A Typical Day?

Ate lunch around the corner from these trees at the Catholic Church Atenas

There probably is no such thing as a “typical” day in anyone’s life, never-the-less mine! But this relaxed Monday in Atenas, Costa Rica seems worth reporting as almost one for me.

As always, I was awakened early by the birds singing, but stayed in bed until about 6:30 when I got up for a shower, breakfast of fresh fruit, nuts, cereal, and some Costa Rica Coffee, while overlooking a vista of the Atenas Valley and mountains, and watching birds in my trees. I put all the trash in one big bag making it easier to take to the gate and put in our big metal basket where we place only bagged trash for pickup.

With a backpack of Spanish learning materials, sunglasses, and my Panama Hat today (David calls it my “bonita sombrero.”) I walk the 1.1 mile under a sunny blue sky at around 80 degrees to my Spanish class in town. It is always a fun 2+ hours with two new students today and the temporary loss of others who are traveling for awhile. After class I walk back to my old apartments, Hacienda La Jacaranda, to return two cups I accidentally packed with my stuff and pick up my last electric bill there.

Then I walk to the center of town to the Post Office to see if a letter has arrived that was sent 4 weeks ago from the states. It has not. Make a note to tell people to use the Miami PO Box to get mail to me quicker! Then two blocks away (or here we would say 200 meters) to the Vargas & Sons Hardware for a couple of items I need for the house. Then I decide to eat lunch out today since I have not in awhile, preparing most of my meals at home. I was going to try a new place but it is closed on Monday, so I go to my old standby Tico restaurant, La Carreta.

For a little over $5 I get a casado (plate lunch) of fish, beans, rice, mixed veggies, and instead of my usual green salad, I choose the Picadillo de vainica y zanahoria, (right click on site for English Translation) always liking to try something new and it was great! Its a green beans and carrots relish or salad with delicious seasoning, my favorite item on the plate today. As always here, the meal was served on a banana leaf in a tray. But of course that was not all for this sweet tooth guy! For just the second time for me I ordered a Lechemulla which is their version of the Horchata rice & milk drink, but they use vanilla ice cream instead of milk which adds to the cinnamon flavoring and wow is it good! During all this delicious eating, I’m both watching people walk down the street and reading more in the lengthy Lord of the Rings book. I finished both the Happier than a Billionaire books which were fun, but I’ve had enough of Nadine & Rob for awhile! And yes, the Rings books are heavy and lengthy, but also some great writing and story-telling! My Kindle Fire says the typical reading time for it is 27 hours and I’m about half-way through.

Then I walk all the way back past Su Espacio, where my Spanish class took place, to CoopeAtenas supermarket for my little shopping list and pay the electric bill. While finishing there it begins to rain really hard. So I call a cab for the trip home with enough groceries that walking would have been tough anyway. It was about $2 for the taxi.

It was a good long rain, more than usual, that I’m sure made my new flower garden happy. Sun is shining now. After writing this, I have some bookkeeping to do, then  may read or try to photograph birds from the balcony or walk with camera through the neighborhood. By then a sunset snack and more reading or time on the computer before bed. I haven’t watched a single TV show here and no Netflix movies since moving to new house. Real life is more fun! Plus I’m working on three different books and about to have my shipped boxes delivered, so never a dull moment! And I have done very little of the traveling around Costa Rica I expected to be doing by now. Maybe soon!

I’m looking at the Strangler Fig Tree outside my office window and continue to be amazed that I really am living in Costa Rica! It is not paradise or perfect by any means, but it brings me more joy and relaxation than any place I have ever lived. The rain just cooled it off, the birds are singing happily while I smile and think to myself what a wonderful decision it was to move to Costa Rica! Pura Vida!

Shopping at “Vargas e Hijos”

My friendly neighborhood hardware store in Atenas, Costa Rica

With my move to a different house, there is a good chance I will need some hardware as I set up housekeeping again. The nearest Home Depot type store (different name) is in San Jose and I hear they are more expensive with employees who are less helpful than the hometown hardware store. Plus hometown store is surprisingly well-stocked and I can walk to it! The one I use is Vargas & Sons where I have found everything I’ve needed thus far! Now get this “interesting” way all “ferreterias” (small local hardware stores) operate:

  • A lot of the merchandise is not on display, so I may have to ask for it, be specific in Spanish, wait until it comes from the stock room, and if it is not the item I want, repeat the process. Patience is a high virtue in Costa Rica!  🙂
  • There is often someone shadowing me. This can be annoying, but when I need help it is great, so I try to be nice! I’m likely to need help! And my limited Spanish adds to the adventure! The young ones are more likely to speak some English, so I tend to favor them. 
  • Checking out is a regimented three-step process: 
  1. First the person helping me with the product(s) has to write-up a “factura” (invoice) on their computer terminal. They ask for my “nombre” (name) to attach to it. 
  2. Next, I visit the “cajero” (cashier), where I give my name, pay, and receive two receipts, one for me, the other left at the next step. 
  3. At the “entrega” (delivery) counter, I provide both receipts, the person there checks the itemized receipt against the product(s) in a basket, stamps both receipts (rubber stamps are big here!), and assuming they match, he/she bags my stuff with one of the stamped receipts. More often now he asks if you want a “balso” (bag) before bagging. (Going green or saving money?)

It sounds like a lot of trouble, but actually works very smoothly and quickly! And it provides several jobs!  🙂   The photo above is of their building across from the bus station as featured on their Facebook Page like an advertisement.