Wednesday, December 10, 2008

In the Christmas spirit

We finally got a Christmas tree, put it up, strung the lights, and randomly stuck ornaments all over it. At the tree lot, it looked a lot smaller than it is. Here in the house, it towers over us all. Christmas trees in Costa Rica are fast-growing cypress trees, not the nice Douglas firs I was used to in the States. At first, I couldn't stand Costa Rican Christmas trees -- I used to tell esposo they were more like Christmas shrubs. I guess you get used to it. Though I still don't like that they're usually too tall and not wide enough. Eh, whatever.

They (the big amorphous "they") didn't used to sell Christmas tree holders when I first moved here, so you dug up the tree by the roots, and put it in a pot with dirt (which, you know, I wasn't so thrilled to have in my house for the cats to dig and poop in). The past few years, though, I've seen the regular holder-waterer things, though I neglected to pick one up at Mas X Menos this year, and now they're gone.

The tree we ended up picking out was already cut and nailed to a wooden stand, so you'd have to take that off anyway in order to stick it in a waterer-holder thingy. I asked the guy how long it would stay green without water, and he said at least two weeks, so that should take us up to Christmas, anyway. If he wasn't full of crap, that is. We considered taking off the wooden stand and putting it in an old ice cream tub or something, though how it would stand up I have no idea (rocks, I guess?). At this point, that would require entirely too much work, so we're just going with the I-hope-it-will-last-at-least-until-Christmas-day idea instead. Oh, and it cost about $13, in case you wondered what trees go for here.

I met up with a couple of women from my son's playgroup on Monday at Multiplaza, and afterwards we walked around, and stopped in the (absolutely insane) toy store. Esposo heard a woman telling her son (in Spanish) "Stick up for yourself, guevon!" (that basically translates to "lazy ass"). The kid was not even 2. And later I'll bet she'll be wondering why her son is so pleasant and nice to other kids. Wow. Appalling. Let's hear it for Christmas spirit. We got out of there as fast as possible.

Every year, our playgroup does a thing for charity. Last year we collected toys for kids at the Children's Hospital downtown San Jose. This year we decided to choose the Sisters of Magdala as our charity. They run several homes for severely disabled (physically and mentally) children who have either been abandoned or removed from an abusive situation. They take care of children from ages of 6 months to 19 years on a shoestring budget. Esposo gave them a call to see if we could help them out and what they needed, and I thought I'd share that list with you in case you'd like to help out as well. They are most in need of a crib and a dresser. They also need clothing, especially warm pajamas for the babies and toddlers. And clothes do not need to be new; they are happy to take used clothes in good condition, so check your closets! Additionally, they can always use donations of non-perishable food items, such as rice, dry beans, canned fruits and vegetables, etc. If you'd like to give them a call, the number is 2228-9998 (Spanish only, I believe). One of the main homes is located on the street behind Pequeno Mundo in Escazu, next to the church.


  1. I lived in Costa RIca 2003 -2004 and again a short time in 2007. I found the value of the dollar had dropped 50%. I could not afford to live as I had. I rented a cheap place out pass Piedades. The land lord was not friendly, I was isolated, I had sold my Hyundai in 2004 - a friend offered to store it. I left because of the necessity of Prostate Cancer surgery.

    I loved living in Costa Rica. I made friends with many Ticos and Ex-pats. When I told one close Tico friend that I had cancer and had to leave Costa Rica - he cried - he is like a brother to me. I miss him and others very much.

    I would like to know the value of the dollar in Costa Rica now. Where are a few good places to live that are safe, clean and beautiful. Downtown San José does not fit my need! I used to live on a private secured property in Escazú, 3 bedroom 2 bath home for a good price. I had a car so I could get to many places. Longer trips I used the Bus such as Nacoya Penninsula, Nicaragua, ... I loved Sámara Beach and Carrillo Beach.

    I took thousands of digital photos while in Costa Rica. A few I have posted. But ones with people in them I left out because of their privacy.

    If I could afford a safe, clean, place to live, and buy a car for say $2,200 or so as I did before, I would have to consider it strongly.


  2. Hey Don,
    The dollar hovers around 500 colones these days; just about a month ago it was up to 560, but then it dropped back down. It is definitely NOT as cheap to live here as it used to be. The price of food is really going up, as is gas, etc. Housing is the one thing that seems to remain pretty stable. We found a great house in a gated community in Santa Ana (not a cookie-cutter community, either) for a very good price. Deals are still out there; my suggestion is to look at La Nacion. Escazu is still very expensive; for what we pay here in Santa Ana, we were looking at older, more run-down houses in Escazu on smaller lots with fewer ameneties. And it is just a five-minute drive to Escazu, should we need to go over there. Can you tell I love Santa Ana? :-)
    Now buying a car for under $2200 is going to be difficult. Our last crappy Hyundai Elantra 92 cost around $5000, bought back in 2001. You can still get some decent deals up near Grecia, but you have to really be wary of those cars, as a lot of dealers import wrecks that technically shouldn't be sold as anything but junk from the U.S., fix them up here, and then sell them as though they were regular used cars. Which really ought to be illegal, if you ask me. The last car we bought was from the Toyota dealer, because I just don't trust buying a used car from anyone else here in CR anymore (unless, of course, you know a private party personally and they bought the car new from a dealer or something).
    I hope this helps!