Poas Volcano Costa Rica
Costa Rica Cost of Living Update: 1 Medium to Large Zucchini— $1.00

Rob and I just got back from a ridiculously fun road trip. We traveled the country taking pictures, and meeting interesting people. Every year we try to rent a house for a month and explore a different part of the country. But this trip was different. So many of you have reached out offering to share your homes, farms, or resorts with us. It made this journey even more special.

Traveling with Rob is always an adventure, even if it’s just to the grocery store. One of the things that makes me crazy is that he will bring a cup of hot coffee with him into the car. Not a travel mug, but a Winnie-the-Pooh cup. Folks, if you’ve never had the luxury of driving on a Costa Rican dirt road, imagine your brain as a maraca. Then take that maraca and toss it off a cliff. It’s not the type of thoroughfare you want when your driver is balancing a hot cup of coffee over his lap.

Inevitably, we hit the first bump and Rob’s coffee flies out of his mug, ricochets off the dashboard, and into my lap. This leaves me in a superb mood and I can’t wait for my “I’m not talking to you” silence to begin. Giving long periods of quiet resentment is a superpower I have perfected over the years. Remarkably, this power has no affect on my husband.

Continue reading “HAPPIER ROAD TRIP 2014” »

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Costa Rica World Cup

Costa Rica Cost of Living Update: One gallon of Super Gasoline— $5.90

The roar came over the mountainside, up from the town of Grecia, catapulting  over the surrounding ridges. Costa Rica advances to the World Cup quarter finals, the first time in history! I have never, ever seen anything like this. Everyone ran into the streets, cars began honking their horns, and we all collectively celebrated this joyous occasion.

My husband and I drove down the hillside, into the traffic, and waved our little Costa Rican flag that we keep hanging over our rear-view mirror. I didn’t feel like an expat, or a foreigner, just another Tica singing into the streets.

I have experienced a million quiet moments in Costa Rica that have made my life sweeter than I ever thought was possible. Then there was this eruption of energy that all but carried me away. My gosh how I love Costa Rica and its people,  embracing me during their proudest moment, and reminding me that I too am part of it all.

Most of the time happy moments come in whispers, but on a rare occasion, it will roar toward you like a clap of thunder. It was a day I’ll never forget.

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Costa Rica Cost Of Living Update: Property Tax— 0.25%

One of the best things about our life in Costa Rica is that now we can pursue hobbies that we didn’t have time for before. My passion has always been writing, while Rob’s has been his music. Some of our best memories are from when we were in college. Rob would play his guitar until late in the evening, and I thought our life would look that way forever. Then came the student loans, the business loans, then the loans for the loans. Before I knew it I was spending a majority of my time working just to pay back an ever-growing mound of debt. My writing got shoved in a drawer, and Rob’s guitar was demoted to the back of the closet. Continue reading “BROOKLYN COWBOY” »

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Costa Rica AntsCosta Rica Cost Of Living Update: 16.9 ounces  (500ml) of Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil — $6.40

When I was a child, I spent Saturday afternoons watching scary movies with my father in our basement. Back then, there was no Netflix, DVR, or even a Blockbuster Video. Just Chiller Theater. This television show opened with a cartoon hand coming out of a grave, and eating the “Chiller” letters one by one. It probably wasn’t the best programming for a five year old, and each week my mother screamed down the stairs at my father to shut it off.

“Bill, put Bugs Bunny back on or she’s going to have nightmares!” she hollered while we watched Godzilla vs Mothra, The Blob, and Planet of the Apes. And like most things my mother yelled about, she was right: I did have nightmares. But I loved every minute of those times with my dad.

This brings me to the 1958 movie, Them. Based on the improbable, but no less entertaining, hypothesis that nuclear testing could create a colony of giant-sized mutant ants, the movie delivers a rollercoaster ride of suspense that could send any five year old to therapy.

Fast forward to today and I can’t help but think that this movie wasn’t too far from reality. I’m getting used to a lot of things about living in Costa Rica, but I just can’t get over our ant issue. It’s not that I don’t like ants, or have any type of bug phobia. It’s more about the shear number of them that begin invading our house once the rainy season starts. Continue reading “THE ANTS COME MARCHING ONE BY ONE… HURRAH, HURRAH” »

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Wildfire In Costa Rica

Costa Rica Cost Of Living Update: 1 Pound of Kiwis— $2.81

It’s a rare occurrence when we have all three of our utilities (electric, water and phone/Internet), working at the same time. We just survived a month without the Internet due to a wildfire that came uncomfortably close to our house. Thankfully, a new line was installed and it started working again. And when I mean working, I mean my upload speeds are equivalent to the World Wide Web circa 1988. While others are enjoying Google Glass, it takes ten minutes to open my inbox. If you gave me a spiral perm and a few floppy discs, it’s my freshman year in college all over again.

Now, it’s not my Internet but my water that is off. This creates anxiety since dishes pile up, dirty laundry accumulates, and anything that gets sticky stays sticky. And since my husband is currently on a mango kick, he seems to get the stickiest of all. Continue reading “THE TWO OUT OF THREE RULE” »

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Costa Rica Cost of Living Update: Misc. PVC parts and glue to fix a garden faucet that exploded outside—$26 (Rob said men would like to know this.)

Our first episode of Building Up An Appetite is almost finished! Here is a sneak preview of the cooking segment. This clip was shot in a gorgeous house, Villa Bougainvillea, with a ridiculously beautiful pool and view. I could have filmed there all day.

It’s also the place where Rob periodically yelled out, “Stop sounding so Jersey.” I’m not quite sure what that meant. I didn’t say, “Badda Bing” once throughout the shoot. Nor did I tease my hair or discuss waste management.

I did wear lipstick, as per my mother’s advice. She had also advised me not to talk about monkeys, since according to her, “I’m heavy on the monkeys.” Apparently, my mother has become my publicist. My sister just told me not to say anything stupid. It’s the same advice she has given me for the past 20 years.

Thanks for watching. We can’t wait to release the entire episode . It was so much fun and I’m already teasing my hair for another segment… FuhGetAboutIt.

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Costa Rica Cost Of Living Update:  Yummy Avocados— 72 cents Per Pound

My mornings are a lot different than when I was working. There are no more alarm clocks, snowy cars to brush off,  traffic, or stopping for a quick cup of coffee at a gas station.

I’m not rushed, aggravated, anxious, sad, exhausted, or any of the many things I felt during that forty-five minute drive to work. Now I wake up and can’t wait to start the day. Somehow, someway, I fixed what was ailing me.

I don’t have the perfect recipe for happiness, but I think it might have something do with being awake… wide awake. Present for all the good and the bad in one’s life. The recipe might also include watching a bunch of monkeys outside your window every morning. They never look rushed, aggravated, anxious, sad, or exhausted during their morning commute.

Monkeys can teach us a lot, one of which is we’re going to have to hang upside down to reach the sweetest flowers. I know exactly how that feels. It was when I stretched the farthest that I finally found what I was looking for.

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Costa Rica or BustCosta Rica Costa of Living Update: Cost to get my oven fixed—I don’t know, the repairman never came back

This was the temperature one morning in New Jersey. It was also the temperature when I decided to help my parents by shoveling their driveway.

It was then that I felt a sharp pain and proceeded to get a Charlie Horse in my butt. I wasn’t aware this could even happen. But there I was, frozen in pain next to their Nissan Sentra. It would have made the perfect Christmas card.

When I was finally able to stumble my way back into the house, my mother instantly went into motherly mode by yelling at me for not wearing boots.

I died a little inside that day. I am happy to be back in Costa Rica and looking forward to blogging more and getting my third book out. As for my oven… I think it’s dead for good. But I’ll take a broken oven over shoveling snow any day.

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Costa Rican Toaster OvenCosta Rica Cost of Living Update: Hamilton Beach Deluxe Toaster Oven— $170

My oven is not working. In fact, I think it might have exploded. Rob turned it on and heard a loud bang. This isn’t uncommon: most of my appliances expire with this type of fanfare. They never just stop functioning, but instead go out like a Chinese New Year.

But I shouldn’t worry. A repairman came to our house and ordered the correct part. He said it would arrive in a week. That was four months ago. Perhaps I should have asked what week he had in mind. A week in mid-December? Maybe the week the next Explorer lands on Mars? These pressing questions always slip my mind.

So I gave in and splurged for a super duper Hamilton Beach toaster oven. “Horno de Mostrador!” it states on the box. How can I resist an appliance with that kind of advertising? “Maxima versatilidad,” it promises. I have to agree, when it comes to choosing a toaster oven, maximum versatility is prominent in one’s expectations. To think, I would have settled for it to just cook things.

It even includes a rotisserie. That part got shoved in the back of my cabinet… who am I kidding.

I’m happy to say that I’ll have a warm meal this holiday, and I wish a warm Happy Thanksgiving to you as well. It doesn’t matter what we eat, as long as we enjoy the people we are eating it with. And I’ll be enjoying mine with my husband and a bunch of howler monkeys, and doing it all with maximum versatility.

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Costa Rica Costa Of Living Update: 15 oranges— $2.50

Rob and I took a road trip the other day and visited Playa Ostional. The “arribada” was occurring and we didn’t want to miss the chance at seeing tens of thousands of Olive Ridley Turtles make their way from the sea to lay their eggs in the soft sand. It’s such an incredible sight that no matter how many times I witness it, my heart expands like a confetti ballon of happiness.

Even though we saw hundreds of turtles lay their eggs in the sand, we were one day too early for the official “arribada.” “We’ll come back next year,” I said to Rob as we were taking our last picture.

That’s when we noticed a mama turtle wrapped in a net. She must have swam into it years ago, the threads strangling her front limb. No one had a knife so Rob started tearing the net with his bare hands. He wouldn’t give up, and finally was able to free the poor animal.

When you are married, you can often forget the great qualities of your spouse. While watching Rob save this turtle, he once again became my boyfriend. The man I hopelessly fell in love with. The one who promised that even though he didn’t have any money, he was going to do big things with his life.

I’m glad we missed the “arribada.” By going a day early, we had the opportunity to take some suffering out of this world. And unexpectedly, I also got the chance to revisit my boyfriend… the one who, without a penny in his pocket, promised me the world.

(read more about Playa Ostional in one of my previous posts “The Turtles Are Coming” )

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