My Corcovado Sunset from Luna Lodge – Click to view larger
There is so much I do not understand about the mysteries of life, of God, of nature, and now of Costa Rica, the Spanish language, and what life will be like when I start living there. And that is part of the Costa Rica appeal for me. Last night I discovered a great little quote that I just must share:
“I would rather live in a world where my life is surrounded by mystery than live in a world so small that my mind could comprehend it.”
— Harry Emerson Fosdick
In the summer of 1960 when I arrived early for my Tentmaker Summer Mission work in New York, I made a solo pilgrimage for the Sunday morning worship at Riverside Baptist Church in NYC and heard Harry Emerson Fosdick preach. I cannot remember the message but do remember being impressed by his wisdom and that it was the first time I had ever heard a Baptist preach in a robe. Ahhhh . . . and then there’s the mystery of growing up! Mission trips and other travel brought that! And I’m still growing up! 🙂
A branch of the Savegre River, Costa Rica, 9/2014 Photo by Charlie Doggett – Click photo to View
Pura Vida! Here’s a summary of things I’m working on now for the move and at least one sorta funny story in it. This could especially be helpful to those of you considering a move as you see what I actually did on some of the steps I outlined earlier. Pura Vida explained at end of this post. FIRST, THE CORRECT APARTMENT LINK The email version of last night’s post had the wrong link for the apartment I’ve settled on, let’s try again because it is a good website with lots of photos I can’t copy: Hacienda La Jacarandaand I just tested it and it worked, but just in case, here is the address: http://www.atenasapartment.com/ And yes, I have a two bedroom, so a guest room for you! Knowing I can get off the plane and go to my new home is the first big relief! Pura Vida!
MY “TRAVELING” BIRTH CERTIFICATE(Arkansas Bureaucracy)
My one certified copy is old and I need to keep it, so I ordered a new copy that will be sent to Costa Rica. I finally got a real person to talk with and told her I needed my birth certificate with an Apostille (An international seal of certification) on it. “Oh, I’m sorry sir, we don’t do that in this office, but I will transfer you to the person who does.” Riiiiinnnng. “Secretary of State Office.” I again explained what I wanted. “Oh yes sir, just send your Birth Certificate to us and we will place an Apostille on it.” I then explained that I needed a new one and asked if the two offices could work together to place the seal before mailing it to me. “Oh no sir, I’m sorry, you will have to personally mail it to us with a cover letter and $10.” So I ordered the birth certificate online (fairly easy) and got it Express UPS in 2 days! Then I added my letter and check for $10 which is better than the $40 for the certificate! It has now been sent back to Little Rock in another Express UPS envelope ($20). When it is returned my birth certificate will have made three trips between Little Rock and Nashville before I send it to San Jose. I remember complaining how bureaucratic the Gambian government was (and have been warned to expect with Costa Rica), but I think we are just as bad in the states! Pura Vida!
SOCIAL SECURITY, TALKING COMPUTERS (and one real person)
Yesterday I spent more than an hour trying to get a certified, signed letter proving I make at least $1,000 or more per month. The SS Website is confusing and after talking computers, the recording for live customer service says “an hour or more wait, so press 1 for a call back.” They never called back. I did find a “statement of SS Income form online and printed it, but it’s not a letter and I’m afraid not official looking enough to satisfy the Costa Rica government.
So this morning I talked with a real person quickly at our local Madison SS Office and after one minute of data collecting, he very business-like said “I’ll get that out to you today sir.” No discussion, excuses or wasted time, just done! Hey! I like that! So the second document needed for my residency application is on its way. (I hope!) Police report on me is next job to tackle. Pura Vida!
BIG JOB OF SELLING STUFF, DOWNSIZING
I started with some videos on eBay and plan to add some books and other items there as I go along. McKendree Village is starting a “Village Treasures” Shop on October 11, in one of the unused cottages up front, which is just what I need since we are not allowed to have yard sales. It will more often be used for older people who move to nursing home or die and need to dispose of furniture and household goods. I’m already boxing up household goods for them and will pick some art or some of my many framed photos. I’ll have Jane & Scott come over and assess my stuff soon. This is in many ways the biggest job, because I want to limit what I put in storage and maybe later ship to Costa Rica. But life is not stuff! Pura Vida!
NEW REVELATIONS ON INTERIM MEDICAL INSURANCE
I plan to go on the more affordable government health plan called CAJA after I gain residency, which will take 6 months to a year. The most affordable interim option presented to us in the seminar (though not real cheap) was a PRICOSE private INS Health Insurance. I’ll do it for a year until I can get the CAJA. I wrote the PRICOSE representative who talked at our seminar, telling him I wanted to enroll before January 1 to be covered as I arrive. “Sorry,” he says. I will have to be in country and apply in person with a local attorney’s affidavit, a full physical by one of their doctors including a $130 EKG. The whole process will take about 5 weeks after I arrive. Brick wall I thought! Okay, so now I have to arrange for about two months of overseas or travel coverage until I can get their coverage. I’ll call “One Exchange” today.
“One Exchange” is the proxy for health coverage plans for LifeWay Retirees. They mainly help you pick out a policy that they sell you for their percentage. I talked to two people, the last of whom kept putting me on hold while she talked to her supervisor. They are all ignorant of what to do and even though I told them what my research indicated was possible through a Medigap Plan for 60 days, they knew nothing about it and said they would have to research it and get back with me. A big waste of 45 minutes!
Then I call my Medigap Insurer, Mutual of Omaha, and told them what my research showed and asked if my Medigap was one with the overseas coverage. They were the opposite of One Exchange. Misha was knowledgeable, polite and helpful. In just a few minutes she confirmed my research and told me that my Mutual of Omaha Medigap will cover me overseas at 80% for the first 60 days for all medical expenses that Medicare would cover in the states with a $250 deductible and $50,000 maximum. That will give me 60 days to get the Costa Rica policy I was told would take 5 weeks (35 days). I will not cancel my Mutual of Omaha Medigap Insurance until AFTER I have the local policy in hand as recommended by Mutual of Omaha and common sense, in case something doesn’t work out. (If INS took longer than 5 weeks and I have an emergency, I can fly home and be covered as I am now.) I am so relieved about something that was beginning to be a concern. There is now a plan in place to keep me with medical insurance at all times during the transition. I believe I will make it through this move just fine! Due diligence, planning and proper timing pays off! Pura Vida! (A Costa Rica slogan, literally meaning “Pure Life” but used to express the joy of life, happiness, greetings, etc. The above efforts are part of my cost to soon gain Pura Vida!)
Pool from patio and BBQ area where I’ll entertain you on your visit
I now have an apartment that will be waiting on me when I arrive the last week of December, the one I told you about earlier, Hacienda La Jacaranda.
Click the link to see photos of the property, the apartments inside, and even the waterfall on their property under their “Amenities” tab. Most of their photos cannot be copied. A Dutch couple operate it and he wrote me today with this fun message reminding me that my neighbors will include monkeys & iguanas:
Thank you for your reply. One unit is reserve for you. We are working on our paypal reservation payment in our website. Might be done tomorrow then I will let you know. You can stay here upon arrival.
You will love Costa Rica since you are a nature lover. Atenas also has the best climate. We will have several of mangos trees in the property and during mango season the monkeys visit here to eat the fruits. Iguana’s are just also in our premises. Right now, we have flowers in the garden so different kinds of butterflies is visible here. Good subject for photography. Here is one photo for you.
Phons van der Bom
Hacienda La Jacaranda Contiguo al Rio Cajon Atenas, Alajuela,Costa Rica
Phons’ photo of a butterfly in his garden
And in case you wondered about the name of the place, here is the Wikipedia definition:
Jacaranda is a genus of 49 species of flowering plants in the family Bignoniaceae, native to tropical and subtropical regions of Central America, South America, Cuba, Hispaniola, Jamaica and the Bahamas. Wikipedia
And by the way, I’ve decided to continue blogging here since several people are following this blog and not my Adventures Blog. At least until I get there. Tomorrow will be the good and bad news about interim medical insurance.
I didn’t get as many bird photos on this trip, but then it wasn’t the purpose except for two days. Of many bird shots, I have five that are decent and have finally got each bird properly identified. The Volcano Junco is the first posting:
Click Image to Enlarge!
Chestnut-mandibled Toucan, Hotel Rio Mar Dominical, Costa Rica
Black-billed Nightingale-thrush at Trogon Lodge San Gerardo de Dota, Costa Rica
Resplendent Quetzal, Trogon Lodge San Gerardo de Dota, Costa Rica
Collared Redstart, Trogon Lodge San Gerardo de Dota, Costa Rica
Volcano Junco Los Quetzales National Park, Costa Rica
When friends ask if I’m going to Costa Rica, I say “I’m making myself sleep on it for a week before I begin the paperwork, but I’m pretty sure I’m going.” The tour was very helpful both for what we saw and getting know the other 16 people who may move to Costa Rica. Our very knowledgeable guide, Chris Howard, mentions me and tells about our tour eating in his blog post today: LIVING AND EATING IN COSTA RICA which you might enjoy reading. The food was great with wonderful views at most meals!
View from Atenas
One of the couples on the tour with me had come to “try it out” for 4 to 6 months before they totally move to Costa Rica. They did a better job of apartment hunting than me and are now living for at least four to six months at Hacienda La Jacaranda in Atenas. (click to see how nice it is – they don’t allow copying their photos)
My driver did not “have time” to take me to Atenas which was one of the places I wanted to see apartments. I’m sorry, because I really like the look and feel of this place and they have a waterfall on property! And it is a 5 minute walk to the central plaza, groceries, bust stop, etc. An office for printing from my laptop, gym, pool, and more! So it will be one of the first places I will look when I return or might trust my friends recommendations and try to make a reservation in advance for the last week of December or first of January when I tentatively see myself going to live without moving furniture yet (if ever). It doesn’t have to be permanent, but a great start on my newest adventure! Pray that I make the best decisions and that God is in on whatever I do. That’s important to me!
Colonial Church facing Central Plaza, Atenas
Central Plaza, Atenas
And oh yeah! National Geographic says Atenas has the best year-around climate in the world! It gets to a high of 80 in the day and a low of 60 at night, all the time. Great sleeping without a/c and great daytime activity weather.
Resplendent Quetzal Male near Trogon Lodge San Gerardo de Dota, Costa Rica
Collared Redstart, Trogon Lodge San Gerardo de Dota, Costa Rica
“Buena Vista” in Talamanca Mountains Above the Clouds with a Tico friend soaking in the beauty.
A great last day and I’m exhausted with two birding hikes and the 90 minute drive back to San Jose. At dinner tonight I started a list of positives and negatives to moving to Costa Rica. I’ll share that later. I have thousands of photos, more great memories of Costa Rica, and a lot of knew knowledge about the country and the people. I have new friends here and from other places including a guy from the Netherlands today. Now I need a few days to let it all soak in and get some rest before I decide.
My 8:00 AM ride was early, not on “Tico Time” – a very pleasant young man named Alejandro for our 90 minute ride into the TalamancaMountains and Trogon Lodge. Upon arrival, the first thing I did was put on long pants and long-sleeve shirt! It is very cool here and they have already lit the gas heater in my rustic cabin. The rain is in the middle of the day here while always in afternoon in valley and coast. But I did get to hike a couple of hours in the rainforest with only a mist. Got only one bird, but several shots of him, I think some kind of thrush; I don’t have my CR Bird Book with me. I also saw several Tropical Kingbirds but couldn’t get a shot. The star of this hike was Catarata Falls on the Sevegre River (photo}. The lodge is right on this mountain river. The staff and food are fabulous! Only 3 guests during the day but 20 young adults from Germany came in this afternoon, so the dining room will be livelier for dinner! And already is in the bar! The only WiFi hot spot is in the bar where I’m posting now before dinner. Every moment of every day is an exciting adventure! I enjoy them all!
At 5:40 AM tomorrow I meet my guide to go find and photograph the Resplendent Quetzal before breakfast. Then I will hike around the cloud forest until Alejandro returns for me at 2:00 PM, my last day in Costa Rica this time. Enjoy my mountain rainforest photos. More will be in my online gallery later.
Catarata Falls on the Sevegre River
Trogon Lodge on Sevegre River in Talamanca Mountins
Black-billed Nightingale-thrush, Trogon Lodge San Gerardo de Dota, Costa Rica
We started at our day of looking for rentals at 9:30 AM and went to 5:00 PM. My driver/helper is Alex Palma who drives a cab, serves as a concierge mainly to tourists, Realtors and for tourist transportation (506-8846-6868) and was very helpful after I finally made it clear I wanted to see furnished apartments only and got to his computer to show him what I had found online. He was pushing his town of Santo Domingo partly because he lives there and then I found he has what we call a “Mother-in-law’s Apartment” in his house that is available. Nice but not what I wanted. I did fall in love with Santo Domingo though.
We looked at a very nice condo in Santa Rosa neighborhood of Santo Domingo that I loved and it was right beside theINBio Park which I see myself volunteering at sometime in the future. It was wonderful condo for only $600 a month but not furnished! I may later get an unfurnished place because I like to decorate, but not for a year at earliest. So we move on!
In another adjacent community (all suburbs of San Jose) named San Pablo we saw a wonderful furnished condo with pool for $900 which is more than I want to pay at first and it did not include utilities beyond water. We saw a brand new simpler and modern condo in Belen that was $750 plus utilities but it was another unfurnished one even though listed with the furnished ones. I could easily live there but I must start with a furnished apartment.
Finally our contact was able to meet us at 4:00 PM to show us a two-bedroom, one bath apartment just 5 blocks from the Santo Domingo plaza and church where everything is located and just what I wanted to be near. It is a colonial Latin American town that centers around a full block plaza with a big Catholic Church facing it. There are several needed businesses including a supermarket, the weekly farmers’ market, and a smaller 7-day a week fruit and vegetable market. There are several Sodas for a variety of lunch choices (we ate at one) and my favorite, a POP’s Ice Cream right on the square. I felt I had found my place! It rents for $600 a month furnished and with all utilities except electricity which will probably cost $40 month even with some a/c use says Alex.
I’m going to sleep on it a few days and then may offer a retainer if they will hold it for me until January to begin a 12-month lease then. Pray that I make the right call. This could be the first step in the decision to really do it! To really move to Costa Rica!
Earlier in the day we got ice cream at POP’s and ate it on a park bench in the Plaza. I hastily took a couple of photos on my pocket camera that are not very good, but must show them now! 🙂
Iglesia del Rosario, Santo Domingo (built between 1838-1844)
In another part of town there is a larger church, Basílica de Santo Domingo de Guzmán (built in 1856)
First thing after breakfast this morning was walking the 5 blocks to the ARCR office and meeting with my new Costa Rican lawyer, Jose Pablo Carter. He helped me put together the important items from the seminar and create a checklist of what I need to do to gain residency and get moved to Costa Rica. I will include it below. I walked back to my hotel (above) where they know me by name now and the waiters are trying to teach me Spanish. Fun! I did a review of it on TripAdvisor last night. Worked on list and had a sandwich.
In the afternoon I walked down the street again to two banks and only one of them had English as a choice on their ATM for the cash withdrawal I needed to make. Got to learn Spanish! Then at 3:00 my two-day driver came to show me the city and learn of my housing interests for our all day trip tomorrow to look at apartments and rental houses. I’m not renting now, but I want to see what they look like in different areas and get a feel for what I will try to nail down in 4-6 months maybe. Howard’s tour only showed expensive houses and tourist condos which was my biggest disappointment with his tour. We stopped for afternoon tea at a little neighborhood Soda, a small Tico cafe. Before and after this I typed up my checklist of things to do and had a bowl of mushroom soup and Tres Leches for dinner. Here is timeline:
Step by Step Timeline for Costa Rica Residency
As I understand it from ARCR Seminar and personal conference with Jose Pablo Carter, Lawyer
At Association of Residents of Costa Rica, September 1, 2014
COLLECT NEEDED DOCUMENTS
Send to Jose. I must then arrive within 6 months of earliest date on any of the following documents.
1. Authenticated Birth Certificate with Apostille from State of Arkansas
2. Apostille letter from Social Security proving lifetime pension over $1,000 a month
3. Police Report on me with Apostille and if possible fingerprints
4. U.S. Embassy/State Department Online: Do a Consular Registration for Costa Rica, then save as a PDF file. Print one for this packet of documents & email the file to Jose.
JOSE & ARCR WILL DO ALL THIS WORK IN COSTA RICA FOR ME:
1. Provide Spanish translations of all the above documents as required
2. File my application with the Caja Office
JOSE/ARCR WILL DO AFTER I MOVE:
1. Review my rental contract
2. Get my fingerprints and physical exam that can be turned in after the Caja application is filed
3. Help me open a local bank account
4. Prepare a Costa Rica Will and powers of attorney from copy of my U.S. Wills, etc.
OTHER THINGS I CAN DO BEFORE MOVING
1. Contact Juan C. Calero of Pricose to start INS insurance policy by day I arrive
2. Contact the young doctor from Metropolitano about my sleep apnea and meds
3. Get budget worked out
4. Contact mover, Charlie Zeller
5. Learn more Spanish
6. Get online business settled before the move and ask lots of questions about doing it from Costa Rica
7. See if X or X will let me establish a U.S. physical address with them for my TN Driver License, maybe mail forwarding, and maybe something else.
8. Renew TN Driver License which now expires in 2015
9. Rent PO Boxes from ARCR in San Jose & Miami before I move.
NOTE: I ended up not getting an address with ARCR but signed up for Aeropost.com and got a Miami address directly with them and use it now for all shipping and internet orders. I use postal service for most letters but new credit cards can be sent to the Miami address.