Gerace Images: Blog http://www.geraceimages.com/blog en-us (C) Gerace Images pgerace@aol.com (Gerace Images) Wed, 26 Nov 2014 00:47:00 GMT Wed, 26 Nov 2014 00:47:00 GMT http://www.geraceimages.com/img/s/v-5/u224515333-o927965750-50.jpg Gerace Images: Blog http://www.geraceimages.com/blog 120 73 Living in Paradise? http://www.geraceimages.com/blog/2014/11/living-in-paradise The most frequent question that I get since I retired to Costa Rica is "so what's it like living in Paradise?". I was always hesitant  to answer the question because by agreeing to answer implied that I agreed with them in that Costa Rica is really "paradise".  That should really be 2 separate questions. "What's it like living in Costa Rica" and "Is Costa Rica really "paradise?".

I was reluctant to answer at first. "Let's give it more time" I would say. After living here for almost 2 years I feel that I am now qualified to answer the "paradise" question. 

First, let's discuss what are the popular & general ideas of "paradise".                                                                                                                           

No wars. Plenty of sunshine, but not too much that it can lead to drought. Lots of colorful birds and interesting wildlife. Toucans & sloths! Lush vegetation and lots of tropical plants and flowers. Warm climate where one can wear flip-flops every day, go for a swim, or have an outdoor BBQ any time of the year. Have the tranquility of the ocean & a beautiful deserted beach. Breath pure rainforest air-no pollution. Lots of waterfalls.  Plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables all year long. Lots of peace & happiness! And living stress free. So far, so good!

However, it's also true that there is petty crime such as theft, or you can get a spider or snake bite and die. You can drive your car off the side of one of the many mountain roads that make up Costa Rica. It's not as inexpensive to live here as it once was-yes I'm talking about you Electricity & Gasoline.  There are real estate scams.  People die in car and motorcycle accidents. These things shouldn't happen in "Paradise".

Is Costa Rica "paradise"? After taking it all in and experiencing life here I can confidently say that it's as close to "paradise" as one can get.

So now, when people ask me "Hey Paul, so what's it like living in Paradise?" I can actually tell them it's pretty darn good!

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pgerace@aol.com (Gerace Images) http://www.geraceimages.com/blog/2014/11/living-in-paradise Tue, 25 Nov 2014 23:16:11 GMT
Tico People & Me or Am I Being Too Sensitive? Pura Vida? http://www.geraceimages.com/blog/2014/10/tico-people-nyc-me Nature's beauty is not the only thing that I have found different between living here in Costa Rica and in NYC. Getting to know the ways of the "World's Happiest" people has been interesting, and by interesting I mean confusing.

First off, happy does not necessarily mean enthusiastic. Ticos are very, shall we say, cordial. There are always smiles and greetings. When I am sitting in a soda (small typical tico restaurant) and somebody walks in they will most often say "saludos" or "buen provecho" which is greetings or enjoy your meal. Everyone at the local EBAIS (clinic) is friendly and willing to engage in small conversation.  I have seen no overt hatred or anger towards me or any other gringos. Tourists all love visiting and the workers at the adventure tours and restaurants all are very nice to them. I have heard no complaints.

However, living here for just under 2 years has made me aware of the difference between cordial friendly and I want to be your friend friendly.

Sometimes when having a conversation with a group of the workers where I live everyone is all smiles but as soon as we take leave of each other their smiles quickly disappear. I mean as soon as we turn away from each other. Without an acknowledgement that the conversation has ended. It makes me feel as if the good feelings are only superficial and not from the heart. I am used to having people at least say "OK, talk to you later" or at least say "Hasta Luego".  

It's not just towards me that I am feeling this. I have been on a local Tico bus and have seen Ticos getting on the bus and not reacting to the bus driver or other Ticos. Not even a greeting or a smile. If they are happy they are not showing it.

I've been to a local bar/restaurant to see a Tico friend's reggae group perform. As they played they never smiled or showed any enthusiasm for their music or for the people they were playing for. The music was very good and I was glad that I was invited to experience it.

We were invited to the home of some of the workers here way up in the mountains. They are are always friendly with us here but when we got there they went off on their own leaving us to talk with their parents and younger siblings. They never came over to us to see if we were comfortable. Never offered to show us around the grounds. We did get to see the farm, but with the parents and younger kids. We all shared a great meal together but we were disappointed at the lack of attention during our visit.

I went to a local Tico horse show. As the horses and riders did their thing the people politely applauded but there was no loud cheering or shouting.

I have accepted friend requests from Ticos here in the area. Most times they do not comment on my photography or life events. They do not greet me to say a quick hello.  I have asked a few of them "do you consider us friends?" They say yes and then I say "how can you say yes when you don't communicate it?" Nobody can give me a response. It's as if they don't like to be confronted by it.

Now when a Tico want to be friends with me on Facebook I ask "why?". "What is your idea of friendship?" Often it's because someone enjoys my photography, which I take as a compliment. But it is not my idea of friendship so I tell them that they could just as easily view my photography website. To me a friend, even on Facebook, is someone who is interested in my life and my interests and feels the need to communicate it.

I am also finding that people say things and just don't follow through. This is especially true with respect to keeping appointments. It's not unusual to not have somebody show up for an appointment, and then not even call to say they can't make it, and then show up unannounced a few days later....and then not even mention or apologize for not keeping the original appointment. Here in Costa Rica things will get done but just not within the same time continuum that I am used to.

I went to a local futbol game and I took some photos. At the end of the game I asked one of the players if he would like a photo of the entire team? He said yes and the coach gathered everyone together and posed them. Not once did the coach come up to me to thank me or speak to me about the game that was just played. A few of the players did thank me for taking the photo which I was able to send to them via Facebook.

I have asked a few Ticos how do you and your fellow Ticos view people from other countries that come to live here? A few have not answered and others have said they have no problems with us. I was hoping for a more in depth answer.

When it comes to work some Ticos misinterpret asking questions to mean that they are not doing a good job. They want to do a good job and take pride in it, but do not like being questioned about it. Even if the reason is to give me a better understanding of that job that they are doing.

There is a woman who I do business with who asked me to return to her for money she owed me, 3 times. The second time I asked her if she knew that she couldn't pay me why couldn't she call to tell me not to take the 10 minute drive out to see her?  She became annoyed and angrily told me that she is a very responsible person. Could I come back next week?  I said if you are so responsible you would have called me. We have since made up but now I know to receive the money up front.

As much as I have tried to know the people in our area I still feel that I am viewed as an outsider. It could be from all of the years of having gringos living here and not having many make the effort to know them, and they have given up really wanting to know me. We know some Expats who have become involved with the community. But there are many more that come here and just live their lives isolated, not wanting to speak Spanish, or interact with their communities.

There has been no enthusiasm for sincere friendship. Maybe it is a small sample size as we do live in the countryside?  Maybe it's because of the relatively short time that we've lived here but it has made me a bit sad. 

Am I being too sensitive or is it just a matter of getting a better understanding of the people and their ways?

Just to be clear I do speak Spanish so communication is not the problem. I have also had the opportunity to travel to and spend time with the people of the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico which has given me some insight into life in Latin America. 

Should "Pura Vida" just mean living a relaxed life in nature's beauty or should there be more? 

 

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pgerace@aol.com (Gerace Images) http://www.geraceimages.com/blog/2014/10/tico-people-nyc-me Sat, 11 Oct 2014 17:21:50 GMT
Our First trip Back to the Gran Manzana http://www.geraceimages.com/blog/2014/7/our-first-trip-back-to-the-gran-manzana After living in Costa Rica for a year and a half we set out on our vacation to the Big Apple or Gran Manzana.  We were missing our friends and family who were not able to visit us. We were also missing the wide variety of food that NYC is famous for.  We found a studio apartment in the area that we used to live in so that it would be easy to revisit our favorite restaurants.

We had 12 full days to fit in as many friends and family and restaurants as possible.  Here are a few of my experiences and thoughts.

*Got off of the plane and stepped off of the bus Manhattan. Stopped at a newsstand to purchase the NY Post. Gave the guy $1 and waited for change. No change, price increased from 50 cents while away.

*Walked to 7th ave at Times Square to get cab. Immediately noticed the odor of the trash that had piled up.

*i wore flip flops the first day and when returned home noticed how dirty my feet were.  

*Noticed the diversity of people and their diverse clothes stylings.

*75 cents for 1 banana at a diner. 30 cents for 7 bananas in Costa Rica.

*angry and stressed looking people in subway

*noticing how lonely the trees on city streets looked surrounded by concrete

*bad cashiers at 7-11, Newark Express Bus. Count your change people!

*the countdown street lights. "Quick, we have 5 seconds to cross this street!"

*the air conditioning blasting beginning with the flight over after hearing how everyone disliked the very cold winter.

*the Freedom Tower is finally finished and looks very shiny. I still prefer the majesty of the Twin Towers.

*I'm liking the idea of the Citi-Bikes, but lack confidence that I can find a bike station in under 30 minutes.

*it's nice to live in the city and not have to worry about work, but realizing that I can't live in the city if I am not working.

*how good it is to again be eating bagels, Shake Shack shakes, good Chinese Food, hot pastrami sandwiches, half sour pickles, Dominican Food, Italian Food,

*Staying up past 11 pm, dancing the night away....with other people not just alone.

* several favorite restaurants have closed since our last visit.....change happens! people move on.

*sneaker colors have gone radioactive....I like it!

*during my visit to my old job I was standing outside of my office and heard the phone ring. My muscles twitched as if I had to answer it.

*noticing how in the past I would have loved to buy a flashy new pair of sneakers or a designer baseball cap, or a dressy pair of jeans, but realizing that now they are not needed for where I am living.

*standing in Times Square in flip-flops, Ceasar had something run across his toes. In Costa Rica that could be any number of insects, geckos, snakes, or something else......here it was one of two things, a cockroach or a rat.

*how expensive most everything is. 75 cents for a banana in a deli, $3.29 for a papaya at whole foods, $14 for a movie, $25 for a very small portion of linguini with clams at a Chelsea bar/restaurant.

*noticed how fast everyone walks at rush hour.

*enjoyed the long days of summer

Highlights included dancing at the Monster on Disco Night with an old Brooklyn neighborhood friend, having Sunday Brunch with most of our best friends and family, the great variety of food, playing a few 1 on 1 games of basketball at the recreation center for the first time since my knee replacement, seeing the Gay Pride Parade, and being in NYC knowing that I did not have to work.

*will visit again. just not sure when

It was great seeing friends and relatives. Sorry we couldn't find time to see everyone. Hopefully you can visit us in Costa Rica.

 

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pgerace@aol.com (Gerace Images) Costa Rica costa costa rica forest rain retirement http://www.geraceimages.com/blog/2014/7/our-first-trip-back-to-the-gran-manzana Tue, 15 Jul 2014 22:09:24 GMT
Our Guanacaste Trip Part 1 http://www.geraceimages.com/blog/2013/12/our-guanacaste-trip-part-1 One of the things that we were hoping to do during our retirement was take mini-vacations to other parts of the country. Owning a home with a Property Manager makes it affordable to do so. It helps pay for our vacation.

We were interested in seeing the beaches of Guanacaste so we made the close to 5 hour trip to our first accommodation at Playa Langosta, Villas Cerca del Mar. We planned on an early December trip up there because it is just after the rainy season and we were hoping that the area would still be green.

There were about 5 different route changes but the driving was easy and the roads were in excellent condition, except for the very dusty road near Tamarindo which was preparing to be paved.  Guanacaste in the dry season has a lot of dusty roads. It's a noticable difference from living down south. The air is definitely drier and it gets very hot. Our first few days we saw some dark clouds accumulating and when we asked a local person if he thought it was going to rain he immediately responded with a firm "No".  It seems that once the dry season begins, it really begins.....and it didn't rain and hasn't rained since.

Our small Villa was beautiful. It was a Moroccan style 2 story 3 BR home with it's own pool in the courtyard. There was an indoor/outdoor fountain and rock pool with a turtle.  It was very nicely furnished and cared for. The best thing was that the beach was just across the street. The worst thing was that there was no view. But the beach had white sand, many seashells, an estuary with some beautiful birds, one area for surfing, and another area for swimming. There was a community feel to the area especially when everyone came out to the beach for the gorgeous sunsets each evening. We felt very safe walking around during the day and evening. A B&B called Sueno Del Mar, situated right on the beach, had an awesome breakfast but it cost $15. While we were having breakfast there the manager Sue told us there was WiFi. She told us the password is Suenodemar. Ceasar said oh, that must be Sue's last name...Nodemar....Sue Nodemar. Now Ceasar's Spanish is improving but really..... Ceasar???  Que te pasa ti?

Oh, the dust! When the roads are not paved and it doesn't rain often there is a lot of dust. It gets all over the car, the pretty flowers and trees, & into your lungs. We made the mistake of taking the 15 minute walk into town and as the cars and motorcyles went by we had to lift up our shirts to act as particle filters. I felt so bad when I drove past people walking on the road knowing that I was the one dusting them. The people of Langosta came up with somewhat of a temporary solution. Early morning there are workers who drive around in their truck spreading a molasses mixture that mostly keeps the dust from coming up. This happens only on certain parts of the road in front of the homes and businesses that pay for it.

We ate lunch in a restaurant along the road and the waitress had to wipe off the dust from the seats and tables before we sat down. It was so dry and dusty outside that the only thing missing were the tumbleweeds rolling down the street.  Needless to say we made it a quick lunch and drank lots of water.

We did get to see Howler monkeys in the trees just outside of Villas Cerca del Mar the very first morning. I hadn't photographed one before as they are found only in certain areas of the south but are very common in Guanacaste. They have very long tails and the sound that they make can be described as if hearing a car come screeching around the bend or a pack of dogs in pain.....and very loud. They are the loudest animal in the New World...and very "feo" or ugly. Even the babies are cute ugly.

We cooked half of the time and ate out at nearby Tamarindo. Tamarindo is much more developed as is known as a surf town and famous for the surf movie Endless Summer which was filmed there. There are enough choices of restaurants, hotels, pharmacies, so that you can find some less expensive options. We were able to find, and recommend, a Tico restaurant called F.T's that had casados for about $7.

I needed to have 3 stitches taken out from my finger from some minor surgery that I had in San Isidro back near our home down south. The first pharmacy/doctor's office that I found wanted $40 to do so. I asked why so expensive and the doctor got insulted and told me that I didn't appreciate the amount of training that she had to learn how to remove stitches. Ceasar offered to remove them for free but he had just finished an Imperial beer and was smiling a bit too much. Plus he felt that since he actually assisted the doctor to place the stitches, (la verdad or the truth), he would know how to remove them. Thanks but no thanks Pooky, so I told the doctor that I would shop around and she said "buena suerte".  We found another pharmacist who told me that the doctor that they are associated with would do it for "solo una propina" or just for a tip.  So I had it done for $6 instead of $40.

Another reason for our trip to this area was to compare it to where we are living to see if we are missing out on anything with regards of where to live, either now or in the future. We had been to the area about 45 minutes further north when we did a comparison about 5 years ago but that area, yes I'm talking about you Playa Cocos, was too touristy and the beaches weren't as nice. Plus we went there in March when it was very dry and the hills were very brown and not lush green like in the south.

What we are seeing is that the infrastructure is more built up with more services closer by. There are many beautiful swimmable beaches close by. We saw some villas and condos and lots all with beautiful views with small islands and rock formations in the near distance. But the question is it is nice enough to get us to move? That discussion, as well as a look at those swimmable beaches, will be written about in my next blog "Our Guanacaste Trip Part 2". Stay tuned.

 

 

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pgerace@aol.com (Gerace Images) http://www.geraceimages.com/blog/2013/12/our-guanacaste-trip-part-1 Mon, 23 Dec 2013 23:21:28 GMT
Restaurants in the Area http://www.geraceimages.com/blog/2013/5/restaurants-in-the-area Although we have made an effort to do as much cooking as possible there are times when we venture out to the local restaurants.

We are fortunate to have a typical tico Costa Rican restaurant at the bottom of the hill where we live. It's called Fiesta de Los Chicharrones aka Party of the Deep Fried Pork, BYOS (Bring Your Own Statins). The place is constructed as open air with about 8 tables and barstools surrounding those 8 tables. There is a TV with local news or national futbol games. It is run by a brother and sister and there is a very sexy waitress. For breakfast there is the Breakfast Burrito con Cafe. For lunch they have wraps, cerviche, rice with anything, and the typical casado. Casados are a mix of a meat or fish, with whatever is available that day. It could be red potato salad mixed with beets, rice & beans, salad,  & maybe spaghetti. The cost of the casado is only $5 and it is very delicious and filling. It's so filling that we make sure that we have rested at least 15 minutes before starting our walk back up the hill to get back home. Beer is less expensive than soda. They have Karaoke night once a month. They also serve whole red snapper with plataconies which are the same as as tostones, which are smashed fried plantains.

My favorite place for seafood is Feliz Langosta or Happy Lobster. It is 4 minutes by car from here. They serve freshly caught fish-whole red snapper, shrimp appetizers, and the best cerviche. Cerviche is fresh raw fish that has been marinated and therefore cooked in citric juices such as lemon and limes.  The Costa Rican variation includes chopped onions, red peppers, tomatoes, cilantro, and black pepper. It is served with soda crackers. They have cerviche with mixed fish, cerviche con pulpo (octopus), and cerviche con camarones (shrimps). Cerviche is popular all throughout Costa Rica and you will see many cerviche stands on the roads. What makes Feliz Langosta's cerviche so good is that the fish is very fresh. It costs about $5.               They also serve spaghetti con mariscos (seafood) in a rich cream sauce and many yellow rice dishes mixed with chicken or seafood. My favorite is the arroz con pulpo. Of course they have lobster but it is very expensive. About $30 for a whole lobster or $25 for lobster tail. 

About 6 minutes away in the opposite direction in the bohemian surf town of Dominical is the popular Tortilla Flats. It has dishes found in the US but also serves typical casados as well. The food in general is very good but is a few dollars more expensive than the Costa Rica restaurants because of it's location in a tourist town. They have American breakfasts such as pancakes, bacon, eggs and hash brown potatoes. It is located along the beach and has excellent views of the tourists and surfers as they walk along the sandy main street.                                                                             Other restaurants that we ate at in Dominical are La Casita for very good pizza, San Clemente which also caters to the American surf crowd and it's sister restaurant the Surf Shack, and the typical Costa Rica restaurant Nanyoa.                                                                                                                            There's supposed to be a great hamburger restaurant at the end of the beach called The Refuge, but every time we go there we find only some surfer dudes hanging around and the restaurant is closed. I think we keep going back to mainly see the surfer dudes.

However, we did recently find a place for great, tasty, and inexpensive burgers and wings located about 15 to 20 minutes away in Escaleras called the Jolly Roger. We saw lots of expats eating there. The community of Escaleras has people from all over the world living there and it is a popular spot for them to eat. They have 22 flavors of meaty wings, and several choices of burgers. It is located way up a hill reachable only by an SUV 4x4. It has an excellent view of the pacific and surrounding jungle. It opens up at 4 PM which means that I have to drive home in the dark. I have not been a fan of driving at night because the highway right near the restaurant is not clearly marked. Combine that with the possibility of heavy rains and that makes for a slow cautious ride back home. But those wings! It's well worth the risk. Good thing that I don't drink. Wish I could say that about the other drivers out that time. Oh well, Pura Vida!

We have eaten at a few places at the very popular town of Manuel Antonio which is 30 to 40 minutes away. We like to go early and use the National Park with it's wildlife and tranquil white sand beaches, and then eat lunch. We enjoyed Agua Azul with it's magnificent views of the Pacifica and various rock formations. They are known for their Big Ass Burger and Son of the Big Ass Burgers. The name says it all.

Many of the hotels in Manuel Antonio also are open for lunch and it is a good chance to see monkeys while doing so. We saw many squirrel monkeys at Hotel Costa Verde and were told there are also many to see while dining at Mango Moon's restaurant.

To all those people that will be traveling to see us we could recommend 2 places to stop to eat lunch. There is a large tourist souvenir shop that serves Costa Rican food that is already prepared. It is a good place to get a quick bite to eat.                                                                                                                   The other place is about 45 minutes after that one in the town of Jaco. It's called the Taco Bar and they make THE best fish tacos that we have ever eaten. Service is slow and it could take up to an hour to finish the meal. They even have signs for their restaurant where we are living which is about 1 and a half hours away.

If you like empenadas we found a small place in Uvita, near the blue whale tourist kiosk. They have ham & cheese, chicken, beef, and spinach & cheese for $2 each. They even have bagels, which of course were not as good as our Brooklyn Bagels, but did manage to fulfill our bagel craving. This place also has fresh baked pastries.

Next on our list to explore is the truck stop at Matapalo. Every time that we pass that place it is full of truckers so we're thinking that it has to be good.

There are many other "sodas" or typical Costa Rican small restaurants to check out and we plan to do so. 

Everyone speaks about Ojochal and their fine dining Asian Fusion restaurants, but is about 45 minutes to an hour away. Maybe one day for lunch as there are beautiful beaches down in that area too.

All in all not bad considering how isolated and quiet it is around here. We are missing Katz's Deli, our good Chinese restaurant food, Brooklyn bagels, and Billy's Bakery, and those cannolis of Littly Italy. We ate our first chayote today but it was not the same.

Buen Provecho and Pura Vida!

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pgerace@aol.com (Gerace Images) http://www.geraceimages.com/blog/2013/5/restaurants-in-the-area Fri, 24 May 2013 02:23:38 GMT
Tips For Living in a Rain Forest http://www.geraceimages.com/blog/2013/5/tips-for-living-in-a-rain-forest So after living in a rain forest for the past 3 months I have learned a few things that I would like to share with you......should you too one day decide to live in a rain forest.

When it rains it rains hard. Harder than anything that I have experienced in the states or even in the Caribbean. And when it hits the roof and the surrounding trees and leaves it is el ohh you dee....LOUD. And when you combine that with lightning storms the satellite TV goes out. That gives you time to step out on the covered patio and take a deep breath of the cool fresh jungle air.

Frequently clean your rooftop and clear the drains of leaves at least every two weeks.

If you leave clothing out to dry be sure to shake it out because some insect or spider may have taken up residence or hidden there. Same goes for shoes left outside.

Be sure to air out your closets to prevent mold and mildew. I had 4 pairs of long dungarees hanging up in a closed closet, all touching each other. For about 3 months there was never any reason to go into that closet to wear those long dungarees. Once day I opened the closet and found white speckles all over them. Turns out it was mildew. I was able to clean them in hot water and soap. I found out that they should be hung with some space between them. The closet should be aired out frequently. It's all about air circulation and possible keeping the humidity down. If you don't have a dehumidifier then air conditioning will do.

Don't reach under old leaves or rocks, or under old fallen trees or branches without looking. That's also where spiders and snakes like to hang out. We still have not seen a snake but we also have not been trying to see a snake.

Plants grow really fast here. The land is really fertile and we are seeing first hand just what that means. We planted a few fruit trees to attract more birds and animals and we are startled to see just how fast they are growing. One of the trees had it's leaves taken completely away by leaf cutter ants before we were able to put some pest control around it. Five days later the leaves grew completely back. This dry season saw many leaves coming off of the trees, some had lost about 95%. After just 3 hard rains the leaves all grew back. It was amazing to see.

The frogs love the jacuzzi. You must maintain proper chlorine levels to keep them from coming back. After a heavy rain the chlorine level could drop to very little.

The hills are very steep and we have incorporated them in our daily workout. Great for the calves, thighs, and butt. Great cardio too. If you run out of energy you can make it easier on yourself if you traverse the hill-sort of like skiing down a steep hill-go side to side walking up at an angle or zig zag. It really does work.

Don't put the garbage out at night. We have had raccoons, pizotes, and foxes knock over our garbage pails.

If you notice a bad odor coming from an outdoor supply room check for dead or decaying animals. We found a decomposing gekko in ours.

Keep your screen doors closed especially at night when you're cooking.

You will need a pair of high rubber boots. Flip flops are good when it's not raining. Sneakers sometimes. No high heels, no Jordans, no designer shoes.

Don't let the rain stop you from enjoying outdoor activities except for sunbathing.

Accept the fact that it will rain, rain hard, and rain often. So that's how it got so green and lush. That's why everything grows so tall. That's why there's no water shortage. That's why there's so much wildlife. Of course, it's been only 3 months with the heavy rain still to come in the months of September and October.  That reminds me.............bring plenty of books and DVD's for the time that you have to be inside.

Pura Vida?  Time will tell.

 

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pgerace@aol.com (Gerace Images) costa forest rain rica http://www.geraceimages.com/blog/2013/5/tips-for-living-in-a-rain-forest Thu, 02 May 2013 04:29:52 GMT
Things That Are Not So Easy To Do Here http://www.geraceimages.com/blog/2013/3/things-that-are-not-so-easy-to-do-here As we get adjusted to our new life here in Costa Rica we are finding out that some everyday things, that we may have taken for granted back in NYC, are not so easy to do here.

Here are a few:

Hey Ceasar, let's go take our bicycles for a ride together. Sounds easy enough. We are having great sunny weather, with temperatures in the mid 80's. There is a new paved highway with smooth riding. Let's go!  We took the bicycles out but first we had to get down the hill, yes that steep hill that gives us the great views-probably 300 to 400 feet up. We get on the bikes and then gravity takes over. We pull on the brakes but the bikes still skids downward. We manage to come to a halt, then get off and walk them down. We are all set to ride when I realize that the seat is too low-the seats had to be removed for shipping and then was put on too low. I called for our maintenance guy to come down with an Allen wrench but it is not the right size. So we turn around and start walking/pushing the bikes up the hill. Hello again Mr. Gravity. We make it up the hill to our home in a deep sweat and we are too tired to adjust the seat. Next time. Meanwhile we were able to get our exercise without even doing any bike riding.      Pura VIda life adjustment..........First we put on sunscreen because after all we are right next to the equator... we then place our bikes into our car and drive down about 3/4 of the way and park in the driveway of our community gym. We then take the bikes out and zoom down to the gate and we are on our way. When we return we walk back up to the car and drive back to our home. Our simple bike ride has just become complicated. Pura Vida!

Hey Ceasar, let's go to the grocery store and pick up some milk and fruit. Instead of walking out of our apartment and going to the store just downstairs we now have to take a 6 minute car ride into town to shop.

Hey Ceasar, let's go have the car looked at by a mechanic. That means driving 45 minutes up a windy mountain road to get to the car dealership.

Hey Ceasar, do you think we can have mail sent here from the states? Possible but not likely. We have no mailbox as of yet. Maybe if they sell another villa and someone else is living here there will be. Meanwhile, if there is any mail to be sent to our Property Manager it will arrive in Quepos which is 30 minutes away. Quepos has a post office. Our nearest town of Dominical does not.  E.Mail it is.

Hey Ceasar, we need to put more money into our Costa Rica savings account. You would not believe the number of forms and notorized documents that are involved if we are to put in more than $1,000 per month. The Costa Rican government wants to be sure that we are not laundering money into their country. We had to show exactly where the money was coming from-be it savings, W2 forms, or pension.

Hey Ceasar, let's hang some photos! Here the homes are made of steel and concrete block in accordance with earthquake building requirements. I'm not complaining. We are really happy that the home is so sturdy.  I tried hammering a nail into the wall and it bent on the second strike from my hammer.  We had to have our maintenance guy come in and drill holes, put in those sleeves, and then screw in the artwork.

Hey Ceasar, let's go to the movies! There is a movie theatre in the capitol of San Jose just 2.5 hours away. Pura Vida life adjustment........watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer from the beginning. Cue the Xena Warrior Princess box set. See the Fifth Element for the 10th time.

Hey Ceasar, what you got in the refrigerator?  Since we have to drive for our shopping we have learned how to stock up on food. Next week is Samana Santa and we hear that the whole country shuts down. Beer and alcohol is not allowed to be sold. People have been talking for the past few weeks about making sure their refrigerators are stocked with beer. The beaches will be crowded with people camping out for several days. It should be quite a sight. We will be sure to have enough bananas, mangos, and milk so that Ceasar can keep making those batida fruit smoothies. Feliz Pasqua to all!

Coming Next................Any Suggestions??? Any Requests??? If not I'll think of something.

 

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pgerace@aol.com (Gerace Images) http://www.geraceimages.com/blog/2013/3/things-that-are-not-so-easy-to-do-here Sun, 24 Mar 2013 04:00:30 GMT
Getting To Know Our Colorful Neighbors http://www.geraceimages.com/blog/2013/3/getting-to-know-our-colorful-neighbors Well, there is never any boredom with regards to what we'll see every day. Every day when we open up our home we are sure to see leftover insects clinging to our screens from the night before. It's as if the party ended and they forgot to go home. There are always a few cicadas laying on their backs just waiting for a gentle tap to fly away. Small lizards eating small moths. Scorpion beetle with pincers looking like it escaped from the Mummy and Scorpion King movies. One insect looked like it was a cross between a lobster and a cockroach. We see praying mantii (?) clinging to the corners of our windows. Insects that look like green leaves hanging out on the patio. How about a brightly colored, jewel looking fly shimmering in the sunlight?  Or a curious looking small iguana hanging out at our jacuzzi, pool, and setting up home on our rooftop?

At night we have had a large raccoon stroll across our patio while we were cooking, seemingly looking for a dinner invitation.

Once the sun goes down the cicadas do their leg rubbing thing which is collectively, very loud. It usually lasts for about 20 minutes and then it quiets down.

Later it's a frog party in the jacuzzi with the most bizarre frog croaking that you've ever heard.

Toucans, sometimes 15 at a time, fill up the trees around us.

There's this one black and red bird, I think it's a Tanager, that hangs out with an orange and green bird. They fly back and forth together all day long. Someone told me that it's the male and female of the same species.

There are also pizotes that look like racoons that have reddish brown fur. We have seen them climb trees to get to the bananas.

Did you ever see a Walking Stick, also called a Juan Palo, bug?  It really does look just like a walking stick or a piece of vine before the flowers have grown. Verrrry interesting!

We have all types of ants. Red ants, leaf cutter ants, flying ants, army ants-not yet seen. By the way there are many insects here that look like they crawl or walk and then when you get close to them their wings open up, much like the Transformers, and they fly away-leaving you stunned.

That brown ugly beetle type even had 2 sets of wings.

We have spiders too. Golden Orb Banana Spiders that I have watched eat their prey and then what they don't eat they wrap it up and coccoon it for later. All this while the larger female's smaller mate looks on.  I also watched a silk spinning spider spin it's web.

For sure there are snakes around too, but so far we have not encountered any, and they have not encountered us.

After a rain we saw a few green and black poison dart tree frogs by our doorstep. We see large and small Blue Morpho butterflies that shimmer in the sunlight.

We have seen a few monkeys either a few steps up the road behind our house or further down the hill along the path.

We had been on the lookout for sloths. One of the workers here was telling me that up where he lives there is a sloth living up in the trees. When I asked him how high up in the trees, "for example, this high" I said while pointing to the tree that we were standing under. As we both looked up sure enough there was a sloth in that tree too.  Add that to my list of coincidences as are listed in one of my previous blogs. I proceeded to spend the next 2 hours photographing it's very slow movements. I had to wait about 45 minutes for it to stretch out to get the photo below. About 2 hours later it made it's way down and seemingly smiled at me as it slowly moved under some leaves.

You'll also notice a photo of what looks like a grey rock. That's actually some kind of insect carrying it's young-or a female and male having bug sex.

The fireflies here look very alien in their appearance. There are 2 lights coming from where you thing their eyes are. Then when they get ready for takeoff another light-green or red comes on. I think that is bizarre. When I tell the Costa Ricans here that fireflies in the US have lights coming out of their nalgas, or butts, they laugh and think that is bizarre.  I guess they both are now that I think about it.

There are many Vulture Hawks circling above on the warm breezes. At times they even circle a few feet above the pool checking things out. We are thinking about putting out a sign with a warning... "Do Not Leave Your Baby Unatended".  You all know about the Dingo. (No Dingos here).

One day we heard intense squawking going on in the trees above. There were 2 large green parrots battling each other.

I'm still waiting to see the fiery billed aracaris or cusingas. They are smaller relatives of the toucans and have different colorings. One of our landscapers hung a basket way up from a tree in our front yard. He tied it off so we can add fruit to it whenever we wanted to. I put bananas, 2 branches for them to perch, and even a Paradise Breezes mirror for them to see themselves. So far the only visitors have been butterflies and our iguana. The iguana jumped down from the tree and onto the basket. The basket opened up dropping the mirror down onto the vegetation. The iguana was still holding onto the basket until he too dropped down. Video on Sports Center's Top 10.

There are some hummingbirds around. I even had a close encounter with one-maybe it was even spiritual like those American Indian wildlife encounters. I stepped out onto the patio when I noticed a hummingbird come at me. It hovered right in front of me, no more than 2 feet away. It stayed there for what seemed to be for a minute but was probably only 20 seconds. Just looking at me as I was just looking at it. I heard the hum, but couldn't recognized the song.....ha ha.  It was a beautiful moment shared by both of us.  We will be planting more fruit trees and plants that will attract more when the rains start back up in April. I'll keep you posted if I wind up getting spiritual here. A little incense here, a little smoking weed there, mood music, candles.  Heck, I already have my disco ball and fog machine and tie dye shirt.

It took a while getting used to the sounds around us. At any time during the day or night you can hear a thud on the roof.  Don't worry, it's just small acorn like fruits that drop down usually when a bird is foraging around in the trees above. Also, you can hear the iguana walking around with it's little iguana feet. I'm thinking about putting little iguana booties on those little iguana feet to make it quieter.

We are learning the different sounds of the jungle and have become experts on recognizing the call of the Toucans. Tookie Tookie!  At night you can even hear the waves crashing on the beach down below.

We are even looking forward to the rainy season when there will be an even wider variety of insects, birds and wildlife. Oh my!

Coming Next.....Things That Are Not So Easy to Do Here

 

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pgerace@aol.com (Gerace Images) http://www.geraceimages.com/blog/2013/3/getting-to-know-our-colorful-neighbors Sun, 17 Mar 2013 20:51:14 GMT
Cost of Living, So Far http://www.geraceimages.com/blog/2013/3/cost-of-living-so-far Cost of living, so far in Costa Rica. Prices are in US dollars.

First the good:

Medium sized mangos for 85 cents each. Large ones for $1 each

Large pineapples for $1 each

Pipas or Coconuts for $1 each

8 Bananas for 50 cents

Liter carton of milk for $1

Full coverage car insurance $95 a month.

Full coverage home insurance for $85 a month.

Health insurance for $50 per month

Large avocados for $1 each

6 humongous carrots for total of 50 cents-i guess I'll be eating a lot of those.

18 large sized eggs for $2

Housekeeping for $4.40 per hour. We are using them every other week.

Pool Maintenance $170 per month, every week.

Landscaping $130 per month.

Cable TV $50 per month.

Internet is $30 per month.

Telephone service, basic, is just $7 per month.

HOA fees, similar to maintenance fees are $293 per month. HOA's include security, garbage collection, well water pump, and community landscaping and road maintenance.

We have a handyman available to do various types of jobs for $10 per hour.

Exterminator costs $100 every 4 month.

The bad:

Gasoline is $5.30 per gallon.

Electricity is between $150 to $250 per month. We have a bodega or storage room where the linens are kept. To keep them fresh and dry-this is a rain forest-we have a dehumidifier that runs 24/7.

US products are available but very expensive. Some examples:

Jiff Extra Crunchy peanut butter costs $7

Jar of strawberry preserves costs $5

Cascade dishwashing detergent costs $12-Guess who is washing dishes by hand?

Ragu Spaghetti Sauce for $5 a jar.

We have been much better at using our leftovers to determine what the next day's meal is going to be. No more waste!

The good news about living here regarding the cost of living is that we have an option to rent out our home. We are still part of a rental community-2 of the 4 homes have been sold. There is a property management team that can make all of the arrangements. They will take a 20% cut and charge us a few more fees for their services. This will be a good way of offsetting a few of the costs of living here. We will probably do it during the busy holiday season where they can get the most money. It really has to be worth our while to set aside our personal effects and clear out. We also look at it as a way of paying for our vacation.

Coming next...............Getting to know our colorful neighbors-with photos

***Our shipment from NYC arrived-it took about 8 weeks. 4 workers carried everything up 35 steps in the 88 degree heat. They walked up and down for about 1 and 1/2 hours.  We get tired just walking ourselves up those steps. Yes, we gave them some ice water, and even some cold pineapple. I also offered them time in the pool after they finished but they said they didn't bring their bathing suits. I suggested "let's all swim like the Indians in ancient times, naked". They just politely responded "no thanks". That would have been an interesting addition to my blog.

 

 

 

 

 

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pgerace@aol.com (Gerace Images) http://www.geraceimages.com/blog/2013/3/cost-of-living-so-far Tue, 12 Mar 2013 03:47:32 GMT
Buying Our First Car http://www.geraceimages.com/blog/2013/2/buying-our-first-car Cars are expensive in Costa Rica, but it seems that everyone has one. just like iphones.

Day 1....We had budgeted about $15,000 to $20,000 for a used car. Ceasar and i had never owned a car before. Living in the city of New York didn't really allow us to. We used our bicycles and the subway to get around and rented a car when we wantd to venture outside the city.  Today was going to be that day. We would first have to make the drive to San Jose which is about 3 hours away. Our seller Rick knows a taxi driver, Sergio, in San Jose who could drive us around to dealerships and used car lots for $15 per hour. We were hoping to do it in half a day. Sergio had called around and had a plan. We had done research and were hoping to buy either a Toyota Rav 4 or a Dhaiatsu BeGo Terios which are SUV 4x4's-very necessary for the area that we are living in. However it had to have ABS brakes and have automatic transmission. Es el problema. The lack of automatic transmission Rav 4's led Us to consider a Honda CRV EX-L. He showed us that it has GPS and is a 2008. It had all of the accessories like sunroof, leather seats, rear view camera. Just before we were ready to buy it we found out it was really a 2006 model and the GPS was configured for the US. No Deal!  We were very disappointed with our visit to the Toyota dealership in San Jose. They tried selling us a car that had been used as a rental and was dirty. They did not even try to make the car presentable. Bad way to end day 1.

Day 2....the morning was more of the same with no automatic SUV's to be found, unless you count the 2000 Honda with only 40,000 miles on it in great condition with the word Jesus on the back door. Yes, Ceassar's middle name is Jesus, but even that coincidence (see blog #2) wasn't enough to convince us to purchase a car that was over 12 years old. It could have been ours for $8,000.

Sergio then suggested that we drive to the town of Grecia which is known for it's many small car dealerships...... 1 hour away!

We arrived and found at least 12 used car lots on a winding road that was Grecia. We found our Rav 4! It's a 2006 model, in immaculate condition, 74,000 miles and was within the upper part of our budget. It came with a 2 month guarantee and the price included any taxes and legal fees for the transfer of ownership. The salesperson and agreed on the price and shook our hands. The owner of the dealership came down the road, took us to the lawyer's office back up the road, the transfer of funds was made, we signed some papers, and got our first ever car. The entire process took about 1 hour. We then followed Sergio back to San Jose and the next day we drove back to our new home......cautiously and without insurance and avoiding "the Highway of Death". Note: there really is a famous Highway of Death which runs down the middle of the country through winding mountain roads that often are covered in low clouds and mist causing low visibility. No gracias. We do intend to have the car looked at by a reputable mechanic before the 2 month guarantee period expires.

We look forward to discovering our new home country. Note: gasoline costs about $5.30 a gallon.

Shipping update......we are about 4 days away from receiving our shipment from the US.

Coming next..............Our Cost of Living

 

 

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pgerace@aol.com (Gerace Images) http://www.geraceimages.com/blog/2013/2/buying-our-first-car Wed, 27 Feb 2013 02:54:48 GMT
So What's It Like To Wake Up In Your Retirement Dream Home? http://www.geraceimages.com/blog/2013/2/so-whats-it-like-to-wake-up-in-your-retirement-dream-home We wake up with the sunshine and the birds singing. It's 6 am and I don't have to get on the subway and go to work. But I'm awake and out of bed anyway. The excitement of my new surroundings has me eager to see what the day may bring. All of the stress is gone and I really can't believe that this is really ours. There is a cool fresh breeze coming from the rain forest behind us. I take a deep breath and I feel my lungs thanking me for finally giving them the pure oxygen that they deserve. The sun is lighting up the ocean and vistas below us. Colorful birds zoom by us. Then 2 toucans (thats 4 cans if your keeping score-thanks Danny) arrive directly on the trees in front of us, about 50 feet away. Seeing toucans in the wild is an incredible experience especially since I grew up in Brooklyn, And later lived in Manhattan.

That morning we get a ride to the local small supermarket in the laid back surf town of Dominical.  3 mangos for $1.50, avocados $1 each, large sized pineapple $1.50. Cascade dishwasher detergent $12.00. $12.00? Yes, it seems that anything imported or US brands are more money than if bought in the US. We were prepared for this and are looking forward to using local products. No more Ragu spaghetti sauce. It's now make our own with tomato paste, real tomatoes, and whatever spices we can add. No more Pepperidge Farm Nantucket Double chocolate chip cookies.....give me a moment of silence. Milk and eggs are not sold refrigerated. Hmmmm, how could that be?  Beer is cheaper than soda. Rum and Coke sold in a can = Ceasar smiling. So many fruits and vegetables that are fresh. In NYC I sometimes avoided buying fruit because there was about a 50% chance that it wouldn't be good. Mangos are now my favorite fruit. Ceasar made a delicious mango batida with milk, mangos, sugar, fresh lime juice, ice, and a bit of spice rum. He's starting to make good on his promise to branch out from sangria and make fruit smoothies. 

We are starting to get a daily routine which includes an early morning walk. One day we walked down to the beach. We walked down a dusty road, past cows with white herons in some type of symbiotic relationship. The road gave way to a vey wide beach with many coconut palm trees.  There was driftwood there that looked like sculptures. Flocks of pelicans flew overhead. We saw 2 other people with their dog and that was it. I did mange to get what I thought to be mosquito bites but later found out that they were caused by chiggers. They are small mites that inject some sort of enzyme into the blood causing intense itching. It seems that I had walked into some grass in a field to get a photo of a large blue heron. It was relieved with a topical cortisone cream, and a Benadryl tablet. Thanks mom and dad for sending me to pharmacy school.

Other new memories from our first week include:

Watching the hawks/vultures quietly gliding overhead and even coming over our pool when we were inside the house. The first time we were just staring and saying OMG! When it circled back we then went for our cameras but did not get there in time.

A small bird flew in one window and out the other.

Asking the waitress at our local small restaurant "how much would it be to add avocado to my side salad". She said "no problema" and just added it with no charge. Similarly, we asked to have a couple of pieces of lemon for our order of fried snapper to go and she just tossed us the whole lemon.  Fruits and vegetables are inexpensive and plentiful. Hopefully I have kept myself healthy enough to enjoy a healthy diet here.

Seeing a different kind of insect on our patio every night. There is one that is especially interesting. It looks like a beetle with wings and we find them their laying on their backs, seemingly dead. When we go to move them they suddenly wake up, make a noise while they flap their wings, and then fly off bumping into things. They remind me of person who is drunk or has just awaken from a deep sleep and tries to get up too soon.

Two iguanas. Our cute new pet iguana that hangs out at our pool, and the huge, I'm talking large dog size, Jurassic Park looking, sci-if it's too big to be real, shut my mouth, SMH, OMG iguana that we watched slowly crawl up a tree adjacent to our pool. It then got into a comfortable position, smiled at us, and then enjoyed the late afternoon sun the same way that we were.

Watching the millions of stars in the clear and tranquil night sky.

So far............life is but a dream.

Next  time............Buying Our First Car.

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pgerace@aol.com (Gerace Images) http://www.geraceimages.com/blog/2013/2/so-whats-it-like-to-wake-up-in-your-retirement-dream-home Thu, 21 Feb 2013 03:35:59 GMT
Coincidences and Other Wonders http://www.geraceimages.com/blog/2013/2/coincidences-and-other-wonders Do you believe in signs from above? No? Yes? Maybe yes? Maybe no? I do. Maybe you will too after reading about these coincidences that have occurred ever since we thought of making our move and retiring to Costa Rica? It will at least make you wonder.

 

A few years ago we found out that the happiest place or country on the planet was Costa Rica. The number 2 place? .........the Dominican Republic where I had been traveling twice a year for the past 21 years. No wonder I'm such a happy person!

Coincidentally, the closest town to us is Dominical.

We knew that we needed a place to stay after selling our apartment before the move to Costa Rica. Coincidentally, my coworker was moving out of her apartment, which was within walking distance of work, and was looking for somebody to take over her lease for her last 2 months. What could have been a stressful situation resulted in a good resolution for both of us.

Our temporary mailing address was PO Box 10113. Ceasar's birthday is.........1/13. 

After my father's passing in 2000 I sold what I could of his old cameras and camera accessories, and stored away the rest. Those sales, done on Ebay, helped finance our move to a larger NYC apartment. Several months ago I did the same thing so he is actually again helping to finance our move to Costa Rica.

I took my old money that I had leftover from the Dominican Republic to the bank and was able to get $28 for it. I had to buy a part my tripod  1 week later and it cost, coincidentally.......... $28.

After selling and giving away practically everything that we weren't taking to Costa Rica, I had only my comic book collection left. I was resigned to throwing them out.  With only 2 days to go my friend Dave and his girlfriend met us for dinner.  Not only was it a coincidence that he asked if I still had my comic books available, but he also said that since it was the Chinese New Year it would be good luck for him to give a portion of his gift money to me. What a, say it with me, .....COINCIDENCE.

While going through some old family photos I came across a photo of my grandparents. In the background there was an advertisement to visit Trinidad & Tobago. Coincidentally, we were watching House Hunters International and they were featuring Trinidad & Tobago. Or perhaps they were trying to tell us to move to Trinidad & Tobago but I chose to believe it meant save the photo of them and symbolically take them with us. 

My favorite one was....With only 1 day left before our move I found an old card addressed to my parents from their good friends Lois & Henry. It must have been when they moved out of their old home in Brooklyn and moved to a smaller apartment in Long Beach, right on the beach. In it was written.....Rest your worries, remember treasured moments, count your blessings one by one. Be gentle with yourself. Smell the roses. ask for hugs. Slow down. Step back. Savor. Look in the mirror and smile. Listen to the music of the earth- the wind, the ocean, the birds, the mountains. Relax. Reflect. Regroup.

We will be sure to take their advice.

Note: we are still waiting for delivery of our items from NYC.  This will then become more of a photo blog.

Coming soon.......So What's It LikeTo Wake Up in Your Retirement Dream Home?

 

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pgerace@aol.com (Gerace Images) http://www.geraceimages.com/blog/2013/2/coincidences-and-other-wonders Sat, 16 Feb 2013 16:53:56 GMT
The Move Out of NYC http://www.geraceimages.com/blog/2013/2/the-move-out-of-nyc The plan was supposed to go like this....quickly sell our apartment in NYC, have the closing, immediately send the money to our escrow account in Costa Rica, find a place to stay temporarily until my retirement, save money with no mortgage or maintenance payments due, and then fly to Costa Rica to close on our new place and immediately move in.

 What happened was that everything got compressed into a short period of time. It took us 6 months to find a buyer and then came hurricane Sandy......and then came the Holiday Season. The movers came to ship some items to Costa Rica. The NYC closing finally happened on the 22nd of January which was a Tuesday and that Thursday we flew to Costa Rica for the closing down there on that Friday. The seller had been patiently waiting for us to close in New York but he requested that the closing take place in Costa Rica as soon as we got the money from our NYC closing- which we had agreed on originally.

We did get lucky and found a place to stay that was within walking distance of work. Much thanks to Elizabeth my coworker. Turns out that she wanted to move out of her 300 square foot apartment but still had a signed lease until the end of February. Lucky us!

The process of clearing out our apartment was a daunting task after almost 10 years of living there.. I had begun to sell my sneaker collection on ebay. I even took some pairs out onto the streets and shouted "size 9 and 1/2 sneakers!.........$25! I lasted all of 2 hours but did manage to sell 1 pair. The last 21 pairs I took to the recreation center where I played ball and gave them away to the kids. No, I didn't ask for money. Ha ha.

We sold many of our music CD's to Second Spin which paid from 75 cents to $5 for selected CD's.

Parting with the large volume of photos began as "Photos to Go Before We Go Photo Inventory Reduction Sale".  People would ask if I was "getting rid"of my photos. Pahhleeease! I am an artiste! It was an inventory reduction sale.......at least until my last 2 weeks when it became going away gifts to good friends and relatives and then "please find them a good home" and then "take what you want because I am getting rid of them". I took some but really did not have the space to take them all.

Ebay was great and I was even able to sell some sea fans, an old tape cassette deck, masks from the Dominican Republic, and other extraneous items. Thanks Ceasar!

On to the closing in Costa Rica. We arrived in Costa Rica hoping that the deal was legit and that we would not be losing our lifetime savings. Talk about pressure. The owner allowed us to stay at our new home the night before our closing which shows you how trusting and what a nice guy he is. The next day he picked us up and drove us to the mountain town of San Isidro which is where the closing was to be held. The road there consisted of 45 continuous, nothing but curves after curves after curves after..........car sickness, queasiness, and one major headache. The stress of the entire week's events was taking it's toll.

Anyway, we closed on our new home, got the keys, got home by 5 pm to see our first sunset as homeowners, and then had our big celebration-NOT- we were so tired that we just fell asleep.

Waking up the next day we still felt like we were on vacation and we still had to fly back to NYC  for me to complete 30 years of service to receive certain medical benefits if I was to need them back in the USA.

After staying a few days at our new spacious villa with a view of the rain forest, ocean, sunsets, and colorful wildlife I almost had my first anxiety attack back at the tiny NYC apartment. We had saran wrapped the window in the kitchen under which we had stuffed towels and placemats to block out the cold of February.  Claustrophobia was setting in. I had to remind myself to take deep breaths and imagine our Costa Rican views. We went from warm, colorful, and bright to cold, gray, and dark.

We had 2 weeks to say our goodbyes-some were emotional, get our papers in order in preparation to receive our residencies and therefore get into the national health care system in Costa Rica. I had 2 retirement lunches. at one of them when i got up with notepapers in hand, my co-worker later told me that it looked as though i was giving a lifetime achievement speech. I guess it was.

At the end of my last day of work I cleared out my desk, gathered my belongings, and walked out into the snowstorm wearing my bear hat (thanks Dave), and carrying my Islands Magazine canvas bag. That was Mother Nature's reminder as to why we were leaving.

Coming next time.............Coincidences and Other Wonders

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pgerace@aol.com (Gerace Images) Costa Rica costa rica retirement http://www.geraceimages.com/blog/2013/2/the-move-out-of-nyc Thu, 14 Feb 2013 05:02:33 GMT
My Retirement to Costa Rica-Pura Vida? We'll Find Out http://www.geraceimages.com/blog/2013/2/my-retirement-to-costa-rica-pura-vida-well-find-out After 30 years of service as a pharmacist at a world famous hospital in NYC my dream has finally come true. I have moved to somewhere tropical with the person that I have loved for those same 30 years.

I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. When I was younger I loved the winter, the snow, skiing, drinking hot chocolate on a frigid day. I remember clearing the snow from the basketball court so we could play ball when the temperature was in the 30's.  As I got older I had less tolerance for the cold weather and up until recently the temperature cut-off for playing ball outside was up to 50 degrees.

My vacations were spent in the warm weathered islands of the Caribbean with the Dominican Republic being my favorite vacation escape. My dream was to eventually have a Villa in the Caribbean.

About 4 years ago I did a search on the web to find the best warm weather places to retire to that had a Latin culture. It was important to find a place that had good and affordable health care, a good sized middle class, a low cost of living, and something to do so I would not be bored. I am lucky that the person that I have been living with all of these years also has the same dream as me. 

The web search came up with Belize, Panama, and Costa Rica.  

We chose to visit Manuel Antonio in Costa Rica because it reminded us of the lushness of the Caribbean that we loved so much. It is in the  rainforest and up on the hills and has spectacular views. Well, if the Caribbean is considered tropical, then Costa Rica has to be considered super-tropical.  The size of the vegetation, of the mountains, of the red snappers, of the iguanas, are all gigantic. The amount of wildlife is incredible.  Troops of monkeys only a few feet away, toucans in the trees, colorful tiny frogs, slow moving sloths, green parrots flying by. Pristine beaches, gorgeous ocean views, horseback riding along the beach or to a hidden 3 tiered waterfall. It's really a photographer's dream. Especially one who loves the colors that life brings.

Of course to have such lushness and to be living in a rain forest there comes with it a rainy season, or what's called the a "green" season for tourism. It is especially rainy in the months of September, October, and November. Or so they say.

OK, so we were literally sold on moving to Costa Rica and invested in a new development called Hacienda Matapalo. We did our due diligence and were expecting it to be completed by the latest, 2013, when I would complete 30 years at my job. Long story short.....they ran out of money, we found a home already furnished near Dominical, and purchased it. Dominical is in the same area that we originally wanted and it is known as the place where the rain forest meets the sea.. Hacienda Matapalo may or may not finish. We may or may not get our money back. But time waits for no one and we were not getting any younger.  We had a plan and were going to stick to it. The sun will come out tomorrow, bet your bottom......ok, enough trite expressions. The costa rican people have. An expression, Pura Vida, which means the pure or good life. we are going to find out if it's true. 

Next time...........the move out of NYC and a new beginning in Costa Rica.

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pgerace@aol.com (Gerace Images) Costa Rica costa rica retirement http://www.geraceimages.com/blog/2013/2/my-retirement-to-costa-rica-pura-vida-well-find-out Wed, 13 Feb 2013 05:19:15 GMT