Thursday, July 28, 2016

Only in Canada EH! Pity!

The past few days I have been struck by the things that are so Costa Rican - I am sure many of them exist elsewhere in the world, but they are 'unique' to our experience here.

 Lunch watching the water crash on the rocks

 Offroading in the jungle

 Sunset over the Pacific Ocean

 Beets the size of softballs

 The weekly market

 Watching a rainstorm over the Pacific Ocean

Watching a 7' Iguana climb the fence while you are sipping your wine

Having morning coffee with your pet hummingbird and pet lizard (did you know hummingbirds chirp?  this one does a lot - we call him squeaky)

 Tropical floral arrangements from your own garden

Interesting birds who just stop by - this is an Oropendula

Monday, July 18, 2016


Sort of feels like this is a story about nothing - just our life as is unfolds.

10 days here have been filled with the bank, ICE for changes to the cell service, some legal stuff with the property taxes, and getting the Riteve (mechanical certification) on the RHINO.  Then there was the sorting of the media files, hooking up the AV stuff ok and such.

Then there is the catching up with friends - Jan and Sonya came by, as did Keith and Karen.  We went to Dean and Michelle's for a glass of wine, and Sebastian invited us for fish dinner (trying to keep his sanity as he is with Mila while Liz and Nolan are in Toronto).

Yesterday we went for a quad ride with Dean and Michelle - this is my first.  Yes I have driven the RHINO around the village, but this was up into the mountain to Pejibaye (a little town in the middle of the mountains).  A beautiful day (the first without rain) but the road was little more than a track, and there are many folks living up there - Ticos on farms and in little clusters of homes, and ex-pats with gated compounds.  Huge tracts of mud and ruts - steep and rocky and slippery.  It was great fun.

You drive a bit - stop and see the vista or a waterfall or interesting vegetation then drive some more.

Pejibaye is a real town - a soccer field, school, many businesses and restaurants, a supermercado etc.  We ate at the pizzeria - great pizza, thin crispy crust and fresh toppings - very yummy.

Then back - over two ridges and through valleys.  Celebrated a great day with beer at Nani's.

They often do this in large groups (16 or so)  Just the 4 of us was nice for a first time.

Good thing we did that yesterday - it was raining heavy before sunrise, and hasn't stopped all day - dropped in intensity this afternoon, but still like sitting in a cloud.  Is just clearing a bit - a hint of orange on the horizon as the sun sets.

The waterfall at Pavon - there is an egg shaped rock sitting in the middle of the crevice - the tree camp down recently in front of everything - great swimming hole!

 You can see our homes on the left side of the photo - just above the one tree that is sticking up

 great waterfall

 Lisle explaining something

Don't I look butch with my Quad!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Cloudy with a chance of . . . power outage

Arrived in Costa Rica on Friday - retirement 1 week and counting. 

We know Costa Rica is becoming ever more popular as a tourist destination, but the immigration hall was full and lines ups were down the passages to the jetways.  An hour and 45 minutes to clear immigration - 2 benefits - the officers were too stressed to ask anything, just stamp and go - no waiting for luggage, it was off the belt and in neat rows waiting for us.

Lisle was out ahead of me as he was in the "residents" line (that only took an hour), so he got the luggage, went through customs and called for the car from the storage lot.  When I got out we were only 10 minutes from being ready to go.  Landed at 12:20 - in the car at 2:30.

The drive was uneventful - not much traffic.  Nice to be in the heat and humidity.

Stopped in Uvita for basic supplies (dinner, wine and beer).  We called ahead and were told all good at the house - lights on as it was getting dark.  And dark it was - there was a power outage.  Unloaded the car with the help of the headlights - moved the groceries to the fridge - found candles with help of the cellphones - tuna and chickpeas for dinner - a glass of wine and bed - nothing else to do.

It had been raining since we arrived and on and off during the night - the morning was overcast - no rain, but heavy sky and heavy air.  Started unpacking.

Market (fish and vegetables), breakfast (omelettes at Sibu) and home for more unpacking, followed by pool, beer, dinner (fabulous tuna and wine), TV and bed - - - day 2 done.

Today is actually sunny - apparently the first sun in 2 weeks.  Friends have been by to welcome us home - more set up (almost done).

Now to figure out what to do with all this time!

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Next Chapter

Today is the end of one chapter and the turning of the page to the next.


And you know what they say . . .

Life's a Beach!

On our way to Ojochal - the best of life lays ahead!

Just watch!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Fruits of Our Labor!

One of the great things about life in the tropics is the fresh fruit and your ability to grow it in your backyard.

We have had success with pineapples.  They take forever to grow and you only get one fruit from the plant, but fresh like that is absolutely indescribable.

We also have the forever bearing hot pepper tree.  We actually can't keep up with it.

We have about 15 fruit trees around the property - various citrus, water apple, star fruit, avocado, mango - all planted about 4 years ago, and none with any fruit ever - - - but maybe there is hope - the lemon tree, and another citrus - likely lime - hooray!!!


Storm of the Century?

Lisle is in Ojochal at the moment, and we were chatting last night around 5.  He said it was really getting dark and starting to rain - low heavy clouds.

He texted shortly after that the power was out and the winds were crazy.

Something really dramatic happen -

reports of a tornado in the village - trees down all over

People still without power after 24 hours.

Lisle just shared photos of our property.

Giant trees from the valley behind us have crashed onto the lower area of the lot!

We have had trees fall before and the noise is outrageous, but Lisle said the storm was so intense he heard nothing.  He didn't know anything was wrong until he was standing at the kitchen window and thought the treeline looked odd - he went to look and found the mess - - fortunately no damage to the house!

Time for a chainsaw!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Al Banco

There are those things you avoid like the plague - here in Costa Rica, it is anything to do with the Bank.  Not that they are bad people - and routine stuff is simple, especially with the availability of internet banking - but having to do anything significant is very scary!

The saga starts in October 2014 when we had to renew our Canadian passports - new passport numbers!  Lisle updated his with the bank in November when we bought the car - mine is still the old one as I must be present to update it.

December 2014 we decided to get a Costa Rican lawyer.  That was simple enough, and through word of mouth and some due diligence we have landed in good hands.  A review of our corporations and Costa Rican assets resulted in some changes to how things were structured.  The lawyer set about to do that, but couldn't get it all done and registered before we returned to Canada in January.

So, arrive in June 2015, and visit the lawyer.  All is good, all is registered - we sign the books to make everything official and they issue the documents needed for the bank.  Part of the recommendations is moving bank accounts from one corporation to another (OMG! I think - perhaps easier to move assets around within the corporations!!)  Oh well - off to the bank.

Now, the banks in Costa Rica are very interested in knowing where your money is coming from - especially if it is from outside the country.  We are prepared for this, and have a reference letter from our Canadian bank, copies of bank statements (his, mine and ours) from 3 months prior, copies of pay stubs and out most recent investment statement.  The lawyer has also provided a reference letter.

On top of this are the Personerias for each corporation (documents notarized and stamped indicating we are who we say we are - owners of the corporation and recording our passport numbers).

So, Friday - from the lawyers to the bank. 10:50 am.  40 minute wait.  Abierto las cuenta aqui - cerrado las quentas aqui - she takes the documents and our passports and disappears for 15 minutes.  On her return, she tells us that the passport information on one of the documents is incorrect - no, it is fine - it doesn't help that my passport and Lisle's are only two digits apart - siete Danny - nueve Lisle - - aahh si! - - then it is that the one document was issued in February and is only good for 15 days - this is the corporation registration that is only for information - the Personeria is fine and current - by this time she is overwhelmed and fed up with our lack of spanish so tells us to come back on Monday and see her colleague who speaks english.  12:30pm!

Monday 9:00 am - the colleague is great - we start in spanish but she quickly move to english.  She understands what we are doing.  We walk through the documents.  She is happy with everything.  Only problem is that my passport isn't valid in the system - they need to update that first.  That needs to happen through the office in San Jose.  That will take a day to complete - maybe we can do more on Tuesday - she will call.  She bundles up all the documentation and hands it back to us.  I guess there is no such thing as opening a file for an action - all or nothing - we can do it or we can't.  10:00 am.

The call comes at 4:30 pm Monday - the system is updated!  Wow, something actually happened faster than expected - she really did ask them to rush and followed up.  We agree to continue on Tuesday afternoon.

Tuesday 12:40 pm  The bank is unusually quiet - in fact, we are the only clients there - along with 1 teller and 1 customer service rep (another one - this will be the third person involved).  We start the explanation - she remembers us from yesterday.  Open the account - great - - but first she has to go through all the information - she excuses herself and goes to the managers office - 15 minutes later she comes back and is good to go.  Now all the information and updates need to go into the computer.  The woman who helped yesterday returns from lunch.  We reach the point of actually opening the account - roadblock - this one can't do it - not on her computer - over to the helpful english speaking one.  She reviews all the paper - all the new information in the computer - adds the corporation - creates the account - cheques?  debit cards? token for internet?  Manager comes to authorize stuff.  She goes to the printer and comes back with reams of paper - approve updates, approve corporation set up, request of account, request for cheques, request for cards, contract with the bank.  Need to put money in to activate it - - can we transfer from the existing accounts? YES - - but there is no money in the account!  WHAT!?  there is thousands of dollars in the account!  Oh sorry - wrong account!  more paper, more signatures.  All done for now.  The debit cards will arrive tomorrow morning and then we can to the internet banking set up.  3:00 pm.

There is some humour in all of this - none of the Ticos can say Lisle's name.  Sure, lots of people in Toronto have trouble with it as well, but in Spanish they pronounce every letter - -so he is Lees-lay!  He corrected the woman, and she repeated the correct pronunciation.  That lasted about twice, and then he became Ly-lay - he didn't bother trying to fix it!

Wednesday 10:30 am  Number 3 is there and we get the cards and the PINs.  This all then needs to be registered in the system and activate the internet.  She goes to get the key and register it - everything needs the number generated by the key - over and over again.  Then I enter our PIN.  All done.  We go to the internet terminal in the branch and make sure the login works - success.  Go to the ATM to make sure we can get access - success.  11:30 am   We head for lunch and then home.  I log on to set up accounts to transfer funds to - this needs the bank to send a code to our email.  Although this was done at the bank, it tells me I need to set it up - but the website wont give me access - DAMN!

Thursday 9:00 am Number 1 is there.  I explain as best I can in Spanish that I cannot set up favorites because I cannot setup the email.  She checked the activation of the key - activated it again - had me change the PIN - call the support line - talked to Number 2 and Number 3.  Some more changes - constantly entering the next number from the key. Voila - the screen to enter the email and the cell number for texting.  Give it a try and we are great. 10:15 am.  Home to set things up.  Do all the steps and wait for the code - enter it from the email - fail!   Enter it again - fail!  Kicked out of the site - message - wait 4 hours - try again 4 hours later - success.

Quite the adventure - - - never difficult - - always convoluted - just time consuming.