Horses, Dragonflies, and Waterfalls

By | August 11th, 2017|Categories: Tourism, Uncategorized|Tags: , , |

Rincon de la Vieja

Costa Rica Cost of Living Update: One Day Pass at Rincon de la Vieja Adventure Tours— Ninety dollars

It’s always great when friends come to visit. We love to plan big excursions they’ll remember for a lifetime. And our visitors certainly remember this adventure, mostly because one of them had back surgery and Rob recommended we all go horseback riding, zip-lining and swimming under a waterfall.

I’m not sure why Rob would ever suggest horseback riding since it never ends well for him. Every horse my husband has ever ridden was eager to get him off their back. There has never been one that thought, “I like this chap, let’s take the scenic route.” They’ve all acted as if it were a rodeo, and it’s their turn to buck the jerk. I, on the other hand, have never ridden a horse that didn’t lazily saunter away, start eating grass and fart… Simultaneously. They’ve all been about as underachieving as my equestrian skills.

Enjoy this chapter from Happier Than A Billionaire: The Sequel. Maybe one day you too will ride off into the Costa Rican sunset with your friends.

 

Waterfalls & Canyon Walls

“Do you think you’ll be okay on a horse?” I ask.

“I hope so,” Matt replies. “But I haven’t been on one in twenty years. I stopped riding after my back surgery.”

“I doubt she’ll bounce you around, tourists ride them every day,” Rob says as Matt strokes the horse’s face. The man holding the reins nods his head in agreement, but I can tell he doesn’t understand English. I recognize his befuddled expression because I pretty much look like that all the time. I was recently at the post office where a clerk was trying to explain my package hadn’t arrived yet. Instead of moving out of the way for the next person in line, I just stood there nodding like a big, dopey bobblehead. I remained there for a good five minutes before a nice person in line told me I had to come back the next day.

Matt examines the saddle and looks over the stirrups. “She looks like a nice girl, so why not? I’m already here, right? I didn’t come all this way not to participate.” Continue reading “Horses, Dragonflies, and Waterfalls” »

Panama vs Costa Rica

By | July 27th, 2017|Categories: Tourism, Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , , |

Bocos del Toro Panama

Costa Rica Cost of Living Update: Bus Ticket from San Jose to Panama City — Under one hundred dollars

There has always been a debate on whether Panama or Costa Rica is a better choice for expats. People will hunker down with their opinions and list all the many ways one country is better than the other. You would think it’s the World Cup. No one has flipped any dumpsters yet, but these discussions get pretty heated.

“Bananas are cheaper in Panama,” someone yells.

“Yeah, but look at our beach towns and lifestyle. Ticos really know how to enjoy themselves!” another responds.

I just sit back, eat to my slightly more expensive banana, and stare into space. I have no dog in this fight. Unlike what many people think, it’s not my mission to convince anyone to move anyplace. Happier Than A Billionaire is about finding a happier life, and mine just so happened to take place in Costa Rica. If it occurred next to an oil drum in Bayonne, New Jersey I would have written that version of my story.

The truth is that becoming an expat has many variables. Success has more to do with your attitude than what particular country you are moving to. Learning a new language will be difficult, reinventing a new life is challenging, but the biggest obstacle is always going to be yourself. To assimilate into a new culture often means you have to experience things on the fly. And that means letting go of who you had previously defined yourself to be.

Take Kay Bratt; author of The Pursuit of Panama, a wildly successful writer who, with her husband, went through their own adventures in Panama. For two weeks, they explored the country wondering if moving abroad was the right decision for them. In her journey, Kay wrestles with her version of happiness. The question she set out to answer was whether or not Panama was going to be her happy place. She was inspired in part by reading my books and hopefully learned not to let her husband shove twelve thousand dollars into his underpants during their travels. Or hide any guns in a functioning fireplace.

We are all looking for that happy spot in life. It’s a moving target. A place that was once warm can grow cold. When that happens, it’s time to move on, and moving on could mean moving out, changing jobs, or even leaving old friends behind. This line of sight is never straight, and often means you have to bend in the wind in order to hit the bulls-eye.

People often ask me how I got the courage to leave my old life behind for a new one in Costa Rica. A foreign place, a foreign language, and with no guarantee it would work out. But there was this moment when I realized it was riskier not to do it than to take a chance. I knew if I didn’t break out of that stifling lifestyle, I would look back at the moment and have profound regret. I saw a beacon of light through a foggy time in my life, and its soft beam gave me hope.

I still follow that beacon even though there is little fog left in my life today. The skies are bright in Costa Rica, and the sunshine lightens up even the darkest corners. But at night I still see it. The beacon calls out for me, reminding me to keep dreaming, to keep being happy, and to keep remembering that life is in constant flux.  Ebbing and flowing is always the best way to ride a wave, but you have to paddle out to sea before you can go with the flow.

So if someone chooses to debate me on whether Bocas del Toro has better snorkeling than Playa Conchal Costa Rica, which it does, or if they have more volcanoes to hike, which they don’t, I’ll just rock in my hammock and continue staring up at the powder blue sky.  I’m not here to argue, or convince anyone that their ideas are wrong. There is room enough for everyone on this journey, and I’m still bending in the wind on mine.

If you are thinking about a move to Panama, or even just dreaming of what such a change might be like, you can find Kay’s latest book, The Pursuit of Panama, here on Amazon. I’m sure you will be inspired by Kay as well. http://amzn.to/2w2Qd0L

And while I’m not here to convince you to move to Costa Rica, if you would like to come along with me on my hilarious journey please read Happier Than A Billionaire and The Sequel. If you are inspired to join me in Costa Rica, you may also enjoy my guide to living here with everything I’ve learned over the past nine years, The Costa Rica Escape Manual.  http://amzn.to/2eQeO5g

 

A Happier Father’s Day

By | June 18th, 2017|Categories: Uncategorized|

Fathers Day Costa Rica

Costa Rica Costa of Living Update: Repairing one busted rear spring on an SUV — $125 for parts and labor

For those who have read my books, you know that I love to talk about my family, especially my father. He’s a Renaissance Man: one versed in literature, Roman history, and the ability to find the best deal on cases of C & C Cola. He never buys bottles, only cans because it’s it easier to stack them dangerously high in the garage behind the lawnmower and hedge clippers. This becomes a suburban version of The Hunger Games when you’re thirsty.

So for this Father’s Day, I’m sharing with you an email exchange with my dad that I included in my second book, Happier Than A Billionaire: The Sequel. Writing and sharing my work has been quite a journey for me, and I can always count on my dad to come to my rescue when I’m feeling down:

From: Nadine

To: Dad

1:13 PM

Subject: The Worst Book He Ever Read

I got a one-star review today. He said it was the worst book he ever read:

“I’m halfway through and struggling to finish it: it is simply one of the worst books of any genre that I have every tried to read. Nadine, in particular, is what would be called an “ugly American” by many ex-pats living in Costa Rica (or other foreign places). Instead of appreciating and blending into the culture, she appears as a bull in a china shop in nearly every chapter.

My wife and I are contemplating a retirement move to Costa Rica (or the Caribbean). My father built a house in CR in 1995 and we have made many trips to the country. Likewise, the Caribbean where I have almost thirty years’ experience as a visitor. Trust me, this book has almost nothing serious to offer the person seeking good information of making such a move. It is a serious undertaking, with many pitfalls that will happen to you if you don’t understand the culture…”

And it doesn’t stop there, it goes on and on and on. He practically wrote a book about how much he didn’t like my book.

Seriously Dad, the worst book of any genre? Is it the worst book in any language in the world? How about the worst book in every universe on every Starfleet?

Because if that’s true… it sounds like a pretty shitty book.  Continue reading “A Happier Father’s Day” »

Still Looking for Rush Limbaugh in Costa Rica

By | August 6th, 2016|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , , |

Rush Limbaugh

Costa Rica Cost of Living Update: Fake Cuban (Nicaraguan) cigars sold on Tamarindo beach—$10

Back in 2010, Rush Limbaugh said he would move to Costa Rica in five years if some of President Obama’s policies were ever implemented. It’s now 2016, and I still can’t find Rush anywhere around the neighborhood.

One of the best things about living in Costa Rica is being removed from the political climate of any given presidential election. However, we do still have news channels that, for better or for worse, broadcast all the latest political events. The more I watch, the more it becomes apparent that they rarely report any happy stories, only hours of repeated headlines and opinions that lead to heated arguments, making me want to cancel my cable subscription. It’s as if the sky is falling.

This bizarre phenomenon occurs every four years. And every four years people threaten that they will be moving to Costa Rica. I’m not sure why they use this as a threat. Rarely people threaten to visit Costa Rica. In fact, the people coming off the airplane aren’t threatening at all. They are the most excited people you’ll ever meet.

When you are removed from a political season, you tend to spend more time on the happier side of life. Not that politics should be ignored, it’s just that when it starts consuming someone’s entire existence, they end up becoming that person yelling so loud spittle comes out the sides of his or her mouth. And if you are that person, it’s okay. I think I can help. Especially if you’re the one threatening to move to Costa Rica if—insert political candidate—wins.

You will be welcome here. Costa Ricans and expats are some of the friendliest people I meet, but they’ll be somewhat confused by your spittle. In fact, I rarely see a Costa Rican spittle; it’s as rare as Rodrigo my repairman showing up on time. They have their own issues with their political system, but when it’s all said and done, they give them the patented Tico shrug. This shrug is also accompanied by a forty-five-degree head tilt, followed by them saying, “Pura Vida!” All of it adds up to one meaning… eh, my life is still great. I like this gesture; it’s the same one I get from a teller when she explains the bank ran out of money. Continue reading “Still Looking for Rush Limbaugh in Costa Rica” »

Top 5 Unexpected Benefits of Costa Rica Weather

By | June 28th, 2016|Categories: Nature, Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , , , |

Costa Rica Cost of Living Update: New iPhone package with 140 minutes of phone calls, unlimited data, & 700 texts—$20

Top 5 Benefits of Costa Rica Weather

1. Creativity

75 Degree weather. Just writing that makes me feel good. When I lived on a mountaintop in Grecia, I was treated to wonderfully cool temperatures practically every day. Aside from saving money on air conditioning, the biggest benefit was a sense of outdoor/indoor living.  The temperatures were the same and  you had no sense of a barrier. And without that temperature barrier, the world feels bigger, better, and creates a swell of endorphins in your brain. You wake up smiling and go to bed happy. It’s the biggest gift Grecia gave me.

These temperatures had an effect on me while I was writing my first book Happier Than A Billionaire: Quitting My Job, Moving to Costa Rica, & Living the Zero Hour Work Week. I would even say they were conducive to the entire writing process. I felt great on that mountaintop, and in a way freer than I have ever been.

We lived so high up on the mountain that clouds actually rolled into our house. Initially, I wasn’t quite sure what was happening. I’ve lived around so much pollution in my life, at first, I thought it was smog. Then this gigantic, puffy cotton ball smacked me square in the face and it was the most heavenly thing I ever experienced. Have you ever been hit by a cloud? I would suggest putting that on your bucket list. However, hanging your clothes out to dry in such high altitudes can be a challenge: This crazy thing happens.

These cooler temperatures come with a substantially longer and more intense rainy season, and the rainy season can bring a substantial amount of mold. It grows on everything and needs to be cleaned… a lot. And then there are weeks in October, the height of the rainy season when there is not one sliver of sunshine for days on end. These were the times I wished I lived at the beach.

Now that I’m living near Playa Flamingo, I’m are fully aware of the difference in temperatures once I step outside. There are times at the end of the dry season I feel like I’m living on the sun. This is reflected in our budget as well. Our allowance for dining out is non-existent, replaced with the additional cost of air conditioning. These are the days I wish I lived in the mountains. Continue reading “Top 5 Unexpected Benefits of Costa Rica Weather” »