Costa Rica…The First 32 Days…Grief, Hell,
Frustration, and Heaven
Costa Rica Facts
Size: About the same as West Virginia. Borders Nicaragua on the North and Panama on
the South. Pacific to the west, gulf of Mexico to the east.
Population: 4.3 million
Ethnicity: 86% white and native, 8% mixed, 2% black
Life expectancy at birth= 79.3 years
Literacy Rate,=98%…not because of the teachers, the parents demand it
Average high 88= g g degrees, average low, 64 degrees (where I live, Hermosa). There are
2 seasons, dry-Nov. – April and rainy- May- Oct.
Currency=Colones pegged to the dollar currently $1 = 500 colones
Government=Republic, by election, currently Laura Chinchilla (a friend of Hillary)
25% of the land is designated as a nature preserve. More varieties of plant and animal
life exist here than in the U.S.
“Tico”: what the local indigenous people call themselves. Not a slur, you will find
storefronts everywhere, Tico Furniture, Tico Hardware, Tico Bar, etc., but you are
welcomed, as is everyone. Ticos are eager to please, and are almost always smiling. It’s
hard to smile and wave, when it’s 95 degrees outside, an you are digging a ditch, but they
really do it.
Postal Service: None. (I guess they were ahead of their time), You must use UPS
Army, Navy, Air Force, none. Police, at least 7 types, parking, speeding, guarding,
drugs, SWAT, etc. There is no person on person crime rate. If you leave you laptop in your
car while you go in the store, it will be gone when you return. However they won’t hit you
over the head and take it.
We were moving to a gated community of 57 custom homes, “Opera Savage” (wild
Opera)mostly built between 2006 and 2010. The good, we live in #57, at the end of a 2-
home cul-de-sac. Very peaceful, with no homes on 3 sides of us, and the other house
about 150 meters away. The bad, the subdivision has dirt and gravel roads, which is
very typical. In Costa Rica only the major roads are paved, however the infrastructure
is developing rapidly, as more and more people are abandoning Obamanation
(couldn’t resist). The neighborhood roads have speed bumps and deep culverts to
handle the heavy rains. Day 1 we also rented a car from Hertz, which we tore the
bottom out of in only 3 days in one of our favorite culverts. Did I mention the roads?
Ken, being Ken, always had certain expectations, priorities, and goals. We had a great
deal of work done on the house, while we were in the States. Our agent, Brian, and
Attorney, Cesar, were invaluable to that end. We even bought the guest bedroom set
over the internet from a local store, so we would have a bed when we arrived. Of
course, they set it up in the wrong room, which we had changed in a couple of days.
The other, mainly cosmetic work was 95% complete.
This was Friday, day 3. Had to have 2 mobile phones. The state monopoly ICE
(pronounced E-Say) controls the phones, the carriers, and the cell towers. Armed with
my corporation papers, created by Cesar, and my “Persona” who says I am a 50%
director, also done by Cesar, and passport (and the liberals think you shouldn’t have to
submit a photo ID to vote?), I was able to buy the phones….after a two hour wait, ala
D.M.V. They had over 30 styles of phones for rent, at only 32% interest, plus a 2-year
contract, or the one phone you could buy was the iPhone5. Then you bought minutes
(at the grocery store owned by ICE, on a chip) and loaded minutes as needed. Never
being an Apple fan, I was forced by circumstances to go over to the dark side.
Goal # 2 was to get a car. On Thursday (day 9), Agent Brian volunteered to go with us
to the capital, San Jose, about 90 minutes from here, for the best selection, and
interpretation. Brian worked for Prudential Real Estate in Charleston, S.C. for 5 years
before moving here and now works for Century 21. The real estate market is quite
different here, no MLS, very few exclusive listings, plus no license required, (which
means no fees or continuing education) Their purchase agreements are ONE PAGE.
On to the car dealerships. We started at Toyota. We had narrowed our sights on a
small, Japanese SUV, with high road clearance. We were lucky enough to find a slightly
used one when the fun began. I hate playing the bad guy (right) but our choreographed
skit saved us thousands. Brian played the mediator, Pam the one in love with the car,
and me, continually walking away, arms crossed in my best Yul Brenner imitation from
The King and I. We finally outlasted the Sales Manager (El Jefe de Vende) and struck
the deal. I’m he woke up in the night wondering what happened.
They say that “what goes around, comes around”, and I guess I was due a little
retribution from the car gods.
The dealer had to record the sale with the state capital, get the car ready for service,
have it inspected, and that was impossible to do until Monday, which meant I had
to make another 3 hour round-trip, Monday, day 13.
On Monday, I went to my attorney, Cesar for some money out of my escrow
account he had been holding. You must be a resident to open a bank account, so he
has been acting as my banker. I had wired him money weekly from the U.S. He had
gone to the bank that morning and withdrew cash, and we drove back to San Jose.
They wouldn’t take cash!
Guess what? Eventually they did. Got in the car to drive home, and in my arrogant
style told the salesman I didn’t need his instructions on driving the car, using the
turn signals, etc., and left for home. As I drove south, after 2 miles, the skies
opened up and it was monsoon rain, Forest Gump, “raining upside down” rain. As I
was frantically looking for the windshield wiper controls, a flashing red light on the
dash lit up telling me I was on “E” in the fuel gauge. Not only had I deferred on the
dash board instructions, I hadn’t checked the gas. The traffic quickly snagged into a
snarl as far as the eye could see. My car looked like a cross between an ambulance,
and a circus truck. Emergency lights flashing, windows going up and down, high
and low beams on, water spewing, horn blowing, and me holding my head out the
window desperately searching for a friendly “Citgo, Shell, or BP sign”. Luckily, the
next exit had a gas station, and only ¼ mile away. Could I make it? Only 45
minutes later, I pulled in, running on fumes…from the gas tank and my easygoing
In the next few days we found furniture for the majority of the home from several
resources, the best was one here in town, great service, and a potential house sitter.
I skip the shopping, finding local eateries, re-learning Spanish (I’m a polyglot, but
am limited to Italian, German, and Southern English), to go to day 25. We make an
offer on this incredible home, photos below. We got a terrific price, and closed
yesterday, day 31. We also inherited a handyman, housekeeper, and pool girl. The
Tico women are as beautiful as the ones who walk the beaches of Rio or South
Beach, and they wear almost nothing…”Daisy Dukes’ at the most. Unfortunately
our pool girl and housekeeper look like Buddy Hackett and Jimmy Durante, in
The Tico men are short in stature and aggressiveness (except when driving some
piece of s… car or motorbike. I have applied to be the captain of the CR basketball
We celebrated this morning by taking the girls (by the way, the Ticos are terrified of
Rottweilers), on day 32 to the beach. 15 ft. waves…wow!
Ken’s Rules for Coastal Costa Rica
If you lease a car, get one with a high road clearance and 4-wheel drive, if possible.
Do not bring any pants worn below the knee
Do not bring closed toe shoes
Do not bring long sleeve shirts
Do not walk the streets alone after dark, you will be propositioned, and she will be
Do not walk the streets with your wife after dark, you will be propositioned, and she
will be beautiful (it’s happened to us, PO was not amused, but she was beautiful
Please keep checking back for more, and visit anytime. This is as close to Paradise as
I’ve seen. Kauai, 20 years ago. Ken
We were excited about our move, along with our two dogs. It would be Norfolk to Atlanta, to San Jose. We had been told by Delta to ship the dogs through Delta air cargo, on the same plane,”really the best way”. they said. We got to air cargo in Norfolk, about a mile from the actual airport, at 4:45 a.m., they had no record of their flight reservation. Cargo called Delta. Delta did have a record of their reserv. After an hour of back and forth, I was handed an invoice for $1809. I could hace stayed and fought it, but it was less than an hour to departure. I paid…good old AMEX. I talked to Delta at the airport and questioned the ground personnel again. Would they make the 42 minute connection to San Jose? “No Problem” they said “animals get priority over luggage”. We barely made the connection in Atlanta, (Gates A-6 to E-7 in 30 minutes…12 minutes on the runway). While boarding, the plane, we spoke to the Captain and head flight attendant to look out for them. Calls were made from the gate, but I heard the crew say it took them 4 tries to reach the baggage crew. I guess it was break time. An hour into the flight we were told the dogs did not make it, but would be on the next flight and a special Delta representative would meet us at the gate. we landed on time in San Jose at 1:45, and upon deboarding, Wendy, from Delta was introduced to us by the crew leader. She was aware of the situation, and assured us that she would meet the next flight scheduled in at 8:30 and take possession of the dogs herself, and they would not be spending the night in cargo, which closed at 4 p.m.
We decided to take the huge hired limo we had rented for the dogs and their crates, plus our baggage to our new home in Hermosa Beach (90 minutes one way), unpack, and return (an additional 90 minutes and $200 limo fee) at 8:30 for the dogs.
We returned to San Jose at 8:15. We were told the dogs were in the cargo warehouse, and we could pick them up tomorrow at 8 a.m. Wendy had disappeared. The Delta office was closed. After some heated discusssions with the Costa Rican authorities, I was told I could either call the U.S. Embassy (Sure, they would be quick to help), or come back tomorrow morning. We decided to stay at the Marriott, airport. They had an overbooked situation, but made room for us ($300). I arranged for a van to take us to the Cargo center the next morning, and then back to Hermosa.
We slept as well as possible, worried that our dogs would be spending close to 30 hours in their crates, but thare was nothing we could do.
The van arrived the next morning at 7:45, and we were at cargo at 8. The guard would not let us in until a young man from Delta saw our plight. He escourted us in, and advised us that we would need a broker to clear customs, or try ourselves. We had all the paperwork from our vet, etc. but he said it would take us all day to get it done ourselves. I asked him if Delta had a broker and he laughed and said, “he sometimes comes in about 11, sometimes after lunch.” A young woman mopping the floors, looked up and guess she understood a little, and told the young man that a man named Lorenzo was the best broker in the building. We hired Lorenzo. He said it would take him 2-3 hours depending on how long it took the minister of agriculture to get to the cargo station and inspect the dogs. Sometimes they came within an hour, sometimes two.
She actually came in about 45 minutes, and after a cursory look, nodded her approval. In 2 and a half hours, we were cleared…to pay $729 in import fees, and $300 counting wait time to the van driver, we arrived in Hermosa at 12:30, $3338 out of pocket.
I called Delta customer service and their reply was “next time ship them as checked baggage for $200 apiece”. I tried to explain that we did what the Delta rep on the phone said to do. but it fell on deaf ears. This probably will not be heard either…There won’t be a next time. Ken Olive
Tequila and Salt
This should probably be taped to your bathroom mirror where one could read it every day..
You may not realize it, but it’s 100% true.
- There are at least two people in this world that you would die for.
- At least 15 people in this world love you in some way.
- The only reason anyone would ever hate you is because they want to be just like you.
- A smile from you can bring happiness to anyone, even if they don’t like you.
- Every night, SOMEONE thinks about you before they go to sleep.
- You mean the world to someone.
- You are special and unique.
- Someone that you don’t even know exists loves you.
- When you make the biggest mistake ever, something good comes from it.
- When you think the world has turned its back on you take another look.
- Always remember the compliments you received..
Forget about the rude remarks.
If you are a loving friend, send this to everyone, including the one that sent it to you.
If you get it back, then they really do love you.
And always remember…
- when life hands you Lemons, ask for Tequila and Salt and call me over!
Good friends are like stars………
- You don’t always see them, But you know they are always there..
- “Whenever God Closes One Door He Always Opens Another, Even Though Sometimes It’s Hell in the Hallway”
- I would rather have one rose and a kind word from a friend while I’m here than a whole truck load when I’m gone..
- Happiness keeps You Sweet, Trials keep You Strong, Sorrows keep You Human, Failures keeps You Humble, Success keeps You Glowing,
But Only God keeps You Going
‘Worry looks around, sorry looks back, Faith looks up.’
You must send this to 8 people including me.
In 8 minutes you will receive something you have long awaited. Have faith..