Locked and loaded and ready to go. It took me 4 hours to drive from my brother and sister-in-law’s house in Lompoc to the LAX airport in Los Angeles so I could start my new life and adventure in Costa Rica. After returning my SUV to Enterprise Rental Car, I boarded their shuttle bus with 2 pieces of very heavy luggage, a balikbayan box (I will explain what this is in a later post), and a guitar. The shuttle driver helped me unload my luggage at Delta’s Terminal 2, and I proceeded to the ticketing counter. As I put my luggage on the scale, I realized that my garment bag was missing, along with some important documents, herbal products, and toiletries it contained. Panicking, I immediately called Enterprise, but before a customer service representative could answer, another Enterprise shuttle arrived curbside where I was standing. I explained the situation to the driver and asked him to call dispatch. About 15 minutes later they found my bag, and within the hour it was brought to me right there at curbside.
Whew! Dodged a bullet there. To celebrate being back on track, I had a cold Stella Artois and a sandwich while waiting for my flight.
At the airport in San Jose-Alajuela, I went through customs and baggage claim without any problems, then exchanged some US dollars for Costa Rican Colones. I probably should have gone to the bank for a much better rate as I got about a dollar less at the airport than what the bank offered. I then caught a taxi to the Holiday Inn Express San Jose, Costa Rica Airport, which was about 15 minutes away, where I was staying the night so I could meet with my immigration attorney the next day to sign some documents and get fingerprinted.
The next day I scheduled my first Uber in Costa Rica to take me to meet the attorney and then another Uber to bring me back to the hotel afterwards. I enjoyed a nice lunch at Denny’s right across the parking lot from the hotel, but I discovered that the food in the area is not cheap! Many people in North America believe that Costa Rica is cheap. Believe me, mi amigo, that is not always the case, as I learned during my first trip here. Basically, if you’re anywhere near a tourist area, expect to always pay premium prices.
I’m still new here, so I haven’t been able to fact-check everything, but what I have gleaned is that prices are high from December through April and go down a bit from May through November. That’s known as the rainy season. Beginning, around Christmas, many tourists start arriving and the prices surge again. I will share updated and fact-checked info after I’ve been here a bit longer.
Before I left the US, I had booked a ride with Costa Rica Shuttle to take me from the Holiday Inn to Grecia, where I will make my new home. I highly recommend Costa Rica Shuttle. My driver Jose was awesome! He picked me up on time, helped me with my very heavy bags and box, spoke fluent English, and was very personable. We arrived at the La Terraza Guest House B&B in Grecia, and the natural scenery was absolutely breathtaking.
The next day, I met with my realtor, Karina, who has lived in Grecia all of her life. She works for American–European Realty, a major real estate company in Costa Rica. She knows every nook and cranny and was able to find an awesome rental house for me. The house is a four-bedroom, one-bath, two-story home in a great community surrounded by a number of fruit trees, including papaya, avocado, plantain, mulberry, sour lemon, moringa, and a small coffee tree. In the city that I am from in California, the rent for a house like this would easily be $1600 a month, but I am on a tight budget, so what I’m paying a month is awesome. If you’re looking for a property to either buy or rent here in Costa Rica, I highly recommend Karina.
In an upcoming blog post, we’ll talk about the cost of living in Costa Rica compared to that in the US, including identifying what’s more expensive and cheaper here.