Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Green To Not So Green

So "dry" season in Costa Rica supposedly starts in mid-November and continues to mid-May.  This has not really been the case this year.  We had rain going into like mid-late December and then it stopped.  Until this week there it has poured four days.  Not the entire day, but for a couple hours.   Which i guess is weird for dry season.  My plants like it, so I am cool with it!

Speaking of plants, I have started planting some seeds to grow some of our own veggies.  I know NOTHING about this, so we will see how it goes.  I am so far growing garlic, bell peppers, leeks and radishes.  Planted all at different times.  Leeks were just planted today.  The garlic, which was only planted two days ago is already sprouting up!  And the bell peppers and radishes were planted less than a week ago and are already sprouting like crazy plants!  It's insane.  Such fun seeing how fast stuff grows here.  I think it will not be long before Kurt is building me a garden area, as the pots will not work for the bigger stuff I may want to plant if I continue to be interested in gardening.  So far, I love it! 

With the house, Kurt finished my closet in the bedroom, and installed the solar lights around the pool and all the way down the walkway in the yard to the bodega.  Both projects look great.  He is also almost done painting the third bedroom.  Also, the two new AC units we bought are here, and we are waiting for them to be installed.  once they are, we will have units in all bedrooms and the living room area, which is basically the entire house.

Today, we went to a local place to talk to a furniture builder.  We need some stuff done.  In specific, beds for the spare room.  If we like their work, we have other work for them too that needs to be done like cabinets in my bathroom, a door for the laundry room, etc.  I also want two small tables, one for each spare room, which I plan to hang a mirror over.  Don't want clutter in the spare rooms so I am keeping it simple.

Back when we did our border run, we took a trip the next day to San Jose.  Stopped at Stihl to get a part Kurt needed for his weed wacker.  Then went to Pequeno Mundo where we got two pool chairs, Kleenex, and some various food items.  Stopped at Pricesmart next to stock up on bulk stuff we buy (toilet paper, cheese, paper towel, solar lights, peanut butter, vegetable oil).  And stopped at EPA where Kurt bought material to make me a full length mirror for the bedroom as well as hoses for the yard.  Had lunch at Subway. 

Have been cooking a lot of new things, which is fun.  I made chickpea rosemary soup the other night that I loved!  See recipe here: http://www.kitchme.com/recipes/creamy-chickpea-and-rosemary-soup.  Kurt does not like rosemary (we found out) so it was not his favorite, but I ate it for three days and will make again for me for lunches.   Made this Spanish Rice just to mix things up since we usually eat white rice with soy, and loved it as well: http://www.justapinch.com/recipes/main-course/mexican/spanish-rice-8.html.  I am always trying new bean burgers.  Kurt said this is his favorite yet, which I made last night.  They are baked instead of grilled: http://www.kalynskitchen.com/2008/08/recipe-for-baked-falafel-patties-with.html?m=1.  Oh, and this was awesome! I subbed ahi tuna and mixed up the veggies some, but it was great and lasted for two meals as well: http://www.kitchme.com/recipes/chicken-pineapple-stir-fry.   I have been trying to buy a new veggie every farmers market trip.  This week, I bought what I thought was something new, but it was in fact a variety of the chayote, which I already purchased and made.  A guy on one of my boards told me how to plant the chayote to have my own in the yard, so I am going to use it for that.  Chayote vine, here I come!  :).

We also heard from our lawyers today and they are *thinking* we may have our car back as soon as Friday or early next week.  Crossing my fingers that can happen, but not counting on it.  I hope so! 

Other than that, have just been enjoying life.  Love laying by my pool every day, and going for swims after my nightly runs.  Been going out more and meeting new people.  We met a couple who lives in Hermosa Beach who we had dinner with and gelato.  And, they work out at our gym!  :).  They have similar personalities to us, so I think we will be seeing a lot of them once we have our car back.  We also went on a hike with another couple in Jaco that was amazing.  It overlooked Jaco and had amazing ocean views.  Cant wait to do the hike with them again.  And, he works out at our gym!  How funny.  Super nice couple.  They live here half the year in Jaco.

Anyway, just wanted to update everyone on life in my Paradise.  Pura Vida!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Panama Border Run Trip

Kurt and I have applied for residency in Costa Rica.  Until we are approved though, which generally takes about a year (give or take), we have to leave the country every 90 days.  Our last two trips have been to Nicaragua.  This time we decided to go to Panama.  I think I have avoided Panama in the past because a lot of people on the expat message boards I am on talk about having more problems at this border, i.e. not being give 90 more days, etc.  Also, Panama requires proof of more things at the border sometimes, like having a certain amount of cash per person and proof of travel back to your "home" country, which or us would be a plane ticket back to the USA.  It just is a lot of paperwork to get ready.  However, Kurt really wanted to check out this area, as there is a duty free shopping area between the borders, which is local outdoor shopping and two malls, so we decided to bite the bullet and go!  SOOO glad we did. 

To prepare for this trip, we did the following.  Converted colones to $500.00 dollars and printed out a bank statement showing over $500.00.  This would prove we each had $500.00 to Panama.  We also went to our travel agent in Jaco, and obtained proof of travel back to the States from Panama, as well as proof of a bus ticket from Costa Rica to Managua for the Costa Rican aduana.  I also made copies of our passport because they sometimes ask for that as well.

We got up early for us and left the house at 655 AM.  Got to Paso Canoas at 1035 AM.  Parked across the street from Costa Rica Aduana at a lot that watched your car for 800 colones per hour.  It was located next to a car wash.  We were given a ticket to show upon leaving to pay.  Crossed the street and went to Aduana (customs).  We were given a form to fill out & told to pay a fee at the bank to exit (the bank was in the same area at Aduana).  Went and paid the $7 per person fee and were given a receipt.  Filled out the form and hopped in line between two other people.   We were stamped out quickly and left.  Went to the Panama side, which was a short 5 minute walk.  And Wow, Panama seems a lot warmer than Costa Rica, weirdly.  For Panama, waited in short line and we were directed to two separate windows.  Kurt was asked for passport, proof of funds (he showed his $500 cash) and proof of onward travel (he showed the plane ticket).  I was asked for the same, except NOT asked for proof of onward travel.  We were stamped in. 

Proceeded to walk around the shopping area for 2 hours 45 minutes.  Lots of good deals here.  Great deals on electronics like TVs and good deals on some food as well.  Kurt bought 4 baseball caps and I bought some beauty supplies.  We ate lunch at Subway, and were both tired, so we headed back to check out of Panama and back into Costa Rica.

Checking out of Panama was simple, short line.  At the Costa Rica side, we were only asked for passports.  No proof of anything else.  Were given the max, 90 days.

Drove home.  Drive home took a tad longer since there was some more traffic, but the drive was still far superior to the Nicaragua drive.

Overall, super long day, but if we have to do another border run and are not approved for residency before April, we will be doing Panama again.  I had heard so many horror stories, but we did not run into any issues at all.  I highly suggest going on Wednesday if you ever have to go.

Pura Vida!