As I slowly swam forward I could just make out a dark shape on the seabed about 40 feet ahead. Getting closer, a green sea turtle came into focus. It’s shell alone was five feet long. It paid me no attention, intent on munching sea grass until it got its fill, taking periodic breaks to gracefully rise to the surface and take a breath.
“It reminds me of the small town I grew up in. The people are friendly and pleasant,” says Mel Rosiechuk, 70, of his new home in Costa Rica. Like many northerners, Mel, who came to Costa Rica in 2008 from his native Edmonton, Canada, was motivated to move here because of the weather…and soon discovered other benefits as well.
Bless her heart, but my wife’s friend “Linda” (name changed to protect the embarrassed) has a knack for often saying the “wrong” thing when speaking Spanish. And during her visit to our home in Costa Rica years ago she outdid herself. It’s a story we still laugh about when we’re all together. And I tell it to you so you see some of the struggles and embarrassment you might feel when practicing Spanish. But, more importantly, you’ll understand why it’s not such a big deal and learning Spanish will be a rewarding experience and connect you more closely to your new home.
Weeks with the temperatures below zero. Snow, snow, and more snow. It was a particularly brutal winter two years ago that convinced Jim, 67, and Barb Kohlmetz, 62, that it was time for a change after living in Wisconsin all their lives. Now they jet down to Costa Rica after the Christmas holidays and stay in their home in a quiet beach community on the central Pacific coast until after the spring thaw. As retirees—they were in education for a combined 73 years—they have the flexible schedule perfect for part-time residents.
I’ve enjoyed hammocks all over Central America. It’s a way of life in this region, standard home furnishing, and a pastime enjoyed by all. Truck drivers stuck at customs checkpoints string them under their tractor-trailers. Families on front porches take quick naps—nothing puts a baby (or anyone for that matter) to sleep faster than a gently swinging hammock.
Costa Rica's central Pacific coast is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country and prime territory for expats as well. It has some of the most frequented resort towns.
Costa Rica cuisine may not be well-known outside its borders. But those who visit or live there soon develop a craving for certain dishes. With a reliance on fresh ingredients and savory seasonings, it’s no wonder. There are nearly 1,000 miles of Pacific and Caribbean coastline, so seafood is a favorite. And the rich volcanic soil means that fruits and vegetables thrive, including tropical varieties like guanabana or chayote not found much outside the region.
For special occasions, especially the Christmas holidays, nacatamales are the go-to traditional meal in Nicaragua. Making this delicious dish is a bit labor intensive and a multi-step process—so the whole family gets involved. The basic ingredients are masa, chicken or pork seasoned with achiote, and vegetables and herbs like onions, potatoes, bell peppers, tomato, rice, and mint—everybody has their own version. It’s all wrapped together in a banana leaf and then steamed.
“I love that our life is so different than I ever thought it would be,” says Pokey Sherman, 65. “I grew up in Pittsburgh. And my parents retired to Florida. I thought, ‘Is that all there is?’ I think the idea of retirement should be to change your lifestyle.” “It’s a real joy to wake up and come out here and realize what we’ve done,” she adds, referring to their fifth-floor balcony. Their condo is set on a hill overlooking a low-key beach town, verdant forest, the glittering Pacific, surfer-filled waves, and river to the north.
When most people think of Costa Rica, they picture white-sand beaches, rainforests, monkeys frolicking in the trees, and clear-blue ocean. And that’s all true. This little tropical country is full of natural beauty.