Many days an older women in a wheel chair is treated at Radioterapia just before me. The other day I asked the therapists how old she was and in unison they said, “107.” She’s obviously a fighter, still battling cancer at this age! And always smiles when I speak to her, though I don’t have her name or photo yet, I hope to one day.
In Costa Rica many people live to be over 100 years of age. Five areas of the world with a high concentration of people living past 100 are called “Blue Zones” (Wikipedia link), including one in the Nicoya rural area of Costa Rica.
The ingredients of health and long life, are great temperance, open air, easy labor, and little care.
This 107 year old woman reminded me of the many motivations that led to my radical decision to move to Costa Rica in 2014 – including health and old age – while many Americans were questioning me “abandoning” the security, safety, and richness of the U.S. (though I had trouble “making ends meet” living there). 🙂
I spoke to this in my December 21, 2014 blog post (just 3 days before arriving in Costa Rica) sharing one of my favorite Thomas Merton poem-prayers which I repeat here as one example of my Costa Rica Adventure being as much about faith as it is retirement in nature:
Because I know there are several readers of my blog who are considering relocation to Costa Rica for retirement like me or other reasons, I must link to this article: Due Diligence when relocating to Costa Rica on the Live in Costa Rica Blog and Tour website. It is one of the best summaries I’ve seen yet of some basics which you must consider if you are even thinking about moving to Costa Rica.
And the feature photo at top is my shot of “Whale’s Tail Beach” Uvita from a plane.
My 3 Most Important Things to Do Before Moving to Costa Rica
Here are just some of the many reasons I love being “Retired in Costa Rica” and I thank Christopher Howard for first printing this “song” in his Live in Costa Rica Blog & Website. It was written by the late Lair Davis to express his love for this wonderful country. It lists many of the reasons that I live here and will continue to until I die. Though he does not emphasize my primary love of the country – NATURE – and all of the natural beauty found here, it expresses many of the “people reasons” for living here:
The several swinging bridges at Arenal Observatory Lodge connecting the many trails are a lot more secure than those rope bridges we made in Boy Scouts, but just as thrilling! 🙂 Here’s some shots of two of the hanging bridges I hiked over during my Arenal Visit Christmas Week. CLICK an image to see larger . . .
“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be.”
― Douglas Adams
Tomorrow Begins Another Adventure . . .
I don’t plan or intend to have trips just 3 weeks apart! It takes me longer than that to process the photos! 🙂
But because I had to reschedule this next trip, originally set for a March-April overlap week, just as the Pandemic was taking over . . . Soooo I told them to “reschedule it around the middle of January, not thinking about my Christmas trip – But anyway . . . I’m shifting gears from a rainforest at the base of a volcano to a cooler Cloud Forest in San Gerardo de Dota, starting tomorrow at the Savegre Hotel and Nature Reserve. (NOTE: their website is under reconstruction and only the home page shows for now.
This is one of the lodges I stayed in on my first trip to Costa Rica in 2009. It’s the best place in the world to see and photograph the Resplendent Quetzal bird. And the coldest place I’ve been in Costa Rica with fireplaces used at night. Since no rain in January, it is a little warmer at 13° C or 54° F average low to high of 27°C or 81°F, but hey guys! I freeze to death here in Atenas when it gets down in the 60’s F. 🙂
The new lodge website linked above is under construction, so instead of their photos, you can see my photo galleries of 3 previous visits, all a very long time ago 🙂 . . .
The other day I was walking over the hill in my neighborhood and a friendly Tica woman my age or older pointed to my “Pura Vida” cap (photo above) and asked me in perfect English, “Do you know what that Pura Vida means?” I responded, “Pure life among other things!” with a big smile. She retorted, “No, it means ‘Not My Problem!’” with an even bigger smile on her face and then a laugh as she continued on in the opposite direction. 🙂
So today, the morning after the American election, with the vote-counting expected to last many more days and your idiot president already lying and threatening to legally challenge the results, I’m trying to have that version of the Pura Vida attitude.
After all . . . one of the main reasons I left the states to live in Costa Rica was to get away from the Republican Party and the ugly, racist, lying, nasty people like Donald Trump – and there were plenty in Tennessee back in 2014 before Trump ever came on the scene. And 6 years later it is worse as the rich white folks keep getting richer and the poor keep getting poorer and the people of color keep getting targeted and segregated. God help America!
I have only one vote and I caste it. That is all I can do to help my country of origin. It saddens me that even if Biden wins, and he certainly should, the right-wing madness will continue with conspiracy theories, lies, racism, and hatefulness that is slowly dividing and may ultimately destroy America. How sad that so many people would vote for that! My old evangelical friends no longer follow Christ but desperately seek political power instead. I used to feel sorry for people who lived in third world countries, but now I feel sorry for people who live in America, especially if they are poor or of color. And what an ugly place to raise children of any color!
But in the true spirit of Costa Rica and a new interpretation of Pura Vida, I will continue to enjoy life in this great little nature country and say to you Americans . . .
Today I received the final edition of the “Retire for Less in Costa Rica” Newsletter. This wonderful couple, Paul & Gloria, are really retiring themselves now and it is about time! I have recommended them many times and they are keeping their website up for awhile, so check it out now if you haven’t before. They give the most practical advice of anyone on retiring in Costa Rica and they will be greatly missed, though maybe I will get to see them again for other reasons or socially. I hope so. They will be dividing their time between Costa Rica and Mexico which is an unusual way to retire, but very interesting.
In their last newsletter they included a summary of their philosophy over these 12 years that has not changed. I will try to copy it here:
What is the Retire for Less Philosophy?
Sometimes we tell people that we live the “retire for less lifestyle,” or perhaps we notice that others are also living in a similar way. So what exactly is it?
Conserve, simplify, enjoy. These three words sum up the Retire for Less Philosophy or lifestyle. We believe one can:
Enjoy the simple things in life
Discard some old beliefs regarding retirement
Count your cash, get your Social Security, and go where it’s cheaper
Reinvent yourself and begin a whole new, adventurous phase of your life
Look at your life differently, embrace the new culture, and try not to be ethnocentric
Scale down, live within your means, and learn to have fun, fun, fun!
Conserve energy, go green, and live without air-conditioners, heaters, dehumidifiers, and cars, as much as possible
Live without debt, reduce expenses, and reduce expectations
Save money, spend less, use less, and be satisfied with less –less is more
They will be missed and have certainly helped a lot of people retire here and elsewhere. Now I will just continue my very simple life in Costa Rica, not owning anything including a car. Zero debt. Walking almost daily. Enjoying the simple things of life in a simple country that puts people and nature above industry and money. Where nature is king and we will be carbon neutral in a year or so! (99% of electricity now.)
Of course he pushes Costa Rica because his relocation tours here are his business, but it is a fair look at the popular retirement destinations in Latin America and the costs of living in each with many or most having a cheaper cost of living than Costa Rica. I hope it will be helpful for those considering retirement “South of the Border!” 🙂
My personal advice is to visit each of the countries that interest you first for a general comparison, then visit the country you zero in on at least 3 or 4 times before actually moving there, plus doing all the relocation detail studies concerning housing, healthcare, insurance, language, etc. And for Costa Rica the ARCR is probably your best help on details.
The Featured Photo is one of mine of a sunrise on the Caribbean or Atlantic Coast at Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Hotel Banana Azul. That side of Costa Rica is probably the most affordable or lowest cost of living and rent because it is the least developed. For example, living on or near a Pacific Coast beach could cost you twice as much as on the Atlantic, while the Central Valley where I live costs somewhere in-between. And remember that both beaches are hotter and more humid than the hills in-between. 🙂
This morning I prayed for Nashville, Tennessee which was devastated last night with a major overnight tornado.
For those who don’t know, I lived in Nashville for about 37 years (1977-2014, minus 3 in The Gambia) and lived in two of the neighborhoods hit by the tornado last night, Germantown and Hermitage, thus the destruction is very real to me plus I knew people in other areas hit bad, like East Nashville.
But I also know Nashvillians and that they will work together to get through this and be a stronger community because of it. Yet still, I send my sympathies to the many families who lost loved ones last night (19 at last report seen). Washington Post Article on Storm.
Is that a word? 🙂 Well, anyway, I finished my week of Spanish Language Immersion and can say that it was very good or helpful! The most effective language immersion class/living is when one does it for two months straight or longer, then you are more or less fluent, people tell me. If I had my move to Costa Rica to do over, I would have scheduled the first two months in language immersion, but I didn’t – so I will keep up my plodding along here in Atenas with a tutor two hours a week along with relating to locals in Spanish and I may go back to Heredia for some more one week experiences in the future. We will see. It is not as expensive as my birding trips but nor is it as much fun! 🙂
The featured photo is from my breakfast table back home in Atenas this morning (got in last night) with that pretty pink-blooming tree on the horizon. It is always good to “get back home” after a trip. And in a lesser sense, I still have a type of language immersion living in Atenas, just not in my house! Though I guess I could talk to myself in Spanish! 🙂 I use only Spanish here with taxistas, at the supermercado, mostly in restaurants & other business and with my tutor – so not bad – but still not quite like the full immersion of this past week.
I recommend the experience and really liked the folks at Tico Lingo which I recommend, though I can’t compare it to any of the many other such programs here or in other countries. My uncle and some friends had good experiences at a similar program in Antigua, Guatemala while I have known others to do it in various places in Mexico – thus there are many opportunities if you are interested! And remember that living in a local home that speaks only Spanish is maybe just as important as the several hours of class work in the school. 🙂 AND using the language when you leave! 🙂 And I just now found one website that compares 18 such schools mostly geared to youth also wanting a beach experience and it doesn’t even include Tico Lingo, but if interested check out: Language Schools. My relocation tour stopped at two of these schools for quick introductions and there are more than these!
Speaking in Spanish with other students was also helpful. I was at a lower level than the one group class during my week, thus I had a solo class or 3 hours of personal tutoring each morning which was definitely best for me, but I did go out to lunch with some others and practiced with them a little, though it’s too easy to relapse into English with other Americans! 🙂
And of course I have a “Trip Gallery” of photos from this week, titled: