Grecia, Costa Rica – the book

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Have you ever wondered about the little coffee-farming town I live in, here in the Central Valley of Costa Rica? Well – wonder no more!  I’ve written a little guidebook to help you navigate around Grecia.

After living here for over 3 years, I discuss what you need to know if you are visiting Grecia – either on vacation, or even if you are thinking about living here one day. 

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Reserva Forestal Grecia – Bosque del Niño

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Reserva Forestal Grecia Bosque del Niño (Grecia Forest Reserve of the Children) is right here in Grecia.  It’s a nice little getaway from the city life.  When we were there – we were the only ones there!  

There’s a huge field for soccer or playing catch, and behind it is a large covered area with several picnic tables and grills.  The bathrooms are located behind the covered area.

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Los Chorros Waterfalls, Grecia, Costa Rica

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 Do you like waterfalls?  Well, they seem to be pretty plentiful here in Costa Rica.  Los Chorros is a little gem right outside of Grecia.  Easy to get to for a low-keyed and fun-filled day of natural beauty.

Los Chorros is about a 15 minute drive from Central Grecia, and just 30 minutes from the International Airport (SJO) in Alajuela.  It’s between the two small towns of Grecia and Tacares (see map at end of post).

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Expat Extra – Samantha Wei

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Hello friends and Happy Monday to you all!  I’m very excited about today’s Expat Extra, featuring  Samantha Wei.  

We first met Samantha and her boyfriend Yeison (pronounced “Jason”) through the online/social media/blogging world and then we got to meet them in person when we visited the Guanacaste area while they lived in Playas del Coco. We liked them immediately upon meeting them.  They are laid back, sweet, interesting, smart and kind.  They have the best blog and website (MyTanFeet.com), and I’m so proud of them with how they’ve grown it and make a living on it (although I am NOT envious of their working hours!).

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Expat Extra – Jeane Brennan and Jesse Peeler

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Hello friends! I’m excited to bring you another great Expat Extra today, this time featuring Jeane and Jesse who now live in Sierpe, Costa Rica. I met this cute couple when they lived in Grecia, and although they moved before I could get to know them better, I really liked what I saw in them.

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MASQ`SABOR – Mexican food in the heart of Grecia!

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If you are Facebook or Instagram friends with me, you’ve seen me post pictures from Johnny’s Masq’Sabor Restaurant before. It’s now time to dig a little deeper.

Meet Johnny Lara, owner and operator.  You’ll see him any time you visit Masq`Sabor, he’s always on site 6 days a week (see hours at bottom of post).  He is a hard worker, smart business man, and passionate about his food – 3 things you absolutely need to be successful in the restaurant business.

Masq`Sabor, which literally means “more than flavor,” has been open for almost a year now (September 12th will their 1st anniversary).   Johnny has whipped this little restaurant into a lovely place to sit with friends or by yourself, and have a bite to eat and drink.  He also has free Wi Fi, so bring your laptop or phone along and hang out for a while.  His place is clean with bright colors on the walls, and windows that look out onto the street.  A couple of fans keep it cool and the air well circulated.

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Tamarindo Beach Trip

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Have you heard of Tamarindo? It’s in the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica, the west coast / Pacific Ocean.  We were there last week for an awesome little “vacation”! We had an opportunity to pet sit for friends in exchange for a stay at their beautiful home – right in the heart of this quaint little beach town.  Even though we aren’t super fit or tan and didn’t walk around with surf boards everywhere – we still fit in – because pretty much the whole town is tourists. Everyone speaks English.  Everyone takes the American dollar.  Playa Tamarindo (the beach) is known for surfing, and the town itself is sprinkled with good restaurants and lots of touristy shops.  We traveled there by bus, which worked out great.

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Bus from San Jose to Tamarindo

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Last week we traveled from Grecia to Tamarindo by bus.  We heard from our friends about this direct bus from San Jose to Tamarindo called “Empresa Alfaro“.

Empresa’s station in San Jose is in the Coca Cola area, just one block from the Grecia Bus Station:

To Tamarindo there are two departure times:  11:30 which we took, that goes through Liberia first, and 3:30 with goes “straight” to Tamarindo.  We wanted to get there as early in the day as possible, so we took the 11:30 (note:  these prices are out of date):

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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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Grecia to Alajuela Bus Trip

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This bus trip is SOOO easy, I feel almost foolish that I haven’t done it before! I tagged along with my pal Debbie (who is also car-less and knows the bus system well).

Purpose for our trip? Well, to go to Pequeño Mundo, of course! Pequeño Mundo is a like a dollar store on steroids. It’s a big warehouse, filled with lots of great deals (ok, most are more than $1, but still). Anything from kitchenware to clothes to candles to to food to lawn equipment and light bulbs. I love Pequeño Mundo, but have only driven there with friends before. I wanted to know how to get there on my own via the bus.

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We got hitched!

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We got hitched!

Yes – we got married. Again!! Greg and I celebrated 20 years of being married to each other by taking a little trip to Manuel Antonio and doing our own vow renewal. It was lovely, and perfect in every way.  More on the vow renewal in a bit…  Here’s a recap of our trip.

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When is a soda not a soda??

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When is a soda not a soda??

Well, when you’re in Costa Rica, of course!

In Costa Rica, a “soda” is a very small café, locally owned, and usually has just a few tables and stools at a counter. Typically, you cannot really go wrong with a soda – they always seem have to have authentic and very good Costa Rican food. This is my favorite soda in Grecia, so far (mainly because I haven’t branched out to all of the soda’s yet, and also because once Greg likes a place, he wants to keep going back again and again and again):

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Cachi and the Orosi Valley

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We took a short but sweet little trip to Cachi and the Orosi Valley, which are both just outside of Cartago.  Cachi is a small town, where our friends Mike and Michael are moving (from Dallas, TX) over the next couple of months.  It is a tiny town, population of only about 3,000, and set in the beautiful Orosi Valley.  Elevation of about 3,500 feet, and the temp’s seemed actually cooler than what we’re used to in El Cajon de Grecia. We loved it!  There’s virtually no loud motorcycles there, and the cars are few and far between.  The people are nice and wave to you, and they have LOTS of cute little soda’s and fabulous restaurants – even more so than Grecia, which was surprising!

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The Mysterious Spheres – Archaeological Site Finca 6

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When we were in Sierpe, Osa, a few weeks ago, we kept seeing these large stone spheres everywhere around the town and in fields. Here is one in the park ——–>>

Peter (friend, guide, Sierpe guru) had told us that there were several of these large spheres that were found here in Sierpe in the early 1900’s – one of two places in the whole world. Well, this sounded very interesting. How did they get here? People from a long long time ago? Space aliens from a galaxy far far away? Well, the answers were actually not too far away – we soon found out that they have a museum in Finca (farm) 6 – which is where the most recent spheres were found.

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My first hair cut in Costa Rica

After living in Costa Rica for over 14 months now, and having trimmed my hair twice myself (yikes!) –  it was time to get a professional hair cut.   My hair needed it and deserved it.  I dearly miss my hair dresser in Dallas – KYLE!!  But since I won’t be going back to the States till at least the Spring of next year, something needed to be done in the interim.

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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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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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Why Grecia?

Why Grecia?

Well, really I was sold on the little town of Grecia, Costa Rica when I first heard that people living here did not have heaters OR air conditioning in their homes – you just don’t need it!  That’s right – Grecia is supposedly the “perfect” temperature, year round.  This sounded perfect to Greg & I, who are both a little hot natured.  Also, it makes it easy on the electric bill.  Temperature’s get down to as cold as the high 50’s (fahrenheit) at night or in the rainy season, and rarely hotter than the low 80’s during the day.  See what I mean?  Perfect!

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Yes, there are Malls in Costa Rica… Plaza Real Cariari

Yes, there are malls here in Costa Rica.  The Multiplaza in Escazu is supposedly the nicest, but I have not been there yet (it is the “Rodeo Drive” of Costa Rica) .

The other day, me and my love hopped on the bus and went to the Plaza Real Cariari (you can find their website here, and their Facebook page here).  I have been there before with my awesome friend Lucy, who showed me the way, but this was the first time for Greg.  He was pretty excited about it.

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