Stay up to date and informed about what is going on in Samara and Carrillo. Use our Bulletin Board as a daily resource for community information, notices or even to see if you can catch a ride with someone to another place in Costa Rica. This is a free service so it you want to post something on the Samara Info Center Bulletin Board, just send us an email and we will do it for you.2013-03-07 08:36:30
By Ana Boleña
The second annual Christmas Toy Drive was a resounding success thanks to its organizers, Sámara-Carrillo Info Center, and the people of Sámara and Carrillo, as well as many compassionate tourists who donated gifts, money and time.
This group of Santa’s helpers put smiles on the faces of hundreds of children from San Fernando through Sámara and Carrillo to Estrada. However, on Christmas Day there were gifts still remaining, so the elves jumped back in their sleigh and found other recipients; without the toy drive the kids would have received nothing.
Be sure to check the SCIC website for all information including the events calendar, opportunities to volunteer, jobs, yard sales and more. Send Brenda and Chris any pertinent information to add to the site, www.samarainfocenter.com.
2013 arrived in Sámara with a bang, literally, and it came from the many firework displays up and down the beach in Cangrejal. The pueblo was full of locals and tourists enjoying music and dancing around beach fires, in restaurants, at bars and on terraces of homes – a great start for a new year.
The Natural Health Center and Spa (2656-2346) in the center of Sámara initially featured a gym, massage, cafeteria, yoga, a spa and a play area. Now they offer a number of other services. There are also other like-minded businesses in the health center compound, the largest of which is a grocery and café, Sámara Organics, where you will find healthy, organic food, a welcome alternative to the processed foods and to “fresh” foods grown many kilometers away in chemically-fertilized soil.
Enjoy breakfast, lunch and snacks at the café Mon.-Sat. from 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m. If you go on a Friday afternoon, you will find the Sámara Farmers Market stocked with local foods, organically grown and made, fresh baked goods, naturally fermented sodas, fresh eggs, jams, jewelry, art and much more. The market is open from 3-6 p.m. on Fridays, but will soon add another day; the date will be announced in a future edition. If you are interested in space at the market, contact Angelina at Sámara Organics (2656-3046) or email@example.com.
You can’t miss the pink Panaderia & Heladeria Princesa sign at the Patio Colonial, nor do you want to if you like baked goods or ice cream. Joanie opened in July 2012 and expected few customers initially, but found immediate popularity, perhaps due to the soup and sandwich lunch specials, which might be the best comfort food in Sámara. This redhead is an experienced caterer who stays open seven days a week, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. or later. Stop by, call 8501-5624 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
(Published in the Tico Times)
By Ana Boleña
FYI – if you call ICE at 1117 to report problems with your land line, the call goes to 911 which is very confusing plus unnecessarily ties up the 911 line. I called twice as I expect others might – it made no sense! The number is now 1119. Please help get the word out.
2012 was probably not too different from prior years, at least until the morning of September 5 when our local world was rocked by the huge earthquake. Remember how eerily quiet it was for a good 5 minutes after the shaking stopped? Even the monkeys lost their voices!
It is easy to forget how truly kind people can be, so one good thing from the quake – that day many caring people offered rides to higher ground to anyone walking and most shared food and drink. The moment also highlighted how alike yet different we are plus how interesting we can be. In talking with various people about what they grabbed on their way out the door, I learned that the two most common items were personal documents and water. Beyond that, the choices varied widely with the most unusual easily being the following collection: Monopoly game, the book ‘Spanish for Dummies’, a rechargeable flashlight that was half spent, an empty cooler, a laptop, two bottles of men’s cologne, his fishing pole and lures. His wife thought to take the water and documents! Reactions varied, too. One woman noticed how calm the dogs and cats were so figured there would be no tsunami and walked to the beach to look at the ocean! Then began the aftershocks so my new word that day was ‘replica’. People were a bit (or alot) edgy, one woman so much so that the first calm night without any midnight aftershock, she dreamt of one and woke the entire family so that they could leave!
At the risk of sounding schmaltzy, I will say how inspiring it was to see neighbors really helping each other and how some people even opted to let their own chaos wait in favor of helping others with greater need such as the store owners who returned to mammoth messes. Seems that we remembered our fragility and also how much stronger we become when working together.
Happy 2013 or, better yet, a personally satisfying 2013 to all. Often as a year ends we mull over changes that we would like to (or don’t really want to but acknowledge that we should!) make to improve some aspect of life. Everything seems to boil down to health, be it physical, mental or emotional AND whether or not the desire is strong enough to exert the discipline. The success feels good, though, does it not? I heard through a smoker friend of a site for smokers who wish to quit it is on Facebook cig@vivo. Please note that I vouch neither for the company nor the product, it just looks interesting.
I want to learn something every day, even if just one new Spanish word and to laugh more. Hopefully whatever you want you will make happen! May we roll with the punches, not take anything personally and move ahead each day.
Provided By TripAdvisor
To dispell the most common travel agency rumor: travel agencies do not make their money by overcharging you, the client. Almost all travel agencies are highly integrated into the tourism industry in a country and make their money from comission contracts with the hotels and tour agencies they book. Think of them as marketing firms for tourism in Costa Rica, the individual companies pay them, not the customer!
With that in mind, travel agencies are a huge benefit to you because the travel consultant you work with should have a thorough and up-to-date understanding of all the hotels, tours and destinations in the country. They can tell you if trying to fit 3 destinations into a 7-day itinerary can work, and the best way to travel between the destinations to save you time and money.
The best way to use a travel agency to your advantage is to go into your conversation with an open attitude and remember you are in no way obligated to buy for inquiring! Then if you like what you hear, remember that you aren’t going to be charged extra if you let them do the hard work and coordinate payments to all hotels and tours that you choose. Taking advice from more than one source is always recommendable (that’s what trip advisor is for!) so research and then see what a resource of the human form can do for you.
As a quick Google search will prove, the web is saturated with Online travel agencies looking to grab your attention. The top two things to look for are 1. if the company is physically located in the country (thus they will have more informed agents) and 2. for safety reasons, make sure they are registered with the ICT (Costa Rican Government Tourism Board) you can find the latest list on the ICT website:http://www.visitcostarica.com/ict/pag… or Canatur (the Costa Rican National Chamber of Tourism) you can find the latest list on the Canatur website http://www.canatur.org/ingDefault.aspx.
Provided By CASATUR
BEFORE AN EARTHQUAKE:
Costa Rica, like anywhere else in the world, is subject to natural disasters, particularly earthquakes, due to the reported levels of seismic activity. Therefore, it is recommended that all inhabitants be prepared, in order to mitigate the negative after-effects of these kinds of events. How to prepare?
1. Have a backpack filled with emergency items in an easily accessible place. The pack should contain:
• First-Aid Kit and any prescription medicines
• Enough canned/dry food and water to last two days, a can opener.
• Flashlight and batteries (no in the flashlight, so they do not wear down)
• Small radio and batteries (again, not installed)
• Change of clothes and blanket
• Basic toiletries, repellent, sunscreen, baby supplies
• Copies of personal documents (passport/cedula), family phone #s, extra set of keys
2. If you own a house in the area, check all large furniture items to make sure these are attached to the wall and cannot fall on a person in the event of an earthquake. These can be secured with screws, hooks, etc to the wall. Also, remove any heavy items hanging from ceilings or walls that could fall and injure people. Large chandeliers are not recommended light fixtures for this country!
3. Establish a meeting point for friends and family where you will reconvene after an earthquake. This area should be open, free of large trees, buildings, power lines, etc, and should be 300 meters or more back from the beach, and over 10 meters high. Ideally, the meeting point will be accessible by foot, bike or car. In Sámara, suggested points are:
• Top of Hill near Hotel Lodge Las Ranas
• Top of Loma Verde area (up the hill from Sámara Pacific Lodge or Hotel Pequeño Gecko Verde)
• Top of Hill next to the houses called “2 Amigos”, located next to the bridge over Río Lagarto
• Hill by Barracuda (on road heading out of town towards Nicoya) **INTERCULTURA MEETING POINT**
• High points further out on road towards Nicoya, such as the Ferretería (Hardware store), but NOT the gas/petrol station.
• Hill behind Hotel Mirador de Sámara
• Hill up from the brown condominium building on road opposite Hotel Las Brisas
• Up the hill towards the Santo Domingo Area
DURING AN EARTHQUAKE:
• If you are inside a building and can easily leave, do so, and look for an open area with no trees, overhead power lines, tall buildings, etc.
• If you are up high, only leave if you can do slow calmly and orderly. Do not use elevators. When using stairs, walk, do not run. More accidents happen from running during and earthquake than from the actual damages.
• If you are stuck inside, crouch down right next to a solid piece of furniture and try to cover your neck, head and back with a chair or other similar object that can protect from falling items. When the earthquake ends, leave the building quickly but calmly and find open ground.
• If inside, also try to make sure you are not directly underneath beams or large light fixtures.
AFTER AN EARTHQUAKE:
• Proceed to the established meeting place. For Intercultura students, this is the hill by Barracuda, on the road out to Nicoya.
• Await instructions from staff or community leaders in charge of evacuations once students are convened.
• Try to reach a radio, or TV if electricity is on, to see emergency news reports.
• Call your family to let them know you are safe, or send messages via face book, text, etc.
• Remain calm, and remember, the worst has passed. In the event of a Tsunami, experts state that typically a tsunami happens approximately 30 minutes to 2 hours after an earthquake, so you have plenty of time to get to high ground. Also, once you retreat, even by a few hundred meters, from the beachfront area, you drastically reduce any risk to yourself.
• If you are stuck in a beachfront area for any reason, experts recommend getting to the highest point possible, for example, the upper floors of a concrete block construction, or the highest branches of a tall tree, as any height you can give yourself will greatly improve your chances in the event of a tsunami.
• If you are out at sea on a boat, DO NOT try to come inland. Stay out at sea, as tsunami waves are usually only a foot high in deep waters, so you will be safer there. Stay out at sea for several hours, as some tsunamis can last 3-4 hours with a series of waves coming at intervals.
• And remember, less than half of all earthquakes actually cause tsunamis, and of those, many are imperceptible to the human eye.
USEFUL THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT TSUNAMIS:
1. Palm trees with their long, bare trunks are well adapted to life on the shore and often survive tsunamis intact.
2. A “mega-tsunami” is a tsunami with extremely high waves and is usually caused by a landslide. A mega-tsunami occurred at Lituya Bay, Alaska, in 1958, creating the tallest tsunami ever recorded at 1,700 feet (534 m) high. Miraculously, only two people died. Most tsunamis are between 1 meter and 30 meters high.
3. Reports show that those who use their cars to escape tsunamis often get stuck in traffic jams or encounter other obstacles and are, therefore, more likely to be swept away. Reports show that the best way to escape is on foot, climbing up any steep slopes nearby as quickly as possible.
4. If caught by a tsunami wave, it is better not to swim, but rather to grab a floating object and allow the current to carry you.
5. A tsunami is actually made up of a series of waves that may arrive every 10 to 60 minutes. Often the first wave may not be the largest. The danger from a tsunami can last for several hours after the arrival of the first wave.
6. Tsunami waves typically do not curl and break, so you should never try to surf a tsunami.
7. Tsunamis can travel through deep water as fast as 950kph. However, their amplitude (height) is only about 1 meter with a wavelength of 200-300m. In deep water, a tsunami is just barely perceptible, if at all.
8. Sometimes a tsunami may cause the water near the coast to recede dramatically, exposing land that is usually submerged. This is a sure sign of an impending tsunami.
9. Some types of animals have an innate sixth sense, which enables them to detect when a tsunami is going to occur: they will then head inland in the opposite direction.
10. Tsunamis are accompanied by a loud roaring sound, described by witnesses as being similar to the sound of a train or aircraft.
11. In a minor tsunami, the waves can be only millimeters/feet high.
EMOTIONAL AFTEREFFECTS FOLLOWING AN EARTHQUAKE:
Immediate reactions you may experience following an earthquake:
• Emotional: Confusion, Fear, Anger, Worrying, Sadness, Numbness
• Physical: Disorientation, Fatigue, Headache, Stomach ache, Difficulties sleeping
• Behavioral: Withdrawal from friends and family, Alcohol, prescription medications, or other drugs can make the situation worse.
To Reduce Anxiety:
• Talking to or spending time with others for support or joining groups
• Engaging in positive distracting activities (sports, hobbies, reading) and exercise
• Getting adequate rest and eating healthy meals
• Trying to maintain a normal schedule
• Using relaxation methods (breathing, meditation, soothing music, prayer)
Possible Further Reactions:
• Fear and worry about safety, fear of separation from family members
• Worry that another earthquake will come
• Increase in activity level, trouble concentrating or paying attention
• Withdrawal from others, angry outbursts, lack of interest in usual activities
• Increase in physical complaints, such as headaches and stomachaches
• Change in school/work performance
• Long-lasting focus on the earthquake, such as talking repeatedly about it
• Changes in sleep patterns and appetite
If you are experiencing these or other symptoms and would like to receive professional help, there are trained psychologists available free of charge. Contact Intercultura staff and we will coordinate the meeting for you. Also, remember our staff is here to help you and is happy to offer our own advice and experience in English, French, German and Spanish.
My Workout: Marathon man racing for fitness in every state (and D.C.)
(Samara has the pleasure of welcoming Art once of twice a year with open arms!)
Who: Art Walker, 73, formerly from Portland, now on the open road; 5 feet 8 inches, 150 pounds.
In early 2006, when Walker was first featured in My Workout, he was a chiropractor with a Portland practice. He was working on his goal of running a marathon in every state and had 21 to his credit. (He had 30 to go because he counts Washington, D.C.) In 2007, after 30 years in Portland, Walker retired and his wife, C.J., sold her dance studio. They hit the road in a motor home and have toured the U.S. several times chasing marathons. They’ve also survived living together in 300 square feet and have now been married 14 years. He’s down to his last two state marathons: Delaware in September and Connecticut in early October. He’ll realize his goal in late October with the Marine Corps marathon in D.C. His daughter Alexe plans to come from Hawaii to celebrate her 50th birthday by running the marathon with him. (Walker has three daughters and three grandchildren.)
After 32 years of marathons, Walker says the races are better organized and supported but also more expensive. A lot more people run them, especially women. He’s been running five to seven marathons a year, so, needless to say, he has a box full of T-shirts in storage. “Every race has its own personality,” Walker says. In Delaware there will be no fee and no T-shirt but they do give finishers a rock. Walker is happy to be close to his goal but he won’t quit marathons, he’ll just cut back. His new goal is to qualify for the Boston Marathon, but he’ll have to cut half an hour off his time.
Workout: He works out five or six days a week. He runs four to six miles three days a week and does a fourth endurance run of 12 to 18 miles, depending on how close his next marathon is. Once or twice a week he does some kind of cross-training. He enjoys Zumba, saying, “It’s fun, it’s just fun. You don’t even know it’s a workout.” Some RV parks have a simple workout room where he can use weight machines for an hour, or he might seek out a gym. It depends on where he is and what’s available.
“There’s a lot you can do without equipment, though,” he says, like using a picnic table with body weight as resistance.
Dusty but true: Walker’s advice would be: “Move it or lose it,” “You are what you eat” and “Find something you like to do and you’ll do it.” He’s a member of both the 50 States Marathon Club and the 50 States Plus D.C. Marathon Club. He might have to have a quilt made out of all those T-shirts.
Nutrition: Walker eats chicken and, occasionally, grass-fed beef plus a lot of produce. He has a little cheese now and then. His favorite breakfast is a weekly treat: half a cantaloupe filled with yogurt and granola plus toast with almond butter. He also makes a smoothie out of bananas, blueberries, protein powder, almond milk and coffee. Walker likes his coffee, two to four cups a day. He also has a weakness for corn chips but no GMO’s; they have to be organic. He takes a handful of vitamins morning and evening, including krill oil and 5,000 to 10,000 mgs of vitamin D. He’s not averse to a nice piece of chocolate cake and he loves Greek yogurt with honey. He says his wife “performs miracles” on the RV’s gas stove. They like life on the road. “It’s not camping, let me be clear. But we just thoroughly enjoy it.”
Where would you be the safest if World War 3 broke out tomorrow? Perhaps it’s a grim subject, but safety and distance from world conflict can be a motivating factor in your choice to expatriate. At the very least, conflict around the world can weigh heavy on the soul, and it’s nice to know there are some places still left in the world where you might be left in peace. Thus, we’ve assembled a list of the 10 best places to live if you want to escape world conflict.
Switzerland’s long history of neutrality and its tucked away location among the valleys of the Alps still make it a safe bet, even despite having a high number of bordering nations. It helps that neighboring Austria is also considered a neutral nation.
9. Costa Rica
Costa Rica has a stable democracy, a disbanded military and a national policy of neutrality. It also ranks highly on the Global Peace Index, Happy Planet Index, and Life Satisfaction Index. Although it sits in the middle of a tumultuous region, there are far worse places to sit in peace as the world goes down in flames all around.
8. Papua New Guinea
There are regions of Papua New Guinea that are still being discovered for the first time. The canopy covered, mountainous nation contains some of the most isolated places in the world. Tuck yourself away in a nook here and it may be one of the few places left where you can completely insulate yourself from the outside world.
Canada is the second largest nation in the world, yet it only shares a land border with one other country– the U.S.A.– and it is a peaceful border. That means there is a great expanse to escape to, if need be. Furthermore, Canada has few world enemies, ranks consistently high on the Global Peace Index, and is relatively homogeneous.
Aside from being safely isolated from the rest of the world in the middle of the Indian Ocean, this beautiful island nation is a great place to forget about your worries. Isolation is the key here. And conflict is as transparent as the water.
Finland has a long history of desiring to stay out of international conflicts, is recognized as neutral and always ranks in the top 10 of the Global Peace Index. It’s northerly location also typically means the remote areas of this country are a perfect place to disappear.
Isolated in the middle of Micronesia, Tuvalu is among the safest and most remote places in the world. It is the third least populated country on Earth, and the forth smallest. There are only a few places more distant from the world’s strife than Tuvalu.
Iceland, of course, has no borders, has remote locations, is stable as a country and has virtually no world enemies. Its people are happy and the nation always ranks highly on the Global Peace Index. If world conflict erupts, Iceland is one of the few stable nations in the world unlikely to get caught up in the middle.
Landlocked among the Himalaya mountains, Bhutan is one of the most isolated nations in the world. It also showcases one of the most stable balances in the world between moderization and retention of ancient culture. Its religious population believes in peaceful resolution to all conflict, and although it sits in a troubled region, it remains protected by its geography.
1. New Zealand
New Zealand might be the most isolated and expansive fully developed nation in the world. It shares no borders, sits relatively distant from any other nation, has no real national enemies, has a safe democracy and a diverse landscape with many remote places to hide away within. Furthermore, it ranked #1 on the Global Peace Index in 2009.
By Ryan Xavier Miller
What’s the best way to tie a knot so that my hammock doesn’t drop me on my head? Is it true that falling coconuts can kill you? How do I get from my towel to the water without roasting my feet on the sand ? Those are pretty much my biggest problems ever since moving down to Costa Rica.
If you are harboring a secret desire to experience a new kind of life where these kinds of complications are the most stressful issues you might face in a normal day, maybe you will be curious to read about how I quit my job as a flight attendant and came down to this land of sunshine, friendly people, and affordable everything.
Naturally, you might be a little hesitant about quitting your own job and abandoning your current lifestyle to try something new. You are not alone. Believe me when I tell you that I also had good cause to be reluctant. The job that I had is commonly thought of as a pretty desirable one and if you lose or leave it, there is very little chance of getting it back. I knew that whenever I got enough courage to take the leap, there would be no second chances. But eventually I did make the jump, and happily, I landed with my toes in the sand.
My wife and I are now living in a sweet little beach village called Samara in the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica. This town had come up in our pre-arrival internet research, but we still needed to see the other options for ourselves. After having explored all of the beach towns for 300 miles, Samara became the obvious choice. There are few fancy restaurants here, no 5 star hotels, or even much paving, for that matter. But those are not the kinds of things we were looking for anyway.
What we wanted was a place that had the natural ability to slow the heart rate and simplify the way we lived. This town has a long and gorgeous beach, an easy going beach vibe, friendly residents from around the world, and enough modern conveniences to live comfortably.
My previous life in the sky is not much more than a faint memory and my days now consist of visiting the weekly organic market, visually estimating the distance between palm trees so I can get just the right incline on the hammock, and watching the surf school students find out that standing up is a little harder once the board is in the water. On a recent day, I counted 36 hilariously clumsy slips, splashes, and crashes before something that vaguely looked like someone surfing.
I wasn’t always this productive however. Until recently, I had a job and quitting to live a life on the beach was not something that I had seriously considered. I was a flight attendant with a major US airline and though I was aware that I had it pretty good, I was often suspicious (to the point of paranoia) that there might be something even better out there.
This had been a very tough job to get and one that offered the kind of perks that most people only dream about, so quitting was a scary thing to consider. Let me share a few of the reasons why this job was so amazing, and thus, so hard to leave. If after reading this, your job still seems worth keeping, you should write your own article.
We all know that flight attendants don’t make millions, but they get a lot of cool stuff that is pretty valuable and generally not available to everyone. They have little responsibility, almost no supervision, no paperwork to take home, 15 days off from work each month, and many of the perks of a millionaire’s life. They travel the world, meet exciting people, avoid the common routine, and have time remaining for themselves.
As for all of the best jobs, competition is intense for this one. It is extremely difficult to “land” a spot and interviews look like Hollywood “cattle calls” . Hiring “scouts” visit big cities all over the world, and set up banquet tables in hotel ball rooms reminiscent of “American Idol”. When the “casting call” is announced, organizers just wait for the lines to form outside. It’s guaranteed that hundreds of would-be globe trotters will eagerly come from miles away to try to snag one of the world’s most glamorous careers. If this were a TV show, the “judges” would replace “You’re going to Hollywood” with “Forget Hollywood, You can go ANYWHERE you want!”.
With so many people trying to get a taste of the excitement and freedom promised by this line of work, the criteria is naturally elevated. To get this gig, you might have to speak more than a couple languages, be able to subsist for days on caffeine and pretzels, and easily lift an 80 lb bag over your head while serving hot coffee during turbulence. Tested each working day, will be your capacity to maintain a permanent smile through bitter customer complaints about the lack of leg room, extra bag charges, and the funny smell coming from the lavatory. You have to look sharp, happy, and alert after going without sleep for 48 hours and flying through 3 time zones.
Even if that part doesn’t sound like too much fun, who wouldn’t want to have a pocket full of the famous “buddy passes”?
Everyone has heard about these mysterious and awe-inspiring flight passes that are nothing less than a free pass to the world. Armed with these near-mythical golden tickets, flight attendants can jump on any plane at any time, and go anywhere. To fly from Los Angeles to New York, costs about the same as an hour in the terminal parking lot. No planning needed, just pick a flight and strap in.
On top of all of this, you can add great medical plans, early retirement, regular raises, and job security. During 2010, my wife and I would have spent more than $40,000 on the flights that we got for free. Thanks to my employee parking pass, we didn’t even have to pay for parking.
It sounds pretty good, right? In fact, it is so good that people rarely quit.
You might have noticed that many flight attendants are of, hmmmm… “advanced” age. What could explain this very common trend? Is it that this job is seen as a “second” career, attracting older folks looking for a fun way to spend their golden years? Or instead, are these wrinkled visages the result of the “feet first” mentality that is an integral part of the flight attendant code?
The answer is that the vast majority have been flying the (once) friendly skies since getting pregnant was a cause for termination and the only men on the crew could be found in the cockpit. These graying holdovers from the propeller age are the very same beauties that once brought glamor to the airline industry. The very same lovelies that gracefully donned knee-high boots and mini skirts while serving martinis in the upper deck piano lounge or selling cigarettes to elegant travelers doing their best to look like Jackie and JFK. Why are they still here, so long after the glitz of the jet age has faded? Well, you probably would be too!
You cant really blame them. Once you have the best job in the world, why would you ever quit or retire ? Once you join the ranks of the uber-fortunate, the only way you are ever leaving this so-called “job” is “feet first”.
After I was hired, I too became institutionalized into the culture that is unique to flight attendants. From every source, it was impressed upon me that once on the “inside”, there would be no going back. Many a “jumpseat conference” was spent extolling the virtues of our occupation, praising its exclusive privileges, and savagely eviscerating the soul-less routine of the 9 to 5 cubicle life. Like prisoners, we knew that we would be incapable of surviving on the outside. We would have lost the ability to work without being pampered and to relate to those who did not see the world as their private playground.
“Feet First”, that’s what we would say to one another in solemn confidence when alone, and in knowing glances when in the company of “civilians”.
It was perpetually reaffirmed that there was no way that I, or any of us , would ever leave this job by choice. We had plenty of days off each month, the power to fly anywhere we wanted, the right to skip long security lines at the flash of our I.D., and best of all, we could spill coffee on annoying passengers and blame it on a patch of rough clouds. (Sorry, to the guy in the yellow shirt on the Tampa-JFK flight. I was having a rough day).
As a group, we basked in the light of our self-importance everywhere we went. We bragged to each other about our holidays in a rented Mediterranean villa, the quick flight to San Francisco for lunch, or the warm nights spent strolling the river Seine in the heart of Paris.
All flight attendants are certain that they have reached the pinnacle of good fortune and are smugly aware that they are the envy of the working classes. The only people that we can admire are those that don’t work at all. Most jobs are beneath us, both literally and figuratively. We have “arrived” and it doesn’t get much better than this.
Or, does it?
If you have spent much time in the air, you may have noticed something else about flight attendants. With the rare exception of a few smiling faces (it’s probably the thin air) most of them are not particularly joyful in the exercise of their duties. If everything we have said is true about this being the most wonderful form of gainful employment currently extant, then each F.A. should glow with an awe-inspiring aura of gratitude and genuine satisfaction. But, this is often not the case. What are we missing ?
The answer to this question is the reason why, after years of living at thirty thousand feet, I quit and landed in a Costa Rican beach village.
Perhaps it’s surprising, but most flight attendants eventually come to think of their job as just another way to pay the bills and to put food on the table. Granted, its a pretty exciting gig when viewed from the outside, but after the glare of the glamorous lifestyle has faded, there isn’t much left but a desire for something more fulfilling. When we put it like that, it starts to sound a lot like most other kinds of jobs.
Though F.A.’s have plenty of time off, their free-days are scattered throughout the month and schedule swaps are tough. What ends up happening is that working gets in the way of personal time and free flights need to be squeezed into small windows of time between assignments. Exhausted from long trips away from home, weather delays, bad food, and complaining customers, a F.A. is not going to have the desire to get on another plane for a 2 day vacation. They just want to go home. Eventually, the “buddy passes” pile up in the dresser drawer to gather dust.
But, quitting is still not so easy because those passes still hold their spell over us and we can still hear them calling our name from under all those socks and t-shirts. Giving up such a widely envied perk is the biggest trick of the airline industry. They give you free flight passes to lure you to stay, but not the time or energy to use them. Gotcha!
Finally, I realized that all of the free flights in the world could not fulfill my desire for a slower pace of life in a relaxed and beautiful country. We decided that it would be better to be in one place long enough to enjoy it, than dozens in a blur of frenzied border hopping.
We realized that living in a small village in Costa Rica sounded like a lot more fun than simply dreaming about it. I had a great job with free flight passes but no time or energy to use them.
Maybe your job and lifestyle have a lot of perks too, but maybe you are like me, and suspicious (to the point of paranoia) that there might be something better out there…
What I discovered is that you won’t find fulfillment or freedom without swimming against the current, without risking something. Happiness doesn’t come packaged into even the best jobs and even those with the highest paychecks usually don’t guarantee a life of personal satisfaction. Though your job probably doesn’t give you free flights, it might not be that different from mine. You might have the money, the cars, the homes, the golf-club membership, but still there might be something missing.
If it is hard for you to imagine quitting your job or changing your lifestyle to move towards a sunnier future, maybe you can get some inspiration from how hard it was for me to quit mine. Eventually, I decided that trying something new was better than doing the same thing and expecting different results.
Now that I am here, I could not be happier and since it turns out that my fear of getting hit in the head by a coconut is as likely as a free first class upgrade, I’m just going to shelve that worry along with my uniform and lapel wings. I have to go now, I have a date with a hammock and I don’t want to miss the surf class, it’s always good for a few laughs. I might even give it a try myself, how hard can it be?
By Ana Boleña
A few years ago, a couple (one of many) arrived in Sámara to make this slice of paradise their home, hoping to integrate and be active in the community. After getting settled near Sámara center they enrolled at the language school which was a only short walk along the beach and so enjoyable – except for the empty cans, bottles, sacks, etc. that marred the beauty.
Gretchen began to carry an empty sack each day as she walked to school, picking up trash along the way and usually arrived with a very full bag. Locals who noticed of course talked to her (which helped her Spanish) and many joined the cleanup effort. Already the Intercultura Language school had introduced ‘beach cleaning days’ as one part of CREAR, the children’s program. All along the beach today, you find much cleaner sand; CREAR still does beach cleanup and other groups do the same – this web site has info about helping out, if you’re interested.
At that time there might have been two trash barrels in all of Sámara so Gretchen bought and brought empty barrels to Sámara. Those are gone, rusted out, but today other individuals and groups have expanded that effort. Little by little and a few leaps and bounds is how things happen. Pura Vida!
r* It just happens that my blood type is AB positive!
By Ana Boleña
We have all done it – assumed that a word in English spoken with a Spanish accent will mean the same thing and will keep the discussion going right? Read on to see just how mistaken one can be…
A friend of mine, about 23 years old, could hardly believe how pretty and sweet the Ticas are. One day he announced that he was so in love and that he had just met his future wife. Three or four months later there was a new love and “really, I’m going to marry her”. This happened a time or two more, but then one day his tone somehow changed when he told me about “her”. The next few times I saw him they were together and soon engaged. We ran into each other a week later and he told me again how much he loved her but it wasn’t easy for him to explain some things in Spanish. It was very important to him that she knew that he would support her, assist her and that she did not need to continue working, that she could go to college as she said she wanted… somewhere in there she interrupted, furious and shouting at this confused young man who had just declared his undying devotion.
Using cognates makes sense, however this time it backfired with the verb suportar. He had just told his bride-to-be that he would tolerate her!! I’m not sure how long it took for them to realize that it was just one little wrong word but, oh, how it changed the meaning of his beautiful words into a “foot in mouth” situation. We hope that he soon thereafter learned the word mantener to refer to his desire to provide for his new wife. Yes, they did marry and hopefully remember that day as a lesson.
So many mistakes can be funny if we merely smile; just looking at the other’s face indicates that a word was misunderstood or mis-spoken. A few more real life examples below:
The doctor said, in English, to the patient, “Well, when you get your shit…” (instead of shot) trying to thank a man in Spanish and wanting to say that he was a real gentleman (caballero), but instead called him a horse (caballo).
A person repeated what they had heard as another way of saying “you’re welcome” and said, “you bitch, you” instead of “you betcha”.
The moral of the story is to keep a good sense of humor and hope the other person really is not insulting you nor are you insulting them (unless you mean to!).
By Jason Holland
I’m in Playa Samara, on Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula.
I’m enjoying a beer by the pool with Bill Root, the owner of the small beachfront Fenix Hotel, as he tells me the history of the town.
He says it’s much more “crowded” since he and his wife, Phyllis, arrived here 14 years ago. But all I see is a laid-back beach town. His perspective is a bit different, I guess, as a long-time resident.
He’s even met locals who lived here before electricity was widely available. A generator kicked in a couple hours a day. And before the road came in—most travel to and from Samara was by boat. This was decades ago, but that lost-in-time vibe still permeates the town.
Like most small beach towns, this is a place to relax and enjoy the sun, strolling on the palm-lined beach or enjoying the spectacular sunset each evening. It’s low-key. Bohemian.
Tank tops and board shorts are the preferred dress. There are plenty of surfers attracted by the steady waves. And for those who prefer to stay on shore and admire the clear blue waters, there are several on-the-beach, your-feet-in-the-sand bars and restaurants.
No multi-story hotel complexes here. Smaller hotels are the norm. But some good restaurants run by expats from all over the world have brought Mexican, Thai, Spanish, and other cuisines; you’ll even find vegetarian, vegan, and organic options.
And it’s still a working fishing town.
A few houses down from the Fenix is the town’s fishing fleet, small open boats that head out into the bay and beyond—the day’s catch can be bought right off the boat each afternoon as the boats come in.
You can find this fishing village to the south of the main drag. It’s quickest to walk on the beach itself—about 15 minutes.
It still takes some effort to get to Samara. The last hour is over winding—though paved—mountain roads. Stop at the overlooks to see the view of green-covered hills all around you.
If you’re visiting elsewhere on the Nicoya Peninsula, say Tamarindo (to the north) or Mal Pais (to the south), don’t bother with the unpaved coastal road. Instead use the inland highway until you hit the turn off for Samara.
From the Central Valley, cross over the Gulf of Nicoya at the Taiwanese Friendship Bridge at the north end of the waterway. Then head to the town of Nicoya and from there south to Samara. The route is well marked.
Tucked-away little locales like Playa Samara are just a small part of what I’ll be sharing during International Living’s Fast Track Your Retirement Overseas Conference in Las Vegas in September.
The best places to live for expats, my “live like a local” tips to get the best deals on everything from fruit to four-course dinners, and the best ways to embrace the Pura Vida lifestyle that’s Costa Rica’s trademark… I’ll cover it all during my presentation. And I’ll be happy to answer any question you have about making the leap to a new life in Costa Rica, at any time during the conference.
By Ryan Xavier, the “Homeless Writer”
If you are coming to Costa Rica in search of a beautiful beach experience, then Samara & Carrillo are probably your best bet. Take it from someone who has explored most of the country’s beaches and towns, these two lovely stretches of sand and sun are at the top of my list. My wife and I visited many other beach towns in search of something beautiful, peaceful, and unspoiled. We wanted a town that felt rustic, but one that still offered enough modern conveniences to satisfy our technological, culinary, and fitness addictions. We came back to Samara because it was simply the best and since being here we have discovered that most people that are lucky enough to discover Samara & Carrillo, will continue to come back to the same two beaches, year after year.
If you are planning your first visit to Costa Rica, you have probably been exposed to Costa Rica Travel Tip #1. Well, I think it’s time that we talked a little bit about why every Costa Rica guide book tells us that we should skip the capital city of San Jose. For some reason, it has gotten the reputation of being a must-miss attraction for tourists visiting this gorgeous country.
San Jose is not Paris, New York, London, or L.A. Of course it isn’t ! It is San Jose.
Cities are like people, we all have our strengths and weaknesses, but we all have something unique to offer and the same is true for San Jose. Yet upon arriving to Costa Rica, the tourist is generally instructed to make their way from the international airport in San Jose to anywhere else as quickly as possible.
The capital is seen as no more than a place to rent a car or find a hotel if your flight arrives too late or departs too early to make avoiding San Jose practical. We recently spent a couple of days there, if only to be rebellious, and we found out that the only must-miss thing in Costa Rica is the must-miss attitude directed at San Jose.
Teatro Nacional in Downtown San Jose
This picture is of my lovely wife (and favorite travel buddy) Jennifer, in front of the National Theater in San Jose. It is quite beautiful in its Neo-Classical meets Belle Epoque design, and it is one of the few buildings drawn as a cartoon on the tourist maps handed out by hoteliers. As you know, this is a sure sign of any site’s cultural value.
Ironically, many visitors use this building not as an example of what the city has, but of what it lacks. While it is admittedly one of the very few examples of European architecture to be found here, to judge a Central American city for its lack of Greek architecture is like faulting the Grand Canyon for not having enough polar bears. Anyway, it’s a little small minded to say the least.
Inside National Theater in San Jose
To find out a little more about this city, we took a few mandatory photos of the National Theater and then went off in search of something that we could use to disprove Costa Rica Travel Tip #1. We soon came upon the “Museo Nacional”, the Costa Rican national history museum, and this place gave us all the ammunition we needed to debunk the myth.
The first thing we learned was that it would be a terrible shame for anyone to travel thousands of miles from home, land in the heart of a nation’s culture and history, only to pass it up in favor of a few more hours taking pictures of one’s toes in the sand. Unfortunately, should they trust the advice of their guidebooks and go straight to the beach, they would be unaware that they were being served drinks by the very same people that they should have come here to meet, talk to, and learn from.
To discover the very first lesson offered up by the Museo Nacional, you don’t even have to go inside.
National Museum in San Jose
What you see here (behind Jenni) is the museum from the steps leading up to the front entrance. The two crenelated, castle-like, gun towers are hard to see now that they have been given a fresh coat of orange paint.
This is what they once looked like:
Bullet-Scarred Museum Tower
The previously named BELLAVISTA CUARTEL, was a military barracks built in 1917 and it was once an important post for the Costa Rican Army. Like many countries in Central America, Costa Rica repeatedly found itself at war, either with other nations, or itself. Then, in 1948 the president showed up, took a great big mallet up to the tower and knocked down one of the crenulations, changing the course of Costa Rican history forever.
December 1, 1948: An “Adios” to Arms
After the 1948 Civil War, a conflict that has been described by the US Department of State as the “bloodiest event in 20th century Costa Rican history”, the president wisely realized that armies are dangerous things and bigger armies don’t necessarily make people safer. As can be observed all over the world and throughout human history, both ancient and recent, armies are more often used to oppress one’s own people than to protect them from outside aggressions.
Let’s not permit the importance of this event to be disregarded as the quaint local history of a small and insignificant country. Do you think any of us will live to see the US turn the Pentagon into a concert hall? This is a valuable lesson for all nations and for any visitor wishing to look beyond the palm trees and umbrella drinks to find something of far greater worth than an iguana refrigerator magnet.
Weapons Armory turned Butterfly Sanctuary
In a clear rejection of the brutal events that took place here, Costa Rica rewrote its constitution and redirected its financial resources away from fear and war and committed itself to fostering literacy and culture. As a result of this investment in itself, the people of Costa Rica now enjoy a higher standard of living than all other countries in the region. They have access to free public medicine, compulsory education to age nine, attendance of 99%, and as would be expected by such low rates of truancy, they experience a literacy rate of 96%.
This is what the US Department of State says about Costa Rica:
Costa Rica has long emphasized the development of democracy and respect for human rights. The country’s political system has steadily developed, maintaining democratic institutions and an orderly, constitutional scheme for government succession. Several factors have contributed to this trend, including enlightened leadership, comparative prosperity, flexible class lines, educational opportunities that have created a stable middle class, and high social indicators. Also, because Costa Rica has no armed forces, it has avoided military involvement in political affairs, unlike other countries in the region.
Whether we realize it or not, visitors like ourselves are benefitting from the good governance of the country and most of the reasons that we come to Costa Rica are a direct result of the events of 1948. We are able to meet friendly and educated locals that are proud of their natural resources, indigenous culture, and the political history that has allowed them to live in peace and relative prosperity. When we come to Costa Rica, we are attracted by the very same things that make Costa Rica a good place to live for locals.
And all of this was gleaned before going inside the museum. Imagine what you might discover if you spent a little time exploring it. Inside its doors, you will be simultaneously awed and educated as you view the indigenous artifacts carved into the shapes of iguanas, hawks, jaguars and monkeys. The respect that the natives felt for their flora and fauna is still evident today.
Visiting the National Museum, and San Jose itself, is an imperative if you want to know what makes Costa Rica such a special place. If you run straight for the water, without giving the culture a chance to reveal itself to you, the time you spend here will be remembered as just another beach and just another vacation. Learning something valuable about each destination should be part of any travel experience, and anyway, it will give you something to think about while you are sitting on Samara’s beach and wiggling your toes in the sand.
-Ryan Xavier the “Homeless Writer”, San Jose Costa Rica. February 2012
About the Writer: Ryan Xavier is a freelance travel writer, also known as “The Homeless Writer”. With no fixed address, he travels the world and writes about his experiences. More exciting travel stories, photos, videos, and tips can be found on his blog: www.Happy2bHomeless.com
You were able to find this web site because you can read, a skill most likely learned in your youth while attending school. Have you ever stopped to think how differently life unfolds for illiterate people? Nearly everything we touch, from a telephone bill to package directions to warning signs, to a paycheck, etc. has written information.
Although Costa Rica boasts of a high literacy rate, there are still many people who are without basic math and reading skills because they did not complete grammar school (escuela). A common reason is necessity – if a family needs a child to work in order to have sufficient food, attending school clearly loses its importance. Seldom do people return to the classroom, but at the recent ceremony at la escuela de Sámara, four adults were among the graduating class, one of whom was ‘’Cusuco’’ Elgar Lobo Camacho. He quit grammar school many years ago worked in and around Sámara at various jobs, always striving to support his family with any job available, including picking up trash from the streets. After retiring last year he decided to attend school again. Now at age 67 Elgar is able to read and write and has improved on basic math – add, subtract, multiply, divide – without a calculator!
It’s heartwarming to think of Grandpa attending the same school as grandchildren or the child whose mother was in the same class in school and celebrated their graduation together. Still, it makes one grateful to have grown up in a country where education through high school is the norm.
Tus bellos atardeceres
asemejan una cabalgata pasional
y son el sutil despliegue de rojos encendidos
que se difuminan en el crepúsculo
y emergen de entre las nubes
deslizándose entre los amarillos
nostálgicos del ocaso.
Y cae el atardecer…
y llamas a la contemplación
para que los ojos
embriaguen el alma
de cálida paz,
mientras el horizonte extasiado de verdes
se funda en el horizonte de lo infinito
y la inspiración pronuncie,
Dios está aquí.
Araceli Dragonné L.
anclaste tus raíces en esta tierra
y diste formas a la belleza.
El lenguaje de Dios
en el cauteloso pisar de bestias salvajes
que habitan en tus selvas,
como en la diversidad de aves
que barnizan con sus colores el paisaje
y emiten al viento, música celestial.
Bosques donde el misterio de la creación
paisajes donde se pierde la vista
y se reencuentra en el horizonte cargado de nubes,
sinfonía de verdes
bordados de un sinfín de tonalidades
donde solo los ángeles danzan,
mares donde el pensamiento divaga
y se reincorpora
con el sonido espumoso de las olas,
atardeceres que seducen
y tiñen de bermellón el alma.
bautizaste con agua santa esta tierra,
esta ofrenda de Dios al universo…
y la nombraste,
Araceli Dragonné L.