Archive for June, 2012

Why are you still There and not here?

Written by Michael Simons on . Posted in Newsletters

Newsletter edition no. 3

Every day I wonder why everyone doesn’t move to a place like Costa Rica.  Now don’t get me wrong, I really don’t want EVERYONE to move here.  Then it would be like there, and I would have to leave – and I have no plans to go anywhere.  But there is so much negativity back in the USA and Canada that I don’t understand how people deal with it.  Whether it’s the Auburn school shooting or the Penn State abuse case, there never seems to be any good news.  

Life in Costa Rica is simple and everyone is happy.  I drove to work the other day, and there was this man on his bicycle.  He had to be 60 years old, just riding along without a care in the world.  I watched him for a minute as he went by.  He was smiling and singing like a little kid.  Then all of a sudden he popped a wheelie, went about 15 yards and the bike slammed back down.  He then proceeded to peddle as fast as he could and took his hands off the bars and threw them up in the air.  It reminded me of when I was a kid.  “Look Mom, NO HANDS!!!…and I did a WHEELIE!!!!”  But he was 60, not 16.  Fortunately, he didn’t slam into a bus.

 

I went home to visit my family over Memorial weekend.  I was there 6 days and I was very anxious to get back home to Costa Rica (I have to be really careful what I write here because my Mom reads my Newsletters and I NEVER want to insult my Mother) I mean, it was great to see the family and I had a wonderful week, but the whole experience reminded me WHY I moved to Costa Rica.  

 

Everything is a big ordeal back home.  It takes forever to go anywhere. And, you can’t just go out for a drink in the USA because you have to worry about being arrested for DUI.  You don’t even have to be drunk; you just have to have MORE than one cocktail in a one hour period.  Hell, who only drinks ONE cocktail an hour?  What is the point of drinking, if you are only going to have one drink an hour?  

 

My Dad told me a story about a client of his who got pulled over by the police.  He had 2 drinks.  TWO !!!!  They arrested him for drunk driving. If I got arrested every time I had two drinks, I would be in prison for the rest of my entire life.  REALTOR GETS LIFE IN PRISON.  I drink two drinks, FOR LUNCH waiting on the waiter to show up at my table. Not only did this guy get all the things you expect with a DUI, suspended drivers license, huge fines, alcohol class etc, they made him attend Anger Management Class. This is the stuff that kills me.  Anger Management – For Drinking?  Are you kidding me?  You know what makes me angry,  SENDING ME TO ANGER MANAGEMENT FOR HAVING TWO DRINKS.  But because of a couple of idiots, we all have to pay the price.  

 

That’s the problem in the USA.  Because of the irresponsible actions of a few the majority has to pay the price.  Can you say Sub Prime loans?  No thanks.

 

In Costa Rica, a cop once pulled me over, saw the beer in my lap and said “Señor, be careful.  That is a good beer.  You wouldn’t want to spill it.  Drive safely”  Besides, I definitely wouldn’t want to take a taxi home anyway.  Way safer to drive.  I mean, have you ever been in a taxi in Central America?  These guys drive like Mad Max.  No thank you.  It is much easier to just give a couple bucks to the cop if he pulls you over.  At least you know its going to good use.

 

Speaking of being pulled over…[more…]  I was driving back to Guanacaste from San Jose one time and a cop pulled me over for speeding.  Now, they don’t pull you over like they do in the USA, where they get behind you and turn on the lights.  NO, in this country they just jump out from behind a shady tree, into the middle of the road, put their hand up and force you to stop.  I always wanted to just blow by the guy and keep going, but I heard some horror stories of Costa Rican prisons.  I always wondered how many of them got plowed over because some tourist was reading a map.

 

So, the cop comes up to my car and asks for my Passport.  They do this to prove I am legally in this country.  Why a police officer can’t do this back home without being considered racist is beyond my comprehension (Reason number 846 not to live in the USA).  I show the officer my Permanent resident card and he has this look of disappointment in his eyes. He thought he had pulled over a Gringo. It is much harder to hustle a bribe out of a Tingo (Tico Gringo) than it is a tourist. There is actually a great story about the origin of the word Gringo; yes you guessed it, coming soon to a Newsletter near you.

 

He asks me out of the blue “do you ever go back to the USA?”  Of course I answer but I am curious why he asks this.  He motions for me to get out of my car and follow him so I do.  If a cop did that in the USA I would be totally panicked that I might never see the light of day again.  He goes back to his police car, which by the way is usually a tow truck so they can impound your vehicle if they need to, and pulls out his wallet. He proceeds to hand me over $100 CANADIAN DOLLARS and asks me if I know where he can exchange these.  

 

I had to hold in the laugh because I knew what happened. Somebody from Canada got pulled over earlier, and paid this guy $100 bribe in

 

Canadian dollars.  What’s so hilarious is the tickets are only about $20 if you take the ticket.  But of course most tourists panic; cop, gun, Spanish, TOW TRUCK and they give a big bribe to get out of the ticket.  The police offer asks me if I would BUY back the Canadian dollars for either US dollars or Costa Rican Colones!!!!

 

 

Now the fun begins.  I am in control.  He has no idea who he is negotiating with.  I do this for a living.  Make a long story short, I pulled out my calculator and we began the back and forth dance of the value of the Canadian buck.  I told him it was useless, he thought it was gold, and we ended on a fair price for the exchange.  I actually made about $16 FOR GETTING PULLED OVER.  Man do I love Costa Rica.  Can you imagine even offering a cop a bribe in Colorado? They would Rodney King you.  

 

I actually found myself being bored in the USA.  You have to plan everything and with traffic it can take hours to get anywhere.  Meet me here at such and such a time with so and so.  Texting back and forth.  Emailing.  Calling.  Trying to make plans around everyone’s schedule.  

In Costa Rica, I just drive into town, walk into any restaurant or bar and run into 20 people I know.  Who needs plans?  Or jump in my truck and go to anyone of a dozen beaches to hang out for the day.  You will get invited 10 times to go out fishing with people you don’t even know.  Yes I did go out to some wonderful dinners with my family when I went back home and I also saw the Van Halen Concert and had a great time.  David Lee Roth is still my hero.  I also took my family to a baseball game; it was my niece’s first game.

 

Now, understand she is 9 years old. Baseball is hard enough to get excited about when you are 40.  But when you are a 9 year old girl, with the attention span of a rubber band, this has potential for disaster written all over it.  I remember praying to God on the way to the game.  Dear Lord, please don’t give me a 1-0 pitchers dual.  Can you imagine?  By the third inning she would be totally bored out of her mind.  Thankfully, 7 runs were scored in the first inning.  She hugged me.  “I LOVE baseball Uncle Mike”  So we proceeded to buy everything with sugar that has ever been made on the earth.  Carmel corn, Cotton Candy, Ice Cream, Sodas, M&Ms, Hamburgers, Hot Dogs and we might as well end it with a Snow Cone. I mean, why not?  But at the end of the day, the entire experience cost over $500!!!

 

Now, I can afford it, but seriously, how does a family of 4 pull this off?  The USA is just totally out of control.  

 

By the way we have a couple local baseball teams here.  When we found out that the team was lacking in some essentials, a group of local people stepped up with donations of gloves, balls, etc.  One of my good clients is a big wig with Miller Beer.  He called another big wig at the Milwaukee Brewers.  Next thing you know, a small container arrives in Costa Rica with baseballs, bats, hats, uniforms, gloves, catcher equipment, the works.

 

Now the Sardinal Brewers are stocked up and ready to play.  They might not be as good as the Colorado Rockies but they are just as much fun to watch and the tickets don’t cost a week’s pay.  There are dozens of examples where we give back to the community.  I get asked all the time about helping with local Charities and I promise this will be in a Newsletter soon as I know many of you want to know where you can help.

 

It blew my mind how expensive everything has gotten back home, but the thing I noticed the most, is how everyone was in a bad mood.  No matter who I talked to, they were miserable.  I was depressed just talking to people.  The first thing everyone notices the moment they set foot in Costa Rica, is how wonderfully happy, positive, friendly and nice every body is.  You very rarely ever see anyone in a bad mood.  The saying Pura Vida really makes sense after you land in this paradise.

 

Talk about landing at airports.  If I never have to go through Customs in the United States of America ever again, it will be one day too soon.  Dear God, what a nightmare.  It doesn’t even feel like the USA anymore, but Communist Russia.  They grill you when you get to the window.  Where have you been, Why were you in Costa Rica, What are you doing there, Why are you back, What do you want, What are you carrying?????????? Dude, I am just coming back to see a baseball game.  

 

They practically strip search you, make you go through 2 or 3 X-ray machines, and ask to see your ID about 14 times.  It takes 3 hours to get through the whole ordeal and you almost miss your plane.  Then when you are boarding the plane, some Homeland Security Agent asks you if you are carrying more than $10,000 in Cash.  

 

I remember once coming back from Las Vegas they asked me that. I said, “Nope left it all at the casino.  You should have searched me coming in.”  Needless to say they didn’t find that so funny and I had to go through another body search.  Going through the airport in Costa Rica is a breeze.  Everyone smiles at you, says Welcome to Costa Rica.  They ask how your day is going.  And they let you check extra baggage, over weight and usually don’t charge you.  I love this country.  But of course I did a bunch of shopping in the USA and stuffed it into my bags as we are always bringing something back from the USA.  My first thought was “How am I going to get this through Customs in Costa Rica?”  This takes tremendous skill and of course we have perfected it.  That’s right, you guessed it, and it’s for another Newsletter.

 

I was so glad to be back.  Just walking through the new Liberia airport and out into the evening sky, all the stress I felt before was gone.  It was a perfect evening, and you could see thousands of stars in the sky.  I bought a beer and opened it, and drank it on the way home.  The next morning, on my way to work, I was reminded again why I love this country.  I had to sit in a Costa Rica traffic jam as some cows crossed the road. I saw a family (yes a family) on their moped riding through town.

 

Everybody smiled and waved at me as I drove by.  There were monkeys and birds in the trees and I saw a couple dozen kids playing soccer in the park.  There was even a horse tied to post in front of a bar, like the old Wild West.  I had my coffee in my hand and I was off to have breakfast on the beach.  It was another perfect day in paradise and I was ecstatic to be home again.

 

Anyway, I am off to town.  I will just walk into any restaurant or bar and there will be a dozen friends to hang out with.  I can guarantee you this much.  I won’t be bored and I won’t take a taxi home.

 

See you down here in Paradise!

 

Pura Vida,

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Michael Simons

 

If you have had a great experience with my office and Costa Rica, I want to hear about it. Please send us a video of yourself telling us WHY and I will post it to my website for everyone to see. Or send me an email and I will put it in my Testimonials. I appreciate your business and that you have decided to read this Newsletter more than I could ever tell you. THANK YOU.  Please take a little more time and check out the entire site. We have added a lot of information lately that I am sure you will find helpful. Also, please forward this to any friends you think might be interested in learning more about Costa Rica. Is there a story behind Tank Tops and Flip Flops you ask? Of course, but you have to stay tuned for another Newsletter. I hope all is well. Stay healthy. God Bless you and your families. Stop procrastinating and hurry back!

 

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First time movie goers!!!

Written by Michael Simons on . Posted in Costa Rica Living

A group of senior women learning to read and write for the first time were rewarded for their efforts with a night out at the movies with the works – Popcorn, soft drinks, canday – and pizza and burgers afterwards then topped off with a trip to the Guanacaste Museum in Liberia. 

The senior literacy class is given by the Libertad School Teachers Majorie Amador and Alexandra Angulo.  The class is attended by 10 students total and is given a 5 PM every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

For thier first movie ever the group saw Madagascar 3 which was shown in 3D at Multicines Liberia www.multicinesliberia.com

They laughed until they cried was the report back. 

Michael Simons of RE/MAX Tres Amigos and Jerry and Diane Vandergoot were kind enough to fund this memorable adventure.

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