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Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

2011 - The Year of Our Big Adventure. This time next year, we will actually be in Costa Rica. It is amazing to sit here tonight, on December 31, 2010, in Cloverdale, B.C., and imagine typing similar words a year from now - only in a completely different country.

I went to the local storage company today and bought some foam wrap because I am going to start wrapping up the dishes, silverware, etc., that we are taking with us. Before I wrap them, I'll be taking photos for insurance and shipping purposes. I'm only bringing the good and/or old family things. The every day dishes, cutlery, pots and pans will be going to the charity stores.

This week, I dropped off another pile of good, useable things at Talize, I love looking through their vintage section as I'm always on the hunt for genuine Hawaiian clothing and they often have some. People on the west coast go to Hawaii, buy the tropical clothes, come back to the coast and realize it's not suitable for our climate. But it's suitable for someone like me moving to Costa Rica!

So, on this last night of 2010, I want to wish everyone who reads this blog a very happy and prosperous 2011 and don't lose sight of your dreams - whatever you want to do, you can.  

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Who Dunnit?

This has absolutely nothing to do with moving to Costa Rica, but it's good for a laugh. The three pictures below show what I found in our dining room when I came home today. My husband says he didn't do it, so that leaves our cat Genny (you can see her head in one of the photos) or the cat that is not ours, but moved in anyway.

Froggy was a gift from a good friend of mine a few Christmases ago - he keeps breaking his legs and this will be the third time he needs surgery. He spends the summers in the garden and comes indoors for the winter. Always has a smile on his froggy face and forever paddles through life on his lilypad.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

West Coast Christmas

It's only a week until Christmas! Not sure if we will get snow this year here in Cloverdale - most years we don't but there have been a few winters where we were digging out the laneway.

I'm feeding the wild birds with suet and black sunflower seeds and I don't cut back any bushes/plants in the fall that have seeds on them because the birds go for them also.

I found a couple of strings of lights that missed going to the fellow who bought our Christmas stuff. I phoned and left a message for him but didn't hear back, so a string of pretty blue lights are hanging in our dining room window. That is about it for Christmas decorations this year.

Stopped in this morning at West Coast Select, Canada's best selection of wild Pacific smoked salmon and seafood products. Their retail store (with wholesale prices) is located here in Cloverdale and it's the only place where I buy seafood. Drooled over huge stuffed clams, bought Pacific halibut cakes and two packages of lox for us, smoked salmon and tins of lobster, Pacific salmon and crab pate for friends. They also had big chunks of hot smoked tuna for sale ...... we are spoiled on the west coast.

So tonight's dinner will be the smoked salmon on crepes. Now, I need to look into restaurants serving Christmas dinner .....

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Costa Rican Furniture

Why drag your old used furniture down to Costa Rica when you can rent a furnished house OR go shopping here in San Jose:

All the corners of our 3 year old sofa and loveseat have been shredded by our cat Genny and her visiting feline neighbour friends. I think they leave messages for each other. The condition of our furniture is why we are not shipping it to Costa Rica but I wonder what we can do with it.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Orchids Go To New Home

My orchid collection left today - and they have gone to the perfect home. Jennifer took them all - she already has orchids - and a parrot - and a cat - and a dog. Her husband was quite cheerful about all these new additions although we heard a few mutterings about "hoarding". You can never have too many orchids.

Here's something rather amazing - an immature orchid I bought at a show about 5 or 6 years ago finally bloomed a couple of weeks ago so at last I got to see the result - it is spectacular.

It's a weight off my mind knowing my orquideas are right where they should be now.

Here is a photo of the Blc (brassiolaleocattleya - hope I have spelled that right) flower:

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

18 Days Until Christmas

Yes, just 18 days .... and we are going to look like the Grinch family on our street. I sold all our Christmas stuff last Friday - tree, stand, storage bag, indoor & outdoor lights, tree ornaments (kept just a few special ones), two wreaths made by me, table decorations, wrapping paper - everything. The great thing is that it all went to a young family - I hope they have fun going through everything. It is nice to think our memories will merge with their memories over the years. That's what Christmas is all about - memories.

And we get to look forward to creating new Christmas memories in Costa Rica.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Canadian Pensionados - According To Me

Here is how you get to Costa Rica as a pensionado, which is the way we are doing it. Other types of residency are rentista (earning residents), representante (company visa) and inversionista (investor resident).

Pensionado residency requires proof of US$1000 per month from a permanent pension source or retirement fund. Combined pensions from one individual qualifies but you cannot combine pensions from two people in order to meet the US$1000 a month.  This new income amount became effective in March of this year. You must remain in Costa Rica for at least 122 days per year. A pensionado can claim their spouse and children under 18 as dependents. You cannot work as an employee but you can own a company and receive income. You must exchange $1000 per month within a Costa Rican bank. This residency is renewable every year and you must enrol in the local government medical system. Also, a US$300 guarantee deposit per person is required for all types of residency. After three years of pensionado status, you may then apply for permanent residency if that is what you want.

So that part is pretty straightforward - you either meet the requirements or you don't. What confounded me initially was figuring what documents were required, the time line, and what to do with them. You want to work backward - when do you want to be entering Costa Rica?

You need the following documents:

1. Birth certificate - long form - required for applicant, spouse and all dependent children.

2. Marriage certificate (if spouse wishes residency). Proof of divorce is not needed.

3. Income certificate - Proof of pension of at least US$1000/month stating that it is for life and that it will be paid in Costa Rica.

4. Police certificate of conduct/record from your last place of residence. Required for applicant, spouse and any children age 18 to 25.  This document has a lifespan of only 6 months for the purposes of the pensionado application. Ours are going to expire before we get to Costa Rica so we are going to have to get new ones again. I was a bit too eager with this process in the beginning! You want to leave this document for the last.

The birth and marriage certificates cannot be the ones issued when you were born/married - more recent versions are required. You get them from the province in which you were born/married. The cost is reasonable and the service is fast. I did it all on line.

So I had all these documents in hand earlier this summer and went to see the Costa Rican Consulate in North Vancouver because I had it in mind we could do our application through him. Well, you can but I found out you will still need a lawyer in Costa Rica to deal with Immigration there so you may as well just take all your paperwork with you to Costa Rica, give it to your lawyer and he will look after everything....which is what we are doing now. Your documents will still need to be "consularized" by the Costa Rican Consul in the country where the documents were issued. So we will do that before leaving Canada. We will meet with our lawyer shortly after arrival in CR and he will take us by the hands and lead us through the process (including getting drivers' licences). So much easier than trying to do it all I don't speak the language! (yet).

I hope I haven't muddied the waters too much. When we started this process, there didn't seem to be any cut and dried instructions for Canadians written anywhere - it's been trial and error.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Oak Desks And The Things That Reside In them

We have this great big solid oak desk that my husband used in his office when he worked in downtown Vancouver. It is so large that it wouldn't fit up the stairs in the last place we lived it, a townhouse, so it languished in the garage for a year. In our current house, the living room is big enough that it fits perfectly in a corner and has become my desk. It's so big that I have two wicker file baskets on the top and each one holds a napping cat - "In" and "Out" (the "Out" basket holds the cat that doesn't belong to us). The desk was made in California and is a real beauty. It's a two pedestal model, with three pull out shelves to pile files on. One of those shelves is for "my secretary" to rest her steno pad on and take down all my rambling thoughts and later transcribe them.

I made my living that way for many years - hard to believe I once knew Pitman shorthand. Anyway, I digress - the desk is now for sale. So today I was sitting at my desk, and hubby was standing next to it with drink in hand and helping me go through the drawers and get rid of stuff so we can put this wooden baby up for sale. His "help" consisted of saying "throw it out, throw it out" and my part was to jump up and down and throw the items either in the trash bin, the recycling bin, or else the piles going to friends or the charity shops. He doesn't know about my secret pile - the little bits I'm hiding away to take with us to Costa Rica.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Genny Update

Looks like Genny will be good to go next spring. Her tests showed the infection had reached her kidneys and caused a bit of damage there. It appears the infection is on it's way out and she is scheduled for another ultrasound in a month.

Her belly was shaved so she's not fond of going out in the wet grass right now. She's an indoor kitty but does like to explore the garden on nice days. It was sort of funny when she got home last week after her tests. The sedatives had caused her pupils to expand so she looked exceptionally bright but couldn't see very well - she kept missing her food in her bowl.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

I Can't Wait to See the Birds

I've started following this Costa Rican blog: A couple and their teenager moved to Costa Rica a few years ago and this is the story of their life there. They are bird watchers and post videos of the birds at their feeders.....and they ain't sparrows. Toucans! they get toucans! They put out 50 bananas in their feeder and they were gone in an hour. Buying 50 bananas here would cost a fortune.

Other acquaintances of ours who live at one of the Pacific coast beach areas commented on how loud the howler monkeys were this morning.

I ask you - isn't this all so exciting?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

An Interesting Link

Here's an interesting web site on Costa Rica - There is a good article on the diverse weather one will encounter, depending on where one lives.

Canada's Foreign Minister has offered military aid to Costa Rica to help in the removal of the Nicaraguan military Isla Calero.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Just Slogging Along and Downsizing

The more stuff I take to the various charity shops, the more stuff I seem to find in the house. All our Christmas items are on Craigs List and I've had a few calls but no buyers. It's a real deal: $100 will get you a 6 foot tree with stand and carrying bag, tree and outdoor LED lights, ornaments for the tree that are really nice, a bag of wrapping paper and gift bags, and assorted decorations for table tops. One of my favorites is a fabric white swan with a wreath around his neck.

Genny the cat has been spending inordinate amounts of time at her vet. Routine blood tests before her dental cleaning showed a UT infection and blood in her urine. Antibiotics have cleared up the infection but the blood remains. This coming Friday she is booked for ultrasound and x-rays on bladder and kidneys to find out what might be going on. Could be a stone and that can be removed, but kidney problems are more difficult to treat. She is ten years old now and hardly sick a day in her life.

I spend a lot of time reading Costa Rican blogs and have started reading A.M. Costa Rica, an English language on-line newspaper. Their rainy season this year has been so bad. It should be ending soon, everyone hopes.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

We were confused ....

... but now I think we are not, maybe, I hope. Regarding our pensionado documentation, I originally thought we would have all our paperwork done by the Costa Rican Consulate in North Vancouver. But, part of that paperwork required that we have a lawyer in Costa Rica to advise us. So we now have our CR lawyer and he has looked over all our documents and pronounced them to be okay and advises us that all we have to do now is have them certified by the Consulate in N. Vcr. and then send the certified documents to him and he will deal with Immigration in CR. When we arrive there sometime in May, our lawyer will take us around and about to be fingerprinted, get driver's licenses, etc.

As marido pointed out twice today, WE ONLY HAVE SIX MONTHS!!!!!!  Yes, that is so.  Well, this last week I've found a lovely woman to take all my orchids - I cannot bring them with us because of agricultural restrictions - so that is a step forward. Next step: putting our furniture on CraigsList.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Good Website and More Spanish Lessons

Here is a really good website to check out if you are considering moving to Costa Rica: You will meet Fran and Andy Browne, who moved from the U.S. to Costa Rica almost two years ago. They have chronicled their experiences on video and through their newsletter. We've learned a lot from them - they tell it "like it is" and don't pull any punches. Every time I read their latest newsletter, I wish we were already down there.

We have two basic Spanish lessons under our respective belts - six more to go. A good friend gave me a complete set of Spanish language CD's and they are a great help in hearing how words are to be pronounced because I have the earphones in my ears. One problem I have in the classroom is hearing properly - obviously a distinct disadvantage when trying to learn a new language.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Me Llamo Diana y tu?

Went to our first Spanish Level 1 lesson last week and it was interesting and fun. Our maestra is a young mujer from Mexico. We learned some useful vocabulary words, masculine and feminine singular and plural definite articles, some indefinite articles, basic phrases (Hola! Como estas?) and learned the pronunciation of the Spanish alphabet (el alfabeto). We also practiced speaking with each other but, wow, is it difficult to translate what you are hearing and then formulate an answer - and we are talking about simple stuff here. Seven more weeks to go.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Marido (husband) Cleans Up His Stuff

Hubby was in the mood today to clean up some of his old things which meant dragging them out from wherever they were and depositing them in front of me. Said, "Here, you look after these."

Well, they are mementos of his Air Force days, and a few other things, so I'll keep them. As long as the cherished items are small and can lie flat in a suitcase or not take up much space in a small shipping container, they can come with us.

And so I have decreed.

How to Dispose of Books

We certainly don't want our cherished books to end up in the landfill but when you have boxes of them, what can you do? I discovered Reading Tree Books for Charity - - where unwanted books will be given to schools, libraries and children all over the globe. Where we live, there are lots of bins to deposit the books in.

And that is what we did this morning - the first of several trips we'll be making. Poor marido (husband), he was making a valiant effort to toss his university math books in the bin but keep opening the pages and showing me charts and numbers and high level math stuff but a stern look from me put an end to that.

A good job done today and we can feel the bonds of possessions (that have been sitting in the garage for years) slipping from our shoulders.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Garage Sale

The Weather Gods shone down upon us yesterday (Saturday, September 25) and we went ahead and held our first ever garage sale. At this time of year in the Pacific Northwest, you don't want to plan too far ahead for sunny weekends as, likely as not, it will be pouring rain. It was a perfect day - sunny and warm.

I'm pretty sure I'll never hold another garage sale - it's a lot of work. On the other hand, quite a few things went away with new owners and we made a few bucks. The main goal for me was to get rid of our things without abusing our local landfill - I'm a big fan of reuse and recycle - and, of course, lighten our load on the road to Costa Rica. The things that are left I will be hauling to the different charity outlets over the next few weeks. When you see your stuff laid out like that, it hits home just how many things have been accumulated and so much of it we hardly use. I cannot remember the last time I made lasagne and, yet, I have a big lasagne pan.

Enjoy the photos - I hope I can post them in an orderly manner. Actually, I hope I can just post them.

Where is everyone?

Desperate times

Like anyone will take this away willingly.

Me and my moola

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Sticker Shock

I'm having a lot of fun going around the house pasting bright green stickers on stuff, then writing a price on the stickers. Target date for my garage sale is Saturday, September 25. I've never held a garage sale before so this will be an interesting exercise. What if everything sells and we are left with the bare minimum for the next six months? I think that will not be much of a hardship - how many times was the "Delux Drinkmaster" used anyway? We North Americans have too much stuff.

Sold To the First Caller

Sold my 20 ton wood drafting table today - it is on its way to Sechelt, B.C., on the Sunshine Coast. Well, okay, it doesn't really weigh 20 tons but it certainly is a solid piece of furniture. It is going to a lady who paints watercolors so I hope she enjoys it as much as I did - the large six foot long tabletop was just grand for laying out canvas, paper, etc.  Oh yes, have I mentioned I am a painter of cattle and racehorses - see here:

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Kitty Packs Her Bags

Yesterday, I hauled our two huge pieces of luggage out of the garage and into the house, with the intention of cleaning the cobwebs off them and storing them in the storage area under the stairs.

I bought this luggage back when one could haul tons of luggage on a plane and when I used to pack all my  clothes and shoes for a ten day trip to Ottawa. Those days are over but they will be perfect for our move to Costa Rica.

Genny agrees with me too - here she is examining them and wondering if there is room for her. There will be room for her, of course, but in her airline approved carrier - something else I will be looking into during the coming months.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


What does one do on a rainy Sunday afternoon on the West Coast? Shred their old papers, of course. This is actually a necessary chore to get done before moving and why I did not do it years ago, I do not know. I got right into the rhythm of it - shredder on the left, old documents in front of me, really huge clear plastic bag on my right and a glass of wine within easy reach.

When the shredded documents filled up the container, into the plastic bag they went. I'm assuming this can go out with the recyclables on garbage day. What was rather shocking to me was that I have kept ALL my pay stubs from the day I started working. They spanned historical eras. All these years, and all our moves, they have travelled along with me. It's ridiculous.

So I'm almost finished shredding. Just a few more years of income tax forms to go through - we are required to retain receipts for the previous seven years.  It's really a relief to get rid of stuff like this - I think this move to Costa Rica will be our lightest move winter clothes to bring!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Labor Day Weekend

What to do on this long weekend? Labor! I have my old, wood drafting table on Craigs List and a couple of people have expressed interest. So I spent what seemed like too much time dismantling it, carrying it down from my studio on the second floor, then putting it together again and storing in the garage. I can paint anywhere so can get along without a table for the next few months.

We now have a lawyer in San Jose to deal with Immigration for us, give us advice, and move our paperwork along. He was recommended to us by an American couple who moved to Costa Rica a couple of years ago.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

So What Do You Do With All Your Junk?

Ya have a garage sale, that's what! I spent a couple of hours today rooting through all the stuff we had stored in the garage and hadn't looked at in lo these many years....and judging from the scurrying spiders, the garage had not been cleaned either. It's actually a load off the shoulders to get rid of "things" - no more dragging them around, packing them up for another move, putting them in yet another storage spot and then never using or looking at them again.

We have a pile to take to the dump in Delta, a big pile for a garage sale, a small stack to go into storage and  some gardening items set aside for a friend. We are being ruthless this time. The only new things I will be buying between now and when we leave are a set of good bed linens to take with us, as apparently quality linens are hard to find in CR or so I've read. They won't take up much luggage space if I don't open the packages.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

clases de espanol

Yes! I'm signing us up for Spanish Level 1 starting early October session a week for 8 weeks, an hour and a half each lesson. We'll learn basic conversational Spanish to help us communicate and find our way on our travels.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Not A Lot is New .....

It's been so hot here recently that I've been in brain relax mode so didn't get much done in the way of moving ourselves closer to Latin America ....yes, I know, it's not really that hot compared to other areas of Canada in the summer and we don't get the humidity so what am I complaining about. Today, however, the weather is normal again so I'm much more alert. I have sent an email off to ARCR (Assn. of Residents of Costa Rica - we're members) to request a list of attorneys that they recommend as we need a representative in San Jose to deal with Immigration for us.

Here is another good site to have a look at: I've learned so much about CR from this site - the good and the not so good....just like any other place on this planet.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A Big Step Forward

Things are moving along! We met with the Costa Rican Consul in N. Vancouver this morning. He reviewed all our paperwork, said I had done a good job, and sent us away with just a couple of changes/additions to make. I should be able to have those finished and ready to go back to him within a couple of weeks, if not less.

I think by this time next year, we will be sitting on our patio cubierto in the Central Valley, enjoying a beber con sabor a fruta, wondering whether to take another dip in the pool and practicing our Spanish. Getting this paperwork done and out of our hands is a big step forward.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

August 7, 2010

Still waiting for that last piece of paperwork ..... hurry up, c'mon, get here ...

For those of you contemplating a move to Costa Rica, I strongly urge you to join the Association of Residents of Costa Rica (ARCR) They also have a forum site that is free to join. Membership in ARCR is a mere U.S. $100 per year for a couple. They are a non-profit association serving foreign residents in Costa Rica and people abroad who want to become residents of CR. They can help with legal, moving, language and cultural issues. As an ARCR member, you can take advantage of a large range of bilingual services and benefits.

I have lots of useful links and will post them as this blog moves along.

Monday, August 2, 2010

August 2, 2010

Okay - I think April or May, 2011, will be the realistic dates of our move to Costa Rica! So ignore January, 2011.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

August 1, 2010

We made an executive decision today - January, 2011, will be the month we go to Costa Rica. So now I'm writing a large do-to list: look into Etsy to see if that is a viable place to sell some paintings because that would be better than putting them in storage; hold a garage sale in September; try to find out who owns the little tabby cat that moved in with us uninvited about a year ago (she has a tattoo); list some more stuff on Craigslist; etc., etc., etc.

Well, I'm tired thinking of it all.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

July 31, 2010

We have almost all the required paperwork in hand to start the process of moving to Costa Rica as pensionados. Just waiting for one letter from my pension people and then we can go to the Costa Rican Consulate in N. Vancouver, dump everything in his lap and hope it all works out.

I'd like to be doing that by late next week. We shall see if the "theory of manana" applies.