A Timeline on Moving to Costa Rica

Over the last 5 years I have shared many details of my timeline of moving to Costa Rica, but it is always good to see someone else’s especially a couple’s and one of the best I’ve seen recently is

Our Moving to Costa Rica Timeline: All the Steps Along the Way, by Rob Evans

Version 2Now that link should take you directly to the article but if it doesn’t, then note that it is in this month’s or June 10, 2019 issue of the Newsletter from my friends Paul & Gloria: Retire for Less in Costa Rica    which link should take you to the issue of their newsletter with Rob’s article. Just scroll down to the article. And by the way, if you are seriously considering a move here, you need to subscribe to Paul & Gloria’s newsletter for so much of the little nitty-gritty practicalities and also to learn how they save money much better than me.

The Evans’ did not use ARCR like me and did a lot of other things differently. It will inspire you if you are one of my readers considering a move here. Check it out! There are many different ways to get here!  🙂

How Costa Rica Retirement Helps Me Avoid Alzheimer’s. . .

This morning’s Washington Post has this very revealing article: Ditch the GPS. It’s ruining your brain.

20160414_104320-A-WEBI 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:

  1. 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).
  2. 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.
  3. 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.



April 4, 2019:  Costa Rica announces charging grid for electric vehicles   34 charging stations to start off with in a tiny country is not bad! More are being added!

Dec. 29, 2018:  Clean energy leader Costa Rica turns attention to electric cars

¡Pura Vida!

Living with Bugs!

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.

Leafcutter Ant on my Terrace this morning.

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 CR under 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 TRAVEL  galleries. 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!

20190604_111253[1]-A-WEBSunday 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!  🙂

Living Slow

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.

— Carl Honoré

How to start a slow living lifestyle.

¡Pura Vida!


Good Country Index

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.

I learned about this recognition from Christopher Howard’s newsletter/blog in his article More Accolades for Costa Rica.

¡Pura Vida!

Retire in Columbia?

Featured photo is one of mine from a 2011 cruise ship stop in Cartagena, Columbia.

A few days ago I posted a link to a great birding video made in the nearby South American country of Columbia which claims to have more birds than Costa Rica (maybe).

Also a year or two ago I told about a neighbor who moved her retirement home from Atenas, Costa Rica to Medellin, Columbia. Because of the lower cost of living there, many Americans and Canadians are considering it as an excellent tropical retirement home. Thus I did a similar post in Jan. 2018. If still considering your retirement plans, Columbia is worth looking into.

Christopher Howard of “Live in Costa Rica” blog and tours has just expanded his business to include a new “Live in Columbia” blog and tour. Yesterday he posted this article on his Costa Rica blog:  Violent Columbia vs Peaceful Costa Rica

I’ve discussed earlier here that I seriously considered retiring in Panama before choosing Costa Rica and after a blip of enthusiasm from other retirees and organizations over Ecuador and Columbia and even Nicaragua, I am still happy with my choice of Costa Rica and anticipate staying with it for the long haul!   🙂   And it is easy for me to travel to these other nearby countries when I think it worth the trip.

On a birding trip in Cartagena, Columbia, 2011

Often when you think you’re at the end of something, you’re at the beginning of something else.Fred Rogers

¡Pura Vida!

Describing My 2014 Journey Here

This week’s death of Nature Poet Mary Oliver (1935-2019), and article about her in Washington Post, plus reviewing her poems led me to her “Journey” which in some ways describes what I was unable to describe in my 2014 “Decision Process” I called it then, of getting away from the depressing world of conservative Middle Tennessee, the clouds of a failed marriage and subsequent loss of family, branches and stones in my path of a vocational “calling”  manipulated by power-hungry “rulers” ending unceremoniously first in 1999 and finally by 2002 in unplanned early retirement. In a daze . . .

I’ve always tried to “make lemonade out of lemons” and I turned my retirement into an adventure of nature travel and photography as much as I could afford, including visits to all 54 state parks in Tennessee with a book about that, A Walk in the Woodsalong with many other nature/travel books and my growing nature photo gallery. But I was still looking for something else.

Moving from the vibrant life of rowhouse living in downtown Nashville to a suburban “Independent Living Retirement Home” was still not what I was looking for.

It was to commune closer with nature, to travel in natural exotic places that my limited income could not afford, then suddenly it hit me, why not move to one of the nature places in which I love to travel and just live there?

With only 2 family members left and no grandchildren, it was easier for me than some people to make such a life-changing move! And now I see it described in a new way in this poem by Mary Oliver:

The Journey

One day you finally knew

what you had to do, and began,

though the voices around you

kept shouting

their bad advice–

though the whole house

began to tremble

and you felt the old tug

at your ankles.

“Mend my life!”

each voice cried.

But you didn’t stop.

You knew what you had to do,

though the wind pried

with its stiff fingers

at the very foundations,

though their melancholy

was terrible.

It was already late

enough, and a wild night,

and the road full of fallen

branches and stones.

But little by little,

as you left their voices behind,

the stars began to burn

through the sheets of clouds,

and there was a new voice

which you slowly

recognized as your own,

that kept you company

as you strode deeper and deeper

into the world,

determined to do

the only thing you could do–

determined to save

the only life you could save.

~Mary Oliver

¡Retired in Costa Rica!

¡Pura Vida!

Goodbye to a Good Friend

Garden Art by Anthony

This morning at about 4:00 I said goodbye to my next door neighbor Anthony who has been a special friend this last year, as he was when he lived on the other side of me during my first few months in this house (before he traveled to Spain & Morocco for 9 months). He is the single artist guy, about 8 years younger than me, who is still driven to create. He did my garden art sculpture I’ve shown before and a painting I promised not to publish. You will have to visit me to see it – another contemporary bird!

Though Costa Rica is a great atmosphere for creativity, it is not the easiest place to get lots of different art supplies, especially for his clay and tile work. So he is moving back to the states, not to his native Indiana, but to an art community in Chicago where he can get everything he needs to create including many customers which he also needs at this particular point in his life. And he plans to take classes in a world renowned tile art school there.  So I wish Anthony the best of life in lakeside Chicago and a fabulous new career as an artist in the states.

The house he was in, next door in this same compound, has already been rented and soon I will meet my new neighbor and see what adventures that will bring! And very soon I could be greeting a new landlord, as the whole compound is for sale. I met one lovely couple moving here from Houston who are considering the purchase. They are originally from Louisiana and we hit it off when they visited as “fellow southerners.” It seems that people know immediately when I speak that I’m from “The South.” Wonder why?

We will see what happens. My current French Canadian landlords will still be in Atenas part time in a smaller house, with their main house being built on a Pacific Coast beach north of Jaco. And the now vacant house on the other side of me (Richard’s casita) has a couple moving in for two months that I met through my blog and the local evangelical church, Iglesia Biblical. Change is maybe the most consistent part of life! And it always brings new experiences and new friends! Pura vida!   🙂


The Greatest Threat to the Church Isn’t Islam – It’s Us
Hoping non-subscribers to Christianity Today can get to this linked article by a Nigerian Christian. In many ways Africa is where Christianity is strongest today and there are many things Americans could learn from our African brethren! This article is a good example.

Boxes From Heaven?

Boxes picked up in the streets just as I was needing boxes to move!

Read into it what you like, but on one of my daily walks downtown I was thinking that I need to get some of the flattened boxes from the Supermercado to help me with my move on the 23rd. Though it is a lot of trouble to have to tape them back together again. Then, presto! I saw two good boxes in the middle of the street. I recklessly ran out into the street, picked them up and took’em home. This happened three times in three days. I’ll try not to read too much into this, like “God wants me to move and he provided the boxes,” but you can interpret it however you like. 🙂  Someone in Nashville told me recently that I live a “charmed life,” whatever that means, though I think it means I’m incredibly fortunate to have the life I have, to be where I am, and to do the things I get to do. “Thank you God!” (Whether you provided the boxes or not!)    🙂

Moving to a New House

Realtor photo from deck looking at similar neighbor house.

As the unofficial marketing director for Hacienda La Jacaranda (I write about it so much >g<), it may shock you that I am moving away from it. But from the first week when I realized there was some poor construction and poorer maintenance here, I have kept my eyes open for another place, preferably a house. I’ve looked at three other older ones that just were not right for me. Last week I talked with Andrew, a local Realtor, about the possibility again, as a last resort before the rainy season begins and the delivery of my shipped boxes. He pulled up this listing on his laptop and I pretty much knew immediately that it was the one, but scheduled a look inside, evaluated the pros and cons of moving, and decided last night this is the right move. If you’re into that kind of detailed evaluations, you can see my pros and cons chart below – never fool-proof but always helpful to me. Here from the Realtor web listing is the “Virtual Tour” which I don’t know how to embed, so just click the linked words below:

“Full Screen” looks best 🙂

And when I tried to copy photos from the listing, they were too small to share here except the one above, a view of my only closest neighbor from my kitchen window. On my tour we didn’t have time for me to make photos. Of course you will get photos from me later. 🙂
We start paperwork Monday, meet with owner Tuesday to sign the contract, and if all works as planned I will move in 23 April, one day before the next month’s rent is due here, and of course I will lose the deposit by not giving the impractical two-month notice. I’ve talked with the new manager at La Jacaranda and he is not angry, just disappointed. We will stay friends. I like him and I love the grounds here and may come back for photos. It is really the main thing I will miss, all the big trees with birds and monkeys! Just not my mold allergies in the musty, moldy bathrooms that will require new drain plumbing to fix, a big expensive job. 
Saturday I walked over to the house to check mileages to different places with my pedometer and try to get a cell phone photo, but of course the house gate was locked and I could only shoot from the street. This shows the large balcony deck with a killer view, outdoor dining table and chairs where I expect to eat most meals. Use the virtual tour to see inside the house and views of the deck. 
Cell Phone view from outside my locked gate. (No clicker yet!)
Notice the dry season look compared to green season look at top.

Pros & Cons of Moving to the House

1. New, better construction 1. Cost will increase up to $150 with utilities
2. Appears to be better management 2. Poor parking space but I have no car
3. Screens on sliding glass doors to deck 3. Not as many big trees near house as apartments and probably not as many birds & monkeys, but don’t know that yet
4. Bigger deck as extension of living/dining with second dining table outside 4. It is at beginning of complex, near gate, but on three visits, very little traffic
5. Ceiling fans in LR, BR, Office/Guest Room 5. One bathroom (but, single guy, few visitors)
6. No plumbing mold, mildew issues like my apartment will always have (1 of my allergies) 6. No air conditioning 
7. More privacy
8. Larger, more space
9. Office with desk and nice couch/futon bed
10. Kitchen better equipped, nicer
11. Washer AND Dryer in big laundry room with two deep sinks
12. Beautifully decorated! But I can add some of my art. I love their art which goes with mine. Modern nature theme.
13. Equal or better panoramic view
14. Nicer, larger bedroom (& office/guest rm)
15. Nicer, larger bathroom
16. No A/C will save on electricity cost
17. Near entrance gate helps on walking distances and it is actually 2/10 mile closer to Central Park than La Jacaranda, about same distance to grocery store
18. I can plant flowers outside & have more room for potted plants than at apartment
19. I can more safely ride a bicycle from this house and hope to rent one first, to see how it works before buying one
20. The hills are less steep than between apartment and town for walking or biking
21. Best security with guards at entrance gate and patrols 24/7, plus alarm system in house and separate gate to my cluster of 3 houses
22. He will add carport if I get a car

TMI?  Maybe I share too much information, but this blog is partly to help others considering a move to Costa Rica and full honesty can be the best help. I know that such blogs helped me before my move.

And at first, I would never have considered a move to a gated community of probably half expats, but my little nest for writing, a photography & travel base, and rest needs to be allergy-free and comfortable. This is more than I had ever hoped for and I could stay really long term here, though the contract is for just two years. We’ll see.

I try not to publish two posts on the same day – oh well – its done! 

Praying Mantis Sends Me Upstairs

Praying Mantis on my downstairs apartment tile floor this morning.
I had a lot more insects downstairs with no screens and close to the ground.

As I finished breakfast this morning, ready to move into Apartment 3, I looked down at my living room floor and found this lovely Praying Mantis praying for me as I make the move up to my “penthouse” apartment on the third floor. As you can see, now that I’m living a simpler life, it doesn’t take much to thrill me! Last week it was a walking leaf and today a walking twig. Tomorrow will surely have another serendipity!  🙂  And I’ll try to photograph my new view tonight or tomorrow morning. Right now is the hot afternoon and we face west. And yes I prefer the 80’s over Nashville’s single digit temperatures! It is nice to live in shorts and T-shirt! But then tonight I will sleep with windows open and maybe use a blanket.   -Charlie