Costa Rica Coronavirus Update

Written by Michael Simons on . Posted in Costa Rica Charity, Costa Rica Living, EX PATS in Costa Rica, Newsletters, Playas del Coco

Cream and sugar with that sir?


Currently as of today, we have approximately 375 cases in Costa Rica with 2 deaths. There have been 2 confirmed cases in our Canton (county) of Carrillo, both of them being right here in our little town of Playas del Coco. The President of Costa Rica has made some tough calls, but I support him 100%.

  1. Restrictions on all vehicle movement from 5 pm to 5 am. This is mostly to stop people from going out to socialize.  They are also limiting day time driving to one day a week, based on your last number on your license plate. You can only drive for basic necessities like groceries and pharmacies.
  2. All beaches and public parks are CLOSED. There are no exceptions to this.
  3. All churches and religious temples are closed, even though Holy Week of Easter is coming up.
  4. No large gatherings or social events; all soccer games cancelled, concerts postponed etc.
  5. The Borders are CLOSED to all foreigners.
  6. All bars, casinos and nightclubs were forced to close.
  7. All alcohol sales have been banned across the country.
  8. Banks and grocery stores, now have special hours for seniors only, and most have shortened the total working hours. Our local Mercados are limiting the amount of people who can be in the store at a time, and only one person per family can shop. This eliminates groups gathering in these public places.
  9. Any foreigner with residency, who leaves the country during this crisis, will immediately lose their status!

Boy did this last one set off a shit storm.

Tank Tops Flip Flops Newsletter edition no. 150

You notice how there are people in your life that love to focus on the negatives? They immediately try to find the cloud instead of the silver lining. They make quick judgement calls without having the full scope and understanding. We saw that when this was posted that is for sure. I got emails and WhatsApp and Facebook were on fire.

When the President announced, that all foreigners would lose their residency if they left the country, I immediately thought YES! AWESOME! First off, WHY would you want to leave this place and go home? Do you really want to be in Washington or California, over Playa Hermosa? There are very few places in the world as safe as Costa Rica right now. And if you have to ride out a pandemic, quarantined and working from home, doing it from your swimming pool, looking at the Pacifico Ocean is not a bad place to be. But this law was put in place for the protection of the Costa Rican people. This act is really just a short term, temporary measure, to curb the potential disease from overwhelming our country. Costa Rica has a huge work force made up of Nicaraguans, who go back and forth to their home country. Every Easter week (Semana Santa) tens of thousands of them go home to visit their families and party, as it is a Holiday week. Nicaragua is a disaster right now. They are taking almost no measures to curb the curve of the virus, and they are acting as if nothing is going on. They actually have many planned celebrations for Holy Week. CRAZY. Kind of like the idiots who went south for Spring Break and the delusional Governor of Florida who let it happen; The self-centered Californians still enjoying a beach day; the arrogant New Yorkers who were hanging around Central Park or riding the subways, when they were told to GO HOME; along with the moronic mayor of New Orleans who allowed Mardi Gras to continue. Now those cities are inundated with sickness. Costa Rica saw this and was determined not to let that happen here.

With Easter coming up very quickly, Carlos Alvarado Quesada, our President, did not want all these people returning with the virus and infecting Costa Ricans. So he made the decision: if you want to leave, that is fine, but do not plan on coming back as we will not recognize your work permit or your residency. This is also a way to get them off our medical system and Social Security and not be forced to put them back on. BRAVO!

During Easter week they are further restricting travel within the country to prevent people from San Jose coming to the beaches and further spreading the virus.

Remember, they closed the borders to foreigners so only Costa Ricans and Residents can enter. The last thing we want are gringos flying back to places like Chicago or Toronto, and then coming back with the virus. What we did see, when this was enacted, was hundreds of residents RETURNING to Costa Rica, to get away from the craziness of North America. I have dozens of clients who immediately jumped a flight and came to their homes. Each one of them said that they felt much safer here, than they did up there. As one said “I am managing my crisis from better weather.”

After my last newsletter, I was bombarded with replies, texts and calls.

“Man Mike, you nailed that one. I should have gotten my residency when you told me to.”

“Dude, you are spot on!”

“Why didn’t I listen to you? We were so close to buying that condo, and now we are stuck up here in Zombie land.”

I received a call from a very good client, who just closed on a 7 figure house in January. “Best decision we ever made Mike. Even though we cannot rent that house now, we still own it. It still exists. Unlike much of my stock portfolio. The only regret we have, is that we didn’t start our residency. We will be doing that the moment the borders are open again; and next time, we will just head to Pura Vida and not return.”

Forever, I have been writing blogs, and telling my clients to get their money OUT of the stock market and into a property in CR. How many people are now wishing they rolled their 401k into a Self-Directed IRA, used that investment to get residency, and could now come to paradise, where they are welcomed with open arms? You only need a small condo to qualify.

Like everyone, I am seeing all the Facebook posts about the madness up north. The mile long lines at Costco; the hospitals being overwhelmed; the hysteria being created by the media; the politicizing of everything; the hatred that still exists out there. You would have thought that something this catastrophic would bring the country together, but it sure doesn’t seem like that on Social Media; so glad I am in Costa Rica. Why are you still there? Why were you not down here?  I am proud of what our President has done to try and slow the virus; he is being very proactive. It is especially warming to see how many people are behind him, even people who didn’t vote for him, and might not agree with all of these policies. But they realize, that trashing him, solves nothing. Wow, what a change from the USA and Canada. So sad to see people bashing their leadership, instead of actually trying to do something themselves to help their communities.

I went to the grocery store to stock up on food. It is amazing, the shelves are completely loaded; we were out of nothing. Everyone is very calm. Of course, people are a little nervous, as to be expected, but they are all very cordial and polite, and nobody is panicked. They make sure everyone sanitizes before entering, and you can see them cleaning the carts after every use. There are limits to certain items, like beans and rice, but I don’t think anyone would have hoarded anyway. It isn’t the personality of Ticos. They always make sure to look after their neighbors and friends, as well as their families, and they are willing to share whatever they have with others. I made sure to have enough food for a few weeks, so that I do not have to go back to the store any more than necessary. Social Distancing is definitely working. But when I got to the checkout line, I was caught a little off guard. I had a dozen packets of chicken and steak, that didn’t seem to bother them. I had loaded up on Ginger Ale, to mix with my bourbon. No worries there either. Lots of bread; great. Milk: sure no problem. Chunky soup; peanut butter; spaghetti sauce and can veggies: take you all you want bro. But when I got to the coffee creamer, all bets were off.

“Maximum of 3 sir!”

Of course, why didn’t I think of that? When all hell breaks loose and nobody has food, at least they have Coffee Mate for their Java LOL. I mean if you are going to ration something: CREAMER. You have to live here to understand.

They even let me buy 12 bottles of wine. Yes, you heard that right. Even though the government shut down ALL alcohol sales, anywhere in the country, you can still buy wine. I guess they don’t consider that booze. But man I bet there are a lot of people going through Pilsen withdrawals right about now. Merlot just doesn’t quite quench the thirst like an ice cold brew, in 95 degree heat, floating on a raft.

Speaking of hoarding.

Everyone is doing their part to try and help the locals who lost their jobs. Over 250,000 were directly affected by the shutting down of flights, as they worked in the tourism industry. Every hotel, zip line, mud bath, hot spring, tour driver, white water rafting guide, sailing captain, fishing mate, massage therapist, jet ski rental, scuba boat, surf shop, horseback riding, animal sanctuary, rain forest, car rental and airport shuttle services, went from 150 MPH to Zero instantly. It was like hitting a wall in a drag racer. The majority of restaurants were ghost towns in a matter of days, and all vacation rentals were cancelled overnight. People are devastated, and not sure how they are going to feed their families.

The town came together fast and it was inspiring to see how many people were out, trying to help the community.

Rich Coast Diving, set up a Go Fund me to help raise money for food.

If you would like to make a donation, here is the link. Anything will help, please open your hearts and wallets.

If there is something particular you want to give or donate, you can contact me directly and I will do my best to put you in touch with the right people.

Personally, I purchased 150 bags of beans, 150 bags of rice, 100 cans of tuna and 100 boxes of milk. My neighbor Martha, who is one of our agents, and her husband Scott immediately matched my call. We are working with the local police and also Patas Y Manos, to make sure this gets directly into the hands of the families that need it most.

You can follow what they do on their Facebook page.

Everyone I know has friends in need, and it brings tears of joy to your eyes to see how they are all stepping up to help. People are taking in families and paying for their food; dropping off bags of dog food; handing out cash. This is truly a spectacular place.

The government of Costa Rica just announced that they will be presenting a plan before the Legislative Assembly that would allocate $390 Million to support 375,000 families through financial contributions over the next three months. We will know more in a couple of days.

We had a few who felt this was a joke, and tried to go surfing, but most people are taking this seriously, and staying at home. As I speak to friends around the area, I am touched to see the positive responses, in such a difficult time. Families spending more time together, learning from home; phone calls and Facetime, to make sure everyone is ok; and people starting new hobbies, or following up on resolutions, that they never had time to complete; you have to find light when there is so much dark.

In a weird way, I was kind of looking forward to a little quarantine; some personal time; the ability to reflect. Although I definitely lead a less stressful life than most, drinking cocktails on the beach with buyers, there were so many things on my plate that kept getting put off. I am now making sure they get finished. I know that I do more than most, when it comes to the community, but this is the time we are really put to the test and you find out a lot about yourself in the middle of a crisis.

For instance, I am a wimp. My hands are soft. I haven’t swung a hammer, or pushed a lawn mower my entire life. I just paid somebody to do it. I have had a full time maid for 16 years and a live-in caretaker for 12. Part of the reason I have always done that, is because I felt I needed to give back, and employ people in my town. I have always employed people; I have owned my own business since I was 19 years old; I have had a maid, even in my 20s. What kind of person makes an income like I do, and not share the love? And let’s face facts. I hate pushing a broom. I despise raking leaves, and I will be damned if I am ever going to iron a shirt. Well folks that has changed, and there are blisters on my palms to prove it. What is wrong with this picture? I am paying my Nicaraguan maid to STAY HOME with her family, while I push a mop around my kitchen? Should I have my head examined? LOL.

Mark Cuban said it recently. How companies treat their workers during a pandemic will define their brands for decades. We see it here already. In Costa Rica, when you let an employee go, you are supposed to give them a severance. There is an amount, determined by law that guarantees them a certain amount of money, in comparison to their salary, for every year they work. So that if you do let them go, they have enough money to survive for a few months until they find another job. Unfortunately, there is also a law that says in a State of Emergency, you can lay them off with NO severance whatsoever. That means NO MONEY AT ALL. Now I am sure there are some companies who legitimately cannot pay their workers anything. Overnight, they went from making money to hanging on by their finger nails, and they had to let everyone go.

But I also know there are many establishments here, even some of my competitors, who have plenty of cash in the bank. They live in a big house on the hill looking at the sea; they drive 2 or 3 cars; travel around the world; and used this crisis as a reason to not have to pay their staff. Shame on them. How dare you. The hired help have worked for you for years, in good faith, and now, when times are tough, you cut them loose like a Sailfish on the line? Why don’t you take some of the cash you have tucked away for your retirement, and use it to keep your people afloat? Why did you come to this amazing country? Are you going to be one of those gringos that milked this country for every last dollar, and didn’t come to their 911 calls when they needed you? You could have at least terminated them, giving them some walking away money, so that they could at least feed their families, and maybe sent them a little side money for the next 6 months. Your character is showing, and it has serious holes.

People, pay attention to which businesses left their employees out to dry. When the world comes back, remember who these owners were. Do not eat in their restaurants; do not stay in their hotels; do not shop in their stores; do not use their construction or management services; do not buy or sell your house with them; do not deal with them at all; I won’t. I have a long memory, I will not forget. And you can be damn sure I will remind everyone, when the economy comes back again.

And it will come back, stronger than ever. Because people WANT to be in paradise.

You have to be a responsible entrepreneur and look after your people. You have to save for a rainy day. But even when the shit hits the fan, you have to have integrity and do the right thing. Not one single member of RE/MAX was laid off or fired with severance. Not one person was let go. Everyone is still employed. We physically closed our offices 3 weeks ago and sent everyone home, but they are still receiving a check. If I have to borrow money, I will make sure that they get paid during this crisis. And I will never make them come to the office and work in an unsafe environment, until we know everything is going to be ok. I mean, really, who would make their employees come to work during something like this? That is just as bad as firing them without pay. It is so sad to see bosses, who are forcing their staff to work, and putting their lives at risk? Pay them to stay home. Do the right thing.

All of the contracts that I had, I am doing my best to honor them. Obviously I had to renegotiate some of their fees, as they aren’t doing anything for me right now, but I know they are also counting on income to feed their families. Taking care of the Costa Ricans, is priority NUMBER ONE in my book. Everything else is second. Sorry gringo business owners, but you are way down my list of priorities. If you haven’t saved any money, especially after three years of the greatest economy in the history of the world, then I do not feel sorry for you.

Of course Murphy’s Law is also alive and well during a fiasco. Last night I broke my keyboard on my computer. So what do you do now? Put on your Bio Chemical Hazard outfit, gas mask, goggles and rubber gloves and drive to the electronics store? For the love of God; it had to happen NOW?

I have decided that this disaster is going to empower me not over power me. It is going to make me stronger, and I am going to be a better person because of it. I am not going to sit around all day in my gym shorts, growing a beard, looking like a mad scientist. I am going to stay disciplined and build my business and my attitude. I am going to get up every day at the same time and run the dogs. I am then going to shower, as I always do and put on real clothes and stay disciplined. I am going to find ways to help myself as well as the community and the people around me. I am operating from a mentality of strength

Put your oxygen mask on first, before helping others.

I am going to start taking my MEDS every single day. You should too,

Meditation. Find that Faith that will help you through these tough times. For some it is the bible, and for others Rock N Roll. Relax. It will be OK. Inspire others to do the same.

Exercise. You have to keep the heart pumping. Even if it’s cleaning the truck. Stagnation and boredom can kill you worse than the virus. Work your brain just as much as your body. Read, write, and grow. I am already on my third book. Fill your mind with positive thoughts.

Diet. Do not turn into a couch potato. You will become one of two people in this quarantine. Either an amazing chef or a full blown alcoholic. Try to find the happy median with both.

Sleep. I can honestly say, I have had some of the best night’s sleep ever. I learned a long time ago, that you cannot stress about things you cannot control. There is nothing I can do about the situation, so focus on what you can do. Have a positive mental attitude. Dream HAPPY dreams.

I am a firm believer that times like this bring out the best in people, not the worst, and that this will ultimately remind us to stop taking for granted so many of life’s precious gifts, such as health, companionship and freedom. It should remind us to always take good care of ourselves, eat well, and that our existence is short, and can be taken from us in an instant. Remember to call your friends regularly, and tell them YOU LOVE THEM. Take the hug when you can get it, because you never know when it might be the last. Stop complaining when you are in a crowded room. Remember, to help your neighbor and to donate to the less fortunate. It is not what you accumulate in life that matters, but what you give to others. You cannot take it with you. Give more; protect those who need it; show compassion and love. We all had our egos handed to us on a plastic plate; we are not irreplaceable; so remember to be humble. Family is so important; do not forget that ever. Live with Passion. Enjoy the sunrise and the sunset, and darn it: save dogs! They are the only creatures who will always love you. Order one from the shelter right now and save a life. You could use a new friend in isolation. Maybe get 2; you can name them Korona and Kwarentine.

So glad mine are here with me now.

One last thing. Stop eating Bats! Seriously, what is wrong with those people? This is why every virus starts in China. Stick to egg rolls people.

This is not the end, but just the beginning of the next incredible adventure. We will be ok; do not panic. Make a plan, work the plan, and everything will be alright.

Here is what I know as a fact. This is going to be amazing for property sales in Costa Rica and real estate in general around the world. Think about it. People just spent 1 to 2 months, locked in their homes, with their spouse and children. The first thought that will come to their mind? Boy do we need a bigger house.

Give me a man cave.

What about my She Shed?

We need a basement for the kids.

And a guest house for the Mother in Law.

A bigger yard; more fresh air.

How about a bowling alley?

Yeah and a game room.


Their next thought will be: We need a second house.

In a warm place.

Near the ocean.

On a cliff.

With a pool.

In Costa Rica!


How nice would it be, if you were here when the lock down occurred? Think about it.

“Sorry honey, I would love to come back and help you with the kids, but there aren’t any flights.” Boy don’t you wish you thought of that a couple weeks ago, huh? Remember; residency!

For now, I am going to continue to work on my tan too. Since there are absolutely NO sports to watch, I am going to become an NFL Draft Expert; look out Mel Kiper. I am going to watch all the great music that people are playing on line, like my good buddy Will Matthews;

And I am going to walk down the hill to my fruit and vegetable garden. I have a couple lime trees, and they are cranking them out as fast as I can pluck em’; Time for a rum and coke.

I am not catching the coronavirus, that’s for sure and I am definitely not getting scurvy; but I will probably run out of creamer. Oh the sacrifices one must make.

Come On Down Baby!

See you soon.

Stay safe.

Be Strong.


Michael Simons

Pura Vida.

This has always been one of my all-time favorite songs. I hope it inspires you as it does to me, every time I hear it. Thanks Beth Hart for always filling me with hope.

Please take a minute and check out some of the blogs and video recently posted by my associates at RE/MAX. Share these with your friends.

I was truly inspired by this Tony Robbins article, so I thought I would pass it on to you.

To say we are living in uncertain times is a massive understatement. I’ve been blessed to be on this earth now for 60 years, from the Vietnam War to 9/11 to the global financial crisis. I’ve lived through periods of tremendous change and turmoil in the world, at various moments in the history of society when no one could predict what would happen next.

But the level of fear and uncertainty we are currently witnessing is unprecedented. I see it on people’s faces, I hear it in their voices, and, now that we are all in our homes, with little real connection with each other, I’m witnessing it on social media. We are scared of being hurt, we are scared of the economy, we are scared of not being in control, and now we are even scared of each other.

Don’t get me wrong, fear is a natural human instinct. It’s our 2-million-year-old brain that is designed to protect ourselves in the moment, for the sake of survival. It’s always looking for what’s wrong, so you can fight, run away from threat, or freeze. But if you do one of these three things every time you are fearful, or have pain, you’re going to be constantly fighting, running away, or stopping and putting your life on hold. And that is no way to live.

Look, every day we drive down a highway with nothing but a painted yellow line dividing you from cars that are hurling headfirst towards you at 70 miles per hour. You know that every single day people cross that line. They kill innocent people just like yourself on the other side of it.

And you also know that a certain percentage of those drivers are drunk. You also know some are texting. Some are falling asleep. Those are facts. Every single day this happens all over the world. In fact, 1.4 million people will die in car accidents each year around the world. That’s more than 3,200 a day.

And yet we still get in our cars and drive. Why? Because of another “f” word that is 100 times more powerful than fear. FAITH.  Faith is not learned, it’s something we are born with. Faith is what fuels us through times of fear and uncertainty. It is more powerful than any emotion, even fear. When all hell is breaking loose, it gives us the ability to find our center, to help ourselves and others to find answers, to find a higher meaning in the midst of our pain and in spite of our fear. And if you’re a leader, you take that certainty and transfer it into others, because human conviction has a viral effect and will spread. You bring unwavering certainty to chaotic environments through the power of your faith.  Faith is knowing that at our core we’re more than anything we will ever face, and we can handle whatever life brings us. We always have and we always will. That is the power of the human race.

Human beings are unique from other species in that we have the ability to control our behavior, to train ourselves to be emotionally fit and create an inner strength, a psychology of resilience. One failure does not mean we stop trying. Animals don’t have this! Anyone who has ever trained a dog knows this well. They experience one, maybe two “failures” and they’ve learned their lesson, and they won’t try again. We are the opposite; we are eternal optimists. We fail, and then we try again.

Just look at some of the most successful companies in the world today. Most of their founders and leaders experienced massive failure – many times over – before they were successful. Think about some of the happiest, most connected couples you know. Chances are, each one of them “failed” at relationships in the past, but did they give up? No. They learned, they adapted, they grew, and they started over.

The beautiful gift of being human is that we’re resilient as a species. We’re adaptable by nature. This won’t be the only crisis this world will ever go through, and it won’t be the only crisis any one of us ever goes through, and it certainly won’t be the only crisis that anyone we love ever goes through. People are shaped not by how things go when things are going well; people’s lives are shaped by the most difficult times. We have a resourcefulness inside ourselves that says no matter what happens in life, who I am is bigger than anything that could ever happen to me or anyone I love. No problem is permanent, and nothing that happens is pervasive.

Life is both pain and pleasure, both opportunity and challenge, both birth and death. There is a season and a time for everything, and it’s not for us to decide what the right season is, or which season we should be in. It’s our job to embrace the season that’s been given to us.  In this uncomfortable moment, it feels a lot like winter, doesn’t it? Everyone is isolated in their homes, trying to protect themselves from the cold and stay warm. And, for many people, it’s the season of boredom. Schools and restaurants are closed, social events are on hold, office workers are homebound and for those who are out in the world, like healthcare workers, there is a feeling of trepidation, of dangerous exposure.

But as Nobel Prize-winning philosopher Albert Camus once said, “In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.”

Winter doesn’t last forever. Spring always follows. We will spring back to normal life, like we always do, like we’ve done for centuries. And when we do, will you be prepared? Are you trained for future challenges? I always say: The meeting of preparation and opportunity generates the offspring we call luck. In every crisis lies opportunity. People who are successful are not lucky; they are just prepared for opportunities that come their way. Anticipation is power.

So, what are you going to do during this winter season? Are you going to sit back in boredom? Or, maybe out of that boredom, join the fearful crowds, magnifying meaning and exaggerating risk to the point where there is only the worst-case scenario? Will you create disempowering emotions and bring yourself and others down? Or will you discipline your fears, stand guard at the door of your mind, rise to the challenge that is facing us, and adopt beliefs that empower you?

Regardless of what’s happening around you, there is a part of you that’s strong. Call on that part of you. The part of you that’s hungry. The part of you that is courageous in the face of unfathomable fear. The part of you that won’t put up with excuses, smallness and bullshit. Call that part of you forth – call that part of you to step up to become what you were MADE for.
I always say, it’s what you practice in private that you will be rewarded for in public. This is your private time, this is your time for training, for practice, to prepare for what’s ahead. If your health is less than you’d like it to be, focus on improving that. If your relationships have become stagnant or distant, use this time to reconnect with your loved ones. Business owners, sit down and take the time to work ON your business, to strategize, to envision the business that you need to become in order to succeed in the new environment. Make your map. Plan. Learn. Grow.
Because I guarantee you, winter will end, and when it does, you will emerge so far ahead of everyone else who has not used this time as efficiently as you that it will feel like you finished miles ahead. You will leapfrog past your peers, past your competitors. You will have taken your life to the next level.

And as you do, I’m here for you. Those who know me, who have attended any one of my immersive events, know that I play full out and give everything I have because I am here to serve. I serve those who want more, who own who they are, who do not settle, who defy expectations and limitations. I will help you create, innovate, and shape your life into even more of a masterpiece.
In the meantime, I’ve challenged my team – just as I challenge you at my events – to use this time to add massive value and provide you with as many flexible options as possible for continued growth. We are in the business of breakthroughs, and they can come at anytime, anywhere. No matter where you are in the world, no matter how much time you have or don’t have, you can work on yourself.

And remember: It’s time to become conscious of your power and remind yourself and all those around you the human race is resilient, flexible, and strong beyond imagination. Lead, don’t follow. Discover ways to innovate, to create and to give and support others who may not see past the winter. Lead with the truth of our essence, that faith and certainty, our natural birthright and our abilities, can be awoken. This ability can be activated, so live the truth today around everyone you’re around. Then we can solve any problem we face. The human race always has, and it always will.
So live strong. Live with faith. Live with passion.

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June 2024
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