Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Just for you, dear readers!

In which she answers the questions of the month and gives props.

Hello, you out there from Hawaii! Thanks for reading! Love your big dot on my map down there to the right! Though most of my readers seem to be from California (gee, I wonder who that might be?), Hawaii, New York and Florida are definitely in the house. As is my mom, who probably represents that big dot on Ohio. Costa Rica comes in second in numbers of readers, thanks probably going to Amy and this website. Even though (I think) I don't know you, thanks for sending people my way! And what up Canada! Hello! Oh, and can I just say that even though most of you are still using Internet Explorer, I'm glad to see that quite a lot of you have seen the light and made the switch to Firefox. Cause it's the bomb.

And now, to answer some questions, based on top search queries that land people here.

What can you tell me about Black Cock Scotch? It tastes pretty bad, but the label is freakin' fantastic. I bought some at cheapo Super Mora in Ciudad Colon, so I'm guessing that it was also pretty cheap and available in just about any supermarket. Read more here.

What about Costa Rican tamales? They're Christmastime musts, squishy, and take some getting used to (in my opinion), but if you want to try making them, esposo has a yummy recipe for vegetarian tamales, along with a nice photo he took, here.

What is the Costa Rican state flower? Good question. I had to look this one up. It is Guaria Morada (Cattleya skinneri), a type of orchid. Surprisingly, the Costa Rican embassy, which gives the name of this flower, doesn't state that it is an orchid. Here's a photo I found on Wikipedia:

Cattleya skinneri, Costa Rica's national flower.

How about bot flies? They're disgusting. Hope you never see one, or the larvae that accompany them. If you want to read more, including links and a gross picture, this is what I wrote on the subject.

How do you join Pricesmart? It's pretty easy. You do not need a business license or anything like that, just show up with your i.d. and some money. If you do have a business, the cost is $25/year, and for those without a business, $35/year (both memberships include one extra card). You can download a membership application from Pricesmart's website here. Would I recommend getting a membership? That depends on your needs. If you are a Costco/Sam's Club kind of person, you'll probably want to join Pricesmart. I like that I can get a good brand of dog food there, as well as the big buckets of scoopable cat litter. And the prices are definitely better than buying everything at Automercado, though I get plenty there as well. Pricesmart has locations in Escazu, Heredia, and San Jose (Tibas and Zapote). Go for it.

How about vegans in Guanacaste? I'm in the central valley (Grecia area) and haven't been to Guanacaste in years, but my guess is that with all of the new development, plus the new Automercado, it wouldn't be too difficult to be a vegan there. At least, not any more difficult than anywhere else in Costa Rica. If you want to hook up with more vegans/vegetarians, I would suggest giving my pal Marcelo Galli over at a call. He speaks English, and would probably be delighted to welcome more vegans and help them make connections here.

I'm looking for unused band names. I don't know why my website comes up so often for this one, as I only know a few, and those were ones I thought of personally, way back when. But if you're really, really curious, feel free to read this. And if you like one of my unused band names for your band, I'd love it if you let me know! (You're more than welcome to use any of them, of course.) If you think my unused band names suck badly, I have a couple of links there that you could try instead.

What's good about Costa Rica? Oh, dear reader! So many, many things. Sometimes you may get the impression all I do is bitch about this adopted country in which I live. But I prefer to think that I can see the good with the bad; every place has its high points and low ones. The short list of what I like about Costa Rica includes the wildlife, the wild places, the proximity to active volcanoes (yes, I know that would be on some peoples' lists of what they don't like, but not me), the fact that esposo and our son are both Ticos, the freedom I feel here (moreso than I ever did in the U.S.), the fact that family is very important culturally to the Ticos, the ability to rent what would be a mansion in California for about $700 a month, the fact that I can wear flip-flops every day, the wonderful and inexpensive private medical care, the ability to rent said mansion with 9 dogs and 4 cats without handing over my firstborn, the knowledge that, when you make friends with Ticos here, you've made friends for life, the ability to keep chickens in my backyard, my view, the iguanas on my roof... I could go on, these are just off the top of my head. There are also things that I don't like about Costa Rica, such as the self-centerdness of most Ticos, the bad drivers, the selling out of our open spaces to developers for the highest bidder, our president, the fact that when you make good friends with foreigners, they usually end up leaving, the lack of compassion and respect many Ticos have for animal life, along with the lack of animal shelters and effective laws protecting animals... and I can't think of much more! Though I'm sure there are more things I don't like, and more things I do like, it seems clear that I have a lot to like about Costa Rica!

I hope this has been somewhat informative, and answered some of those burning questions about Costa Rica that are floating around out there. ¡Pura vida!


  1. Aloha Raven!
    I am currently in Honolulu/Waikiki for 4 months to avoid the cold winter weather in Toronto (Canada). The interesting thing is that I was originally planning to go to Costa Rica (and not Hawaii) but could not arrange flights and rentals, etc. on a timely basis. I was also feeling a little anxious because I figured the culture shock might be a little too great - not knowing Spanish, having trouble getting high speed internet, etc. So, I am living vicariously in CR by reading your and others' blogs. You are certainly very direct and forthright in your comments, also humorous and entertaining. Keep up the good work! Would you mind commenting about the perceived high levels of crime in CR, one of these days?

    By the way, I think your buddy Amy needs some cheering up based on her last posting to her blog. I wish I could submit a comment to her telling her to keep her chin up and think positive.

    Best wishes to you and your family. I look forward to reading your blog every day ;)


  2. Aloha Marika!
    Thank you so much for your comments! Girlfriend, you made my day! Sometimes I wonder if anyone out there is reading this, though I know they are from my stats and all that jazz. I bet Hawaii is wonderful. Someday... It's funny, esposo and I have talked long and hard about moving to Toronto. We may still, one of these years. My first love is California's central coast, so we may end up back there one of these days. The only sure thing is that we won't be here for the long term.

    The crime here is the one big thing that keeps us from wanting to make Costa Rica a permanent residence. Actually I have been thinking about writing about it, because you hear so much from different groups of people, and I have personally been a victim of a home invasion that was horrendous. I think I'm only now able to write about it, after almost 8 years.

    Amy reads my blog, so hopefully she will see your kind message to her, and if she somehow misses it, I'll be sure to let her know! She's one of the people who keep me sane here. :-)