Costa Rica changes

It is unbelievable how much Costa Rica has changed in the last few years.! New business abounds throughout the country. The road to Guanacaste has saved hours of commuting time for those in the northern part of the country as well as giving some much needed shortcuts to business and shopping. Multiplaza mall is unrecognizable to what it was only 5 years ago.

What’s interesting, the road system hasn’t changed to keep up with the growth of the country. One example would be driving from San Jose airport to one of the more populated and well known cities, Escazu or Santa Ana. There are only 3 ways to get between these places..  May not sound like an issue, however if one of these roads collapse, which happens regularly, 1/2 of the country is in a gridlock.

The road from the airport to central San Jose has collapsed on 3 different occasions in the last 3 years. This is the busiest autopista (Spanish for highway) in the country and when it goes down, you have SERIOUS problems with transportation.

What’s interesting is the number of engineers in the country. There are 100’s graduating from college each year. I wonder what they are using this education to do and what they are engineering? It most certainly is not the roads or improving the biggest problem of the country.

I ponder……


Medicare & Medicaid

This is an update to an earlier post…….12/19/2007

After verifying information that I recently received, I learned that Medicare will not cover anyone living outside of the United States.  Same story for Medicaid,  you will NOT be covered while living in Costa Rica.

IF you have a medical emergency while you are visiting Costa Rica or while living in Costa Rica, Medicare/Medicaid will pay for Air Transportation for you to be flown to the closest hospital in the US, but they will NOT pay for your treatment while in Costa Rica, even in an emergency situation.

This also includes those on disability relying on Medicaid.  You must go to the US for medical treatment.  Any doctors visits or medical attention of any kind will not be covered by Medicaid.



Just ask Why?

When moving to Costa Rica so many things come up where the question of why will come to your lips. Why do motorcycles make their own lane when there is none between the buses? Why do buses not use their rear view mirrors? Why does it seem that no one can tell time in Costa Rica? What does Mañana really mean because it clearly does not mean tomorrow?

There are so many more questions that I could list here than what I mentioned above. Doesn’t a day go by when the question of why comes to mind at least once but please for your sanity take this advise…..

Remove the word WHY from your vocabulary when you move to Costa Rica!

IF you are able to find out the reasoning behind the question you are asking, you would be one up from the rest of us left to ponder the reasoning behind why Tico’s do what they do.

It will drive you crazy if you question things all of the time and it won’t change anything, they will still drive down the middle of the road. They will still run you off the road with no regard for the rear view mirror. You will never understand even if someone answers your question as to WHY they do what they do.

Remove the word WHY from your vocabulary and you will live a much more peaceful existence in Costa Rica.


Police in Costa Rica

A good example of the police not being where you need them in Costa Rica is how the Fiscal Control Police (PCP) spend their time. This past week the PCP raided a shop in Guadalupe that sells groceries, appliances and perfume for anomalies associated with imported products. These special “Fiscal Control Police” seized property because they could not clearly establish how the merchandise entered the country. The particular chain of stores that was targeted generated attention because they supposedly advertised deals that seemed to good to be true in La Teja. You think that maybe the police could find a better use of their time than going after store owners suspected of selling merchandise too cheap??


Loose Laws in Costa Rica

A U.S.-bound air passenger was found to be carrying nearly $10,000 in counterfeit $100 bills Wednesday, but he was allowed to leave after police confiscated the funny money.

The incident took place at Juan Santamaría airport. The Policía Aeroportuaria of the Fuerza Pública said they found 95 fake bills in the pocket of the 34-year-old traveler. He was identified by the last name of Modia. Police officers sought the expertise of workers at a bank at the airport. Some of the bills had the same serial number, police said.

The man is a U.S. citizen originally from Cuba, police said.

Police could not hold the man or his female companion because there is a flaw in Costa Rica’s law. So although the pair missed their flight, they were allowed to leave later without the bills. They headed to Miami Thursday.

The $9,500 was below the limit that would have required reporting in an international flight if the bills were authentic.


IRS reaches Costa Rica

The U.S. Internal Revenue Service announced last week a new initiative to crack down on citizens who are hiding money offshore.

The crackdown extends to those U.S. citizens who have control of overseas corporations, what the IRS calls an entity. Many expats in Costa Rica fall into that category if the total amount in bank accounts is $10,000 or more at any time in the year.

U.S. citizens face complex tax requirements overseas. For example a citizen has to file a report with the IRS if they transfer personal property, like a home, into a foreign corporation.

Nevertheless, the IRS is less than aggressive in trying to inform or help U.S. citizens. The U.S. Embassy in San José does not have a full-time IRS agent in residence.


Mudslides in Escazu

This month there was a horrible catastrophe that took place in Escazu that needs to be brought to the forefront if you have not already heard about it.

Many humble souls were lost in the mudslides in the middle of the night when the rain brought down much of the mountain in the hills of San Antonio de Escazu. Rescue workers found at least 23 bodies after pounding rain sent mud rushing over 5 homes around 2:00am Thursday morning the 4th of November.

Because of the slides and unsettled land another 2,639 people have sought refuge in 46 shelters.

President Laura Chinchilla declared a state of emergency the following Friday and Saturday and further declared that these days would be national days of mourning.

Schools throughout the country were canceled on Thursday and Friday.


Lost Internet?

Lost Internet? This is the question that often opens up conversation if you have anything to do with the internet or need internet service in Costa Rica on a daily basis. This is not a weekly or once a month occurrence like in the States but a daily question in Costa Rica. The wind blows, we lose internet. The power surges, we lose internet. ICE has a bad hair day, we lose internet. Many different reasons but all the same results, poor internet connectivity for long periods of time. Internet does not go down for minutes at a time but for hours. When it goes down, it REALLY goes down!

I am sure that some of the larger corporations have better results than those of us relying on ICE for a connection. Those with their own server surely have better service than those of us waiting on ICE to turn on the juice and boost up the power.

Meanwhile we keep asking, “Lost Internet?”


Roach Motel

Be careful where you stay while in La Fortuna!

Recently we took a trip through La Fortuna because the bridge was out going to Playa Coco on the Caldera Highway. We stopped for dinner in a place in La Fortuna next to one of those tourist booths and for some reason took a shine to go in and ask for a hotel recommendation. We knew several of the hotels in the area as we have stayed at many in the past and thought we would just stay with one that we knew to be good again. Since we weren’t looking for a resort atmosphere and only there for a nights stay we thought we would take a shot at whatever the tour guy recommended. This was our first mistake.

He recommended a place called “Pura Vida” How bad could that be with a name that had such a strong name right? Wrong! We went to this place that was just 300 mtrs down the road and part of a chinese restaurant. The owner was very loud and very rude upon check in. This was our second mistake. We should have known better at check in and run before checking in.

Once we got in the rooms it was bad!! We had to leave immediately as I would not stay in the hotel nor let me my kids sleep in these conditions. When we arrived in the rooms I turned down the beds to check out the beds and that was my third mistake.

When we went back to the front desk to get a refund and leave the woman charged us for messing up the towel that was on the bed, for turning down the bed and for turning on the water in the sink so we ended up paying for one room out of the two that we had paid for originally upon check in but at that point we would have paid for both I think just to get out of that horrid place.

Moral to the story, be careful what recommendations you take from the tour guides in those kiosks. No matter how great they make them sound (and he did) they are usually not so great!

Oh and another thing, come to find out, the tour guide was making 20.00 on our reservation. That is a lot of money in Costa Rica. As we were driving away we saw him walking up the street to gather his commission. Can’t say as I would have wanted to be in his shoes that evening for the way that woman was yelling and screaming at us. I can only imagine how she would have lit into him for referring us to her place 🙁


Cows in Costa Rica

If you have ever driven to one of the volcano’s or the back roads to the beach you have probably encountered the cows in Costa Rica.

Imagine driving down the road, minding your own business, listening to your music, talking to your wife, husband, children and all of a sudden cows are running towards your car followed by a man screaming carrying a big long stick. It is a site that words cannot describe but one that you must see at least once in your life to consider it whole 🙂
Now you have cows in front of your car and behind you and you cannot move because cows have overtaken the road and the man with the big still is not making much progress with his yelling and stick waving but it is definitely fun to watch.

If you are lucky you got a picture of this like we did to send it home to your friends because no one is ever going to believe the story with out proof.