It’s great to have a car!…We’re off this morning for an adventure…Modern Costa Rica…

Statue in a roundabout on our way toward San Jose, known as Rotondo de las Garantias Sociales Zapote.

“Sighting from the Veranda in Costa Rica”

Cattle grazing at a distant pasture.  We can hear them mooing all day long but can’t always see them.

This morning, we’re rushing a bit to get the post uploaded early to head out the door for a bit of sightseeing before it starts raining. We’d considered waiting to do today’s post until we returned later in the day. But, as our long-time readers know, I prefer to get to work on it first thing in the morning to have it uploaded by noon our time.

We were up at the crack of dawn after a fitful night’s sleep, anxious to get the day started so we could be on our way. At the moment as I write it’s 7:30 am and I have one hour to get this done and uploaded after I’d already added the headings, photos, captions and the “one year ago photo” earlier this morning.

We were surprised to see a mall with many American chain stores.

Yesterday, for the first time we drove ourselves to the market for the week’s groceries. Tom waited outdoors at the cafe while I shopped with a watchful eye on the registers so he could dash indoors and help load the items. (There’s no moving belt).

But, in many ways, Costa Rica is modern and updated, more so than we’ve seen in many countries throughout the world. Indeed, tourism has been highly instrumental in inspiring this country to become more appealing to tourists from all over the world.

The easy and relatively short flight from the US (it was six hours with one stop for us from Las Vegas, Nevada but is only three hours from Houston, Texas) with many non-stop flights from certain large cities making it highly appealing for those who like to go international without spending days of travel time.

Most likely, the large malls are frequented by expats and tourists.  With high tourist prices on many items, we imagine the locals shop in the locally owned stores.

Our perception had been that Costa Rica was wild and relatively uninhabited. This is the case in most parts of the small country, fantastic, untamed, rich with wildlife and rain forest, rife with adventurous activities for those seeking thrills in its many remote locations.

But, for many, the hustle and bustle of city life can be found in a few of its major cities including San Jose,, the capital with its population of 333,000, and other cities such as Alajuela with a population 293,601 (including surrounding towns in the valley). 

A pond along the highway on our way to Curridabat.

Here are some demographics about Costa Rica from this site:

“Demographics Of Costa Rica

Costa Rica is located in Central America between Nicaragua and Panama bordering the Caribbean Sea and North Pacific Ocean. The country has an estimated population of 4,872,543 people who mainly reside in the urban centers. The white or Mestizo group makes up to 83.6% of the people, followed by 6.7% Mulato, 2.45% indigenous, 2.4% blacks of African origin. The Costa Rican residents are mainly Roman Catholic with 76.3% adherents, Evangelical 13.7%, Jehovah witness 1.3% other Protestants 0.7%, other religion 4.8% with 3.2% of the population adhering to no faith. The country has a high dependency ratio of 45.4% and a poverty rate of 20%. The population growth rate is at 1.19% with 15.7 births/1000 population and a death rate of 4.6 deaths/1000 people. Maternal mortality rate is at 25deaths/100,000 live births and infant mortality rate is at 8.3 deaths/1000 live births. The life expectancy for males is 75.9 years while that of females is 81.4 years.”

With the country’s almost 5 million residents, including many expats and foreigners with year-round and seasonal homes, it’s a much busier place to visit than we’d expected.

Church along the highway.  I couldn’t get much a photo of this colorful building. But, we did our best with GPS and no places to stop for pictures with the problems we were having with GPS.

Fortunately, for us, we’re located in the quiet area of Atenas which is located in the Alajuela Valley. Its charm and old-world feel make it especially appealing to us. Had we stayed close to San Jose, we surely would have been disappointed by the traffic and the hustle and bustle. 

We had enough of that while in the USA for nine weeks, which, now that we’ve been here for over three weeks is rapidly becoming a distant memory. But, of course, the time we spent with family and friends was meaningful and memorable.

We were driving through a town.

Tom and I both feel most at home in the more remote locations.  Other than the month we’ll spend in Buenos Aires, Argentina beginning on December 23, 2017, our upcoming year or more will be precisely what we strive to achieve…quiet locations with abundance culture, wildlife, and vegetation.

Sure, there’s a price to pay to live in remote areas usually centering around lack of availability of specific products and foods; often a lack of air conditioning and, of course, the constant presence of a variety of ugly insects, some venomous, some not and the likelihood of snakes, again, some venomous and some not.

The towns along the highway had numerous shops, many of which we had no idea what they offered for sale.  This sign translates to, “Welcome to low prices.” 

Wherever we travel, we find each location to have its pluses and minuses. Whether it’s sand flies on a pristine beach as shown in the “year ago photo” below or there is a greater risk of pickpockets when sightseeing and visiting local venues. 

As they say, “there’s no free lunch.” As much as any one of us would like to believe in Paradise, one only need watch an episode of “Naked and Afraid” to see the realities and harsh conditions in many parts of the world.

It was cloudy, as often is the case, impeding good shots of the surrounding mountains.

We have no desire to be stranded in the rain forest or the bush for 21 days but living in remote locations gives a but a peek into the challenges that Mother Nature can present, both divine and terrifying, in many parts of the world. It’s this very mix of good and not-so-good that keep us reeling with the challenge and the excitement.

As matter of fact, we’ll be back tomorrow with some photos that hopefully will provide our readers with a more “inside look” of what Costa Rica is really about, beyond the cities, the malls, the tourist traps, and the MacDonald’s restaurants.

Have a beautiful day. We’re out of here!

Photo from one year ago today, August 23, 2016:

Talk about a pristine sandy beach! in Phuket, Thailand! This was Chalong Beach, a popular tourist destination. For more photos, please click here.

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