Ooh that smell…Can’t you smell that smell?

For those of you who don’t know (or never thought about it)…Costa Rica has skunks…..more later….

So MUCH has happened this past week. It’s funny how I don’t wake up on Monday wishing for Friday anymore. These days, I’m not even sure what day of the week it is, and it doesn’t really matter. We have charters that go out any/all of the 7 days (wish that was the case at the moment), so the only significant difference with the weekend is that banks and government offices are not open.

Last Friday (Sept 15th) was Costa Rica’s Independence Day. It is a MAJOR event here and EVERYTHING is closed. The day commemorates the country’s independence from Spain in 1821. There are parades all around (almost like mini-Christmas parades or Mardi Gras parades) with kids in band uniforms (in the heat) , costumes, people riding on trucks, and folks just celebrating….everywhere. In the  central area of  the towns, people gather like a county fair/family picnic and kids play games, everyone eats, etc. It is quite the affair and a very unified effort.

Saturday was the Tamarindo Beach marathon which we had been warned would leave us with limited  or minimal access to getting in or out of town during the first 1/2 of the day.  Little did I know or even CONCEIVE in my head that the festivities would start with FIREWORKS at 4AM!! Holy smokes….4 AM!!! Following the fireworks, we could hear the announcer with the megaphone “thingy “starting each and every race…they had 10k, 21k, 30k,  and 42k races… The town was PACKED for the race. Just about every hotel, hostel, and apartment was booked. It was pretty cool to see all of the “healthy” people here just to run. Funny how I thought I would go down around 7am to see them off…..

Costa Rica’s wildlife inhabitants seem to be a mix of Texas and the Amazon. Yes…we have jaguars, monkeys, ocelots, sloths, jaguarundi, as well as armadillos, coyote, raccoons…and SKUNK. Yes….skunk. How do I know for sure? My DOG. I let my Puggle (pug/beagle mix) out for his last “quick wee”and next thing I know he DARTS behind the car. (Let me set this up…from our front door to the automatic solid metal gated door that swings open for us to leave…which is attached to a wall around the house…is about 25 feet.) After he darted, I see something small run to the side of the house. I think “that dang cat who peed on our beach towel outside”…and dread that my dog is going to chase him throughout the yard. However, the dog doesn’t follow. Curious, I head to the back of the car where my dog is rubbing his face on the gravel. I think “What?” and then “OH SHIT”. About that time….a waft of pungent air penetrates my nostrils and I anxiously corral my dog in the house, up the stairs and into the bath.  When I say (so eloquently) “penetrate my nostrils”… I mean PENETRATE.  Willingly and wanting, the dog is very cooperative in getting into the tub. Washing 1: Dog Shampoo followed by White Vinegar…followed by more shampoo.  We then to back downstairs to a house that STINKS. No eloquent words needed. It is HORRIFIC. The house friggin smells. Facebook friends are now fully aware (thanks to my social media queen daughter) and have recommended tomato juice…we don’t have any….so Washing 2: A bottle of gazpacho followed by white vinegar followed by dog shampoo. Now…all I can say is that although gazpacho is tomato-based, at this point, all I can smell is that air that glued itself to my nose hairs with a touch of celery. Especially when the dog decided to shake in the midst of rubbing the gazpacho into his fur causing me to look like a victim on NCIS. Although the dog now smells a bit better (or tasty to some)…the house is  still rancid. I parade through the house with my husband’s spray deodorant/anti-perspirant. Amazing how that disgusting odor carries even if he didn’t touch anything and all of the floors are tile.

After another suggestion via Facebook…the next day I ventured out for peroxide and baking soda. Washing 3: mix of baking soda/dishwashing liquid and peroxide followed by dog shampoo.  Holy moly….although not the sweetest smelling dog in the world…he HAS to be the cleanest.

Good news? That ORIGINAL bank account we were trying to open? (We have another bank account opened a few weeks ago…but the 1st bank we approached, we’ve been trying to get an account opened since August 16th…)…well, the original bank’s account is FINALLY OPEN!!  OMG. However, we won’t have online access or debit card until 9/29, but it IS open.  I think of my former career as a banker and am speechless.

We found a house! Yes, we are moving mid-October into what may be our “real” home. It is just outside of town close to where we get gas, bread and a lot of our food supplies for the business. We will be at the top of a hill overlooking the mountains. You CAN see the ocean a bit from the pool..but that was not our big priority since we are at the beach all of the time. The house was built only 4 years ago and has many modern conveniences unlike the “traditional” Costa Rican home. Very few homes in Costa Rica even have dishwashers. Costa Rican custom is that the men serve as the “dishwashers” of the home. Bwahahaha…. Although I must say, my hubby washes the dishes at LEAST 1/2 the time, if not more.

We also released our FIRST monthly newsletter this week! Yes…went out to a little over 100 people. Hoping to increase our readership on that and am looking forward to getting those out each month. Things are moving along…too slowly for the hubby as to business volume, but it does help that it’s not too busy while we acclimate to the culture. Matter of fact…I (yes ME) helped 3 young European students in the phone store yesterday who were buying SIM cards and loading their phones while they are here studying. Yes…I was the communicator between them and the retail clerk. AMAZING. Who would’ve thought? By the way….phone costs here? Yes…we put about $5 on each of our phones about 5 weeks ago…and just went in to re-load with more time. THAT is nice.

We have also met someone who can help us with our residency. The ins and outs of legal requirements, government requirements, etc with owning a business and wanting residency is a bit daunting. However, if you work with an experienced and local “Tico”…it is supposed to be “no problem”. Yes…everything is “no problem”. We shall see…

But there IS something to that “no problem”. Think about what stresses you..is it REALLY a problem? Or is it a symptom? The truth is that there are often WAY TOO MANY things we cannot control…weather, what other people do, Mother Nature, animal instinct, public transportation and television programming…but the only thing we CAN control is the way we react to everything we encounter…good or bad. THAT is where stress is derived, formed, handled or thwarted. These days…I am trying to handle or thwart as much as possible. So take control of what you can. “Don’t sweat the small stuff. ” “Follow your dreams”…and you know, the old saying, “If it is to be, it’s up to me”.

 

First time is NOT a charm…

As those of you who have been reading my blog updates know, sometimes things take a number of efforts around here to happen. As with the checking account we tried to open beginning August 15th….it is STILL not opened. However, we do have an account with a different bank that the attorney helped by facilitating the necessary paperwork to get opened. The original bank has the same paperwork….just haven’t been able to open the account yet. We keep getting more paperwork and questions….it will happen…eventually. Thank goodness for the other bank

Again, especially as a former long-term banker, the banks are interesting. You walk in and pull a number..just like the meat counter at the grocery or at the DMV. Then you sit in a plastic and metal chair…and you wait. At our current bank, last week we walked in and pulled #25. They were currently servicing #12. It’s not a problem either! No one is agitated and huffing and puffing or bitching and screaming. Everyone is sitting quietly and WAITING. This concept would NEVER work in the USA. First of all, people in the USA are in too big of a hurry…for what…no one really ever knows.

We have our new marketing materials and our new website is almost finished. I am still amazed at how inexpensive business supplies are. Our 300 business cards were $60. Our 15 shirts with color graphics front AND back were about $120..crazy. We’ve also got a quote to replace the graphics on the back of the bigger boat is under $50…CRAZY. However, it’s still CRAZY to me that a 6 pack of the cheap beer is $7 and that a block of cheddar cheese (not the huge blocks) is $5. It’s funny what we eat now…lots of pasta and rice dishes, salads, chicken and fish…

So the FIRST bank was not a success at first attempt….neither has house hunting been. We have to find somewhere to live by October 31st. This house is a 3 month lease which allowed us to get down here and figure out some things. Last week…we found a house. Initially, it was my “dream house”…modern, fabulous kitchen, ocean view from the top floor, attached “apartment” for daughter to have her own space….then…

Then, after working some ideas out, going through the house twice and talking preliminary details..the owner called and said someone else was also interested. So we trekked back out  on Monday..renegotiated and signed the lease. Best part..it’s a lease with option to buy.  PROBLEM was..on this visit…it just didn’t feel right. I don’t know what it was, but when we walked in the house, it just wasn’t “right”.  The first time I walked in, I was  overwhelmed with the “this is it” feeling. This time…I had a weird…not good…feeling. Not sure why. Women understand that “gut” feeling. Anyway,  we signed the contract. The next morning, the guy called and rescinded. There you go. He was not happy that we didn’t want to include his car in the deal and didn’t want his moldy couches. For someone who is moving back to the States and in a lease/purchase contract…why do the couches make a difference? Well, go with the gut instinct…..it wasn’t the right house I guess.

So we continue…hopefully do not have to wait until the “3rd time’s a charm” cliche to kick in…I’d like it to be the next one.

I am loving learning Spanish and love the people here. Our gardener/pool man and I have become great buds and he is so gracious it’s amazing. The natives are really happy, friendly and giving. My daughter and I went to our first Costa Rican baby shower this week. Let me tell you…they go ALL OUT. It was at a restaurant in a private room…there were balloons, big decorations, tables to seat about 20, cake, cookies, a full meal served, a chocolate fountain, fresh fruit….and games. Those who know me well know that baby showers, wedding showers, and Tupperwear/Avon/Pampered Chef, etc parties are not my thing. We left before the event was over….and left 2 hours and 20 minutes after it began…. Incredible..have no idea when it ended.

I also met with our Costa Rican accountant. We had established 2 accountants: 1 for the hubby’s Costa Rican company and 1 for my USA company. My USA accountant was killed in a small plane crash on his way into town to meet with me and a few others. Very sad. No words.

The Costa Rican accountant meeting was a bit overwhelming.  I was FULLY prepared (remember a former banker) with my financials…had 3 P&Ls – 1 for the ENTIRE business including the holding company, 1 for the business operations in US Dollars and 1 for the business operations in Costa Rican colones. I had a payroll spreadsheet, balance sheet, etc. She offered me a job… LOL. One thing I found VERY interesting is that Costa Ricans get Christmas bonuses EVERY year. It is MANDATORY. It is based upon their annual salary divided by 12…yep…and it’s untaxed. They also, by law, are required to take their vacations a week at a time. All employees are entitled to 2 weeks vacation once they have worked for you for 50 weeks. The EMPLOYER lets the employee know when their allotted vacation time will be.  The “funniest” fact to me was that, if your employee has been working for you for a year or more, you have to give them a month’s notice when you FIRE them. Yep…unless you want to settle it with some kind of  severance payoff …you have to give a month’s notice. Severance is 19.5 days of pay if they’ve only worked for you a year…goes up with each year. Crazy…imagine these principles in the USA.

Some obvious differences of the week….it’s strange never seeing a mail truck; most of the school “buses” are just vans; the roads never cease to amaze me….most of them around here are dirt…with potholes and channels running threw them; I haven’t worn heels in AGES; currency…still working on my conversions; knowing what day it is…I never seem to know off of the top of my head; the “real temperature”…(Farenheit that is) everything is Celsius; cows and horses wandering through the streets; nature’s sounds; vehicles are primarily SUVs, 4×4’s, golf carts and motorcycles;  paying your vendors’ bills directly to their account at the bank; no movie theater or mall nearby; tip is included in your dining bill; it’s CHEAP to eat at restaurants compared to the States;  maid service is about $25/week (includes whole house cleaning and changing/washing of bedding and linens); watching sunsets on a regular basis…..

Life IS an adventure…it’s what you make of it. This is not a dress rehearsal….savor the moments, the people and the experiences…for the “first time” may not always be the charm, but sometimes it is all you get….

Things that go bump in the night and other bumps along the road….

As many of you may have heard, the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica experienced an earthquake last week. Yes..5.7 magnitude and happened between 1:30am and 2:00am in the morning.  I didn’t really “know” there was an earthquake until later that morning when I was told. However, I was awakened at that time out of a dead sleep….the kind of sleep where you wake up and realize you are drooling out of the side of your mouth..not the kind of sleep where you wake up looking like Joan Collins in Dynasty.

What I didn’t know when I moved down here (yes…there are things I didn’t/don’t know) is that Costa Rica sits near 3 big tectonic plates located near what is referred to as the Ring of Fire (Johnny Cash now playing in my head). The Ring of Fire is an area in the basin of the Pacific where a number of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur. Never even thought about that. However, I DID know that Costa Rica has over 60 volcanoes and I think 6 of them are currently active. (Remember, the country is only about the size of West Virginia.) So….I’m assuming there may be more bumps in the night to follow….maybe next time I won’t be drooling.

Major event this week was the arrival of our container. Yes..we shipped a few things from Virginia to Costa Rica. We battled over whether would ship anything at all,  what we would ship, who we would use, how we would do it.. such a grueling  and emotional process.  We obtained quotes from 3-4 companies. The container charges are based upon volume, weight, and..when it arrives in Costa Rica…taxes on the value. For the past 2 weeks we received a slew of emails between the carrier, logistics company, and freight forwarder…talking among themselves…all in Spanish. No word from “my guy”.  Not knowing when to expect arrival, I emailed the handler (not my guy as he had not responded to my previous email and it had been 5 days…) and asked when to expect my shipment. The next day, I receive an email it was coming THAT afternoon!

As the email said to expect the shipment around 3pm, we spent the morning looking at our “next place to live”. The lease on this home is only for 3 months so we need to be out by the end of October.  By 12:30pm we were in the grocery picking up food for an upcoming charter and my phone rings. “What?” OMG..it’s the container truck driver and I have no friggin clue what he is saying. “. Then, in a calm PANIC mode, I run around the store asking people who work in the store if they speak English (ingles).  Nope. I desperately run to the check-out counter and locate other (obvious?) expats, who FORTUNATELY are now bilingual, and ask them to please take my phone and tell me what the guy is saying. Well…he’s AT OUR HOUSE. Great. First…I wake up to find out they’re coming that day (and we needed cash for the driver to release the goods) AND they arrive 2 hours early without any English in their bag of goods.

So “bumps” happen. They ARE funny…after the fact. Funny how THOSE type of things are what are now defined as stressful.  There are certain types and amounts of stress needed in order to feel compelled, purposeful and useful. I’ve always thrived on certain stresses. But our move was fueled by the exhaustion of the stress of working in corporate America. Management expectations, re-directs, unfulfilled promises, pay cuts, healthcare increases, job eliminations, THOSE stresses make you weary and unhealthy. So many people close to us have experienced one or more of these in the past 12-24 months….

What about here?  That bank account we’ve tried to open for 3 weeks? “No go” with THAT bank yet.  They’re still creating additional questions and/or paperwork they need in order for us to get that account open. It’s a privately held bank.  However, our attorney recommended and assisted us with another bank and it was open in 2 days. Ridiculous.

Without going into the story…make sure you use your blinker/turn signal when traveling in Costa Rica.  People will pass you on either side, at any time, in any place, in any type of vehicle.  But for $100…it never happened….

Groceries are still a struggle for me. It’s the pricing. Some things are SO cheap…and some things are SO not. $7 for Peter Pan peanut butter. $4 for celery. $6-7 for broccoli, $5 for a tub of cream cheese…..these are all imported. BUT…$1 for a pineapple, $0.87 for a HUGE loaf of FRESH Italian roll/baguette, a pint of milk $.055….and fish is free. 🙂  The local farmers markets are the places to go for fresh fruits and veggies…and the produce is beautiful…just buy local.

As rainy season is May-November, we get rain most every afternoon. In the dry season (especially January-March), you may not see ANY rain. Since we have historically traveled to Costa Rica during the dry season, I was not expecting this level of humidity. However, when you don’t have to “do” your hair, put on make-up or wear permanent press clothes..it’s easier to tolerate.Ponytail hair is now a standard. It rains late afternoon or early evening for a few hours. Some of the storms are quite animated. My understanding is that come October, it may rain nonstop for days.

Something else I hadn’t thought of ..words of wisdom from my mother… the good thing about the humidity? “You won’t look as old with the humidity. It plumps your skin so your skin doesn’t look so wrinkled…” Again..something I had not thought about…which I think about daily now….

Horses and monkeys and cows oh my

To say things are different here would be stating the obvious. Different definitely does not mean “bad”. It simply means “different”.  OBVIOUSLY, the primary language is different and that…first and foremost..is the difference I deal with the most. I have been pretty pleased with myself in some situations. As I have to pay the invoices for our printing company at the bank, I have been able to walk in prepared and actually speak a bit to them.  Most of the tellers speak limited or no English. Our third trip to the bank to open our commercial account was a bit more fun. She used a translator on her computer and I guessed at the answers. The only negative? The account still isn’t open. It’s definitely been a PROCESS.

My most difficult language dealings are actually with the maid. She speaks NO English. We DO communicate…especially when she found a rather large scorpion in one of the sinks…but a lot of time I “gather” what she says and repeat back to her “Si….(and one of the words she used)”….and hope I did not just say “Yes…the.” or “Yes an”…or something like that. She apparently thinks I totally get it as she continues to speak to me at Frito Bandito pace. Between being thrown into the culture,  and utilizing Duolingo, Google translate and Rosetta Stone, I’m determined to learn this language. I’m afraid that part of my brain (the part ONLY used for learning another language AND which has been dormant for centuries) more than  likely resembles Stonehenge by now.

The other difference which I knew…but forgot to pay attention to…was how dates are illustrated here (and MANY other parts of the world). Not only is it 1 September (instead of September 1), the dates are written 1/9/2017 instead of our 9/1/2017. The USA is  in the minority by illustrating dates in the month/day/year format…starting to feel we’ve done everything ass-backward since we are NOT in the majority. Again, you become accustomed to and familiar with the fact that everyone does it differently when traveling and completing the paperwork for customs & immigration on the plane and other “forms”; however, I did NOT think of this when going through the grocery store looking for fresh dairy and meats. The first time or two at the store, I could not believe that everything was expired or soon to expire. I was just befuddled with why the shelf life seemed SO short and no one cared.  Well it’s NOT. Once again, my aging brain has to really look at these things sometimes for it to sink in. Old habits….

AND GUESS WHAT THEY HAVE AT THE GROCERY here? Remember the old S&H and Top Value stamps your mother, grandmother, or you used to collect? Well…guess what? I’m collecting stamps for pots and pans….no kidding.

Another difference here is the outside garbage bins. The garbage receptacle system here is wild. No plastic (which is good), but I cannot imagine America dotted with these wiry metal contraptions at the front of each house (picture below). I do like that there are no plastic containers blowing over into the road, but these are no less of an eyesore. They have wire tops you have to keep secured to prevent the “critters” from partaking in the leftovers.

One of my favorite differences is the gas station. I love that you can’t fill your own gas here. We’re not in Kansas anymore or New Jersey either. We don’t have to get out of the car….and they wash your window.  ALL gas stations are full serve and they ALL have the same price…it’s set by the government. No more driving 20 miles out of your way to save 2 cents a gallon….Just another part of paradise.

The biggest overall difference here are the people. Oh my goodness….everyone is so much more relaxed. The Ticos (natives) are genuinely the nicest, most generous and loving people. I’m not naive and conveying that every single person here is nice and honest…but, as a whole,  these people are GOOD people. Rich in culture, love, family and simplicity, they really want for nothing even though many of them have materialistically little. They hug you and kiss you. They invite you to family events when they hardly even know you. They call you to meet you to give you something they cooked. They say thank you, excuse me, please….and they smile. They don’t hate, carry weapons, fight, or even watch the news. They live in their world and take care of their families.

Tamarindo is a small town and everyone here is related to, married to, been married to, had a baby with, etc…someone else in this town. The people don’t speak poorly of each other and they are hard working. Even the Gringos here remind me of what it must have been like in California during the Woodstock era. Bohemian attire, laid back, uncomplicated, relaxed, and happy. It’s a breath of fresh air after listening to and watching the news back “home”. Costa Rica is evident that life doesn’t have to be so hateful, stressful and demanding.

What else is different here? The children…they sing, play and run. They play in the water, lay in the sand, climb the trees, surf, take walks and help their parents. They don’t get video games and don’t have access to many of the things we gave our own children. As a Gringo of 7 years here said to me yesterday…”kids here don’t know what instant gratification is.  You can’t get it instantly here even if you wanted to.”… apparently there is something to be said for that.

Yes, I am adapting well. Paradise and happiness has a different meaning to every person. Right now, my paradise is sunshine, dirt roads, wild monkeys, horses and cows, rain,

beautiful sunsets, beautiful people….and business is doing fine…more on that later.  P

Pura Vida!

 

 

 

 

Changing routines…

As we get older, we tend to get really comfortable in our routines…maybe even depend on them. If we typically have oatmeal for breakfast and run out.. it throws us off for the entire day. If friends or family come to visit, we become excited to see and host them. However, within a short period of time (sometimes just A day), we’re off our routine and almost cannot wait for them to leave.  When we were younger, many of us really enjoyed or even thrived on spontaneity and change. Change…something really difficult for some people to embrace…and it seems to worsen as we get older.

HOWEVER…I’m not OLD yet…and my ” old routine” is no more. Quitting my job, selling the new car, selling the house and packing up the stuff that’s left (of which I have very little after selling and giving away almost ALL of my “stuff” and of which MOST of it is still in a container on its way here….), and moving to a foreign country…..throws  routine to the wind. Routine is not a  BAD thing…but sometimes routine evolves into rut. When you’re in a rut…you need to get out. However, you can’t get out of your rut if you don’t even recognize or realize that you’re in one.

Instead of establishing new routines, at this point, we’ve just been trying to establish the business. Most of our time this week has been spent “setting up the requirements”. One day was spent traveling to the nearby town (city) of Liberia. to go to the Costa Rica “tributacion” which is their IRS. The office was located in a mall that never populated in Liberia. The door was guarded and you take a number and wait for someone to help you (lucky for us was immediate).

We attempted opening a commercial bank account, but did not have all of the documents needed to open.  The bank requires two documents the attorney had not supplied, the “IRS” number and a letter from our bank in the US confirming that we (he) had/has an account and was/is a satisfactory customer. (They supply no form, don’t care about balances or anything, it’s more of a character reference and it has to be signed, on letterhead, with a phone number included and some sort of stamp….a teller stamp was fine.) We haven’t opened this yet and should do so next week, but are still debating which bank to use.

Our first “real” bank experience was when we had to pay for our business cards. Many businesses (who are not retail) supply you an invoice by email along with their bank account information and you go straight to the bank, pay the invoice and then take the receipt of payment to the vendor. This was quite interesting as it was my first real look at a bank on the inside. ALL of the banks have a security guard at the door. Here, you also enter and take a number (VERY much like government and the US’s DMVs). There are two seating areas separating the customers based upon services needed. Chairs are lined up in rows…(again, very similar to the DMV) and you wait (apparently quietly) until your number is called (flashed on the screen). The atmosphere is very industrial and sterile with no decor. The employees are all uniformed. It is not unpleasant…just very utilitarian. VERY different for someone who spent 18+ years in banking in the US and much of it with community banks.

Our other business adventure this week was with our Costa Rican CPA. We have 2 CPA’s…one for the Costa Rica business and one for the US business (they work in the same office). Again, there are things we still need (filing our employees with the Costa Rican equivalent of Social Security, getting copies of the documents of liquidation of the employees with the previous owner, By-Law type documents, etc). Apparently, we will be filing our first “year-end” statements in Costa Rica effective Sept 30. Never thought that their tax year would be different from the U.S….never crossed my mind.

Also this week, we had happy hours to meet the families of our crew as well as the owners of the other charter businesses. The first meeting was with the crew and families and it was amazing. The Ticos (locals) are wonderful and good-hearted people. They are welcoming, simple and gracious. I was nervous about how we would be received by the “family” this business really is.  It was a beautiful evening and although some of the family members did not speak any English, the communication still flowed and there truly were no barriers. So refreshing to be in such a world after leaving a country displaying more hatred, jealousy and animosity than any nation should…much less a “sophisticated” one…

Our second meeting was with the local owners who have been here for quite a number of years. They are from the US, Canada and European countries and settled here years ago to live a simpler, happier life. They’ve raised their families here and are also welcoming, gracious and a wealth of great information for those of us newly arrived.

So my new routine is still a work in progress. Some things I have discarded from my previous routine include: No more HIGH heeled shoe collection, no more jackets, blouses, straight irons, foundation make-up….(I can be ready to go in 15 minutes or less)….and I LOVE IT.  Everything is different….except for the routine of walking the dog at least 3 times a day…but I DO keep changing the route….

These shoes were made for….

Well, I have done a LOT of walking. Moving into a country with no car…well, it’s the norm down here. You see, it costs a lot to ship ANYTHING here (yes, we DO have a container on its way) and you pay taxes when it comes into customs here. (Unless your sending documents only.) So…the tax structure works like this: If your vehicle is less than 3 years old, you pay 52.29% tax; 4 to 5 years old, you pay 63.91% tax; and over 5 years, you pay 79.03% tax. Now these tax amounts are based upon the value of the vehicle. WHO determines that value? Costa Rica customs of course. That being said, you could buy a $6,000 2010 SUV in the US and bring it here. Costa Rica will more than likely value that same vehicle at $9,000-10,000 (based upon market averages here) so, in essence, bringing that $6000 SUV will cost you $7,500 in taxes to bring into the country. Hmmm.. So, we decided to buy once we got here.

Most of the roads around Tamarindo are dirt. There is the main road into the town which is paved, and some of the newer developments are paved but, for the most part, you are look at dirt and rocks and potholes and conditions a typically “nice car” would not be suited. I have to admit, I LOVE walking anyway. Not necessarily the case for Prince Charming (a/k/a Knight in Shining Armor) and not practical at all for the business operation.  I have now trekked to town innumerable times; dark or light, rain or shine; humid, hot, whatever. Poor Charlie Brown (dog) has done so as well and continues to prefer to be with me vs without. (may be changing his name to Shadow soon)

The best supermarket (Auto Mercado) is a few miles away and we’ve journeyed there twice (only in rainy conditions) and taxied back home (the NEEDED ice cream would not make a walk back). The people in the grocery are VERY friendly, the food is fresh and it’s amazing how things like raw chicken here don’t have a smell. (I hate cooking chicken and don’t eat it, but I cook to please the others.) The stores are MUCH smaller, they DO have some of the stuff from the US (remember now those things are IMPORTED so they cost more) and you can get through the grocery REALLY quickly. Some things here are FASTER and some things are definitely SLOWER.

Speaking of faster…we closed on our business purchase Friday. That was a relatively QUICK experience. (other than my complaining to the attorney) The attorney we have been dealing with since February is in Italy so some poor soul was designated to work with us. AT CLOSING, we were informed that we could not use the name chosen for our holding company. (We chose the name of our holding company and completed the paperwork TWO MONTHS ago.) The attorney closing this transaction says “oh..we have a problem and cannot use the name you picked for your company”. WHAT? Hubby uses the words True Britt in his boating / fishing endeavors. The corporation was going to utilize that name. Problem is that there is a HUGE company in Costa Rica famous for coffees and chocolates named Cafe Britt and have secured the rights to use the word Britt for anyone and anything. Apparently this couldn’t be determined until sitting at closing…AND they picked another name for us… “but you can change it” (for a fee…which I will NOT pay when they fix this). Is this really a big deal since the operating entity’s name stays the same? Probably not…but I”m fighting for principle and professionalism… which is a fight i need to quickly dispose of if i’m going to survive here….( I DID ask someone for the Spanish word for Bitch.)

But the closing went quickly and we closed on the business AND the purchase of our vehicle in ONE meeting! Purchasing a car here requires an attorney. The attorney checks to make sure the title is clean and prepares a deed of sale. Monies are given straight to the attorney who releases the funds once the transfer deed is signed. But those two things are now complete.

Again, down here you realize there REALLY is no need to be in a hurry…I’m not late for a plane or an organ transplant doctor…so apparently there is no need to rush. But some things move very slowly….like often the service at a restaurant, getting the printing company to print your shirts, getting the management company to respond to maintenance calls, and the flies…. Yes, the flies are slower. Must be. I’ve killed 3 with my hand and a napkin….

**The picture of the macaws was taken by a fellow ex-pat in the Puntarenas area of Costa Rica named Dan Hazelton who is obviously a brilliant photographer.

Limbo

Yes, my life has been in limbo for 2 1/2 weeks now. MUCH has been done…but at times it feels as though we are just treading water. In the past few weeks/months, we have sold our vehicles, quit our jobs, sold our house, purged TONS of my personal belongings (50+ pairs of shoes, clothes, all of our furniture, much of my clothes, memorabilia, personal relics, etc), left my son and moved to another country. It IS quite daunting. At this point, that is now history and no longer overwhelming (except I miss my son dearly) and the emotional angst of throwing so much of my stuff away is just…DONE.  The adage “you can’t take it with you” isn’t so bad if you’re GONE. But watching it go and having to choose what goes and how much goes….I cried more during that week than I’ve cried over the past 10 years collectively.

So here we are in our own piece of paradise…and it IS paradise. Where I was wrong in assumption was that we were moving to the arid part of Costa Rica. Technically, it is. HOWEVER, we have moved in the midst of “rainy season” or “green season” which means it rains daily. It only rains from late afternoon/early evening (starts around 4-6pm) until evening (done in about 2 hours); BUT..the air is humid all day. It’s quite a different vista from what we experienced in our visits in Feburary and March. The foliage is lush green, tropical, rich in color and vibrant. In the “dry season”, it looks parched, dusty and much less colorful. So I am now appreciating the humidity in exchange for the beauty. Also…there is still a wonderful breeze especially along the coastline.

We are now a week in and still without a vehicle. This has been quite the experience for my husband. As a former “car guy”, he is dispositioned with finding a car for us to get around. Once he acquires a car (primarily for his use), I am hoping for a golf cart/ATV or the like for my needs (quite a difference from the 2017 BMW I got rid of in April preparing for this move).  It’s been (on the sideline) a bit entertaining watching him so engrossed in the local Facebook classified ads and searching Craigslist Costa Rica, etc. Usually I am the one searching for bargains for something (travel, tickets, etc) and he always wonders why I’m taking so long. Well…he’s about 4 days in now on all-day searching for a car. No comment.

Today we are headed out to figure out out to use cellular here. You don’t contract like the U.S. You purchase SIM cards and then go to local stores to load minutes/time on them. I understand the average person’s cost per month (individual use) is like $10/month. For business, it will run about $25 (due to amunt of usage).

The other adjustment so far is learning to be patient. Harder for the husband than for me and my daughter (Victoria). Waiting on replies is a bit comical. We’ve left a country whose employers typically require a call back “before day’s end” to a country that businesses “will get back to you”. I mean really….Rome wasn’t built in a day AND I’m not a transplant surgeon, so there is no rush…..I’ll go sit on the beach and wait.