Tank Tops Flip Flops Newsletter edition no. 99
99 Bottles of Pilsen on the wall – 99 Reasons why I Love Living in Costa Rica.
One of the things you will notice, if you spend some time here in Playas del Coco, is that there are a tremendous amount of people from Wisconsin who live, retire, vacation and snowbird here. Maybe it is because the weather is so horrible there, or maybe it is because they just love to drink beer, but it seems a bundle of them have chosen the land of PURA VIDA to call their home. There is even the one and only PACKER bar in all of Latin America right here in the middle of town, Coconutz, which happens to be one of my all-time favorite places to hang out. Earlier this year, there was a huge game at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, as the Wisconsin Badgers took on the LSU Tigers. So it just made sense that a whole bundle of these Cheese heads were going to make the trek up north for this colossal sporting event. And do you think I would miss out on the fun? No way Jose, I was in like Flynn. About 50 of us loaded up on a school bus from Appleton on the day of the game, and consumed like animals the entire way to the stadium. As you can imagine, the energy was amazing, and the crowd was rocking. When it was all over, the Badgers had defeated the superior LSU team and the city went nuts!!! There were people partying like it was 1999 and it took hours to get everyone back on the bus and headed home to the hotels. This was where I wanted to cut my wrist. You see, there is always that ONE guy, who just has to lead the choir, and he started singing the most obnoxious song, ever written in the history of mankind: the 99 Bottle songs, and it seemed to go on for an eternity.
So in remembrance of that torturous 2 hour bus ride, and also in Celebration of my 99th Newsletter, I bring to you MY list of the 99 REASONS WHY I LOVE LIVING IN COSTA RICA.
99. Ninety Nine Bottles of Pilsen on the wall, Ninety Nine Bottles of Pilsen…. Take one down pass it around: Costa Rica is 99% green. It is almost totally carbon free, and the most environmentally protective country in the world and most of it still looks like it did when the dinosaurs walked the earth. You have to love and respect somewhere, which places nature above money. This haven will blow you away.
98. Hiking. There are so many spectacular places to hike; National Parks, volcanoes and mountains that the scenery seems to go on and on forever. You could spend eternity clunking around this little paradise and never see all there is to see; there is an endless supply of “secret spots.”
97. The Leatherback Turtles are in jeopardy of extinction around the world, due to mankind’s growth and poaching. Yet Costa Rica is one of the leaders in protecting these iconic creatures with dozens of Sanctuaries and Conservation programs. Take some time and volunteer; you can make a difference.
96. The one constant you always hear is how terrible the roads are in the interior of Costa Rica, yet personally, I love it. Maybe I am just an adventurer, but I find it super cool to bounce down a river bed that they actually call a highway, give it a number, and put it on the map. There are some great ATV tours here by the way.
95. Almost every single day, as I am driving to my office, there is a man and his son, riding in an oxen cart, taking their produce to market. They don’t have a care in the world and why should they?
94. The Nicaraguan People, who make up the majority of the labor force, are some of the most gentle, loving human beings, I have ever come across. My maid and my care taker, SING while they mop floors and swing machetes. They have become like family to me.
93. I remember once, coming in for a landing, and looking out the window. It seemed like the entire province was on fire, as they were burning the fields. But the gold, known as sugar cane, is what makes everything taste so good. Just try a glass of Coke and it will remind you of when you were a child, pulling that No Deposit No Return bottle out of the machine and popping the top on the metal opener.
92. One of the most unique towns in the world: Sarchi. Almost every single person that lives in this pueblo is a furniture maker. There are dozens of stores selling handmade beds, tables and rocking chairs, that you want to buy it ALL.
91. The Cost of Living in Costa Rica is a fraction of what I used to pay to live at the beach in California or Florida. What continuously impresses me is how the Costa Ricans live such a fulfilling life, without all the luxuries and materialistic BS that we feel is so important in North America. They have taught me that the simple things in life are much more important than possessions.
90. Let me make this perfectly clear: this is NOT THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA or CANADA. That is why we moved here and that is why we continue to live here. Please do not come here, and expect this to be like it is back at home and want to change this utopia to everything you had before. If you want that, STAY THERE. We won’t miss you, I promise.
89. Horseback riding on the beach, which seems to be every person’s romantic fantasy, makes for a great afternoon. There are some very remote Playas where you might be the only people galloping down the sand.
88. Soccer. What? You ask. Soccer? You don’t like Soccer, you make fun of it all the time, and I can hear everyone saying now. Well, I am slowly coming around. Although I do love the NFL and NHL first, I get a real kick out of how serious they take this sport down here. When the teams are playing every single bar is packed and everyone is wearing the colors of their favorite team. But when the National Team is playing, like in the COPA or WORLD CUP; look out. You do not want to have a heart attack on that particular day as every single Costa Rican is watching the game. They all have on their blue, white and red, and the entire country comes to a halt as they cheer on their heroes. You just have to love how passionate they are about their country. It isn’t even the sport that I really like, as much as watching how excited they get when it is on. And when they win? WOW!!!! God Bless Costa Rica!!!! TICOS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
87. Everybody walks. As you have probably read, the Costa Ricans have some of the longest life expectancy on this earth, and there are Blue Zones all over where many people live to be over 100 years old. Walking is the best exercise and I would imagine this has a lot to do with why they live so long. There is something very special about seeing a family, all dressed up, walking to church on Sunday.
86. Respect and Camaraderie for your fellow man, is something that is instilled in the Ticos from a very young age. They very rarely judge people and are always there to help a person in need. If you get a flat tire here, the odds are 4 or 5 people will stop to help you change it.
85. I love the bakeries here and especially the bread. There is nothing like the smell of a fresh “hot out of the oven” loaf first thing in the morning.
84. So many countries have given up their currency and gone to the dollar, but not here. They are so proud of their Colone, as it gives them such a sense of independence. They have their own money and their own identity. PURA VIDA.
83. One of the reasons I always hated to go to Mexico, was because the street vendors, were like timeshare salesmen. They were relentless, and NEVER took NO for an answer. They would continuously hound you, and hammer on you, spoiling your relaxing day at the beach. You can’t walk down the street there without every store shouting out, and trying to pull and lure you into to shop. But the vendors here are very polite. They show you their goods, and ask you if you want to buy, and if you say NO, they smile. “Have a great day” they say, and down the road they go. But I also have to be honest with you, they have some incredible stuff. Handmade jewelry and wood items, and the street foods are rocking! I have more trinkets than Grandma’s house. I love that there is almost no begging at all; the Ticos are way too much dignity to ask for handouts. They would rather work for their money. They might climb a tree, and cut down some coconuts and then sell them on the beach; or put on a glow in the dark vest, and help you park your car for tips. There is no welfare and there is no unemployment; everybody works.
82. There are so many holidays you wonder when anyone has time to work. But heh; who wants to work anyway? They celebrate just about every single excuse they can, and let me tell you, it is a blast.
81. All the children dress up in their traditional costumes, the marching bands come out in full force, and people build floats that will blow your mind. I love the parades on holidays; I surely don’t need a kick in the butt to wander down town and drink a cold Pilsen.
80. With the US election this year, I was reminded again, WHY I left and moved to CR. The anger and the bantering were almost too much to take. And the really sad part is how many Americans have damaged their relationships with friends and family over an election. I have actually had friends; some that I have known for decades delete me on Facebook because we don’t see eye to eye on Politics. HOW PATHETIC. I couldn’t imagine deleting someone or refusing to speak to someone because they voted differently than I, but that is where my old country has gone. It just shows how small minded and shallow these people are. So glad I live here. During Costa Rica’s election, everyone comes out and supports their candidate. They wave the flags of their political party, and put bumper stickers on their car, but as soon as it is over, they go back to life. No one complains about the President or says horrible things. They support whoever wins, as this is their country. They respect those rights of each person to vote as they choose, and they all come together for the goodness and sake of Costa Rica. How impressive, I must say.
79. As my good friend Danny says “We catch fish! We aren’t out here burning up gasoline.” The deep sea fishing in the Papagayo is some of the best in the world. There are dozens of great catch that you can reel in and cook up that night. And if catch and release sport fishing is your thing, some of the largest and most powerful Marlin and Sailfish are biting. It makes for a trip that you will never forget.
78. You gotta love a country where there is a Fried Chicken place on every single corner. Colonel Sanders would be honored. I didn’t say it was healthy, but it sure is finger lickin’ good.
77. There is a famous saying in Costa Rica. “The only thing consistent is the inconsistency.” You will never be bored here that is for sure. Every day is an adventure, and you never quite know what to expect. Unlike North America, where it is the same old same old every single day, this is cluster nutt. Learn to embrace it, and love it. Life is short; don’t get worked up over stupid things.
76. Seventy Six Bottles of Pilsen on the wall, Seventy Six Bottles of Pilsen… take one down pass it around; Big Guanacaste trees!!! So beautiful and massive; they will take your breath away.
75. There was a time, when I first moved here, where I would have made fun of a man for saying he likes butterflies; seriously. But after visiting half a dozen butterfly farms and living out in the country for so many years, they have changed my attitude. There are thousands of these gorgeous flying machines, everywhere, every day. It is also quite entertaining to watch my dogs try to eat one out of the air.
74. I scream, you scream we all scream for Ice Cream; and when you taste the Helado in Costa Rica you will never go back to Haagen-Dazs again. Ben and Jerry; you ain’t got a prayer.
73. Although I do not surf, Costa Rica has some of the tallest surf waves in the Western Hemisphere; second only to the North Shore of Hawaii. So grab your boards and come on down. Personally, I love spending a day with a Pilsen in my hand and my toes in the sand, scoping out all the hot surfer chicks. Thank God for bikinis.
72. If you read my last newsletter, you will know that we have a very large variety of excellent restaurants. Most people’s biggest fear is that they won’t have anywhere to eat. Well, you can put that notion to sleep. There are 72 to choose from here in our little area.
71. Everybody knows I am an old 80s rock n roller, so you would think that my mind is closed. But I have come to really enjoy the Latin Music that echoes from all corners of the country. Although I may not always understand the words, the beat and the romantic sounds are easy to absorb; and everybody is always smiling and dancing.
70. The Golfo de Papagayo, is the large body of water that is just off the coastline of Guanacaste. Tucked in the back of this huge mass of ocean, are the beaches that make up our little Shangri-la. Matapalo; Playa Ocotal: Playas del Coco; Playa Hermosa; Playa Panama and Bahia Culebra are some of the most pristine shorelines you will ever encounter. The water is super calm, almost like a big lake, so it is very enjoyable for everyone. Nothing makes me happier than spending a day on the water or relaxing at the beach. From the moment I first set foot here in the year 2000, I was sold. People ask me all the time; how long did it take you to adjust. Less than 30 minutes I tell them. Just a couple Pilsens at the beach, and I was hook, line and sinker.
69. If I didn’t mention the women, I would be lying to you. The Ticas are some of the most attractive ladies on earth, and definitely some of the sweetest. They are always smiling and always friendly, and they make you feel like you are more than welcome in their country. I could easily have put this in the Top Ten.
68. Believe it or not, Costa Rica has some delicious chocolate. A good chunk of this country harvests Cocoa and they turn it into some yummy stuff. Sorry Switzerland.
67. I was never a big horse person, until I moved to Guanacaste and experienced my first TOPE, or Horse Parade. What an event! Thousands and sometimes tens of thousands of participants click clock down the main drags of towns. It is a party like you has never seen, and I encourage you to stick around for one. Everyone dresses in their best cowboy gear and consumes as much Pilsen as humanly possible. I mean what could possibly go wrong; drunken people and 1000 pound animals?
66. They start to pave a road, get half of it finished and then disappear. Don’t try to figure it out, just go with the flow and appreciate the paved side when you are on it.
65. I am surely not the most religious man that has ever blessed the presence of this planet, but you have to love a country where everyone believes in God. There is something very warm and wonderful about the Faith that Costa Rica carries in their heart. HE is definitely watching over and protecting the land of Pura Vida.
64. Every time I gaze out my back terrace and across the farmland beyond, I see the largest Melon field in Guanacaste. Until you taste the Watermelon and Cantaloupes that grow in these fields, you had no idea that such sweetness could exist on your taste buds. I could live on these alone. And they make outstanding smoothies. Come over and try my Watermelon Banana Margarita, it is spiritual. Costa Rica is also famous for their Pineapple; the juiciest anywhere! They sell them on the side of the road, just about everywhere you go. If you are visiting the higher altitudes, DEFINITELY stop and pick up a carton of Strawberries. They are bigger than golf balls. WOW!
63. How about a Full Wash and Detail of your truck for ten bucks!!!!
62. Costa Rica is famous for their electrical storms; they are a site to see that is for sure. Hundreds of lightning flashes shoot across the sky. It is especially impressive when it is out over the ocean at night. Of course it can suck if it hits your house; ask me.
61. NFL Football is super cheap. Now I know what you are thinking; how can that be? You see the local satellite company, SKY, is the sister of DIRECT TV. They have the NFL package that gives you EVERY SINGLE game, EVERY SINGLE week, just like back home. But because it is in Costa Rica, and they are trying to promote the sport, it is a fraction of what it costs back home. I can just see the executives in the NY office. “LOOK how popular the game is becoming in Latin America boss. Our marketing plan is working.” What they don’t realize is that the Costa Ricans are not watching the sport. All these new sign ups, are just us Ex Pats blowing out of the rat race and enjoying our GIANTS and COWBOYS while floating on a raft in paradise. I sure hope they never figure it out.
60. Have you ever flown over the trees like Superman, at 50 MPH? Or swung over a gorge like Indiana Jones? There are hundreds of Zip Lines or Canopy Tours all over this amazing country. I have tried about 20 and my goal is to someday check everyone off the list.
59. The Vibe. Everyone is so relaxed and so chill. Why stress out man?
58. One of the first things that all my clients tell me is that they made more friends in the first 6 months here, than they did in 20 years back in North America. One of the biggest concerns new people have, is that they will be lonely. It is the exact opposite. Everyone goes out of their way to make the new guy feel welcome and to introduce them to others. Your biggest problem will be that you won’t have enough hours in your day for all of your social activities.
57. The craziness of this place is what I adore, really. It is a Gong Show every day here, and it fascinates me. You see it all here, from entire families riding on a scooter, to a guy walking his pet farm animals. I am not joking, there is a man in Sardinal who has 6 or 7 goats, and he walks them on leashes like they are dogs. Hilarious; I love it.
56. What could possibly be cooler, than an entire town driving around in golf carts? I have a CD player in mine.
55. Fresh Fish Ceviche every single day for lunch, with some Tabasco sauce and a cold Pilsen. Grilled Mahi Mahi, Sea Bass, Red Snapper, Wahoo and Grouper for dinner, just caught that morning at 10 am. Sign me up.
54. Sunday is family day, and no matter what you think is important, they are not going to show up to fix your A/C. Super special.
53. On just about every corner of every town is a farmers market, with the freshest vegetables Mother Nature has ever produced. They have succulent tomatoes; they explode in your mouth. You can buy bags of vegetables for a couple of bucks and make the most incredible salads you could imagine. But nothing is perfect. According to my neighbor Jerry, the corn on the cob in Costa Rica sucks. He tells me every time how Awesome their corn is in Ontario Canada. Well, I will take 85 degrees and bad cob any day over great kernels in the frozen tundra with the Arctic Cold. I will just buy it in a can then, thank you very much. Pass the green beans please. Vegans; you will love this place.
52. Every February the trade winds blow through this part of Costa Rica, they are called the Papagayos, and they can get whipping. There is nothing like the sound of the howling gusts, as it tears past your house, you almost expect the Wicked Witch to fly past on a broom. Many a sailor follows these gales around the globe, and we see some of the most stupendous sailing yachts imaginable anchor in our bays. These huge schooners, costs tens of millions of dollars, and they are a site to see, let me tell you. Makes you want to get up and work a few extra hours that day.
51. 51% of Costa Rica is a rain forest and it has the largest percentage of protected land in the world. Over 5% of the entire world’s biodiversity is packed into this little country. Put this into perspective. If the world was a football field, Costa Rica is about the size of a quarter in the middle of it all. Now take every living creature, plant, animal, etc. that is inside the 5 yard line and squeeze it down and shove it into that quarter. That is how much biodiversity is here! Super Cool! Wanna see some stuff? This is the place.
50. Fifty Bottles of Pilsen on the wall, Fifty Bottles of Pilsen… Take one down pass it around: We have GREAT internet at the beach. Better than most US cities.
49. I hate bugs; despise bugs. That is why I live in Guanacaste. Because of the dry season, we have almost no bugs at all, unlike the rest of Costa Rica, where some of them look like small Pterodactyls.
48. The Papagayo Bay is home to over 25 species of Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises, and they are here for almost 8 months a year. Personally I have seen some that are over 60 feet long. UNBELIEVABLE. You don’t have to go far to see them either. Just jump on a boat, and head out of the bay. Sometimes, if you are lucky, they will come right in close to shore; and you can see them breaching while having a Pilsen at a beach bar.
47. One of the first things you will notice now is that there are almost no street dogs; and the few that are here, are actually in pretty good shape and probably have a home. You see we started a rescue organization a decade ago called CARE and we have since, relocated, neutered and spayed over 4000 animals!!!!! Please give these people a big round of applause. Just like the people here, the animals are very relaxed and non-aggressive. They are the most loving creatures you will ever meet; you just want to take every one of them home. Wait a minute: I think I did. LOL
46. Everywhere you go in Costa Rica, there are Farmacias. There is a Doctor on call in every one, so you don’t have to hunt one down when you are feeling blue. Just go to your local drug store and tell them your problem. They will diagnose it, and give you the medicine right there on the spot. Many times, they just give you a big shot in the ass, of some super hybrid concoction that knocks the virus out almost immediately; they could never do this back home. OH, and by the way, almost all drugs are over the counter here, so you don’t need prescriptions. Just stock up!!!
45. I once did an experiment at one of my parties, and didn’t tell anyone ahead of time. I hired a videographer and had him set up in one of my rooms. I went around the party, randomly grabbing people and shoving them behind the closed door. There was no prepared set of questions, we just told people to tell us their story. Almost every single person, amazingly, said the same thing. “This place is so serene; it just felt like HOME the second I stepped off the plane, and I never wanted to go back.” It is true; this is an enchanting place.
44. I get asked all the time: What is the most important thing you need if you are going to live in Costa Rica? You would think I would say “Hospital” as we are one of the only areas in the country with state of art facilities. But my answer is always the same: Grocery Stores. You do not realize how important a good grocery store is, until you don’t have one. Most of Costa Rica is very remote, and they have no North American shopping, just little markets. Let me tell you; you cannot live on beans and rice alone. But we have 5 awesome grocery stores, and they stock almost all of the products that you are accustomed to back home. Thank the Lord for the Auto Mercado and Super Luperon.
43. Health and Vet Care. Costa Rica is famous for its health care, considered some of the best in the world. And here in the Papagayo area, we have 3 world class hospitals. My clients are not getting any younger, so knowing there is a CIMA hospital just a few minutes away, can be the difference between life and death. I had a very complicated back surgery here, so I can attest to the quality of the care at a fraction of what it costs back home. I pay less every year for top of the line Medical Insurance, than my old policy cost me every two months. Having a small brigade of rescue dogs, it seems one of them is always injured, sick or limping, so it is imperative that I have great veterinary care. The Vets in the country are so caring and so attentive, and they will nurture your babies back every single time. Their fees are a fraction of what it would cost in North America, and most of them make house calls too. THANK YOU Sharine Alice for always being there!
42. If you have ever read my newsletters, you know how much I love a good pedicure. There is nothing better than a gorgeous young woman rubbing your feet. Oh yes there is: how about a Mani and Pedi for $18.
41. Less than a 90 minute drive from the beach, are some of the most relaxing and rejuvenating mud baths in the world. As you lather this stuff up, and then decompress in a Thermal Sauna, the wholesome, natural ingredients go to work removing all the toxins and stress from your body. You will feel like a new person when you are finished; and it makes for great photo ops too.
40. You CAN make a difference in Costa Rica. There are about a dozen charitable organizations right here at the beach, where you can donate your time, energy and money, and the country and the people are truly thankful. Save the monkeys or save the ocean: build a church or build a school; the ability to give back is endless. Please come here and help us make a difference.
39. As I am writing this, there are about 40 parrots in my tree, and I can hear a troop of Howler Monkeys just around the bend. The nature, wild and animal life here is overwhelming. You will not believe how many thousands of creatures you see every single day, and the fauna will take your breath away. I never get tired of the beauty of this inspiring Eden, and I try really hard never to take it for granted. Having lived most of my life in a concrete jungle, this is one of the last remaining frontiers. Check it out.
38. The first time I saw this, I could not believe my eyes; grown men, entering a ring with a charging bull, to prove their toughness. The Toros as it is called is a bull fight of sorts, or more like a bull run, except it is in a very tight piece of real estate and the people lose, not the bull. No bull ever dies, but a few morons have. Grab another Pilsen and enjoy the show, as there is nothing like a flying human being to raise the crowd to its feet.
37. As my surrogate little brother David says “Gallo Pinto is rocket fuel, man.” There is no better way to start your day than a plate of black beans and rice. It is the staple of their diet here, and it is on almost every platter of typical food. They prepare it differently, depending on the meal, and everyone has their own secret recipes, but you can never tire of this stuff; it is SO good.
36. Over the last decade, hundreds of young families, Tico and Gringo, have relocated to the beaches; Many of them bringing small children of all ages. Actually, more than half my clients now, are younger, not retirees, coming here for better quality of life for their kids, and opportunities for themselves. In the last few years, many bi-lingual private schools have opened here at the beach, making it much easier to adjust. Even though I don’t have any hijos, these schools have allowed these young entrepreneurs to relocate to paradise and supply the community with all the services and needs we desire.
35. Have you ever looked up at the sky at night, back in the United States of America? You can’t see anything. Between all the city lights, and all the smog, you wouldn’t even know there are any stars in the universe. But tilt your head skyward here, and prepare to be blown away. You can see MILLIONS of them, every single evening; and the moon shines brighter here than anywhere on this earth, I truly believe. One of my most enjoyable pastimes is a Pilsen in hand, kicked back in my chaise lounge, absorbed in the beauty of the night. This is actually how I spent New Year’s Eve; why are you not here?
34. I could easily put this Number One on the list, but I don’t want to sound like a total alcoholic. RUM. Latin America has some of the tastiest that Pirates have ever put to their lips. There is Ron Flor de Cana; Ron Centenario; Ron Zacapa; just to name a few; and at a fraction of what this stuff costs back home. Rum in Spanish is Ron. My good buddy Don once had me rolling on the floor. “This Ronnie guy makes some great stuff!!!”
33. You can’t mention rum, without limes, and these zesty green dudes grow right here in paradise. The citrus and fruit in this country will floor you, and I have a dozen trees growing right in my back yard; think about how cool it is to just pluck it from your own stock. Oranges, Grapefruits, Bananas, Mangos, Papayas, just to name a few, but the most unique of all is the Limon Mandarina. It is a hybrid mix of Limes and Mandarin oranges, that blast flavor into your drink. They look like a lime with leprosy, as they have ugly white dots all over them, but do you a favor; buy a bag. They go perfect in anything clear; 7-Up, Club Soda, VODKA; and make a great addition as a garlic sauce on your fish. Squeeze away.
32. Well, since I am on a roll with alcohol, I might as well keep going. If you haven’t figured it out by now, I like to drink, and our little area has some of the best bars you could ever stumble out of. Thursday night is ladies night at Zi Lounge; Be Afraid; Be Very Afraid. The greatest shot every invented, started right here in our area too; the Chili Guaro. It is a spicy, little injection that you just can’t get enough of. SANDBAR in Hermosa is my personal favorite; make your way over to check it out.
31. I have been a certified scuba diver for 25 years, and I have dived all over the Caribbean and Central America. I understand, how people new to the sport, will talk about visibility, and how the PACIFICO OCEAN doesn’t have the best. True. But there is so much more to diving than being able to see 75 feet. You see, after you have dived a few dozen times, the site of an Angel Fish and a pretty reef gets BORING! Most of the islands, and places like Belize, have beautiful crystal clear water, but nothing else. NO MARINE LIFE. That is what makes the Papagayo so astounding. I have seen Whale Sharks and Manta Rays as big as cars. Eels, sharks and turtles are everywhere; as well as octopus, sting rays and dozens of species of fish. Besides, there is a very good chance that you will also encounter some of the hundreds of dolphins, porpoises, whales and even Orcas that migrate through our seas. Sure beats pretty flowering sea urchins and rock formations.
30. During the green season, from May to November, you can almost set your watch to it; the romantic afternoon showers. Around 2:45 PM you can see the clouds coming in, and feel the humidity rising, and then BAM: a torrential downpour. It lasts about 2 hours, and brings the temperature down about 10-15 degrees. It is exhilarating and refreshing, and a great excuse to take a break from the heat. Try hanging in a hammock with a cold Pilsen in your hand and you will know exactly what I am talking about; ROMANCE.
29. This place is like CHEERS: everybody knows you. It is such a remarkable feeling, to walk into any restaurant, bar, grocery store or professional office, and everyone says “Heh Mike.” They hand you a cold Pilsen beer before you even get to your table, and hugs and kisses on the cheek abound. It is truly very special warmth that flows through your veins.
28. Twenty Eight Bottles of Pilsen on the wall, Twenty Eight Bottles of Pilsen… take one down, pass it around: NO TRAFFIC JAMS IN GUANACASTE. Occasionally, you gotta wait for a herd of cattle to cross the road, but no one is in that big of a hurry anyway.
27. One of the first things I notice, when I go back to visit family, is how terrible the food tastes. It is all shot up with steroids, growth hormones, antibiotics and pesticides and there is almost no essence at all. The food in this country is delightful. Everything is natural and tastes the way it is supposed to taste. The Pork is to die for: the beef; so lean: and nothing ever shows up on your plate and you don’t know what it is. It is always something you are familiar with. I could never live somewhere like Thailand or Asia; where the food walks across your table and you have to stab it with your fork before it gets away. Or Europe, where everything is so heavy, fattening and full of cheese and sauces. There are no disgusting red and white pinto beans like Argentina and no one is going to ever try to serve you horsemeat or goat; just the basics, fresh and tasty. I could eat Costa Rican chicken every single meal. It is so tender and soft, and full of so much flavor, you can literally cut it with a butter knife.
26. What came first, the chicken or the egg? Who cares? They both ROCK. The yolk of the eggs here is orange, not yellow, as they are as natural as it comes; plucked daily. There are wholesalers that deliver farm fresh eggs right to your door; they don’t even need to be refrigerated.
25. Lizano Sauce is one of the local salsas, which are famous in Costa Rica. It is a mix between a sweet BBQ sauce and a mild steak sauce, and it has one of the most unique flavors in the world. Dab your pollo or huevos with this stuff!!! Marvelous!!!!!
24. The beaches in this country are stunning. There is no other word to describe it. There are hundreds of beaches that you can visit in just a day trip, some of them where you will be the only two people on the sand. Others are packed with bars and restaurants; just depends on what you crave. There are snorkel beaches, and surfing beaches; black and white sand; miles long or just a tiny little cove; all waiting for you to discover. Some of them, you can only get to by boat, or 4×4 making it a real adventure. Load a cooler with a 24 pack of Pilsen bottles.
23. I have probably made it quite obvious that I am a bit of a thrill seeker, but I can also be a softy; just don’t tell anyone. When my landscaper asked me what kinds of plants I wanted in my yard, I told him “Whatever lures the hummingbirds.” There are 338 known species in the world, and 50 of them reside here. What is cooler, than a cup of coffee, a sunrise, and a pack of hummingbirds buzzing around my pool?
22. Well, I didn’t want to sound too much like an agent, which is why I didn’t put this in the top 5. The Real Estate in Costa Rica, in my opinion, is some of the most fascinating that has ever dotted the globe. We have views that blow away Laguna Beach, Malibu, Hawaii, Cabo or the Mediterranean and at a fraction of what those properties costs. Views of the oceans, bays, mountains and volcanoes are enough to make you want to sell everything and move tomorrow; it happens more than you think. With the rental market booming, and the airport just 20 minutes away, we are geared for a mammoth explosion. Come get you some!
21. For centuries, torrential weather has shaped the valleys and canyons of this tiny little wonderland, creating rivers that twist, dip and bumps; perfect for some of the most extreme white water rafting on this earth. They have dozens of rivers you can pound down, and some even with Class V; the most dangerous. Yes you can die on these rivers! Right on man; sign me up!!!
20. From December to April, in the Papagayo area, there is not one single drop of rain. This is the only area in the country that experiences the dry season, and it is the reason we almost all live here. The weather is PERFECT. Every day is 85-90 degrees with 20% humidity, and the evenings get down to a nice cool 70 degrees. Many of the trees lose their leaves and flower, and the bougainvillea and hibiscus are exploding with colors. There are consistent breezes all day and night long, turning this place into the perfect tropical retreat. I love that it never snows, there is no ice, and it never gets cold; as my pal Jeff says; No one ever had to shovel rain. You can wear Tank Tops and Flip Flops everywhere; you dress the same to go to beach as you do to the office; you could wear this same outfit to a wedding or a funeral; as the temperature is always perfect. I chuckle, knowing it is subzero in North America, and I am floating in my pool, sucking back a Pilsen, cranking tunes, while they are all freezing their “you know what” off. You couldn’t pay me enough money to leave. I feel sorry for people who never get to live here.
19. The most extraordinary tree in the world, is called the Cortez Amarillo, and they are everywhere in Guanacaste. They flower the brightest and most radiant Yellow, which you can see for 50 miles. Sometimes, in the distance, it looks like the entire hillside or mountain range was brushed with yellow paint. It is one of the main reasons I live in the house that I do, because I have one of the most monumental trees I have ever laid eyes on; Takes my breath away.
18. If you are a waterfall nut, like me, you will be giddy. There are hundreds of them, all over the country, and usually very accessible. There is nothing quite like swimming under a gigantic Catarata, surrounded by jungle, the sounds of the wild animals howling in the canyons, echoing for only you to hear. Exotic toucans hanging in the trees, scoping you out; you almost expect Tarzan to come flying across on a vine.
17. As a kid, I was forced to relocate from New York City to Colorado, where I felt like a Gulag child laborer in the Siberian Tundra; it was horrible. I have these memories of going up to the mountains as a teenager to visit the “Hot Springs” which was nothing more than urine filled holes in the ground; overweight hippies, with too much body hair, driving VW buses with Jimmy Carter Bumper Stickers. I still have nightmares. So when I moved to paradise, I was a little hesitant at first to go to the Agua Caliente, as they are known here. Let me tell you; this is a completely different experience. There are entire rivers of bubbling hot water, pouring out of the sides of the volcanoes here; breathtaking lagoons and pools, gushing and flowing with 104 degree water. They are some of the healthiest places you can visit, and so relaxing it is almost intoxicating. I could spend every weekend of my life, soaking it up, Pilsen in hand, living the dream. Wait a minute: I do!
16. Sixteen Bottles of Pilsen on the wall, Sixteen Bottles of Pilsen… take one down pass it around: The Liberia International Airport(LIR); need I say anything else? What a blessing; only 20 Minutes Away.
15. I have to admit; I am a gringo and proud of it; and I am very impressed with almost all the Ex Pats that move here. Sure, some are perfect stereotypes of the ugly American unfortunately, but very few. Almost all of them are excellent examples of what we preach every day. They come here with an open mind, and want to assimilate into a new culture. They give back; donate; help the Costa Ricans; try to make this a better place. They bring money, and create jobs and opportunities; employ people; pay taxes; and start dozens of charity foundations. When there is work to be done, it is almost always the gringos doing it; beach clean ups; rebuilding of schools; Toys for Tots; they give back and get involved. It takes a certain type of person, to move to another country, and start an entirely new life. They are courageous and adaptable and generally very good people: they have Cajones! They are the types who live life to the fullest; no regrets. I love all the younger families who are relocating here, bringing their dogs and kids, and starting anew. They are enterprising visionaries, who want better lives for themselves. Being in real estate, I hear so many people “dreaming” of coming to paradise, telling me how they have a plan, but they will never do it. They don’t have the balls. They are too scared to take a chance, and will live the rest of their days in their safe little bubbles; still telling all their friends how they are “going to just do it one day.” SURE. Save the BS. If you had the guts, you would just stop making excuses and pull the trigger. Almost 8 Million US citizens live abroad, and over 400,000 retirees are collecting their Social Security checks in a foreign bank account; so what is stopping you? Only You! God Bless those of us who put aside the fear. We are living an incredible life. A toast!!!! To the Gringos in Pura Vida!!!! Salud!!!!
14. Aft; Bow; Port; Starboard; Leeward; Windward; Boom; Rudder; Tacking; Jibing; There you go: the top ten sailing terms. Not that I am a sailor, by any means, and I have no idea what most of those mean, but I do enjoy going out on someone else’s boat, especially when they do all the work. The freedom that you sense when you are running hard across these huge bays, is something everyone must experience. There are some awesome sailboat and catamaran tours that take you to these private coves; where you feel like you are the only one who has ever dropped anchor there; like Gilligan. The marine life you see and the beauty of the hillsides are a vision you will never forget. Whether it is a romantic getaway with the one you love, or a party with a group of friends, this should be at the top of everyone’s list.
13. Thirteen Bottles of Pilsen on the wall, Thirteen Bottles of Pilsen… take one down, pass it around; almost everybody speaks English. It makes it very easy to transition. Even though my Spanish is pretty good, I find it hard to ever speak it. All my Costa Rican friends want to speak in English. “No, let’s practice English Mike. It is better for my career and my opportunities.”
12. Playas del Coco is the coolest beach town; hands down. It is a great mix of First and Third World. It is the oldest fishing village in the country, and the favorite weekend and holiday spot for the affluent Ticos. When I first moved here, it was a bit of an eye sore, to be honest with you, but it has come a long way. It is so quaint, and adorable, and has such an incredible feeling to it. Back in the day, I would say “Yes it is a dump, but it is OUR DUMP” but now it has grown to become one of the premiere destinations in Latin America. You will fall in love, I promise, and like most of us; you won’t want to leave. VIVA COCO!!!
11. Playa Hermosa; Beautiful Beach; the reason I am here. I toured the entire country for almost a month back in the year 2000, and when I finally kicked off my flip flops and wandered out into the sand, I was sold. THIS IS WHAT I AM LOOKING FOR; I told my buddy. I remember sitting at the El Velero hotel with my friend Big Mike, drinking a wrath of Pilsen. “Sign me up. I have found my bliss. You can spread my ashes in this bay, when it is said and done.” I have never felt such tranquility; such peace; such happiness; as when I am relaxing on the most sensational beach in the world. Check it out; you will see exactly what I mean.
DRUM ROLL PLEASE!!! We are down to the final list.
SIMONS’ TOP TEN REASONS HE LOVES AND LIVES IN COSTA RICA
10. Millie Dolores; an angel in a Yorkshire terrier’s body. Go ahead and make fun of me, I am a man with a little dog, and this precious creature had stolen my heart from the first second I spotted her at the Multi Plaza in Escazu back in 2004; I rescued her from the mall. Nothing says I LOVE YOU like 8 pounds of attitude staring you in the eyes; bouncing up and down; excited that you are home. I could never have a bad day, when something adores me this much. I love you my little Bear; thank you for coming into my life. You have been the greatest joy I have ever experienced. I would give everything I own, to get an extra 10 years with you. Snugglicious.
9. Thanks to this same adorable creature, who demands comida at the crack of dawn, I rise very early every single morning. Lick after Lick across your face, would wake up even the soundest sleeper, as she flies off the bed and races towards her bowl. MORE FOOD PLEASE!!! Since I am awake anyway, I might as well fire up that pot of coffee and get the day started. Thank Heavens for the Java in this country; it is insane. The aroma is unlike anything you have ever smelled, and if you top it off with a shot of Café Java, it is a fantastic way to fire up your engines. I head outside and take my first sip.
8. Until you have participated in a Costa Rican sunrise, there will be a hole in your life. To see this majestic heaven come alive at 5:15 AM is evidence of something greater than me. To watch the volcanoes light up, with vibrancy and energy; to see the mist over the valley slowly dissipate; to hear the Howler Monkeys and Parrots come alive; the Hummingbirds whipping around my pool; no traffic noise; those amazing breezes; the sun slowly heating up your face; this is living. Why are you not here?
7. As I try to enjoy the moment, and soak up every last second of this precious moment, out of the corner of my eye; like the rumble of buffalo; come my pack of fur children. They race, to be the first to daddy, as they body slam me; one after another; each pushing and shoving their way in. Rub me first! Scratch my neck! Massage my ears! Out of my way! Beat it loser! I am Daddy’s favorite! ME ME ME! I am permanently scarred from scratches. Then it is a free for all down the driveway, and out across the fairway, as we take our morning run. To see the happiness and freedom they experience; there are no words. Every Sunday I load them in the back of my truck and off to the beach we go. To watch them tear around in complete ecstasy, rolling around in the sand, and dive bombing into the waves, it is total and utter “cloud nine.” To see the little Milster, out in front, leading the charge is a sight to behold. Barking and hollering; waddling at full speed down the sand; makes everyone stop and point. I am the princess; she declares. How people can go through life without ever having a dog, I do not understand. NOTHING brings happiness like a pack of rescue dogs. I love every last one of them, they are all my favorites; after Millie of course.
6. Speaking of sand: I don’t know how I survived all those years, without my regular massages on the beach, under a palm tree. The smell of the salt and the cool breeze in your hair, as her magical hands work wonders on your body. The stress is gone instantaneously, as you fall into a deep narcotic, hypnotic, like trance. You don’t have a care in the world. Life is superb. Those poor slobs sitting in traffic, fighting the blizzards, suffering through their monotonous existences; you think of them all; I am so thankful I figured it out. PURA VIDA.
5. The PURA VIDA is REAL. When you first hear about this “thing” you think to yourself; it’s a scam. Nobody is that happy. Nobody lives life care free. But let me tell you; it grows on you quick. Everything is PURA VIDA, and they mean it. Life is too short to get bent out of shape over nothing. Too many people wake up every day, miserable. They hate their existence, their hate their jobs, they hate where they live. Not here. Everybody is content; everyone loves their life; and why would they not? This is the most endearing place in the universe. If you can’t find happiness here, you need to seek psychiatric treatment. I have never felt so AT HOME, so comfortable, so carefree in my life. PURA VIDA.
4. I have said it before, dozens of times. Nobody parties like the Ticos; nobody. They have a Fiesta, it seems, almost every other week. I love it!!!! PARTY baby!!! What I find the most impressive, is that there almost never seems to be any problems. This is the only country in the world, where you can put 5000 people in one place, at one time; pump them full of booze, and nobody gets in a fight. Everyone is just dancing and singing, drinking and partying, joyous as can be. And they are more than willing to invite you in. Welcome Gringo. Have another……………….
3. PILSEN. You just knew this would be at the top of the list. I have drunk beers all over the world, and there is something captivating about PILSEN; LA CERVEZA RUBIA; THE BLONDE; brewed since 1888. I am stocked up at all times.
2. It is kind of a rite of passage, a mandatory requirement for living in Costa Rica; everyone wanders down to the beach at 5:30 PM. You crack open a cold Pilsen, find your spot on the sand, and sit back and soak it all in. It comes slowly and powerfully, but it will change your life. As the sun dips down below the ocean, there is this fireworks display of colors, which shoot across the sky. No two are ever the same, and there is never a bad sunset. As I sit there, absorbing the moment, reflecting; I am always drawn to the same thought. This is the most awe-inspiring spot on the earth; no other place like it; serenity and peace; nature and tranquility; but it is not the reason I live here.
1. I think if you ask anyone who has spent even the smallest amount of time living in Costa Rica, they will all agree on one thing. The People, The Costa Rican, The Ticos; they are the reason we live in Costa Rica. They are the warmest, most friendly people you will ever encounter. They have so much pride, and are so thankful for everything they have. They welcome you to their land, and never ask for anything in return; just that you love this place as much as they do. I have never, for one minute, ever felt like I was not accepted or wanted. No one has ever said to me “why don’t you just go home gringo.” They have allowed me to live and earn a living in this divine abode, and they have become my family. I THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart, for taking me in, and helping to make this my HOME. I am Eternally Grateful. I have hoped that I have been a good ambassador for your precious country, and I appreciate all the friendships that I have made. God Bless Costa Rica – The Pearly Gates on Earth. PURA VIDA!!!
Hope to see you soon. What is taking you so long?
Come on down baby!!!