​​Costa Rica


logo by Mrs. Brenda Ernzen, www.forevercleveronline.com

6 weeks in Costa Rica...
What did I miss?
(Diary entry, 1/23/15)

Whoa! It's 2015. We are IN Costa Rica. Some people have asked what we wish we had brought with us. What we miss, what is different.

~Elizabeth's laptop (yeah, I put it in my bank box, and I miss it. badly.) Post script: I would later buy a computer in Costa Rica. One that is not a mac and has a much larger hard drive! 

~More sunscreen. Never cheap, but here we pay about $34 for a 240 mL bottle of SPF80. Ouch.

~Strangely, my La Creuset soft spatulas. They were good for everything. Cookies, pancakes, cakes, frostings, breads, ohhhhh (I'm swooning).

~stainless steel measuring cups and spoons, another necessary luxury for anyone who loves to toil in the kitchen. The ones I bought at the mercado started to lose their size labels very quickly.

~I miss my Kitchen-Aid, but it's not something I'd ever want to lug thousands of miles so I don't lose sleep over this one. 

~I miss writing letters and notes and cards to people I love. I really miss correspondence. This is a big one that I probably think about daily. I am not writing in a diary, either, which is an ongoing regret. There it is. Post script, my brother would later mule down some Crane & Co stationery for me when visiting in July, 2015. :D

~I miss my bed. It was tempurpedic with a cashmere top. It was my greatest accomplishment in life besides my children.....and now I sleep on a bed that feels like cinder blocks with a bit of upholstery foam over top. OK, maybe not that bad. Pretty bad after my previous bed! Post script: I still miss that bed every. single. day.


What you are all here for!!!!

Planning List

of 10/3/14

I had some various categories at this stage

I started with the first aid stuff. Safety first and all that. 

All prescription information

glasses, contact lenses

**please note contact lenses are very expensive and of limited selection in Costa Rica. Stock up in your home country where you know what you're doing!**

Baby's car seat

**please note people in CR don't really use car seats, but there are definitely laws that are somewhat loosely enforced, not to mention your child's safety. Buying a car seat there is not wise, because exceedingly expensive, and such bad quality you will not believe it -- BRING YOURS**


**like 3-4 times more expensive along the beaches where we were vs in the States -- bring as much as you can -- or pay $25-$35 a bottle**

Preferred shampoos or conditioners are recommended to bring in if possible, very limited selection and at least twice the cost in Tamarindo area

Solarcaine or aloe

Lip balm w/ SPF

bug spray

**another good thing to bring as much as you can for price and quality reasons**

hydrocortisone ointment



cough syrup/drops


anti-diarrheal meds were recommended and sent with us in case of need. We never did need them. Interestingly our tica babysitter insisted on treating our little one, Sunshine, with an anti-parasitic after we had been Costa Rica six months.

**concerning pharmacy items, please note where we were there was an impeccable pharmacy in Huacas called the Beachside Clinic. Things like medicines and ointments are more expensive but available and there is a doctor on staff in pharmacies in CR, which is a huge (free) service to pharmacy visitors. There is one in Flamingo, as well, and we could not recommend this facility highly enough. In our blog you can find a detailed synopsis of the day our daughter cut her head open and required stitches -- total approximately $120 out of pocket.**

tweezers are good, like for bug bites, splinters, beach adventures and life play

band-aids, gauze (basic stuff)

nail clippers

mosquito nets 


self-charging flashlight?





swimsuits & trunks 

**if you are on the beach bring, like, five sets of swim gear per person and you will not regret it**

suits and trunks, wetsuit(s) or wetsuit shirts would be wise to bring ahead because expensive/poor quality in CR

We did not use life jackets routinely enough that we wished we had brought our own.

snorkel gear

**If you are into snorkeling, I cannot stress enough to bring your own gear. The quality is very low and the price very high in CR. Even if you are willing to pay a lot of good quality snorkel gear, you won't find it!**

footwear-Keens, flip flops

**bring many pairs of flip flops, buy them elsewhere, they're all crap in CR (are you getting the drift yet?)** 

galoshes -- didn't need wouldn't have used, too dang hot

camping line and clothespins to hang dry items


Of course, there's the "to buy when we get into town and stock up for a week (minimum)" list

dog food,

diapers, wipes







salad greens, veggies, 




cheese (cottage,string,shredded, sliced LOL)

**cheese is not a strong suit for Costa Rica, being limited in variety and obscene in its cost -- if you're a cheese person, be mentally prepared for this. You're talking $12 for a block of really not very good cheddar cheese! **

​If you like maple syrup, like we do - I mean the real stuff!!! lose all hope now.... 

I saw it only at the Auto Mercado for $35 for a jug of like 12 oz. True Story. The kind they have at Costco for like $12. 'merica!


I advise you to buy avocados ... they are amazing in CR....pura vida

So Hold up...............how?

Inquiring minds probably want to know how the heck you even begin the process of unburdening your life, weaning what you will keep, sell, donate, or give to certain people. Coming to terms with doing something crazy.


Basically, lose it and panic now. (If you're me.)


then, we:

1.  Went through most all of our STUFF. Stuff, the five-letter word. Oh my god, people. It is staggering how much stuff we had. Simply. Staggering. I assure you, it was a huge relief to get rid of things we didn't need or use. There would be regrets for certain things later, very few certain things. Yes, selling the house and boat were intimidating and quite frankly cumbersome. But we did both.

2.  Separated said stuff into categories mentioned above. Began slow process of shipping important things to people who would care about them or use them. Drop off van fulls (plural) of stuff at Goodwill. What they don't take, put on the curb for FREE! It works.

3.  Talked to real estate agent. Developed a plan. Commenced home improvements. Staged the house ... Operation: Sell! (We sold almost immediately.)

4. Came to terms with the fact that we were really, really going to do something wacky and crazy. Reveled in it. 

5.  Mama learned how to scuba dive. Yeah, baby! Post script: later, in Costa Rica, Papa would not only become open water certified but also become a divemaster!

6.  Researched, researched, researched. Mama's specialty!

End stages of preparation,

Completed vaccinations and discussed what to do to prepare for Costa Rica.

Lived in an apartment in Solon, Iowa for a month while continuing to pack up our lives into one storage unit and the few suitcases that would actually make the trip with us to Costa Rica.

Drove with the kids, the dog, and our stuff to Atlanta, GA to stay with bro in-law for 2 weeks. Gave away van.

Got Pepper the dog's vet documentation within two weeks of departure, rabies booster (**stay tuned here I will be loading photos of the documents we had to complete for there and back on a new "bring your dog" page in the near future**).

Depart. December 8, 2014 -- Atlanta, GA direct to Liberia, Guanacaste, Costa Rica