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 c√≥rdobas, 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.

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