by guest blogger Corinne Aulakh
A week-long retreat, all inclusive adventure that explores the union between rider and horse.
I am often asked, with a lot of skepticism, why yoga and horses? Where is the connection? My standard answer is; I have experienced the similarities between riding and a yoga practice. The same stillness and union I find in my yoga practice I feel when I ride. Before I ask anything from my equine partner I center my self, physically and mentally. I need to be in a calm place where I can be sensitive to my partner’s actions and be receptive to his communication with me.
Riding is a continuous 2-way dialogue between me and my horse. When I practice yoga meditation or yoga postures (asanas) I also cultivate a sense of quietness. I move in and out of postures with a gentle breath and a calm mind. This translates into a feeling of being centered, the same feeling I have when I ride.
by Ivo Henfling
Real estate agents always write about the beautiful weather in Costa Rica, but this time I wanted to write about bad weather in Costa Rica, in fact, about hail in Costa Rica.
The girl in the photo on the left is not in Denver, Colorado. She is in her backyard in Heredia, Costa Rica. Yes, we had hail in Costa Rica on June 6, 2013 and specifically in the city of Heredia.
Costa Rica is a tropical country and we have tropical weather. Tropical weather can mean a lot of sunshine but also serious rainstorms, flooding and damage to possessions. That is the reason I write so much about needing the help of a real estate agent who lives in the area to purchase a property in Costa Rica. A good rain storm can make your home disappear if you did not buy in the right place or did not take the necesary precautions. Weather is a very important issue in Costa Rica real estate.
by Ivo Henfling
You have been doing important things all your life. Now it is time to take it easy, by doing nothing important for a while. Hundreds of baby boomers who live in Grecia are barely surviving by doing nothing important.
Grecia seems to be the perfect place on earth to do just that: do nothing important. All those baby boomers who decided to retire and make Grecia their new home, are trying to survive on it.
You have had your whole life to do important things, at least those that are important to the world, your surroundings, your boss, and your kids. Now that you have finally retired, after a life of hard work, it is your turn, time to survive and do what you enjoy, what is important to you and your better half. And Grecia is the place to do it.
by guest blogger ZM Ishmurzina
Most U.S. citizens and green card holders rushed to file a US tax return by April 15. However, Americans living abroad on the regular due date of their tax return can take advantage of several extensions.
First and foremost, American expatriates get an automatic two-month extension until June 15 to file US expatriate tax returns. The June 15 deadline is extended to June 17, 2013 because the extended due date falls on Saturday. American expats must remember that this is an extension to file but not to pay. Any tax due must be paid in full by April 15 to avoid any interest. Penalties will start to accumulate after June 15. Taxpayers are required to attach a statement to their US tax returns with a summary of the overseas extension.
by Ivo Henfling
The first time I was standing in line in a hardware store in Escazu, the attendant asked me “Y vos macho, en que te puedo servir”? And you “Macho”, what can I do for you.
I didn't realize I was being called blondy. (I was far from blond, I used to be brownhaired back then).I didn’t really pay attention but the next time I was in another store the attendant called the woman next to me “Negra” and the woman wasn’t black at all.
My Spanish was barely on survival mode and I didn’t have a clue. At the time I had a bilingual secretary, Sandra, and I asked her what this was all about. Before you know it, you will end up with a nickname in Costa Rica, called an "apodo" or "sobrenombre", so start learning about the customs of your new homecountry.
by guest blogger Ticonuevo
Now that we are in country, we are scrambling to learn the language. If you can find the time before you leave North America or wherever your home country is, learn some Latin American Spanish. Latin American Spanish, and more specifically Costa Rican Spanish, is not the King’s Castilian Spanish as spoken in Spain. Local Spanish is full of country-specific colloquialisms.
But not to completely despair, virtually all communities in Costa Rica where ex-pats hang out offer courses, individual lessons or immersion groups dedicated to helping you learn Spanish as a second language. And, take the advice of everyone we know--jump in and try.
by guestblogger Ticonuevo
Once you are committed to moving to Costa Rica, there is a huge amount of information to read and absorb. So, my advice again: be detailed, be methodical (even if it’s hard for you to do). I can’t emphasize strongly enough how important and helpful it proved to be to have built a database of Costa Rican resources, research and contacts.
Your vacation visit(s) will give you a snapshot of Costa Rica. Just remember you’re seeing the country in its most-perfect light, as a tourist. It’s different than actually living in Costa Rica day after day and dealing with the mundane issues of daily life and the bureaucracy. Your research will help to fill in the blanks and demystify Costa Rica. So, it’s very important to build contacts, read (discriminatingly) and record and file the details you collect from your visit and online.
by Ivo Henfling
Every week, “El Polaco” visits a poor neighborhood of Costa Rica, with a car full of merchandise. The Polaco is a department store on wheels and he sells on credit. He offers mainly clothing, women’s, men’s and children’s. But he also sells coffeemakers, shoes, perfume, ceiling fans and anything his clients might need. And if he doesn’t carry it, he will get it for them.
It is a pity that so much of the flavor of Costa Rica (and other countries) is disappearing with corporate business. I remember well when we would just walk to the pulperia to get our fresh bread and milk every morning. We had 4 pulperias on our street and they all made a living.
The object of recounting specifics of our family communication is not to bore you with details that don’t relate to your planned move to Costa Rica. My purpose is show that there are possible surprises and unknowns harbored by all parties involved in your move. The success of your move to Costa Rica will be measured by how well you have openly addressed all of the inner details and emotions involved. It’s incumbent upon you, your partner and other individuals that are part of your decision to come clean and their discuss concerns and desires.
Upon our return from our due diligence trip to Costa Rica, my wife and I agreed to remain silent for a few days about any decisions or inclinations we may have formed independently of the other during or after our working vacation. I recommend a “phase 1 cooling off period” allowing time for the euphoria of your dream vacation to wear off before you discuss what could easily be the biggest decision of a lifetime.
by guest blogger TicoNuevo
Here’s something to think about: a significant number of all of the expats attempting to settle in Costa Rica return home within one year. I have some ideas about why this happens, and how to avoid becoming a statistic. I’ll discuss the most prominent reasons for failure here.
A big reason influencing an early departure, I think, is a lack of preparation before potential expats arrive. Changing your country of residence requires an enormous, well-coordinated effort—lots of pre-planning. Unless you have changed countries of residence before, you have no concept of the volume and benefit of pre-planning your move.
by Ivo Henfling
Since 2012, the Costarican government has been advertising about the mandatory change of all Costa Rica vehicle license plates or vehicle registration plates. The local newspapers have been writing about it since they approved the law in April 2011 and as usual, the dates of expiration kept changing.
Newspapers write about it all the time but the information is never clear or incomplete. My Costa Rica real estate readership has been asking for the information for quite a while. Not until now, in April 2013, are we finally able to find out what is going on, how it works and how it doesn’t work.
I never do this kind of stuff myself; I don’t have the patience to do errands like this. I’d be knocking government workers over the head and never get anything done. So to save time, I sent my son Andres, who is Tico and doesn’t get treated like a gringo. But he also got the run-around, just like everybody else. But now we can tell you all about it and hopefully you can go through the due diligence without any setbacks.
by Ivo Henfling
In the beginning of the 80’s, I heard this great story that helped me understand the mindset of the Costaricans and adjust better to the culture and the way of life in Costa Rica. I was curious if I could find the original writer of this story on Google. I found a certain Mark Albion who claims to have written the story that he calls “The businessman and the fisherman” in 1999. His story is a North American version to the tropical version that I heard in the 80’s.
I also found a reference to a short story written by Heinrich Böll in 1963 with the title “Anecdote concerning the Lowering of Productivity”. Heinrich Böll, I’m sure, has never been on a beach in Costa Rica but he understood the tropics as well as George Orwell knew in 1949 how the world would look like after 1984. I’d like to share this great story with you and give you another reason to move to Costa Rica soon.
by Ivo Henfling
Some might think otherwise but there is great music and entertainment in Costa Rica. A client told me he met a gringo in the hotel who was complaining there was nothing to do in San Jose and he was bored to death. In less than half an hour, I showed the client at least 20 places where there is plenty to do. No need to get bored in Costa Rica, of course depending on what you are looking for.
If you enjoy classical music, you can go to the philharmonic orchestra in the National Theatre several times a month but today I am going to tell you about the Jazz Café Costa Rica. The 3 owners started Jazz café in San Pedro in 1999 and the Jazz café in Escazu was started in 2008. If you have any questions or reservations, you can call them directly at 2253-8933 in San Pedro (next to Banco Popular) and 2288-4740 (across from CIMA hospital on the other side of the highway). Find both Jazz Cafe's by going to this Google map.
by Ivo Henfling
Once you move to Costa Rica and you drive your own car, you will have to find a place to park it, no matter where you go. Unless you find a public parking lot where you have to pay to park your car, you will probably park the car anywhere on the street. When you want to leave, a guy will walk up to you, help you get out of your parking spot and will hold up his hand. You didn’t know it, but he was there watching your car while you were away, so it didn’t get stolen or broken into. We call them a guachiman, watchiman or cuidacarros.
In Costa Rica, a guachiman is an informal security guard and I’m sure the word was invented by a Tico who didn’t know how to pronounce the English word watchman. Los Guachimanes (not guachimen) are informal guards and to the mindset of a 1st world citizen they are part of an unorganized mafia of ripping people off while parking their vehicle out on the public street.
by Ivo Henfling
“I am sorry sir, if you want me to show you Costa Rica real estate on Friday, I cannot pick you up at your hotel. I can meet you anywhere outside the beltway; you will have to get a taxi to get out of San Jose. Friday is my tag day.”
Most people who are planning to move to Costa Rica have no idea what tag day is and for those living in the Central Valley it is hard to figure our where you can drive on tag day. It is a restriction that all cars in Costa Rica have: your car cannot go into San Jose 1 day a week on certain hours. The restriction is regulated by the last number of your number plate and was invented by the Costarican transport authorities (MOPT) to reduce the amount of traffic going into San Jose as well as to save gas. I am sure nobody has measured the amount of gas wasted by cars seeking alternate routes to get around San Jose.
By Guest Blogger TicoNuevo
Costa Rica is a beautiful country. This relatively small nation has more than its share national parks, outdoor activities, beaches, wildlife, laidback lifestyles as well as many cultural activities.
You should be aware that driving times and speed limits are slower than you are used to in North America, but even so, most destinations within Costa Rica, except the most remote spots, are a half-day’s drive from the Central Valley.
This is a good thing, because Costa Rica has the highest fuel prices of any nation in Central America.
by Ivo Henfling
Who is responsible for the security of your car while shopping at the mall or while staying in your hotel in Costa Rica? Last week, my clients were staying at the Best Western Irazu Hotel and while waiting for them I parked my car on the parking lot that belongs to the hotel.
My eye fell on this sign posted on the fence that said “user assumes all risk” in Spanish and English, not even very readable at a little distance. It is customary for most grocery stores, malls, hotels and many other public places that offer parking for their clients, to post signs like this. Not only driving in Costa Rica is different, parking is too.
by Guest Blogger TicoNuevo
In this blog, I’m trying to cover things you may not hear or read before you leave to visit Costa Rica for the first time. Since we’ve travelled plenty, but had been to Costa Rica only once, there are some things that struck us as unique or, at least, a bit unusual. The first of the two items mentioned in my headline above you may find at economy accommodations anywhere in the country, but particularly along the coasts.
The suicide shower as it is called, is an invention triggered by some engineer’s warped sense of practicality. Many, if not most, Tico homes do not have hot water—hot water is generally seen by the native Costa Ricans in this warm clime as unnecessary and/or too expensive. This invention—an electrically heated shower head—is a way to provide hot water in the shower without having to invest in a hot water heater and hot water plumbing.
Easter week starts today, Palm Sunday, and is an important week in Costa Rica as part of this week the whole country shuts down and your life could be influenced by some of the customs in our beautiful country. Most people in the Central Valley took off for the beaches as early as yesterday morning and as late as next Wednesday. If you like your beer, whiskey or rum 'n coke, make sure you stock up, because you will find the liquor stores and liquor departments in the grocery stores closed as of Wednesday.
Even in the tourism industry, restaurants and hotels will not be able to serve any liquor, though there are always some who will try to keep their business going by serving under the counter. So if you plan to go our for dinner, a vacation or a night out and you cannot live without your glass of wine, make sure you get a colored jug in the store, fill it up with your favorite booze and cheers!
by Guest Blogger TicoNuevo
As stated in my last blog “Movin’ On”, we were committed to a Costa Rican exploration holiday before moving to Costa Rica and so we prepared to head south. We wanted to give ourselves enough time to get acquainted with the country and still leave time to enjoy ourselves. Since we had a business to run back home, we felt just a bit over two weeks was about the maximum time we could afford to spend away from home.
We basically divided our trip in half. The fact that weather and medical services were priority criteria for us, we decided to spend half of our vacation exploring our interest in some of the communities of the Central Valley with the most-temperate weather and the closest proximity to excellent medical facilities. The other half of our trip was spent in Arenal, Poas Volcano National Park and along the Central Pacific Coast. I suggest if your priorities differ, allocate your visit accordingly.