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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Happy Anniversary!

Happy 6th anniversary to us! On this day - May 31, 2011 - we flew from San Francisco, to Dallas and then to Costa Rica. We arrived at 8:30 pm. A light rain was falling. Cleared Customs and Immigration. Shoved our six suitcases into a taxi and headed for San José, where we spent ten days before heading to Atenas. Our cat, Genny, had travelled ahead of us and was boarding at a vet office in Santa Ana until we were ready to collect her. It seems every expat I have met here remembers the exact date they arrived in Costa Rica.

Moving to a foreign country is a life changing experience - challenging, exciting and so worth doing. You will discover you have organizational and planning skills not previously experienced. You will learn to cope with a foreign language; different customs and laws and regulations; unusual fruits, vegetables and other food items; medical and banking systems; weather patterns; tropical insects and animals and so much more. Sometimes this will prove very frustrating but you learn to roll with the punches and relax - a good thing. Best of all, you will come to know the people of the country you have moved to.

And as each day, month, year passes you will have become a changed person. You will have grown in ways you would not have imagined. Expats come and go here all the time. Some return to their home country for various reasons, all valid, and others leave to try living in a different foreign country. Many stay on permanently, having decided Costa Rica is where they want to be. Some are "snow birds" - escaping their winter climate for a few months of tropical warmth and they return every year, like the migrating birds.

As I write this, it is  raining - much like the day when we arrived in 2011, during the green or rainy season. For us, making the decision to pull up roots and move to a foreign country sight unseen and with no knowledge of Spanish was a great adventure and one we have never regretted. Life is short. So, if you have a dream ... try hard to make it a reality. You may discover it was not really what you wanted after all - there is nothing wrong with that - but at least you will know. 

My high school and horse days friend, and friend to this day, Liz, used to send me a New York Times crossword puzzle calendar at Christmas - she knows I really like trying to complete them. We stopped the practice because of high duty charges in Costa Rica. Every day of the year I had a new puzzle to work on and they are challenging. Here is the puzzle I worked on during our flights down here. I kept it because it was such a momentous day. It's getting tattered but I will still keep it. Pura vida!


Monday, May 22, 2017

Cat Goes To The Vet

Last week, we took Cat to Dr. Solano for a general checkup and vacinations. As far as we know, he has never had vacinations. We know nothing of his history because he just appeared one day at our house over a year ago.He was unneutered so we had that done shortly after he appeared. It was our intention to find a permanent home for him but - hah! - of course he had other ideas. So, since it appears a cat now owns us we decided he needed a checkup.

Dr. Solano is an excellent vet here in Atenas. His telephone numbers are 2446-6646 and 2446-6068. He also has a cell phone: 8995-8585 and email: His office is located 100 meters east of the ICE office (ICE being the acryonm for Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad - the Costa Rican government run electricity and telecommunications services provider).

Cat (the name that has stuck) was very unhappy in the carrier and the short taxi ride but was a good boy while being examined by Dr. Solano and his assistants. This is a cat that is outside all day, hunting and lolling around in the grass/dirt so he had fleas and no doubt worms. He stays inside at night. He needs to lose some weight so we have him on a calorie reduced diet now. Dr. Solano said Cat is built larger then most Costa Rica cats.

The treatment Cat received was: deworming, flea treatment (Frontline Plus, I think, or similar), Felocell and Leukocell shots, and feces exam. The total cost, including the consultation, was 48,050 colones - about 96.00 USD. We also bought 1.5 kg of weight reduction kibble for 9850 colones (19.00 USD) and a product to spray on furniture to kill any fleas. Pet food in Costa Rica is pricy because it is imported.

Here is the dewormed and flealess version of Cat:


Monday, May 1, 2017

On The Buses

Last week, we rode a morning bus from Atenas to San José. We had breakfast at Soda Tapia, La Sabana, a diner from the 1950´s, that serves typical Costa Rican food for a good price. Every time we have been there, there have been lots of customers sitting inside and outside. The menu is a two sided piece of paper with all the menu items on it (in Spanish) and you check off what you want.

We both had the ham and cheese omlette which came with fried plantains and a couple of slices of toasted bread. We also each ordered a fruit drink made with mora (a species of blackberry). We always enjoy eating at Soda Tapia - the service is attentive and meals come quickly.

Later on, we took a taxi to the Coca Cola bus station. You have to specify which station you want so, for us, we tell the driver "Coca Cola para Atenas". There used to be a large Coca Cola plant here, long gone, but the name remains. We were quite early for the next Atenas bus but there was a bus to Orotina about ready to leave so we hopped on it. The Orotina bus makes a stop in Atenas - just tell the driver that's where you will be getting off because the fare will be less.

I made a video of part of our ride home to Atenas.