I went to San Jose this morning to renew my residency with an attorney and 3 other American expats in Atenas. Since we were all three “Adultos mayores” or senior adults, we did not have to stand in that long line in my photo, but instead were escorted to the front of the line where we got the next available window to finish processing our paperwork (having paid in advance the fee amounting to a little over $100 USD, 66,000 colones). Then they photograph you and your new plastic card is ready in 30 to 40 minutes while you wait in an outside patio with coffee available. 🙂 Plus at the same time they email you the new (since my last renewal) electronic card that you keep on your phone and can use just like the plastic card. Getting too modern for me! 🙂 It is pictured below this Immigration Office line photo with my numbers scratched out. The actual blue plastic card is pictured in the center of the electronic one. Plus the plastic card is also electronic for card readers like on the public bus and government offices.
Walking through the garden on two mornings (March 11 & 12) and I chose these shots to share in a little slide show. Rainy Season usually sorta starts the middle of April and really starts in May, but by March 12 we have already had 3 little but nice rains! So I’m glad as is my garden! 🙂
Each and every bloom is unique and beautiful to me. Enjoy walking through my garden with the slide show below and here is the only one I can’t identify, from across the driveway in neighbor’s yard . . .
And as a nature lover, I do not always embrace “progress” that henders nature, but as always, I learn to live with it! 🙂 This old dirt country road called “Calle Nueva” winds over three or four hills through the woods and farms on the western edge of Pueblo Atenas running from the western side of town to the nearby village of Rio Grande at the entrance to Ruta 27, our controlled access highway between San Jose and Jaco Beach. This narrow country dirt road has been considered an emergency exit road in case of a disaster requiring evacuation. Now it is about to become a major street or road to enter or exit Atenas. They first graded and widened it to 9 meters taking a few trees and lots of wild flower with their backhoes, graders and chainsaws. Now they have started at the Rio Grande end widening it to 14 meters and paving it! Working this way! And more than half finished! Already traffic has increased and when all is paved it will stay busy!
Of course I am disappointed that I am about to lose my little “shady lane” country road for birding and butterflies along with other nature photography, but even with pavement and more cars it will for a while have more birds and other nature than city streets, just gradually the farms along this road will be turned into housing developments as more foreigners move here in both retirement like me AND now so many younger adults who work on the internet and can live anywhere are choosing to live here! 🙂 It’s all part of our big changing world! At least I’m already living in one of those more desirable places in the world to live! 🙂
I will continue to walk this road for its nature until there is no more nature. The additional people, traffic and greater speed of vehicles will discourage the birds and other animals in time, but for now it is still a nature path, even when the pavement goes down. And I will continue to document here the birds and butterflies I find through these woods and farms, but for you who live here, be aware than “progress” is coming! 🙂
More photos of the road below from my March 10 sunrise walk . . .
And of course you do know that I mean Peacock BUTTERFLY! 🙂
There are two species that I see here, the more common is the Banded Peacock that I see all over Costa Rica and shared one from last week’s visit to Xandari, but maybe my preferred is the simpler but elegant White Peacock Butterfly, Anartia jatrophae. Click that link for my gallery photos of them. They are also found all over Costa Rica, though not in the abundance of the Banded Peacock. These are the only 2 “Peacock” butterflies in Costa Rica, while Panama and south into South America there is also a Red Peacock Butterfly which is similar to the Banded but with thicker bands of red where the Banded has thinner white bands.
A SPECIAL BLOG POST FOR MY SUBSCRIBERS CONSIDERING A MOVE TO COSTA RICA!
Occasionally someone will ask me such things as “Are you glad you moved to Costa Rica?” or “If you had it to do over, would you do it again?” or “Do you miss the States?” or “When are you coming home?” or “Have you ever wished you had moved to a different country?” or “If you had it to do over again, what would you do differently?”
The short answer to all but the last question is that I absolutely love Costa Rica and have never once missed the United States nor doubted it was the right thing for me! And I have not gone back, having no reason so far. Anyone who reads my blog regularly knows why this is true for me and that Costa Rica is a perfect fit for my love of nature. But before I tell you the one thing I think I did incorrectly, a quick summary of what I did correctly . . .
What I Did Correctly Before My Move Here
If you go back to the beginning of this blog in June 2014 you will see that I was pretty meticulous about the details of a move to another country and fortunately I had had the experience once before when I moved to The Gambia, West Africa for 3 years. I followed all the websites’ and individuals’ suggestion of doing my “due diligence” (a popular phrase then) which simply meant lots of research on living retired in Costa Rica and the details of doing it legally, successfully and learning what it would take for me to be happy here, etc. ad infinitum! I did that! (Except not thoroughly enough with the language part!)
Plus I traveled here 4 times before moving and checked out other countries online and in the case of Panama, visited them 3 times (a reasonable option). Plus my last trip here before moving was to take the “Live in Costa Rica Tour” sandwiched on either side of a two-day conference by ARCR on all the details of a move here, residency options, legal stuff, both private & public medical services, shipping stuff here, getting a lawyer to help, etc. And on that same trip I hired a local lawyer who specialized in expat residency and began my residency application which was made easier with still some time still left in the states so I could personally secure all the needed legal documents that would have been much more difficult trying to get from here!
So, Then What Would I Do Differently?
Just one thing! I would have made learning to speak Spanish fluently my JOB ONE! Though I had two brief classes in Nashville, I was a slow learner and not using it there, so to accomplish that . . .
I should not have made finding a place to live the first task, as I did, but I should have enrolled in an Immersion Spanish Language School for the first 4-6 months (in another town since there is not one in Atenas) where they provide a cheap rent living with a Tico family that speaks only Spanish plus daily language classes and local tours in Spanish. Younger people might accomplish this in 3 months to some degree but a slower-learning old man like me needs more time and I’m just guessing on the 4-6 months. I tried one of these immersion schools for one week in Feb. 2020, just before Covid hit us big here, and it was very helpful, just not for a long enough time. It would be harder now while paying higher rent for my more permanent housing. But I’m going to talk to them again and may try additional weeks periodically with follow-up classes on Zoom or Skype. My current teacher is not moving me forward fast enough and nor is Duolingo! I’m ready for a change in my language learning! 🙂 I will report on any change made and what progress if any I make. 🙂
So, my only regret about being “Retired in Costa Rica” is that I am still not fluent in Spanish – though I am immensely better than when I arrived here! 🙂 I speak more Spanish than maybe many of the other American expats (some don’t even try.) I do great in restaurants and traveling 🙂 and okay in the supermercado and other shopping, but I could do better and cannot handle much over the phone. Taxistas help me, so I am better there than on the public buses and the free public medicine that I should be using more is one place I can’t manage with my slow, simple Spanish – that and some casual conversations, especially with strangers, though it helps when a marketer calls on the phone that I can honestly say “Lo siento, no hablo español.” 🙂 Stay tuned for updates!
So what I’m saying is that if I had learned to speak Spanish fluently that first year, the rest of my 8 years would have been so much easier and more fulfilling!
That’s what I would have done differently!
Okay, maybe one other little thing that was not a problem when I first moved, but recently my small Credit Union in the states that I’ve been a member of for 45 years has had difficulties getting a new debit card to me quick enough or wiring money, where a larger international bank would be better equipped to serve me overseas. And I have to have a U.S. bank because my pension checks require that for auto-deposit. I’m still managing and have shifted some of my savings to my Costa Rica bank, but that is one other little detail that one considering a move here needs to straighten out, preferably before the move! 🙂
And by the way, the U.S. Social Security is more accommodating than my other pension sources, as they deposit directly into my Costa Rica Bank Account. And it was easy! I just went to the U.S. Embassy’s SS Window in San Jose and they took care of it immediately with that very next check arriving here! 🙂 Plus that became my “proof of income” for the residency application. 🙂
Yesterday, 15 September, was Costa Rica’s Independence Day Celebration nation-wide including here in Atenas. I worked into the night processing my many photos and selecting choice ones for my photo gallery titled in Spanish this time :
Here’s my favorite portrait of one of the two UTN Cowboys on horses followed by just 2 photos from each of the 8 sub-galleries in the above gallery (including one with the above guy’s horse) . . .Continue reading “Yesterday’s Parade”
Siglo XXI Radioterapia, the private clinic that treated me post-cancer surgery asked if they could interview me on camera as a way of helping future patients understand a little more of what they will go through. So I did and it is now on YouTube with me speaking in English and of course they added Spanish Subtitles. I’m always embarrassed to see and hear myself on a video, but if it helps even one other patient face the treatment, then more power to them! 🙂
And that book in the feature photo can be previewed free at True Grit in my bookstore.
Here are more views of the new Central Park Sign including a selfie and what it looks like at night and from behind! 🙂 My earlier reports on the sign did not include the finished product at night or from behind! 🙂Continue reading “Park Sign at Night + Other New Views”
I occasionally have a morning coffee and pastry in a little café upstairs above Canario Supermercado which is in the row of businesses across the street from the Atenas Central Mercado or the “every day farmers’ market” and bus station. Saturday sees this street packed with people but on a weekday morning it was quite tranquil!
I drank my coffee by a glass window overlooking the street and Central Mercado and the main taxi stand in town. It reminded me of a similar place in Serrekunda, The Gambia where I did the same thing but with larger throngs of people to watch. 🙂 Here’s 4 photos at different times during my coffee break . . .Continue reading “People Watching in Quiet Town”
For the last year or two I’ve worked hard a preparing good, healthy meals at home from making 8-servings of spaghetti with meat (eating 1 & freezing 7 for future meals) to multiple recipes of homemade vegetable soup to help me eat more veggies, last week a yummy Chick Peas Salad from a Washington Post Recipe and also last week a 7-layer dip (mostly veggies). And I do breakfast at home all but one morning a week with 3 or 4 fruits, nuts, whole grains in either bread, hot or cold cereal or French Toast, saving my omelets for some dinners! 🙂
But living solo, I still like to eat out and I’m now trying to find more restaurants that I like while some I liked closed during Covid. So I was a little surprised to see two new ones open in the last few weeks, one serving everything from pizza & burgers to steaks & seafood and the other one our first “genuine” Mexican Restaurant:Continue reading “Two New Restaurants in Atenas”