Monday, December 29, 2008

Conversion/Exchange Rate in Costa Rica

Well, to be honest, don't really want to write about any serious topics- it being the end of the year and all. I think I'd like to keep it 'light'.

Here's a video DAngelo and myself made for people who want to visit Costa Rica and aren't really sure of the 'money' system here (conversion/exchange rate etc). Actually, the Video was made for our other site the Costa Rica Travel Channel where there are literally hundreds of videos pertaining to Costa Rica. We're kind of like the YouTube of Costa Rica. D'Angelo and I make a lot of Travel Tip Videos for people interested in visiting Costa Rica and they can be found on the Costa Rica Travel Channel as well.

Here's our Video about Costa Rica money:



You can find all kinds of information on Costa Rica if you go to the Travel Costa Rica NOW website

Friday, December 26, 2008

Manuel Antonio National Park Costa Rica


What trip to Manuel Antonio Costa Rica would be complete without a trip to the Manuel Antonio National Park?

You’re right, it wouldn’t.

Manuel Antonio National Park is actually one of the smallest in Costa Rica, but IS one of the most visited. So much so, they limit the amount of guests per day, (currently 600). So, think about arriving early, plus, early provides a better chance of viewing wildlife, since many animals tend to be more active earlier rather than later.

You WILL see a sloth(s). You will see white-faced capuchin monkeys, howlers, and squirrel monkeys, although the latter will be a little more difficult. You’ll see the colorful crabs, not by the beach, but on the main pathway, kudamundies (raccoon family), iguanas, plus the beaches in the park are FAR superior to the main beach in Manuel Antonio, meaning, more animals, more scenic, and less crowded - always a good thing.

Bring those cameras; you will rarely get this close to white-faced capuchin monkeys that aren’t behind bars. Unfortunately, they’re fairly comfortable around humans, but boy does it offer a great chance at the perfect pic or video.

Here’s our take on Manuel Antonio National Park:



Wanna know about Gay Manuel Antonio?

Want to see hundreds of videos about ANYTHING Costa Rica? Go to the Costa Rica Travel Channel and for tons of information about traveling to Costa Rica, check out Travel Costa Rica Now

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

La Fortuna Costa Rica pt 2

SWEET!
Just heard they put a moratorium on the building of hotels in La Fortuna Costa Rica for the next 10 years. I’m not sure how accurate this information is, but right now, I believe it to be fairly accurate.

And was it EVER needed, so its just GOTTA BE TRUE.

La Fortuna has pretty much lost its, ‘quaint little town’ status- it started about 3 years ago. I mentioned in a previous post they had the ‘Field of Dreams’ mentality here. Remember the James Earl Jones line- “If you build it, they will come.” OH they built it all right, and just kept on building, and Building, AND BUILDING- and quickly discovered that James was full of shit or maybe the Costa Rican banks just hadn’t seen the movie, whatever. If James would have appeared as Darth Vader, I think it would have been more obvious.

I don’t care what the reasoning is- this needed to happen. It should be noted; this didn’t become a problem because of the recent economic downturn in the States. This was a problem as soon as Mr. Earl Jones opened his mouth. This tiny little town just can’t fill that many rooms- thousands, it’s insane.

Now, if we could just get rid of the fast-food franchises, we just may have a chance.

Okay, La Fortuna has a few too many hotel rooms, I still love it here. Here’s a Video to show why we like La Fortuna Costa Rica and are proud to call it HOME.



HEY EVERYONE! If you haven't had the chance, you really should CHECK OUT the hundreds of VIDEOS about Costa Rica at the Costa Rica Travel Channel and the TONS of INFO about Costa Rica at Travel Costa Rica NOW Enjoy and if you have your OWN video about Costa Rica, then by all means.....

Sunday, December 21, 2008

They're HOT in La Fortuna Costa Rica


If you live in Costa Rica, you already know they LOVE their boxes. Just about any food or drink product here has the potential to come in one of these 8” x 4” (approximate) boxes- wines, milk, every juice imaginable and a thousand other things.

We were at the annual Travel Expo in San José last year, but hanging out in the ‘Verde’ section, which is a part of the Expo set aside for everything and anything organic, self-sustainable, ‘Green’ and/or Eco-friendly. Needless to say- our kind of section- as our ‘Green-NessNess’ is well documented.

We came across something very ‘generic’ but simple and cool. We want to share.

Martha Stewart has nothing to worry about.

Check-out this whole new way to ‘Think outside the Box.’




Hundreds of Videos on Costa Rica at the Costa Rica Travel Channel And if you're looking for INFO on Costa Rica, Check out: Travel Costa Rica NOW, and as always, ENjOy!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Costa Rican Culture Shock


I realize what I’m about to say will ‘unfortunately’ resonate with some, while others won't have the foggiest...

Anyways…

A certain degree of Culture Shock is a fact of life when moving to another country and should be expected. Relocating can often be a difficult transition and some people are better prepared than others. I understood, and was prepared for the reality of relocating, or so I thought. Unfortunately for me, somewhere in the vast expanses of my brain; I wasn't relocating- I was about to be drinking never-ending Margaritas, watching sunsets, and having lurid sex on the beach. My brain frequently gets a 'little' over dramatic, but you get the picture.

Honestly, when we (D’Angelo) first moved to Costa Rica, the reality of the relocation hadn’t really set in. It felt more like the beginnings of one long-ass vacation. You realize you made the ultimate move- but everything around you 'Screams' vacation, which in the beginning, wreaks havoc on your common sense. Older and wiser expats say this is a normal feeling.

*BTW- San José doesn’t count. San José is ‘ANY’ city, ‘ANY’ where. Moving there is like re-locating to Detroit, except I’ll be damned, in San José they speak a little more Spanish.

Naturally we went about the business of beginning ‘our’ new life. Moving in, finding the best places to shop, setting up bank accounts, phone lines, internet service etc. Those things can be exhausting……

….but nothing a frosty beverage wouldn’t cure. It didn’t take long to find a local hang-out, where other expats and tourists alike yap about the day. Before I realize it, we’re 5 beers in; discussing politics (gringos love conspiracy theories), living the simple life, and the pros and cons of Costa Rica in general. Impressed tourists will ask a ton of questions, and of course buy a couple shots for providing ‘inside’ information on the best place to spot the Resplendent Quetzal. Then, “Hey, it’s dinner time, you guys want to join us?” I say this in jest, but who are we to deny the chance of having dinner with a ‘real-to- life’ expats. Personally, it’s nice not to go home and heat up left over beans and rice for the third night in a row.

And so it begins- beers at ‘Gringo Petes,’ margaritas at the ‘Screaming Monkey,’ tequila shots at the ‘Drunk Iguana,’- if you know where you’re drinking, you know the day of the week. Of course local gringos always have their local hangout, and in all actuality, it doesn’t have to be a hotspot- cold beer (without the gringo pricing) and English conversation are the only prerequisites.

It’s all so exciting and new, plus, you wouldn’t want to miss anything by actually working in the afternoon, for a gringo in Costa Rica- that’s almost sacrilegious.

Personally, I like the fact that faces are forever changing in the bar, each one doe-eyed and impressed you actually had the ‘balls’ to make the move- a very nice shot of self esteem I must say (a false sense, but nice nonetheless). Sure you have the regular gringos, but you can tell the same story to a different tourist every day, and it’s always appreciated. Hell, Harry and Martha from Kansas, six beers in, are chatting away, inquiring about land for sale around Lake Arenal. FYI- the thought of selling land is an expats wet dream, since even a recommendation can net some serious cash- while drinking no less. I don’t do this, just say’in.

Overnight, one day blends into the next; Monday is suddenly Wednesday, which quickly segues into Friday. Of course Saturday is a party night. And don’t waste Sunday- as it’s back to work on Monday. Lunch has become a 3-hour affair, and why leave, it’s almost dinner time, and after that, it’s too late to do anything productive anyway.
You’ll speak your best Spanish when you’re able to slur, “Uno más por favor.”

The problem is - in Costa Rica, at any given time, there’s always a ‘reason’ to have a frosty beverage. Reasons to drink are as diverse as Costa Rica itself: a new friend, a new conversation, a social gathering of resident gringos, a meeting, the numerous holidays, the humidity, the second Tuesday of the month, a birthday or anniversary, someone is leaving back to the states, someone returned from the states, it’s raining, it’s sunny, surfs up, surfs down, the monkeys are out…………what day is this? Every day is Saturday? When did that happen?

I think most, including me, know that the vacation MUST end. I also know that some never wake up, and to be honest, I’m still shaking the cobwebs off.

It’s noon right now and the gringos are beginning to belly up to the bar- jockeying for ‘their’ stool. At this moment, Walt is telling Jim ‘the tourist’ he knows where he can purchase a really nice ‘lot’ for dirt cheap. Jim ‘the tourist’ will ask Walt which tequila he prefers; after all, they’re on vacation aren’t they?

Sharks, Cocos Islands, animals galore, vacation and music videos, educational, informative, adventure etc. We have all the videos you WANT to see at the Costa Rica Travel Channel and loads of information about Costa Rica at Travel Costa Rica Now EnJoY!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Look MOM no HEAD


Per your request mom- No head.

So, I told my mom about my pic (a couple posts down). I was pretty happy with it- about 10 minutes from 49-years old, and except for the background and a really miss-placed, mutant ZIT- NO photoshop. And it’s not like I take pictures of myself- it’s been quite awhile, so I told my mom to check out this blog. I’m fairly certain she’s not a fan of the blog itself (and I would never ask), so I’m thinking she would have never seen it. So I told her.

My mom's the type, IF you ask; she’s going to tell you. Hell, she even gives a second chance to spare yourself- “Do you REALLY want to know what I think?” It should be noted- there is NO ill will, malice, or mean-spiritedness in her opinion- she’s actually very NICE when she tells you to go f*** yourself….j/k mom.

This is what she said:

Hi honey, Just a quick reply. I liked 3/4 of the picture, but from the neck up I did not like. That handsome face looks drawn and far too thin. The cheeks look sunken in. You need more meat on that good lookin face. Just a mothers point of view. The rest of the picture looks perfect. Are you eating? I think you need to gain a little weight. love ya much, momxxxooo

See? She's not mean, and the more I look at the picture, the more she's right, although, she did hammer a bit with, "Are you eating? I think you need to gain a little weight," But, she definitely has me thinking, "Sure, I'll take another slice."

Funny thing, this isn't me on a diet- this is regular me,,,so if she's telling me I look like 'Skeletor", well then, 'Skeletor' it is. Oh well!

Nothing like a mother to keep one's self-esteem in check, however fragile it may be. Don't fret, it's not that fragile, just sayin.

Hundreds of video about Costa Rica at the Costa Rica Travel Channel along with tons of information about Costa Rica at Travel Costa Rica NOW

Thursday, December 11, 2008

BLUE ZONE Bandwagon


Have you heard about these so-called, ‘Blue Zones?’ The story has been making the rounds on Oprah, Anderson Cooper, The Today Show etc. but just in case you haven’t, a brief definition from the WIKI people:

Blue Zones is a project that studies the regions of the world where people commonly live active lives past the age of 100 years. Scientists and demographers have classified these longevity hot-spots by their inhabitant’s uncanny ability to live longer, on average, than anyone else in the world.

The hub-bub here, is that the Nicoya Peninsula has been added to this very exclusive, albeit short list of Blue Zone locations; joining the likes of Sardinia, Italy, Okinawa, Japan, Loma Linda California and a few others.
The old people, sorry, the centenarians inhabiting Blue Zones share common lifestyle characteristics that contribute to their longevity.

Let’s see what the researchers say:

• Family comes FIRST
• Centenarians don’t typically smoke.
• Plant-Based Diet, in other words, fruits and veggies, not so much meat.
• Constant Moderate Physical Activity – Moderate physical activity is an inseparable part of life.
• Social Engagement – People of all ages are socially active and integrated into their communities.
• Legumes, such as peas, beans, lentils, lupins, and peanuts are routinely consumed.
• Having a ‘purpose’ in life, but also a good attitude about aging.
• And of course 2 glasses of red wine……seriously.

I swear I’m not a party-pooper. And as far as Costa Rica goes, I consider the entire country a Blue Zone, hell, their 'over-all' way of living is one of the reasons I live here- Pura Vida is for REAL and I feel privileged to be a part of it. That said….
.
….. are you fuckin kidding me? Did we not know this? Are you telling me we need ‘research’ to explain that a positive outlook, sense of purpose, healthy diet and exercise, social interaction and two glasses of red wine may increase our odds of living longer. *I’ve done a little of my own research, you may substitute Cacique for the 2 glasses of red wine.

Sorry, but I’m taking this a bit further.

I’d be willing to bet that the centenarians who live in these Blue Zones haven’t strayed more than 200 miles from home their entire life. The simple life is a WAY of life, but if you ask me, it’s still ‘extreme’ in its own way. Their life is simple and their thoughts are simple. And although we can learn something, and should, I KNOW they haven’t had half the life experiences I have. They’re content in their tiny ‘Blue Zone’ world and there’s nothing wrong with that; if it gets them to 100+, then GREAT. BUT, I’ll take 80 any day of the week for MY life. I prefer my ‘simple’ with a dose of ‘complexity’. I need to travel, contemplate new business ventures, party my ass off, experience things outside the box, keep an eye on the political system, change my mind often- and every other thing I can’t think of right now.

Simple IS, as simple DOES, and for my tastes- a little to ‘confining.’

Screw 100.

Go ahead; pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about.

Pass the peas.

As always, view hundreds of video about Costa Rica Travel Channel and for all your Costa Rica Information- Travel Costa Rica Now

Monday, December 8, 2008

Gay Manuel Antonio


This entry is gay themed, literally, not figuratively.

Since I'm about the only person that sees this BLOG, I decided to post a pic of myself to represent this article; after all, I fit the criteria- I'm gay, and I've been to Manuel Antonio.

*Visit my GAY BLOG for EVERYTHING GAY in Costa Rica.

We knew when we decided to move to Costa Rica that it wasn’t the most ‘gay friendly’ country out there. That said, for Latin America, it’s not too bad. And really, since we confine most of our ‘gayness’ as it were, to the bedroom, the country’s view of ‘gay’ is irrelevant to us. (Although we do feel a great deal of empathy for young gay Ticos dealing with this issue, as the attitude is about the same here as it was in the States in the 1950’s and ‘60’s- read that as SIN). But we act about as ‘gay’ as straights act straight (whatever the hell that all means), so again, for us, irrelevant. Although I must say, it would be nice to hold hands and maybe engage in some light making out from time to time, no more or less than any other couple may do (after a few beers…hehe).

So, Manuel Antonio is like going home. Besides parts of San José, Manuel Antonio is the most gay friendly place in Costa Rica. We like to go there because it is nice to hang out with other gay people (duh!), it keeps things in perspective- you know- birds of a feather. In other words, there, you can stroll down the beach holding hands and feel a bit more comfortable doing so. And of course a trip to Manuel Antonio wouldn’t be complete without a stroll to the ‘gay’ section of beach, called La Playita (Little Beach), to check out the guys. And not only gay, but you can get butt-ass naked, well, at least you used to be able too. Last time we were there- nudity was more the ‘rule’ than the ‘exception’. Although nude sun bathing is illegal in Costa Rica, men had been getting naked there for years (whoo hoo!)…and that’s what we were hoping to see…. since everyone knows, ‘All the cute ones are GAY!’ Things have changed a bit.

A new hotel in proximity to the La Playita, as expected, is not amused by a bunch of fags frolicking naked in front of their guests. The police are now enforcing the ‘no nude sun bathing’ law, that is, when they make it to the beach. So now if you decide to get naked, you do so at your own risk. From what we saw, a few guys will still get naked to go in the water, but aren’t really ‘hanging out’ on the beach in the buff (pun intended). I’m sure the police come around every so often to make the hotel happy, but like most of Costa Rican laws, the bark if often worse than the bite. But, have your passport handy just in case, because if they catch you naked or engaging in ‘homosexual activity’ things can go south in a hurry, and NOT in a good way.

We got our dose of gay Manuel Antonio, which should hold us over for awhile, and got some videotaping done as well.

Meanwhile, back on our home turf of La Fortuna I realized there’s little difference between ‘gay’ Manuel Antonio and La Fortuna- really it’s just the beach, as La Fortuna often reminds me of the quote from the movie, ‘Sixth Sense,’ with a minor change - ‘I see Gay people.’ We just have to work on the hand holding policy.

This video is the official position of the Costa Rica Travel Channel pertaining to the ‘gay’ beach in Manuel Antonio: wouldn’t want to cause anyone to get arrested.

video

Hundreds of Videos on Costa Rica at the Costa Rica Travel Channel And if you're looking for INFO on Costa Rica, Check out: Travel Costa Rica NOW, and as always, ENjOy!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Costa Rica Crime- it's your FAULT


I might me overstating on the title, but not by much. Everybody seems to be talking about crime in Costa Rica and how bad it's getting. Everyone is jumping on the bandwagon- the Tico Times, AM Costa Rica, various bloggers and numerous Costa Rican websites, nothing but crime, crime, crime. Endless stories on how Henry and Martha, from Omaha had their vacation of a lifetime ruined by some 'good samaritans’' who noticed they had a flat tire while exiting the airport. Well, I'm OVER IT. Oh, by the way, the scary stuff- guns, knives, physical attacks- those are on the rise, but lets be honest, the majority of those are in and around the San Jose area. Please don't write me about a terrible crime that happened outside the San Jose area just to try and prove a point, those are merely exceptions that could happen anywhere, not the rule.

Does anyone deserve to get ripped off? I think not, but that's not the reality of it, is it? Shit does happen, but thankfully your chances of being a victim of a 'strong-arm' crime are very slim here. Yes, it happens, but HELLOO, that can happen anywhere and I do sympathize with those who have basically been in the wrong place at the wrong time- victims of senseless/random acts of violence. But since no one will say it out loud, I will- 90% of tourists who get ripped off here in one way or the other basically DO bring it on themselves. Crime (as it applies to tourists) here is usually one of opportunity and/or some sort of distraction technique used to separate your valuables from you. That said, if you're vigilant, aware of your surroundings and use basic common sense, you WILL not have a problem, and if you do, it will be less severe because you took certain precautions to minimize your losses. Example- You're confronted outside a bar in San Jose and they want your wallet, jewelry, passport- all the regular stuff. You don't have your wallet, you just brought enough cash to have a fun night, you're not wearing jewelry because you know better and your passport is back at the hotel. So, they get a few bucks and that's about it. Not a great experience, but it could have been MUCH worse.

I was reading a blog on another site and I think the email was written by Henry and Martha from Omaha. They did in fact lose everything, because they did pull over their car. Well, I got news- if Henry and Martha would have done just a little homework on the internet (don't people research potential travel destinations anymore, especially those outside of their home country?) they would have known about this little scam since even the most basic websites pertaining to Costa Rica travel mention it- AND they would have NEVER pulled over, even if the f***'in tires were coming off the rims. I know I wouldn't. Check out these travel tips concerning theft: HERE

I'm just asking people to take some responsibility for their life. Look at things you could have done differently, so you can affect change, instead of generalizing an entire country as a crime ridden trash bin full of thugs and degenerates, because you were irresponsible. A lot of people here make about $1.50 an hour (no excuse for stealing, just sayin) and you left your video camera unattended. Personally, I see that as YOUR fault and if you don't, then well, I guess that’s why you get ripped off and I don’t.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Costa Rica- SLOW DOWN


I’m fairly certain I have no right to bitch (don’t think bitch is the right word here) as I’ve only been in the country a little over 3 years; which really only makes me a ‘guest with a few benefits,’ but, am I the only one that can read the writing on the wall?

How do you stop a toddler from running senselessly onto a busy street?

I don’t really recall how I felt when I realized my tiny little legs could take me to all kinds of interesting places, but I’m sure it provided a false sense of cocky self-confidence in my tiny toddler brain to believe the other side of the road looked so much sweeter than the side I was on. And when I learned running could get me across the street quicker, well, that’s probably the time my mom decided I needed to be a Ritalin (if ONLY a pill WERE the answer). It took me exactly 27 years and 14 days to realize my mom was on to something (not about the Ritalin- about looking both ways before crossing the street).

Costa Rica’s running out onto a busy street and appears oblivious to the oncoming traffic. Hell, they’re not even using the crosswalk. I know we chatted about this. I distinctly remember sitting down after ‘Latin Idol’ and discussing the importance of looking both ways before crossing the street. Although, now that I think about it, as I was pontificating over the possible consequences of crossing the street without looking both ways, I recall the silent, yet defiant face peering back at me- Costa Rica didn’t say a word. I believe I looked at my mom much the same way, thinking, “Yeah, easy for you to say, you’ve been to the other side of the street, hell, you lived there for awhile and now you’re lecturing me….the arrogance, the hypocrisy.” ‘Hell’, ‘arrogance’ and ‘hypocrisy’ were used solely for dramatic effect.

So yeah, I understand Costa Rica’s thinking. I ‘GET IT.’ The 'other side' appears sweeter- and they want their lick. Can you say, "Pavlov's Dog?" But what don’t they get? Can’t they see the future consequences, or are they akin to a 17-year olds way of thinking – that somehow they’re the exception to the rules, that miraculously, things will work out differently and they’ll arrive at the other side unscathed?

Let Jacó, Manuel Antonio, Tamarindo (to name a few) be the Daytona Beach-like places they were obviously destined to be- they’ve crossed the street and they’re not coming back… nor do I expect they want too. But please, for the sake of everything PUrA ViDa, slow the f*** down. The reason people come here (mostly) is for the biodiversity of things, the nature, the charm, the Pura Vida- the opposite of everything that’s wrong with the ‘more is better attitude’ of every major tourist destination in the States—New FLASH—we already have a Daytona Beach. Let the likes of Jacó and Tamarindo fore fill the needs of the fat ass tourist who cares more about their tan lines than the fate of Monteverde’s Golden Toad.

Like a mother hopes for a child, I also hold out hope for Costa Rica, so please learn ‘sooner’ rather than ‘later,’ don’t let the consequences be so bad that the results are irreversible. Listen to your mother, she was right all along- ‘outside influences’ DON’T have your best interest at heart and money isn’t everything, and of course, look both ways before crossing the street.

The writing on the Costa Rican wall is a bit out of focus, but it appears as if it’s beginning to say ‘FOR SALE.’

Costa Rica is old enough to know better, and has had plenty of examples over the years to learn from, and I KNOW without a doubt, they at LEAST see the writing on the wall. So….

…forget the lectures, forget the Ritalin, maybe what Costa Rica needs is a trip to the obligatory woodshed.

*This little rant was brought on by a 3-day excursion to Manuel Antonio. This Blog is personal; the video below is for the fat ass tourist. I realize my hypocrisy.


video

Sharks, Cocos Islands, animals galore, vacation and music videos, educational, informative, adventure etc. We have all the videos you WANT to see at the Costa Rica Travel Channel and loads of information about Costa Rica at Travel Costa Rica Now EnJoY!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Costa Rica- The 3 Types of ExPats


Basically there are three types of gringos that call Costa Rica Home (and per the picture, can often be difficult to spot the differences at first glance). I’m sure there are exceptions, but normally they will fit into one of these three categories.


Obviously, just my observations,,,,,,,,,,,I could be wrong.

The gringo with money is the first type. Not necessarily rich rich, but maybe. This gringo comes here but doesn’t really want to change their lifestyle in anyway. As a matter of fact, they fight change every step of the way, but won’t actually admit to it. They may purchase a smaller house, or not, but it will have all the amenities, as this gringo will NOT do without. Not saying that’s a bad thing, just sayin. They usually live in the ‘burbs around San Jose, particularly, Escazu, or in pockets around the country where other gringos with money congregate, such as Tamarindo. This gringo frequently doesn’t know or want to learn Spanish, and will often talk to ticos in slow, exaggerated English like that will make them understand it better, and even have the audacity to get upset when they don’t. They can frequently be overheard saying things like, “That’s not how they do it in the States.” Whether they’re aware or not, they tend to be very insulting to Costa Ricans in general. These are the ones you want to say, “Then why don’t you go back where you came from if it’s so much better there.” These gringos want Costa Rica to be like the States and also tend to be whiners and complainers, but again, won’t admit it. On returning to Costa Rica from the States, they’ll stock up on trivial items because, “You just can’t find those here.” I should note; many gringos do this, but with this breed of gringo it’s usually something stupid like Q-tips (I’m not making this up). This person was pretentious when they lived in the states and they’re pretentious here. The only thing about them that has changed is their address. These gringos often make you scratch your head and say, “WTF did you move here for?”

The second type of gringo, to which I belong, came here with a little money and want to make a go of it. Typically, not independently wealthy, this gringo will eventually have to find some source of income, or if they don’t need money, they’re interested in getting involved in ‘something.’ Disenfranchised with the materialist thinking of the States, or perhaps the political climate, this gringo is usually seeking the simple life of sorts and wants to experience everything Costa Rica has to offer- the good, the bad, and the ugly. Learning Spanish would be mandatory, as this type of gringo couldn’t imagine otherwise. Of course there will be problems. The concept of ‘tico time,’ will be a hard adjustment, and ‘gringo pricing’ will also take some time getting use to, but in the end, this gringo will take the good with the bad, but appreciate the difference. I think I can speak for this type of gringo when I say, “I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else…at least for now.”

What to say about the third type of gringo? Well, I can say they give the rest of us a bad name. Haters they are. They really wouldn’t be happy anywhere. They complain, and whine, and talk (to anyone who will listen) how LIFE has dealt them a blow. They’re irresponsible and blame everyone and everything for their lot in life (but with passion, they’re often very believable). And yes, they’re frequently running from ‘something’ i.e., the LAW, or other ‘problems.’ Outcasts in their own country- this gringo could, and does live where other riff-raff gather- beach towns, tourist spots- places where they can scam and con their way into making their next rent payment. This gringo is ALWAYS searching for the big payoff, of course without the work, or the capital, but ALWAYS with an IDEA. They could have easily landed in Costa Rica by spinning the globe and randomly placing their finger down stopping where ever… (remember that game?) They’re the ones that kept spinning until they landed on Hawaii or some other exotic location, never happy. Luckily, they’re easy to spot. They normally start drinking beer around lunch time and congregate where tourists are- at first, very sociable, even likable. They LOVE to talk about the state of affairs in the U.S. (all negative), as they HATE and ABHOR the political system, and in particular- anything BUSH. And I’ve never heard a conspiracy theory they didn’t adhere too. But beware; eventually, they’ll be attempting to sell you on something, usually LAND. They are the go-between, as they don’t usually own the land themselves, but they might. But here, you get paid to be the go-between, and after all, it is money you can make while suckin down the suds, SWEET! Hang out with this type of gringo for ANY length of time, and you’ll know. Really, they’re just sad and in all actuality- I feel sorry for them.

Quick inventory- I don’t care for Bush, I DO think 9-11 was an inside job to some degree, I DO have land for sale AND it’s 12:20 in the afternoon and I’m on my second Imperial. Ummm…?

As always, view hundreds of video about Costa Rica here and for all your Costa Rica Information- Just CLICK HERE

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Saving the Sharks


Working with the Costa Rica Travel Channel and Travel Costa Rica Now, I have the opportunity to travel around Costa Rica and meet some truly remarkable people- often the one’s making a difference. Randall Arauz is one such person. Randall is president of PRETOMA, an organization whose mission is to protect and restore populations of marine turtles, sharks, and other threatened marine fauna, with a vision of responsible fishing and communal based conservation.

I got a chance to sit down and talk with Randall. Check out this video. Great Info. The mouth/sound combination is a 'tad' off, but nothing too annoying. Besides, this video is worth it.

video

If you're looking for a cause, this may be the ONE and they could use ALL the help they can get. I'm sure the sharks would thank you.

This video and hundreds more can be viewed at the Costa Rica Travel Channel and if you're looking for tons of information about Costa Rica, visit: Travel Costa Rica Now ENJOY!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Tico Driving- EXPOSED!


Take whatever you’ve heard about the driving skills of Ticos, multiply by 100- and THEN you’ll be in the ballpark of how bad of drivers they actually are.

Websites pertaining to Costa Rica are often subjective, unreliable, misleading etc. But every site out there seems to agree on one thing- Costa Rican drivers are among the worst on the planet. Even the Chinese come in a distant second. On second thought, they may be a PUSH.

If you’ve never had the opportunity to drive in a demolition derb.…..I mean Costa Rica, I’d say definitely put it on your ‘Bucket List’- before the new set of dentures and after jumping out of a plane at 15,000 ft. Actually, when I think about, driving here is a peculiar combination of the two. Anyways, when in Costa Rica, expect one, or better yet, a combination of the following to occur (at any given time): an 18-wheeler using a two-lane road as if it’s a one-way street. Passing on a curve - Stopping on a curve. Sudden U-turns, really, they’ll do this on the highway- it’s truly a sight to behold. Many WILL stop their cars when talking on a cell phone, but that doesn’t mean they’ll actually pull over- they just STOP. Folks, I can’t make this up. Also, Ticos will rarely miss an opportunity to ‘chat it up’ with friends- frequently pulling alongside a friend’s car, or perhaps their relatives they spotted walking to the store- oblivious to the line of cars stacking up behind them.

Remember, driving in Costa Rica is already difficult; rain, sun, darkness, fog, clouds, potholes, pedestrians, animals, mudslides, etc. can turn the shortest of trips into a white-knuckle affair in an instant. Here's OUR video about the driving conditions in Costa Rica:



Now, add a Tico driver to the mix and you have the recipe for disaster. I know you think I’m being overly dramatic- but I assure you, I’ve driven in numerous countries around the world, and this is the worst. Even in Rome, as a group, they drive in organized disorganization that somehow seems to work- they GET IT.

Ticos are NOT aggressive drivers per se, so what makes them think they can stop their car, on a curve no doubt, and get out and pee, regardless of traffic and/or driving conditions?

I know the answer. Hopefully I can explain it.

We’re talking about a culture with no standing Army, patience to spare (tico time), a Pura Vida attitude... and loathes confrontation of any kind. They extend constant driving courtesy BECAUSE they expect it in return. It’s nothing they actually think about, it’s more unconscious than that, but courtesy nonetheless. They get behind the wheel and do whatever they want, whenever they want. They expect their driving indiscretions to be accepted as such, because they know and understand they would wait for the guy to finishing peeing without the slightest agitation.

So, to the untrained eye, Tico driving appears as a severe case of complacency, or at least, a total lack of regard for others. But to them, when they decide to make a U-turn during rush hour, well, it’s ALL understood, because that guy peeing- he’s behind the guy making the U-turn.

And so it goes…

I would like to note that although I understand…this is NOT Rome, and in my opinion, no matter how you rationalize it- it’s just plain DANGEROUS. Because, let’s be honest, some of us pee at the gas station.

If you need Costa Rica Travel Information then CHECK OUT our travel guide at: Travel Costa Rica NOW and see all our Costa Rica Travel Tip Videos on YouTube.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Que?


It was reported in AM Costa Rica that the powers that be are proposing some changes in the residency laws-

"For pensionados the available monthly amount shown by a formal pension would go from $600 to $2,000. Rentistas would have to show a monthly income of $5,000 instead of the current $1,000."

Gringo Pricing seems to be taking on an entirely new meaning.

The Costa Rican government must know something we don’t, or at least have some super secret agenda of some kind. This new proposed change in residency law makes absolutely NO sense for a country that could ‘use the money,’ so to speak. I can’t help but think they’re shooting themselves in the foot…..at the average gringos expense.

This is the official reason for the proposal: "..the proposal is designed to battle corruption, speed processing and integrate immigrants into Costa Rican society."

Que? Pretty 'fluffy' if you ask me. Maybe what they meant to say is: It will cost more to manipulate the system, but still doable, we'll pay our workers more, so they'll work faster, and we'd like to get the Nicaraguans/Columbians OUT and keep rich gringos IN and we just don't know any other way to do it.

This appears to be a blatant attempt to get anyone below a certain economic level out of the country. You don't have money- you need to leave. A 'catch all,' beginning with the Nicaraguans and finishing with average gringos.

Really, I don't even think they want to touch the gringos, but to say anything else would be far too discriminating and blatantly prejudicial. I just can’t come up with another scenario. Since when did you need $5000.00/month to live here- that’s living like a king.

Maybe I'm missing the ‘big picture.’ I’m sure this all makes sense on some level. I felt this same way a few months ago when I saw how strong the dollar was against the colon, that didn’t seem to have made any sense either.

I need enlightened, can someone help?

I hope Oscar and the boys know what they’re doing.

Don't forget to check out hundreds of videos about Costa Rica at: CostaRicaTravelChannel.com and a ton of information on Costa Rica in general at: TravelCostaRicaNow.com EnJOY!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

the OTHER roommate- ANTS


Right now, at this very second, I have the feeling that something is scurrying the length of my forearm- and very fast- actually, it seems to be on my shoulder now. There’s another sensation on my ankle. Umm, maybe a mosquito, we have a few of those here, but no, these feel familiar.

These ‘sensations’ started around 3 years ago and drove me NUTS. When I would search the body part the sensation was coming from, I saw NOTHING. Of course at the time, I was in denial I needed reading glasses, so I wouldn’t have seen anything anyway. Regardless, I was seriously questioning the messages my sensory receptors were sending my brain. Something was amiss, and although I experimented, I knew I hadn’t done THAT many drugs.

That was then and this is now, I’ve learned a thing or two. I now know those weren’t ‘false’ sensations; there really was something, or a bunch of somethings roaming around my body, and pretty much at will.

The sugar ants moved into our apartment about the same time we did, probably drawn to it for the same reason- the view of the park from our bedroom window. Actually, I think it’s the wood furniture, as they seem to prefer Guanacaste (a tree here) wood even more than sugar (maybe Guanacaste Ant just didn’t roll of the tongue as well). At first, we did what any gringo would have done- we sprayed the SHIT out of them. I’ll be damned if we’re going to have ants taking over our apartment, besides, it’s not like they were paying rent or anything. Now, if they’d just confine themselves to a few out of the way locations in the apartment, then maybe, just maybe, I’d let them stay. But NOOOO….sugar ants are so controlling.

If you know anything about sugar ants, you know they’re really tiny, not your garden variety ant- which is a good thing if you gotta have ants in your apartment, cause here, some varieties can be Schwarzenegger (pre 1995) big. We sprayed, And Sprayed, AND SPRAYED. We concluded that spraying was merely a band aid approach of getting rid of ants, with no real lasting results. Subsequently after spraying, we tried leaving the little dead ant carcasses scattered around the kitchen counters, hoping the surviving ants wouldn’t be able to bare the devastation of it all and just retreat to our neighbors apartment.….really, it seemed sensicle at the time (who wants to stick around where a murder has taken place). Of course it didn’t work. Then we tried bleach on the counters- nada. We even consulted our good friend the internet and mixed two drops of apple-cider vinegar into a cup of dish washing liquid- again, no effect, although I did notice the ants appeared to have a shine about them that I hadn’t noticed before. If these (so-called) remedies were having any effect, it wasn’t apparent. Personally, I would have left voluntarily if I knew I wasn’t wanted, but these little boogers wouldn’t pick up on any social cues.

Anyway, that was then….

Every house in Costa Rica has ants- yeah, I said it. They may leave for awhile, but they always come back. Don’t like ants? Don’t move here. You may adjust to culture shock, learn tico time is a way of life, hell, you might even learn how to combat gringo pricing, but you will NEVER, EVER, rid your house of sugar ants, so you had better learn to be ONE with them- I know I have. Okay, I’ll admit to ‘thinning the herd’ every now and then, usually right before company comes over; some people just don’t appreciate moving parts in their salad. Personally, I don’t mind the extra protein.

Right now, at this very second, I have this feeling……………oh shit, that’s not an ant!

Next article: So you’ve become one with the ants, what about the other big ass bugs!

Don't forget to check out hundreds of videos about Costa Rica at: CostaRicaTravelChannel.com and a ton of information on Costa Rica in general at: TravelCostaRicaNow.com EnJOY!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Border Crossing Bobblehead


I’m not sure how many times we’ve made the trek to the Nicaraguan border to do the whole ‘passport stamp’ thing, but what is certain, we’ve been there enough to know better. I’ll get to what we know better in a minute.

Currently we are not Costa Rican residents, but hope to be soon. We’re what they refer to as ‘Perpetual Tourists-’ gringos, living in Costa Rica that have to leave the country every 3 months in order to keep their visa current and legal. Just for the record- I do not recommend this. If you’re thinking about staying in Costa Rica for the long term, then I’d say start the residency process NOW. However, I do know a lot of gringos and ex pats that do this trek to Nicaragua, and most hate it. Can you imagine, taking time from your busy Costa Rican schedule to travel through a beautiful country to another beautiful country- the horror! I actually enjoy it, a mini vacation, and actually, I’m rather fond of Nicaragua.

So, on this particular trip our best friend Mendee came along, because she’s a perpetual tourist also (we like to stick together). We’ve decided to do some filming for our website, the Costa Rica Travel Channel, so we have our cameras and video equipment in tow. We want to film the actual ‘steps’ of crossing the border at Penas Blancas in order to show others the process while hopefully alleviating some of the anxiety. Crossing the border can be somewhat daunting if you’ve never done it before.

Reaching the border is like a homecoming party. As soon as the bus pulls up, it gets swarmed by well-wishers, greeters if you will- just happy to see a new group of gringos they can hopefully rip-off. These guys are the money changers. They wave wads of money in your face asking if you’d like to exchange your colones or dollars for córdobas, or vice versa. I don’t mind these guys, hell, I actually do exchange with them. I find this convenient. There’s still another bus to catch to Rivas or Granada and once I get where I’m going I don’t want to worry about exchanging money.

We have the cameras out and we’re filming. These guys don’t care; they enjoy mugging for the camera (pun intended). Mendee wants to exchange money, and so do I. But I give her my money since I’m trying to film, as is D’Angelo. Mendee’s great. We love her, but she’s more of a follower in these types of situations and would rather have someone else deal with this sort of thing- ‘thing’ being math. But we’re busy. In all actuality, exchanging for cordobas is quite easy. It’s about 20 cordobas to the dollar- 100 cordobas, five bucks- pretty simple math. These guys thrive on chaos and confusion, remember, we’re crossing the border, we have lines to get in. People are gathering up backpacks and luggage from the bus, scurrying off to get in line, chatting, asking questions, making new traveling friends etc. some would call this a ‘madhouse’. In the middle of the fray are the money changers with their calculators that don’t work, still waving the wads of money in peoples’ faces. By the way, these guys love to work in groups of 2-3, which can be somewhat intimidating to the novice border crosser.

We have our guy- thin, young, bad case of acne, long hair, but an inviting smile. He seems SO nice. We’re filming, Mendee’s exchanging, but talking to me all the while, “Is this right mike, I gave him $200.00 and he’s giving me 600 cordobas?” I’m half listening. These guys pull out their calculators and begin to punch numbers- if a calculator was a typewriter, these guys could do like 1500 words a minute. The number they’re looking for magically appears on the calculator- 600. ‘Acne boy’ and his 2 friends quickly nod in ‘bobblehead’ agreement. (check above pic for one of the original bobbleheads) Mendee checks the calculator, and she too suddenly transforms into a ‘bobblehead.’ Later, she admitted to having no clue, but thought being a ‘bobblehead’ would cause the least embarrassment. I’m still filming when ‘acne boy’ flashes the money in front of the camera, Vegas style, as if showing off a royal flush that WE had just won- and here I am laughing and filming as if we had. He seems so nice.

Exactly 45 seconds later I knew we had been ripped off. Seriously, 45 seconds. A quick look around- these guys were GONE. We spent 30 minutes looking for them; they were gone, probably working on their second Imperial as we were crossing over into Nicaragua. Fuck!

Total border-crossing buzz kill. Mendee’s beating herself up for getting scammed and I’m thinking, we film ‘travel tips,’ we’re the experts, we’ve done this a thousand times, we inform others the best way to safely travel around Costa Rica- this is NOT going to look good on a resume. Needless to say, I was feeling pretty dumb, but in my view, we got cheated fair and square. I let my guard down, and they took advantage. Just another lesson learned. It could have been worse. What a stupid phrase, of course it could always be worse.

We had a hard time letting this go, well Mendee did. I was sort of laughing about it, you know, the irony and all. It came up more than a few times in our three days in Granada, with always the same conclusion- we thought we had a good chance of running into ‘acne boy’ and the ‘bobbleheads’ on our way back.

We had 3 hours to wait at the border before our bus would take us back to La Fortuna. We didn’t see ‘acne boy,’ well not at first anyway. As luck would have it, he miraculously appeared not 15 ft. from where we were eating in the snack bar. He didn’t see us and I was on him pretty quick, BUT he did remember us.

We got our money back….with interest if you know what I mean. In the end, ‘acne boy’ WAS nice and we learned a valuable lesson- being a ‘bobblehead’ is contagious.

Don't forget to check out hundreds of videos about Costa Rica at: CostaRicaTravelChannel.com and a ton of information on Costa Rica in general at: TravelCostaRicaNow.com EnJOY!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Democracy at WORK


A day after the elections and I couldn't be more disappointed. I knew it was going to happen, hell, I predicted it months ago. It's just so difficult, not really difficult per se, but saddens me in this day and age of the 21st century, that ignorant, misguided folks have a say in the direction the country is going. Like THEY would know. You should have to take a test in order to vote, because a group of stupid people can really shake shit up, and as it turns out, that's exactly what happened. I don't really feel bad for myself, I live in Costa Rica and while it's true what happens in the States does effect the rest of the world, I conduct my daily affairs accordingly, and don't really change anything in particular regardless of what people in the States might be doing.

But the votes have been counted and the people have spoken- the very essence of Democracy at work............. stupid, ignorant motherf***ers, no wonder the Clinton's and the Cheney's and the McCain's of the world have to do a little manipulation to govern. You gotta make the little ignorant f**k believe he's somehow important, but keep that ignorance confined to small groups so they don't get any real power- divide and conquer if you will. Well, this time all those little ignorant f***s got together....

We have to be the laughing stock of the civilized world. I know they're snickering, I can hear them now, "Look at those dumbass Americans, they think they're so intelligent and patriotic- arrogant, cocky, judgmental, puritanical hypocrites, pretending Democracy works for the minority as well as the majority.......Democracy my ass."

All I can say is Yeah, Proposition 8 passed banning gay marriage; so speaks California and now we're another 15 years behind, and I can only wonder why these little Bible thumping, hypocritical, ignorant f***s, give a rip who I FUCK. Yeah, I said it.........I know what you're thinking, "peas and carrots, peas and carrots, La La La La La, La La La, I can't HEAARRR you."

* That said, it is a little disconcerting to know that the supporters of Prop 8 (by their own admission) focused their attentions and manipulations on the huge Hispanic community, understanding full well the majority of Hispanics being steeped in the Catholic religion and still very traditional in their thinking, would surely support the ban. They were right. They came out in droves. The Latin American community in Costa Rica is much the same way, similar to the mores of the States back in the '60's. That does concern me. But as the picture indicates, it could definitely be WORSE! But you know something, you'll have to string us up on cranes, we're not going away (Gays are everywhere) and in approximately 15 years this will be a moot issue and you'll all appear as the bigoted, neanderthals we always knew you were, I just wish you'd keep the white sheet over your heads so we know who you are. btw- I don't recall voting on your marriage.

Related Articles:

GAY Costa Rica- Same Sex Marriage Revisited
GAY Costa Rica- the Gay Traveler
Gay Traveler vs Living Gay in Costa Rica
Gay Discrimination at Rufino's in La Fortuna
Gay Friendly? Gay Tolerant? Gay Smart!

If you need Costa Rica Travel Information then CHECK OUT our travel guide at: Travel Costa Rica NOW and see all our Costa Rica Travel Tip Videos on YouTube.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Next President (NOT)

I guess it just wouldn't be right not to blog about this momentous occasion taking place in the United States. So, I guess I'll weigh in.......from my little apartment in La Fortuna, Costa Rica.

I don't trust the government and I have no faith in the political process. I also don't believe politicians are working in my best interest and I believe there's a mountain of evidence which supports me on this. But I'm not mad, I take responsibility for my life and live accordingly. I do what I want. I don't hurt others or interfere in their life and I expect the same in return. If we're like minded, then maybe we can play together, and hell, bring your toys- if not, take them back to your house- it's all good. I am responsible for my situation at any given time, if not, that makes me a victim. Victims are a sad lot. That's pretty much it, and yeah, it's as simple as that.

The political process is broken. We are NOT a democracy, maybe a oligarchy or plutocracy, but definitely not a democracy....whatever. I don't get caught up in the game played in the media by choosing sides. This is a ruse in order for you to feel involved by choosing a team, like it matters. It doesn't, but it's nice to think so. We are manipulated and only receive the information that is intended, we never know the complete picture. And without having ALL the information, how can we possibly come to some sort of opinion, or choose someone that speaks for us. Money runs the show, that's it. But I'm not mad...........really. I live in Costa Rica, I came to grips with this a long time ago.

"But if we ALL work together and quit the bi-partisan politics and cut government spending and concentrate on creating a better quality of life for everyone by creating jobs and cutting taxes we can be the blueprint for the rest of the world. And not only that- I work for you, not big business.... blah, blah, blah" GEEEZZ, never heard this before. Do you honestly believe it's any different this time around? Although Obama does give a hell of a speech....

If I had to vote,,,,well, you see the pic. Two words- Central Bank

This is what I believe- WATCH IT and spread the word- Let's really make a change! Click here! to make a change.

If you need Costa Rica Travel Information then CHECK OUT our travel guide at: Travel Costa Rica NOW and see all our Costa Rica Travel Tip Videos on YouTube.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Rio Celeste in Costa Rica


Hey guys, not too long ago, D’Angelo and I went for the day to Tenorio Volcano National Park. Since we live in La Fortuna, not too far away, it was the perfect day trip. Visitors are drawn to this park to see Rio Celeste, known for its ‘blue’ waters. And we’re talking BLUE. If you have the chance, don’t miss this place, it’s great. That said, I’ll let the video do the talking, and if you want a little more info on Rio Celeste, go here.



If you need Costa Rica Travel Information then CHECK OUT our travel guide at: Travel Costa Rica NOW and see all our Costa Rica Travel Tip Videos on YouTube.

Monday, October 27, 2008

F*** AM Costa Rica


I must say, I have a lot less respect for AM Costa Rica (they are an internet news source for Costa Rica), see article here And NOT just because they endorse John McCain for president, it's their reasoning. Take a look and see what you think. Note: the italics were obviously added by ME. Here’s what they said:

There is a long tradition of newspaper endorsements of candidates, even though the impact, if there is any, remains unclear. (You endorsed Bush, and his impact has been very clear.)

Still A.M. Costa Rica strongly endorses John McCain,
(WOW, big surprise you choose McCain, hopefully you're readers don't give a rip what you think.) the Arizona senator, for president of the United States. We urge others to follow our reasoning and cast their votes the same way. (Your dots are so abstract they don’t even recognize each other in order to connect.)

John McCain has his faults and some baggage. (Admit he has problems in order to act as if you're not bias, well,we all do, how about being a little more specific.) But John McCain is a proven patriot whose vision of America is of a strong beacon of freedom and personal liberty. (There’s millions of proven patriots and I also have a vision of a strong America- please tell me there’s more prerequisites for becoming president of the United States.)

We would be happy to endorse his opponent as a premier used car salesman.
(As an editor, you should know what an Ad hominem argument is- which is a fancy way to say, ‘cheap, personal attack.’) After 45 years in the newspaper business, the editor knows slick, (just because Obama gives a better speech?) and that is what is being marketed by the Democratic campaign. (They don’t market him as ‘slick,’ they market him as ‘hope,’ big difference.) He has seen candidates raise false hope. (Yeah, I guess you’re right- only Democrats do that.) His first presidential vote was for John Kennedy. (Dating yourself are we? I’ll bet the only thing you’ve changed in the last 48 years is your underwear.) JFK's inexperience almost got the United States into a nuclear war. (No harm, no foul, and besides, many people believe he diverted a nuclear war, not almost got us into one.)

The editor also covered the Great Society and Medicaid, the current budget busters.
(Could this editor be any more partisan; but he’s the true expert, maybe HE should run for president.) He learned that government is not the solution. (Under whose presidency did you learn this?) The solution always is the hard work, enterprise and creativity of Americans of whatever color. (How very republican of you. This is an untrue statement and does not necessarily make for a positive outcome. Furthermore, it's usually uttered by people who don’t understand the meaning of an uneven playing field.)

The Me-Me Generation has risen to some degree of influence in the United States.
(I think you were trying to say this- Big Business has risen to prominent influence in the United States.) The wholesale thefts and frauds that hit the country financial system show that. (Again, big business.) The need now is for personal courage and honesty, not some supergovernment, leftist quick fix. (How about collective accountability and I don’t remember anyone saying anything was going to happen overnight.)

This endorsement is sure to provoke whines from the disaffected expats who cut and ran
. (Are you insinuating the gringo’s that live in Costa Rica aren’t affected, or that we’re just losers who couldn’t make it in the good ‘ol US of A?) America does not cut and run. (That’s because we always think we’re right.) America finishes what it starts, (I understand this reasoning- I know when I make a mistake, I just keep going and act as if I didn’t.) including efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. (Obvious, a problem- not like you’re going out on a limb mentioning Afghanistan. Now, if you would have said ‘Russia,’ that would have been edgy.) America does not sit down with second-rate, authoritarian dictators. (Yeah, because what we’ve been doing so far has been working so well.) America does not whimper and beg pardon from the world for being great. (This statement is the very reason we have a marketability problem- look up the word ethnocentrism and get a clue.)

Given the options, George Bush was the best choice.
(Hate to tell you, but George is going to go down in history as possibly the worst president in US history………… wanna bet?) But now the nation needs a coordinated, uniform effort to reinforce the cornerstone principles of America. (Thanks for defining those ‘principles’ for us, and I love the word ‘cornerstone-’ so apple pie.) And voters do not need to open the door to the terrorists and racists who seek to prove their hatred of the country. (We are NOT the world police, why can’t we worry about the people that live here for awhile and practice what we preach, we are not spreading democracy, we just want the damn oil.)

I need to be clear: I don’t endorse either candidate as I have no faith in the political system, but that’s not the point. This is the most poorly written drivel I’ve seen in a long time. Generality after generality- lame at best...just sayin.

Don't forget to check out hundreds of videos about Costa Rica at: CostaRicaTravelChannel.com and a ton of information on Costa Rica in general at: TravelCostaRicaNow.com EnJOY!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Gringo Pricing - Inalienable right


Gringo Pricing- the seemingly inalienable right or practice of indiscriminately raising the price (often substantially) of a product or service solely because the purchaser of said product or service is caucasian.

Gringo pricing is a fact of life in Costa Rica. They think we’re rich; or at least richer than them, which may or may not provide the rationale for this behavior, it’s hard to say, but they really do seem to believe this practice is justified. Hell, maybe it is.

This is a much bigger issue than just jacking up the prices for the tourists in places like souvenir shops, hotels/restaurants, and tour companies- in these places it’s almost halfway expected. I’m talking about the prices for the gringos that live here, especially when it comes to legal fees, and ANYTHING to do with construction, from architects to materials, to labor costs. Scams such as skimming off the top or doubling and tripling the price are common practice here. One of the worst is when there’s an agreed upon price and halfway through the project unforeseen expenses begin to pop up. Trust me- it’s NEVER the original quote on anything. Many stores blatantly raise their prices for the unknowing gringo and a haircut that cost a tico 1500 colones ($3.00) will often cost you $10.00. And if you don’t know Spanish, forget about it, which is why many gringos use their tico friends to do their bidding. This is really the only way to get a fair deal, just make sure the tico is truly a friend, because unfortunately, the ‘friend’ could be in on it, just sayin.

If you’re thinking about moving here just know this is a fact, right or wrong. If they can separate you from your money- they will…. as it’s their inalienable right. Of course it may be your inalienable right to tell them what they can do with their inalienable right.

Our VIDEO on Gringo Pricing



Don't forget to check out hundreds of videos on Costa Rica at: CostaRicaTravelChannel.com and a ton of information on Costa Rica in general at: TravelCostaRicaNow.com EnJOY!

Tico-Time defined


Let's be clear, 'tico-time' is technically an oxymoron.......no, really it is. But if you live in Costa Rica, you're well aware of its meaning. Tico-time, regardless of how it's defined, exists here, and it SUCKS big time. I believe this can’t be overstated enough. I’ve probably read just about every book on Costa Rica and they like to say it’s not like the States, you must be patient, things are done differently here…well; I’m here to tell you, that is a vast understatement. Really, I only have a few pet peeves when it comes to ‘things’ Costa Rica(n) and this would be at the top of my list, because no matter how hard I try, this still tests my fortitude on a regular basis. I realize in the States we can be somewhat anal about being on time; as it’s all about schedules and meetings and organizing your time so as not to waste it, or other peoples’ for that matter, but personally I like that system. It works. When I say 10:00 o’clock, there’s a reason, cause at 11:00 o’clock I have something else to accomplish. It seems pretty common sensicle to me. If 10:00 is agreed upon, then I expect to meet at 10:00. I believe when a person is NOT on time, it’s rude and selfish- believing their time is somehow more important than mine. Seriously, it always pissed me off; a person had a 15 minute grace period with me because after 16… I’m walking. Hell, at least call me, I understand people get hung up from time to time. In defense, I knew things were different here, so I threw out my ‘grace’ period principle long ago.

Tico time is obviously a catch phrase invented by a gringo to ironically yet accurately describe in words to his North American friends as to why ticos don't appear to use a calendar or time device.

"There is no ‘time’ per se, there's only a task at hand and it happens when it happens- that's tico time."

They only give you a time because you asked. If you were to ask a lawyer when he thinks the documents will be ready, he’ll tell you a date, but it means absolutely NOTHING. What's truly mind boggling is when you don't even ask and you're given a date which is apparently pulled out of thin air. Here, they tell you what they think you want to hear, and when ‘that’ time comes, well, they’ll start the process over… and over, and Over, and OVER, without batting an eye. Sometimes I’m not sure if they really know it can’t possibly be completed in the time promised, or if they’re just fuckin with you. I’m sure it’s the former, but sometimes….I really do wonder. If the lawyer said a week, it’s at LEAST 3-4 weeks (or more). If your architect says the house will be ready in 4 months, you’re talking closer to 8 or 9 (or more). If they say today at 10:00 a.m., hell, that could mean 11:00 tomorrow. This is not a joke. Really it’s difficult to have, let alone keep to ANY type of timeline (that will just lead to more frustration)….let alone getting things completed in a timely manner- that’s not going to happen- PERIOD.

People say relax, or ‘Pura Vida’ (they will say Pura Vida if you ask them what’s taking so long- also very annoying) and if this tico time bullshit didn’t have serious ramifications and/or consequences, I’d probably say the same thing, but it can and does. Can you imagine trying to start a business or construction that needs some sense of coordination in which you’ve allotted a year to get things done- well imagine that year becoming two. If your house/business isn’t done at least close to when promised, it can cost big time money and money you may not have anticipated on spending. I would have to say legal (lawyers) and construction matters are the worst, but tico time applies to just about any situation- personal and business. I am not overstating and I’m not talking about unforeseen delays, everyone knows those can happen, I’m saying the delays are delayed… and then they’re put on hold.

Now there is another problem. They don’t call you, I don’t know why, but they don’t- I think it has something to do with confrontation- which they do NOT like. This means you call and don’t even think about questioning them or raising your voice, this will accomplish nothing, as they will become very passive aggressive, with your documents quickly finding their way to the bottom of the stack. This is how the game is played- You call in hopes it will prompt or remind them of the task at hand, then they tell you 29 reasons why it’s been delayed, and you say, “Thanks.” This process will be repeated….frequently.

What to do about Tico time? Absolutely nothing, hell, even monetary motivation doesn’t seem to help, can you imagine? You gotta become ONE with it, there’s nothing else to do. Take up knitting perhaps.

There you have it. So whatever you’ve read about tico time, multiply by 50 and it will be closer to the truth. I hope you’re not thinking I’m disgruntled, I’m not (well, maybe a little). I’m just attempting to give you a heads up.

Shit, I was supposed to meet someone for a drink about an hour ago. Oh well, Pura Vida!


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La Fortuna Costa Rica- Death by Volcano


I can't tell you how many times I've been asked as to why I chose to live, literally, right below an active volcano. I think what they really want to ask is why I'm such a dumbass, but they try to be polite. First, I should explain that I have somewhat of a love affair with Volcan Arenal, I'm almost drawn to it, not in a 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind' type of way, but probably how some are drawn to the ocean, or perhaps the mountains etc. To me, it's like whale watching, which is something else I never get tired of. I'm not even talking about the lava thing, lava can't be seen from the La Fortuna side (although I love that too, and the last few months, the volcano has been off the hook). But I'm speaking of the volcano itself. Volcan Arenal is forever changing its face. I learned a long time ago that words don't describe the best of things, but a few do come to mind- magnificent, mysterious, stunning, beautiful, menacing, spectacular, threatening, lush, grand, overwhelming... I think you get the picture. It really is quite a site to behold, and if you ever get the chance.... (more on volcanoes) So, I feel priviledged every time I step foot outside my door and into the shadow of Arenal, and really, I never get tired looking at it. It's funny, most ticos here, don't give it the time of day, to them it's just another mango tree in their backyard.

Plus, the thing is, dying in your sleep is BORING! I want my great, great, grand kids to look over the family tree and when they come to my name, someone will say, "That's your great, great grandfather who lived next to a volcano down in Costa Rica and died when it erupted. It was said they found his body buried beneath 20 ft. of lava"

I'm quite sure one of the kids will ask, "What kind of dumbass would live right next to a volcano?"

I bet I'll be smiling when they find me.

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La Fortuna Costa Rica

Our small resort is located just outside of La Fortuna, so we naturally moved there. Luckily, we like it. But what was once a quaint little farming town is no longer. In just three short years, literally hundreds of the Big 3- hotels, souvenir shops, and restaurants line the road from La Fortuna to Tabacon Resort (famous for their hotsprings) some 10 miles away from the center of La Fortuna. It’s quite sad really. And what’s a tourist town without those obligatory billboards, one as big and ugly as the next. Hell, we even got a Burger King and Churchs chicken, UGH! Older buildings are being torn down and replaced with more modern structures at an alarming rate, and always the same- a new hotel, restaurant, souvenir shop or mini-strip mall- nothing ever new or original. (Seriously, 95% of the souvenir shops here, sell the exact same stuff, it’s embarrassing). Here, they have a ‘Field of Dreams’ mentality- ‘If you build it, they will come.” And I fear they are very wrong. Some of these farmers have leveraged their land to build one of the BIG 3 with no idea as how to market- sadly sitting in their new dwellings waiting for tourists to happen upon place and wondering if they’ll make enough for their next mortgage payment. And now, competition is fierce to say the least. The mighty dollar has entered the picture and they all want a piece of the pie. The prices keep rising here. Everything is going up, up, up, and really for no apparent reason.

I still love La Fortuna. We have no car as we are in minutes of everything we need. We have a simple apartment overlooking the park and we have friends, not sure you need much more than that. Plus, there’s so much to explore and do here- the mighty Volcan Arenal, the lake and surrounding rainforest with its wildlife and beautiful scenery, not to mention all the cool adventure tours here- they ALL still do it for me. I just wish they would slow down a bit- regroup, make a plan and not be so random in their construction.

I suppose if it ever got way to commercial, we would just pack it up and find another adventure in Costa Rica, but you know us Gringo’s- get a group of us together and we can F*** up any quaint little farming town.



For ALL your Travel Costa Rica INFO, check out our Costa Rica Travel Guide at: Travel Costa Rica NOW, and you're definitely going to want to take a look at ALL our Costa Rica Travel Tip Videos on YouTube. ENjOy!