Tank Tops Flip Flops Newsletter edition no. 24
At least a dozen people commented to me recently about the fact that I haven’t written a Newsletter in over a while, having just done a couple of guest blog videos. “What’s up dude, run out of juice? Did the well dry up buddy? Having writer’s block Mike?” Jeez, cut me some slack would ya? It’s only been 6 weeks and I had a lot going on ok. First off, I WAS IN THE HOSPITAL!!!!!!! Then it was my birthday and off to Canada I went. Man, you guys are a tough crowd, and I guess that saying is true: There is very little breathing room between success and failure, love and hate, life and death. But like it or not, I’m back, so take a seat, dial 1-800-ITS-TIME, grab a cocktail and enjoy the ride.
Every time I go back to North America, it reminds me why I live in Costa Rica. You can just feel the anxiety and the stress everywhere you go. For me, the toughest decisions I have to make everyday are which color flip flops to wear and whether or not to have a Bloody Mary with my breakfast. Did you know that there actually is a National Flip Flop day? Look it up. My entire life is Flip Flop week, I won’t wear anything else unless I absolutely have to, and even then I rebel. We went out to dinner in Toronto at one of the nicest steak houses in the city, and I had to dress to the nines. I had a really nice pair of designer jeans, a $500 Versace shirt but I still wore my flip flops. You should have seen the look on the face of the Maitre De, complete shock, but at Eighty Bucks a T-Bone I guess they figured they wanted my money more than I needed their meat so they let me in.
I won’t waste too much of your time talking about my trip, because you didn’t sign up to a Western New York / Ontario Canada lifestyle website did ya? So let me sum it up in a couple hundred words and get on with the Newsletter, as I don’t want to wear out my welcome.
Buffalo is a dump. There is nothing else you can say and there is no way to be nice about it. The city makes Cleveland look like a resort destination and we all know that is the armpit of America. Other than the rockin’ Buffalo Wings at the original Anchor Bar, there is absolutely NO reason to ever set foot in this city – Ever. Save yourself the anguish.
Niagara Falls is of course amazing, but after you go over to the Canada side, you are embarrassed to go back. I almost denounced my citizenship right then and there. It’s an atrocity. The USA side of the falls looks like something out of a zombie movie, with abandoned buildings and trailer parks while the Canada side could literally be classified as the National Park that it is. Pristine streets, gorgeous cafes and the police even wore white gloves; Wonderful. As we got nearer to Toronto I was once again reminded why I don’t live in a big city; Traffic; Horrible Traffic. Without a doubt the worst I have ever had to endure in any city in the world, and I used to commute in L.A. everyday. The city was very hip, lots of bars, lots of night life, and of course I saw the big attractions too; The CNN tower, NHL Hall of Fame, ChinaTown and a Blue Jays game.
The Canadians are definitely some of the nicest people in the world and we were welcomed everywhere we went. Most people could spot us an Americans and I had to ask one young lady how she knew. You are very loud, she said, you stand out in the crowd. Really? News to me honey, news to me. Then I bought her a drink and she said “Now I know you’re an American.” I guess the saying Cheap Canadian is true.
The one unfortunate thing about Canada though that I did notice (besides their atrocious weather 9 months a year) is that almost everyone smokes. Some of the most beautiful blonde haired blue eyed women you have ever seen, puffing away on a cancer stick.
I still can’t understand how an intelligent person could put a cigarette in their mouth and light it, in this day and age. Canada, your Socialized medical system is screwed. It is definitely going to go broke in the next 20 years paying for all the lung and throat cancers.
Anyway, my friends told us that we had to visit the Jazz Fest as this was considered one of the biggest parties of the year, and we couldn’t come to their city without checking it out. The music fest was a blast with bundles of bands jamming away and as you can imagine, we tore it up, but after a week back in the real world, I was ready to come home to paradise. Making 5 trips through US and Canada Customs and getting grilled like a terrorist each time, made me really appreciate the friendliness of the Immigration officers at the Liberia Airport in Guanacaste.
“Welcome to Costa Rica Señor. Pura Vida.”
The first thing I noticed returning to Costa Rica was the smell and how clean it is. Fresh air is not a known trait of Western New York or Hamilton, Ontario as the region is lined with steel mills and smoke stacks.
I specifically planned to be back in time for the huge Guanacaste celebration that happens every third week in July: Annexation week. You see in 1824 all of the nations of Central America were nothing more than war torn and violence filled, with Costa Rica being the sole exception, and for the most part that still rings true to this day.
They were this amazing little democracy of prosperity. The region known as Guanacaste was part of Nicaragua at that time and the residents chose and voted to leave and join what later became known as the Switzerland of Latin America. They were always a huge coffee and agricultural exporting region, producing most of the income for the country, and they were tired of being lumped in with the rest of the garbage. (Reminds me a little bit of our Lone Star State; I keep wondering when they will do the same thing, as I am sure they are counting the days until they blow out too. God Bless Texas).
So on July 25 Guanacaste became part of our little paradise and they have been celebrating ever since. Let me tell you, Canada doesn’t know Jack Squat about partying, no disrespect to your Jazz-a-thon. This is one psychotic celebration which lasts for 9 straight days and nights and there was no way I was going to miss it. If there is a party, you can count me in! Every time!
Every day there is a different event and hundreds of thousands of Costa Ricans flock to the beach for the party. No matter where you look, you see the sexiest women, squeezed into the tightest clothing, giving away free liquor.
Nothing like a shot of rum at 8 am while you saunter into the grocery store to do a little shopping. And it isn’t just in one small town like Coco either, it is everywhere in Guanacaste: from Liberia to Santa Cruz and every sandy beach in between. There are hundreds of parades and the streets are lined with thousands of people, and there are more bands playing music than Woodstock. They have beach parties and town festivals and a carnival in Liberia that reminds me of a State Fair when I was a kid. They have all the rides you can imagine too, from Ferris Wheels and Roller Coasters to Bumper Cars and Haunted Houses, and all the circus games as well. You can ride an electric bull, or toss the bean bag and try to knock over bowling pins and win a prize for your sweetie, although Bears are not the animal of choice here; it is stuffed monkeys and furry pigs. LOL.
If you like food, you came to the right place, as there are stand after stand of local dishes and flavors that will absolutely blow your mind and tubs of frosty cold Pilsen Pops to quench your thirst.
Friday is a special day; they call it Dia del Pescador, which means Day of the Fisherman. You gotta love a country that has a celebration for people who float on a boat with a line dropped in the water. It makes me think of those Bass Fishing shows on ESPN, man would they flip out if they had a National Holiday. “Yeee haw, big daddy, it’s Myyyyyyyyyy Day. Get me another beer honey.”
In Costa Rica, just about everybody has a day. There is even a Children’s Day. I have always said that Costa Rica knows how to do two things; Party and make babies, EVERYBODY has at least one or two (ding, ding, ding. Not me!).
But at night, it becomes a whole different animal. The entire arena turns into a full blown disco as the music rocks and the Ticos roll, and it lasts all night: every town; every night.
There is of course your most famous Costa Rican event, the Toros, where drunken fools get crushed by charging bulls, and who could ever miss the biggest bash of the year, the Espinar Ranch. PARTY!!!!! About 10 minutes outside of Liberia is a huge finca, about 500 acres, and on the last Saturday night of the week, it is the place to be. Probably close to 10,000 maniacs converge on this cow patch and completely tear it up; it lasts until the sun comes up!
I went to the Def Leppard concert in Buffalo, and I can honestly tell you that there were more people on this ranch, listening to music and dancing the night away, than there were at the amphitheater for one of the biggest rock bands in the world. I told ya; these people know how to party.
The final day of the celebration is quite possibly the best. They shut down the entire main street of Liberia for the biggest horse parade in the history of the world. There are so many horses, and so many people, it lasts for hours and goes on for miles. Pick up trucks and horse trailers come from as far away as San Jose just to show off their skills and suck back some brews. Thank goodness there are not drunk driving laws for horseback riding, because I don’t think I saw a single person without an Imperial in their hand. Everyone dresses up; the Guapas squeezed into jeans two sizes too small, and the Caballeros in their pressed shirts and cowboy hats, and everyone wore their nicest boots. Of course I had on my flip flops, as I always do; I have a pair for every occasion. Work flip flops; beach flip flops; dress flip flops; bar hopping flip flops. Today I had on my horse riding flip flops. You have to be careful crossing the street though; remember this is a horse parade.
Well, thanks for checking in, but I gotta run. Just bought a new pair of flip flops, they have palm trees on them, and I want to show them off in town. Try not to be too stressed out up there, remember things could be worse. You could be the guy behind the parade with the shovel.
Take care, hurry down, Pura Vida.
My friend’s 18 year old Niece wrote this and I had to share. Thanks Monica. Hurry Back.
As my time In Costa Rica comes to an end I’ve heard “Pura Vida” so much. I got asked today what does Pura Vida mean and the obvious answer is “pure life” but to me and I’m sure to many people it means more than that. Pura Vida is living your life to the fullest, no worries, no regrets. It’s being patient and relaxing. Pura Vida is hard work and still being as happy as can be. Pura Vida is family and friends and a good time. Pura Vida is being nice to everyone who comes along. Pura Vida is memories and capturing those memories. Pura Vida is being there for everyone. Pura Vida is love, sunsets, the ocean, waves, mountains, views, animals, nature and all the little things in life that make life great. Pura Vida is making the most out of everything and the time you have. Pura Vida is a way of life. Thank you so much for all the memories and everything I’ve learned. I’m more than blessed to have gotten to experience such an amazing country.
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!