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¿Que Es Eso?

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In This Edition:

1. Broken News (All the News That's Fit to Reprint): a. Legislative Perks Run Afoul of Attorney General; b. Delays in Digital Nomad Law; c. Costa Rica Retains Position as Happiest Country in Latin America; d. Costa Rica Beats Canada and Advances Chances for World Cup Berth; e. New U.S. Ambassador Speaks Spanish With a Tico Accent.

2. Economic Drumbeat (CR Business Happenings): a. Another Gasoline Price Increase; b. Fitch Updates Costa Rica Financial Rating.

3. Latin America Update (Major Events in Neighboring Countries):. a. Nicaragua - Persecution of Ortega Opponents Continues.

4. Rumble and Weather Talk: Rumble: 7+ Earthquake Forecast for the Osa Peninsula; Weather: Signs of a Rainy Season Beginning.

5. ¿Que es Eso?: Yeah, it´s a crab but what kind?

6. Feature: Considerations About Moving to Costa Rica (Why, How, When and Where) - A Discourse.

7. Health Stuff: Is Covid Nearly Over?

8. GGC Bookshelf and More: Books from GGC Publications, Golden Gringo T-Shirts and Coffee Mugs as Well as Suggested Books from Local Writers.

9. What's-in-a-Word: a. Answer to Que Es Eso. b. More on Homographs

10. ROMEO Corner: The Restaurant at Villas Lirio




Wisdom of the Ages

Holidays In Cost Rica In April

April 11 is Juan Santamaria Day in Costa Rica and is named after a young hero who turned out to be a critical factor in the Second Battle of Rivas which occurred on that day in 1856 (Rivas is a town just over the Costa Rica border into Nicaragua).

The battle of Rivas thwarted the empirical dreams of a egomaniacal Philadelphia lawyer and filibuster who went by the name of William Walker.

Costa Rica´s largest airport (SJO) is named after Juan Santamaria and a large statue of him is situated just outside of the main terminal in Alejuela.

Broken News
(All the News That's Fit to Reprint)

Legislative Perks Run Afoul of Attorney General

Each month, legislative deputies receive, on a personalized debit card, an amount of money equivalent to 500 liters of fuel to offset their expenses. At current gas prices that´s about 400,000 colones or about $615. If the total amount is not used, the balanced is carried forward to the next month.



Hernandez (L) and Acuña (R)

In early March, Independent legislator (this only means she associates with none of the many parties in Costa Rica) Ivonne Acuña submitted a bill for reimbursement of ₡3.2 million (about $4,925). Reportedly Sra. Acuña registered one single purchase of ₡3.2 million on a single day, November 11 and then left the country. In addition, she had not reported for work at the legislature since at least December of last year.


The President of the Legislative Assembly, Silvia Hernández stated that the problem comes from not relating the fuel expense to presence in the legislature. The incident resulted in both Acuña and Hernandez sharing an investigation ticket and file in the Attorney General´s Office, an effort that is ongoing.


Delays in Digital Nomad Law


Locked Behind a Desk Once More
As one spur to development of modern business practices, and therefore the economy, a new Costa Rican law encourages location of digital nomads here (i.e., remote teaching of concepts ranging from languages and simple telecommuting to electronic systems development) and a law was first passed via the two required Assembly debate approvals in July of 2021. The law provides extended permits to digital nomads (sort of like a special visa, but without being a visa, yet with certain income and document restrictions much like a residency permit) along with a few tax breaks. (GG made that clear as mud don´t ya think)


The Costa Rican tourist board (ICT) recently filed a complaint with the Presidential Office that no action to implement the new law has yet occurred. They stated that: “...demanding documents with a disproportionate and unjustified formalism definitely makes the application of the law null and void.” So, modern electronic speed has met the inevitable wall of political sloth and obstructionism - come on guys, let´s get this going, it´s the new world amigos.


(For an example of digital nomad-ism, go HERE)


Costa Rica Retains Position as Happiest Country in Latin America


Each year the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (whomever and whatever they are) runs a set of criteria that comes up with what they call an indicator of the happiness of a people in a country. The ranking measures per capita income, health and life expectancy, freedom, generosity and social support This year Costa Rica retained it´s #1 position in Latin America which includes some 20 countries from Mexico down to Argentina and also several Caribbean countries such as Jamaica and the Dominican Republic.


Although the CR world ranking slipped 6 grades from #16 to #23 it was still ranked highest in the region (value = 6.6). Once more, for five years in a row, the number one world ranking was grabbed by Finland (7.8). Most of the countries in the lower rankings are in Africa and Eastern Europe as you can see on the graph above (get out your magnifiers).


Costa Rica Beats Canada and Advances Chances for World Cup Berth


On Thursday, March 24, to the collective screams of some 30,000 Tico fans in the National Stadium in San José, Costa Rica managed to beat the Canadians 1-0 in a FIFA World Cup Qualifier. This advanced Costa Rica to fourth position in their group of 16 and, while it doesn´t guarantee them a berth at the Qatar 2022 World Cup later this year (November/December) it does put them in what´s called the "zona de repechaje" or playoff zone.


Fans stated they had never heard a vibration in the Estadio Nacionál like the one that came after the single goal. Said the Tico players after the game: "It was magical, tears came to my eyes" "Nobody ever believed".


The next challenge for the Ticos will be to face the U.S.A. team, who are hot and fresh from a 5 to 1 victory over Panama in Orlando on Match 27. It´s the Ticos versus the Gringos at the Estadio Nacionál in San José on Wednesday, March 30.


UPDATE: There will very very few non-hoarse voices in Costa Rica the first week of April as Costa Rica drummed out a 2-0 victory over the Yanks at National Stadium on March 30. Costa Rica is on its way to the playoffs at the 2022 Qatar World Cup Games this November/December. Congrats guys!


Go Sele (the nickname for the Costa Rican National Selection Team)!


New U.S. Ambassador Speaks Spanish With a Tico Accent


U.S. Ambassador to Costa Rica
Dr. Cynthia Ann Telles

Cynthia Ann Telles, the new U.S. Ambassador to Costa Rica arrived here in early March to take up her newly appointed position by President Biden. Telles is no stranger to either Costa Rica or the diplomatic life.


Her father, Raymond Telles, was the first latino U.S. Ambassador and held that position here some six decades ago. Raymond Telles had become the first Latin American (Mexican origin) mayor of El Paso, Texas and was then appointed by John F. Kennedy as Ambassador to Costa Rica. Señor Telles was instrumental in getting Kennedy to visit Costa Rica in what has become a classic report in Tico history.


Ambassador Raymond Telles (right) and Daughter Cynthia (left) Greet Kennedy

Dr. Cynthia first came to Costa Rica as part of her diplomatic family as an 8 year old. This background not only gave her the ability to speak Spanish but she does so to this day with a distinct Tico accent (that´s the press report - I doubt I could personally tell).


As a child, Telles received a mosquito bite that put her in grave condition for a while but she recovered. One of her first stops here this time was at the church of San Rafael de Escazú where she has found fond memories of attending with her family in the past.


Welcome back to Costa Rica Doña Cynthia!

¡Pura Vida!


Economic Drumbeat
(Costa Rica Business Happenings)

Another Gasoline Price Increase


Blame it on the Russians or the fact that Costa Rica doesn´t refine anything and just imports gasoline but the gas price tag has been going up regularly and strongly for some time now. Yet another price increase has been requested by our non-refining refinery we call RECOPE (10 days after the previous one was instituted) and must be reviewed and approved (virtually a done deal) by our regulatory body, ARESEP (Autoridad Reguladora de los Servicios Públicos).


Citgo Refinery - Tampa, FL

This will raise cost of super gasoline to 909₡/liter ($5.25/gal), regular to 889₡/liter ($5.15/gal) and diesel to 845₡/liter ($4.89/gal), to what is now pretty close to the same level for all three. GG Remembers when diesel was considered a cheap cut in a refinery and resulted a substantial gap between regular and deisel - not any more.


At the time I wrote this the prevailing price (AAA) for regular gas in Florida was $4.34/gal. The new prices run about one-third of the per liter cost being tax.


With the latest price increase in place (not including the proposal mentioned above), Costa Rica becomes the second highest priced gasoline in Central America and has the highest tax per liter of all six major countries (sorry, not discriminating against Belize, their data was just not there to include). Here´s a quick summary (right) as of late March:


Panama enjoys the second lowest cost per liter for gasoline and the lowest tax rate per gallon of all the Central American countries.


UPDATE: The increase requested by RECOPE and reported above was approved in late March by ARESEP and the new price of regular gas is expected to increase from 822 to 909 colones per liter (from $4.75 to $5.26 per galoon) by as early as April 1. That´s up almost 11% in one month.


Fitch Upgrades Costa Rica Financial Outlook


Costa Rica obtained $1.8 billion, three year payment loan deal from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) (inbound from IMF to CR) in 2021 when there was a bit of a liquidity crisis here considerably caused by the Covid economic adventure. As part of the IMF deal the government had to agree to a few fiscal changes such as "equitable fiscal reforms to ensure debt sustainability, while protecting the poor and most vulnerable" as well as "strengthening the central bank's autonomy and governance and addressing structural financial vulnerabilities".


What ever all of that really meant, rating services seemed to like it, as Fitch Ratings Services just recently increased their credit rating for Costa Rica from "negative to stable". Fitch also pointed out that the country has enjoyed "robust" economic recovery and a smaller deficit in 2021 than expected while forecasting a small surplus for 2022.


The Ticos are coming back amigos.


¡Pura Vida!



Latin America Updates
(Major Events In Neighboring Countries)




Persecution of political opposition continues.


You may recall that the Ortega forces went out of their way to disrupt, house quarantine or arrest, a number of their political opponents in last fall´s presidential elections. The general belief held by many as the one most likely to win a fair election was Cristiana Chamorro Barrios who was closely quarantined under house arrest and later charged with a number of corruption issues.


Chamorro is the daughter of the murdered Nicaraguan hero Pedro Joaquín Chamorro Cardenal and former president Violeta Barrios de Chamorro (1990-1997). The corruption issues charged against Sña. Chamorro were money laundering, goods and assets, improper appropriation and retention, abusive management and ideological falsehood (love that last one - sounds more like Stalinist Russia), Recently, Chamorro was found guilty of these charges by a district judge, one of those hand-picked by the Ortega regime, and sentenced to 13 years in prison.


The Nicaraguan dictatorship continues.


¡Solo Bueno!




Rumble and Weather Talk
(Shaky Happenings & Weather Observations About the Pacific Rim)



7+ Earthquake Forecast for the Osa Peninsula.


GG happened to be in the City of Puntarenas on September 5, 2012 when the second greatest recorded earthquake in Costa Rican history (7.6R) hit. Sometimes it takes years for the pressure of two opposing tectonic plates to build to the point where they slip abruptly causing a major quake. Scientists are becoming better at predicting the "periodicity" of quakes (the average time between major tremors based on the measured movement of the nearby subduction plates). The Nicoya periodicity that effected Puntarenas is estimated at 50 years but the 2012 quake actually occurred 60 years after the last major Nicoya tremor.


The periodicity of the Osa Peninsula plates (which includes Corcovado National Park), located some 30-50 kilometers south of Quepos on the Pacific Coast is currently estimated at 40 years with the last major quake in 1983 at 7.4. Prior to that, in 1941, the Golfito area was hit with a 7.5.


Scientists say the gap between the Cocos and Panama subduction plates increases on average some 7 centimeters each year until by the end of 40 years the gap is some 2.8 meters (almost 10 feet) creating

plenty of energy when it slips.


So scientists say there is a very good chance of a major quake (+7) in the Osa area in the next few years. GG hopes he´s in Puntarenas at the time (about 100 km north).


Check Out Recent Earthquakes All Around the World Posted by the U.S.G.S.  Recent Quakes




We´ve (Quepos and local mounainous areas) begun to see substantive rains in the afternoon, evening and at night hinting the rainy season is on the way. The foliage is turning greener again and much of the arched land has been relieved.

¡Pura Vida!



¿Que es Eso? Department (¿What is That?)



Believe it or not this this little fella is a real crab, not plastic.



But what is it´s name and where does it come from?






Answer in


section below.

¡Pura Vida!



Considerations About Moving to Costa Rica
(Why, How, When and Where - A Discourse)

(N.B. This article is longer than the usual format for the Chronicles as GG thought it was better to cover as many aspects of the moving decision process in one place for improved overall comprehension)


GG is approaching his 14th anniversary (September 2008) of living in Costa Rica. I regularly get peppered with questions by visitors on what it is like to live here. In this article I will once more try to point out the peculiarities and concerns about being an expat, particularly a North American, living in Costa Rica.


Why Costa Rica?


Siesta Key Beach, Sarasota

GG had lived in Sarasota, FL in semi-retirement for ten years before moving here. I loved the beaches of Siesta Key, the sugar sand, the warm water (except December to March when it can get a bit chilly - 60F but no snow ever), the mild waves, the clear waters. It´s still one of the most beautiful beaches on the U.S mainland.


Having grown up on a beach in Massachusetts until I was 21, and chosen other beaches for many vacations over the years, I instinctively knew that any permanent retirement spot for me had to involve a beach. Both the Caribbean and Pacific shores of Costa Rica suit this love well as the kilometers of shoreline on a land area basis is almost twice that in Costa Rica than it is in California.


Around the turn of the millennium I began hearing people in Sarasota talk about Costa Rica and some talked particularly about how great the beach was in Manuel Antonio. Not only that but several gents stated that the fishing out of Quepos was extraordinary. So in 2003, supported by a good inventory of frequent flyer miles obtained during more than ten years as a business consultant, I started traveling to Ticoland. On my first and second trip I caught several beautiful fish, including a sailfish (catch and release here) that the boat captain estimated at 90 lbs (yeah baby)!


GG made a total of eight visits to Costa Rica between 2003 and 2008 when I finally made a decision to move here for retirement. During these visits I got bit by the Ticobug; the same gentle weakness that I see in the eyes of visitors today who begin to ask questions about living here. You watch for the eyes to dilate, then see the quizzical look on the face that says: "Is this all real?!". Yeah baby; if you like wild, it´s here.


Manuel Antonio Beach (Playa Espadilla)

Come out of the water at Siesta Key and you are faced with a panoply of condominiums as far left and right as you can see. Come out of the water at Manuel Antonio and you see rock islands, jungle and mountains in the background. You may also see troops of monkeys, both squirrel and white-faced, or sloths playing in the trees near the beach.


And forget about testing the temperature of the water - just run right in, it will be warm (low to mid-70s- at the end of the rainy season - September to November, mid-80s otherwise). The dolphins and whales won´t bother you, they´re just happy to be swimming by and showing off.


Is It Expensive to Live Here?


Depends on your viewpoint and experience level. Overall cost of living is significantly less that almost any metropolitan area like New York, Los Angeles or Toronto. On the other hand certain things will cost more, like buying a car, almost all of which are imported - somebody has to pay for the shipping cost and CR sales tax (13%). You can ship your old jalopy down from gringoland but you still have to pay the shipping costs; and the sales tax is then based on the book value of the car (and yes, the assessors have all the black, blue and orange books on those values that there are possible to have).


Plenty of Used Cars Available

So, even if you paid sales tax of 6-10% where you bought the car in the north, you still have to pay the 13% sales tax on current book value to get it across the border. This is why many choose to sell their previous cars at home and then rebuy here to simplify things. This holds for electrical devices and large household items as well, so check before you ship as the taxes and duties may very well exceed the shipping costs.


And don´t forget gasoline. No petroleum is refined in Costa Rica so the finished product must be imported. A recent check of gas prices showed an average here of $4.75/gal equivalent versus $4.35/gal in Florida and $5.75/gal in California (all AAA quotes on regular). GG´s recollection is that gasoline here has historically run as high as a 50% premium versus the United States average.


GG personally solved this probe in a different way. I decided that, since I was a single retiree going to be based in the small town of Quepos and everything there is within a walking distance, and the bus service is timely and cheap, I´d try it for a while without a car. Guess what, never got one. After 50 years of continuous car ownership I was carless (or should I say, car-free). As I passed the age of 65, local buses became free and longer hauls, such as to San José, were subject to a 25% discount (total fare about $6 after discount). That combination kept my transportation expenses quite modest.


Another choice that helps your decision on whether to have a car or not is where you live. If you live in a remote area far from a town center, in the mountains or far from the beach, a car is not only useful but virtually required. Oh you say, having no car prevents you from touring the country - not really, that´s where a rental comes into play. GG has a National Car Rental office about three blocks from where I live and I´ve developed a good relationship with these people, maybe renting from them 6-8 times over the last ten years. Rent a car for two or three days to explore the country, return it to the rental car office at the end of the trip and let them do the maintenance - car maintenance here can be tougher and a growing expense as the car ages more rapidly here due to the high-temperature/high-humidity atmosphere.


Weekly Feria (Fresh Market) in Quepos

After transportation expenses, food is probably the next highest expense item on the budget. How expensive this can get is also a matter of choice and personal style. If you try to totally continue your pattern of food consumption as it was in North America, it is likely you´ll be spending more on food than you did stateside for a simple reason; many of the items you want are specialties imported at a premium. If you elect to go "totally Tico" (and there are marvelous selections on fresh seafood, fruits and masterful combinations with rice to try) your bill is likely to be less than before. Most people choose a combination of these options.


GG spent a considerable amount of time going to the weekly fresh markets (ferias) in the first years here and discovering a new tropical fruit every month. There are also a myriad of restaurants ranging from budget level all the way up to as close to haute cuisine as you´ll get in this part of the world with pricing that matches. In Quepos/Manuel Antonio there are some 60 restaurants of many different types. I can still get a large breakfast consisting of scrambled eggs with tomatoes, a large pile of gallo pinto (fried rice with black beans), ripe plantains and black coffee for 3,000 colones (about $4.60).


Reventazón Hydroelectric Plant, Costa Rica´s
and Central America´s Largest

Electricity is not cheap here; the last time I did a comparison of cost per kilowatt hour between here and Florida our number was almost twice that of the Sunshine State despite the fact (or because of it) that much of the electricity is generated by hydroelectric systems. This is particularly true in the summer months of January through April. Of course if your living on the side of a mountain in San Isidro it´s not so hot but if you choose the plains of Guanacaste it can be very hot. This is another factor in choosing where you want to live - Costa Rica offers several "microclimates" across the country.


Working in Costa Rica as an Expat


There are strict labor laws in Costa Rica designed to protect the jobs of the domestic work force. Here´s how it works, as recently summarized in an electronic expat newsletter: "Foreigners must be sponsored by an employer, and prove that they are taking a position that cannot be filled locally. This means that it can sometimes be difficult for foreigners to find a job legally. Although it is possible to apply for a work permit, these can be difficult to obtain, and it's advisable to avoid a job offer from a company that is unwilling or unable to secure you a work permit, as you risk being deported if you are employed without a valid permit".


Also, it is good to remember that median monthly income here (₡2.4 million or about $3,700) is considerably less than in U.S. ($5,200 median) and that you can expect a lower wage or salary for the same job than you are used to doing in North America..


A Digital Nomad at Work

However there is one bright light on the labor horizon. Authorities have come to realize that one area of employment is not only an easy way to attract talented people but provides foreign reserves because workers in this field get paid here or tend to import their earnings to spend here. The modern name for this type of work is digital nomadism. This is when a single person employs their personal computer to connect with persons and organizations around the world and performs jobs such as: Online Casinos, Language Training, Online Tutoring, Freelancing, Selling Goods Online, App Development, Blogging, Graphics Design, Podcasting, Selling Photos, Ebook Publishing, Virtual Assistance, Online Surveys, Affiliate Marketing and Job Boards and whatever else clever people can dream up.


The use of digital nomadism was given a boost in the last couple of years because of the imposed isolation caused by the Covid epidemic. Governments, including Costa Rica´s have come to realize that this method of doing business can be set up quickly on an individual basis and that it is likely the digital nomads will spend much of their income in the host country. In response to that, Costa Rica recently passed a law encouraging digital nomads to locate here that includes special residency permits and some tax breaks. To see what´s going on in this work specialty follow the links starting HERE.


For the digital nomad this lifestyle can provide world travel opportunities and a degree of freedom not found in classical jobs.


Do I need to Get Official Residency in Costa Rica?


No, but it helps in several ways. When entering Costa Rica as a North American visitor, all you need to present is your passport. The immigration official, assuming the passport is not hindered in any way, like with a notification from Interpol (just joking) and is up to date, you will be given a 90-day visa validation written right on your passport. Be sure that your passport is not set to expire during your 90 day visit or you will be required to renew it at the San José U.S. Embassy before you can leave.


At the moment there is no limitation as to the number of times you can perform this 90-day cycle ritual, the result of which classifies you as a "perpetual tourist" but it does require, as a minimum, a trip to the border pretty much taking a whole day. GG has known people who have lived here as long as 20 years on the basis of 90-day border runs and a couple of these as entrepreneurs who offered van rides to the border for a fee to accomplish the same thing (check out Facebook on this).


There are several border crossings on both the Western and Eastern sides of the Isthmus but the most popular ones are 1) the crossing into Nicaragua on the northwest corner of Costa Rica at a town called Peñas Blancas and 2) the crossing in the southwest corner of Costa Rica into Panama called Paso Canoas. Both are very busy crossings and major truck routes. Both require checking out of Costa Rica, including a small departure tax and an assortment of stamps, and then checking back in.


San Andros Island, Colombia

Remember that you can also satisfy your 90-day visa requirement by air or boat, while traveling to a foreign country (Nicaragua, Panama, Colombia and some of their islands and tourist spots for example) - GG did this for several years after moving here before he got his cedula. It was fun combining the visa requirement with learning about nearby countries. So it was that I was living in Costa Rica less that two years and coming up on a border run when I learned that San Andros Island, Colombia, a gem in the Caribbean, was only a 50 minute airplane ride from San José. I immediately scheduled a trip there to coincide with my visa update and spent five days in this Caribbean paradise. A travel agency package

offered airfare and three nights in a 1st class hotel including meals for a little more than $400. I couldn´t refuse, it was a great trip and I ended it with an automatic visa update.


The Almighty Cédula


So you can play the game of Perpetual Tourist as long as you wish but eventually the need to be an official resident overtakes you, either because of trying to do the right thing or because of legal considerations such as the ease of doing transactions in places like banks. About the end of the second year here GG had heard about getting official residency and that the result of that procedure was being issued a "cédula" (sed-ju-la), a plastic, credit-card like doc with your picture and immigration office registration number on it. This would turn out to be an important number and document to me in the future.


In 2010 I made my application for a cédula through a legal firm in San José. Unfortunately, this firm, recommended by a local friend of several years, turned out to be less than capable and creditable. At one point I even received an order from Immigration that, since I had never completed the application (that´s what the firm was supposedly doing), I needed to leave Costa Rica within three days (!!??!!). I made an express, drastic trip to Paso Canoas to update my passport 90 day visa and I fired the legal firm.


GG´s First Cédula

Because of this problem and as a result of this process I came to know intimately the true requirements of getting a cédula (certified birth certificate and police report from the state I last lived in were key - all the rest were incidentals like passport translations (available right outside of the San José Immigration Office, Social Security or other income verification etc., etc.).


By the middle of 2011 I had gathered all the appropriate information for a new application for a cédula and submitted it directly, no agent. I received my first cédula as a Pensionado (pensioner) in the second quarter of 2012. (fear not about my publishing the info in the photo above amigos, this info has long been replaced by a citizenship card and the cédula number above is dead as any Costa Rican computer worth its circuitry will confirm).


I renewed the cédula bi-annually four times (2014, 2016, 2918 and 2020) but later learned after three renewals, that with the next one (in 2020) I could have applied for permanent residency which only requires a five year renewal of the card. That became a moot point when I applied for a citizenship cédula instead in 2020, which is good for ten years. To review the process for obtaining a cédula, go HERE and review the steps in the article entitled "Getting Residency in Costa Rica" that are to be taken to secure this important residency document.


Where is the best place to live in Costa Rica?


Moving internationally is more complicated and can require more work, both logistically and legally. So, the best advice I ever heard, which I repeat here, is to "go slow, go far". Give yourself some time to check out the options. Have you got the hots to buy or build a house right away? - try renting for a year until you get the lay of the land, to confirm your ideal home is in the most attractive general location for you to invest and, by then you´ve also picked up a better idea of the way the culture operates. As another advice expert recently said: "Investing in real estate in Costa Rica can be profitable but if you don’t have experience with concessions, water rights, Napoleonic law, tropical construction and much more it can easily become a costly mistake." Go slow, go far amigos.


One of the Basic Decisions
Cozying Up to The Mountain(s) or the Beach

As to where in Costa Rica to live? This is about as personalized a decision as you can make. A good place to start is by switching demeanor from being a gringo to being an expat. By that I mean that Gringos are focused on "getting ´er done" and most of us pride ourselves on having moved from town to town or state to state in the past with minimum effort or complications. The Go Slow - Go Far policy will also help you here. You´ll have the time to evaluate what an area is really like versus what you think an area is like.


People have different interests and tastes. Some drool over kool mountain air while others like GG are crazy for the beach and ocean. (Yes, some are good at devising ways to split the difference). Some also love small town living whilst others desire a full panoply of retail and commercial services, regular theater or entertainment and even professional sports being closely available to them. As a guide to help the process, make a list of characteristics pertinent to your personal needs and wants: average temperatures, shopping, theater, and whatever else you feel is important to you.


Rate your characteristics in importance from 1 to 10 (most important), then give them another 1-10 rating for their availability in the area you´re rating (10 being very available). Multiply them out for a grand score by area weighted for your interests. If your initial pick prior to the analysis does not fall within the top three possibilities, do some more thinking. There´s nothing foolproof about this method but it does help you think out the process of making a more permanent decision on where to live based on your needs, likes and dislikes. Remember, Costa Rica offers a wide variety of mini-climates and styles of living from which to choose so it is inherent upon you to find the best combination that suits you.


Language Barrier


In recent years the Costa Rican government has pushed English as a second language resulting in more and more English speaking people (particularly those who are less than 30 years old) becoming more prevalent throughout the country. Although it is preferable and nicer to be able to converse in the native Spanish language, the use of English is routinely and widely used in Costa Rica and certainly for basic interactions like simple commercial transactions. If the transaction becomes complex or includes a legal aspect, it´s best to seek someone to help you who is both native in the language and competent in the subject.


If you still have the ability to learn languages easily (i.e., you haven´t reached an age where retention and extraction of information from the brain is more difficult, like GG) it´s best to engage a formal Spanish learning program, several of which are available in virtually every community in the country or in nearby municipal centers.


Medical Coverage


The availability and extent of medical coverage here might surprise you given the small size of the country (if Costa Rica was a state it would be #24). There are both diverse and healthy public and private medical systems well developed in the country.


It is important, however, to remember that moving here can severe your relationship with traditional medical services like Medicare

(not yet available oversees) and coverage by your U.S. insurance company. You can always retreat home to take advantage of these (assuming you keep up the payments) but you´ve added travel concerns, costs and potential inability to travel because of health status to the decision mix.


Part of the reason for the development of the private medical system is because of what is called "medical tourism". That basically is the foreign and common practice of individuals seeking medical treatment here because of the often substantial savings in the cost of a procedure here versus in the more developed (and more costly) countries including North America and Europe. Over time, a number of large medical centers have sprung up, particularly in the Central Valley, that offer these procedures and have developed full service operations. Another reason is that many doctors practicing here have undergone their training in the U.S. and other developed countries.


One of the things that has developed in recent years is the concomitant development of private insurance groups that seem to expand along with the private services. As one example (only) there are organizations like Hospital Metropolitano that not only offer a broad range of medical services but also significant savings based on a monthly plan (in that case they call it "Medismart") which acts much like traditional insurance with copays.


Where You Find The "CAJA"

Costa Rica also offers a broad public health system called the "CAJA" (cah-hah) which is part of the Social Security system here and available to all cédula holders. The good news, in my opinion, is that services are available at low cost (in my case about $85 per month) that includes all doctors visits, treatments, hospitalizations and short and long term medications (choice of the latter being sometimes limited). The not so good news is that this is socialized medicine and as such often involves bureacratic delays or hurdles to overcome. But with a little patience and increasing knowledge of how the system works and how to work it to your own benefit GG can say that the CAJA is definitely a good arrow in your quiver.


One other important point in my opinion: After more than 10 years of experience with the CAJA I can report that the medical staff, from technicans to doctors are competent and caring in their practice.


Join a Support Group/Other Info


You are not alone. Their are a number of expat groups in the country that could be of benefit to you either because their members have gone through the same process or because they just might know something you don´t. Joining an expat group is a good way to share experiences and get questions answered. Just a quick Google search of Expat Groups in Costa Rica turned up the following: Expatriates in Costa Rica; InterNations Expats in Costa Rica; Expat Exchange; Expatfocus.com; Expatra.com. For more local information, pick a more focused term for a region; here it might be Manuel Antonio.


Recall also that the Golden Gringo Chrnicles has been operating for some 13 years now and houses an archive we call the Topical Index. This is a set of links to approximately 330 articles classified under 15 categories of the Costa Rican experience as an expat, namely: About Quepos & Manuel Antonio (28); Profiles in Quepos (12); Agriculture (20); Costa Rica Wildlife (25); Costa Rican Culture (49); Getting Residency (9); Golden Gringo University (12); Health/Medical (27);History of Costa Rica (24); Legends of Costa Rica (18); The Beaches (14);Weather and Tremor Tales (17);Other Places in Costa Rica (15);Other Latin American Countries (37); Miscellaneous (17). To get to the categories and links above, go HERE.


GG wishes you the best in all you do and success in your evaluation of a move to one of the most beautiful countries in the world.


Search the Golden Gringo Chronicles Archives for Topics That Interest You


You can use our Archives to search for anything that has been written in more than 320 feature articles of the Golden Gringo Chronicles plus find Broken News items and ROMEO restaurant reviews. Enter your topic or item to search in the Google Search Routine below and follow the links offered from the search results.


Suggestion: Enter only a simple, precise and unique as possible key word or two in order to narrow the number of references retrieved:


Golden Gringo Chronicles - Enter Search Here

Readers: Our publication is open to suggestions regarding future articles and will accept pieces written by others but we reserve the right to decline anything that the editorial staff (that's GG) thinks is inappropriate for this format. Send proposals, comments, suggestions, ideas, meaningless statements and jocular observations concerning the Chronicles to GG here: gg@goldengringo.com.

Health Stuff

Note: The information given in this section is offered as news information only and does not indicate GGC confirmation or denial of the accuracy of the treatment or a recommendation to pursue it, nor can we or do we guarantee the efficacy of the results nor validity of the conclusions proffered. (How's that for a disclaimer amigos?)



Covid Nearly Over?


While a number of new cases of Covid 19 continue to pop up, the rate of these cases, including a reduction in the R Rate is continuing to decline as shown by the graph to the left.


Their is renewed interest and rumor mongering that the Costa Rican government is quietly planning an early April mask unvailing date. As we say here: "vamos a ver amigo", we shall see.


In Panama they reported on Saturday, March 19 there were no covid-related deaths, the first time that´s happened this year. Covid death rate in Panama (1.1%), like in Costa Rica (1.0%) remains one of the lowest in the region. For comparison purposes the rate in the U.S. is 1.2% and for the world 1.3%.


¡Pura Vida!



Travel Quote of the Month

“The only time I feel light-hearted is when I’m on a plane at 33,000 feet.” – Robert Rivers

¡A Cachete!


GGC Bookshelf

drfGGC Publications Group is the parent organization that publishes the Golden Gringo Chronicles as well as a number of books and paraphernalia related to the Chronicles and Costa Rica. The GGC Bookshelf also includes works from a number of other authors that belong to the Quepos-Manuel Antonio Writers Group in which GGC has been a founding member.


Here are the books currently on our bookshelf:


lop uio cvb jio
Costa Rica`s Mystery Spheres Mariposa - English

Mariposa - Español The Chronicles as a Narrative

#1 Read More #2 Read More #3 Leer más aquí #4 Read More
gty ikl dft drt
Small Business Guide Making Time Count Overcoming Drinking Murder or Suicide?
#5 Read More #6 Read More #7 Read More #8 Read More
ser kio fty
Getting Around the Capital Retiring in Costa Rica Avoiding the Pitfalls What's the Sleuth Up To?
#9 Read More #10 Read More #11 Read More #12 Read More


awe drt There's Room for
More on the QMA Writers Group Bookshelf

Keep Writing Amigos!
Spiritual Love Connection World War II True Story Wildfire and the Tribune  
#13 Read More #14 Read More #15 Read More  


All of the above books are available on Amazon.com and the "Read More" links above will lead you to them. You can find more detail on all of them on our GGC Publications Page.

GGC Products Store

GGC Publications also offers some accessories and paraphernalia related to the Chronicles and with Costa Rican themes, to wit:






a. Golden Gringo Chronicles with Logo
b. Official Golden Gringo with Monkey on Banana Hammock
c. ¡Quepo en Quepos! ("I Fit In Quepos!") with Photo of Quepos
d. Wanna Monkey Around? - Come on Down! (shown) with Photo of White Faced Monkey, e. It's OK to be Slothful with photo of Three-Toed Sloth.


The t-shirts are available in several themes, colors, styles and sizes. See them all HERE.


Coffee Mugs:


a. Golden Gringo, b. Wanna Monkey Around?, c. It's OK to be Slothfulgty

See them all HERE:

What's life without a great cup of Costa Rican coffee? And it tastes even better in a Golden Gringo Chronicles mug!

To see ALL the products available in the Golden Gringo Store go here: GGC Store.


¡Solo Bueno!


"Tell me and I forget; teach me and I remember; involve me and I learn"
Benjamin Franklin

Answer to Que Es Eso



It´s called a Halloween Crab - pretty good name for the looks of it, don´t you think.


The Halloween crab is indigenous to Costa Rica and often is kept as a pet in small groups because of it´s ability to strike interesting poses and also because of its ease of maintenance.



More On Homographs


homograph is a word that is spelled identically to another word but none the less has a different meaning and probably a different origin. Some homographs are heteronyms, or words with the same spelling but different pronunciations and meanings, such as the verb moped (past tense of mope) and the noun moped (a motorbike). The etymology of homograph is from the Latin, "to write the same". Homographs can also produce riddles:


¡Pura Vida!




ROMEO Corner
(Retired Old Men Eating Out)

Making Up for Lost Time - La Dolce Vita


You may recall that last month, due to extensive computer problems, GG was unable to schedule a ROMEO Review. We´re making up for it this month by doing two reviews. If you´d like to see the first of these, done on La Dolce Vita, go HERE.


Note: In an effort to speed up the process for the second review our original target for a restaurant was abandoned when several of us showed up for a 12:30 pm gathering expecting the restaurant to have at least opened by then. Nope - this particular restaurant opens a 2 pm (essentially - for dinner only). On a quick group decision we shifted to the Hotel Villas Lirio about 200 meters beyond the target (Oceano Restaurant). We´ll try for Oceano again next month. So for this month´s review, continue below:


The Restaurant at Villas Lirio - Manuel Antonio


Location: Top of Manuel Antonio Hill, just before the futbol field on the east side of the main road.

Hours: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Sunday thru Monday

Parking: Limited inside the compound, some additional on the main road.

Contacts: Tel: 8402 7661; Website: https://villaslirio.com


Reviewing ROMEOS: Bob N., Glen N., Steve M.

To Review Our Rating System Go Here: R.O.M.E.O. Rating System


Dining Area - Villas Lirio Restaurant

This restaurant was last reviewed more than three years ago so this coincidental review turned out to be apropos. The hotel-restaurant, from all appearances, continues to be well maintained and decorated and well-blended into the surrounding jungle - very pleasant and comfortable surroundings. The composite score for ambiance from the ROMEOS on this trip came in at 4.3/5.0 sloths.


The menu presented was a rather broad collection of meats, fish and pastas - plenty to choose from.


GG, in a rare departure from swinging towards fish or pasta, chose a dolomite advertised as having a green pepper sauce accompanied by steamed vegetables and papas puree (the quintessential mashed potato accompaniment of many Tico dishes). The green pepper sauce, of which I was thinking would consist of a cream sauce with green peppercorns turned out to be a small ramekin with a thick green sauce. The sauce was mild and complimented the steak very well, which was cooked exactly to order, medium-rare, and was tender.


Other ROMEOS had a dorado with rice and vegetables and a pasta primevera. All dishes were complimented with a variety of vegetables and the composite score for food quality came in at 4.5/5.0 sloths. Then the three of us threw dietary caution to the wind and each ordered some form of pie a la mode to finish the meal.

Value Index= 137


We were served by a young man named Willfred who quickly became "Willy". We clicked with him immediately when I began humming the theme song of the most popular Costa Rican futbol team and he reacted instantaneously with thumbs up! The composite score for service came in at 4.8/5.0 sloths, the highest of all three ratings and yielding an average of ambiance, food quality and service of 4.6/5.0 sloths.


For my steak, the pie a la mode and a ginger ale michelada, the bill came in exactly at $30. I consider that just about standard for Manual Antonio. The composite score for cost came in at 3.3/5.0 resulting in a Value Index of 4.6/3.3x100=137, quite high on our charts.


The Villa Lirios restaurant remains an attractive and comfortable place to have a tasty meal in this area.


¡Solo Bueno!




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Pura Vida!

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Be pithy but kind; I'm sensitive.








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