Finca Dos Rios, Costa Rica

Costa Rica Cost Of Living Update: Package of 2 Gillette Razors— $4.30

Have you been thinking about writing a novel but never seem to be in the right frame of mind? Look no further; I believe I’ve found the perfect place to get started.

Finca Dos Rios is a lovely, rustic farmhouse located just outside of a small town called Balsar. My friend Anne, the owner, invites us down for a couple of days.

“Jorge, the caretaker, will give you a tour of the property. Are you up for getting on a horse?” The answer is no. I do not want to horseback ride again considering every time I do, I find I’m myself racing up a steep mountain or at the edge of a cliff. I can never seem to find flat ground while riding a horse.

“I’ll pass on that Anne.”

“Ok, but don’t you want to see the ancient sphere?” she asks.

“Wait, you have a sphere on your property?”


“A real one?”

“Yes, but the best way to see it is by horse.”

Oh boy, this is a game changer. Spheres are one of the biggest archeological mysteries in Costa Rica. They date back to at least a thousand years, and no one is certain how they were carved. They’re usually found by workers clearing fields, and now I have a chance to see one not in a museum, but right where it has been sitting for eons. I’ll certainly get on a horse for this. Continue reading “HAPPIER ROAD TRIP 2014 — PART IV” »

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Villa Pacifica, Domincal Costa Rica

Costa Rica Cost of Living Update: 2.2 pounds of imported ravioli — $10.80

Our stay at Canto del Mar was amazing. We are ready to explore further down the coast when Kelley tells us about a place with an even bigger “wow” factor. She describes it with such passion and one thing that sticks out is that this big, beautiful house runs on solar power. It is one of the first houses in the country powered by alternative energy, and the president of ICE (the electric company) was there for its inauguration. This is a home I have to see so we move down the block to Villa Pacifica.

I know these type of homes exist, but never had a chance to stay in one. Villa Pacifica has six bedrooms, an outdoor kitchen, and a tower of towels positioned near the most amazing infinity pool. I stare out over the pool for what seems like hours while Rob runs around the house in disbelief. This place is perfect for family reunions, weddings, or just large groups of friends who love spending time together in a beautiful place. And if you don’t want to spend time together with your friends or family, three of the six bedrooms are tucked away around the side of the house. Kelley has recently completed an extensive renovation on them, and they are a perfect hide-a-way for when your drunk Uncle Benny starts his impromptu Karaoke with an empty wine bottle. Continue reading “HAPPIER ROAD TRIP 2014 — PART III” »

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Canto del Mar Villa, Dominicalito

Costa Rica Cost of Living Update: 4.5 lbs of White Rice— $2

Dominical: The place to get a good night’s sleep

Approximately forty-five minutes from Manuel Antonio is Playa Dominical. If you are a surfer, you probably already know that this tiny, beach town is a popular for its dependable waves. It’s also a place where you can see the same animals that are up north, but with a twist. Red iguanas lounge on sunny branches over head, and Fiery-billed Toucans dine on palm fruit all along the coastline. It’s as if Dominical was sprinkled with paprika; every animal a little jazzier than it’s counterpart found in other parts of the country. Every time I’m in Dominical, I’m amazed at what I’ll see just by looking up.

The town is made up of only a couple unpaved streets, lined with restaurants and shops. I’ve never seen anyone rushing here. And why would they? This town is designed for relaxation and surfing. Continue reading “HAPPIER ROAD TRIP 2014 — PART II” »

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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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