Archive for May 22, 2017

What can we bring you from North America?

Written by Michael Simons on . Posted in Costa Rica Living, EX PATS in Costa Rica

What can we bring you from North America ?

What can I bring you from north america

When I first moved here, there was literally NO brand named products in the stores; NONE. It was very basic. Every time we had someone visit us from the USA or Canada, we would have a long list of items that we needed them to bring. Spices, Peanut Butter, BBQ sauce, Candy and more, were common requests to visitors.

One of my addictions is pretzels. It is something that I have always loved, and it is my personal choice for a snack. I remember in the old days, we treated them like gold, hoarding them, and counting them, and only sharing them with our closest friends, as we didn’t know when another visitor would reload our stash. We would have private pretzel parties, seriously, as they could not be found anywhere in Costa Rica. One day, about 2004, I get a phone call from an old friend of mine. She was another pretzel nut, and was one of the very few I would open up my personal stock with. “Don’t tell anyone” she said, “but there are now pretzels at the market. But hurry up; there are not many bags left. I bought 6 myself and they are running out.” I turned my car around, like Starsky and Hutch, and raced back to Coco and ran into the store. There were only about 5 left, and I grabbed every single one. As I was checking out, other addicts came sprinting down the aisle, suffering violent withdrawals when they realized they were all gone. That quickly, they were out of stock and it was months before they came back. Captain Crunch was another luxury that I just seemed to crave. It is funny how you never really care much about something, until all of a sudden; it is nowhere to be found.

Over time, as more and more Ex Pats moved here, the markets started stocking up on items that you would see in a grocery store back home. Today, you can find almost everything in the Auto Mercado and Luperon Grocery stores, on the main drag of Playas del Coco. Some of these products are a little more expensive than back in North America, as they had to be shipped here, but the shelves are stocked, do not worry. And if you want something bad enough, you don’t really care what it costs.

Clients ask me all the time, if they can bring me anything from home; if there is anything I need; or something that I would like. I always tell them, no; thanks very much, I am fully stocked up. Many of my clients, though, still feel like that have to bring me something as a token of their appreciation. I receive dozens of T-shirts a year, from local sporting teams, rock n roll concerts or town events that they attended. I am very appreciative of all this love, THANK YOU.

So if you MUST bring me something, then here is what you need to know.

I wear an XL T-shirt.

My dogs can always use treats.

I drink Jack Daniels.

I like Beef Jerky.

And you can never EVER go wrong, bringing a box of Large, Hard, and Sourdough Pretzels. They will be thoroughly enjoyed with a tub of cream cheese and a sporting event on TV. THANKS.

Is there Uber in Costa Rica?

Written by Michael Simons on . Posted in Costa Rica Living, Costa Rica Politics, Costa Rica Service Providers, Vacation in Costa Rica

Is there Uber in Costa Rica?

Uber in Costa Rica

Back in early 2016, Uber arrived in Costa Rica. There were huge protests from the taxi drivers and even some violence against some of the Uber drivers. Since then, it has calmed down, but there is still a lot of resistance from the taxi community. Here is what I have found.

Uber ONLY exists in San Jose, not at the beaches, so if you are visiting Guanacaste, it won’t make a difference. Use the local red taxis. They are everywhere, very safe, very friendly and very reasonable. For two dollars you can get around town.

But there is a new company now in Guanacaste, FYRST.  It will begin operations December 1st, 2019. It is very similar to Uber but much better. FYRST works with ALL the legal and registered tour companies and drivers. When you request a ride, it searches all the available vehicles and sends one directly to where you are, just like Uber. All the vehicles are in excellent condition, and the drivers are professional tour operators, not some part time person trying to make a few extra bucks. You can even pre order a ride, so they can pick you up and take you to the airport at the crack of dawn. They are awesome.

Download it for free.  fyrst.app

I have tried Uber in San Jose and have had mixed results. Some of the vehicles are beautiful, as you would find in North America. Others need some serious work. So, when I am in the city, and use Uber, I always try to order the upgraded Uber car, in hopes of getting one that is newer, nicer and in better condition. Also, it depends on where you plan on going. Most of the Uber drivers are new, and not that familiar with all the side roads. There are no street signs, many one way avenues, and some “not so nice” parts of town.

The old taxi drivers know the short cuts. They know how to cut through back roads and neighborhoods to avoid the massive traffic jams that clog the city. So many times, I just go with the local taxis, especially if I am going to a remote part of town, or an out of the way location.

Make your own choice.

If you are going to drive around the country, the best GPS app to use is WAZE. Everyone uses it here, so all the main locations are already plugged into the app and easy to find. Most car rental companies will also rent you a GPS for a very reasonable fee, just ask.

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