Thursday, January 29, 2009

Drivers License Renewal Sets RECORD in Costa Rica

Someone needs to alert the folks at Guinness (World Records, not Beer) because I’m certain we broke some sort of record today. Possibly in the category of: ‘Gringo Completing ‘ANYTHING’ in a timely manner while living in Costa Rica.’ Well, whatever, if it's not a category, it should be.

Why Record Breaking? Because on this date:

3 Gringos (that’s right, 3) got their Drivers Licenses renewed in LESS than 25 minutes…in Costa Rica. This is unheard of. Like I said, someone dial-up Guinness.

Basically we started the day like any other when you have to complete paperwork in Costa Rica. Read that as 'EARLY!'

We planned on leaving early so we could be waiting in line when the place opened up- and like many ‘processes’ in Costa Rica, a lengthy drive is ALSO a prerequisite- this case was no exception.

Like before any Costa Rican process is undertaken, we turned off the electricity in our apartment, put covers over the furniture to protect from dust and then asked the neighbors to watch the place because we weren’t sure when we’d be back. We also loaded up on snacks and packed lunches anticipating the inevitable Tico-time mentality one is forced to deal with here during any governmental process, or any process for that matter; but ESPECIALLY as the process pertains to Gringos. Last time I prepared to ‘WAIT’ like this, it had something to do with ‘Guns and Roses’ and ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ meant something TOTALLY different…..oh, and standing in line was SO much more enlightening and reflective back then *wink wink*

I got nothing more to say. We arrived (not even on time mind you) and were IN ‘n OUT in a record 23 minutes and 53 seconds. There was a slight scare with my passport, it being a new model and all, it seemed to have caused a bit of confusion- just long enough for me to grab a PB&J out of the bag, anticipate the worst…and start thinking, ‘….just a little PATIENCE, YYEEAAAAHHHH, just a little PATIENCE, YYEEAAAAHHH’

He was back before the first bite and I couldn’t help but smile when he took my picture. Talk about GAY.

So is Costa Rica turning the page? Is Tico-time a thing of the past? Will my pessimism be replaced?

Let’s put it this way- Axl, Slash, Izzy, Duff and Matt have a better chance of re-uniting.............. and that ain’t happening either.

FOR THE RECORD- to RENEW a Costa Rica Drivers License

• YOUR BLOOD TYPE CERTIFIED BY a DOCTOR (this is a new requirement) - We’ve heard some people can just tell the doctor their blood type, but on this one we didn’t take the risk. It cost $20.00 each. We later found out we had been GRINGO PRICED.

• PHYSICAL also CERTIFIED AND STAMPED by a DOCTOR. This is totally a BULLSHIT physical. Blood Pressure and a bunch of questions about how much you drink or if you can move all your extremities, or if you’ve ever been a mental patient etc. Doctors take your word for this, or maybe he just didn’t see the bottle of Cacique in my pocket….hehe. This takes maybe 10 minutes and there are plenty of places in close proximity to the License place, if you haven’t taken care of this prior. This cost $20.00

• PASSPORT and CURRENT COSTA RICA DRIVERS LICENSE and it’s good to take copies, you never know.

• The RECEIPT from the bank, such as Banco Nacional. It is AT THE BANK you actually pay the fee for your Drivers License. This is done BEFORE hand. The Receipt is obviously the proof you have paid. Also $20.00.
Your renewal is GOOD for 5 years as opposed to only 2 years when you get your FIRST Costa Rican Drivers License.

Hundreds of Videos about Costa Rica at the Costa Rica Travel Channel and TONS of INFO about Traveling and Living in Costa Rica at Travel Costa Rica NOW And as Always, HOPE IT HELPS!

Monday, January 26, 2009

FIGHT! like a Tico

Ever heard one of these?

Ticos have a heart of gold.”

Ticos are so friendly and nice.”

Costa Ricans are so passive; they don’t even have an Army.

Ticos treat everyone like family.”

Ticos never have a bad thing to say about anyone.”

These generalizations (or stereotypes) tend to be true to a large extent, BUT there’s a simple explanation:

COSTA RICANS loathe confrontation. Once more, with feeling, COSTA RICANS LOATHE CONFRONTATION!

They ALWAYS have their ‘game face’ on and it’s virtually impossible to tell what they’re truly thinking. This provides a false sense of security for the other person; therefore, the ‘talker’ keeps talking, thinking the ‘Tico’ believes or accepts what’s being said. Maybe that’s true, but likewise, it could just as easily be quite the opposite. You may be being totally offensive to the Tico but, offensive or not, the Tico is nodding or responding in the affirmative- a cunning little ploy to keep you talking. There could be numerous reasons for this- Ammo for future use, good insider info on something or someone OR maybe they half like you and think it’s funny listening to your silly pontifications and intimate ramblings. Hell, maybe it’s the old adage of, ‘Keep your friends close, but your enemy’s closer.’ It’s hard to say. The ‘talker’ leaves the conversation thinking ‘What a friendly Tico,’ when the Tico is probably walking away thinking, ‘What an Asshole.’ And so it goes.

Outward verbal abuse, insults and even perceived and/or unintended slights are all dealt with in the same manner by a Tico- although in various degrees. It should be noted- Ticos rarely argue with someone outside their inner circle. Blatant verbals, insults and perceived slights are all responded to in the same manner- by passive aggressive behavior. Yell at a clerk and important documents WILL find their way to the bottom of the stack. Try and tell the contractor he made a mistake and there’s a good chance your living room could be missing electrical outlets. And then there’s always their personal favorite, the consequence of Tico-time- Just see if your house gets completed in the next 3 years or so. Of course the rub in all of this- never being quite sure what’s on purpose and what’s not, so you’re always left wondering. The Tico, well, they come out with their integrity intact because they’d never admit to doing ‘such a thing’ in the first place.

The majority of ticos are ‘two-faced.’ It’s true, I said it. Is this necessarily a bad thing? Ummm, think about it. They rarely argue and don’t like to confront or cause a ‘scene’. Have you ever tried to argue with someone that won’t? The problem is; you really don’t know what they’re thinking, but on the other hand, you get to say almost anything and they’ll just laugh and nod in agreement (as long as you’re not insulting them). Friendships may not always be genuine, but they’re ALWAYS cordial…..Kiss, Kiss.

WOW, I just had a revelation. If gringos weren’t so Confrontational, Obnoxious, Arrogant, Forceful and LOUD- maybe there wouldn’t be a need for passive aggressive behavior ......and maybe I would have an outlet to plug my fuck’in laptop into.

We have hundreds of videos about Costa Rica at the Costa Rica Travel Channel and tons of INFO about traveling to Costa Rica at Travel Costa Rica NOW ENjOy!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Couchsurfing in La Fortuna

D’Angelo and myself are proud to say we’ve been hosting couchsurfers here in La Fortuna, Costa Rica, in our ‘tiny-tiny’ apartment since October of ‘07. I said ‘tiny’ right?

I’m sure many of you have heard about it, but if not, couchsurfing is basically where people ask, via the internet, if they can ‘crash’ on your ‘couch’ while they are visiting your area- where ever it may be. But know- couchsurfing is World Wide. I would highly recommend signing up to, especially if you like to meet interesting people from literally all over the WORLD. *Couchsurfing is NOT a ‘hook-up’ site, so don’t even THINK about it...hehe

Of course you don’t charge them anything.

Here’s the official mission statement:

CouchSurfing is not about the furniture, not just about finding free accommodations around the world; it's about making connections worldwide. We make the world a better place by opening our homes, our hearts, and our lives. We open our minds and welcome the knowledge that cultural exchange makes available. We create deep and meaningful connections that cross oceans, continents and cultures. CouchSurfing wants to change not only the way we travel, but how we relate to the world!

It’s pretty much like any other social site on the internet, profile page, all the regular details, but this site has many ‘checks and balances’ to ensure safety for the traveler as well as the host. And obviously a ‘host’ can ALWAYS say NO. It’s funny, many of our friends’ say, “I can’t believe you guys let total strangers stay in your house.” I can tell you, ‘these strangers’ usually end up being pretty good friends and numerous times we have just left them the keys- TRUST has never been a concern. (We’ve had approximately 50 people stay with us as of this writing). And of course, you can do as little or as much as you want. Some, we cook dinner (or they do), hang-out and maybe invite are other friends over for a little party, others are busy doing daily adventures around La Fortuna and we may only see them in the evening, and still other times they just want to meet up for drinks and don’t even stay at our place. It’s ALL good.

We’ve had people from Japan, Poland, Italy, Amsterdam, Canada, Israel, Colombia, Bulgaria, as well as the United States, to name only a few of the countries. And since we all usually take a liking to each other, they invite US to stay at their place if were ever in their area.

Conversations can be EXTREMELY interesting to say the least, especially when drinking is involved, which it normally is, so it’s great to learn other peoples’ opinions and perspectives on things- ALWAYS an education. Be forewarned- get into political and/or religious conversations, be ready for some dissent.

Couchsurfers always appreciate any insight or helpful information you can give them while they’re exploring your area- places to go, or not to go, fun things to do, where to eat, or things they don’t mention in the travel books etc. It feels great to help out, and it also ensures a more memorable experience for ALL.

We’ve usually hosted, but did couchsurf once when we visited New York City. We had our own room (5 nights) and these guys actually made 4-course meals every night- wine included AND stimulating conversation. What a great couchsurfing experience.

I should say, from time to time, we have said ‘NO’. Sometimes we think it may not be a good personality match, or the person comes across as if they merely want to ‘freeload’. But that’s the beautiful thing, you can do whatever you want, you’re not committed or obligated in anyway.

Sometimes, humanity really saddens me the way we often treat each other, but the couchsurfing concept helps restore a little of my faith in people. Helping others, bridging the gap, making connections, exchanging ideas…………..actually, re-read the Couchsurfing Mission Statement, they say it much better.

So, if you think you can spare the room,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,consider it. It’s so worth IT and you will be re-warded SEVERAL times OVER- in ways you can’t imagine. I’m not usually this ‘sappy’, and it may sound like I’m over doin it a bit…………Trust me, consider Couchsurfing.

Except for liking the couchsurfing concept and being a member, I have no other reason or motivation for promoting couchsurfing.

As always, view hundreds of videos about Costa Rica at the Costa Rica Travel Channel and for all your Costa Rica Travel Information visit our other website Travel Costa Rica Now

Monday, January 19, 2009

San José Costa Rica Market

I’ve said it a few times- not a BIG fan of San José. I’ve often wondered why gringos, on considering relocation, would ever willingly choose San José- someone or something just has to be twisting their arms. I mean come on, of ALL the potential places to live in Costa Rica- and San José wins...…Pleeease. Hell, move to Detroit if you want 'that' experience.

Actually, I DO GET IT! San José provides the security of knowing you’re in close proximity to the ‘conveniences’ you’ve come to expect, but still affords the opportunity to boast to the folks back home about the GUTS it took to make the ultimate move........Whatever!

But I love VISITING San José. Visiting San José is like having the grand kids over, or so I’m told- you know they’re eventually going to leave, so the time you do spend, is just that much more enjoyable. For us, one reason to visit San José is the plethora of gay clubs, which we like to visit from time to time. After all, we’re from Vegas, we’re PARTY people, and everyone knows the gay clubs are the best clubs, whether you're straight or gay…..seriously, they're the BEST.

But this isn’t about gay, or partying. San José is also a great place to just walk around, check out the markets, the museums, shopping districts- great places all over the city to people watch and spend the day just kick’in about and doing whatever. I highly recommend it. Bring your camera, photo ops are EVERYWHERE.

A few weeks ago, it was just that, and then we ran into this-

We have hundreds of videos about 'ANYTHING' Costa Rica at the Costa Rica Travel Channel And tons of INFO on Costa Rica, especially for travelers at: Travel Costa Rica NOW, and as always, ENjOy!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Do'in DRUGS in Costa Rica

You may or may not be somewhat surprised to know I get quite a few emails asking me about the legalities of drug use in Costa Rica, while others just come right out and ask, “Where can I score some decent weed?” Usually, the emails ARE about pot (or mota as it’s called by the locals), but every once in awhile I’ll get asked about Coke and other ‘harder’ drugs. So, I've decided to put all the drug related answers in one place, (namely in the video below). BTW- I’m not a dealer or a go-between, so I don’t know where you can score anything, but I do know a few things about drugs in Costa Rica- you know, the stuff I read in the paper and see on the news.

On a side note, I’ve often wondered, do I look like a ‘pot smoker,’ sound like a ‘pot smoker’ or are the people that keep up with me, and/or read my blog and see my videos just comfortable asking. Whatever, I don’t mind. I’m here to provide Info for people interested in traveling to Costa Rica- whatever the hell that entails.

The first thing to know is, like most laws here, they tend to have the ‘bark is worse than the bite’ thing goin’ on. The drugs laws ARE on the books, but they don’t seem to be enforced, at least for the casual drug user. If you’re even half-way discreet, you can pretty much smoke ‘anywhere’. The second thing you need to know is- contrary to popular belief, Costa Rican pot is NOT quality stuff. You would think living in such a climate, someone would figure out a way to grow some quality weed. Well, it may be out there, but I can assure you, it's the exception to the rule. So when someone tells you it's the good stuff, more often than not, LIES.

Let’s make this a little more fun. Just watch the video, it’s accurate and will pretty much explain anything you want to know- And feel free to sing along if you know the words.

Just so we're clear- CRYSTAL CLEAR- if you decide to do drugs in Costa Rica- it IS at your own risk. I do NOT endorse anything, I just provide relevant information, for you the traveler.

TONS of Costa Rica Travel Info and VIDEOS on our website: Travel Costa Rica NOW and if you want to visit our YouTube Channel: iCostaRica24 ENjoY!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

La Fortuna's FIRST GAY Hotel- Abercam

*** As of January 2010 Abercam La Fortuna has closed it's doors for good =( ***

Our little town, La Fortuna, Costa Rica, finally has its OWN, all inclusive, men only (sorry ladies- you understand) gay hotel. And, I must say, it would make any gay man PROUD. It’s called Abercam La Fortuna. We’ve had the chance to stay there, but the best part, the owners Tim and Wayne have become good friends of ours after D’Angelo and I reviewed their place a while back. Needless to say, we’ve been back MANY times since. Not because we spend the night per se, but they also sell day passes where you can hang out at the ‘clothing optional’ pool area (not that we would EVER take our clothes off, wink, wink) and enjoy the surroundings with your favorite frosty beverage. And with the glorious Arenal Volcano in view, you couldn’t ask for better ‘surroundings’.

Before you know it, La Fortuna will be right up there with Manuel Antonio as another popular gay destination in Costa Rica, although I never see the day where Lake Arenal will have a gay beach, hehehe. So, if you ever get the chance, visit Abercam La Fortuna, and don’t forget to call us, we’re always looking for a day off.

The below video is our review of Abercam La Fortuna and to go to their site: Abercam La Fortuna

Friday, January 9, 2009

It's NOT Schwarzenegger it's Leishmaniasis

Kids, believe me, you don’t want THIS>>>>>>>

This is called Leishmaniosis. The symptoms of leishmaniasis are skin sores which erupt weeks to months after the person affected is bitten by sand flies. This is common in the more ‘developing’ parts of the world. No, it does not occur in the States.

For much more INFO and GROSS pictures of Leishmaniosis, see the WIKI people HERE.

At first, they appeared as two runaway mutant zits- one on the hamstring (pictured) of my right leg, the other on the left, front thigh. I think the one on my right leg was the ‘ARNOLD circa 1978’ of Leishmaniosis, but eventually, even ‘the ARNOLD” morphed and began to look exactly like the ever-erupting Areanl Volcano, not 3 miles from our apartment.

They appeared about 2 weeks after being bitten, which put me in Nicaragua at the time, not that that matters…just sayin. It became quickly apparent that these were MUCH more than ‘Zits on Steroids’, and they were beginning to hurt, so I made a trip to the doctor.

I must have been this med-students first patient…EVER! She actually tried to POP it (I guess it looked like a runaway mutant ZIT to her too). Now when I was growing up, you were often taught to ‘grin and bare it.’ For example, if a dentist would actually poke me and draw blood, I was pretty good about not showing much pain or discomfort- so as blood gushed, I’m like, “No, it’s okay, no problem, didn’t feel a thing.” It was just the time. Kids are Pussies nowadays…but I digress. But this med student actually made me whimper like a puppy in need of its mother’s teat. I tried to take it, I tried to ‘buck-up little camper- but she kept squeezing- the ‘ARNOLD’ one- HARD, multiple times- the pain was right up there with getting kicked in the nads, repeatedly. Finally, it was just too much, and I said,’ “Stop Fucking Doing That,” which is usually totally out of character for me. Well, it didn’t really matter as she didn’t know a lick of English, but she understood the TONE- at least enough to stop for the moment. For a split-second, I almost thought about grabbing her titty and twisting it really hard and asking her how she liked it- I know, sad but true. Anyways, being in fight or flight mode, I chose flight, and in the nick of time,,,,,, because she was rolling up her sleeves and obviously searching the drawer for a medical utensil that could squeeze harder than her thumbs… and determination was written all over her face. Think GI Jane in a Freddy Krueger type of way. C ya.

I later learned this was not how to treat Leishmaniosis.

Doctor #2 was pretty sure he knew what it was, but that I should get a blood test to make sure. He also asked if I had insurance. Now, that scared me; a gringo in another country with big ass sores oozing blood, and NO insurance. I told him I would be paying cash- with NO idea on what to expect. Doctor, office visits, treatments- HELLO, I’m from the States- this can’t be good. I was thinking, treat me first, we’ll talk money later. I let my mom know I might be returning to the States sooner than expected.

The sores got MUCH worse. I recieved 2 months of shots, every SINGLE day- 5 injections into the ‘ARNOLD’ sore and 2 or 3 in the other, EVERY DAY! I’ll let you do the math on how many injections that was.

For 2 ½ months it totally sucked to be me (some think it must always suck to be me). If I sat down for more than 5 minutes, when I got up…nothing but blood running down my leg, NOT attractive. That picture doesn’t show the half of it. But eventually they did get better.

Afterwards, I asked how much I owed, and really, I had no idea- he could have said anything and I wouldn’t have argued. The entire treatment- office visits, shots, needles, medicine (don’t forget EVERYDAY), came to $140.00. I bought the office a pizza. I love Costa Rica.

He may have cut me slack on the price because I always allowed his medical students studying from the States to sit in on my treatment, (not many get to see real-life Leishmaniosis, so it’s quite the treat and of course I allowed for pictures) and sometimes I even let them give me the shots. Talking about ‘grin and bare it,’ have you ever been given a shot where the needle was put in really SLLOOOOOW. Thankfully, the thought of twisting a titty never occurred to me- lucky for them.

It’s not likely I’ll ever forget about having Leishmaniosis, it left 2 Nasty scars, and I mean UGLY. The ‘ARNOLD’ is easily the size of a 50 cent piece and resembles a bullet hole. The upside? They do supply the means for great story telling.

Did I tell you about the time I broke up a robbery attempt, but was shot in the leg?

A sand fly just doesn’t have the same dramatic impact.

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!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Costa Rica STUPID!

I can’t believe I’m going to tell you this- I’ve done a lot of stupid things in my life, whatever, we all have. But, anytime you feel you may have sunken to a new stupidity low- think of me, you’ll feel like an Albert fuckin Einstein in no time.

One of my favorite quotes is, “Stupidity should be painful.” Well, if that were true, I would have been on a 2 ½ year morphine drip to ease the pain. And to think I used to make fun of Forrest Gump, compared to me, he's the smarter cousin.

Most gringos in Costa Rica will tell you a funny story of how they ‘botched’ the language, saying one thing when they meant another- mine is more a ‘visual’ Spanish problem.

I know I’m going to regret this. But here goes.

A washer and dryer are ‘gold’ in Costa Rica- especially a ‘full size’ dryer. Most Tico’s put their wash on the line, which takes about ‘forever’ to dry due to the humidity, constant rain, moist conditions etc, but since we live in a small apartment, we really have nowhere to hang clothes unless of course we want to go totally ‘trailer Park’ and hang stuff out the window. Not sayin we haven’t actually done that before, just sayin. It’s with pride that I say our ‘stackable’ full size washer and dryer are worth more than your 2000 inches of flat-screen TV any day of the week in Costa Rica.

Our grocery store in La Fortuna is relatively small and doesn’t really offer many choices, so you either buy the ‘white’ or the ‘wheat’ if you know what I mean.

You know what? Forget it- I’m not even going to try to explain. Besides, it doesn’t matter the whys, or the whats, or the fact my Spanish was pretty low-brow at the time, it’s irrelevant. The fact is, we had been washing our clothes EXCLUSIVELY in fabric softener for almost 3 years. Yeah, I said it- 3 years. I told you- bet you’re feeling pretty good about yourself right now.

Once or twice maybe- but 3 years?

Have you ever seen ‘whites’ washed in softener? Dingy doesn’t even begin to describe it. We thought it was because we don’t use ‘hot’ water with whites- well we can’t (most places outside of San José don’t have hot water hook-ups).

It gets even more embarrassingly stupid:

We didn’t discover this ‘stupidity’ ourselves. It went something like this- “Hey mike, don’t you normally put in the softener during the rinse cycle?”


I guess smelling like a fuckin rose petal for 3 years somehow made up for a closet full of DINGY.

I'm already beginning to regret this.

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, January 4, 2009

Costa Rica to Nicaragua Border Crossing

Hey Everyone.

Many people that visit Costa Rica, also have plans to see other Latin American countries as well. We highly recommend visiting Nicaragua in particular- it's a favorite of ours. Anyways, we decided to video tape the border crossing from Costa Rica into Nicaragua via Penas Blancas. This can be somewhat confusing and daunting if you've never done it before, so we have video taped the process, hoping it will give you some idea as to what to expect. There are some things you should definitely know before crossing the border into Nicaragua.

So, check this video out if you ever think you may be doing this in your travels in and around the Costa Rica and Nicaragua area. And as always- Hope it Helps.

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