A retiree’s tale of his longstay vacation in Costa Rica

It has been one year in Paradise… well, actually a few days more than a year, but who’s really counting as I’m here in Costa Rica for the longterm? Since I packed it all in, retired, sold everything and left Canada for Costa Rica. This wasn’t a rash decision. Before making the moving, I’d come to Costa Rica on ten vacations, 10 weeks at all inclusive resorts in Costa Rica. I felt I knew enough of the country to make the move.

I have been doing a lot of reflecting because I promised myself that 12 months would be the marker. I would either give up and come back to the world of Tim Hortons’ donuts and coffee, or stay and try to explain to people here what “chili in a bread bowl” really tastes like.

Costa Rica has been pretty good to me, it welcomed me with warmth of sky and people, and I have made a number of friends – friends that have been supportive and in most cases, have made mistakes that I try to avoid. Guys like Canadian Bob, Cigar Mike, Banana Bread Bill, One Eyed Mike, BK Tuna to name a few (sounds likeThe Goodfellows – I know) welcome me as Wayne’s World, partly because I seem to be in my own world a good part of the time and still cling to the social laws from the frozen North.

Actually, I have learned a great many things about life in the sub tropics, that bugs in your bed and food are just the way things are… that a Tico (a nickname for a Costa Rican) will answer your questions the way you want to have them answered, although most times they have no idea what it is you want; and that a Costa Rican taxi driver really is just a guy tryin’ to make a buck. When he drives you a few blocks out of the way, you quietly remind him that you are “yo vivo aqui amigo” and he adjusts the meter with a “lo siento.”

Safety in Costa Rica

So… far in Costa Rica, I’ve been robbed twice, hit with a taser, gone through six laptops, some stolen, some just blew up, lived in four places, and getting ready to move to my fifth home in Costa Rica and hopefully this will be my final home for awhile. I’ve been renting homes, by the way.

Safety in Costa Rica is an issue of course, but I have learned to limit my extravagance and appear as a low income foreigner. Funny, that’s exactly what I am, but I have enough to get by and enjoy the odd splurge on a jar of $3.00 US pickles.

Things I’ve learned in Costa Rica

I’ve learned to shop where the locals shop, Imperial beer isn’t really that great, cigars that have a Cohiba label aren’t real Cohibas. I need to eat more fruit and veggies, beef down here tastes like the loser at the Woodbine Racetrack back home. What’s more, the coffee comes from a coffee cooperative near a small town south of here, direct from the fields around my home. This brand goes by the name of Naranjo and it’s fantastic!

Other things I’ve learned during my long stay in Costa Rica. Used car prices are a joke because of import restrictions. When walking, look up and down because the often abused and potholed sidewalks of towns in Costa Rica can trip you up.

Here, earthquakes are cool, the police generally leave me alone, banks suck here in Costa Rica as much as back home; you have to pay the utility bill within two days of the due date or the water/electricity/phone are turned off.

Highway buses are cheap and efficient, and, that love comes from the strangest places…but enough of that.

I am staying here in Costa Rica for at least another year, which will probably turn into two years and plan to return to see the family in back home at Thanksgiving, partly because I miss them, but mostly there is very little in the way of turkey down here, although the chicken has been a very nice substitute.

I will continue to drink my coffee and enjoy the odd cigar, watch the sunrises and sunsets and wonder why both cats stare off into space at some object I can’t see.

The scenery is majestic where I live in Costa Rica and I enjoyed seeing a great deal of it when people come down here to visit. There are seven volcanoes in Costa Rica, and I have only seen three. Those volcanoes are on my list.

I’m planning on finding a new home to rent, closer to the Pacific coast, and I am giving up the cool mountain air for a more tropical feel, but that’s OK. The house I rent now and its current owner are generous in many ways. Moving will give me a new base to explore from.

The next part of my long stay vacation plan in Costa Rica is to finally get a small car (the last two cars I negotiated to buy fell apart before I handed over the cash… but that’s another story). With a car I can see more of the country. If I really decide that Costa Rica is the place for me, then I’ll probably apply for residency which is a relatively long process of verification and fees, but I have a friend to help me with that.

Don’t forget to drop by if you’re in the neighborhood…coffee is always on. Pura Vida for the long term.

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