Welcome to our RetireForLessInCostaRica.com Newsletter!
In this issue:
- So, What’s Up with the Yeatmans? Our monthly update to answer the #1 question people ask us, “What do you DO all day?”
- Paul’s Monthly Tip to Live for Less in Costa Rica: Visiting the Dentist-Part 2
- 15 days
- Paul’s Monthly Weather Report
- Featured Article: Why retire outside of the U.S.?
- Featured Property: Two Homes for the Price of One! $129,000
- Real Estate Reminders
So, what’s up with the Yeatmans?
May was a month that can be summed up by three “C”s:
• Community involvement
• Celebration, and
• Chills (not the good kind)
As we mentioned in our last newsletter, Paul and I volunteered to help at the Community Action Alliance’s 2nd Annual Gran Venta de Libros (Used Book Sale) on Saturday, April 28th. It was a long, tiring day, but most of the work took place before we even walked into the door that morning. Hundreds of hours of labor over the weeks prior to the book sale were invested by volunteers who collected books, recruited volunteers, marketed the event, sorted the books and set them up. More than 50 volunteers worked tirelessly to pull off a successful event. And all of those hours paid off, as we raised approximately $4,200 (double the proceeds raised at our first book sale last November). 7,000 books were collected, about half of them in Spanish.
And to me, perhaps one of the most exciting of the statistics: 1,600 people attended, 80% of whom were Costa Rican. While Costa Rica isn’t a place where reading to children is part of the culture, there were lots of families with small children who came, and lots of high school and college students as well. Knowing that we were encouraging reading made the event especially meaningful for me as reading has been a love of mine from earliest childhood.
News of the Community Action Alliance’s work on the Gran Venta de Libros even made it into the U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica’s American Connections Spring 2012 newsletter. You can read the quarterly newsletter here: http://costarica.usembassy.gov/acsnewsletter.html.
To thank the volunteers as well as the special donors, and to present the checks to our two beneficiary organizations, the Action Alliance held a Gran Venta de Libros Appreciation Reception on May 26th at the Hogar para Ancianos de San Ramón. It gave the guests that day a chance to tour the home for the elderly. A couple of us joked that it might very well be our home one day in the future! We also had a chance to see the new solar hot water heating system just installed with part of the Hogar’s share of proceeds from the book sale. The system itself was donated by SOLRAY Centroamérica whose participation was the result of the work of the Action Alliance’s Development Committee. All in all, it was a special day.
Later that day, we joined our friends, Lorca and Robert, in celebrating their wedding anniversary. We suggested a restaurant in Palmares we had recently discovered. Good food, beautiful surroundings, and affordable prices…just the place for a special celebration. So we went for dinner and had an enjoyable time. It was their first time at this restaurant and at the end of the meal we were all talking about what we would order next time, in the hopefully not-too-distant future. On Sunday, we had a mostly quiet day. Paul and Robert went for their regular morning walk and then we spent the rest of the day just lying around.
On Monday, Paul was planning on helping a friend with a car problem but he woke up feeling sick, like he was coming down with the flu. By mid-morning, he was running a fever, he was nauseous, had chills, and his whole body ached. He just couldn’t get comfortable, no matter how his tossed and turned. I was feeling fine, but since I hadn’t had a flu shot, I was concerned I might catch whatever he caught. That’s when Paul mentioned that Robert hadn’t been feeling well on Sunday morning, and later that day, both he and Lorca were sick in bed. “Uh-oh. This doesn’t sound good,” I thought. And by about noon on Monday, sure enough, whatever it was had hit me too.
Without being graphic here, all four of us had the full range of flu-like symptoms. Yuck! Minutes passed like hours and hours like days. By Monday evening, I told Paul that this felt like the longest day of my life. And as bad as he felt, that made him laugh. Neither of us remembers feeling that bad for almost 10 years.
It’s now Thursday as I write this and we are much better, though not 100%. Was it the flu? Was it something we all touched or ate at the restaurant? Or was it something in the air that we all caught at the same time. I guess we’ll never know for sure, but I don’t see myself going back to that restaurant anytime soon. We wanted it to be a memorable evening for our friends, but really now, this was NOT what we had in mind!
We did manage to have a couple of beach days in May, though it turned out to be a rainy month. While the days were sunny and breezy, the water was a bit murky due to the heavy rains flowing downriver into the Gulf of Nicoya.
One constant at the beach is the presence of the beach dogs, mostly homeless, who hang out there. Visitors often toss them pieces of whatever they have, but some folks plan ahead, like our friend Lee. Just look at the smorgasbord and the happy dogs!
We ended up postponing our beach day scheduled for 5/31 because of three days of heavy rains. Now that the rainy season is in full swing, we’ll go to the beach when there’s been at least a day without rain down on the coast to ensure clearer water and more enjoyable swimming.
After hearing about her great experiences with her dentist, Paul asked our neighbor, Lisa, at the Cabinas to write a brief article for our newsletter.
Who’s Afraid of the Dentist Now?
By Lisa Kolber
My first encounter with Dra. Stephanie came when in June of last year I had a problem with a crown on a back molar. My dentist in Los Angeles had replaced the crown (twice) with temporaries that just “popped” off. After meeting with Dra. Stephanie, not only did I receive a temporary crown that was far superior to the temporaries produced by my LA dentist, but within a week I had a new crown for my molar, all at a cost of $330. I was also very impressed that when I was in her office, I was her sole focus. How different from being thrown into the dental “shell game” or “musical rooms” that many dentists in the US tend to use as their care template!
When I returned to Los Angeles to prepare for my move to San Ramon, I had to undergo a root canal (I have many dental issues!) For weeks after, I was still in pain, even though the dentist and the Endodontist who performed the root canal said everything looked as it should and that my pain would “calm down.” It didn’t. After settling in to my new Costa Rican home, I contacted Dra. Stephanie and briefed her on what had happened. She considered that I must have had an infection (from the root canal) and it had spread to the tooth next to it. I needed a re-do of the root canal not only in the first tooth, but the one next to it! Dra. Stephanie arranged for an Endodontist to come to San Ramon from San Jose to do the procedure. He arrived with two assistants, interviewed me, and performed the double root canals. The cost, $300 per tooth. Dra. Stephanie needed only to place permanent fillings, and the problem was resolved.
I have been very VERY impressed the high level of care I have received from both Dra. Stephanie Solis and her San Jose colleague, Endodontist Dr. Roberto Hernandez. I have happily recommended Dra. Stephanie to several friends. If it ever comes to it (and I hope it doesn’t again) I will be glad that I know about Dr. Roberto. And I know you might be wondering — Dra. Stephanie speaks perfect English. And so does Dr. Roberto!”
15 Days get 70% of the rainfall in Costa Rica. I find this statistic to be incredible. Let’s put it into perspective. The rainy season is approximately 200 days long, and here on our mountain at 3950 feet elevation, we get about 100 inches during those 200 days. But 70 inches of it fall on only 15 days. The other 185 days receive but 30 inches — days with just light rain, drizzle, or just threatening conditions, with no rain at all.
Take a look at the weather map to the right. You’ll notice that the Central Valley from San Jose to San Ramon gets about the same amount of rain: 60-80 inches over the course of the rainy season. Typically, April is considered a dry month, with a few inches of rain, but this year we had almost 12 inches! One might say, the rainy season started a month early and will exceed 200 days this year. Usually the rainy season doesn’t start until mid-May. This May was different — 16 inches — which is more than we typically get in our rainiest months, September and October.
To give you an idea of what one of our heavy rains is like, take a look at this brief video:
Paul’s Monthly Weather “Report” – May 2012 Data
- October 2011: 35 inches (normal 13-15 inches)
- November 2011: 5 inches
- December 2011: 2 inches
- January 2012: 0 inches
- February 2012: 0 inches
- March 2012: 0 inches
- April 2012: 11.9 inches
- May 2012: 16 inches
We took the temperature at 6am, mid-day, and 6pm daily, as well as rainfall totals for the previous 24 hours, measured at 6am. All temperature readings are taken in the shade (just like official meteorologists do). If taken in the sunshine, the temps are usually 8-10 degrees higher. You also have to take into account the altitude — the higher the elevation, the cooler the temps. It gets warmer by about 4-5 degrees per 1000 feet as you descend in elevation.
- 16 inches of total rainfall (3 inches fell on 5/14…probably one of those “15 days”)
- 6 days measured trace amounts of rain
- 5 days with zero rainfall
- 6am average: 63.85°f (lowest reading was 62°f on 4 days)
- Mid-day average: 74.7°f (high of 77°f on 7 days & low of 71°f on 1 day)
- 6pm average: 66.5°f (lowest reading was 63°f on 1 day and highest was 69°f on 1 day)
That’s it for this report. We’ll continue the weather info next month.
It all started with a comment I made to my husband, Paul, one afternoon. I said, “You know, I kind of envy you for all of the adventures you’ve had.” Paul lived in Mexico for three years while he was attending college at the University of the Americas. He always talked about those days as if they were yesterday…what it was like living in another culture, so different from our own here in the States.
He went there not knowing the language but he didn’t live in an English speaking expat enclave…he lived in a little town called Chulula on a dirt road at the outskirts of town. He shopped where the locals shopped, ate what they ate, and gradually learned to speak Spanish.
Five years ago, on our honeymoon (in Spanish, it’s called luna de miele), we returned to Mexico so that he could introduce me to the places and the people that had made such an impact on him thirty years ago. I was impressed by how welcoming and kind the locals were to us, and was sad to leave it all behind and return home.
Since we met and married later in life (I’m 50 and Paul’s 60), we, like many other Baby Boomers, have been talking about retirement…saving for it, planning for it, and trying to figure out ways to make our savings last and, when we start receiving them, to stretch our Social Security benefits.We live in the Mid-Atlantic, so we started to think about other American cities that might be less expensive, maybe in South Carolina or Tennessee. We started reading magazines dedicated to retirement living, and talking to people about their own plans for retirement.
And then I made “the comment” – all of a sudden we started talking about retiring someplace else. Someplace where we could both feel a sense of adventure, and where, at the same time, there is a lower cost of living. Mexico immediately came to mind! I surprised myself, that I was really considering living in another country, another culture, and altering our lives so drastically. After all, we both LOVE our life together. We love our house, our friends, and having family nearby. We love taking advantage of all the cultural offerings in our area. So why change anything?
Our retirement research then took a new direction. We visited our local Barnes & Noble and spent some time in the travel section. We found a book called, Choose Mexico for Retirement, and nearby, another book called, Choose Costa Rica for Retirement. They were both Latin countries (so Paul knew the language, at least enough to get us by), and we knew that Americans were retiring in both places. I had visited Costa Rica very briefly back in the late 90s and always wanted to go back, so it seemed another natural place to start. We bought both books and started reading. What comes next, though, is for another day, another Blog post.
I have to admit, the thought of living and retiring in another country is still a little scary, but it’s exciting at the same time. I like the idea, at this point in my life, of reinventing myself…doing something so totally different than anything I’ve done before. I like the idea of new challenges and learning a new language. I don’t think I would have the courage to do it alone, but together…I’m ready for a little adventure!
Area: 1700 m2
• Covered Parking
• Incredible Views
• Split Level
We recently visited this property and took some additional photos of the grounds and building interiors. (You can see the rest of the photos by clicking here.) These two houses are a great deal and have incredible mountain, Gulf of Nicoya, and Pacific views. The houses sit 1 km. off of a paved road and you’ll need a 4-wheel drive for all-year access.
Real Estate Reminders
Facebook, Twitter, & YouTube
That’s all for this month, but we’ll be back in touch soon! If you enjoy our newsletter, please share it with your friends. We hope to see you online!
Gloria & Paul Yeatman
San Ramon de Alajuela, Costa Rica