I got my “Mucho”

Written by Michael Simons on . Posted in Newsletters

Tank Tops Flip flops Newsletter edition no. 15

“Where’s my mucho?”  Nick asked.  Excuse me?  “I want my mucho!”  he declared.  I have no idea what you are talking about, I replied.  You see Stephanie and Nick came to Costa Rica a year or so ago on vacation and immediately fell in love with this paradise, as happens to so many of us.  So they made a decision to move to Pura Vida land and open a bar, fulfilling a goal they have had for many years.  I love people who don’t procrastinate and don’t make excuses.  They are set to open very soon and it will be called The Sand Bar, located smack in the middle of Playa Hermosa.  It is an acronym for something much bigger and more romantic, Stephanie And Nick’s Dream (SAND) Bar.

Cool.  Really cool.

It will have all the art deco you would imagine with a name like that, and I am expecting it to be one of my favorite hangouts.  One of the reasons I love the people of Costa Rica so much, is because from the first moment you arrive, they treat you like old friends.  If you travel to other Latin American countries it is way more formal and less personal.  For instance, when you say Gracias (Thank You) in Mexico, they always answer De Nada (You are welcome), and yet, if you think about it, you would never answer that way back home.  I think I have only said “you are welcome” a couple times in my entire life, and usually it was to a small child.  Thank you Uncle Mike.  You are welcome Sidney.

If I bought my friend a beer and he thanked me, my response would be “of course”, I would not answer “you are welcome.”   If you opened a door for a woman at the store, when she said Thanks, you would answer with “my pleasure. Have a great day.”  Many responses would come out of my mouth but none of them would be You are welcome.  Way too impersonal.  Anytime!  No problem dude!  Absolutely!  My pleasure!  Don’t even think about it!  No big deal!  For you, ANYTHING!  No worries!  It’s your world I am just living in it!  These are responses I find myself using on a regular basis.  Why?  Because I like to believe I am a friendly person and it is a much nicer way to say it.  Besides it makes people feel good and isn’t that half of why we are on this earth?  To put a smile on someone’s face?

That is exactly how the Ticos feel.  When you say Gracias, they say Con Gusto (With Pleasure).  And the more they know you the more likely they are to answer Con Mucho Gusto (with Much Pleasure).  I guess when Nick and I ordered some food at lunch the other day, the waitress told Nick, “Con Gusto” but I got the “Con Mucho Gusto” when I said Gracias.  Nick wanted to know, how long until he can have the Mucho as well. LOL.  “Where is my mucho?” he asked.  “I want my mucho too.”  I got my Mucho, I told him and now that you live here, you will get yours too. Life in Costa Rica is all about the Mucho.  Everything is Mucho and I love it!!!!  CON MUCHO GUSTO!!!  Let me try to explain.

A good friend of mine recently got divorced and she came to spend a few months in Costa Rica.  For the sake of this Newsletter we will call her Tammy.  I saw her the other day for cocktails and asked her how was it going?  Amazing!!!  She told me that she had been here for 2 months and it seemed to just fly by.  She went on and on about all the places she went; things that she did; sites that she saw.  She told me of the dozens of new friends she had made, since this was the first time she had spent any considerable time in Costa Rica.  Tammy was laughing as she recalled a conversation she had with one of her girlfriends a few months earlier.  They couldn’t believe I would come to Costa Rica alone, a single woman.  “Are you scared? Aren’t you going to be bored?” they asked her.  Bored?  She replied.  I have never had so much fun in my life, and I am NOT looking forward to going home.  As a matter of fact, the only time I am bored is when I am back in the USA, she rambled on and on.

I chuckled because this is a common conversation I have with people.  Costa Rica is probably the least boring place on the planet.  There is always something to do and boat loads of people willing to do it with you.  Boredom is living in North America doing the same thing over and over, day after day.  That is boring.

After our happy hour, I decided I would try a little experiment over the next 3 days and see what I learned.  So Friday morning, I started asking everyone I met, what they were doing for the weekend.  Have a seat.  Buckle up.  Hold on tight.  You will be blown away.  Welcome to Mucho and nobody is bored.

My neighbor Jerry and his wife Diane were loading their car when I came out to go to work. Off to Monte Verde, they told me, going to check out the cloud forest. It is one of those places that you can not believe exists, until you see it. There is actually a ceiling of clouds, and you can almost walk back and forth through the line. Kneel down, it is sunny. Stand up, and your head is in the clouds. Wild? No, Mucho Wild. I saw a couple of California surfers lugging their boards and loading on a boat. Surfs up! They were heading out to Witch’s Rock, one of the most famous surf spots on the planet. You can only get their by boat, but after the hour ride, it is a once in a lifetime experience. The waves are some of the biggest in the world, as you glide past this monstrous, powerful boulder, sticking out of the ocean. Mucho Rock, they should call it. Jim and his wife were going on a mountain bike ride, while Jean Pierre and his better half were taking their hog for a spin. The Hermosa Bad Boys Harley Davidson Motorcycle Club. Seriously Mucho motorcycles. Rolando was running a triathlon this weekend and Laura was just going to lie on the beach, keeping her hot bod nice and tanned. Rhett was off to a pick up basketball game, and Brennan was playing in a sand volleyball tournament right on the beach in Coco. Just after it was over, they were all heading over to Beach Bums for a bikini contest. Muchas Guapas!!!! I texted my buddy in Los Angeles and he was sitting in traffic, trying to get home. Ninety minutes each way he said. NOT MUCHO.

Friday night had bundles of stuff going on. There was the Coco Rodeo that lasted for 3 days straight. Now if you have never been to a Costa Rican rodeo, you have got to get down here and check it out. They have bull fights, but these are not like the ones you see on TV in Spain. The bulls don’t die, the people do. They actually allow 100 of the drunkest fools to get into the ring and turn the bulls loose. You want Mucho? Watch a guy fly through the air 75 feet, THAT IS MUCHO. I actually once saw the bull come out of the shute and take out 7 or 8 guys so fast they didn’t even know what hit ‘em. Like bowling pins. AWESOME. The bulls win in Costa Rica. They have all the calf roping and bucking bronco stuff too, along with a huge party that lasts for days. Everybody gets dressed up in their best cowboy gear and parties like it’s the end of the world. There is a big disco on the beach, and they bump all night long. If you are a night owl, you can hoot till the sun comes up. It ends on Sunday with an amazing display of horses, as they parade through the streets of Coco, struttin’ their stuff.

Speaking of night, there was a full moon this past weekend, and until you have been this close to the equator, you have never seen a moon like this one. Wow. Mucho Moon. At least 20 people told me they were just going to relax this weekend with their loved one, watch the sunset, open a bottle of wine and look at the moon. There was a Mucho Big Community Drumming Circle on the beach called Salve Monos Playa Hermosa. It’s a big party on the beach, with music, dancing, Hoola Hooping and drumming all to benefit the Save the Monkeys of Playa Hermosa. Hundreds of people showed up and it was a glorious time. After that, most of the gringos headed over to the Hermosa Heights Theatre where Marc and Kevin put on a Rock n Blues show for almost 3 hours. They played everything from BB King to Eric Clapton, Rolling Stones to the Doors. One Mucho Blues Fest. I called my friend in Colorado to see what he was doing. Nothing much, he said. Don’t want to get a DUI going out on Friday night. Definitely NOT mucho.

Saturday morning I had a couple clients and we were touring some homes here in Playa Hermosa. We visited Bette and Dawson’s house, which we recently listed for sale. They first came 8 years ago and built an adorable house two blocks from the beach and are now building a much larger home, right on the sand in Hermosa.  Bette asked my clients how much time they thought they would spend here in paradise, and the usual answer of 4 to 6 weeks a year was their response.  That is what we all said, she replied chuckling. It starts with 6 weeks, and then moves to 3 months.  The next thing you know its half the year here and half back home.  Before long, you just throw in the towel and move here fulltime.  No reason to deny the obvious.  Playa Hermosa is good living baby.  I got my Mucho and they have theirs too!!!  Saturday is also the day of the big farmers market where you can buy all the fresh fruits and vegetable right off the ranch.  But it’s not all about the greens, they have everything for sale. Myra, from Chicago, is one of the best bakers I have ever met in my life. She makes home made Cheesecakes and people literally fight for them every Saturday morning. As we were having breakfast on the beach, who should walk by? Daryl and Cheryl on their morning walk with their dogs. They NEVER miss a day, no excuses. They got their Mucho.

Alain was playing tennis and Tatiana was going horseback riding.  Lillie was white water rafting and Diego was taking tourists out paddle boarding.  Another couple was loading their kayaks into the bay as a group of guys from Detroit were heading out to fish.  This is an incredible time to be on the water, as the Marlin and the Sail Fish are running.  Danny told me that he got 9 the other day, and could have caught more, but had to head back for dinner plans with his wife.  We see who wears the Bait Khaki’s in this family.  My phone rang and it was Cory. She said they were out on a sailboat and were fortunate enough to see a family of Humpback whales.  Now that is a Mucho story to tell your friends when you get back home from vacation.  I spent a couple minutes talking to a group of divers from Texas, who had been here all week exploring the different sites.  They had seen it all, they said, from Mucho huge dolphins, to a school of Manta Rays and sharks.  When was the last time you did something for the first time?

One of my favorite past times is to spend the day on Bret’s Catamaran, the Marlin Del Rey. What a Mucho boat, let me tell you.  They do this snorkel, booze and sunset tours and take you out to some of the private beaches you can only get to by water.  You literally feel like you are Gilligan and the first one to set foot on the sand.  The visibility is incredible and there are even caves you can explore, if you are brave enough to enter.  Julian was telling me how he and his wife did an overnight on the Cat to the Santa Rosa National Park, dropping anchor in the middle of the ocean and just sleeping on the canvas under ten thousand stars. Mucho Relaxing.  I am planning on getting into more detail about this excursion, but you know the drill.  Stay tuned for another Newsletter.  Suzanne and Jennifer were in a frenzy talking about how they had camped out all night on the beach in Ostional, and watched the turtles come on shore to lay their eggs. It really gives you an appreciation of how much Mucho we have down here in paradise. My phone rang and it was my friend in Wisconsin.  “It is minus 14” she said. Brrrrrr.  Totally NOT mucho.

Saturday night, and we are just getting started.  There was a party at a local restaurant for a fund raiser for CARE, the organization that rescues and fixes dogs and cats.  Everyone shows up and awards are given for all the animals.  Smartest Dog: Stupidest Dog: Cutest Dog: Best Trick.  I saw Jimmy sitting on a bar stool, staring out into the street.  What are you doing tonight man?  Not a Damn thing, he said.  I am going to just sit here all night, drinking beer and watch the girls go by.  Not a bad way to spend a Saturday evening, I thought.  There was another big bash at the local cigar shop, where Freddie hired Sin Zapatos to play for the night, another local group of musicians.  The guy actually plays a Bass Box, where he sits on it and pounds away at the woofer.  The Leatherbacks were Rockin’ at Jimbo’s bar and a Jazz Pianist was doing the finger dance over in Playa Panama at Rumba’s.

San Jose also has a new National Stadium and all the big tours come through now, so you don’t have to go back to the States to catch the big acts. Costa Rica was just crowned champion of the Central American countries Futbol (Soccer) tournament.  There was an open Mic night at another hotel, where some of the old gringos can re live their fantasies, pretending they are still in college, young and desirable. And of course, it’s always ladies night at the Lizard Lounge and Z’s as they dance the night away. Mucho eye candy.  Talk about dancing, you gotta check out Ranchitos.  It is the local open air hall just outside of town, where all the Ticos go to dance Salsa with their honeys. These are serious dancers; let me inform you, so if you are going to get up on the dance floor, make sure you have been practicing.  They wheel each other around, dipping and bopping, with the girl in one hand and a cold beer in the other.  Mucho Costa Rica.  For the gamblers in town there is a casino, and every Saturday night they have a big Texas Hold Em tournament.  It goes on for months and the winner actually gets a paid trip to Las Vegas for the World Series of Poker. So if you think you have what it takes, bring your cash and grab a seat.  But just understand these guys WILL take your money.  Mucho Dough.  Bring it on!

Needless to say, I woke up Sunday morning with a little bit of a Mucho Hangover.  I spiked my coffee with Café Rica, grabbed the mutts and headed to the beach.  I love watching how fired up they get, running down the sand, jumping in the waves.  Sundays are beach days and I ran into a dozen or so good friends, who were also enjoying the tranquility.  Dale and Jean started a Dart Club and every Sunday they go to a different person’s house, and they all play darts and socialize.  There is also a bridge club, a book club, a Scotch club (yes they drink Scotch throughout the week and compare) and a cooking / sushi class, and I even saw about a dozen people sitting on the beach, taking Spanish lessons.  There was another group of ladies, having a Yoga Pilates class right on the sand and I had to stop and stare.  I mean is there anything better than watching a woman put both her legs behind her head?  That is Mucho Sexy.  Wow.  My phone rang and it was a pal from Canada who told me he was shoveling snow from his driveway.  Definitely NOT mucho.  As a matter of fact, I would list that in my  “That Sucks you can keep it” category.  I saw one of the hotels, getting set up for a big wedding on the beach.  I thought of Tammy and how much fun she was having, finally divorced and enjoying life.  It made me wonder how many people were sitting at home, miserable, unhappily married, having to watch the kids.  Bummer.  Hope this couple has a better ending.

There was a Mucho big golf tournament Sunday, at the Arnold Palmer Course at the Four Seasons hotel.  Of course I sponsored a hole, as the money went to charity, but I have just never been able to get into the sport.  Hitting a ball as far as I can and then chasing after it for half a day just doesn’t ring my bell.  I would rather go to a Sports Bar, as there are a couple here in town, and watch the NFL, NHL or Major League baseball and suck back some brews with my buds.  They also had on NASCAR, NBA and the Winter X Games so you can pick your poison.  Most of the locals were heading to Liberia to watch one of the biggest Soccer games of the year, between two of the big powerhouse teams.  All you Europeans will love it. Come on down.  Personally I don’t have the foggiest idea how anyone can watch that sport, it is boring as hell, but then again look at the countries that do.  All the men live with their parents until they are 30 years old, so what does that tell you huh?  There was also a Mucho massive Moto Cross race and I saw my friend Mike, leaving town on his Quad, for a day of Mudding.  There is even a big Jeep club too; talk to Scot, if that’s your sort of thing. 

Many of the residents go to Church, and there are a dozen close by to choose from.  So whatever denomination you follow, you can find a support group.  There is also an Alcoholics Anonymous located on the road to Ocotal. Barbara and her sister were driving out of town in their rental car.  I stopped them on the side of the road and asked them where they were heading.  “We are going Shoopppiiiiiiiiiiing!!!!” they squealed in that high pitch voice that only women can make when you mention the world MALL.  They were off to San Jose for a couple days to invade the stores and wear out the numbers on their credit card.  Ana was on her way to the Nursery to buy some new flowers and plants for her yard.  The next car I saw was loaded with hot babes, heading down to Avellanas beach to spend the day at Lola’s, one of the most famous restaurants in Costa Rica.  The owner actually has a 300 lb pig as his pet and it wanders the beach and bar, taking pictures with the tourists. Mucho Pork baby.  Carol was going on a coffee tour, and my newest clients were headed out for a day at the Palo Verde River Tour, to check out the crocodiles and the birds.  These are Mucho Crocs, believe me: they are not your Florida Gators.  These puppies are 20 feet long and eat live chickens like they are finger food. Drew and his mom, who is visiting from Nashville, set out for the mud baths and the hot springs and a day in the jungle, while Bryan was going to go zip lining on the Canopy Tour and the swinging bridges.

Personally, I settled for a more relaxed Sunday.  I spent the afternoon lying on a raft in my pool, drinking cocktails and listening to tunes.  It is January and the temperature is in the low 90s.  Tranquilo baby.  Later in the afternoon my friend Nadia came over and gave me a massage.  I have my own table set up in my bedroom, so after she is done, I can just roll over, stumble to my bed and go to sleep.  As I lay there, totally relaxed, the smell of the candles burning, soft music playing, her magic hands massaging my body, I realized.  I have definitely found my Mucho.  When are you going to find yours?  Pura Vida.

Link to Frequently Asked Questions about Costa Rica

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!

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