As everyone seems to wonder at this point of the year…”Where did the year go?” I can’t believe we’ve already been here 4 1/2 months. I can’t believe it’s the end to another year. However, it seems it was FOREVER ago that I had my Virginia home decorated (to the nines) for Christmas. Last year, we had 14 Christmas trees, 65 nutcrackers, outside decor, inside decor extravaganza, festive music playing, house lit-up inside and out, tons of packages under the tree. This year, we have 2 skinny trees…one without a topper neither have a skirt… almost no ornaments, don’t turn them on…no Christmas nutcrackers…no other decorations… It just doesn’t feel like Christmas here. Christmas has always been filled with family and friends…and they aren’t here. Not to dismiss my husband and daughter, but it just emphasizes that Christmas Day will feel like any other day here.
Instead, I have chosen to view the “Christmas Spirit” differently here. Christmas means tourists in Tamarindo and tourists mean business. We have been anxiously awaiting “Season” to happen, and I’d rather have that than anything else. Christmas week is one of the busiest weeks here AND it’s the “real” kick-off for the busy season. For the past month or so the hostels and surf camps have had an increase in business. Now the hotels, boutique inns, and fishing charters are reaping some of the rewards. We are all hoping that the tourist season will be especially strong after the hurricanes in the Caribbean this year. Time will tell!
GONE is the rain. We are officially in SUMMER. Yes…no more rain…until May. I mean NO MORE. No sprinkles, showers, spitting, nothing. Crazy to imagine. All of this lush, beautiful greenery is going to turn brown. (Or they call it Golden here) With the dry season, we are now experiencing the Papagayo winds…which are tremendous. Last night, it sounded like a hurricane. We had a number of days last week that had extreme wind (which are not good for a fishing business) and we had to do some re-scheduling in order to accommodate our guests. The winds are crazy. You can wake up in the morning and there is no movement in the trees whatsoever. Two hours later, a light breeze comes flows through. Shortly after that, you are closing doors and chasing little pieces paper around your house because the gusts are huge. Lamps falling over, placemats flying through the room, margarita glasses blowing off the table… (
As it IS the “most wonderful time of the year”, this also means it is time to pay your marchamo . The marchamo is the annual road tax that has to be paid on every vehicle circulating in the country of Costa Rica. This tax HAS to be paid by the 31st of December or you risk fines, licenses plates being confiscated, and/or impound of your car or motorcycle. The glorious social media platform Facebook alerted me of the need to pay our marchamo. Fortuitously, I have joined a number of Costa Rica expat groups and saw a posting of the marchamo payment window. There are a number of places where you can pay, but I went to the bank. Yes. the bank. Again. However, it was a very simple process. I took in a picture (on my phone) of our license plate and the teller took the money and provided me with the decal required for 2018 and a receipt. Easy Peasy. The amount due is based upon the value of your vehicle, of which 69.5% of that amount goes to the Ministerio de Hacienda (tax department), 18.8% goes to the INS which is a mandatory insurance department/policy covering your vehicle and the 11.7% balance goes to institutional and municipality highway safety agencies.
Another new experience this past week was our first visit with a veterinarian. I reached out to one of the 2 local veterinarians that had been highly recommended. Last Sunday, my pup wasn’t himself…shaking, needy..different. On top of that, I had recently noticed some fatty tumor growing on his chest. Although not a young pup, (9 1/2 years), I wanted to make sure it wasn’t anything serious…especially after finding another small one under one of his front legs. He also has had some ear irritation. So last Sunday, I sent a Facebook messenger AND a WhatsApp message to the vet. Guess what? She responded that day! Sunday! AND made an appointment for Monday! The BEST part? She comes to YOU….at YOUR HOUSE. No kidding! She is another expat from Montana, came to Costa Rica several years ago on a vacation, met a guy (now her husband) and has a mobile vet practice. She came to us, took samples from his ear and both fatty tumors…spent about 40 minutes talking with us and then charged us…oh wait maybe THIS is the BEST part…$45. Needless to say…I love this vet now.
The recent tragedy experienced in our household has been the death of our coffee pot. Not the coffee maker/machine….but the glass pot that goes with it. I am desperately trying to not have to drive to Liberia to find one and we have spent the last few weeks trying to find a more local replacement. First, we drove to Santa Cruz to a recommended store..on a Sunday. Closed. Then, we tried another store…where our only option was to d buy a new machine. Desperate for something, we returned to that store (about to relinquish in a purchase of the whole shebang) and the young man told me of a store in nearby Huacas that had what I needed. Yahtzee! So, the following day, we drove to Huacas. The store in Huacas…Closed. Funny..said it should be open. A man in the parking lot told me to come back Monday. Open Monday 8:30-Noon. Monday…I drove back to Huacas at 10am. Closed. So here I sit… Somethings aren’t as easy here as they are in the States….
And now for a “head’s up” for those considering moving here. What you think may be important in the States…you probably won’t find so important here. Even personal things. Last time I got my hair cut? July. Last time I colored it? July. All my favorite make-up I bought lots of because I knew I couldn’t find it here? Stupid. Haven’t really touched it. Sometimes…SOMETIMES…I will use some eyeshadow, eyeliner and bronzer powder. Period. No foundation. No blush. No setting powder. No contour powder. Almost never on the mascara. Nope…don’t use it. Clothes? I think I wear the same 5 things over and over (feel like a guy). Sometimes, when we go out to dinner…I wear something else..but that seems to still be a rotation of the same 4 outfits. I will do anything to avoid wearing a traditional bra. Sports bra? Okay…but wearing some of the tight-fitting or traditional things worn in the USA that you are going to sweat in here….not so much. It’s all about practicality and comfort here….. but a huge tip and recent discovery for those aghast at my lack of caring about make-up, clothes, shoes and haircolor…. If you pull your hair into a TIGHT bun on the top of your head…it pulls out a number of the wrinkles in your forehead and crow’s feet. Just a makeover tip for you….no charge.