Posts Tagged ‘Working In Costa Rica’

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.

Is there Begging in Costa Rica

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

Is there any begging in Costa Rica?

I have traveled more than most people, and all over Latin America. One of the things that always bothered me the most was how much poverty there is in all of these countries; you almost felt sorry for being successful in life and having money. When you step off the plane in countries like Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama and Belize, you immediately realize you are in a different world. The very first person you see is a soldier, carrying an automatic weapon, and this instantly puts you on high alert. It is very intimidating when the customs officer is wearing a camouflage uniform. As you walk through the airport, you see dozens of them with weapons, and they are usually NOT smiling or friendly. The army patrols these countries. Not in Costa Rica; they abolished their military in 1948. The customs officers at the airport don’t even carry handguns, and you MIGHT see one or two policeman with pistols. You are immediately put at ease and feel relaxed. Everyone is smiling and very friendly. WELCOME TO COSTA RICA.

As you travel throughout most of Central America and much of the Caribbean, you are bombarded with the sights and sounds of poverty. Entire villages are shanty towns; shacks made of sheet metal and boards, with no access to running water or electricity. Every corner you are approached by a beggar, with a cup, pleading for money to feed their children. You see homeless people strewn out across the sidewalks, sleeping anywhere they can find room to lay a cardboard box. As you try to relax in front of your hotel on the beach, you are constantly harassed by every kind of solicitor, hundreds of them, they seem to never stop. They are selling jewelry, tours, clothing and trinkets, and they don’t take NO for an answer. You cannot even enjoy the vacation it is so overwhelming. Most of these countries post big signs at the entrance to the hotels, warning you NOT to walk around the town at night, and to be VERY careful of strangers. Many of these places also have huge territories controlled by the Drug Cartels and gangs, so you can’t just jump in your rental car and travel where you want. You are very limited to where you can safely go and enjoy the scenery.

Costa Rica is an Eden in the midst of all this craziness. They call it the Switzerland of Latin America. You can travel anywhere in this country, and not ever once feel threatened. Like anywhere in the world, use common sense. There are no gangs or Cartel and you will never be stopped by a man in a tank, pointing an M-16 in your face. The police are very friendly and other than on the National Highways, you probably won’t even see one. But what sets Costa Rica apart from the rest of the world, is that there is almost NO extreme poverty. This little paradise has one of the highest percentages of Middle Class in the world. You see beautiful little homes, meticulously maintained, with satellite dishes on the roofs, and new scooters in the driveway. You see very little trash on the side of the road as the Ticos are very proud people. They love their country, and take very good care of it. They NEVER beg, they don’t have welfare of unemployment benefits, and everyone works. Very, very rarely do you ever see a beggar, I can count on one hand how many I have seen in a decade, and even the beach solicitors are scarce compared to other places. You might have one or two an hour come by, and when you say NO, they thank you, smile, wish you a nice day, and continue down the beach. Like everywhere, there is the occasional annoying Time Share sales guy, trying to convince you that it is NOT a time share, but a vacation club, and that their program is different from all the others. The best way to get rid of these guys is to just tell them I LIVE HERE, and they will wander off quietly.

Selling pipas

What you do see here, instead of begging, are small entrepreneurs trying to make a buck to take care of their families. Young girls set up on the side of the road, with big boards loaded with handmade jewelry, waiting for a client. As you walk by they smile, but NEVER push you to buy. Young men, have coolers full of Ceviche or Pipas (small Coconuts) and hustle their refreshments on a hot day. At night you will see street vendors selling some of the best fajitas on a stick, that you have ever eaten; but again, they never pressure you to stop.

The guys I like the most are the “parking attendants.” As you park on the public roads, near the center of town or by the entrance to the beach, you will find people wearing glow in the dark vests, offering to watch your car. They are not employed by anyone, but have chosen to work, instead of beg or steal. Always say YES, but don’t pay them until you leave. They will keep an eye on your vehicle and your belongings, and then when it is time to go, they will help you back out into traffic, so you can be on your way. Tip them 200 Colones, which is the equivalent of about 50 cents, and they will be very thankful.

What you will find in Costa Rica is that everyone is very helpful. They work hard, play hard, and are the friendliest people in the world. PURA VIDA.

 

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