12 Life Lessons Learned by Living in Costa Rica

picstitch3 years ago this week, I jumped down the rabbit hole and hopped on Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride…and what an adventurous journey it’s been.  While the picture above makes it look like I’ve had a super fun and “pura vida” life living here…that’s not exactly 100% true…

What I’ve learned from living in Costa Rica…

1.  $&^t happens everywhere.

Our grass might technically be “greener” here because it rains so much but if you look underneath the surface, it’s still got shades of muddy gray.

2.  Life is more about who you are, not what you own or how much money you have

I already knew this for many years before moving (I gave up my addiction to Coach purses and $100 bottles of Silver Oak wine long before moving to Costa Rica) but having been robbed twice and having a daily fear that it will happen again, it’s a good reminder that it’s more about who you are as a person, than what kind of car you drive, the sunglasses you wear or that your haircut cost $300.

3.  As a gringa, I may never fully understand the mantra of Pura Vida.

And I’m okay with that.  While I’m letting go of the rat race as much as I can, I think the concept of pura vida has some serious flaws to it.

4.  Not everyone will love you.

All my life, I’ve always been a well liked person. But living here, I’ve learned that I don’t need to get along with everyone and they don’t need to get along with me.  I’ve become super particular about the people with whom I associate.  Jim Rohn has a great quote that I keep coming back to again and again: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”   That’s pretty much my daily mantra at this point.

5. It’s okay to fail and Costa Rica will make you fail again and again.

Just get back up and brush yourself off.

6.  This is my life to live.

See this post here for a longer explanation.

7.  Work smart. Play often.

Life is too short to be in an office for countless hours every week.  Find ways to work more efficiently and you’ll have a lot more time to do other things you love.  There’s no good or sane reason to make easy hard (which by the way, is the real mantra of Costa Rica).

8.  It’s okay to say No.

Tico’s will almost never tell you No (they think it’s offensive to say no and for some reason, not offensive to not follow through on what they agreed to do – go figure).  But I have learned how to say No in a very big way.  I’m tired of being taken advantage of here and I’ve been faced with it time and again.  I might get fired or lose friends because I say No (ie No, I will not lend you money, No, I will not work for free) but I’m okay with that.

9.  You can’t always get what you want. Let me rephrase that – you will almost never get what you want.

Finding workarounds are a part of my daily life.

10.  Appreciate the small miracles when they happen.

The wild yellow lemon tree on the mountaintop, homemade peanut butter cups, rainbows, kale in my local veggie market, Lost Coast beers in the local supermarket

11.  You will find out who your real friends when are they borrow money from you.

And really, just don’t ever lend money to anyone because even if you think they’re your friend, chances are good you’ll never see that money again.  If you want to be kind and give someone money, that’s an option – just have the understanding that you’ll probably never see it again.

12.  In contrast to my life in California, a daily part of my life these last three years included being lied to, stolen from, manipulated, taken advantage of, discriminated against, disrespected and disappointed time and again…

While I’ve had to adjust and acclimate to this new way of living, I still have to maintain my morals, values and standards.  Not always easy but what other choice do I have?

Bonus lesson::  When you stand up for what you believe in, what you know is right, deep within your soul, you will often get screwed over, pushed down or disparaged.

Keep standing up.


15 facts about living in Costa Rica that you may not have been aware of

  1. It’s totally normal to drive and be drinking a beer or smoking a joint (not that I do either of those…I have no car!).
  2. When in a taxi and driving in the local area, seatbelts are “optional”.  You’re also supposed to sit in the front seat.
  3. Don’t be too attached to anything, you will get robbed.
  4. The cheese is dreadful. My intern from last year was from Minnesota…the poor girl was dying for some real cheese and my vegan mac and cheese really didn’t appease her.
  5. The bread at the panaderia’s (bread shops) is awful
  6. The milk is unrefrigerated
  7. The eggs are unrefrigerated and are also sold by weight and you can just buy one if that’s all you need (that’s just weird + all of the above make it so much easier to be a gluten free vegan)
  8. It is a very small country.  You will run into people you know all the time
  9. Your housekeeper will be late…or won’t show up…and won’t call
  10. It’s nice to always have clean dry towels on hand for your friends when they come over and are sopping wet from the rainstorm they just had to walk through (and which umbrellas are just useless during).  Having additional umbrellas to lend to friends is also a nice gesture. Although you may never get them back.
  11. Dryers, dishwashers and normal size ovens and frigs are really just for the wealthy people.  Having a small oven and a small frig are luxury items in many homes.
  12. Ants will live in your computer, they also eat onions (just FYI)
  13. Because of the ants, weird black bugs and overall humidity, everything must be kept in the frig or better, the freezer.  Your small freezer may look something like this:freezer
  14. Men carrying machetes in grocery stores is totally normal
  15. There is no Amazon here.  You cannot just order something and have it delivered next day.  You may be able to call a store in San Jose and negotiate with them to put the item on a bus.

Did I miss any? 🙂 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.


Living consciously in Costa Rica {Part 2}

animal friendly signs in Costa Rica

It’s been almost 2 years since I wrote this post about becoming more intentional in my daily life here in Costa Rica.  Geez.  2 years.  Where have those 2 years gone?  Part of the problem has been, as a new business owner, working many many long 12-14 hour days, 7 days a week.  The other part is still just trying to feel settled into living in a foreign country where nothing seems “normal”.  And accepting the fact that it probably never will feel normal.

But then two things happened that triggered the memory of this list and that feeling that I needed to get my a** in gear as there was really no reason that I couldn’t be more sustainable at this point, living here in Costa Rica.

  1. During my visit to Tamarindo in June, I had dinner with Kevin at my favorite pizza place. To be totally honest, I was still a little hungover from the day before (not something I’m super proud of at nearly 40 years of age but my business coach was quite happy that I finally took a day off and enjoyed myself) so I just ordered a salad but the salad had a hardboiled egg on it. He asked me…why aren’t you vegan?

I really had no good reason to give him at this point.  Before, in Tamarindo, it was because getting to Automercado was such a hassle (and consumed my entire paycheck).  And even then, I couldn’t always find what I needed.  Now living in Quepos where everything is so easily walkable (and much cheaper taxis than Tamarindo) and with a weekly farmer’s market year round, I just didn’t have a good reason other than…I like grilled cheese sandwiches. Especially after finding the vendor with the freshly made sourdough bread at the farmer’s market and another vendor with the artisan cheese. That being said, while there’s still a lot of products that I can’t find, I’ve started to learn the workarounds and am now 99% vegan.  The only time I eat butter, cheese or eggs is if I go out with friends.  And even that is rare because I am still working more often than not…something I’m diligently working on reducing!

  1. As I briefly mentioned in a recent post, I happened to have a conversation with someone who told me that his actions have no impact on anything else in the world. To say that I was stunned would be an understatement. A BIG understatement. He proceeded to explain to me that it was just me and my “little clique of friends” who think that we need to be more sustainable in our daily lives.  At the time, I just couldn’t think of any response to tell him other than: “With that mentality, you probably picked the wrong country to live in”.  Okay, I admit, that may have been a little harsh.

But really, Costa Rica is an eco country.  It’s not perfect, it’s definitely got its problems of greenwashing.  But overall, the country as a whole is trying to make a difference.  The majority of the people here respect the environment and understand what’s at stake if we don’t.  When you go to Automercado and don’t have a bag, they try to sell you a reusable one.  All over the country are signs asking people to slow down in their cars because of animal crossings.  There are signs not to feed the wildlife. 25% of the land is protected and can’t be built on (compare that to just 8% in El Salvador of which 2% is primary forest).

animal friendly signs in Costa Rica

So here’s a quick update to the list I created originally in November 2012:

Positive Expressions – 2012 Needs Improvement – 2012 September 2014 Update
No car I have shipped a lot of products from the States here Still no car (although some days I really wish I had one), and now finding very nice “mules” to bring me items from the States
I don’t use the air conditioning in my home.  Fans and fresh air only Food choices – a lot of what I eat is not grown locally No air conditioning in my home now but my fans are never turned off (mold will grow rapidly if I turn them off). Most everything is fresh and local.
Preparing and sharing healthy, vegetarian meals with friends Since the move, started eating eggs and cheese again I’ve gone back to being 99% vegan (only eating eggs/cheese when I go out socially). And most items come from the Saturday farmer’s market and the local vegetable market
Supporting locals: restaurants and artisans Finding other ways to give back to the local community Working with a few nonprofits at reduced rates
Using my hemp napkins for water glasses (since the cold water melts all over the place) People should buy stock in paper towels as I’ve gone through more   rolls in 6 months than I did in a few years of living in California Still have my hemp napkins and my Circle of Life reusable bag that goes with me everywhere. A lot less paper towel usage since I have now just learned to live with the ants
Saved a garrobo from drowning in the pool A lot of ants have died on my watch (hence the extreme paper towel   usage) There’s very little killing in my house now that the ants have become roommates. It’s gotta be a gigantic cockroach or monster spider to get me to whack it with my shoe and even then, I sometimes still manage to let them live
Only doing large loads of laundry so as to not waste electricity and water Having to wash clothes more often, even when they haven’t been worn   because everything gets a funky smell here from the humidity With the fans and leaving my windows open at all times, there’s a lot better circulation in my home. Plus, I don’t have a dryer so everything is dried by the sun (even if it does sometimes take 3 days)
Buying local, organic, shade grown coffee Not being able to find much organic produce Some of the farmer’s at the feria are organic but most is still conventionally grown
Sharing the beauty of Costa Rica/Nicaragua with others through photos and writing Not being able to really spend time on my personal projects, writing   and sorting through the hundreds of photos I take each month Having hired an assistant, I’m working less nowadays which has freed up my time to both work on my personal projects.
Paying an above average wage to my housekeeper Getting back on the yoga mat With my new found free time, I exercise more and still pay a living wage to my housekeeper…now I just wish I could pay her to come more frequently!


My goal is to continue to provide you with updates on living more intentionally in Costa Rica.  I want this blog to not just be about the crazy backwards upside down not-normal things that happen here.  My hope is to lead by example and that by choosing to live simply, sustainably, ecofriendly — whatever you want to call it, we can each find the beauty of simplicity and pura vida in our daily lives.

Pura vida…Chrissy

I get by with a little help from my friends…

It’s been one of those weeks.  It actually started going downhill about a week ago when I decided I wanted to buy some bread and chose to go to a Panaderia that had been recommended to me by a friend.  I’ve pretty much given up on eating bread, not just for health reasons but because it’s really terribly made in Costa Rica.  I got a whole wheat ciabatta and it was hard on the outside and total air on the inside.  I can’t understand why there are bread shops if they can’t make a decent loaf of bread (and my sourdough girl at the farmer’s market disappeared a few months ago).

I realize bread is a silly thing to complain about but it’s just one piece of the abnormal puzzle that I live in.

So then came Monday/Tuesday and it was like one massive tropical snowball was hitting me.  First, I broke my Bodum coffeemaker…the glass part.  Fortunately, my first housekeeper in Tamarindo broke the original bodum’s plunger part so I had saved the glass (again, why you never, ever throw anything away).

Then, the Costa Rica tax year ends on September 30th, and I’ve been trying to find a new accountant as I wasn’t really confident in the abilities of the one I was referred to last year.  The one that I found wanted to charge me $500, twice what I paid last year.  Now listen, I have a tiny little business here that barely has any income or expenses.  The accountant knew that.  But I’m assuming he also knew I’m a gringa so might as well try to rip me off.

On the bright side, when I told my property owner of the problem, she told me she knew of an accountant that works out of his house, across from the church, in one of the 3 little homes near the little bridge. (yes, that’s how we give directions here).  She volunteered to walk me down there (with her two children) so I could meet him and discuss his services.  He turned out to be very nice and much cheaper than any of the other quotes I had received.  But he needed all my expenses printed out which is how I spent all of Tuesday afternoon (and yes, I said a little prayer for all the trees I was destroying in this “eco” country that requires paper copies).

And, just as a quick note, we were able to go down to meet the accountant because my housekeeper had canceled on me…again

We had also called ICE on Monday to try to increase my internet speed (as it was, it felt like I was on dial up from 20 years ago).  They told us it would take 24 hours to activate.  But of course, 24 hours later, that wasn’t done and I called again, had to deal with an incredibly incompetent woman who insisted that I only had placed the order 20 minutes ago (it was now Tuesday afternoon and my property owner had called ICE on Monday) and when I asked to speak with a manager, she hung up on me.  Then I called back and was told, by a manager, it would take at least 3-4 days to activate.  I swear, they can never get their stories straight.

Also, on Monday afternoon, I got a call from a friend, whose shipping account I had used, telling me that the vitamins and protein powder which had been stuck in Miami for the last 2 weeks would require a note from a doctor.  And he was at the doctor and the doctor wanted $85 for the “office consult” and to write the note.

Fine.  I’ll flipping pay the $85.  Then I’m told that another girl’s parents ships her vitamins all the time through the post office and she doesn’t even have to pay customs taxes or fees.  God help me.  I try to follow the rules and I get screwed.

Next comes trying to transfer the money to my friend’s account.  His account is with BCR.  My account is with BNCR.  BNCR will allow me to make transfers to other BNCR accounts but not to BCR accounts without a special code…which they tell me on Tuesday morning that I’ll have to go to immigration in San Jose to get the code.  I decide that’s crazy and to try to circumvent the waste of time in San Jose.  So on Tuesday morning, I go to the bank to see if they can put my online banking account into my company name, with my company’s identification number…as the entire problem stems around the fact that the online banking account is accessed through my passport number.  I get there, wait 45 minutes for a bank rep, I tell him what I want and he looks at me totally confused but is willing to try (normally, they just say no but I know this rep has a little crush on me).  We almost get through the process when he tells me that in order to set up the account, we’ll need to type my business debit card PIN code into the computer.  Which of course, since I never withdraw money from the debit card, I have no idea what the PIN is.  So, another waste of time which I will now have to find the piece of paper with the PIN code in my house and then return to the bank to try to set this up once again (and hopefully get the same rep).

Then twice in the last week, my computer has died.  You know, that scary blue “death” screen.  My entire life is dependent on having a computer and if this one dies, well, I’m pretty screwed.  I don’ t have any visitors coming until March…the computer has got to stay alive until then.

And last but not least, I just cannot seem to get my clients in Costa Rica to pay me on time.  All of my clients in the US and even those abroad who pay me through PayPal, all pay me by the due date or more often than not, on the day I send them the invoice. And I never have to ask twice. That is NEVER the case with the clients in Costa Rica and is a gigantic pet peeve of mine.  The work has been done, it’s been done well.  Now it is time to pay me.  I shouldn’t have to send reminders every month on the last day of the month.  I shouldn’t be wasting my time contacting every client here, tracking down payment.  The electric company doesn’t send reminders and yet they remember to pay their electric bill.  Geez, the electric company doesn’t even send bills!  At least I send a bill with plenty of time to pay.  And the other problem is many of them pay me through other banks which means 3-4 days of processing time before it gets into my bank account.  So when they wait until the last minute, it means I don’t have the money to pay my rent and utilities. Technically, the money is supposed to be in my account on the last day of the month.

On the bright side, I’ve got some really great projects that I’m working on for clients in the US and that’s keeping me {somewhat} happy and sane.

Emilio from Mini Price (my little Costco) offered to have the 42 pound bag of Fresh Step litter delivered to my house at no charge.

And a special note of thanks for a friend who’s been checking in on my all week.  I don’t know if it was a little birdie who told him or my less than positive facebook posts but somehow he knew I was on the verge of a meltdown and stepped up to make sure I was okay.

So I’m grateful for my friends this week who have helped me with the various problems that I’ve run into.  Mental breakdown avoided…at least for the moment.

(and I promise you all that next week’s post will be a little happier…but this is real life on the rich coast, thanks for bearing with me and letting me vent)

Pura vida…Chrissy

Sunshine + Lluvia = A Colorful Rainbow of Playful Fun

pets in Costa Rica

pets in Costa RicaOn Sunday, I introduced new little loves into my home…Sunshine + Lluvia (Spanish for rain). My property owner begrudgingly obliged my request to adopt these two kittens from a woman who lives just down the road from me. Her brother had found the cats…inside a cardboard box, abandoned on the side of the road (ugh). This is now the second experience I’ve had in 6 months where cats were left inside a cardboard box (remember this post here). I don’t understand how anyone can just throw away living creatures. First, they’re ridiculously cute. But more importantly, they are living, breathing beings just like you and me.

It’s been 18 months since Harmony passed away and I really didn’t know when, or if, I’d be ready to adopt again. But (just stay with me here through this one), several months ago, their names just kind of came to me. And I knew that if I adopted again, the cats names would be Sunshine + Lluvia. I trusted that I’d know them when I saw them.

So when I saw a friend’s post on a local Facebook page with a photo of these two adorable kittens, I just kinda knew. It was Sunshine (boy, yellow tabby) and Lluvia (girl, gray and white tabby). They’re about 7 weeks old and teeny tiny!  The first day, they were a little confused and disoriented but by Monday, they had taken control of the house.  They love to play (they are seriously laugh-out-loud entertainment) and sleep (a lot) and are using all of Harmony’s cat toys, beds and blankets so really all I had to do was buy them food and litter.

Speaking of food, I think, if I knew anything about feline nutrition, I could probably turn Lluvia into a vegetarian.  The way she was trying to get at my chickpea and lentil burger makes me think there’s a chance there… On the other hand, Sunshine was too intrigued with the sheet hanging over my sofa to be bothered with what I was eating.

Over the next few weeks, they’ll have their first shots and, of course, get spayed and neutered.  I’m excited to see how their little personalities develop and who they become.  While I still miss Harmony, it’s really nice to have life again in my home.

cats in Costa Rica

I also want to take this opportunity to encourage everyone to adopt, not buy, pets.  For more on why I so strongly believe this, hop over to my wellness blog here...

Pura vida…Chrissy


Step by step guide on how to remove a wolf spider from your home

wolf spider in Costa Rica 3

Yesterday morning, I begrudgingly dragged myself out of bed at 5:30 a.m. after a fitful night of weird dreams and got myself on the yoga mat for an intense 45 minute workout.  Following that, I quickly downed my daily green juice (still dripping in sweat) and then proceeded to go into the bathroom and turn on the shower.  Only to look down and see a wolf spider hanging out in the corner.  A gigantic, furry, jumping, venomous wolf spider, just slightly smaller than a tarantula.

wolf spider in Costa Rica

Oh dios mio.  Seriously?  It’s just too early to be dealing with such mayhem in my home.  Thankfully, I had that green juice to pump up my energy like Popeye and deal with the situation.

So I started the task at hand by staring at it but that just seemed to bore the spider as it stretched out its front legs.

wolf spider in Costa Rica 2

I left the light on in the bathroom (they’re nocturnal right?  So if there’s a light on, it’ll think it’s daylight and go to sleep?) and started to pace around my house.  Since I can get from one side to the other in about 8 steps, that didn’t really get me very far. Meanwhile, all I could think about is how long has this gigantic spider be in my home and how did he get in (and even more important, how am I going to get him out)?

I pop back into the bathroom and it’s still stretched out in the corner.  I took a photo of it and posted it to Facebook, leaving a comment for some local friends to see if they were nearby and not working yet (and maybe they could come and rescue this poor spider from my home).  No reply…ugh.  I’m gonna have to deal with this one on my own.

I went into the kitchen and looked for my widest and tallest container.  The only one that fit the description was a brand new one that I hadn’t even used yet (and am still debating on whether I want to use it now or not).

I carefully nudged the spider out of the corner in order to get it under the container without cutting off any of its legs.  Then I took a piece of paper and nudged it under but it wasn’t strong enough.  I found a piece of cardboard but that was too thick.

By this time, another local friend had commented that I should use a magazine cover.  So while I don’t normally buy magazines, I did recall having some old Nature Air magazines sitting on top of my frig and grabbed one of those and ripped off the cover (this is why you should never throw anything away – you never know when you might need a magazine cover to deal with a spider). 

wolf spider in Costa Rica 3

That did it.  As I nudged the cover under the container, the spider ran up the side of the tall container.  Good.  It was no longer hanging out along the bottom…less chance of an escape when I turn the canister over.

wolf spider in Costa Rica 4

Okay.  Now let’s all just take a moment here and breathe.  I knew I didn’t want to attempt to right side the container until the spider had a chance to relax into its current position at the top of the canister.  I chose this “relaxing” time to open my front door.   After some time had passed, I very carefully lifted up opposite sides of the paper and the container, placing it right side up on my shower floor.

I quickly replaced the cover with the container’s lid and ran outside and downstairs to the open jungle lot next to my house.  I then opened the lid and using a swinging motion with the container, released the spider, flinging him several feet out into the wild.  Deep breath.  It landed on a branch and went off on its merry way.

And people wonder what I do all day…

Pura vida…Chrissy

Top 12 Reasons I Prefer Manuel Antonio over Tamarindo

Manuel Antonio beach

Manuel Antonio beachI recently ran into a friend from Tamarindo in Dominical and he asked me if I liked living in Manuel Antonio more than in Tamarindo.  Without a doubt, yes.   Here’s why I prefer Manuel Antonio over Tamarindo…

  1. It’s more civilized with wearing seatbelts in cars and motorcycle helmets
  2. You don’t often see tourists.  You do see a lot of Ticos (and those without shirts are just an added bonus).
  3. Quepos has more character (in my opinion). It’s a real Costa Rica town. There are people from all walks of life. And again, most of them are Ticos. Some of them are down on their luck…but again, it’s a real town. It’s not a picture perfect fantasy land. Where I lived in Sonoma County we had homeless people…that’s a part of any REAL town. It’s unfortunate, but true.
  4. We celebrate Tico holidays as a town.
  5. It’s got a few private beaches that most tourists don’t know about.
  6. My shoes are clean. When my friend Maruja visited me from Tamarindo, she commented that there was no dirt or dust on any of my shoes.
  7. It’s humid – why would I live in a tropical country if I wanted to experience a dry climate!
  8. The majority of the roads are paved. Muddy roads and river crossings are not a daily concern.
  9. To me, it feels like there are more long term businesses here. In Tamarindo, it seems like businesses are constantly opening up, shutting down and changing hands.
  10. Tamarindo was settled by foreigners, hence why there are very few Ticos who live in town and why holiday celebrations are focused more on US holidays than on Tico holidays (the topic of a future blog post).
  11. Sights and sounds of nature are all around in Quepos and Manuel Antonio. The chirp of the birds, the buzz of the cicadas and crickets and the squeaks from the 3 out of 4 types of monkeys who call Manuel Antonio home. Tamarindo has been so overdeveloped that very little nature exists there and except for the howlers, there are very few natural sounds.
  12. I’m not 18.  Honestly, I got all the partying out of my system before I turned 21.

But that doesn’t mean that Manuel Antonio is perfect for everyone or that Tamarindo doesn’t have its good points.  It does, after all, have an Automercado.  Although we have a Mini Price Store / “Costco” in Quepos so technically those two cancel each other out.

What it really comes down to is I did not move here just so I could be around foreigners all the time.  Living in Manuel Antonio is what’s best for me.  It’s the experience and the life that I wanted to create in Costa Rica.

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

Life in a Shoebox

house in Costa Rica

house in Costa Rica

I was recently watching the Netflix series “Orange is the New Black” and one particular episode had me laughing so hard as I could so relate to her experiences.  Piper, the main character, had received a 48 hour furlough from prison and when she visited her ex’s house, she sat down on the sofa and said…”ahhh, upholstery”.  Oh, how I can relate. Anytime I go to a friends house that has normal furnishings, I say practically the same thing.

You see…I live in a broken shoebox.  Compared to the homes that I lived in while in California, that statement is totally true.  There’s not a single closet in my entire house, not even a medicine cabinet.  I keep my toiletries on top of my toilet (probably not super sanitary) but there’s no space on the sink for more than my toothbrush and facial soap.  The cold water faucet on the sink doesn’t work and there’s barely any water that comes out of the hot water faucet (in the bathroom or the kitchen).  And the hot water is really just lukewarm.

I have about 1 sq foot of kitchen counter space plus my kitchen table which has become a counter.  I keep most of my food in baskets along with my clothes. The frig only has one shelf and it is broken in half so I can never put anything to heavy on it.  Additionally, there is a constant stream of water condensation on the ceiling of the frig which makes everything inside wet.

In the bedroom, there is a second bed which makes me crazy to have there but the owners of the property have no other place to put it.  I would love that space to be used as a yoga area as it’s the only place that would fit my yoga mat.  But again, there’s a bed in the way along with my boxes of things I’ll never be able to unpack…because I live in a house the size of a shoebox.

The sofa in the living room is extremely uncomfortable as there are no seat cushions and on my bed, I can feel the springs of the mattress below my alternative featherbed.  Doesn’t leave me with a lot of comfortable places to do my work but somehow, I make it work.

There is no dryer and I share the washer with a family of four along with three other adults.  Currently, my clothes and sheets are taking 3 days to dry and even then, they’re still damp.  I finally gave up on sharing with the entire building the 2 megas of internet that are provided with my rent and am now paying for my own private internet connection.  It meant that I also had to buy a monthly phone line but it’s worth it in order for me to do my work and talk with clients without constant interruption.

I take 3 sleeping pills every night as I’ve just never gotten over the two robberies from last year.  I wish I could live in a home that has security but that would increase my rent by a few hundred dollars which I just don’t have.  Of course, I also don’t have the money to replace everything if I’m robbed again so I’m in a bit of a catch 22. Damned if I do and damned if I don’t.

But somehow, even with all of this, I’ve gotten to a level of acceptance that this is just my life.  I might get robbed again, I will probably never have a sense of security (or closets), the bathroom faucet (that works) may or may not have water coming out of it and I will probably forever live in a shoebox.

Pura vida…Chrissy