Tank Tops Flip Flops Newsletter edition no. 63
Having just gone back to Colorado for the Holidays, I realized 3 things.
Nothing is more important than family. Be sure to tell the ones you care about that YOU LOVE THEM. You never know how much more time you will have.
Life is short; it can end in a second. So enjoy every minute you have, because it could be your last.
You must have been dropped on your head as a child if you still live where it is freezing cold, and you have to shovel your driveway and scrape your windshield every single day. What is wrong with you?
The moment I landed and got off the plane, it was like a huge bag of concrete was lifted from my shoulders. All the stress from visiting the USA was gone; all the bad attitudes I experienced had changed to smiles; and the 88 degree sunshine brought energy to my jet lagged body and I found myself giggling that I was finally back in paradise. I need these trips up north to remind me why I left. I went to the mall with my niece to do some Christmas shopping and was overwhelmed with claustrophobia. There must have been 5000 cars, all circling the mall like sharks on a dead whale, hoping; praying, for that one space to open up. People were honking, and screaming and it brought out a side of me that I thought had finally been put to sleep, when I moved to Costa Rica 12 years ago. I was pounding on the steering wheel, cursing at everyone, wishing death on people I don’t even know; Merry Christmas huh? Scary thought.
My luggage had been lost by United Airlines, sent God knows where, and yet I didn’t even really seem to care. I was home; back in Costa Rica. The guy, who took my missing persons report, was about as friendly as you can be, and when I told him “Pura Vida” he just smiled and returned the salutation. Of course all the other Americans who had similar issues with items that had gone astray were not nearly as understanding. Some were actually chastising this poor fellow, like it was his fault their clothes were on their way to Liberia Africa instead of Liberia Costa Rica. This is the problem with gringos and the reason most of us moved out of North America. Everyone is wound so tight, ready to snap like a rubber band on a moment’s notice, expecting the world to revolve around them as if they were God’s gift to notoriety. Unfortunately, I was about to experience it first-hand as soon as I turned on my cell phone.
My friend and I have a little lake house that we use as a retreat when we want to cool off and get away from the beach. We rented it for the week of Christmas to his cousin from Ohio, who obviously has lived her entire life with a silver spoon shoved in her mouth. For the record, we gave it to them for about one third of what we could have gotten on the open market. “We have issues!!!!” she hollered when I returned her call from the frantic message on my voice mail. “The internet is down, and my husband has to stay in touch with his office!” She proceeded to tell me that she had to “steal” the signal from the neighbor’s house and it was OH SOOOO SLOW!!! First off, let me tell you WHY the internet travels at a snail’s pace this time of year. It is because one million gringos pile off the planes, desperate to fire up their iPhones, laptops and tablets, just to check their emails and their Facebook accounts and it completely bogs down the system. Seriously people, can’t you just disconnect for a few days, relax, enjoy paradise and scope out the monkeys? I called the internet company and they sent someone right away to check it out; ON CHRISTMAS EVE! Find me a cable company in the USA that would do that; doesn’t exist. It turns out the internet was fine, they just weren’t intelligent enough to type in the correct password.
When I was at my mother’s house I had problems connecting to; and I wasn’t very happy about it either. I had to get in the car, drive 10 minutes down the hill to the nearest internet place. It was shivering cold, snowing like a mad man, black ice everywhere, bumper to bumper traffic. When I finally reach the KINKO’S, I had to sit on a hard plastic chair, freezing my butt off, staring at a white wall with FED-X stickers all over it. Not exactly the most enjoyable way to check up on the office. But when my feed goes out in Costa Rica, it is a tad more relaxing. I drive 10 minutes as well; but this time to the beach or lake cafe. Along the way, I pass some of the most beautiful scenery you have ever seen; friendly people waving; and it is 88 degrees. I sit on a comfortable lounge chair, soaking up the rays, absorbing the sound of crashing waves, while sucking on a cold Pilsen Beer and chomping on a bowl of ceviche. Of course this never crossed their mind; oh to be so inconvenienced.
“The stove doesn’t work either!!!” she barked. Now, you don’t need to be a brain surgeon or a rocket scientist, to take 30 seconds and look around the room. Literally 6 feet from the stove is a big blue metal tank, 2 feet tall that says PROPANE on the side. A five year old could notice that the tank wasn’t connected and do a little detective work and search for the valve on the end of the tube. As soon as she clicked it on; TAD DAH!!! FIRE!!!
“There is NO hot water!!!” she screeched as if someone had stolen her child from her and sold it to ISIS. I had to laugh out loud. You just came from Akron Ohio; one of the least desirable cities in North America. You couldn’t pay me enough money to live in it. It is currently 27 degrees there, and raining sheets of ice and you are complaining that you are in paradise and have to take a room temperature shower? Really? The water that comes out of the faucet here is about 78 degrees by the way; not exactly an ice bath. (That reminds me of Peyton Manning’s new ad; Losing feeling in my toes!) Of course Murphy’s Law says that the hot water heater would break on Christmas Eve when it is almost impossible to find a maintenance guy to check it out, but I will bet you that once he gets there, a simple push of the reset button will probably solve the problem. I will be sure to get back with you and keep informed on this world altering event.
It blows me away how many people get so distraught over the tiniest setbacks. Living in Costa Rica makes you appreciate everything that you have and reconfirms for me why I will never go back to the United States of America. My maid travels one hour every single day on a bus, and then walks almost a half a mile to my house, so that she can make $25 cleaning it. I have never seen her in a bad mood; EVER. She is always smiling and happy, and thankful to have a job. There are people in this country, which might get one pair of sandals as a Christmas present, or be lucky enough to eat Tamale for a special meal, and yet you never hear them complain. They are always happy. They have no idea what a hot shower is and could care less.
Literally, as I am writing this, my neighbors show up at my front door, having decided last minute to get out of New Jersey and come to paradise for the Holidays. They told me that their water was out, the pressure tank was broken, and that they took a bath in their swimming pool this morning and will deal with it after Christmas. That is the spirit that it takes.
I opened my email a few minutes ago from a woman who represents Team Canada in Martial Arts. For the last three years they have come to Costa Rica for a tournament, the competitors are all 10-14 years old. Each time they have shipped down with them 40 back packs, filled with school supplies, books and uniforms that they have found sponsors for back home. They give these to the Playa Hermosa School, the highlight of their trip; a great experience for the Canadian children and euphoria for the Costa Rican kids. These are the type of people we want coming here.
As the woman from Ohio continued to complain on the phone, telling me how their vacation was ruined, I reminded her that we gave her an incredible deal on our house and she should just have a little adventurous spirit and go with the flow. “What would you say to the client who paid full price?” she sarcastically asked. I told her I would say the same thing I am going to say to you right now. Suck it up and deal with it, or go back to the USA. We don’t want a person like you here; that is why we all moved away, and I hung up the phone. I would have said the same thing to my family too, if they acted so ignorant, but they never would have complained like that. I am very fortunate to have a clan that sees the bigger picture in life. Now I know where the saying, Ugly American came from.
My marketing manager will probably remind me that I might not want to write this in my newsletter; not to be so harsh on these people; as they might read it and get upset. I don’t care. There are only two things that can happen. They either realize how out of touch they are with the real world; maybe change for the better. Or they will run around telling everyone what a prick Michael Simons is; people have been saying that for 49 years so I won’t get too bent out of shape if that happens. Besides, I don’t have a whole lot of friends in Akron and don’t ever plan on visiting again. I spent a month there one night. Pura Vida.
Which brings me to my final thought; next year I will turn the big FIVE – O. It isn’t like fifty is old by any means, but all of a sudden you realize that you are on the back nine and the clubhouse is in sight. What I find kind of funny, is that I never really had any set goal for where I wanted to be on this epic birthday, which is almost ironic to anyone who knows me. I was always a goal oriented guy, from knowing how many pots and pans I was going to sell in any given day back in 1984, to how many houses we were going to put under contract in 2014. I remember a year in advance setting June 1 2003 as the day I was going to arrive in Costa Rica, and actually coming 13 minutes early on May 31 at 11:47 PM. I am the kind of guy that always has a TO DO list on his desk, and I am constantly taking notes, making reminders, and stuffing them into my pocket. I know, they have apps for that on your iPhone now, but I am still old school. I remember when I was a teenager; a very wealthy man told me some good advice. He said “a short pencil is better than a long memory” and I won’t ever forget that. So it is odd that I never had any specific expectations of where I would be at this stage of my life, I guess I just figured it would work itself out. And fortunately it has but only because I had enough guts to leave the rat race and move to Costa Rica.
When I was 20 years old, if you would have said to me: In 30 years you will be living in paradise; you will have a few bucks in the bank and generally be in excellent health. You will have 8 of the greatest dogs on earth and thousands of good friends. You will spend your afternoon and evenings in beach bars, watching the sunset, drinking cold beer, flirting with waitresses half your age; I would have said “SIGN ME UP!”
Seriously though, what I am most proud of is the first class business we have all built together here. I chuckle when I see some of the competitors in Costa Rica; makes you wonder what kind of operation they are running. Their signs are like a Swap Meet of services.
REAL ESTATE / PROPERTY MANAGEMENT/ RENTALS/ CONCIERGE/ TOURS/ ARCHITECTURE/ PROJECT CONSULTING/ CONSTRUCTION/ HOME REPAIRS/ FURNITURE/ CAR WASH/ BABY SITTING AND DOG WATCHING SERVICES.
I keep waiting for them to add BEST ICE CREAM IN TOWN, to the menu too.
As the old saying goes: Jack of all trades: Master of none.
WE ONLY SELL REAL ESTATE and we have networked with professionals in every other field who can help make your move to paradise, stress free. We are not only the largest and most successful real estate company in Costa Rica, but I have a team of professional fulltime licensed and legal agents who are dedicated to helping others find the quality of life we are so fortunate to have here. Man, I am so proud of our team. THANKS EVERYONE. You are truly the best.
This has been a difficult year for me personally, as I have lost 5 very good friends and clients just in the past few months. All of them left way too early. Life is short people; stop procrastinating. I never wanted to be one of those people, lying on my death bed, wishing I had done something I never got around to doing; I implore you to change; Now! If Costa Rica is in your sites, get a plan and make it happen: I promise you that you won’t regret it. Please remember to tell the important people in your life that YOU LOVE THEM. You never know when you will have another chance.
I want to thank all of our clients for their loyalty and their business. It has been an honor helping you. Special thanks to all our Costa Rican friends who have opened their arms and allowed us to live in this amazing country, treating us as if we were their own. My warmest thoughts and best wishes go out to all of you and your families. Happy Holidays; may the upcoming year bring you all the health, prosperity and HAPPINESS that you so rightfully deserve. God Bless.
Hope to see you soon. Pura Vida.