Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Run for the border - Our life in Costa Rica

Crossing the Nicaragua/Costa Rica border at Las Tablillas

Since we arrived here on May 31st, our 90 days is almost over and the time has come for us to make our first "border run". Originally we had planned to make each border run an adventure and choose a destination that we were planning to visit anyway. Due to the death of my friend and our impending plans to return to the states and pick up the dogs, we decided to do a border run to wherever was nearest, quickest and easiest so that we could remain in the country legally (our 90 days is up on 8/29). That turned out to be Las Tablillas (which is about 3 hours away by car).  After obtaining recommendations from other expats we chose Jorge as our driver. He speaks English, (a big plus) and has taken other expats on many border runs.

Jorge picked us up in his SUV at 7am and we began our trip to the border. Jorge uses a route which winds up and around the mountains surrounding the Poas Volcano (getting up to over 7,000 ft). The route is beautiful! Eventually we joined the main highway and made our way towards Los Chiles Costa Rica (the city nearest the border crossing). We stopped and had breakfast, checked out the iguanas and continued on to the crossing.

this is a real live breathing cat!!

By midday we had reached the Costa Rica immigration point, and it had started to rain. Jorge accompanied us inside and helped us pay our Costa Rica taxes and complete the immigration forms.

The Costa Rica exit went fine. We got our stamps. The rule is that you must be out of the country 3 hours before re entering.

Jorge left us at the border crossing buffer zone. He would wait for us in the car until our return. He had directed us to stay in town for no more than ONE hour and then head back to the shuttle.

The time was 12:30pm.

We entered the Nicaraguan immigration checkpoint where we presented our passports and were then directed to the next building where we again presented our passports and where we became a bit confused about what they were instructing us to do (in Spanish) so we were sent to another agent who spoke English. He took our passports and asked us if this was our first time in Nicaragua, where were we going and why, and how long we planned to stay. He also took our photos. The fees were paid ($15/ea) and we were given a stamped paper and told to return before 4pm as that was closing time. I then went to another location to have my bag inspected and was given another paper indicating the check had been done.

We then proceeded out to the buffer zone/neutral area to the stop for the shuttle where we again presented our passports and after approval moved on to another location where we showed them again. Unlike the Costa Rica side, the Nicaraguan side had a heavy military presence.

The shuttle was an old beat up mini van loaded to the gills with people and lots luggage on top. Once we were all onboard, several armed young soldiers came up to the vehicle looked around at us and asked for our "documents".  A few minutes later another group of gun carrying soldiers came up to the shuttle and selected a few more people and asked for their documents. (I was included in this group) Very serious looking -- No smiling faces on any of these soldiers. Once that was over we began our 45 minute trip into town (San Carlos). It was really pouring down rain by now. About 1/4 of the way into town we were pulled over at another check point and guess what??? Yep, they peered into the bus and asked yet again for our "documents".

By the time we reached town it was about 1:30. The rain was coming down and the streets were flooded. You could tell that the area was very poor and bus station was very old. When we inquired about returning to the border we were told there was a 2:00 bus and a 3:00 bus. Not wanting to risk returning after the border closed (can you imagine?) we decided to take the 2:00 bus (which would board at 1:45). Lavanson gulped down 1/2 cup of coffee and we headed back to the stop, found our shuttle and got on. Although we were the 1st passengers to board, the shuttle waited for a while until it was full and we left at 2:20. We arrived back at the checkpoint at about 3:05. Made our way back through the passport checks and into the building. We went to the window showed our passports and paid our exit fee then headed out to the Costa Rica side (BTW - the Costa Rica border police do not carry guns - at least not where you can see them) They were much more pleasant and we quickly moved through the return process. We also carried return bus tickets for 90 days out but were not asked to show them. We got our new 90 day stamps and found Jorge waiting for us by the side of the road.

I was over the moon to be back in Costa Rica!!  Not that this border run was the worst thing ever but I am just not a big fan of soldiers with loaded guns. I love that there is no military here in Costa Rica - which is a BIG reason I wanted to live here. I enjoy the unrestricted freedom to move about.

The ride home would have been pretty relaxing had it not been for the fog which engulfed the road and made it almost impossible to see for about 2/3 of our drive back. Jorge is pretty used to driving the route and he maneuvered the car up those narrow winding roads and through the mountains in the dark (there were very few street lights and a portion of the road was gravel).  We arrived back at our door safely about 12 hours after we left.

A big shout out to Jorge for a job well done! Cost for the trip was $200 (flat fee door to door). That total was split 3 ways!

Jorge also does other excursions so if you are coming to visit us you just might meet him on one of our sight seeing tours!

please check out the short video of our trip below

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Saturday, August 20, 2016

Quick & easy bedroom makeover- Our life in Costa Rica

A Saturday morning share from my blog Changing Directions Living the Life you Choose

If you know me, you know that I am a girl who LOVES color. Bright Colors!!

Although the decor in the home was Ok (especially since it came fully furnished) - it was not exactly "our design taste". Many of the things we could not change, like the furniture and artwork (or the lack of it).

In the bedrooms I've wanted to add some of the colors and design that I like by changing out the duvets, however, try as I might, I have yet to find a duvet in any store where it did not come in combination with a full sheet/pillowcase/sham combination. Even that would not have been too bad except I have not been fond of the designs.

In the box we shipped I had a brightly colored cloth shower curtain from one of my previous apartments (I really like the bold colors) and yesterday I decided to see if it would fit on one of the queen size beds. Although it could stand to be a tad bigger, it made it across the bed and there was enough room to tuck it in the bottom and the sides.

Of course since it is a shower curtain it did not have matching sheets or pillowcases. The closest color I could find (that I had brought with me) was orange. Not a favorite but doable in a pinch if I covered with throw pillows.

     throw pillow purchased in Grecia

shower curtain 


The cool thing was that I bought a throw pillow in downtown Grecia and it was a dead ringer in color, but I only had one. I made a trip into town to purchase more -- but as luck would have it, they had no more in stock. I compromised and chose a deep burgundy. I also had a green pillow which I had bought in town and it looked OK so I used it. While I was in town I decided to replace the dark blackout curtains with 2 lighter sheer panels in a light lavender/purple. 

new curtains

I recently purchased a full length mirror since the house only had ONE mirror! (previously I had purchased one for the 2nd bathroom) but have not been able to see what I look like below my shoulders since I got here.

The room is a work in progress. Next up I will change out the orange pillowcases. I also need an additional stand in the room.

I will keep you posted on my progress.

Have a great weekend!!!
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Thursday, August 18, 2016

Life can change in an instant - Life in Costa Rica

For those of you who do not know, I have 2 little Yorkies (Lily & Lola) who have been staying with Jan, a good friend of mine in Eagle Point Oregon until we could get settled and make arrangements to bring them to Costa Rica.

Tomorrow is not promised.  Be sure to live everyday and do not put off what you want in life!


I received the sad news on Monday that one of my dear friends Jan Pilster-dellarosa passed away on Sunday. She drowned in a tragic rafting accident.
She was more than a friend and so very kind and helpful to me and my girls (Lily & Lola). Jan & I met when she worked at the Montclair Veterinary Clinic and I brought Lily in for her 1st exam at 8 wks old. She took such good care of her and the care continued when I brought Lola in about a month later.
The girls absolutely loved her and I know she loved them too!
I chatted with her on Thursday. She was always there for me with advice and a listening ear. She was always the first one to offer to keep the girls for us whenever we travelled. We could travel in peace knowing they were in good hands.
My girls are still at her home in OR as she was keeping them for us until we could safely bring them to Costa Rica.
Lavanson & I will be returning to the states to pick them up.
R.I.P my friend. Thank you for all you have done. We are all very sad. You will be deeply missed and your bright light will continue to shine in our hearts!
My deepest condolences to the family 
  • Eagle Point woman drowns in rafting accident on Rogue River

    • emailprint
    • Posted Aug. 15, 2016 at 4:09 PM 

      A 57-year-old Eagle Point woman drowned Sunday afternoon during a rafting trip down the Rogue River near Rogue Elk Park.
      A raft carrying Janet DellaRosa and two others became high-centered around 1:20 p.m. When DellaRosa got out of the raft to lighten the load, she fell into the river and was swept 500 yards downstream, according to a press release from the Jackson County Sheriff's Department.
      Bystanders pulled DellaRosa from debris she'd become entangled in near Sunset on the Rogue Country Store and began CPR. Sheriff's deputies, Jackson County Fire District 4 and Mercy Flights responded to the scene. DellaRosa was taken to a local hospital, where she died at about 10:40 p.m., the release said.
      The other two occupants were pulled from the river with minor injuries.
      All occupants were wearing their life jackets prior to the accident, the release said.
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    Sunday, August 14, 2016

    Bugs in Paradise - Our Life in Costa Rica

    I always want to be honest about life in Costa Rica, so I have to tell you the good, the bad and the ugly.

    Costa Rica is known to have over 100,000 species of insects and arachnids, collectively known as BUGS. You will find many that you have never heard of.
    One of the many pests are the ants who are also are known for invading homes.
    Some of them like to live in electronic devices such as computer laptops.

    But...what if they were living and breeding in your refrigerator??? EW!!!!

    When we first arrived I was so happy to find a nice stainless steel refrigerator with a door ice dispenser. I even made myself a drink using the "cubed" ice selection. I didn't see anything in the drink but it did taste a little funny (which I chalked up to the ice from the freezer which sometimes takes on the taste of the refrigerator and the house had been sitting vacant for a couple of months). However, I NEVER used the ice or water selection again.  

    Soon I noticed that there were these strange looking yellowish ants that were crawling on the area near the ice maker grill/platform. Next I noticed that they seemed to be climbing up and coming out of the spout area. 

    At the same time we were having issues with the refrigerator staying cold inside so we told our landlord. He called several people over to look at the refrigerator. While they were there I also told him about the ants and that I suspected they were living inside the ice maker. Everyone looked at me like I was crazy and suggested to me that the bugs were probably flying into the refrigerator when the door was open. At that time the main concern was keeping our food from spoiling. That issue was fixed quickly.  

    I knew the ants were not flying in but never having heard of anyone with such an issue I decided to just keep an eye on the situation. 

    The ants continued to appear - climbing in and up the spout. So I used saran wrap and covered the entire area (I also taped the drain). 

    A few days later there were ants behind the saran wrap. I also noticed these little white things which I thought might be eggs or the shells the ants hatched from or something!! I told our landlord again and showed him photos. He came over and poured water through the systems and lo and behold ants came out however, we could not get the ice maker unit off the refrigerator to check inside (which is where they were living). That is when he told me that there are insects that live in electronic devices here. Supposedly because of the warmth. He called a repair person to come out and about 3 weeks later he arrived.

    Below is the video I took of what we found.

    ****Warning not for the squeamish 

    Watch at your own risk!!! LOL

    Link above for email subscribers

    Everything is fine now, but we were warned that they may come back!!

    As a side note - they say that the water line was not effected as that is a separate unit
     but I still won't be drinking water from the fridge or using the ice Just Sayin!!
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