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Monday, September 30, 2013

Fresh To Our Gate

A few minutes ago, I heard "beep, beep" at our gate. It was a fellow on a motorbike with a bin on the back. He was selling lettuce and fresh cilantro. He said it was organic. No way of really knowing but doesn't matter to me anyway.

The cilantro, two big bunches, have roots so I've put them in water until I can figure out what to do with them. Perhaps I can freeze or dry the leaves or even try potting the stalks.

I had lettuce on my grocery list so that is one item I can cross off. Saturday, the fish man will be by and I can get sea bass and prawns - small, medium or really large. I like this way of shopping!

Addendum: I neglected to include the price. It was 1,200 colones, or about $2.40 CAD. I don't know what this would cost in different parts of Canada. We like supporting local businesses and having food items delivered to our gate is a huge plus to us.


Saturday, September 28, 2013

Saturday Morning

My wireless keyboard is out for repair and I find it slow going using my iPad on-screen keyboard, so I made a little video the other day of the sights around our house as an easy way to do a blog entry today!



Friday, September 20, 2013


When we moved to Costa Rica from Canada, we brought our then 12 year old cat, Genny, with us. There was no question of not bringing her. When we take on the responsibility of a pet, it's for the life of the animal. We had her shipped professionally, using World Pet Travel. She travelled from Cloverdale, B.C., to Vancouver, B.C., where she overnighted. The next day, she took her first plane trip, travelling to Houston, Texas, where she overnighted again. The following day saw her arrive in Costa Rica, where she was met and delivered to her vet, Hospital Veterinarios Asociados in Santa Ana, for a week of boarding. World Pet Travel professional handlers dealt with Genny at every stop.

We picked her up a week later and we all spent a month at Finca Huetares in Atenas while looking for a more permanent place to live. When we found our current house, she settled in right away and even acquired some animal friends ... Barney the cat and Scruffy the dog.

We knew before coming to Costa Rica that Genny had renal disease, so she was on special renal diet food and we tried to keep her weight down. She had regular exams here, including blood work, x-rays and ultrasound on her kidneys.

On September 5, 2013, the disease finally took its toll. Genny's two years in Costa Rica were great for her. Because of the year 'round good weather, she was able to spend a lot of time outside and developed great lizard catching skills. She was more active then when we lived in British Columbia.

She loved walking up the hill to our mango and banana trees. She became adept at slipping through the front gate to explore forbidden territory. She took long, luxurious naps outside in the deep grass under the pergola covered with passion fruit vines.

We miss her a lot but we know she lived a long, happy life with us. Consider what her probable fate would have been if my husband, Lance, had not heard her mewing in our backyard 14 years ago. It appeared that she was tossed there and she was a very tiny kitten.

Genny - 2013

So, if you are considering moving to Costa Rica, please make every effort to bring your pets with you. We know one couple who arrived with their seven cats! If they can do it, so can you!

Barney and Scruffy - "Can Genny come out and play?"



Thursday, September 12, 2013

Think It Might Rain?

This is what the sky above our house looked like this afternoon - very dramatic clouds billowing and churning. Sure enough, the rain started just before 2:00 pm - normal for this time of year.



Monday, September 9, 2013

Feliz Dia de Niño

Today, September 9th, The Day of the Child is celebrated in Costa Rica. This celebration was initiated on July 12, 1946.

This holiday is for children and teenagers and there will be parties and gifts for them at their homes and schools. It's an important day because it marks the value of the development of a child in a society that provides them protection, respect and love.


Saturday, September 7, 2013

New Brand for Costa Rica

A new country logo for Costa Rica was released on Tuesday of this week, "Esencial Costa Rica" ("Essential Costa Rica" in English). The brand will be used to promote trade, investment and tourism.

I like the clean design. The green color represents Costa Rica's commitment to the environment and the flowing script represents the Pacific and Caribbean oceans on each side of Costa Rica and mountains in the middle. There are so many ads around using toucans, oxcarts, parrots, etc. This new design is a nice change for the senses. It is sophisticated.

There is also a new promotional video and you can view it here.


Monday, September 2, 2013

Banking in Atenas

This morning I went to Banco de Costa Rica to deposit our rent money to our landlady's account. First I draw out the amount in U.S. dollars from my bank in Canada. The reason for this is because, as pensionado residents, we are obligated to convert $12,000 U.S. to colones every year for three years in order to fulfill the requirements of living in Costa Rica as pensionados. After the third year, we can apply to become permanent residents and this requirement will cease. We see this as just the cost of living here for the first three years. We have to save the bank receipts to prove we have done the conversions. You can do it in one fell swoop, or over months, as long as you have converted $12,000 U.S. to colones at the end of a year.

We are now into our second year of conversions. It took a year to get our cedulas and that is when the requirement to convert starts.

So every time I withdraw money from my Canadian bank via the ATM, I do it in U.S. dollars, then convert to colones. Canada does not have an agreement with Costa Rica whereby Canadian pensions can be directly deposited to a Costa Rican bank, unlike other countries, the U.S.A. being one I believe. Some time before the end of our year (in our case August to July, August being when we received our cedulas) we usually reach the $12,000 mark and can stop doing the conversion - which saves me from embarrassment for a period of time.

The reason for the embarrassment is because I then have to turn around and convert the colones back into U.S. dollars because our landlady's account is a U.S. dollar account. The tellers shake their heads at me ... why would anyone do such a thing! I just shrug and agree that it is loco, but it's hard to explain why in my limited Spanish. Sometimes I do the transactions on two different days just to avoid this.

So everyone gets a piece of the action ...

In Canada, you have to stand in line to see a teller, sometimes a lengthy line. Here at the Banco de Costa Rica, you get a lettered and numbered ticket from a machine and then take a seat ... a seat! The letter on the ticket corresponds to how many transactions you want to do at one time. There is a special teller for the elderly and handicapped so they don't have to wait long. On two walls are screens showing the next number up and which teller to go to. It's a good way to learn some of the Spanish alphabet and numbers.

The bank door is manned by two guards and you won't get in without the magic wand sweep and a quick look into purses, backpacks, etc. I'm always polite and say thanks and now I receive "con mucho gusto" from them ("with much pleasure"). It took a while to get to that point, but now they recognize me.

Well, today the ticket machine was not functioning but that's no problem for the guards. They know exactly who gets the next vacant chair and we played musical chairs through three rows of chairs. When someone vacates a chair to go to the teller, everyone moves up a chair and if you are a bit slow to realize this, the guard is right there to ensure you move. It's very efficient. The elderly get preferential treatment. I'm not sure when they will decide I am at that point.

Oh yes - turn off your cellphones! The guards have the eyes and ears of eagles and will be at your side in seconds if your phone rings. Such a change from Canada where everyone is yak yakking on their phones and we are forced into listening to their inane conversations.

Sometimes it can be a lengthy wait for a teller, so bring a book. At least we are sitting, not standing. Usually I just sit there in peaceful contemplation, listening to the numbers being called, "M42, posición tres" (posición being the teller's number). Once, in this state, I realized what the big blue square post was in the middle of the bank, in front of the tellers' stations. I was able to read the Spanish signs. It is where everyone must go to in the event of an earthquake. I guess it is super stabilized to withstand one.

You may as well do that, because you won't get out the door without the guards letting you out!