Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Why I Want to Live in Costa Rica

August 26, 2011 by  
Filed under Costa Rica General Interest

What a nightmare………..

The airport was packed with everyone flying home to somewhere. Mostly Americans like me that would like to live in Costa Rica or move to Costa Rica permanently.

I got to the airport at 5:00am

My flight leaves at 6:55

2 hours… not problem… right?


I had to pay $30 extra for the big black box but I knew that before I left the resort community I was staying at down near the Osa Peninsula.

I waited through a huge line in security but then they saw duck tape, a tape measure, my mattress pump, two diamond grinder wheels and the small Makita grinder in my carry on. They/I broke the zipper getting it open and then they told me that I could not bring any of the above onto the plane. I told them I flew down with it from the US. “Does not matter” I am told. Living in Costa Rica the rules are different, you can’t take these things on board.

Now I have an hour left.

I have to go back and have the bag plastic wrapped to keep it closed ($12.00) then I cut to the front of the ticket line and tell them I need to ship the whole carry on. A third bag is $150.00.

I say nicely to the Tico lady at the ticket counter… “you have to be kidding me”. “I could have put these things into my green bag because it was under weight”. The black box weighted 50.5lbs and I didn’t weigh it ahead of time at the hotel because I had no scale. I got lucky there and they let it go. She feels very bad for me after I explain to her what happened. She then calls down to the baggage handler at the plane and asks them if they can get my green bag. “No it is already on the plane”. She calls again and she thinks we have enough time to get the bag off the plane and she will walk with me and get security to let me into the baggage claim area where you arrive in CR. I will then have to go through customs to get the bag back out, go across the street and back upstairs to the ticket counter with that bag and then take the illegal stuff out of the carry on and put it into the green duffle… then back through security and try to catch the plane I will go. She says, “I think we can do it!”

So she goes the back way. I have to go outside, down a flight of stairs to the arrival area, cross the street and wait for her and security. She shows up about 5 minutes later and she walks me to the oversize baggage area and we wait. 10 minutes go by and still no bag. It’s now 40 minutes to departure. She goes to call the guys outside. They found the bag (both of them… we only wanted one) and it is now coming in on the conveyor belt. She grabs a cart, I throw both bags on the cart and we run to customs. She gets customs to waive any review of the baggage.

We now go outside where we catch the taxi’s but we cannot take the cart across the street. She radios for a helper to help with the baggage. She takes off for the ticket counter and I follow the baggage guy to an elevator, go upstairs and cut to the front of the ticket line again. I now have to open up the shrink wrap on the carry on bag I had wrapped, get the illegal stuff out and put it into the green bag. After all of this now the green bag weighs too much! 5lbs to heavy. Nothing can come out except all the plastic bags of liquids and cosmetics. I throw the mouthwash and eye cleaner away… too much liquid to pass through security but now the carry on bag has to be re-wrapped because the zipper is still broken. A baggage handler at the ticket counter takes the bag and runs it back outside to the shrink wrappers, they re-wrap it for free and I then grab my passport, computer, and carry on and run to security and get in a bigger line than an hour ago… no way… I will not make it! The lady who took me downstairs now appears from nowhere and opens up the security chain and says, “you won’t make it…..come with me”. She takes me to the front of the line that checks the passports and then puts me at the head of the line with the conveyor x-ray machine. I strip down again, watch, belt, phone etc. The guy is looking at the machine and again stops it on the carry on bag. By this time the nice lady has finally left. These were, by the way, now different inspectors. The guy asks me what is in the bag. I tell him a tent, shoes and some other stuff, I have no idea what is in it by this time! He says, is there a “motor”. Oh crap, I forgot to take out the air pump. What the Hxxx? This is turning into something like the adventure tours I took last time I was down, only faster paced.

So he now cuts open the shrink wrap to get at the pump. He sees it, I turn it on. His eyes light up like, gee…. this is cool. He then takes the bag back through the machine and runs it again. He then lets me take the bag now half ripped opened in shrink wrap (looking like trailer trash now) and I grab the pump, try to stuff back in the shoes but the pump won’t fit so I shove it into my computer pack along with all of the cosmetics etc.

I now start running to gate 5. Luckily for me it was the closest gate and they were still boarding (5 minutes to spare). I then strike up a conversation, dripping in sweat, with a lady who drops her ticket without knowing it. I pick it up for her. I’m then talking to her about swimming pools and the eco-smarte system as we are waiting on the loading ramp. I’m virtually the last person on a full plane and I’m in the back of the bus all the way to the end. I then tell the guy at the front of the bus to check the carry on in the hull so I don’t have to hassle with it. He says, “oh there is room right there in the ‘first class’ overhead bin.”

So all of these up-tight “first classers” see me toss my shrink wrapped bag with shoes hanging out next to their Christian Dior luggage. Then as I bend over to pick up my computer out of my passport neck bag falls $4,000 in large bills, the lady behind me sees it and picks it up saying, “now we are even”. I walk to the back of the bus and sit down.

The lady at the ticket counter and the baggage handlers are why I want to move to CR. Can you imagine anyone in the US even for a second doing all of this? I felt bad, I had no small bills and did not have time to tip anyone, oh well… next time.

Just another story to go along with thousands of others… I feel blessed that I am moving to the Osa Mountain Village Resort Community.

Paul Thomas

Costa Rica Weather … What’s It Like?

I am not an expert Costa Rica weather man but I have visited most of the regions of Costa Rica and can tell you a little about the Costa Rica weather in general. Especially where we live in the southern zone on the coast just north of the Osa Peninsula. We being me, my wife, my daughter and our dog. So that’s where I’ll start.

The Osa area is lush and green all year long due to receiving 196 inches or so of rain a year. Days are usually bright and sunny every morning and the temperature will depend on what elevation you’re at. At ocean level or a little above it will be in the 90′s. If you go up a little in elevation where the development is where we live the temperature is a cooler 75 to 80 range usually with a slight breeze. One of the big reasons I moved to this region was because of the warm climate. Bring light clothes and sandals to this area.

The pacific north area is less rained on and has a dry season where much of the landscape turns brown. The temperatures here also get hotter and there are less mountains to find shelter from the heat. Bring clothes you wear when it is hot to this region.

The inland north is rolling hills and volcanos and much cooler temperatures. The breezes here can get quite strong. People in this area where jackets a lot of the time. Some areas are cloudy much of the time creating cloud forests where the landscape is different due to plants that don’t grow anywhere except in a cloud forest. Bring warm clothes to this area.

The inland valley is where most of the people live and is at an elevation of over 3,000 feet. It’s very nice Costa Rica weather here. The temp stays an average of 72 all year. It rains regularly and keeps things green most of the year.

The eastern side of the country is wet a lot of the year like the southern pacific side. Be sure to bring clothes you would wear when it is hot and humid.

The central south of the country has mountains that go very high in altitude. This area can get quite cold during the day and even more so at night. Mt. Chirripo is at over 12,000 feet and is the highest point within the country. Bring warm clothes and jackets to this region of the country.

The video below is of Jim Gale talking about the weather around the village resort where we live.

I hope you have enjoyed this quick Costa Rica weather synopsis. If your interest in the weather in Costa Rica stems from an interest in relocating to live here I would encourage you to do it. Take that step. You’ll be happy you did. Be sure to pick the place that’s right for you and your family. If you would like to know more about our village resort where we live in the mountains above the pacific ocean in the southern region, just fill in the form below. We have 770 acres of amazing land to share…

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Are Green Communities Offering Off Grid Living A Growing Trend?

I moved my family to one of the newly started small green communities moving in the direction of off-grid living in southern Costa Rica. It is a place that by most people’s standards is pretty remote. The two closest towns have no more than 5,000 residents each and the closest “big cities” are all about a 2 hour drive away. So, I guess that means it’s remote. There are a lot of reasons I moved. Among them are the economy in the US which heavily affected my main business and simultaneously having an opportunity offered to me in Costa Rica.

Mine is like a million other people’s story over the last few years except that I decided not to sit around and wait and see what happens. That’s not to say that my wife, Catherine, and I didn’t start out with the waiting and seeing game. I went through quite a lot of money trying to stay afloat during really slow times until one day I had to use a cash gift I received from my parents to pay the January credit card bill. It was the last straw in a particularly heavy pail.

That was the beginning of the end of life as we knew it and the start of a new life in a new country. The idea of living a simpler life was appealing to me having a 6 year old daughter to raise. Now we live in a small, food producing, green community that sits at 2,000 feet elevation in the Fila Costena mountains overlooking the Sierpe Valley and the pacific ocean with amazing old growth forest making up most of the land we live on. We are not living off grid yet but we are moving towards that goal daily.
[caption id="attachment_2827" align="alignright" width="575" caption="Me at a fundraiser for the local elementary school."]green communities, off grid living, permaculture forest[/caption]
I have heard that green communities are popping up all over the world. I have also heard that more and more people are looking at living off grid as an alternative to the norm. I don’t know for sure if this is true. I hope it is. Our experience has been fantastic. We have developed some very close friendships in a short time and we are having fun living with less and on less money. That’s not to say we haven’t had some hard times since we came here. Things don’t go the way you plan here so you get used to it. How long that takes depends on the person. The first two months were hard on my wife. Now she likes it here. My daughter, Lindsay, is going to the local school which has 5 other students in the whole school and they are all in different grades. She is the only first grader. We are one of the first families to move here and eventually we will have a school on the property but for now Lindsay is where she belongs and is learning Spanish through full immersion.

Ours is an eco resort / green community with full time residents and tourists staying in units placed in the rental pool. A large portion of the useable land on the 770 acres we have is being devoted to food production. A permaculture forest is being built to supply the residents with all the fresh, healthy, organic fruits and vegetables we can eat. Three large Tilapia ponds are being constructed and the Tilapia are used in the aquaponics system being used to grow green onions and herbs. Fresh chicken and eggs are being produced with consistency. Living off grid will come… except for the internet and phone. I can’t give up everything… Right at this moment I am sitting on my patio enjoying a beer as I close this post out. Yes, life is pretty good at Osa Mountain Village Resort.