Marcharmo

The “Marcharmo” is the annual minimum liability insurance you are required to pay for all vehicles, motorcycles, or ATVs in Costa Rica.  You can pay the Marcharmo from November 1st to December 31st each year and the value is based on the make, model, and year of your vehicle.

Marchamo

The Marcharmo is not cheap and for a 2008 SUV I will pay around $800 this year, ouch!  Even an older car, motorcycle, or ATV can pay around $200.  This is a requirement and no way around it.  In fact anyone caught after January 1st without the new decal on their front windshield will be subject to hefty fines and even getting your car impounded and towed.  Best believe the “Traficos” / “Transitos” or Transit Police will be out in full force around the entire country stopping cars at various check point searching for current Marcharmo stickers.

Transito Check Point

You can pay your Marcharmo online, at any local bank, or insurance office.   You can check how much you owe for Marcharmo and pay for it on the INS website.  In order to pay your Marcharmo you have to have all traffic tickets and parking tickets paid and if not; they will be added to the total cost of your Marcharmo.  You also have to have a current Revision Technica Vehiculo (R.T.V.) inspection sticker, which is the annual inspection every car, motorcycle, and ATV must pass to prove it is worthy of the road.

So pay your Marcharmo on time, or else your New Year will not start out too well!

How to Live a Self-Sustainable Lifestyle in Costa Rica

Living a more sustainable existence is a growing movement around the world; especially in modern times with so much wasteful pre-packaged goods and food products.  A self-sustainable lifestyle in Costa Rica is not the answer for all, but a select bunch will find their own piece of paradise and be able to virtually live off the land.  Joshua Kanter of United Country – Properties in Dominical discusses this eco-minded trend in the Southern Pacific Zone of Costa Rica.

Playa Dominical, Costa Rica (PRWEB) November 14, 2012

The planet’s population is growing at an alarming rate and there simply will not be enough resources for the future generations.  Therefore there has been a collective shift by many towards sustainability and causing less environmental impact.

-World population reached 7 billion on October 31, 2011 and is estimated to reach 8 billion by 2030 (wikipedia.org)
-Water scarcity affects one in three people on every continent of the globe (World Health Organization)
-The world’s richest countries make up only one-fifth of global population but account for 45% of all meat consumption, 58% of total energy use, 84% of paper use, and 87% of vehicle ownership. (United Nations Development Programme – undp.org)

Joshua Kanter of Dominical Property a local Costa Rica real estate and property management company, shares his perspective of this current and growing market:

Many of our clients today are looking for a home with acreage or large ocean view property with its own water source and land capable of providing fresh organic fruits and vegetables.  If a property can also support chickens or even some livestock, plus has an ample creek to make a Tilapia pond; then it becomes even more desirable among these types of customers.  We have even seen buyers on a budget create a sustainable lifestyle with an affordable home on a couple acres or turning some raw usable land into a personal producing farm

The Southern Pacific Zone of Costa Rica still has pristine rain forest and is teaming with wildlife, therefore eco-minded tourists and investors are logically drawn to this area.  This current trend is driving sustainable development projects such as; Osa Mountain Village which is a residential community that will have sharing of fruit and vegetable crops, as well as, poultry and Tilapia.  This model of development has potential in Costa Rica and around the world as resources become more and more scarce

Although escaping to Costa Rica’s tropical shores may not be for everyone; it is a realistic and viable option for those that seek a simpler life with less of an ecological footprint.

Contact:
Joshua Kanter, Agent
United Country – Properties in Costa Rica.
Website: http://www.DominicalProperty.com
Blog: http://www.DominicalProperty.WordPress.com/
Toll Free: 1-888-679-1227

How to Catch Fish and Shrimp with your Bare Hands

This past weekend in Silencio, a small local town where my in-laws live, it was a beautiful clear sunny morning on Saturday so we decided to take the kids to splash around in the river.  There happened to be an excavator digging a trench to re-direct the river because it was beginning to erode one of the banks near the road.  We went for a swim with the kids and watched as the huge machine did its work.  When we were just about ready to go the excavator headed upstream and at that moment dug out the temporary dam it had made and the river instantly changed course.  Well, talk about being in the right place at the right time.  A large section of about 200 feet of the river dried up and created small pools everywhere with river shrimp and fish splashing around.  I grabbed a bag from the car and we got all the shrimp and few large fish we could find; literally fishing with our hands! After bringing the catch back to the house we cleaned it up and prepared some fresh fish for lunch and saved the shrimp for lunch the next day. 

The fish was really tasty and river shrimp are like craw fish, but taste like lobster here!  Fun experience for us and the kids; as it is not every day you get to fish with your hands!

Become a Luxury Rancher or Organic Farmer

Ever dream of becoming a farmer or rancher, but could not give up the amenities of a luxury home and being close to a city.  Well, now it is possible live this dream in a 6,000 square foot mansion on a 30 acre horse farm within 45 minutes to the city of San Isidro, Costa Rica.  Located in a rural area surrounded by coffee farms and cattle ranches this property offers private tranquility with tons of usable land, horse stables, caretaker house, pastures, creek with two cascades, and borders the river “Rio General”.  Here is a detailed video of the home and property for your viewing pleasure….

This estate home spared no expense in its solid concrete block construction and offers the finest finishes available.  Downstairs the home features a large office/study, great room with 30 foot high windows bringing in the views and natural light, and guestroom with an en suite bathroom.

There is also a huge open professional kitchen, living room and breakfast table, formal dining room, and an outdoor terrace and dining area.

You walk up Cristobal hardwood (a rare native hardwood) stairs to the two master bedrooms and baths.

The main master bedroom is very spacious and has bamboo wood floors, walk-in closet, and access to a wrap around balcony that enjoys the views and sounds of the cascade next to the house.

The en suite bathroom is literally the largest I have ever seen; and has a Jacuzzi tub for two, his and hers showers, his and hers vanities with granite counters, and even his and hers toilets!  The other master bedroom is just as spacious with bamboo floors and balcony access as well.  Across the hallway is another large walk-in closet and oversized master bathroom with its own Jacuzzi tub.

This property has potential for a retired couple or family that wants to live off the land and enjoy a country lifestyle.

The structures are in place to raise horses with a 6 stall stable, a coral, and plenty of pasture land to graze.

There is also Tilapia pond already built for a constant fresh fish supply.  You could raise free range chickens for laying eggs and for a food source.  Due to the extremely fertile soil near the river you could also transform this property in to an organic fruit farm and at the very least produce sufficient fruit and vegetables for your family or small community.   Could even get a couple dairy cows to produce your own milk and cheeses.  In just in case you cannot produce everything you need there are small markets close by and large supermarkets in San Isidro 40-45 minutes away.

There is an extraordinary amount of flat and usable land multiple additional homes could be built for a family compound or mini gated community.  Even numerous rental cabins and a Bed & Breakfast operation could be possible.  For more information click this link about this amazing Luxury Home on 30 Acres or visit www.DominicalProperty.com for more residential homes and farm listings.

La Paz Waterfall Gardens

The La Paz Waterfall Gardens is one of the most visited parks in Costa Rica and located less than one hour from San Jose.  This is a great day trip from any hotel in San Jose with a beautiful drive through coffee farms and rolling pastures of grazing dairy cows.  You can also go on nearby coffee tours or visit Poas Volcano, but in order to do everything it would be best to stay at the Peace Lodge Hotel or another Bed & Breakfast in the surrounding countryside.  My mom was recently in town and we went to the park with our family for the day before she left.

Enjoy this video of the La Paz Waterfall gardens.

You first enter the park through the main lodge, restaurant, and gift shop and pay the entrance fee of $20 for local/residents and $35 for visitors.  Then down to the park with animals such as birds, monkeys, cats, and more.

You can enter a dome full of exotic birds and literally be inches from toucans and parrots.

The monkeys and butterflies were our daughter’s favorites.  They do get to see monkeys in the wild at our house all the time, but not the Spider Monkeys and still love seeing all kinds none the less.

The butterfly attraction is a stroll through a flowering garden with butterflies everywhere.  They also have all the different cocoons in their various stages for visitors to see the metamorphosis in person.

A close up encounter with a jaguar (only separated by a thick piece of glass) was a memorable experience and personally my favorite part of the park.  Absolutely amazing to see such a powerful creature so close, that most likely you will never see in the wild.

The reptiles and amphibians are part of the park, but the kids did enjoy the snakes more than I thought they would.  There was the largest Terciopelo (Fer-de-Lance) I have ever seen, and I am definitely scared of seeing of one of those in the wild.  We also got to see some of the exotic frog species first hand.

Throughout the well landscaped park there are flowers and gardens everywhere.  Even a small section of beautiful orchids and another area planted especially to attract humming birds.

The main feature is of course the waterfalls and you walk down a concrete trail and stairway through the jungle.  Do not worry; you do not have to walk back up because there is a bus that takes you back up to the front of the park.  The waterfalls are magnificent and you can get so close that mist sprays on your face.  Truly an unforgettable experience and some of the most scenic waterfalls in Costa Rica.  So forget buying post cards of waterfalls and animals; just take some pictures here to share with your friends and family.  For more information and directions go to the La Paz Waterfall Gardens website: http://www.waterfallgardens.com/

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.

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!