those 30 minutes are important!)
  • How totally green everything is. In Manuel Antonio, it stays green year round for the most part but the green right now is just so vibrant
  • The raindrops glistening on all the green leaves
  • Mangos
  • The freshness after each rain
  • My new bank account functioning properly and accepting payments from clients
  • And…Not having to share internet with anyone!  It’s still slow but it’s not as slow as before when I was sharing with all my neighbors!

Sunset in Manuel Antonio

Pura vida…Chrissy

The Cenizaro Tree

flowering cenizaro tree in Costa Rica

cenizaro tree in Costa RicaThere is this gigantic Cenizaro tree in my neighbors yard that borders alongside the front of my home.  It’s huge.  No picture I take does it justice.  It’s trunk is short (maybe 15-20 feet) but its many branches extend outwards in all directions and are each at least 30-50 feet long!  It is home to mossy branches in winter that are covered in bromeliads and wild orchids.  There are two black squirrels that run around looking for food and it’s a favorite place for white faced and squirrel monkeys to hang out, rest, and forage for lunch. Butterflies fight, making a clicking sound like hummingbirds, for their favorite places to rest and countless birds, including 2 beautiful toucans sing all throughout the day.  I also saw a huge green iguana with a bright red head seeking cover during a recent rainstorm.

cenizaro tree in Costa Rica 2

In January, as I noticed a few of the other local trees dropping their leaves, I began to imagine what this tree would look like without leaves and what color its flowers would be.  It wasn’t until mid-March when we got some high winds and all the leaves fell off the tree over the course of a 3 day period.  My poor housekeeper swept the terrace on one of her visits and noticed just before leaving that it was covered in leaves again.  She was going to sweep it up but I just shook my head and told her not to worry.

I was super excited at the thought of the flowers blooming but no kidding, 3 days after all the leaves disappeared, they all reappeared!  Fresh green sprouts popped out of the tree branches…and no flowers in sight.  It was about a week later that I noticed an influx of hummingbirds and then noticed the pretty pink flowers sitting on top of the leaves.

flowering cenizaro tree in Costa Rica

So that was the season for the Cenizaro tree…3 days of Fall, then summer with green leaves, then Springtime with flowers which lasted until just a week or so ago.  And now we’re back to summer (but technically, we’re in winter!).

Pura vida…Chrissy

Costa Rica’s Green Season!

kiskadee eating a frog

kiskadee eating a frogThank goodness, green season has arrived. It started raining at night in early April and by Semana Santa, the weather had finally cooled off (to about 84F) and the nightly rains were bringing cooler evenings and mornings plus a freshness to the air throughout the day. March was muggy and hot. That kind of “stick to your chair” humidity that I have never liked. The kind that can be found on the East Coast of the US in summertime. It reminds me of how my sister once told me that I was no longer allowed to visit her in the summer because of my complaints of the humidity (nor was I allowed to visit in the winter…because of my complaints of it being too cold and not having appropriate winter attire).

The reason I love Costa Rica and specifically Manuel Antonio, is because it’s pretty much the same weather year round. Yes, March was a little uncomfortable but the other 11 months are perfection.  If I had air conditioning, then there wouldn’t have been any issues with the temp.  And here in Manuel Antonio, it’s green year round. There are a few trees that lose their leaves but nothing like the mass exodus of leaves that occurs in Guanacaste leaving everything dusty brown, just like Sonoma County’s summers.

I really have to say, winter in Costa Rica is probably my favorite time of year. The only downside is nothing dries. So my clothes will remain damp until December. But the days are still beautiful, cooler and it really only rains in the late afternoon/evening. And sometimes in the morning. Okay, it’s totally unpredictable. But that’s one of the reasons I love it. That combined with the spectacular nightly lightning shows…what more can one ask for? Plus the crowds have left…Bonus!

I never carry an umbrella but I have restocked my backpack with Ziplocs to weatherproof my camera and phone, should I get caught in an unexpected storm. I’m ready for winter…Let It Rain!

Oh…and as you can tell in the photo above…the frogs have also returned now that the rains have started.  This kiskadee was super happy about that!  Poor little gladiator frog!

Pura vida…Chrissy

“The Rainy Season” in Costa Rica

Playtias beach, Manuel Antonio, Costa RicaI’ve decided that the whole “the worst months of the year to visit Costa Rica are September and October” is actually just a false statement created by Costa Rica to give us (people living here) a break from the tourism that happens throughout the rest of the year.  I may regret saying this going into October (supposedly the WORST month of the year) but I just don’t know what people are talking about when they say that it pours down rain constantly during these two months and that a day of sunshine is a rarity.

For the last few months, it’s rained from like 4-6 p.m., every other day.  A few days there was a big storm in the morning or in the middle of the night but nothing consistent that kept me from going outdoors for at least part of the day and enjoying the sunshine and blue skies.

Rain in Costa Rica

Last year, in September and October, no rain.  I was told to buy galoshes (which I thought were some type of eyewear for skiing but it appears it’s a type of rain boot – I’m a California girl, neither of those things were ever in my wardrobe) and stock up the pantry as I wouldn’t be able to go outside.  It rained like 9 days total in all of September and October last year.

Sure, we could say it’s global warming (which it probably is) but I tend to think that it’s just a way to keep tourists out of the country for a months.

To be honest though, I do hope we get some good rains throughout the country in this coming month.  Starting in December, we’ll go into another drought until May and that brings all kinds of problems with water shortages and hazardous fire conditions.

So bring on the rain!  My pantry is stocked and supposedly, the local liquor store delivers!

Pura vida…Chrissy

The Changing Seasons in Costa Rica

March - Playa San Juanillo
March – Playa San Juanillo

In the last few months, I’ve done a lot of driving around the Nicoya Peninsula and it’s interesting how, right now, it reminds me of Sonoma County in Springtime.  All of the trees lost their leaves in mid-summer and are now sprouting new green growth and flowers.  It seems backwards to me – to have summer first and then spring and to have summer be the time of year when all the trees go dormant.  It’s something I’m still trying to get my head wrapped around.  But if you ask people here, they’ll tell you we only have two seasons – winter and summer.  And really (and again, strangely), the trees flower all summer long at different times.

April - Playa San Juanillo
April – Playa San Juanillo

Enjoy the slideshow…


Pura vida…Chrissy

First Storm of the Season

Winter in Costa RicaWinter is on its way in Costa Rica and that’s a good thing since we desperately need water here in the Guanacaste province.  All of our river beds are dry and fires continue to burn.

We’re starting to see clouds form around the area – something we haven’t really seen since November!  And while the air is definitely more humid, we’re still experiencing temperatures in the 90’s.  On Friday night, we had a spectacular lightning show but, unfortunately, no rain fell in the Langosta area.

Then yesterday, the clouds formed again in the late afternoon and we got our first storm.  In true tropical weather fashion, it lasted less than an hour but still, it brought a freshness to the air for that one hour.  It also brought a power outage which, in turn, created a water outage.  About 3 minutes into the rain falling, everyone in my building could hear a loud boom.  I ran down to a neighbor’s house because I thought a pole had fallen down but he told me that this is just typical for the first storm – the salt or dust or dirt builds up on the transformer during the summer season which then blows out with the first rain.

So for almost five hours we were without water or power.  And like I mentioned, it’s still really hot here so having no fan or a/c was a bit miserable.  Finally at 9 p.m. the electrical company showed up and within minutes had our power back on.

Of course, this morning, I woke up to blue skies and sunshine.  But one more week and we should see the return of the winter season to our tropical dry forest.  And I, for one, am looking forward to the cooler, 85 degree temperatures.

Pura vida…Chrissy

Summertime in Costa Rica

Tamarindo Sunset
Tamarindo Sunset

Well, we’re about halfway through summer here and the wind is still blowing, thankfully.  They died down for a few days last week and I have to admit it was quite hot.  But even with the average daily temperature being 90-95 degrees, I still haven’t had to use the air conditioner.   I’m told my house stays cooler because the building is made of concrete.  It could also be that I have never turned off the fan upstairs and the fan downstairs is on during the day.  But still, the temperature is comfortable inside the house and I’m grateful for the cool breeze.

Walking on the dirt road has become more challenging since they didn’t spray the molasses everywhere and the dust really kicks up a storm when a car drives by.  I don’t know which is worse – the mud that you can easily slip on in winter or the dust that gets into my eyes in summer, even though I’m always wearing sunglasses.  Also, if there’s no wind, you can really feel the heat from the sun…yes, I do miss having a car with air conditioning.  And it doesn’t help that most of my walks into town lately have been around 11 or 12, right when the sun is blazing hot.

But then I take a photo like the one above and remember how grateful I am to be here now.  Harmony, on the other hand, is not so grateful.  Most days, I find him upstairs on the bathroom tile floor.  I’m sure if he could speak, he’d tell me to turn on the air conditioning.

Pura vida…Chrissy