Small Town Billboards and Healthcare

The closest thing to a billboard in Atenas.
That is my Roca Verde neighborhood in background.

There are a lot of billboards in San Jose and a few on the toll road between here and there, Ruta 27, but I guess that kind of advertising just doesn’t pay in and around the farm town of Atenas. Nice! This sign is hardly as big as a billboard but about the biggest you might find around here. It is on the connector road to Ruta 27 near the Feria or Farmers’ Market. Behind it is one of several hills in the Roca Verde housing development where I live.

The sign is for my favorite of several Macrobioticas in Atenas. They are kind of like health food stores, herb or vitamin shops in the states. You can get lots of food supplements, vitamins, and herbs of all kinds. This particular shop is where I get my Melatonin or Melatoninia, Hierba de San Juan, Tilo, as an herbal sleep aid, kind of like the sleepy time teas I can also get there, just in a capsule form. I do still sleep on a CPAP machine most of the time and if it wears out, my doc can get me one here for Sleep Apnea, but I may lick that too! 

I no longer take any prescription medications of any kind including allergy meds and I am doing just fine! I brought a lot of the senior adult one-a-day vitamins for men from the states (generic Kroger brand) and when I run out later this year, I can get something similar at my Macrobiotica Tienda (Tienda=Shop). I not only feel healthier but also save money! And oh yes, very little advertising bombarding me here which is also healthy!  (Tomorrow I’ll tell you about seeing both my doctor and dentist in two days.)

One of the amusing forms of advertising here (though not allowed inside Roca Verde) are a few cars or vans that drive around town with loud speakers advertising something with either a live Spanish speaker talking on a microphone or a recording that plays over and over. I think it is local businesses more than individual products, but not sure. Cell phone and cable TV also advertise this way. Glad they can’t come by my house! I heard them more in the apartments and of course still when walking in town. People live on their front porches or front yards, so it is a great way to advertise! 

Another fun way some products advertise is to set up a table or booth on sidewalk in front of a store that sells that product, like beers do this a lot, advertising a special price or discount or premium you get with it. They do this with very loud pop/rock music and one or two absolutely gorgeous young ladies in very short skirts or shorts, often dancing to the music and inviting you to dance with them. It is so much fun to experience different cultures!  🙂   Pura Vida!

On my Spanish Blog read about the second Spanish Class I’ve joined which is at Iglesia Biblica. I’m determined to learn español even if doing it very slowly! It is a beginner class also, so a lot of repetition which helps me, but this one uses a Costa Rica produced book which has more local slang and idioms. Bueno!

My Health Improves in Costa Rica!

At my target weight now!
First time in 30+ years!

After 6 months in Costa Rica I decided to buy bathroom scales for fear I was gaining weight instead of losing or staying at a healthy level. After all, I have been eating a lot here and learned that Ticos have a sweet tooth like me. Who can resist Tres Leches or Coconut Flan? So at the Alajuela Walmart I got a nice looking glass scales similar to what I had in Nashville. I bring it home and weigh for a pleasant surprise! I am averaging between 173-175 which is what the charts say I should weigh for my height, etc. 173-175. In the morning I am closer to 173 and by night closer to 175. I tried to reach that in the states all of 2014 but usually stayed between 180-185, which was better than the 200 pounds the year before!

One of my favorite dinners is a green salad with Avocado
slices (a whole one this time but sometimes a half), a big 
glass of water and a fruit fresca made from pulp concentrate
this time, but sometimes fresh fruit in blender – yummy! 
And sometime I add a dash of bottled Sangria or 7up. Salad is
seasoned with fresh-squeezed limon and herbal seasoning in 
that little shaker bottle at top. 1 slice of whole grain toast and 
a little guava marmalade for the last bits of toast not finished
with the salad. Reasonable dessert! Some days I have saltine
crackers with either salad or soup. I do cook chicken, fish, and 
some pork with vegetables and/or salad. Eating out less now.
I’m doing okay with homemade veggie soup and gallo pinto
a special Costa Rican seasoned beans and rice, and I’ve always
done great scrambled eggs as a messed up omelet!  🙂 And 
unless after dark, I eat all meals outside on my balcony. 
Which I think is also a healthy addition to my life! And that
black book is my Kindle Fire, my companion for most
meals! I’ve read more than 20 books in 6 months!  

To what do I contribute this? The same two things most people do, eating and exercise. I eat more fresh fruits an vegetables here than I did in Nashville, even living for 10 years across the street from Nashville Farmers’ Market. We have no American fast food restaurants in Atenas! Nada! Now, I can get a burger, pizza, or fried chicken from some Tico restaurants, but rarely do; only pizza or a good hamburguesa. I haven’t had fried chicken in many years! Don’t like it anymore, though popular here, especially with the young. I’m also learning to eat more sensible sized portions most of the time though some restaurants don’t help there, but now I’m eating at home more and that helps.

The best thing to happen to me exercise-wise was to decide not to buy a car, though the temptation pops up every once-in-a-while. I walk almost everywhere in town and when I take a bus to San Jose or Alajuela I walk most places when I get there. I’m averaging 3 to 6 miles every day. Part of the key there is “every day.” If I get a large order of groceries, then I take it back by taxi for about $2, but I’m learning to grocery shop little at a time every-other day which gives me more exercise as I can carry smaller loads and I have fresher stuff!

Walking 3 to 6 miles every day is maybe the healthiest thing
I do or at least equal with eating better. And yes I mostly walk
in sandals, but sometimes tennis shoes. My dress shoes may 
never get worn here! Tennis shoes are hot and sweaty! That
leads to athlete’s foot, so sandals better in the tropics for me, 
except for some hiking and even some yard work.   

I am still debating a bicycle which would be quicker than walking and still be good exercise. The two negatives are the one big “killer hill” between Roca Verde and downtown AND the narrow streets with sometimes sloppy drivers of cars. It could be dangerous! Peligroso! So I keep walking!   And probably will not get a bike.


  1. I have Costa Rican Private Health Insurance and got to cancel that expensive U.S. Medigap insurance. A big savings!
  2. I have a private practice doctor who speaks good English. (Sorry! Meant to get a photo of her office with an ambulance out front. Her assistant is an EMT, so they can come get me if they need too!)  🙂 I have heard that most of the government doctors speak English too when I eventually go on that program next year. But hope I’m speaking Spanish by then!
  3. Hospitals are all highly rated throughout Costa Rica at half the U.S. prices! Everything from heart surgery to cancer treatment is done here with great competence. I feel secure.
  4. Few weather extremes in our Atenas “perfect climate” which contributes to good health.
  5. Less stress than in the States and not having a car helps with that even more!  🙂 Actually, driving here is the most stressful activity I have done and it can be as stressful as in the states, though maybe people get used to it. Well, opening a bank account was a little stressful, but I’m getting used to bureaucratic paperwork now and to just “go with the flow!”
  6. Surrounded by nature. My cure for everything!  🙂
  7. A relaxed, laid-back culture helps one to slow down and “go with the flow.”
  8. I have slowly tapered myself off the drugs U.S. doctors gave me, first to sleep at night, I’m now using simple, healthy herbs to help with sleep. I get that from one of the local Macrobioticas or health-food (supplements) stores here. Feeling better and sleeping as good! Also stopped all the allergy meds and doing fine without them! (Sorry! Meant to get a photo of my favorite Macrobiotica at the Central Market.)
  9. But eating healthier and walking a lot are still the main reasons for my better health here. I turn 75 Saturday and expect to live a whole lot longer here!  🙂

SOMETHING NEW: I’m finding it harder to write without using some Spanish (or Costa Rican) words. So you will know, I am going to try and put all Spanish (Costa Rican) words in red. Tell me if that is distracting or helpful.