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

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...


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.

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.

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!