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About elosodelcerro

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  1. elosodelcerro

    What I Love About Living In Costa Rica

    I see... Okay. Let me just say that I've never run into any other forum where people are so "picky" about what is said and seem to find fault with everything I say, positive or negative; where one can't even recommend bringing brown paper coffee filters without it becoming a point of contention and controversy... where a post about what I like about Costa Rica is even met with complaints and criticism. So, okay, I just don't "get" this group. It's not a good match. Will stop posting here except if I have a question that maybe someone here might be kind enough to try to answer. Or not. Frankly I am stumped as to how to fit in here, it seems to be an odd forum culture. But it seems to work for you all, so it must "just be me". "Que sera' sera'. If anyone does need to reach me I will retain my membership so I can be reached through the private message system here. But I will unsubscribe to all threads. It's been interesting.
  2. elosodelcerro

    What I Love About Living In Costa Rica

    I was asked by Paul to write something like this... to show I don't have only complaints about Costa Rica. My point to Paul was that these kinds of posts are boring and don't lead to discussion. But I did it because he said - in so many words - that I write too many posts with complaints. So I did this and as you can see it leads to no discussion. Now if I posted a list of half as many things I DON'T LIKE about Costa Rica, the thread would be already at 15 posts, most of which are complaints about my complaints and telling me I need to just mellow out and accept everything and not talk about it.
  3. I wrote a post about what I like about Costa Rica. I've found that some people come here not for the nature but for the culture, or to have a coffee farm or to live at the beach, or to work in tourism or own a tourist business. Many reasons people move here. For me it was the nature more than anything else. Though in the beginning it was also the fact I could live here more cheaply - not as true as it once was but still true to some extent if you factor in everything.
  4. I fell in love with Costa Rica as many people do on a visit here in the 90's. I had been to Mexico and Canada and various parts of the USA but Costa Rica had something special that appealed to me. I made several more vacation trips here and lived here for over a year divided into two periods in the 90's. I made friends here and decided I wanted to live here permanently. So what is it I fell in love with here? The people. I have always found most people here to be very kind, friendly and helpful. I've had Ticos on the street offer to help me in various situations and while I may have been wary, none of them ripped me off or had any ulterior motive, they just were helping me. People in stores we go to - like the ferreterias - seem to not mind helping us buy a $3 item we need even when we're not sure what we need, and give us the same attention they would if we were buying a $300 item. The nature is probably the main reason I love it here. I'm a big fan of forests, and I love the rain forests and cloud forests here. I now live next to a huge private forest and everywhere I look at the mountains around me there are thousands of trees. Forests have animals and birds and I love those too. Even the insects - which can be a problem at times - are interesting and fun to see as long as they aren't uninvited guests inside my house. Never considered myself a bird watcher but in my retirement here I have become one. We have lots of toucans flying around, and oropendulas (?) and all kinds of birds that are beautiful and interesting. Sometimes their "songs" or "calls" make me smile or even laugh. I'll hear a new one and go "What the heck kind of bird is that?" We have birds who call all during the night as well and luckily they don't get too close to the house and I wear ear plugs to sleep. We have tons of parrots flying around too and though noisy I find them fascinating and fun to watch. There's always some new animal showing up. One day a pizote, another day a new type of lizard, and we have congo and carablanca monkeys around as well. I like how many Ticos don't seem to mind standing in lines and never seem to be in a hurry. (Of course some do get in a hurry, especially driving, but the majority seem to have the "tranquilo" attitude re doing things.) In our town people seem to remember us and greet us with a smile and so it's a very friendly atmosphere, not like in a big city in the USA where no one acts like they know you even if they do and they just want to get done with you and get to their next break or end of their shift, We have a beautiful distant ocean view where we live and I love watching the clouds move in and out on a daily or hourly basis, and sunsets are something I look forward to each evening. Mornings are nice too! Living on a fairly large property divided into lots, we are always planting things or making improvements and so even though I'm officially a "pensionado" and don't have a job any more, I actually work a lot. I'm always busy getting trees or plants and having them planted or planting them ourselves, and watering them and enjoying watching them grow; fighting the ants when necessary, sweeping the porch and living room etc (we have no carpets here, just ceramic tile), and we repair things around the property, and are still improving the house and land on a regular basis. The property is big enough to take walks on and my wife and I walk around the property every day, planning to improve this or that, and just enjoying our walk where we often see interesting or beautiful or fun birds or insects or animals. We stopped buying package food here and we eat more "real" food here: especially lots of fruits and veges, and of course rice and beans and eggs. We love fresh pineapples and mangos and papayas and watermelons; and granadillas and pejibayes and other weird fruit we didn't have in the USA. It's always fun to taste a new fruit! As a result of doing more physical activity and eating better we are healthier. I have lost 4" off my waist since I moved here and am nearly down to the waist size I last had about 10 years ago. Who knows? I may get down to the 34" waist I had when I was in my 30's! Am at 36 and 1/2 now. We live out in the boonies and while we have friends relatively near by, I enjoy the solitude of being here with no visible neighbors (nearest neighbor is 1/4 mile away). I enjoy the tranquility of our natural environment. (If it was up to me I'd live even further out, with the nearest neighbor being maybe a mile away! But my wife thinks this is remote enough! ) I like the weekly feria where we can choose from a hundred or so (?) farm-fresh food vendors. We get pretty much all our veges and fruits direct from the farmers. I like the fact that I can live here on a social security benefit that I could never live on anywhere I would be willing to live, in the USA! It's expensive here yes, (shockingly so for many items), but if you factor in all the expenses and not having to pay rent, it's much cheaper here, in general.
  5. elosodelcerro

    How hard is it to buy / sell a car?

    I am curious about what you say here, as some day we hope to buy a better car, and from a dealer where we can get some sort of "guarantee". When you say it has to be serviced in San Jose to keep the warranty valid, what kind of warranty is that and for how long? Is it something you paid for extra? (At what cost, if you don't mind answering?) And so you have to have it serviced by them for ALL things or just for yearly inspections or ? What if your car breaks down? You have to tow it to San Jose? What if you just need a simple repair like new brakes or an oil change? San Jose? Curious as to how this used car warranty works. Do you know if this type warranty is available from other dealers as well? Thanks.
  6. elosodelcerro

    How hard is it to buy / sell a car?

    When we moved down we needed to get a used 4x4 right away and had a limited budget. We asked friends who live here before moving down to recommend any cars they heard about or any mechanics etc. We were recommended to a guy who we were told was 'very trustworthy" and he showed us a car we were interested in - until we found out through a mechanic inspection that it had been in a pretty serious wreck and was burning oil. We declined and stepped back to square one. Line up a mechanic ahead of time to take it to. You pay for the inspection (I was told around 20-30 mil colones for them) and if the owner won't agree to a mechanic inspection don't buy it. Tell him up front on the phone you will require an inspection from a mechanic of your choice. Ask around for a trustworthy mechanic. Most any mechanic can do this inspection and they have "no dog in this fight" unless it's a friend of theirs selling the car, so you can expect it to be a fairly honest assessment. I highly recommend a compression test and it's not a matter of the readings being high, its a matter of them being even within 5-10 lb. pressure on each cylinder. We went to Grecia to look at cars. We weren't impressed. One car all shiny and nice looking - we were very interested in it - broke down on the test drive and they had to send someone to come get us! There are probably some good dealers there but we didn't find any we felt good about. I know several people who've had success buying from private parties here. However I think budget plays a part in this decision: If I had, say, over $12k to spend I'd go to a Toyota or Honda dealer or such to buy. But go in prepared to drive a hard bargain and walk away from the deal to let them know you're not going to be "taken for a ride". If I had $10k or less as we did, then I'd buy from a private party. Try to find someone who looks upstanding, and if they run a business or are known in the community, that's all the better. The rental car cost us about $500 a week if I remember right and that was the cheapest we could get. It's the insurance that kills you. MasterCard / Visa will pay for some insurance but be sure to read the FINE PRINT: mine did NOT cover "off road" which means any road not on the map, according to one person I spoke with, but which is not clearly defined so I'd be afraid to expect them to cover me if I did have a wreck on a dirt road. So full coverage is what we got and what I recommend to people even though it's obscenely expensive here. The mechanic who did the car inspection for us, who were were told was super trustworthy by a good friend, ended up recommending us a car that we bought. This all took nearly 3 weeks of looking every day. We looked at tons of cars that were just JUNK in our estimation and let me say that while buying a 4x4 on a budget is possible, it is almost for sure going to be old (earlier than year 2000) and beaten up. It is a challenge to buy a used 4x4 here for under $10k. One person told me an attorney could call up info on the car and find out if it was recently imported from the US, where it was imported from, by who, when, etc and that may help give you some info. I think but am not sure that if it was imported from the USA recently you can also use a service online to get more info on it from the US but I suppose that depends on the car and where it was, when it was imported here, etc. The car we bought has needed lots of work over the past 6 months but I guess that's what we should expect from an old 4x4. As to the mechanic who we were recommended as being "super trustworthy", we now have realized he lied to us about the car, he did work for us on it that it didn't really need and lied to us about a couple other things so we won't go to him again. An honest mechanic is not an easy thing to find, in any country or city. Bottom line: it was a real pain buying a car privately especially because we needed it quick as we couldn't afford to keep renting. In fact it was THE most challenging thing we've contended with since moving here. I've heard others say the same thing. Again, IF you have the money, personally I'd try the dealer route, especially if anyone can recommend a particular dealer as generally having good cars. Ideally if you can find someone who knows cars well to help you, that would be a great thing! Hope this helps. Good luck!
  7. Paul, my approach to posting is 1) to ask things I want to know from the other members, to get ideas or answers; and 2) to post re an experience I am having (my first forced 90 day border crossing to renew my license; my first RTV inspection, etc) and give my experience and my opinion on it. 3) to recommend something but only if it's of general interest; I'm not interested in writing about the minutia of life such as visiting a local soda or watching the toucans fly; though if it pleases you maybe I'll do it once or more just for the heckuvit. I prefer to post on things that are of general usefulness and interest and that promote discussion. By the way, I just went back and checked my posts and only a small percentage of them are negative towards Costa Rica or Costa Rica policies /institutions. I think it's the "squeaky wheel gets the grease" that causes the misconception - the negative posts or negative opinions I've posted get the most attention here as everyone seems to get in an uproar about them. [Even a simple thing like my recommending people to bring brown coffee filters if they want them, because they are not available here, seems to cause an uproar. ]
  8. I didn't intend to put words in your mouth. What you said was, quote: "I "complain" about things in Costa Rica. And actually, I talk with Costa Ricans about these things and we complain together and then laugh. And go about our lives." So I "read between the lines" and concluded that you felt it was better to do it that way than post negative stuff here which even the moderator says he prefers less of. Anyway, sorry if I misunderstood your meaning but that's the way I took it. Yes you need an appointment at RTV but it looks to me as if you can sometimes go online and get one for the same day, at least in Puntarenas which is perhaps less busy than Alajuela. Those are the only 2 I have looked at the appointment schedule for. No comment from anyone on the fact that a Tico told me he didn't pass RTV then did NOTHING, took it back to them, and passed? What does that say about the reliability of RTV's test? I agree that yes we just have to do what the government says, whether it's here or in the USA, and whether it's the border guard or the RTV station or the transit cop or etc. I believe it's best not to get oneself into trouble with the law here. But I do think it can be interesting/fun/worthwhile/informative/fruitful to post opinions about things as well. Whether I do that here or elsewhere, I will continue to do it because I have never had a "sheep" mentality of just blindly following leaders and rules without at least doing so under protest and with acknowledgment that it may not be fair or right or best.
  9. Thanks for the replies.As Eleanor said, maybe it's best to just share my opinions with my Tico and Gringo friends here, in person, instead of posting them. I thought others might appreciate someone to commiserate with on this but you all seem to have NO problem with RTV. Amazing. As to complaints/opinions about what is wrong and what might be made better here in Costa Rica, my friends - Tico and gringo - appreciate that it's not ALL I do and they tend to have the same opinions/complaints for the most part - so no problem. We all enjoy things about Costa Rica or we wouldn't be here. If asked I'll give you a list of those things I like about Costa Rica, but I think it would make for a boring thread. It is apparent I have given the wrong impression here, of me being a person who does nothing but complain. I complain but also appreciate. Today I wrote an email to my friends about what a great day I had living here; I write about things I like AND don't like, depending on what's happening. It's really just a "squeaky wheel gets the grease" type thing, here: I give attention to those things that I find "interesting", "unfair", or "dumb" as opposed to coming here to write about what a great view we have, how the plants are growing fast, and how the toucans are on the increase around here, the lightning bugs and carbuncos are out tonight, and how much I appreciate all those things. Somehow I don't think that would inspire any great threads and those things strike me as "givens" and not necessary to post. What? People are going to post, "Oh, I like that too!"? Boring! For the record, I like the people here in Costa Rica for the most part, I like most things here (more than in the USA where I lived), and I am glad to be living here. For the record, also, I just like to write about the problems I run into as I am an analytical person who tends to see how things could be better done or better organized, etc. It's just my natural way of experiencing the world and commenting on the world. My belief is that posting about stuff like RTV and other things in Costa Rica - no matter if they are complaints or complements - may be helpful to others who are thinking of coming here or who have just come here. If they read this thread they'll learn that brakes are a main focus of RTV, that one has to apply them SLOWLY and FIRMLY, and that they go by the machine, not by a physical inspection. They will learn that even if their brakes are great they still might fail the test. I see myself as a reporter who goes out and experiences RTV for the first time and reports on what I see, experience and think about it. Whether good or bad... Had I seen it as good, I've have written that! (You know what was GOOD? My first experience with the residency process, doing the fingerprinting! And my experience with the Embassy when I had a problem and had to go there. ) I will add here that I learned this time, re RTV, that next year, if I fail a brake test I'll take it right to a local mechanic near the RTV station, have them adjust them and go right back - if possible - for a re-inspection. In fact one person told me he took his car back for re-inspection without doing ANYthing and passed the 2nd time through. Go figure. Think the machines/computers are 100% accurate? Amidst my complaints/opinions I try to impart information that may be useful to someone.
  10. You may be right that it doesn't help to compare. I actually tell my wife that sometimes when she complains again and again about how so much of the stuff we buy is Chinese crap that lasts about a month then breaks, etc...and how we can't find the stuff we used to buy at a decent price here. Yet it is natural to compare! I'd say it's human nature but then you guys here may be super human or something. What I don't "get" though is that it seems no one on here wants to say or hear or acknowledge anything negative about Costa Rica yet the Ticos I know do, the same as me. They complain about RTV, about Chinese crap in most of the stores, about how the quality of products used to be better here, about the incompetence of the government and internet providers, mechanics, etc etc... Maybe I just know different types of Ticos than you do. Also what I wrote about RTV wasn't a "rant" it was an opinion piece. If you want to see a rant, let me write about my internet provider and the incompetence of literally ALL of their staff in 2 offices! LOL. Okay... so my question to you guys is (and I am serious, not being snarky, I really want to know!) : "Did you also see your home country through rose colored glasses? Or did you complain about it? So then when you came here you decided to give up all negativity/complaining and see everything as just fine no matter how dumb it might be? And if you had no complaints about your "home country" why did you come here? Why is it okay to complain about your home country or find fault with it, but not do the same re Costa Rica? I have studied some Buddhism and your attitude seems to be very Buddhist, which is not a bad thing, really... "It is what it is. Accept what is and don't be angry or unhappy." (Some other Buddhist qualities I don't quite see in you, but you seem to have mastered this "accept what is" perspective.) I think it's actually admirable that you guys have NO complaints ever about your new home country. A little weird, but admirable in some ways at least. One of my only criticisms of Buddhist thought is:" If one accepts everything as it is, how will anything ever change or improve? What motivation is there to change anything or make things better - and thus how will things ever GET better? - if "we have to accept everything as it is and not want to change it"? Let me clarify though: I am not looking to change everything in Costa Rica and I AM accepting things. I have no choice. Contrary to what some here seem to think, I have no intention of breaking the law and I fully do abide by all the laws like RTV etc. But that doesn't mean I think it's an ideal system. So my criticisms of it are given above just as a commentary, not as a "we have to change this, NOW!" call to action. I find it interesting to see others' differing opinions. I find it amazing that everyone is on board with RTV's very strict automobile checking system. I can see your points about making driving safer, I just disagree (as one example) that my brakes were unsafe and that using a computer is the best way to check them; and I disagree that the government should write you up for a dirty engine or corroded battery. (How do either of those things, for example, lead to endangering anyone? Can you explain that?) Simply giving commentary re Costa Rica on a Costa RIca forum. Gee, imagine that. I must have been out of my mind. LOL.
  11. Costa Rica is not a "poor country"? What is the definition, then, of a poor country? To me, a country where people make $2.50-$3.50 per hour for the most part and have to live on rice and beans for the most part, is a pretty poor country. Yes, there are people with money here, as there are even in the poorest of countries. And no, it's not as poor as some other countries. But it's still, in my view, a poor country.
  12. Thanks for the willingness to discuss this. As to RTV being a contractor, yes I heard that it is contracted out to a Spanish company. I do have to wonder how "on top of it" the Costa Rica government is, though. Do they really supervise and make sure RTV is up to snuff, mechanically and technically? Maybe yes, maybe no... Do I really want to live in a country where the regulations are LESS? The answer is yes. In the USA they just check emissions. I think that's enough. And if brakes are going to be checked I think physical inspection is the way it should be, not relying on some machine/computer combination. Tires... the state I lived in had millions - tens of millions of cars - and yet they just checked emissions and I don't think bad brakes or bad tires killed too many people. I am for less regulation by government, in general. One of the things I have always loved about Costa Rica is their tendency to have less government regulation. Over the past 10-15 years I've seen this change to the point where it's getting as bad in some ways as the USA. And I think - just like the USA - it's more about some people putting money in their pockets than about helping "the people". That's just my take on it. I know where I lived in the USA they contracted out parking tickets and it got to the point where you couldn't be 30 seconds late back from a quick errand or you'd pay a $40 or more fine. To me that is overkill and not about helping the people. I see Costa Rica going in this general direction. Hopefully they won't continue in this direction... And yes I wonder if RTV is as much about making money for RTV as it is about making cars safer... Just like how prisons in the USA are now operated by subcontracted companies whose interest it is to see more people imprisoned and kept imprisoned... And there is much controversy over this type of subcontracting, where profit takes precedence over people. I'm not saying RTV is like this, but I do wonder...
  13. Forums are at least in part for discussion and in that spirit I sometimes write an opinion piece. If there were more of a diversity of people and opinions here - and more people in general - my opinion might inspire discussion. I'm sure you know that hiring an attorney or suing RTV or City Hall is not a practical option. However sometimes change starts with some people being dissatisfied with the status quo. As expats or whatever word you prefer, we have little power; but by pointing out problems and discussing these things with Ticos THEY might change the system. They do, sometimes. To me, there is nothing wrong with pointing out problems. NO problem is ever solved without someone first pointing it out.
  14. My final (?) comments on RTV inspection: We drove back again and did the re-test after having our brakes adjusted by a mechanic with the same machine. He told me to make sure to press the brake very VERY slowly and firm and hard, as suggested here. I'm fairly sure the first RTV inspection we had, they did NOT tell me to press the brakes slowly, thus the fail, no doubt. Probably did not even need to re-adjust them, just needed to do it again and press the brakes/ pull the hand brake slowly and firmly. This is my opinion and you have a right to yours: RTV's brake inspection system sucks and probably other parts of the inspection suck too. My friend who is a mechanic says "It would make much more sense to manually inspect the brakes than to rely on a machine." The problem with a machine is that it can be mal-adjusted or plain wrong. Doing the inspection by sight is much more reliable. I know, "you can't fight city hall", especially here, and I don't intend to. I'm just saying, like things in the USA and other things here, it's not a good system. In the Very Regulated state in the USA where I lived for the last few years, they don't even check brakes, suspension, none of this stuff - they just check emissions, and that to me makes more sense. In this POOR country where many people can't afford a car and many can barely afford one (me included), it seems excessive to me to check all those things that RTV checks, as it causes much stress (economic and mental) for those who can hardly afford or maybe cannot afford to fix these things. So especially when brakes are "perfectly fine" to stop the car when it needs to be stopped (as mine were), it is inappropriate to have some machine tell us we need to fix them and re-test. More mechanic expense, more driving to RTV expense, etc. Not good. We were very worried that we would not pass a 2nd time and would have to go through a mechanic re-visit, another drive to RTV, etc. When we passed my wife and I went "WHEW! What a relief!" I realize there are things here we are not going to like (at least those of us who don't have rose colored glasses on all the time), and that we have to accept them because it's not worth fighting them. But on the other hand if no one points out the problems and no one complains ever, nothing will ever get fixed or changed. So while I won't hire a lawyer and sue RTV or City Hall, LOL, I will point out things that I find unfair or wrong.
  15. elosodelcerro

    gold and silver coins

    Thanks for the replies re shipping stuff. Can anyone give me an idea on customs costs? Are these set in stone from a list or something we can see via web page or download, or are they enforced willy-nilly by someone who decides what to charge for this and that? So let's say I order some personal items from amazon: suntan lotion, coffee filters (yes! LOL), some herbs and vitamins, a computer a.c. cable and laptop battery, a stainless steel pot with lid, a glass salad bowl, my favorite rechargeable AA's, and etc that comes to a total value of $200... What would I pay in customs? And if I had the same taken out of new boxes by a friend and shipped to me at my post office box here in Costa Rica, would it get through or would it end up in ? San Jose? or ? , where I'd have to go and stand in line to pay customs?

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