When you visit the grocery store in Costa Rica—perhaps you should leave your expectations at the door. You'll discover many products here that you wouldn't expect…and products you're familiar with that are packaged and presented in unfamiliar ways. That's why grocery shopping in Costa Rica can be an adventure!
As a 71-year-old, retired from careers in education and real estate, I have always worked within a strict budget. It’s no different here. We have no expenses for heat or air conditioning, because the temperature is always between 65 F and 85 F. The electricity we use runs about $50 a month. I pay $75 a month for internet and another $50 a month for TV and cable. Our cellphones cost us $140 a month, because we do make quite a few international calls.
When I was a kid, the only food trucks around were seedy jalopies parked outside construction sites. But today, they're everywhere. Food trucks have become a part of the new meal culture. There are TV shows devoted to them; they are given as prizes… There are even food truck races!
I am resigned to the fact that, as I get older, my body will react to its long-term usage. Things will give out. Parts will need to be replaced. Tune-ups will have their own section of my calendar. I have gone way beyond the youthful need of a gynecologist, to seeing every “ist” known to man: dermatologist, cardiologist, orthopedist, internist, and dentist. And with the dentist, my story takes a turn.
Costa Rica continues to grab headlines around the world. It's been called the happiest place on earth...the world's number one place to retire... But this small nation of 4.8 million people is not content to rest on its laurels. Costa Rica has set itself a new, ambitious goal for the next few years: to become carbon neutral by 2021, and hence the first country in the world to achieve this.
While the country's tourist industry is booming, those of us who live here know that, beyond those exquisite resorts and fine hotels, Costa Rica is still a developing country. And so, there are plenty of opportunities for expats to help out their local communities if this is important to you.
Costa Rica is full of surprises. It is not an island, though some folks seem to think so. And though it is famed for its beaches, the majority of the country is mountainous. The numerous microclimates allow for incredible changes in ecosystems—often just minutes apart. From super-sunny ocean shorelines to volcanic crater lakes; from eerie cloud forests to patchwork farmlands; from towering cascading waterfalls to flatlands full of pineapples.
The little community of Los Pargos is in Play Negra, about a 40-minute drive south of my home base in Tamarindo. Negra is a surfers' paradise, renowned for its waves. But the community that's settled here numbers only a few hundred—with expats from all over the world, who've come to enjoy the water.
Barely one month after my 59th birthday, I traveled solo to Costa Rica. My plan was to try living there for a year…immerse myself in the culture…then decide what I would do next with my life.
I was contacted by a couple from Oregon who told me they had just listened to the talks I gave at one of International Living's Fast Track Costa Rica conferences. Tim and Camille said they would be visiting "Ticolandia" on an information-gathering trip, and wanted to know if I would be willing to meet them for lunch. I agreed.