Saturday, July 19, 2014

Higher-End Costa Rican Hotels and Restaurants Need a Quality Supplier

Costa Rica Thrives on Tourism

Costa Rica, among all the countries in Central America, makes a significant amount of its GDP from tourism. The government spends baskets of taxpayer money promoting the touristic attractions of the country of which there are many. Just witness the three-quarters of a million dollars they spent to attract new tourists with advertising during the 2014 World Cup tournament.
peachsuite logo


Supplementing Retirement Income by Catering to Tourists

As a result, many Ticos and gringos alike make their living or supplemental income by providing hospitality services including hotels, resorts, B&Bs and running restaurants and other tourist-related establishments. The lower end of these may get by with bedding, towels, linens, furniture, and supplies for the kitchen, office, bar and restaurant purchased locally. High-quality goods, especially commercial and specialty equipment, are hard to come by and if you find them, they are jaw-dropping expensive.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Costa Rica Cedula Renewal the Second Time Around - A Pleasant Surprise

Do You Hear What I Hear?

Sometime around the end of 2013, I started to faintly hear a giant sucking sound, which I soon identified as an impending residency cedula renewal event fast approaching. 

Costa Rican Residency ID card
That giant sucking sound of cedula renewal
If you've followed this blog for long, you may recall that we had completed our first renewal the middle of last summer, which makes it appear that Dec. should have been way too early to fret about renewal again. For all the bloody details, read about that first renewal, but the takeaway was that it consumed far more time than it should have, turned out all-right in the end, but left us a short window to the next renewal.

The Very First Time Through the Maze

In hindsight, our first renewal difficulty was rooted in our out-of-the-mainstream initial residency application and the procedural swamp that characterized Costa Rica's immigration process back in 2008.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

What Is Our Carbon Footprint in Costa Rica? Wish I Knew

Our Electric Bill - Should I be sad or glad?

As usually happens when I receive our monthly electricity bill, I feel a combination of consternation and satisfaction. Consternation because the bill is high, but satisfaction that our total kilowatt-hours for the month are a fraction of what we consumed in the States. The reason the bill is so high is simply because electricity is expensive in Costa Rica despite most of it coming from hydro or other renewable sources. On average, we pay about 26 US cents per KwH, compared to about 9 cents when we were in Oregon.

Calculating our Household Carbon Footprint

Anyway, the cost of electricity is beside the point. What I really wanted to know was if our apparent lower energy usage meant our carbon footprint was low enough that we might even be approaching carbon neutrality. In my dreams, right?

I chose three carbon footprint calculators off the first page of a Google search and ran each one. Not surprisingly I guess, there is almost no correlation by results between the three. Here's the final tally from the first one, hosted by The Nature Conservancy:

Final carbon footprint tally from Nature Conservancy
Nature Conservancy Calculator - Result for our 4-person household

Monday, May 19, 2014

The 2014 Huelga - Teachers Strike Enters 3rd 4th Week in Costa Rica

Update: June 2: The strike is all but over now. This afternoon the unions accepted an accord that apparently came from the government, but was delivered by the Catholic Church. The Education Ministry (MEP) will continue the provisional pay system until the permanent payroll systems is repaired.

As part of the agreement, the teachers maintained their regular vacation schedule, which means the schools can't use the usual two-week vacation in July to make up for the 4+ weeks that classes were canceled.

The week long Easter school break came later than usual this year, April 13th through the 20th. It's a nice break for us secularists near enough to the first trimester exams that Sean can do a little prep in between playing video games. However, exams never quite got going upon his return. Within two weeks, starting May 5th, all of Costa Rica's public school teachers went on strike and we are entering the 3rd week of no school now.

Large teacher's demonstration in San José, Costa Rica
Teachers demonstrating in San José
Costa Rica is no stranger to strikes, especially by public employees, but this one has been the biggest one in the six years we've been here and is having a wide reaching effect.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

A Late Birthday Gift or the Start of a Great Birthday Month?

Among my siblings, we have a tradition that we don't just celebrate each others' birth-days, but rather the birthday month. It's not so much a gesture of generosity as much as it is a nod to our shared tendency to procrastinate. Even we seem to be able to remember to send a card or gift if we have that extra 30 days to do it! Thus, I consider what happened this morning as an extension of my own birthday even though the actual date was yesterday, the 23rd.
presenting the birthday cake
Chocolate cake with vanilla icing.

If you read our Facebook page, then you know it was a remarkable 60th birthday for me. It started off with a scrumptious pancake and fresh fruit breakfast, time spent on a couple of personal projects, the planting of birthday trees and a wonderful social gathering of nearby friends and neighbors. In the midst of all that was a full double rainbow and an intensely luminous sunset.

Gorgeous bright red sunset
Sunset par excellence
This morning was business as usual, a quick coffee and getting Sean off to school and planning to take our car to the mechanic. From the downstairs patio, I heard some shuffling in the living room and saw that Tamara was trying to herd not one but two hummingbirds who had mistakenly flown through the open front door.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Contributing Factors to Alcoholism in Business Travelers and Expats

Stress, anxiety, loneliness and homesickness coupled with the ever present bar or pub are just a few key factors which cause some business travelers and expats alike to develop alcoholism. As someone who has extensively traveled for both work and pleasure throughout the world, I can fully attest to the reality of these pressures.  


The Risky Side of Traveling Business Assignments

Traveling for business, be it for short or long term, is not as great as it may seem. Let’s face it, going across the continent on extended flights means achy muscles, swollen ankles and jet lag. If you’re in a new environment where the local language is completely foreign to you, you’ll encounter a real life “Lost in Translation” experience. And of course, if you have a family back home, mixed emotions of loneliness, sadness or guilt may likely occur. 

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Find Your Way Around Costa Rica or Anywhere with Avenza's Geo-PDF Reader

OK, I admit I was first attracted to this Geospatial PDF stuff because 1) it’s geeky and 2) it’s free, free, free. Well, at least two frees, one for the Avenza PDF Maps app itself and another “free” for it being an Android app (it works as well for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch version 5), so I can use it on my generic tablet.

geospatial pdf map of western costa rica
Sample Geo-PDF map of W. Costa Rica
The reader is a terrific way for travelers to explore new terrain and share their finds with others. If you are an expat in a country where good maps are hard to find or expensive, or you like to get off the beaten path, Geospatial PDF is a boon.

What’s Geospatial PDF you say? Glad you asked. Wikipedia describes it thusly: 

“… a set of geospatial extensions to the Portable Document Format (PDF) that relate a region in the document page to a region in physical space …”  Plus a bunch of über-geeky junk about metadata, ISO 32000, blah, blah, blah.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Firm ranks Costa Rica amongst safest countries in Latin America

Firm ranks Costa Rica amongst safest countries in Latin America (via
March 25th, 2014 ( Consulting firm, FTI Consulting has published its 2014 Latin America Security Index, ranking Costa Rica as the safest country in Central America and one of the safest countries in the whole of Latin America.  …

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Rolled Truck Emerges, Its Future Unknown

My hapless '88 Mitsubishi pickup, which suffered a 200 foot roll into a ravine on the finca (under mysterious circumstances), was pulled out of the creek last week with a backhoe.

During the summer months, backhoes are in demand, fixing roads, cleaning up slides from the rainy season and loading dump trucks. This one belongs to a neighbor who has a small gravel, lastre, road equipment business down in San Ramón Sur. He's the guy with the backpack, not the operator. 

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