Welcome to our RetireForLessInCostaRica.com Newsletter!
In this month’s 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: The Gold Card-Don’t Leave Home Without It!
- Paul’s Monthly Weather “Report”
- Where to Stay Near Puntarenas – Oasis by the Sea Bed & Breakfast
- Feature Article: The 5 Reason Why We Still Choose San Ramon
It’s amazing how quickly November flew by after the long and wet month of October. The sun is shining again, the change of seasons has brought the breezes, and our front door and windows are wide open again. Costa Rican “summer” is on its way!
Raising Money for Two Good Causes
We were busy with the Community Action Alliance the first part of the month preparing for the Gran Venta de Libros Used Book Sale Fundraiser on November 12th. It benefited the San Ramon Cruz Roja (Red Cross) & DOGLAND, a local dog rescue center caring for over 170 dogs. Not only did we raise a total of $2,235 to be split between our two beneficiaries, we made a lot of people happy.
Most of the books were in English but we had some written in Spanish as well. We didn’t know how many local Ticos would come, thinking that our audience would primarily be native English speakers. Boy, were we pleasantly surprised! I’d guess that about 70% of the people who attended were Ticos! They purchased both the Spanish and English language books, but next time we’ll make a concerted effort to have more books written in Spanish.
We held the event at the newly renovated and reopened Museo Regional de San Ramón which is operated by the University of Costa Rica, which has a campus here in San Ramon.
You can find out more info and see photos from the book sale on the Community Action Alliance website. I (Gloria) created the website and keep it up to date (on a volunteer basis), so I was also busy after the fundraiser.
And here’s one more photo from the day of the Book Sale. That’s our friend and consultant, Adrian, on the left and on the right is…wait a minute, who IS that? From the nose up, it looks like by hubby, Paul. But from the nose down? That’s somebody totally new! That’s “Diego, mi novio” (my boyfriend). Or at least that’s how I now introduce him to people.
Yes, after 40 years with a beard, Paul decided to shave it. The morning before this photo was taken, Paul went in for a beard trim and decided to shave it all off. I must confess, he had been thinking and talking about it for a while. The man that emerged looked totally different from the man I married!
I have to say, it hasn’t been an easy adjustment. That first night as we were getting ready for bed, I felt a little funny when this “other man” walked in the bedroom. It took several days just to make the connection that this face belonged with that voice, the voice I’ve always known and loved.
It’s even been hard for Paul/Diego. Though he admits he’s “never met a mirror he didn’t like,” he now looks at his face even MORE often. I can’t blame him, thought, the difference is so dramatic that there is a bit of an identity crisis going on for him. He likes that people say it makes him look younger (and I would agree), but his beard was so much a part of him…
The jury is still out about whether he will grow it back, white though it will be, or keep shaving. My vote…well, I’ve always liked a man with facial hair! And if he decides to stay clean-shaven, I guess I could always crochet one of these for him:
Just because we aren’t living in the U.S., doesn’t mean that we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving. We shared the holiday this year with friends – some old, some new, some from the U.S., some Tico, and maybe even a Canadian or two sprinkled in. There were three dogs and two tiny new puppies, plus a brand new baby girl to add to the fun.
We had all of the traditional foods like turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and even cranberry sauce. And for dessert, there was apply pie, “almost” pumpkin pie, and a couple of decadent cakes. We ate at the rancho here at the cabinas, and even had a television set up so the guys wouldn’t miss any of the football games throughout the afternoon. And to top off a wonderful day, Paul’s Baltimore Ravens even won against the SF 49ers!
Paul and I are so thankful that we have our health, our families and friends, both in the U.S. and here in Costa Rica. We are grateful that we took a chance back in 2009 and made the big move to live in another country, and we are so happy that we chose Costa Rica. We love it here and try not to let a day go by without gratitude for some aspect of our lives.
While we miss some things about living in the U.S. — seeing family and friends more often, Friday night dinners at the Szechuan House, weekly trips to Trader Joe’s — we have adjusted to our new lives here in the tropics and have never regretted our move.
We are thankful that the people of Costa Rica, and especially of San Ramon, have accepted us and made us feel so welcome. We are thankful for the new friends we have made here. There is bond among expats, as we’ve all been through similar struggles in making the move, but some friendships go beyond that. We have met people who just seemed to “click” with us, and us with them. They know who they are. Thank you for your friendship and support.
We are thankful we have such a great place to live, and for the management and staff at the cabinas who take care of our needs every day.
We are grateful for the joy our two little cats, Tori and Laura, bring into our lives every day, and for the softness and warmth they bring us each evening.
We are thankful, so thankful, that we have affordable healthcare here in Costa Rica. It is a very freeing feeling.
Mostly, we are thankful for each other…though we met later in life, we try to appreciate and enjoy every day together.
So in the spirit of thanksgiving, and of learning to live in a Spanish-speaking culture, we offer you the following video so you can learn some Thanksgiving Spanish vocabulary and phrases, courtesy of Visual Link Spanish. For more information and to buy Visual Link Spanish, click the icon on any page of our website, or just click here.
Paul’s Monthly Tip to Live for Less in Costa Rica: The Gold Card-Don’t Leave Home Without It!
In Costa Rica, everywhere you go, Ciudadanos de Oro (golden citizens) are given special treatment. If you are over 65 years old and a legal resident of Costa Rica, you qualify to receive the “Gold Card.”
In 1997, Costa Rica established the Ciudadanos de Oro Program to create a culture of dignity and respect for the elderly. All citizens and residents, whether insured or not through the CCSS (Social Security), can request a free citizen’s gold card. The Costa Rican government made it official, but the culture has always held seniors in high esteem. With the gold card, we seniors are given preferential treatment by public institutions such as outpatient care facilities, medical support services, pharmacies, laboratories, hospitals, transportation, and administrative services.
The public bus system is just one of the public services. Gold card holders receive discounts on private, intercity buses and can ride the local buses for FREE! Although it’s cheap to ride to town on the local bus (35 cents each way for us) if you do it every day, the savings add up. So leave the car at home, use less gas, and ride the bus for free. Pretty good deal!
There are even more ways to save money with your gold card. The CCSS has made arrangements with more than 5,000 retail outlets to give discounts to card holders. For example, at one of our local food stores, PeriMercado, I get 5% off the total bill each time I shop. This 5% is on top of any sales they may have. We make a point to go every Tuesday, a big sale day. We buy chicken, shrimp, and other meats at up to 50% off, plus the extra 5% for gold card holders.
The CCSS has also signed agreements with the Ministry of Culture and Sports, museums, parks, airlines, travel agencies, spas, resorts, hotels, and restaurants to offer discounts. In addition, free exercise classes are provided by the University of Costa Rica, with a free physical to determine your fitness for the program.
So, if you are 65 or older and take advantage of these discounts, you can save a lot of money, with a side benefit of interacting more with the culture. Don’t leave home without it!
Let’s see what happened on our mountain at 3950 feet elevation, four miles west of San Ramon. As you will see, the amount of rainfall decreased dramatically in the month of November. November is also the beginning of the “Christmas winds” which herald the transition to the dry season.
We took the temperature at 6am, mid-day, and 6pm daily, as well as rainfall totals for the previous 24 hours, measured at 6am. As a reminder, only 15 days of the rainy season provide 70% of the total annual rainfall.
Rain Data from November 1st to November 30th (30 days)
- 5.4 inches of total rainfall (compared to 35+ inches in October)
- The wettest days were November 2nd, with 1.5″ and the 13th with 1″ of rainfall
- 19 days measured 0 or trace amounts of rain
- 9 days measured more than “trace” but less than 1″ of rain
- 6am average: 61.4°f (lowest reading was 57°f)
- Mid-day average: 70.3°f (77°f was the highest on 2 days, and the lowest mid-day high was 66°f on two days)
- 6pm average: 63.5°f (lowest reading was 60°f)
November was a mix of cloudy and sunny days. It’s usually about 5 degrees warmer in the town of San Ramon. That’s it for this report. We’ll continue the weather info next month.
by Rob & Deb Klipper
We are Rob and Deb Klipper, retired to Costa Rica in 2003. Rob retired from the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, Texas as a Senior Research Assistant in Radiology. Deb left a teaching career in middle school Special Education in San Antonio. Following a 3 week vacation in Costa Rica in 2002, we KNEW we wanted to move here.
We know the good, the bad, and the not so pretty parts of Costa Rica living. We know what it takes to be successful here. If you are traveling to Costa Rica to check out the possibility of retirement, we are happy to share our story, answer your questions and provide any guidance on your quest.
You are welcomed into our home as a friend would be. Your accommodations are in our home, not in a separate cabin. Our main goal is to provide a tranquil, home-like, resting place during your vacation. We are off the touristy beaten path, in a Costa Rican agricultural area, 7 km. outside of Esparza – the 2nd oldest town in Costa Rica – in the Province of Puntarenas.
Featured Article – The 5 Reasons Why We Still Choose San Ramon
Last newsletter we covered the 10 reasons we chose San Ramon de Alajuela. If you haven’t read it yet, here’s a quick summary:
- Reason #1: It’s still a real Tico town.
- Reason #2: It’s convenient to the airport.
- Reason #3: It’s convenient to the beach.
- Reason #4: It’s convenient to good hospitals.
- Reason #5: We don’t need heat or air conditioning.
- Reason #6: Lots of volunteer opportunities and chances for community involvement.
- Reason #7: It has wide streets.
- Reason #8: It has a mall.
- Reason #9: It’s convenient to San Jose.
- Reason #10: It’s a University town.
We are happy to say that all of these reasons are still valid. To know San Ramon is to love it. Now, going on three years of living in San Ramon, we have a few more things to add to the list. So here are the reasons we still choose San Ramon as our “home town.”
Reason #1: It’s still a real Tico town. That’s what we were looking for, and that’s what we still love. We know we mentioned this reason the first time around, but it bears repeating and some clarification. San Ramon is not over-run with Gringos, the traditions & customs are unchanged from years ago, and the culture is still intact. We may have underestimated the number of Gringos in San Ramon last newsletter. Some estimates say that there are 300-400, not 200, in the greater San Ramon area. Even so, the ratio of Ticos to Gringos is still incredible. The town of San Ramon is only 1.29 kilometers square and has a population just under 14,000 people, however, more than 82,000 Ticos live in and around San Ramon and use it as their principle town for shopping.
Reason #2: Where we live – the Cabinas. We love where we live! It’s beautiful and green, primordial, and so different from anywhere we’ve ever lived before. It’s like living in the jungle but it’s just 10 minutes from town. And renting here is easy, with Cesar, Tali and Deyanira looking after our needs. Everything included in the rent so we don’t have the hassle of dealing with a lot of the day-to-day challenges — though the challenges are few, and the pleasures are many. Just click here to watch the video we made on our front porch.
Reason #3: San Ramon has a great feria (farmers’ market), held on Friday afternoons and Saturday mornings. We frequent the feria to buy fresh flowers, just-picked fruits and vegetables, produce, meats and more from family-run local businesses. You can find most of the familiar items you’re used to, and if you are more adventurous, you can try some of the unfamiliar tropical offerings like guayaba, pejibaye, and mamones chinos.
Reason #4: There are lots of opportunities to volunteer and make a difference in the community. Many of these opportunities have been through initiatives of the Community Action Alliance which is dedicated to
helping Expats integrate into the local community, volunteering, and trying to make San Ramon a better, safer, more prosperous town. A great example of all of these things is the Used Book Sale we held in November (see above).
Through our work with the Alliance, Gloria and I are working on the micro-level, while other members & committees of the Alliance are working on the macro-level, building relationships with local movers and shakers, other community groups, and the American Embassy. But whatever your interests, there are ways to be useful in the community. Many English-speaking Expats serve as native language speakers, helping the local teachers with students trying to prepare for better jobs by learning English. Other Expats volunteer at the local orphanage; they play with the children, engage them in fun projects, and provide groceries and other assistance. And still others volunteer with the local recycling center, teach in the local schools, and raise money for the schools to buy new equipment.
Reason #5: These last two years and eight months In San Ramon, we have established some of the best relationships of our lives. We have met some wonderful people, both Expats and Ticos, as well as people from other parts of the world, and it just keeps getting better and better. Our social life is almost too busy, between going to the beach two or three times a month, to having dinner with friends either on our porch or at their homes, to concerts, art exhibits, & cultural activities in town.
Daily interactions are so personalized here. When the battery in my watch needs to be replaced, I go to see Hector at the relojaria (watch shop), walk next door to Optica Rosan and ask Gladys to adjust my glasses, then walk a block to the Parque Central to have an ice cream cone and visit with the local Costa Rican pensionados (retirees). And when it’s time to make our monthly donation to the Cruz Roja (Red Cross) – over 5,000 families in San Ramon canton have made a monthly pledge – Alejandro comes by on his motorcycle to personally collect it. We even get visits from the traveling nurse from our local clinic when it’s time to get our yearly flu shots. He also comes by motorcycle with the flu vaccines in a small cooler attached to the back. Once in a while we’ll run into our dentist, Dr. Patricia, on the street and greet each other with a hug and kiss on the cheek. And just about every day we interact with Talí, the gardener at the cabinas, who has become a friend.
We pinch ourselves everyday over our good fortune to have this great, exciting, beautiful, and fulfilling Expat life. Yes, it’s been the people! ALL OF YOU who have made our dreams come true beyond our wildest expectations. THANK YOU ALL!!!
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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