by Gordon & Bea Stanley
We are planning to move to Costa Rica this fall after I retire at the end of August. This was our second trip to continue investigating where we want to be.
I had just bought a used Blackberry (my first cell phone at age 64!), and needed a SIM card for Costa Rica. Our flight arrived at 10:00pm so, by the time we got our baggage picked up and were almost through customs, it was well past 10:30pm. As we passed by the Kolbi phone kiosk, it was closed. Since we were staying at a nearby hotel, I figured I would just slip back to the airport in the morning when everything was open. When we got back there the next day we entered from the exit, as the Kolbi kiosk was just around the corner from the final luggage check. The security officer wasn’t too eager to grant me access until I showed him by passport to prove it was “after hours” that we arrived. So it really wasn’t a big deal, just something others need to be aware of if it is their first trip.
We spent the next couple of nights at the Casa Amanecer B&B while we snooped around San Ramón some more. We had spent a couple of nights there last year on our trip and had really enjoyed it. Helen, the manager, is a really great gal and we would certainly recommend her place to anyone! Saturday night we had the pleasure to stay with Paul and Gloria at their house and really enjoyed their friendship and hospitality.
On Sunday and Monday, we had reservations at the Vista Valverde B&B as we had stayed there one night last year during George Lundquist’s tour. On this trip, we had rented a small Kia car, and would recommend to anyone planning to tour around the country to get something bigger, as our little buggy didn’t have very much clearance. We had forgotten the narrow winding road up to the B&B after you turn off the main road! Four-wheel-drive would have been a plus! But the views from the top are just spectacular and the hostess is fantastic.
On Monday, we had to take a trip into San Jose. We are in the process of applying for residency in Costa Rica and had an appointment with Mayanye from Residency in Costa Rica for fingerprinting and to meet with the lawyer. We were advised in advance to take a taxi into the city as there was no parking near our meeting place, and also because driving in the city can be “fun.” So, we drove as far as the airport and then took a taxi the rest of the way. I’m glad we did, even with a G.P.S. in the car! The appointment with Mayanye went well. She had everything lined up for us and in no time at all we were finished with finger printing and on the way to the lawyer’s office. As we didn’t have our retirement pension benefits paperwork with us, the time with the lawyer was slightly shorter than normal, but I must say the whole process with Mayanye went very smoothly and was quick. After having gone through finger printing at airports where you just place you fingers on an electronic pad, it seemed like a step back in time to use the black ink pads that you roll on fingers across, but one must remember “we’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto!”
On Tuesday, we headed to the coast and drove down to Quepos. Of course, we had to stop at the “crocodile bridge” (aka, the bridge over the Tárcoles River) and check out “those snappers” in the river below and along the banks. We found that interesting, as we had never seen crocodiles in the wild before – if you can call that “in the wild.” That evening, as we were relaxing by the pool in the hotel, all of a sudden we could hear a bunch of drums playing outside. When we went out, we found a group of drummers and dancers performing on the raised embankment between the street and the beach. It went on for close to 2 hours, so we got treated to some great entertainment. It was, however, nice when they stopped as you once again realized how pleasant silence can be after standing in the vicinity of some huge speakers!
On Wednesday, we had a tour of Manuel Antonio Park, and got to see lots of smaller wildlife, thanks to our guide’s telescope! It was a great little tour and we enjoyed some refreshing coconut water right from the coconut at the end of the tour. From there we drove up to San Isidro De General where we met up with some folks from our neck of the woods back in Canada who have a winter home there. We spent Thursday with them and, then Friday, headed back to the coast to Esterillos Este, where we would be meeting with a group of “Retire for Less” friends for a beach day on Saturday. We stayed at an awesome little hotel, “The Pellicano,” for two nights and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves – a fantastic strip of beach and met a great bunch of people as a bonus!
From there it was back to San Ramón for two days where we checked some rental houses that were on the market at the time to give us an idea of what kind of places are available and at what price. Then, Wednesday morning, bright and early, it was off to the airport so we could come back home to “enjoy” some -40C weather the following weekend! Arrrrrgh! Come on retirement time!
So, as a result of the trip, we are still liking San Ramón (& area) as a place to initially settle. Why? Several things: San Ramón is fairly level, which means easy walking for anyone with bad knees. (Can anyone else relate?) We also like the idea of the college being there for access to all the things available there, and the Community Action Alliance which gives one opportunity to easily get involved with the folks in the area. And last, but not least, we love the temperature. As much as we both love the ocean and have always said we want to retire by the water, that certainly won’t be the case in CR! Bottom line – watch out, San Ramón, we’ll be heading your way this fall, after the disposing of lots of “stuff”! (more Arrrrrgh!)