Discover a Typical Expat Day in Costa Rica’s Central Valley

Today was a typical day where we live, in San Ramon de Alajuela in Costa Rica’s western Central Valley. My husband, Paul, who is a morning person, woke to mostly clear skies at 5:30 a.m., fed our two cats, and ate breakfast. Every morning he makes a smoothie with a fresh banana and locally grown pineapple, papaya, and strawberries. At 7 a.m., it was time to drive to the bus stop to pick up Flor, our housekeeper, who cleans our house for four hours every week. The local hourly rate for housekeeping services is about $3, but she has been with us for two years now, so we pay her a bit more.

I, who am not a morning person, woke a little later and had a leisurely morning drinking rich Costa Rican coffee, answering emails, and planning our upcoming road trip to Costa Rica’s Southern Zone. At 11:30 a.m., with a clean house and our kitties snoozing on the beds, we all headed to town, dropping Flor off at the bus station.

Paul and I ate a quick lunch of chifrijo at a local restaurant. Chifrijo is a Costa Rican specialty, sometimes called “the king of bar foods.” It's a combination of rice, beans, chicharron (pork), and chimichurri, a tomato-based topping with lime juice.

After lunch, Paul headed to the local museum, which is part of the University of Costa Rica. Twice a week, he teaches English there, to a group of adultos mayores (senior citizens). His class has been meeting for the last several months and it's been a great experience for Paul and his students.

While he was in class, I walked around town doing errands. It's an easy walk, as San Ramon is pretty flat and only about 12 blocks square. There is no such thing as one-stop-shopping in our little town. We go to the veterinarian to buy cat food, the watch shop to have the batteries replaced in Paul's watches, and the local pulperia (convenience store) to add minutes to my phone.

For expats, even every-day tasks are more enjoyable and stress free.
For expats, even every-day tasks are more enjoyable and stress free.

Today, I stopped by a household goods store and was able to find a digital food thermometer, which I need to make homemade yogurt (cost: $12). Around the corner, I went to an optical store to buy lens cleaner for Paul's glasses, and a grocery store to buy the few items on our list. I even had time for a scavenger hunt of sorts at a local Ropa Americana (think Goodwill on steroids) and found a cute pair of shorts for only $2.40 to wear on our vacation down south. And, I stopped in the hair salon I frequent to make an appointment for tomorrow to get my hair cut and colored (total cost will be about $25). I headed back to the museum to meet Paul where I ran into a friend and chatted for a bit.

By this time, around 2 p.m., as it’s currently the rainy season, the clouds had rolled. It doesn't rain every day during the rainy season, and when it does, it could rain for just five minutes or for several hours. But it doesn't really matter. Rain or shine, life goes on.

Right now, we are back at home, waiting for friends to stop by. We all plan on going out to dinner later at a restaurant in town. But first, we’ll sit on our porch to enjoy the hummingbirds at the feeder and the sunset over the Gulf of Nicoya.

It's an easy life here in San Ramon, and a good life. And we enjoy it all.

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