Life is an Adventure – Dominical Video

This awesome video filmed recently in the Dominical area of Costa Rica is a perfect example of what an adventure packed vacation to Costa Ballena includes.  Or better yet this could be your daily life in paradise!!!

I hope you enjoyed this taste of life in the Southern Zone!  Come on down and see for yourself why this is a truly special place to live or visit. Please check us out at: www.DominicalProperty.com

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Manuel Antonio – “DO NOT Feed the Animals!”

Manuel Antonio National Park

Manuel Antonio is the most visited National Park in Costa Rica and as the saying goes, “there are more Monkeys than people.”  The park itself is amazing with spectacular scenery and white sandy beaches, not to mention teaming with wild life.  The Manuel Antonio area has some of the finest hotels and restaurants in all of Costa Rica with many offering absolute breathtaking views.  There are also numerous boutique shops and the large town of Quepos with marina and Regional Airport down the road.  Whether a tourist or resident, living the good life is easy in Manuel Antonio and even the local wildlife has figured this out…..

Posing for a Photo Opportunity

Last time we went Manuel Antonio was during my Mom’s last visit, so we planned a fun day to take the kids to the park.  We got there early right as they were opening and walked along the well maintained trails to the beach, saw a White-Face Monkey posing for some tourists to take pictures and a Three-Toed Sloth hanging out (because that is basically all they do) along the way.

Post Card Setting for a Picnic

Once we got to the beach we settled on a nice shady spot with a post card backdrop and decided to enjoy some cinnamon bread we brought with us.

The Raccoon Culprit

It was a matter of minutes before a Raccoon was 5 feet away scoping us out.  We continued our picnic without paying much attention, and the second we all turned our heads this crafty Raccoon snuck in quickly and snatched the cinnamon bread and ran off!

Got any Cookies Over There?

The Monkeys have figured out people eat picnics at the beach too, and a troop of White-Face Monkeys had made its way down to the beach as well.  They were dive bombing from the trees stealing crackers, cookies, chips, and anything they could from guest’s bags!  It reminded me of the Monkeys from the kids’ movie “Rio” that take the watches and jewelry from tourists.  I walked over with my 4 year old daughter to get a closer look and she happened to be eating a cracker, when a park ranger came over with a stick in her hand (I guess in case of incident with a hungry Monkey or Raccoon).  She told me not to bring my daughter near there with a cracker in her hand because the Monkeys will actually calculate which person is the smallest and weakest in order jump on them to take the cracker.  So we took her advice and waited until she finished her cracker before going to check out the commotion.

Beautiful Scenery Leaving the Park

All in all it was a great family day at Manuel Antonio (minus losing some delicious cinnamon bread) and we will always remember the experience.  So next time you go to Manuel Antonio enjoy the beaches, restaurants, and National Park; but keep your picnic in tightly sealed tupperware or coolers and DO NOT feed the animals…

…they are good enough at feeding themselves!

 

 

 

Playa Matapalo, Costa Rica

Playa Matapalo is a beautiful pristine beach located in between Dominical and Quepos/Manuel Antonio.  Offering miles of secluded sandy coastline to explore and fun waves to surf and play make this one of the area’s best beaches.  Many tourists and buyers alike overlook Playa Matapalo and want to be in Manuel Antonio or Dominical, but it really is an ideal location between the two.  You can be at the Quepos Regional Airport or shopping in Quepos in 20 minutes or at fine restaurants, tropical beaches or national park at Manuel Antonio in 25 minutes.  Playa Dominical and its World famous surfing, multitude of outdoor adventure activities, plus casual beach side restaurants are only 15 minutes away.

Playa Matapalo is small town, but does have some restaurants, a small super market for supplies, even a hardware store, high school, and police stationReal Estate in Matapalo consists of mostly residential lots with acreage and numerous homes scattered throughout the mountainous jungle terrain.  So whether traveling to the area for the first time or looking to buy, do not pass through Matapalo without taking a look around, you could miss a real opportunity to discover something special!

Costa Rica Independence Day, Pass the Torch

The Costa Rica Independence Day is celebrated on September 15th every year with parades, flags everywhere, and activities in all the schools around the country.  On September 15th, 1821 the Central American countries were given independence from Spain and this day is celebrated throughout the region.  The most popular celebration that everyone looks forward to is the “faroles” or homemade torches representing the light of freedom.

Each child brings a homemade torch and at 6pm on the eve before Independence Day they light their individual torches and take to the streets singing the national anthem and songs of independence.  It is a fun sight to see and we have gone the last few years to our niece and nephew’s parade, but this year our daughter is in pre-school and we are looking forward to seeing her school’s activities.  I have always thought this was not the best idea to give a bunch of kids a torch made of plastic, wood, and paper with a candle in the middle and let them parade around, but fortunately I have not heard of any accidents and all the years I have lived here.  It is fun activity for all and a sight to see these torches parading through the local streets.  The torches of Independence Day represent the spreading news of freedom throughout Central America (which took a month to reach Costa Rica in 1821), and there is even an annual torch that is carried town to town from Guatemala to Costa Rica.

On Independence Day the school kids gather to sing the national anthem and parade in the streets in their uniforms waving the blue, white, and red flags.  Then much like the U.S. Independence Day, families gather for some home cooked meals or BBQs and enjoy their time together.  I personally am looking forward to our daughter’s first Independence Day activities and performances.  We got her “farole” ready, but I may walk along side with a fire extinguisher just in case.

Costa Rica is Once Again the Happiest Place on Earth

Once again Costa Rica has been determined the Happiest Planet on Earth in the annual Happy Planet Index (H.P.I.) by the New Economic Foundation.  The study ranks countries in terms of life expectancy, the amount of well being experienced by the local population, and environmental impact.  Costa Rica has been in the top 3 since the formation of the first H.P.I. in 2006 and has been #1 for the past 2 years.  No wonder so many people come from all over the world to experience the “Pura Vida” or “Pure Life” and immerse themselves in nature and stunningly beautiful scenery.   The top 10 results for 2012 are as follows:

2012 Happy Planet Index

Country

H.P.I.

Experienced Well-being

Life Expectancy

Ecological Footprint

Costa Rica

64

7.3

79.3

2.5

Vietnam

60.4

5.8

75.2

1.4

Colombia

59.8

6.4

73.7

1.8

Belize

59.3

6.5

76.1

2.1

El Salvador

58.9

6.7

72.2

2.0

Jamaica

58.5

6.2

73.1

1.7

Panama

57.8

7.3

76.1

3.0

Nicaragua

57.1

5.7

74.0

1.6

Venezuela

56.9

7.5

74.4

3.0

Guatemala

56.9

6.3

71.2

1.8

*New Economics Foundation’s annual Happy Planet Index (HPI) 2012

Costa Rica constantly scores high in the H.P.I. rankings for many reasons including high life expectancy, forward thinking in terms of environmental protection, genuinely happy local people, and it is a peaceful country with no military.  Life expectancy in Costa Rica is among some of the longest in the World and it was determined to be a “Blue Zone” country by Dr. Sanjay Gupta of CNN.  The country also actively protects its environment with 25% of its land mass dedicated to reserves or National Parks.  Plus Costa Rica has a goal to be the World’s first carbon neutral country by 2025.  The local people are very happy and you can see this walking down the street when they smile or nod at you for no particular reason.  Try smiling at someone as you walk down the streets of New York City and see if they respond so kindly.  Another contributing factor is that Costa Rica abolished its military in 1949 and remains neutral in global conflicts, thus its nickname the Switzerland of Central America.

So come see why Costa Rica is the Happiest Place on Earth and enjoy the “Pura Vida” in paradise!  If you are interested in purchasing a property, home, or just renting long term to try out the retirement lifestyle in Costa Rica, contact me at Dominical Property for more information.

Learning Spanish…. “Donde esta la sopa?”

Learning a new language is very challenging and overwhelming at times, but if you can speak some of the local language it will help you transition to a new culture more smoothly.  This is true around the World and Costa Rica is no exception.  Although many locals speak some English and I know many foreigners that have gotten by for years without any Spanish skills; I still feel learning some of the language will only benefit you in the long run.  The locals will appreciate any effort to learn their language and are very helpful; often times they will want to practice their English while you practice your Spanish.

When I first moved here I enrolled in a Spanish school in Playa Dominical for 3 hours per week and for 3 months total.  This was not much in reality, but was a good base and I was constantly practicing with locals and of course my girlfriend at the time, who is now my lovely wife.  She helped me tremendously and that is the best way to learn by immersing yourself in the language and speaking it as much as possible.  I realize not everyone can fall in love with a local and learn that way, but before moving here you could get Rosetta Stone or go to Spanish class upon arrival.  Plus there are plenty of daily interactions and opportunities to practice.

One of the most important aspects of learning any language is to not be afraid to make mistakes and practice daily.  True story: after living here just a few months I knew enough Spanish to be dangerous and went to a local store looking for some soap.  I proceeded to ask the person helping me if they had any “sopa” (which was my way of saying words I did not know, just add an ‘a’ at the end and it may sound Spanish enough).  She then toke me to the soup aisle and I said no, “sopa” and begin to make motions like I was in the shower soaping up.  She began to laugh historically and then toke me to aisle with soaps, shampoos, and personal hygiene products.  Turns out the word for soap is “jabon” and my made up word for soap, “sopa” was way off and actually the word for soup.  But be careful not to ask for “jamon” when looking for “jabon”, because you will get some slices of ham instead of the soap you are looking for.  The moral of the story is: if you are too scared of saying the wrong thing, you will end missing chances to practice and learn from your mistakes.

The process of learning Spanish fluently will take a year or even more; so be patient, immerse yourself in the culture, and most of all have fun.  And if all else fails know that 90% of communication is non-verbal and good old hand signs and acting things out can go a long way!  Feel free to share any funny stories about when you learned a second language!

Dia del Nino

On September 9th Costa Rica will celebrate “Dia del Nino” or Children’s Day.  This is a day to celebrate children around the World.  It was created by the U.N. in 1954 in order to bring attention to children’s rights and healthy child development around the globe.  The official day of celebration in October 20th, but countries celebrate on various dates that are convenient for them.

Today, the last Friday before September 9th, most schools are providing fun outdoor activities for the kids to participate, as well as a special lunch.  The actual holiday will be spent with family and some parents will even give their children a gift.  I do not remember ever celebrating a Children’s Day growing up in the U.S., but seems like a fun holiday for all the kids and the inner kid in all of us!