Dec 14 2014

Retire for Less Newsletter – December 15, 2014

Welcome to our Newsletter!

Paul and Gloria

Paul and Gloria

In This Issue:

NOTE: This newsletter had so much content, we broke it into two parts and we’ll send part two out on the 18th.




In the Mailbag

Our newsletters and posts generate lots of discussion, on our website, in emails, and on facebook. Here is a great comment from one of our readers, and it’s just in time for the holiday giving season.

From P.E.H.:

Enjoyed your 6 December newsletter [as usual]…

I read with interest the Community Action Alliance newsletter…The charitable work is impressive and there may be those of us ‘outside’ who would be interested in donating money to things like the toy drive and other causes. Given the uncertainty of mail/package deliveries to Ticolandia, is there a PayPal site that could accommodate cash contributions? If not, there should be!

Hi P.E.H.,

Thanks so much for your email. There is in fact a way for friends in the States, Canada, or anywhere else for that matter, to donate to the work of the Alliance. There are currently two projects of the Community Action Alliance that folks can contribute to on-line and both are tax deductible in the U.S.

CAAScholarshipStudents2014Student Scholarship Program through Global Giving

This project will provide school supplies, uniforms, and shoes to up to sixty financially needy but academically motivated and successful children in San Ramon. Education offers an opportunity for these children to escape a lifetime of poverty, drugs, gang violence, and crime. Without help, these children will not attend public school and the cycle of poverty will continue.

Assistance is provided through vouchers (not cash) redeemable for approved school supplies and uniforms at partnering retail stores that offer discounted pricing. Satisfactory academic scores, attendance, and teacher’s nomination are necessary for multi-year eligibility. You can get all of the details at this link.

Tree SnipAnimal Welfare Giving Tree

In 2014, the Animal Welfare Committee raised over $10,000 and spayed/neutered more than 400 street dogs (and a few cats), as well as providing emergency veterinary care, and fostering litters born on the streets.

This funding opportunity is more time sensitive since it only goes through December 31st and will determine their budget for the entire year, so any donation would be a huge helpWe hope you’ll buy a decoration and leave a personal message below the Giving Tree, which will stay decorated throughout the coming year! Your donation can be paid through Pay Pal or through mailing a check to the foundation address.  Here are all the details



“And That’s the High”


Mom & Me, Circa 1980

by Paul

My mother had a saying that’s oh so true, and one this thwarted weatherman took to heart many years ago. Every day, when I write down the high and low temps, I think of my mother. I can plainly hear her voice, reminding me, “And that’s the high,” or “And that’s the low.”

Our exchange would go something like this:

“Mom, it sure is hot outside. I’ll bet it will be 90° today.” Or,
“Mom, it was sure hot today. The meteorologist, Bob Turk on WJZ said it was 90°!”
Baltimore's Bob Turk, WJZ TV Meteorologist

Baltimore’s Bob Turk, WJZ TV Meteorologist



Mom’s reply was always the same:

“And that’s the high.”


Which meant that it may have reached 90° for a second, a moment, a minute, but it was less than that for most of the day as it made its way to 90° F. After all, in Baltimore, in the mornings on a hot day, it might be in the high 60s, 70s or 80s, with afternoons maybe between 85° F and 90° F. Of course, she was right.

Mom, Circa 1929

Mom, Circa 1929

So, when you read the highs and lows on our monthly weather report for our 5 towns in Costa Rica, first look at the diurnal range — that is, the spread between the lows and the highs, and realize that most of the time the temps are not at the high or the low, but somewhere in between, with temps heading up in the morning and temps heading down in late afternoon and evening.

I can still hear my mother now, and imagine our conversation.

“Mom, it’s your son. I’m older now and still interested in the weather, just like when I was a kid. And I haven’t forgotten your advice. Yes, Mom. It will be 80° in San Ramón de Alajuela today, and that’ll probably be the high. And it was 60° this morning, Mom. Yes, Mom, that was the low. And most of the time it was above 60° and below 80°.
Okay Mom, I hear ya’ – And that’s the high.”



Monthly Weather Report for San Ramón, Atenas, Nuevo Arenal, Quepos, & Near San Isidro de General – November 2014

Costa Rica Rainfall Map

Click to enlarge.

We teased you in our last newsletter by announcing that we’ve added another town and weatherman but wouldn’t tell you where and who. Well, no more secrets!

We are happy to announce that our newest weatherman is our friend, Gordon Stanley who, along with his lovely wife, Bea,  just moved to Quebradas — a 15 minute drive north of San Isidro de General, at an elevation of about 3600 feet. You can read his full bio below, but one thing it doesn’t say is that Gordon is one of the funniest guys we know. He tracked the weather back home in Lloydminster, Alberta, Canada, but there it was “the correlation of the winter hoer frost and the spring/summer rains” — and somewhat cooler temperatures too! Welcome to the Retire for Less team of weathermen, Gordon!

You’ll notice that we show rainfall and temperatures for five towns in Costa Rica. This isn’t weather forecasting. We report after the fact to give you a much better picture of the weather in each of these areas.

You can click on the map to the right to enlarge it and check out the average rainfall for the towns you are interested in. Remember that the areas shaded in darker blue tend to be higher and also the places most expats choose to live.

Paul’s San Ramón Observations, Facts, & Tidbits for November:

  • November is a big transition month weather-wise. November is cooler, the sun is heading south 21.5 degrees to the Tropic of Capricorn, before heading north again on December 22nd. In fact, Gloria’s birthday is December 21st, the shortest day/longest night of the year.
  • We got less than 1.8 inches of rain in November but it seemed like more because it was cloudy a lot. We can already feel the decrease in humidity.
  • Most of our rain came in September and October – that’s 87.5 inches in just two months!
  • Have no fear, it is Costa Rica and still in the 90s at the beach as you can see from Lance Miller’s report below.
  • Unlike Nicaragua, San Ramón and Costa Rica are not colonial at all. You can read why in our article, “Were Costa Ricans Always Pura Vida? — Where History Meets the Movies”
  • Total rainfall in 2013 was 110.95 inches in our area of San Ramón. 2014 rainfall-to-date is 119.22 inches.

Lance T’s Atenas Observations, Facts, & Tidbits for November:

  • The weather in November has definitely signaled the onset of the dry season in Atenas. Total rainfall during the month was significantly less than October.
  • Towards the end of the month, daytime high temperatures were accompanied by breezy conditions and progressively decreasing humidity – all of which is symptomatic of the dry season.
  • In the next two or three months, we (Diana and I) expect that some of the lush greenery will begin to turn brown. But, with the assurance that everything will turn green once again, we like this a lot more than months of barren, white vistas and rain, snow and ice storms which are symptomatic of winters in many parts of Canada and the USA.
  • Meanwhile, our orange tree which produces oranges year round will somehow maintain its defence to the dry season. It will keep its green leaves and continue to produce oranges throughout the dry season.
  • Total rainfall in 2013 was 63.84 inches in our area of Atenas. 2014 rainfall-to-date is 73.52 inches.

John’s Nuevo Arenal Observations, Facts, & Tidbits for November:

  • For the first time, two pairs of Orange-Billed Sparrows appeared at our bird feeders.
  • All of the birds are returning en masse and they will be with us through next March.
  • Total rainfall in 2013 was 164.75 inches in our area of Nuevo Arenal. 2014 rainfall-to-date is 164.70 inches.

Lance M’s Central Pacific Observations, Facts, & Tidbits for November:

  • November is a special month for people from the US as it is a time to give thanks for all that we have. We were invited to a Thanksgiving dinner held at a restaurant that is managed by an American couple. There were expats from around the world there to help us celebrate a traditional feast. Everyone had a great time and, as always, left stuffed like the turkey was.
  • Our weather has started to change as we are only getting some rainy days off and on.
  • We have a box garden at the north side of the house and the vegetables we planted have really began to grow since the weather has changed. I have also planted some papaya trees which are beginning to grow.
  • To add a little challenge to everyone’s driving in Quepos, they changed some of the streets from two way to one way over night with no notice. There is always surprises waiting around the corner no matter where one lives.
  • To everyone have a Happy and Safe Holiday Season!Map_Quepos_SanIsidro
  • The Quepos area of the Central Pacific can receive up to 140 inches of rain per year.  2014 rainfall-to-date is 71.16 inches (as of February 2014).

Gordon’s Quebradas (San Isidro de General) Observations, Facts, & Tidbits for November:

  • At 3600 foot altitude we get lots of rain. Although much less than last month, we still got 19.5″ in November.
  • The good news is that we had 12 days with no rain, compared to rain every day in October.
  • And the even better news is that what ever we get beats the heck out of what Alberta, Canada is getting right now!
  • And to top it all off, we bought a vehicle last week, so we have a new-found freedom on top of our retirement freedom. Pura Vida!
Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge




Our San Ramón Weatherman, Paul Yeatman

Meteorology has been Paul’s lifelong hobby.  As a child, he devoured books about the weather and earth sciences vigorously. Later, he took a few college courses in meteorology, and still later, he served as a meteorologist for the U.S. Army in Vietnam.  Now, Paul gets to practice his avocation in Costa Rica, albeit on a very small scale with just temperature and rainfall data, probably the two most important factors regarding the weather. He wanted to include weather info on our website to help people decide where to live, although weather is just one of many factors to consider in determining where to relocate. Current weather data is from our current home at about 3,000 ft. elevation and 10 minutes outside the town of San Ramón. Weather data prior to December 2012 is from our previous home at about 4,000 ft. elevation and 10 minutes outside the town of San Ramón.

Our Atenas Weatherman, Lance Turlock

Lance and his wife, Diana, moved to Costa Rica about 2 years ago after living 30+ years in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia (Vancouver and environs). They live in the Central Valley near the town of Atenas and are at an elevation of about 2700 feet. They have no need for air conditioning or heating. Overnight low temperatures are comfortably cool (low 60’s). Daytime highs can be relatively hot (high 80’s, low 90’s), but rarely uncomfortably hot.Lance started to keep track of daily temperatures and rainfall in order to have factual ammunition to help disabuse friends, relatives and acquaintances of any misconception that the weather must be like that of a tropical jungle.

Our Nuevo Arenal Weatherman, John Nicholas

After many visits to Costa Rica, John and Cathy Nicholas moved from New York to Costa Rica in 1991.  They chose Arenal for its sacred, majestic beauty, its lush wildlife, its relaxing lifestyle, and its proximity to activities and sites such as the Volcano Arenal and the beaches. They own the B&B, Chalet Nicholas, which has been in operation since 1992. Temperatures and rainfall are measured at Chalet Nicholas which is located at approximately 2,200 ft. elevation and 1 mile west of the town of Nuevo Arenal.

Our Playa Mantapalo Weatherman, Lance Miller

LanceM2I was born in a very small town in northwest Iowa and raised on a farm. When I was 18, I joined the service, in which I spent 22 years before retiring in 1990. For the next twenty three years my family and I lived in south central Pennsylvania. After having a stroke in 2012, I was unable to work and that is when my wife and I began talking about retiring. Thanks to your newsletter and a website we found about San Isidro, we began looking at Costa Rica. We came down in March 2013 and looked around for a week. Went home, packed up, and moved here in April. We settled in a small village called Playa Matapalo which is located between Quepos and Dominical. We later moved to Quepos. The word Playa means beach. It is so nice to lie in bed and listen to the ocean. Pura Vida. We will continue the weather info next month.

Gordon_photo_croppedOur Quebradas (15 minutes north of San Isidro de General) Weatherman, Gordon Stanley

Gordon and his wife Bea moved here from Lloydminster, Alberta, Canada, where he used to track the correlation of the winter hoer frost and the spring/summer rains. After 30+ years as a Purchasing Agent for a retail lumber yard/Homes Manufacturing company, he decided to say “Adios” to the snow and ice. They arrived in Costa Rica Oct. 3, 2014, and live in Quebradas, which is a 15 minute drive North of San Isidro de General, at an elevation of about 3600 feet. There is a stream that runs behind the hill in their back yard, so are “forced” to listen to the sound of running water 24/7. Ahh the tough life! They are totally enjoying their new found retirement freedom in this wonderful land that they discovered thanks to this newsletter.

Related Articles:


Costa Rica Says Goodbye to the Rainy Season

While the rains haven’t stopped completely in our part of Costa Rica, change is definitely in the air. This is a transition time as the rainy season ends and the dry season begins.

This week, The Tico Times published an article and video about this subject. Here is an excerpt:

As December begins, Central America’s rainy season starts to evaporate, making way for a sunnier, windier New Year. Billed as “the green season” by the Tourism Ministry, this sixth-month period reaches its watery zenith in October, when afternoon downpours soak the Central Valley for hours at a stretch. Soon those clouds will disperse, and the country will turn gold and brown in the baking heat.

This season was unusual, given the torrents of rain in San José and the stretches of drought in neighboring provinces and nations. Yet the conversion from wet to dry is always a gradual process, and the next few weeks will probably show unpredictable patterns.

Click here to watch their beautiful video which pays” visual homage to tropical precipitation – its intensity, its beauty, and its place in the cycle of annual weather.”


Our Ultimate Healthcare Tour of Costa Rica

Our newest tour is the Ultimate Healthcare Tour of Costa Rica. When asked what he liked best about June’s healthcare tour, one of our guests wrote, “the wide variety of places we saw, the experts that Paul HCTOUR_030arranged for us to meet and talk with, and an emphasis on all aspects of health, not just doctors and hospitals. Mental health is just as important as physical, if not more so.” HCTOUR_008 We’ve lived in Costa Rica for over five years and have used the Caja, Costa Rica’s public healthcare system extensively, as well as the private system, when needed. We’ve learned the system and have been referred up the ladder to see specialists in the maze that is the Caja system. Gloria’s even had surgery here. Our blend of personal insights and on-the-ground experience combines to answer your questions about whether or not Costa Rica’s healthcare system could meet your individual needs.

HCTOUR_004 But, while it is focused on healthcare, you will learn a lot more about living and retiring in Costa Rica’s Central Valley. Most of the second day of the tour takes place in the town of San Ramón where we live and use the services. And you will come to our home for lunch that day to listen to two of our featured speakers. Our tour is designed to save you both time and money, packing a lot of information into a short period of time. Our goal is to show you the possibilities and to try to demystify Costa Rica’s healthcare system. Our tour lasts two days and 1 night and includes lodging, transportation, meals and non-alcoholic beverages.

Sample Itinerary: You’ll visit:

  • At least two private hospitals in San Jose area
  • Hospital Mexico, the largest and best public hospital (they even do open heart surgeries there)HospitalMexico
  • An insurance broker for a presentation on the various supplemental health insurance options, including public, private, and international plans
  • A senior living retirement community
  • CPI language school for a presentation about how learning Spanish increases your options for healthcare and some basic medical Spanish.
  • Our local hospital here in San Ramón
  • A local EBAIS (community clinic)
  • A local private medical and dental clinic
  • A local Seguro Social office where you would sign up for the Caja (national healthcare coverage)
  • A pharmacy
  • A health food store (macrobiotica), and more!

EBAISStaffYou’ll learn:

  • If the Costa Rican healthcare system could meet your needs and put your mind to rest, once and for all, about this sensitive subject.
  • About the public system and how it works, about the private healthcare system, and how you can use a combination of both to your advantage.
  • About the EBAIS – where healthcare starts in Costa Rica.
  • Approximately how much you would pay for Caja.
  • About medical tourism in Costa Rica.
  • About home health care in Costa Rica.

Introductory prices: $550 for a couple, $450 for a single.

Please contact us if you are interested in booking this tour. Space is limited.

Related Articles:



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