HOW COSTA RICA HAS MADE ME A BETTER COOK

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Even before I came to Costa Rica, I loved to bake. But it was only on occasion, only when I had time, and really – only if we were going to a party or family gathering and I needed to bring something. The point is – I enjoyed baking when I had time to do it… but I just never seemed to have that much time.

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JEN’S PACK LIST FOR MOVE TO COSTA RICA

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Yep, that’s us with our 9 suitcases in the driveway of Greg’s folks house in Dallas, right before we headed out to the airport to fly to Costa Rica on June 17, 2013.

So, what exactly did we pack in those 9 suitcases?  Well, I’m here to tell you.  This has actually been requested of me several times, and I just finally got around to doing it (thanks Dee Dee for your nudge the other day!)  Although I did an earlier form of this list in the back of my book Costa Rica Chica, this post will be more detailed and itemized.

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Project August

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Lately, Greg & I have seemingly been so busy, we were having trouble finding time to just sit down and work on projects that we wanted to focus on. Don’t get me wrong – retirement has been great – but we are still young(ish) and our minds are always going with ideas of things we want to do, work on, or accomplish still.

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Are we residents of Costa Rica yet? Are we, are we??

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Look at this lovely couple holding their cedula (residency) cards!

Unfortunately this couple is NOT us, but our pals Irina & Jim.  They applied for their residency in December, 2012 and it took 18 months for them to get their cards.  I’m very happy for them.

You’re probably wondering where we are in our residency process?  Well,  it pains me to tell you – that we just aren’t quite there yet. Actually it’s fine. Some people get residency really quickly, others not so… It is what it is, right? Pura vida.

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Dancing!

Greg and I do not dance… at all. But we were told about this dancing place by a couple of people, and definitely wanted to check it out (or at least I did) – just to people watch and have a good time. So, we went on Sunday with our friends Beverly & Ed.

What a blast! The place is locally referred to as “La Piscina” (meaning “the pool” – which is next to it and has been empty for years).  It was almost all Ticos (we were 4 of the 5 Gringos there), it was outdoors but covered, a live band, all Latin music, smiles everywhere. The band was really good – both music and singing wise. There was a huge space for dancing in front of the band, and then tons of tables beyond the dance floor.

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As Eye See It

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My dad always told me “once you get to be over 40, you’ll need glasses”. In my 20-something invincibility I was like – right, Dad, whatever. I’d always had 20/20 vision, and was really proud of it (I was one of those rare beings that was born with perfect eyes that would last a lifetime).

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A new dentist visit – in Escazú

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The other day we had the opportunity to visit a new dentist in Guachipelin, Escazú, Costa Rica.  I had an appointment for a teeth cleaning, and Greg was scheduled for a cleaning and a teeth whitening.  I’m not too easily impressed these days, but Dr. Oriana González impressed me.

Here is Dr. González (in white) with her assistant:

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Book Signing Party – Costa Rica Chica

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I’ve already told you guys I have some pretty awesome friends, right? Well, two of them threw me a BOOK SIGNING PARTY! How cool is that? I’m so lucky to have friends that even THINK of these things.

Here’s Marti and Irina – who hosted my party for me
(they are both so cute and petite, I just want to pick them up!):

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Keeping it real…

Hello my fellow blog readers! I feel like I’ve been living under a rock lately. Sure, it’s a Costa Rican rock, but none the less… So, I’m just stopping by to say “HI” and keep it real.  I’ve been super busy lately, but I have been getting a lot done.

For one, I finally got my book published (what? you didn’t know I wrote a book? CLICK HERE POSTHASTE and buy it now(!); at only $3.95, it’s cheaper than a Starbucks drink!). Also, whoever tells you writing is easy – don’t believe them. And going through an edited book is even HARDER (especially when I kept having to interrupt Greg with whatever he was doing and ask him his opinion on something because I couldn’t seem to make up my mind on little tweaky things).

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Costa Rica Chica – THE BOOK

THIS IS FINAL

Just a note to tell you guys my biggest news ever – MY BOOK IS PUBLISHED!

I would be totally honored if you bought a copy (just $3.95!) and read it.

<<– Just click on this cover picture (or HERE) to purchase!

What is it about?  Well, have you ever wanted to quit your job and “retire early”?  We did it!  My husband and I were fed up with the “more, more, more” mentality of North America,  and decided to quit our jobs, sell everything and move to Costa Rica with just 9 suitcases.  Why Costa Rica?  Well, you’ll have to read the book to find out exactly why – but overall we wanted to downsize and simplify our lives and get by on less money. 

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Our new casa

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We have moved! Into an amazing new chalet-style house! I’d send you our address, but we still won’t have one.  The new casa is:

  • Bigger (3 bedrooms – come visit!)!
  • More comfy and rustic (lots of wood; think “ski resort” – which I know doesn’t fit with Costa Rica, but it is still super cute looking)!
  • More private (behind a huge privacy fence and gate)!
  • Has a yard (our last house did not)!
  • Has an enclosed garden (I think it was an aviary… but as my landlord pointed out, now it works to keep birds out)!
  • The views are even more amazing than our last house (I know, how could they get much better?)!

And for all this, we only had to move 50 meters down the road. (Meters you say? I know you’re impressed that I know what a meter is. But really – Greg told me. FYI 50 meters =  164 feet. Which I wouldn’t know either, I had to look it up.)

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GOING NATIVE! – in Sierpe, Osa, Costa Rica

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Sierpe is a teeny tiny town (population of 1200 or so) in the northern portion of the Osa Penisula, in the south pacific region of Costa Rica. Some tourists use Sierpe as their starting point for visiting Drake Bay and Corcovado National Park. It is very biologically lush with vegetation (think: jungle) and amazing wildlife (think: macaws, crocodiles). This was our first time to visit this part of the country, and I’m so thankful for super cool (taunis!) friends who let us tag along and showed us an amazing time.

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Battle of the Boxes – a RED wine review

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Due to popular demand, here is the boxed wine review for red wine (vino tinto)!

I got my hubby (a red wine connoisseur) to help with this one, here he is, in all his blind-folded glory:

Presenting – the Battle of the Red Boxes – Greggorio style:

PEÑASOL Vino Tinto Made in: Spain Cost (1 L box): c2,928 ($5.85) Alcohol: 12% Smell: “No smell. Maybe I’m stopped up or something? I don’t smell anything.” Taste: “Not really a taste to this. I must say I kind of like it though.”         UVITA Vino Tinto Made in: Argentina Cost (1 L box): c2,000 ($4.00) Alcohol: 12.2% Smell: “None. There’s no smell.” Taste: “I like it.” CLOS Cabernet Sauvignon Made in: Chile Cost (1 L box): c2,790 ($5.58) Alcohol: 12% Smell: “Doesn’t really smell like much. Maybe rotten grapes.” Taste: “Don’t like too much (makes a grimace), but it’s OK. Not very flavorful. Un-describable.”   DON SIMON Vino Tino Made in: Spain Alcohol: 11% Cost (1 L box): c1,500 ($3.00) Smell: “Now, this one has a good smell!” Taste: “Ew, has a bit of a bad after taste. But it’s ok, I could drink this.”

Greg’s conclusions:

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Battle of the Boxes – a boxed wine review

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Well, this is one thing I thought I’d never do. A BOXED wine tasting/review (and a blind tasting at that)! Oh how my life has changed… but in a good way (the way I always finish this sentence since moving to Costa Rica, because it’s true).

When we first moved here, well even BEFORE we moved here, we had entertained the idea of cutting out all wine, beer, liquor from our diet completely. One of the reasons we were moving to Costa Rica in the first place was to live a healthier life style, and with our new frugal budget in mind (after we had both quit our jobs), this just made sense. The day after we had moved to Costa Rica, we were in the grocery store – picking out items to start stocking our kitchen with. We found ourselves in the wine/liquor aisle (hey, the paper towel was in that aisle as well!), and Greg mentioned that we should buy some wine and celebrate making the move to Costa Rica!

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Dentist in Costa Rica

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What is it like to go to the dentist in Grecia, Costa Rica?

Well… it’s actually all smiles.

Our friend Debbie recommended and gave us a business card for a dentist in Grecia, when we first moved here back in June, 2013. We didn’t have a need for a dentist right then, but kept her card for future use. Several weeks later, a woman who was staying at the property we were at came down with severe pain in her mouth. I promptly handed her the business card I had for Dr. Rebeca Perez of SMILES Dentistry, she called to schedule an appointment, and Dr. Rebeca spoke with her and told her to come in later that day.

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Life’s a beach!

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Last week we took a trip to the beach.  The far-away beach.  We went to the Guanacaste Region, Pacific Ocean, along the western coast of Costa Rica:

The best part was, our transportation there (one-way) cost only $8 (5 ½ hour trip)! We took the Pulmitan Bus, which is a step above the public bus, and only makes a few stops between San Jose and Playas del Coco, Guanacaste. The 5 ½ hour trip was broken up in the middle with a 20 minute rest stop. It was a lovely double decker bus, air conditioned, comfy seats and lots of leg room for Greg. It also had a shelf above us for storage items, plus they loaded up larger items (suitcases) below the bus before we left. We were on the top level, 2nd row, so were up high and had an excellent view.

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1 year anniversary of living Pura Vida

Wow, it’s official – we have been here 1 year now!  June 17, 2013 was our “landing date” here in Costa Rica, from little ‘ole Dallas, Texas, USA.  The odd thing is – in some ways, it doesn’t seem like a year has passed.   But in many more ways – I feel like we’ve been here a while now – we have changed, grown, and become very comfortable and settled here.  Life is good, my friends!

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Spanish – poco a poco

First of all – check out my NEW SUPER CUTE LOGO in the above photo!  I’m loving it!  (See PS note below)…

OK, back to my post….  When we made the decision to move here, Greg and I started taking private Spanish lessons from a cool lady who came to our house in Dallas once a week. She was really awesome, and we dove into Spanish head first.

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Where to get FREE e-books!

So, have y’all heard of something called a Library?  This answer was so blatant and staring me in the face, I never even thought of it.

Right before our big move to Costa Rica, I went to visit my Mom in my teeny tiny hometown in Wisconsin. She had recently gotten an iPad, and asked me to help her with “reading books from her library”, among other things.

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Momma Beck Visit!!

My sweet Momma came and visited us!  All the way from Wisconsin!  She had been to Costa Rica once before – in early 2012 she was with us on our due diligence trip, so she had been a part of our decision process from early on.  For her, it was great to visit us this time and see where we lived, friends we’ve made, and how we live our daily lives here.  She was constantly awed by the natural beauty of Costa Rica and inquisitive about everything – the plants, flowers, birds, trees, people and customs.  I must say, it is so fun to have someone who is so thrilled by her surroundings (future visitors, please keep this in mind!  We don’t take on unenthused or unappreciative people for boarders!).

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