Update from Paradise

Published: June 26th 2009
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Andrew with a clientAndrew with a clientAndrew with a client

In Pacific Hills, Magallanes section of San Ramon
It’s been a little while since I wrote so I thought I’d take the time once again to share my thoughts with whomever is ready this—hopefully many people. I get many emails from people. Most are from people who want to be here, others are already here and want to learn more about San Ramon (where I live), and others just want to get to know other people in the area. Whatever their reasons, it’s great to hear from people who also are taking the “road less traveled.”

The photos throughout this blog entry are fairly random—just a smattering of our properties and our clients. Some of them I will admit were taken by clients who apparently have much better cameras than I do give the crispness of their photos vs. mine!

Back in the U.S.

I recently spent two weeks in the U.S. The first week I was in Orlando, re-living my childhood and visiting Disney World. Well, actually, Disney, Hollywood studios, the Animal Kingdom, etc. It was terrific week getting to see some old friends again and just relaxing and enjoying good ole American food. I was shocked, however, at the prices for theme park tickets—some
Large tree!Large tree!Large tree!

This is apparently a 100+ year-old tree at the back of a lot in Pacific Hills
$250 in all, and the price of food in the parks themselves. You just could not find a burger or sandwich for under $14! And, it’s not like you can leave a park and find a restaurant nearby. Once you’re in, you’re in the park for the day. Miami was good too where I met up with my business partner, Preston. That part of the trip was mostly about shopping—I was in severe need of new clothes—eating, going to the beach and just relaxing. I really love Miami and it’s great to get away from “paradise” every so often!

Unfortunately, we found a lot of rudeness in people while visiting Miami in particular (as opposed to at Disney where the staff would say “Golly,” and smile even if your whole family had just been murdered—don’t know how they do it!). I just don’t get it, sales people in stores were slow to help out, seemed like we were the ones who should be glad they were helping us, etc. Not everyone was rude but I encountered what seemed to be more unhappy and surly people this time in the states than on previous trips. Perhaps it has something to
Pacific ViewsPacific ViewsPacific Views

Just up the road from Pacific Hills, in "pre-construction mode." Lots of coffee plants!
do with the state of the U.S. economy? It could be that because we live pretty cheap down here and are not up to our eyeballs in debt or own homes that have sunk in value, we don’t feel the same pain our fellow compatriots do. It may also be that I’m spoiled a bit living in the 7th happiest country on earth (from a recent survey). In any event, traveling is always fun for me as I’ve been to dozens and dozens of countries, but it’s still nice to be back in San Ramon.

Busy is the word….

Since I arrived back in Costa Rica on June 14th, I have not stopped—really I haven’t had a day off from work. It’s all good but sometimes we just go in spurts such that it’s busy for a month or two then we get several weeks to relax. That’s not a bad life I suppose, having a few weeks of down time every few months to just chill out. I’m quite sure it’s better than working 40+ hours week after week and getting two or three weeks of vacation for the entire year which I did in the past. I don’t think I could live on any less than seven weeks of vacation of year! It is great being busy though especially when clients are taking tours, looking at properties, and staying at the B&B. I’ve met so many people in my four-plus years of living here.

We’ve had some great clients come our way recently and interestingly, they all seemed to have some sort of interest in environmental protection whether it’s protecting natural habitats, eliminating the use of chemicals on coffee farms, or finding alternative ways to produce energy. These are precisely the type of expats we want to see move here and we’re glad we are seeing more of them. We do, however, make a conscious effort to protect the environment and we like having similarly-disposed people living in our communities.

As many of you know, we’ve done a great deal of “giving back” to the San Ramon area through donations from CR Communities, our real estate development company, and hope to do a whole lot more in the future. We just recently updated our website, to include a section on what we are doing:


If you scroll down you can read
More Pacific ViewsMore Pacific ViewsMore Pacific Views

Love these views!
the section entitled “Community Development.” In addition, we put together a new section on San Ramon in order to give a better flavor for the area. You can find that at: http://www.crcommunities.com/aboutsanramon.html

Finally, there’s a relatively new English-language magazine that has come out called “The Mountain Howler.” The scope of the publication is on the “Occidente” or Western Central Valley, focusing on the towns of Grecia, Naranjo, Atenas, Palmares, Sarchi, and San Ramon. It’s worth a read at: www.mountainhowler.com.

Crazy Tidbits….

My B&B manager, Mae, who lives just up the hill, had an issue with her home alarm going off frequently one night recently, so much that she asked me to come up there to make sure their were no prowlers in the area. So, I went up there around 10pm with my big flashlight to see what was going on. I didn’t find any prowlers, however, I found out later that apparently a giant month kept flying by the sensor for her alarm and that was setting it off—only a in a tropical country.

Apparently, a neighbor of mine ran into a crazy gringo woman who had illegally driven here camper from the U.S. (or
Andrew and client in the trees!Andrew and client in the trees!Andrew and client in the trees!

Luckily I had a GPS with me! :-)
Canada), all the way to Central America and ended up in San Ramon. From what I understood she didn’t have a means to get home—out of money I suppose—but she was supposedly quite loco, complaining about being unable to take her dog on a plane to return home.

Yesterday afternoon I was watching television (only for a little bit) and at one point I looked out my front window and saw a slew of cows just running right past my house. There must have been 10 of them. I don’t know where they were heading as one road led to fence in which there is no way they’d get over, or they could have gone uphill. In any event, I didn’t see them return so who knows where they ended up!

I told many of you in a recent blog that a new restaurant, Mario’s opened recently, and I still love it. However, we have another new restaurant that opened while I was in Florida, called “Sahara,” which features Middle Eastern food. It’s great getting my fix of hummus and falafel but I just find it amusing how they also offer spaghetti and typical “Tico” food like rice
Andrew with orangesAndrew with orangesAndrew with oranges

Pacific Views has all kinds of fruit: several types oranges, limes, bananas, plantains, and of course, coffee!
and beans. I suppose it’s a Costa Rican version of a New York diner where you can get just about anything you want but it seems to me that many restaurants cannot truly specialize in one type of food—they have to have a smattering of other stuff, just in case. Well, I’m just happy to have a new food choice. Now, if anyone can figure out how to bring New York-style takeout Chinese food to San Ramon, I’d be in heaven!

Recent news…..

I read this week that Costa Rica will finally introduce larger denominations of its bank notes starting in March, 2010. Currently, the largest bill is 10,000 colones which is about $17. To start, it will issue 20,000 and 50,000 colones notes which are the equivalent of approximately $34 and $86 respectively. This news is important for those of living here and paying contractors and other service providers. Some locals want to be paid in cash so you can imagine how many bills the equivalent of $2,000 to $3,000 would be in colones notes! We’ll see how it goes as some people won’t even accept 10,000 colones notes due to concerns over fraud.

The government approved the operations of six new Internet/VOIP companies in Costa Rica and they may start offering services to businesses and individuals immediately. This is welcome news as there are few Internet providers here, and the service, speed, and up time has generally been bad. Opening up the Internet sector and breaking the government’s monopoly is a component of the “Central American Free Trade Agreement,” or CAFTA, which was passed two years ago.

Some days are better than others….

For the most part, life in paradise is just that. However, there are those days when, well, it’s not quite that. For example, earlier this week, I had no Internet access all day, my home phone was out, Preston had no electricity in his house, a water pipe broke, one of the glass shelves in my fridge split in half, spilling everything onto the floor, and for about three hours I couldn’t find my cell phone even though I knew it was in my house—and I couldn’t call the cell phone from my house to locate it because, remember….it was out too. I suppose not all of these events are location-dependent, i.e., due to living in a still developing country, but it sure made me crazy for a day! Don’t despair though, as next week I’m using more of my “generous vacation time” and going to the beach!

That’s it for now. Thanks for reading and please don’t hesitate to add your comments and questions.

Pura Vida!

www.CRCommunities.com (real estate and more!)
www.BoomersInCostaRica.com (4-day/3 night relocation/retirement/real estate tour!)
www.CostaRicaRealEstate.typepad.com (Boomers’ Real Estate & More Blog!)
www.AngelValleyFarmBandB.com (the B&B!)


5th July 2009

Hi Andrew
Hi, Just caught up on your blog and stopped to say hi, hope all is well. Tell Preston hello. Dean
5th July 2009

Loved your blog site
I'm a female boomer considering moving to Costa Rica. I enjoyed your blog because you are an American who has already moved there. You give a personal vision of what it is like for you living in Costa Rica. I hope to read more -from your perspective. Blessings to you. Thanks for sharing. Sunny
9th July 2009

Great Blog Entry
hi Andrew, Shawn and I have been thinking quite a bit about our trip to San Ramon last year, and thinking about a return visit. So I decided to catch up on your blog, which is always an entertaining read. We'll be in touch as we get closer to making travel plans. Glad to hear you're doing well, and please give our best to Preston and Rodrigo. Take care, Mary

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