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Penny's Peace of Paradise

A gringa and her family's adventures living in Costa Rica.

Monday, November 9, 2009

I'm Turning Tica, Si! Oh Yes, I Think So...

It's official, I'm turning into a Tica, and here is why:

#1 When we first arrived in Costa Rica, I thought the women dressed very provocatively. Tight and revealing, regardless of less than fit bodies, and always strutting around in high heels. Late teens through great grandmothers, they all flaunt what they've got! As a fifty year old, ex hippy, I ambled around in my sensible flats (often Birkenstocks,) loose fitting shirts, and comfortable khakis, camouflaging, what I felt, was my less than perfect body. In the states, the obsession with thin is ingrained in every woman from a young age. My first diet was in middle school. Latin women embrace their figures and feminism, some of it has to do with the slightly "macho" society, but the women here are confident in their female form. Many exercise daily and try to eat healthier. Their tight clothes often reveal bulges, pooches, and bumps, but they are comfortable in their skin. They know that dressing up a bit, and taking a few extra minutes on your appearance, makes you feel beautiful and radiate confidence. I now embrace my feminine side and get my nails done, wear a bit of make-up, close fitting clothes, and heels. I feel great, and get appreciative looks, and compliments from friends.

My new look:

The Cinema Society Hosts A Screening Of "Precious" - Arrivals

just kidding...

#2 Ticas keep a clean house. I am many things, creative, optimistic, fun loving, but not a neat-nik. I appreciate organization, and get into putting a closet into shape, every now and then, but the daily tidying, sweeping, mopping, etc... NOT! Well, it's beginning to change, I am taking pride in my neat and tidy casa. Things are far from most Tico homes, but I'm working on it!

#3 While I'm on this topic, let's take a peek into my Tico bathroom, shall we...

Perhaps, because this is a rental Tico home, it seems appropriate, but never in a thousand years, would I have wanted to dress up my toilet in the states! I think this is the ultimate proof that I am a Tica now.

Totally Tica

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Quick Trip to Tortugero

We left on Friday morning to go check out the island of Tortugero, on the northeastern coast of Costa Rica. We would be catching the tail end of the green turtle watching season, but we remained optimistic as ever! I belong to a Yahoo group called Costa Rica Living, and many generous folks there, recommended a stay at Casa Marbella, in the little town of Tortugero. The innkeeper, Daryl Loth was quick to reply to our inquiry, and we headed out, instructions, and maps in hand. Many visitors sign up with the larger lodges, which provide transport to and from the Central Valley (San Jose,) to the riverboat that takes you to the lodges. These are "all-inclusive" packages and sounded like something we would absolutely NOT be interested in!

We set off from Grecia, and headed east to Guapiles, on the Caribbean side. From there, we followed a road up to a small farm called La Pavona, about 30 kilometers(15 of those on a dirt road) north of Cariari. We found the farm and left our car with a congenial fellow named Ronald. The farm belongs to his father-in-law. Ronald then drove us another kilometer to the river's edge. There we caught one of the water taxis heading up river.

The initial river we traveled, is very shallow, and the captain had to slow and lift the trim often, but we also swiftly banked on the turns, to the thrill of all of the passengers. We soon came to the larger river, and cruised up to the island town of Tortugero. Periodically we let off local residents and their bags of staples to carry them through another month of isolated living at their small riverside casas. We were then dropped off at the Casa Marbella lodge (http://casamarbella.tripod.com/,) and found a very comfortable and and tidy room. We arranged for a night tour to see the turtles laying their eggs, or deshove.

We ate a great lunch at the nearby Budda Cafe, then walked over to the Visitor's Center. It was a very informative stop, then we began our return along the beach and came across baby turtles, recently hatched, who were making their way out to the surf, it was breathtaking to see! Everyone was very respectful, and equally entranced by what we were witnessing.

Our evening tour to, hopefully see adult females come up on the beach to lay eggs, was unsuccessful. In the park, the long length of beach is "divided" into sectors. The visitors are led to a waiting point near, but off the beach. Two park rangers, per sector, scan the beach for incoming turtles. The park, and guides, do a great job of keeping the humans away from the beach until a turtle is spotted. Once they feel the time is right, they lead one of the small groups to the beach, with their guide, to witness a portion of the process from a safe distance. After a period of time, that group is led off the beach, and another goes out with their guide. The entire process is about two hours long, so there is plenty of time for everyone to see it all. Our visit was at the end of the green turtle season, and alas, during the two-hour block of time we waited there near the beach, no turtles were spotted. We felt very fortunate we had seen the babies earlier in the day.

We went for a morning boat tour of the surrounding jungle waterways with Isabel, from Casa Marbella. We gathered on the hotel boat dock at six am, with five others, staying at the hotel, and set out on a wonderful journey! The experienced boat driver deftly maneuvered our little four-stroke boat around, to get us close enough to beautiful flora and fauna, without disturbing anything. We saw two types of tucans, numerous beautiful birds, a baby caimen, baby, teen, and 20-something iguanas, long nosed bats, a large bright yellow viper, a large spider that creates a golden web that is incredibly strong, howler, white faced capuchin, and spider monkeys. We learned so much about the plants and trees, it was fantastic!

We periodically passed large boats that sped by full of tourists from the larger resorts. They could not possibly have seen and learned a portion of what we did, I do not recommend them at all.

We left the next day, and once we got back to Guapiles, we headed northwest over to Agua Zarces, and the magnificent natural hot springs of Termales del Bosque (http://www.termalesdelbosque.com/english/.) We spent the balance of the day soaking in the various hot spring pools, and then cooling off in the river...aaaah! We spent the night in one of their very comfortable cabins, and went horseback riding in the hills after a hearty breakfast, the next morning. We rode into a forest, where a group of howler monkeys went wild at seeing us. We hooted, barked and howled at each other, it was great!

Time to head home...exhausted and amazed at our magical weekend. video

Monday, October 12, 2009

Ruh, Roh...

Chichen Itza

Scooby Doo jokes aside,

"Those who don't know history, are destined to repeat it." Edmund Burke, Philosopher 1729-1797.

NASA seems to be doing some questionable things, like crashing rockets deep into the surface of the moon, but the information provided in this report, combined with the physical finds, are striking. *Click post title for article

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Square Watermelons...Brilliant!

WARNING: Members of PETAP (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and Plants) may want to skip this.

Click on the post title above to get instructions

Monday, September 7, 2009

Labor Day in Costa Rica

The past few weeks here in paradise, have been eventful!

We took the family to Termales del Bosque:

and had an amazing time at the quiet and little known, hot springs in the jungle. We took our regular vacation to San Carlos, Nicaragua, and were able to share this unique adventure with our son, who was utterly "blown away" by the experience! You can find out more about this trip by checking out my earlier post in June. We went into San Jose and had lunch at Tin Jo,(fantastic Asian fare) then made our way to the nearby import store to purchase fresh tofu, a new Mah jong set, and I bought myself a birthday present...a lighted and framed picture of a waterfall with a rolling devise behind which makes the waterfall and river below, come alive! Those who never frequented bars of old in the US, have never seen one of these "magical pictures," which were used as advertisements for various breweries. Ahh the memories... The only thing missing, thankfully, is the stale smell of beer and tobacco!

The culmination of all this frivolity, came with a surprise 50th birthday party thrown by my husband and our wonderful friends here in Grecia. We drank mango rum, swam, chatted endlessly, and threw darts during the evening downpour.

Living the dream here in paradise!


Saturday, September 5, 2009

Please take a few minutes to listen to this enlightening interview....


Thursday, August 27, 2009

"If You Don't Have Something Nice To Say..."

We love Costa Rica! Check out our nearby hot springs.

That said, for some reason, many expats here complain, and complain, and complain! It's exasperating. Almost everyone here has chosen to relocate here, yet they spend precious time grousing about minutia. Life is not perfect here, but for those who come here with their eyes open, can speak some Spanish, and are optimists, this opportunity is a gift! Transplants have to adapt to the pace and the Costa Rican mindset. Dealing with bureaucracies is exasperating everywhere, but Cost Rica takes it up a notch. However, not having the addition of a meddling military, like other Latin countries, makes it much more bearable. When I hear folks complain, I usually attribute it to being retired, with time on their hands, but I believe living abroad is not for many, and the complaints are a symptom of this. You need to possess the attributes I listed above and spend time here, in many locations. Talk to as many expats as you can here, but don't believe everything you hear, consider the source, WHERE they live and HOW they live. ! I read blogs by expats already living here, before I moved, but be warned, you'll see some complaining there too.

Consider why you want to move abroad. Economic woes, most certainly won't be repaired here, and you should probably know who you are, rather than trying to find yourself once you land in a foreign country. My advice may sound a bit harsh, but you only want to make a move like this after research, and soul searching. Perhaps then, at least the number of unhappy expats here in Costa Rica will drop. I recommend:

blog expat

Click on the suitcase above, to sample the experiences of many expats in foreign lands.