I encourage you to watch this brief 1 minute video ad that will be appearing in larger city TV markets in the U.S. and Canada this year. Then plan your trip to Costa Rica for the “Essentials of Life!” in Costa Rica! – 🙂 – ¡Pura Vida!
And for the bird-lovers & nature-lovers up north, are you aware of the tragedy of our lifetime? Nearly 3 Billion Birds Gone from U.S. & Canada – staggering! Link is to article from The Cornell Lab of Ornithology. We are destroying the earth little by little. I’m thankful to live in a small haven of nature, Costa Rica!
Even though Costa Rica does not have all the “safety net” programs of the U.S. (though free medical care & education), plain ol’ regular daily life for Ticos (and most expats) is easier here for the poor than in the states. (And that is even with CR having the highest cost of living in Central America.) I’m first motivated to say this because of the latest article in the “Live in Costa Rica” blog:
Also because I know that there are people from the States living here on no other income than their monthly Social Security check. A person can live solo here on a thousand dollars a month, though very simply. For residency (like Green Card in States) you must prove income of at least $1,000 a month. I think it would be much more difficult to live on that in the states! (And by the way, I meet that requirement by having my SS Check auto-deposited in my Costa Rica bank account. )
In fact there is a whole website & tour/conference program here entitled Retire in Costa Rica on Social Security. George supposedly shows you how to do it. (Disclaimer: I have not participated in his tour/program but like his concepts and his Intro Video!) On his site he quickly refers you to another blog/website that I know from experience helps you with specific budgeting: Retire for Less in Costa Rica. I highly recommend their newsletter/blog as the best for someone retiring here on a tight budget. It just may be my favorite newsletter on retiring in Costa Rica!
Remember that a large number of Ticos live here on less than a thousand dollars a month (even families). They do not travel somewhere every month like me nor have some of the luxuries I have, nor eat out in restaurants, but they are very happy and live productive lives in one of the happiest countries in the world. And like me, most have no car! 🙂 That is one of my biggest savings and helps me to afford my monthly travels, thanks in part to affordable public transportation!
I do not talk budget/expenses much – not the focus of my blog – but it is the purpose of the two blogs linked above. If you are concerned about affording retirement in Costa Rica, you must subscribe to the Retire for Less in Costa Rica blog/newsletter and check out the social security one.
Then come experience the tranquil life of adventure and happiness in the land of Pura Vida – Rich or Poor! 🙂
The Feature Photois a current shot of the fading graffiti on the wall behind our public college-prep high school, Colegio Liceo Atenas. It may not have been intended to represent poverty, but it seems to fit for me. 🙂 The phrase written to the left of the face, No dejemos que los niños pierdan su sonrisa. is roughly translated: “Let’s not let the kids lose their smile.” And the schools along with the Catholic Church work hard to help those in poverty, especially children. I find happy children in the poorest neighborhoods I walk through. As my grandmother used to say, “In life you do the best you can with what ya’ got.” 🙂 And that is . . .
I have always been a map person and my first two years here I rented cars for most of my trips, but found that my old habit of using maps did not work well here because the actual highways, roads, streets and houses/businesses are mostly not numbered or labeled, therefore not relatable to a paper map. Thus I always got a rent car with a GPS included that works great here and many locals prefer the free WAZE on their cell phone. But it removes your brain from the challenge of getting somewhere as the article above suggests.
Now that I walk everywhere in town, I use my brain instead of GPS to get around using landmarks like a true local. (Yeah, with cell phones you can walk with GPS too! I don’t!), Here are some typical Atenas directions using landmarks:
MY HOUSE: Take the street that dead ends into La Coope Gasolinera south until it ends at Avenida 8 (locals still call it Calle Boqueron), then left about 300 meters to the Roca Verde main gate on the right. Inside the gate go straight about 150 meters to the 3rd gate on the left, 105 Roca Verde (which is labeled).
SPANISH LESSONS ATENAS: From Central Park Atenas take the street behind the main church west about 250 meters or 150 meters beyond Pali Supermercado to a house on the left before the Lions Club and Police Station, in front of Veterinario Occidental. There is a “Spanish Lessons” sign on the gate.
OR MY LOCAL LAWYER: 100 meters south and 75 meters east of Justice Court. (Most know the courthouse, but I can add that it is at corner of Central Park near church.)
And of course all of these directions exercise my brain even more when I try to give them in Spanish! 🙂 Yep, I’m very slow at learning Spanish but learning another language is another good deterrent to Alzheimer’s! And as a walker in town it is amazing how many cars stop and ask me directions to something, usually in español. Mental exercise! 🙂
Another simple health advantage to retiring in Costa Rica! 🙂
“Remember what Bilbo used to say: It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”
– JRR Tolkien
Electric Cars in Costa Rica?
Those considering retirement here who are also ecology-conscious will be interested to know that Electric Cars are in Costa Rica and available for those who can afford the sometimes higher cost (though one Chinese Electric Car sells for just $15,000!). For details on prices and availability see this Live in Costa Rica Blog article: EXPAT RETIREES AND ELECTRIC VEHICLES.
AND THESE RECENT TICO TIMES ARTICLES ON ELECTRIC CARS IN COSTA RICA:
For anyone considering retirement or otherwise living in Costa Rica, be forewarned that you must learn to live with the 300,000+ species of insects here on this land bridge between North and South America (with insects from both continents!). The featured image at top is of two “Jewel Bugs” or “Metallic Shield Bugs” I photographed in Corcovado National Park. Below photo I made this morning of a “Leafcutter Ant” on my terrace carrying a flower petal (bougainvillea) instead of a piece of leaf, which is common.
Many of the insects that pester me seem to come in waves; like just before rainy season the little long-winged fliers that dropped or left their long beige wings all over my bathroom, or the first two weeks of rain was the invasion of houseflies (which Deep Woods OFF doesn’t seem to affect!), and right now there are hundreds of tiny little black & green beetles on the walls, around the lights and all over me! I even got one going down my ear the other night – ugh! They don’t bite, but a bother! Too small to photograph.
My biggest deterrent to the many kinds of bugs are the Geckos that live in literally every room of my house and I think eat most types of insects. From my first day here I have tried to photograph the larger insects (some are just too tiny) and you can see my collection in the gallery named INSECTS CRunder OTHER WILDLIFE in the main gallery. There are more than 100 species of insects in my gallery and especially interesting or unusual are those in the sub-gallery Other Insects, like the above Jewel Bugs, many of which I have not been able to identify. And all of which serve a purpose in the cycles of life. Of course the most popular sub-gallery is Butterfly & Moth (81+ Species).
A Break From Blogging
For regular readers, I assume you have noticed several days without a post. Sometimes I just doesn’t feel like writing and/or in this case got focused on my old photos again as I am slowly adding them to my galleries, particularly the Pre-Costa Rica TRAVELgalleries. It is a slow and labor-intensive process that eventually I will complete. I uploaded all of my international trips first and now working on USA trips from the most recent going back. Then comes the most, Tennessee travels. And most of these are after my retirement began at the end of 2002. I have been blessed to have seen so much of the world and get to know so many cool people!
Sunday afternoon I was a part of the Board of Directors meeting for the local children’s home, Hogar de Vida. The rest of the board seemed surprised and appreciative that I am the first person to include the children’s home in my will. But I am not a very good board member because I am not fluent in Spanish, in which all business is carried on! 🙂
Otherwise I am “Living Slow” as my sloth T-shirt says!
A fast approach tends to be a superficial one, but when you slow down you begin to engage more deeply with whatever it is you’re doing. You’re also forced to confront what’s happening inside you – which is one of the reasons why I think we find it so hard to slow down. Speed becomes a form of denial. It’s a way of running away from those more deeper, tangled problems. Instead of focusing on questions like who am I, and what is my role here, it all becomes a superficial to-do list.
Based on United Nations statistics, a group ranks countries on the amount of good they do for the people living there, called the Good Country Index. You can see on the list that though not at top (like those Scandinavian countries) Costa Rica is the highest ranking Latin American country and of course ranks higher than the United States. 🙂 Photo above is one of my shots from the 2018 Oxcart Parade, Atenas.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
And many of you know that Mark Twain’s spirit is my spirit. I have visited more than 60 places in Costa Rica and intend to continue until I have visited every park, refuge and reserve along with lodges and hotels that offer birding and nature adventures. The feature photo is my cell phone shot at the Beach Break Hotel in nearby Jaco Beach when the Nashville FBC Group was here.
And what is different about this week is I am going close to home, an hour’s drive away to Hotel Punta Leona with their own private nature reserve and they promise many birds including the Scarlet Macaw they provide nesting boxes for (like Tambor Tropical Resort I’ve already visited). As long as I have the promised WiFi connection I will be doing nightly posts from Punta Leona the rest of this week. Get ready for adventure near my quiet town of Atenas!
This article is about what you get for what you pay for in healthcare. Though not #1, Costa Rica is in the top 25 countries for efficient healthcare (based mostly on our public healthcare) while the U.S. is next to last with only Bulgaria being worse. Some rich expats here from the states still swear healthcare is better there and fly back for every little thing, since money is no problem for them.
The rest of us expats have found excellent healthcare here at a fraction of the cost of the states when using private doctors/services (maybe averaging around 1/4 the cost of stateside) and some of us save even more by mixing public healthcare (free though I pay a required tax for it) and private healthcare for which I must pay cash since I dropped my expensive private health insurance here. Yet it is quicker and sometimes more expedient than public healthcare. As shared in earlier posts I use a mixture of both and for private care I belong to a medical discount group called “MediSmart.”.
The most popular Costa Rica Made Cookies are called “Chiky” and come in many flavors and styles from the most popular chocolate cream-filled to strawberry, lemon, banano and even the tea-time crispy wafers. Mmmm good! The Link above is to Christopher Howard’s article and here is the English-language website of the cookie company here in Costa Rica:
OK – not a happy thought! So for those who don’t want to think about it, I have another post today on why we are happier in Costa Rica! 🙂 This is one of those articles for readers planning to retire here. Since I expect to spend the rest of my life here, I should plan for death here.
First, most expats living here will need two wills, one in Costa Rica and one in their home country. I already had a very detailed will in my home country, the United States, but now I am in the process of a slight update of it (I got rid of all my stuff.) AND creating a Costa Rica Will (which I should have done earlier). Since I own no property or even a car here (just personal effects in my house), my will is simpler than most expats living here. A house, a piece of land, a car, etc. located here must be covered in a Costa Rica Will, not your stateside or home country will. As the Boy Scout motto says:
MY COSTA RICA WILL covers everything in this country including: FIRST, MY BODY which I am donating to science at the University of Costa Rica Anatomy Department (easy for everyone else). 🙂 SECOND, ANY BANK ACCOUNTS here which for me is just one where my SS Check is deposited for housing expenses. A Costa Rica Bank account needs a Costa Rica Will. Any other money accounts a person has here would be the same. THIRD, MY PERSONAL EFFECTS here will be handled by Costa Rica law and I’m giving my son or sister 30 days to come here and claim anything they want (computer, cameras, artwork, photos, books, clothing & very little furniture). Hogar de Vida (a local children’s home) gets what my family does not claim (in person here) and/or Hogar de Vida is 3rd in line for all personal effects. They can use the stuff or sell in a yard sale as they wish. FOURTH, AN APOSTILLE DEATH CERTIFICATE(S) will be sent by my CR Attorney (or in some cases by the U.S. Embassy?) to my attorney in Nashville who will need it to execute my will there. Standard procedures.
MY UNITED STATES WILL covers everything related to me in the United States: FIRST, MY BANK ACCOUNTS there SECOND, MY RETIREMENT ACCOUNTS THIRD, MY ONE TINY LIFE INSURANCE POLICY FOURTH, DISPERSING ANY BALANCES ACCORDING TO THAT WILL
If I owned property in the states, it would be included above also. I don’t. I have greatly simplified by life in my final years. I have two attorneys (Costa Rica & Nashville) in touch with each other now so they have a plan to handle my death. When I die, it is all up to them in their respective countries. In my case they are also Executors of my two wills and Powers of Attorney, for me in their respective countries.
As a well spent day brings happy sleep, so life well used brings happy death.
~Leonardo da Vinci
The above featured photo by Charlie Doggett is of the Bribri Watsi Waterfall in the South Caribe of Costa Rica. The latest international report to place Costa Rica as the happiest place on earth lists some of the reasons. See the full article at World Economic Forum or here is my brief summary:
Seventy years ago we did away with our army and now spend 8% of GDP on education while the rest of the world (including the U.S) spends only an average of 4.8%. So our strength is human talent, human wellbeing.
Not spending on the armed forces also allows this country to protect the environment. Costa Rica generates more than 99% of its electricity from renewable sources.
The Costa Rican government has used taxes collected on the sale of fossil fuels to pay for the protection of forests. “We saw in the eighties that the forest coverage was reduced to 20% due to animal farming and timber. We’ve managed to recover all this and we’re back to forest coverage of 50%. By this we are combating climate change.”
Costa Rica hosts more than five per cent of the world’s species, despite a landmass that covers just 0.03% of the planet. “Many people say that to protect the environment goes against the economy. Whereas it’s the complete contrary. Our tourism has grown precisely because of this,” says Alvarado.
As a result, Costa Rica is the happiest and most sustainable country on Earth, according to the 2019 Happy Planet Index (HPI).
See my photo Gallery of happiest, most sustainable country:
is what the Dermatologist says about the cause of skin cancer. But he also says if I continue to get too much sun it will make it worse, so my two wide-brim hats and 60 SPF Sunscreen, called El Protector Solar here or informally protección de sol. I dislike it but when I know I will be in the sun much, I use the sunscreen now and wear my big hat everytime I go out!
SKIN CANCER SURGERY ON MY FACE THIS TIME
The only other skin cancer removed was from my arm a month or two ago and it was comparatively easy with a lot more skin on the arm. Sorry if the photo below grosses you out, but I was really surprised at how much this facial growth had grown with this big of a scar or “more than 15 stitches” said the doctor, though I counted more like 20 or 21 in the photo. My eye is partially swollen and partially closed but it will get back to normal soon. I went back to the doctor the day after surgery (Wed) and he changed the bandage which I will permanently remove Thursday. Air helps healing. And he prescribed a cream I put on it twice a day for at least two weeks when I see him again for a checkup, after my next photography trip of course! 🙂 I have to keep my priorities straight you know!
It was Mohs surgery Tuesday which the link describes or basically it is a pathologist there with the surgeon doing biopsies on every bit removed until there is no sign of cancer. With this he is now more certain he got all the cancer and didn’t remove too much “good skin” which is more limited on the face. He was prepared to graft a piece of skin from my cheek if necessary, but thankfully it was not. And in two weeks or so I will be back to normal with a noticeable scar on my face. No problem! Just call me “Scarface.” 🙂
The 15+ stitches
Surgery day bandage
That’s Life! – ¡Así es la vida!
And tomorrow I will go back to sharing more from my great trip to Maquenque Eco Lodge!(Link is to the Gallery)
And oh yeah, that sunset photo above is one I made at Arenal Volcano National Park. After all, this article is mostly about the sun! 🙂
My dermatologist (after 2 skin cancers) says I have to wear a wide-brim hat everytime I go out along with sunscreen. Bummer – but here’s my first one (a Dorfman Pacific Safari Hat) which is like what a neighbor wears everyday, so I won’t be alone! 🙂 Then with a Christmas gift certificate I ordered a Panama Jack Safari Hat which might be more stylish. The price you pay living close to the equator! ¡Pura Vida!