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Published: August 28th 2006
It has been several weeks since I’ve updated my blog, actually the last time was on July 29th. I had hoped to update it sooner but getting back and getting into the routine of things has taken longer than I had expected. So, from here on out, I’ll try to update it as I usually do, on a weekly basis. You have to give me some credit, however, as I’ve been updating this thing for 14 straight months!
If you have been following my blog regularly as do over 3,000 of my subscribers, you know I’ve been traveling in South America for the past two months while my B&B was rented out to a terrific family from the states who spent their summer holiday here. By all accounts, they had a terrific time and I’ve heard they miss being in this wonderful country. I can certainly understand why!
A friend asked me the other day what it was like coming back to Costa Rica after being away for so long. For one, nothing really appeared to have changed at least at the B&B. That’s a testament to two things: first, to Karol for cleaning up the house thoroughly and even making up my bedroom, and second, to guests who took such good care of the house. So, the house appeared exactly as I had left it and that made me feel good in returning home to it.
The surrounding area, particularly fast-growing ex-pat community above me, Rancho Lobo (www.rancholobo.com) certainly has changed with homes partly finished a few months ago, now finished, and new neighbors moving into their new homes. It’s great to see my new friends and neighbors getting settled into their homes and its nice to see the interesting and friendly community that has developed here.
I’d be remiss in not pointing out that coming back to Costa Rica was like going from winter (in Peru) to summer even though it’s technically winter here now. While Peru was largely cold and overcast—I wore sweaters much of the time—Costa Rica greeted me with warm temperatures and sunny skies. Yes, the rains have returned but so far, they occur mostly in the late afternoon and evening. Now, it’s only August and if past trends hold, September, and most certainly October, will be much worse, but for now I’m enjoying the warmer temperatures, wearing shorts most of the time, and looking out on the gorgeous mountains and valleys that surround the B&B.
The plants around the B&B have certainly grown quite a bit in two months and I’m delighted to report that very few of them died while were gone. I do however, have quite a bit of weeding to do but that’s actually a fun project in such beautiful surroundings on a warm, sunny morning!
Coming back to Costa Rica was also about coming back to a slower pace of life, particularly up here above San Ramon in my relatively rural area. Lima, where I was based for two months, was crazy-busy, crazy-dirty, crazy-polluted, crazy-noisy yet crazy-fun, but Los Angeles Sur is about stepping back and seeing things, enjoying the scenery and fresh air, and taking the time to enjoy life at rate one can manage without being overwhelmed.
Coming home to our two dogs, Osita and Reina, was probably the highlight of my first full day home. They had to be kenneled at our local vet during much of the time we were away because they just were two noisy—particularly at night—but they seemed to have survived well. While they did not have the wide open space in the vet’s facilities as they have here at the B&B, I know the vet’s staff took care of them well as they looked healthy and certainly and as rambunctious as ever. It’s terrific having my two girls back at my side. I don’t think I’ll ever leave them for this long again!
One of the things I missed in my travels in South America is the beautiful beaches all over Costa Rica. True, South America has its share of terrific beaches but I just wasn’t near any of them during my time there! While people have their favorites here, I tend to like several of them, some on the Pacific Coast and some on the Caribbean coast. In returning home, my friend Terry from Washington, DC decided to visit for a few weeks so he joined me in touring the Central Valley, taking in the sun (well, what there was of it) in Manuel Antonio and soon, looking around the Caribbean and Nicoya Peninsula. It’s certainly fun to come home to Costa Rica and hit the beach, whatever type of year it is!
Exploring the Central Valley was eye-opening as I had not to date, really taken a good look at some of the towns near me such as Grecia, Atenas, Naranjo, Sarchi, and others. I’ve passed through them many times on my way to other places, but I never really spent any time in each of them. Stopping in each of their town squares, chatting with fellow gringos in coffee shops and Internet cafes and sampling some of their restaurants opened my eyes to parts of the Central Valley I really didn’t know much about. I realized just how many terrific neighborhoods there are throughout the area and how each town seems to have a distinct culture. For example, Grecia felt a bit more upscale and busy compared to San Ramon while Atenas felt more laid back. Sarchi and Naranjo seemed to be a combination of the others. The common thread among them all, including San Ramon, is that their inhabitants are friendly and welcoming—strong traits among Costa Ricans. I feel I could live in any one of these cities. It’s more a matter of the differences in climate—San Ramon perhaps gets a bit more rain, for example—and what particular shops and services one might be looking for, and certainly the views from one’s home. It was certainly terrific to get to know these areas more and it has made me more confident to visit them again on my own.
They keep on coming!
I’ve reading a lot of articles lately about the huge group of baby boomers now retiring in the U.S., or expected to retire in the next 10-20 years, apparently, some 78 million people! Some say that Costa Rica is becoming overpriced in terms of real estate but after my recent road trip through the Central Valley, there are still bargains here! Retirees still seem to be coming down in droves, because compared to the U.S., even though the cost of living here as risen somewhat, it’s STILL cheaper to live here than in the U.S., particularly for retirees who live in high-cost areas of the U.S. I had the pleasure recently of spending some time with a tour group on George Lundquist’s “Retire in Costa Rica on Social Security” (www.costaricaretireonss.com) tour program. It was both fun and interesting to hear about their experiences in visiting the country for the first time and particularly hearing their many questions about what it is like to move here, live here and even run a business here. What was most amazing, however, was that they wanted to talk to me about my experiences living here and they peppered me with questions for nearly 30 minutes. As in the past, I always get the question, “What is the single reason that prompted you to move to Costa Rica?” Well, I cannot answer that question with a single reason. It is many things as are most decisions in life. But so far, there are no regrets. Funny, I’ve always thought of myself as a newbie here, even today, but I’ve realized a lot of people are coming in behind me and to them I have some knowledge by having already gone through what they are about to experience. It’s fun seeing others stumble along as I did, but hopefully they’ll learn from my mistakes—and there were plenty.
Now that I’ve been living in Costa Rica for over year and I’m getting the hang of being an ex-pat, learning a little more Spanish, and making terrific new friends, it’s probably time to spread my wings a bit and take on new and exciting challenges in addition to running the B&B. What are these new challenges? Well, I’ll save them for a future blog entry, however, needless to say, as moving to Costa Rica and running a B&B has been a learning experience, I’m sure these new challenges will be as well. Stay tuned!
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