How will I make friends in Costa Rica?

Written by Michael Simons on . Posted in Costa Rica Living, EX PATS in Costa Rica, FAQ's, Papagayo Region, Residency

How will I make friends in Costa Rica?

Making a move to another city or state is big deal. Moving to an entirely different country, with new languages and cultures can seem like a daunting task, especially if you have never traveled much, and are not accustomed to adapting. The biggest question mark for most of my clients, is wondering how they will make new friends. The largest fear, for many of them, is that their relatives, friends, children, grandchildren and family won’t come to visit them. This is a big concern for many people.

Friends in Costa Rica

There are dozens of social activities, groups and websites where you can meet hundreds of others in a very short period of time. The Papagayo area is where the majority of Ex-Pats work, live, vacation and retire. This is the place to be. Everyone was the new guy at one time or another, so the Gringos here go out of their way, when they meet someone, to make them feel welcomed and introduce them to others. They invite you to parties, BBQs and social gatherings, where you can be introduced to so many other people who have decided to move to paradise. They will see your “deer in the headlights” look, and instantly take you under their wing, and bring you into their circles.

All the developments have pot luck dinners and events. Every restaurant and bar in town is packed to the gills, every happy hour, with Americans and Canadians; Europeans as well; all more than happy to let you join their table and make new friends. It is completely different than we were accustomed to back home. There are live bands regularly, pool parties and beach volleyball and many other activities; from zoomba classes and yoga to karaoke and bingo. There are dozens of clubs to join, from bridge to cross fit; language classes to painting lesson; and churches and bible studies to charity events by the wave that bring everyone together. There are Facebook pages that you can join, and mailing lists to sign up to, that will keep you informed of all these events; time, date and place. There are golf courses and tennis clubs; sailing and diving groups; stand up paddle board lessons and sunset sailing tours, that will put you in touch with more people than you can imagine.

When I lived in the USA, I barely knew any of my neighbors. I went to work each day, and when I came home at night, I receded to my living room. My garage door went up, my car went in, and that was the end of it. I might wave hello to a neighbor on the street, while picking up my mail, but that was all. The culture in North America is nothing like it is here in Costa Rica.

This country is very welcoming. The Latin culture and especially the Costa Ricans are some of the friendliest, warmest people you will ever meet, and it rubs off on the rest of us. Besides, it takes a certain kind of person, to have the guts and adventurous spirit, to move here in the first place, so you will be amazed at how many friends you will make in a short period of time.

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 home. While their original concern was that they would be lonely, it turns out to be the exact opposite. Amazing friendships are forged here in paradise.

I was with a new client the other day, showing them around. The wife made a couple of comments about how she was worried that her kids and grandkids would never make the trek to Latin America to visit. As we went into a restaurant for lunch, I bumped into a group of women having a “Ladies Day.” I asked them if they were happy that they made the move, and if they ever missed their families. They all smiled. We would NEVER go back, one said, as the others all agreed. The problem is that my family never wants to LEAVE, and they all laughed out loud. They keep coming and coming, my house is constantly full. Don’t get me wrong, she said, I love my kids and family, but it seems that I just can’t get rid of them. That will be the least of your worries, they told my client.

“What will be my biggest?” she asked the group.

Your problem will be that you won’t have enough hours in your day for all of your social activities. We NEVER get bored in Costa Rica.

Remember; the Liberia airport is only 20 minutes away. You can leave in the morning and be in any US or Canada city by lunch or dinner, as there are almost 100 weekly flights. Prices have dropped substantially in the last few years, with all the airlines competing. So now for only a few hundred dollars, you can get back to see your family anytime you want. So if you are missing something or someone that badly, just jump a flight. It is very convenient. But I can assure you this: you will be missing Costa Rica the moment you get there, and your trip will be very short. This will very quickly become your new home and you won’t ever want to leave either. 

Like the rest of us.

Come on down, and see for yourself.

Pura Vida.

My Last Will and Testament

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

Tank Tops Flip Flops Newsletter edition no. 73

My Last Will and Testament

I was born without a silver spoon, but I always knew I would make a stir. Fortunately, I have had a pretty good run and I felt it was time to update my Costa Rican Will.  As I sat down to put it all on paper, I found myself feeling a little nostalgic as I thought of all the amazing experiences I have had living in this wonderful  little country. I just celebrated my 12th anniversary of Pura Vida, and although I hope I don’t die tomorrow, I would have no regrets if I did. It has been the best years of my life, hands down. Now, having said that, if I did pass away, I WOULD BE DEAD, so I wouldn’t know what I was missing anyway! I am not going to get into spirituality, religion, the afterlife, Heaven, Hell or ghosts with you right now, but for the sake of this stupid newsletter, we are going to pretend. These are the things I would definitely miss the most.

Costa Rica FAQ's

Cold Pilsen Beer! Hellooooo. You should have guessed this was the top of the list, since there are almost no photos existing on this planet, where I do not have a bottle stuffed up into my lips. My friend Scott was telling me the other day, how he loves a good Guinness, and the dark bitter taste. No thanks man. You can have all those European motor oils, fancy micro-breweries, funky, fruit flavored ciders and watered down Budweiser; give me the Cerveza La Rubia any day of the week. It just goes down so smooth when you are hanging at the beach, enjoying another perfect day in paradise. It is truly incredible the diversity of the beaches here; how you can go from white as flour, to black as tea in just a few miles. You can party on Hermosa Beach, where it is so calm you can hear a fish splash; and just an hour down the road, at Grande, the waves are so violent you have to yell to have a conversation. 

Pilsen

Pilsen is a natural fit for anything water, and I will definitely miss those precious memories out on the sea. The diving here is inspiring, massive marine life, unlike anywhere in the world. The surfing, sailing and standup paddle board makes for a wild afternoon. I will miss the Catamaran tours and the snorkeling, the whale watching in the bay; the turtles and their migration, and I will definitely miss the fishing; FIRST CLASS.  But the cast of characters that are part of this play is something you can never replace. I saw a friend of mine the other day, getting off the boat. He went on about how many Sailfish they caught that day, how hard the tuna were hitting and overall what a spectacular day it was. Where are you headed now, I asked him? “I am going home to take a shower, bake some Grouper, smoke a joint and watch some NASCAR, and then going to bed so I can do it all over again tomorrow.” Does it get any better than that? LOL. I will miss that guy for sure.

Marlin Fishing

The people here are unlike anywhere in the world. Everybody knows that Costa Rica is voted the happiest country on the earth, year in and year out, but to experience it first hand, leaves you speechless. The Ticos are the finest people on this planet, they are never in a bad mood, and I have made hundreds of friends in my time here. I will miss you all. I love that they pump your gas for you when you pull into the station, and it only costs 3 bucks to fix a flat tire. I love how everyone remembers your name, and all the restaurants have the BEST PIZZA IN TOWN.  I will miss the Nicaraguans too, bless their little hearts. You have never met anyone so happy to have a job. They sing while they work, doing the tasks no one else wants to do. I truly think they were born with a machete or a broom in their hand, as it seems to be part of their body.

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But let’s not forget the gringos. It takes a certain breed of people, a special kind of person, who can adapt to an entirely new culture and lifestyle and make it work. But what is the alternative? Go back? You couldn’t pay most of us to ever go back, not with the hell hole North America is becoming.  I will miss that I never turn on the TV and hear political Bullshit or racially motivated shootings or riots, because everyone is loved here regardless of race or religion. The country isn’t divided over absolutely stupid issues, and no one would EVER even consider stomping on the Costa Rica flag. The pride in this country is through the roof. No one lives on welfare, and no one gets unemployment, and they don’t sit around demanding the government take care of everything. Little kids walk the streets alone, playing with their friends; no fears.

Costa Rica Happy

 

Sure it is a little more complicated to open bank accounts now, BUT THAT IS A GOOD THING. It keeps the Riff Raff out. Thanks to the USA’s invasion of everyone’s privacy, there are a bundle of forms you have to fill out now, for just about everything you do. But I tell my clients, “relax.” You are not a drug dealer or a money launderer; you are not a terrorist or a tax evader; so don’t worry about it. All my clients have paid a ton of money in taxes, way more than most people. They have done everything by the book their entire lives. That is why they are buying a second home or a retirement condo. If they didn’t have any money, they wouldn’t be here in the first place. They would be a Wal-Mart Greeter. Granted, it is more expensive now to live here, than it was before, and I LOVE IT. It keeps the bottom feeders away. The caliber of people moving here is tremendous; this is not the battered women’s shelter for retirees; that is Ecuador. This is an outstanding place to live, and I will miss it and the many friendships I have made. Anyone with a bad attitude, please stay away. No rotten apple is going to spoil our fun.

Wal Mart Greeter

Speaking of Wal-Mart, I find it hilarious when people talk badly about the chain stores that have moved here, because the Costa Ricans love them. Of course a wealthy retired gringo can do without these conveniences, but you are not a single mother with two children, earning $700 per month trying to make ends meet. Two dollar Tupperware is a big deal to her. Just like McDonald’s. “Ewwwww. How terrible. Costa Rica has fast food now.”  You don’t have to stop there for lunch. But don’t think for one minute that every single child isn’t ecstatic to slither down the McSlide. Have you ever seen the smile on a little child’s face when they open a Happy Meal? Priceless. Everyone should experience that in their life. Besides, you cannot eat beans and rice every day. Trust me. You will turn into Ted Bundy and drive around kidnapping and killing people, if you don’t get a little First World once in a while. Thank God for the Hard Rock Café Guanacaste, coming soon to Coco. Besides, nothing really changes. It is not like the monkeys know what’s happening. “Herb! Pizza Hut is here now. That’s it. I’m gone. This place is going to hell in a hand basket. I am moving to Honduras!” I never get tired of monkeys, I will definitely miss them.

Hard-Rock-Guanacaste

I will truly miss the respect they have for women and the love they show to the animals, unlike so many other countries. Everywhere you go, there are thousands of birds and parrots in the trees; iguanas; squirrels; you name it, they are checking you out. It is the only place I have ever seen, where the stray dogs don’t growl. Even they are in a good mood. They don’t bite, they don’t beg, they just hang around long enough, knowing someone will throw them a bone. Every once in a while, one shows up at your house, and just refuses to leave. Then they become family. I will miss that it takes me 5 minutes to get out of my truck, because my entire clan of fur-children bombard my door, as soon as it opens. I will miss the nature, and the Botanical Garden of scenery; how the seasons change from golden to lush in literally a blink, and the flowering trees that envelope the hill; Yellow, Red, Orange; like an oil painting. The breezes that blow, the smell in the air and the tropical downpours that occur at exactly 2:59 PM every single green season day, are sensations that will stay with me, long after I am gone.

Yellow Flower Tree 4

 

I sure hope wherever I am going next, has grilled Mahi Mahi, fresh ceviche and Mojitos, because they have become a staple in my diet. There are breakfasts on the beach, fish tacos for lunch and arroz con pollo that round out the top of my list. Freshly picked vegetables, San Martin steaks and a bottle of Chilean wine for $10 complete most of my home cooked meals, and I don’t think I could live without Lizano sauce. Oh, wait a minute: I am supposed to be dead; I forgot. Scratch that comment. You get my point; I MISS those things.

Tank Tops Flip Flops Prior Newsletter Link

I tell you what I won’t miss; the USA Death Taxes. That one just kills me, literally. They have already hammered us for every single penny we ever made, raked us over the coals in the name of the less fortunate, and bent us over the barrel and made us feel guilty for actually accomplishing something in our lives, and now that I am dead they still want another HALF. I am not married and I don’t have any kids; I chose this route; my life is not a democracy. So my small nest egg is going to my two sisters, my niece and nephew and all of my close Costa Rican friends. I have asked my executor to PLEASE not send any of my money back to the USA. Of course, I am DEAD, so I don’t really have any say in the matter, but I am sure it will irk me for eternity knowing that I got screwed one last time by the I.R.S. It is not like I am the Tin Man and I don’t have a heart, but come on man; when does it stop. Obviously, after you are gone.

Uncle Sam

What am I going to miss the most? THE FIESTAS. Man, does this country know how to throw a party. From the World Cup to the local Saprissa games; Palmares and the Torres; New Year’s Eve to Semana Santa; Independence Day and Annexation week, these people live life right, and I am so thankful to have been a part of it. I was the black sheep of my family; a failed Rock n Roller, who sold pots and pans to cougars in their nighties, but it all lead me to here. I sure hope it doesn’t end soon. When my Roller Coaster finally comes to a stop, I have it all figured out. I have asked that my ashes be spread into the bay of Playa Hermosa, the most beautiful spot you have ever encountered. What a way to spend eternity.

Read about why you need a Costa Rican Will and how to prepare it – CLICK HERE

I am off to have some sunset cocktails, because you never know, it might be my last. Who could bring me heaven, when heaven is already here? Let’s hope I stick around for a while.

Pura Vida, see you soon.

Take care

Michael

Unfortunately, I had to put my good buddy Macho to sleep a few weeks ago. If you remember from a Newsletter a long time ago, he just showed up one day, realized he was the only male, and never left. He was a good soul, whose sand just ran out in his hour glass. I am so lucky that he shared some of his life with me. I miss you pal. About a week later, as I was driving through Coco, this young black dog jumped right in front of my truck. You could almost hear what he was saying. “Heh, I heard you have a job opening! I am your man!” Of course, he had no idea I was going to immediately take him to the vet, and have him neutered. I guess, the loss of your balls is a small price to pay to live in doggie paradise. Please welcome the newest member to my family, Manny.

Last Will and Testament

August 2022
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