Tag: life in costa rica

Rainy Season in Costa Rica

Rainy season in Costa Rica is a beautiful and magical time of the year. The rain allows the trees to turn bright green and the flowers to bloom. It makes the ground wet so there isn’t dust and dirt flying when the wind blows. 

It is the cheaper season because it does rain all the time. Tourist come and enjoy the relaxing and peaceful rainy season. They go on horseback riding tours and ATV tours. The tourist swim in the ocean and ride jet skis.

There is a dark side 

The rainy season has a dark and horrific side.  It brings RAIN! Torrential downpours and flash flooding. The tree roots are so saturated in water that they begin to fall with the heavy winds. The power and internet go out and access to food can be limited if the rivers are blocking the roads. 

Schools and businesses do not open because it is dangerous to drive or be out in the heavy rains. If a person isn’t prepared with food and supplies it could be a rough time for them as the rains can last for days. The rivers and flooding can take time to lower. 

This affects those in poverty

Guanacaste is one of the poorest provinces in Costa Rica. Many families are struggling to make ends meet. They are fighting to put food on the table for their children. They live in houses that I wouldn’t even call a house. I would call them shacks. Literally shacks. The wooden walls have holes you can see right through. They have tin roofs with no insulation. Some places only have bars for windows. 

When the rains come, people who live here and are more wealthy can afford to buy sandbags and take preventative measures to ensure flooding doesn’t happen. They have houses that are on higher grounds or have a foundation that elevates their houses.

More than half of the locals who live in this region, don’t have the financial means to take these precautions. 

So, what happens? 

Every year for 2-3 weeks, they are taken away from their homes with nothing. The locals lose EVERYTHING, clothes, beds, bathroom supplies, and so much more. They have to evacuate their homes. Some do not have anywhere to go. They sleep in a hammock or in the street. 

They need to rely on non-profit organizations such as CEPIA and the local church. 

Every year the families need to rebuild their lives. They need to replace everything that was lost. Beds, chairs, cooking supplies, toilet paper, deodorant, diapers, and much much more. 

It is devastating. The families are reliant on donations from amazing and loving people from our community. 

I have helped every year in one way or another.

The first year I was here, Hurrican Nate hit us hard. The worst rainy season I have seen. People couldn’t leave their houses due to the flooding of the rivers for a week. Beach Community Church provided locals with food and toilet paper to help them survive. I was able to participate and help carry the supplies to those in need.

Last year, I donated some rice and beans to locals in need. Since I don’t make much money either it was all I could do. 

This year, my friend and neighbor Isa is housing a family of 5 from CEPIA in her spare bedroom and living room. I provided clothes and a sofa bed for them to use. I gave them access to my washing machine so they could wash their clothes. I loaned Isa around $40 to help buy food for the family. The 3 little girls have been using my toys and a stuffed animal to help them feel at home. We took turns painting each other’s nails to keep busy.

This morning, they told us they needed diapers for the 2-year-old girl. So, I went to the super and bought some diapers and deodorant for the mother. 

I also started a GoFundMe to help raise money for the locals and their families. There is only so much we can do, but donations of any size help. 

I will use the money to support the family Isa is housing as well as other families in the CEPIA organization and the Beach Community Church. 

The rainy season is not easy.

The rainy season is not easy for the locals here. It is something they fear and stress about this time of year because they know they will lose their homes.

Sometimes we forget how fortunate we are. This morning Isa and I were reminded just how lucky we are. One of the little girls asked Isa, “Are you a millionaire?” Isa started crying because it looks like she is to them. Isa doesn’t have much and she struggles to provide for herself, but the little girl thinks she was a millionaire based on her house and things. 

This family and the locals here in Costa Rican always remind me to be grateful and loving towards everything I have whether big or small. I am lucky and so are you. It is a tough life for others out there. 

Be Grateful and allow yourself to donate or help those around you in any way you can. 

Learning a New Language

cloud forest bridge that says "Me encanta Costa Rica"

Yesterday, it hit me. I noticed how far I have come with learning Spanish. I called Jonathan because my messages weren’t going through. We had a good 5-minute conversation, IN SPANISH!! Also, I was able to tell a parent what I needed them to know IN SPANISH!

10 month ago, we couldn’t do that. I knew a few words in Spanish, but I had difficulty understanding him on the phone. I had no issues yesterday. IT WAS AMAZING!

I am just blown away with how much Spanish I know now.

When I moved here, I knew I would learn Spanish. I had doubts at how long that would take. I struggle with dyslexia and failed Spanish in High School. Being fluent in Spanish seemed like it would take many years. While I am not fluent, I am able to communicate what I need on a daily basis now.

I learned the most from being around Jonathan. Since we spend the most time together, it forced me to learn his language. At school and around town there are many people who speak English. This kept me from using Spanish more often.

For some people, taking Spanish lessons is the best way for them to learn a new language. For me, it is trial and error. Memorizing different types of words and phrases is monotonous. I am more of a visual person. Writing and reading different types of text helps me speak the language more.

I write and read text messages in Spanish to Jonathan daily. I watch Netflix with Spanish subtitles. Lastly, I read menus and paperwork at school. I am able to visually see the words in my head before speaking.

There is still a lot of learning to do with vocabulary and grammar. I am learning new vocabulary every day. Yesterday, I learned what dragonfly was, libélula and tell him, dile. My Spanish is not grammatically correct and I am okay with that. I am still learning. The most important thing is practice even if it is not always correct or perfect.

Learning a new language is difficult, but it can be done. Allow yourself to breathe. Figure out how you learn best. Some learn best in classes and some learn best by trial and error. Give yourself love and celebrate the achievements you make, even if it is a small one.

Life in Costa Rica

Life in Costa Rica

Easter is a huge deal here in Costa Rica. So much so most of the government shuts down for a week. As a teacher, I had off for two weeks. It was a great two weeks. I got a lot of stuff done for the website, went on a mini vacation with friends, and got my CR driver’s license. It was two weeks full of adventure and growth.

Getting a CR License

Getting my driver’s license was probably the easiest thing I have done with the Costa Rican government. (getting things done here is hard, keep reading). Since I had my US driver’s license, I didn’t need to take any tests. I simply went to the office with my paperwork and got my new license. It was easy for the most part.

First, I had my US driver’s license translated into English with the local official translator. I did this ahead of time so all I had to do was pick it up and pay for it. ($20)

Second, I had to get a medical health check done. I did this directly across the street from the Cosevi (driver’s license building). As soon as they opened, I walked in. She asked me for all my personal information and any health issues current and past. The doctor gave me a quick eye exam, a reflex test (you know the one where they hit your knee with the little hammer), listened to my breathing and asked me a few mental questions. This was the most interesting part. The doctor asked me to repeat 3 words: casa, manzana, and gato. Then I needed to spell the word “Mundo” backward. Lastly, I needed to repeat the same 3 words again: casa, manzana, and gato. I almost forgot the words!! I paid around 27.000 colones for the exam.

Lastly, I took the medical report, translated driver’s license, my Costa Rican credula work permit card, and my original driver’s license to Cosevi. They looked over all my stuff, put it in the system, and took my photo. I walked out of the building with my CR license in hand.

No craziness, no returning, and no issues. Simple, straightforward, and done!

Motorcycle Impound

Before I met Jonathan, he lost the plate to his motorcycle. We tried to get a new one a few months back, and they told us he needed a paper from a lawyer. Since we were in Liberia (an hour away by motorcycle), we tried to get a lawyer there to do the document for us. All the lawyers in Liberia wanted over $50. The lawyer in Brasilito close to our house wanted $25. We decided to wait. Since I was getting my driver’s license in Liberia, we got the paper from the lawyer so we could get it all done and over with. That ended up a nightmare.

We got my License and were headed to get the new plate for his motorcycle when the traffic police stopped us. Jonathan had the paper from the lawyer and a sticker on the back with the correct plate number. His plates were up to date, he just didn’t have the plate. The police took the motorcycle and gave us a ticket. He pleaded with them to let us keep it. They didn’t care. We got the new plates, got on the bus and headed home.

We tried to pay the ticket three days later. The system wouldn’t allow us to do it because it was a Saturday. Monday morning Jonathan went to Liberia to pay the fine and get the motorcycle. They told him since it was Semana Santa they couldn’t release the bike as there was no one there to do it, but allowed him to pay the fine. They also told him that they are charging him 4.000 colones (about $7) a day for the bike being in storage.

Fast forward to this past a week later, he goes back to Liberia and they tell him they don’t know where the bike is and he needs to make an appointment online.

We thought “okay cool, let’s make the appointment, pay the storage fee, and listo.”

NOPE!!

I was UNABLE to make the appointment because the motorcycle ISN’T IN THE SYSTEM. I tried for three days and kept getting the same error.

We called our lawyer to see if they could help. They could for $20, but Jonathan wanted to go in person one last time.

He goes this morning and FINALLY, he was ABLE to get the motorcycle. But before paying 70.000 colones which is $116.

SO a word of advice…. Don’t get your car or motorcycle taken away by the police in Costa Rica. It is a pain to get out of impound.

Mini Vacation

I wanted to go to Limon, on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica. It was too expensive for my budget to do it alone so I asked a friend and her three friends. Since most of the inexpensive places were unavailable or didn’t allow pets, we decided to go to the Osa Peninsula, which is south near the Panama border.

I found this amazing little hostel in the jungle. It was $11 a night. We rented a little Toyota Corolla from Alamo for $37 a person (we split the total cost 5 ways) and off we went. It is about an 8-hour drive including stops for food and gas from Liberia. We had no plans or expectations, other than to have a good time.

Nina came with us which was such an amazing experience. She was overwhelmed a little bit since it was all new for her. Nina had never been in a car for that long and never experienced the jungle as we did.

After the long drive, we arrived at our hostel. It was pretty much a camping experience. The toilet was a bucket with a manmade wooden box around it to sit on. After we went to the bathroom we had to put sawdust on it to keep the smell down.

The rooms had bunk beds in them with a nice mosquito net around them. The “walls” were made of green see-through material (see photos). The only place with light and electricity was the kitchen so we had to use flashlights once it got dark. We had banana trees and other green and beautiful plants all around us. Just past the bathrooms, was a river that was great for swimming in.

Nina had plenty of room to explore and run. She was in heaven. Since there was no fence she free access to the whole place. At night, I put a headlamp around her neck so I could find her easily.

The first day we went grocery, found dinner, reserved a tour for the next day and relaxed in the kitchen playing cards. We didn’t have much time to do anything else as we arrived there mid-afternoon and it gets dark around 5:30 pm.

We wanted to go into Corcovado National Park to an amazing waterfall I read about online. We found out four things. One we need a guide to enter the park and since it was Semana Santa we couldn’t do so. Second, a guide was around $75- $90 a person. Third, the waterfall I wanted to go to was closed to the public as it was used for drug purposes a while back. And lastly, Nina can’t enter the National Parks here in Costa Rica. Which means she would be in her cage for most of the day. (Not good for her)

Since Corcovado Park was not going to happen, we decided to do a kayak tour to see bioluminescence in the evening and hike the river by our hostel in the morning. The kayak tour was $35 a person for 3 hours and the river hike was free.

The river hike was a sight to see. We simply directly walked the river. Nina was able to come with us. She absolutely LOVED IT! The hike led to a small waterfall off to the side. Not huge and you couldn’t swim at the bottom, but it was worth it to see. Once you walked a little past the waterfall there were pools of water perfect for relaxing and swimming.

Nina was such a protector because every person we passed, she barked. We met some gold miners as that river has some gold. She didn’t go far and she came back every time I called her name. We did this for most of the morning and afternoon. By the time, we needed to leave for the kayak tour, Nina was knocked out. She slept the entire time we were gone.

The kayak tour was worth it. We weren’t sure if we would see the bioluminescence because of the full moon. When the moon is full, it’s too bright to see the lights in the water. Bioluminescence is plankton in the water that glows when moved. We got lucky that the thunderstorm had such dark clouds that covered the moonlight. They were like stars in the ocean. It is a must see!

On our last full day, we went to a beach called, Playa Pan Dulce and another waterfall. That was an adventure for sure, we got lost. The man said the waterfall was to the right after the second bridge. We walked over the bridge and kept walking looking for the right to turn. We walked this HUGE MOUNTAIN!! I was so slow and Nina was right by my side the entire time, barking at anyone that passed.

Finally, we decided we had enough and asked a taxi that was driving by. We passed the turn a long time ago. We turned around and spent some time on the beach first. Nina and I were exhausted so we skipped the waterfall for a nap in the car. The others went to the waterfall.

I was able to hang out with some amazing woman. Nina got exercise and showed me how perfect of a dog she is for me. We all got to see a beautiful, lush, and tranquil place.

Website Work and Taxes

I had my first coaching call with Evan. He is such an amazing coach. In one session, I learned so many new things. I learned my post to the Death Row inmate is at the top of the second page on google. I know how to look at my website privately without messing with the stats. We got a game plan for the theme. Did some small changes to help my google legitimacy better.

I am working on two different items to sell on the blog. I am super excited to share them with you when they are ready! I have been putting good energy into making them happen!

Since I am still technically a resident of Maryland and I am still a citizen of the US, I need to pay taxes if I make over $12,000. I made $12,220 last year. SOOOO…. I paid $21 to the US government and a whopping $552 to the state of Maryland!!!! It is ridiculous. And there is no way out of it until I become a permanent resident of Costa Rica. Then I will qualify to an exception.

There are only 4 ways to become a permanent resident of Costa Rica .

  1. Marry a Tico or someone with a residency here
  2. Have a baby
  3. Own a business
  4. Buy land or a house that is worth over $150k

None of those options work for me so I will be paying taxes to the US government every year.

Life in Costa Rica is fascinating, ever-changing, and beautiful. It is stressful and crazy, and I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. I am in love. Would you want to live in a place like Costa Rica?