Trip into town…Interesting market..SIM card giveaway…Adaptation…

There’s a cafe at the front of the Supermercado Coopeatenas.  We shopped on Wednesday and the store was busy.

“Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica”

Most likely this is a Common Tody Flycatcher we spotted sitting on the railing.

Once we’re unpacked and settled, the first thing we must do in most countries is to go grocery shopping.  I know this topic may not be of interest to some readers, so we ask those of you to bear with us. 

Many travelers dine out for most of their meals when they’re on a vacation or holiday for a week or two.  For tourists, there’s no point in spending money on kitchen staples and ingredients to make meals as we do each time we move to a new country.

This is the Atenas Central Park located in the center of town.

Each country offers its own challenges on availability of certain foodstuffs based on their local diet.  We discovered that the largest market in town, Supermercado Coopeatenas, doesn’t carry several items we use on a regular basis.  Why would they?  They don’t necessarily cater to the whims and desires of foreigners when most visitors rarely grocery shop.

The expat population living in Atenas is:

“Out of a population of approximately 27,000, in the central valley an estimated 1,500 international expats live in Atenas full-time, most of whom are retired.”

As we drove down the road toward the shops, we realized it is comparable to many towns in many places we’ve lived over these past years.

For this small percentage (5.5%), it makes no sense for the grocery stores to carry products used by those from other countries.  We wandered through the good-sized market at a loss in attempting to find many of the items on our list.  We expected this.  We’ll adapt.

As a result, as is often a necessity in many countries, we’ve had to adapt to the local food and culture.  As an example, there was literally no real whole cream for our coffee.  I decided to give up coffee while we’re here since I don’t care for it without cream.  Tom is less picky and drinking it black.

Driving along one of the main street in town.

There are no choices of “natural” products that work for me such as coconut flour, almond flour, unsweetened coconut or ground flax seeds, items we often use for various recipes. Marian told us there’s a health food store in town that we’ll check out on Monday. 


In the supermarket, there’s no deli, no Italian sausage, and only one option for bacon, a fatty variety we purchased anyway.  We won’t be making many of our favorite dishes here such as our low carb, grain, starch and sugar free pizza and others.

The roasted chickens were small and overcooked, appearing to be covered in a sticky sweet sauce.  Instead, we purchased two raw chickens cooking them in the modern oven with a suitable pan we were thrilled to find in the cupboards. We decided on roasted chicken one night and chicken salad the next (stuffed into an avocado for me).  We’ll adapt.

Motorbikes aren’t as prevalent here as they are in many other countries.

A staple of my diet is sour cream (which I use to make salad dressing) which they carry but it’s runny consistency and taste entirely different than the sour cream we’ve purchased throughout the world.  I mixed it with mayonnaise, seasoned it well and we’ve used it with hand shredded cabbage, diced carrots and celery to make coleslaw. That works here and has worked in many other countries when there’s no bagged cabbage.

As we’ve discovered in many countries that don’t consider a lettuce salad a basic side dish to lunch or dinner, the options were limited to small, wilted clumps that once cleaned and prepared would result in less than one small salad.  We’ll see what we can find next Friday at the farmer’s market.

Lukas, a surf and casual attire shop.

Prior to shopping at the supermarket, we stopped at Goya, the appliance and furniture store to purchase a SIM card for my phone.  We don’t need one for each of our phones since we’re always together.  And, if I grocery shop with the driver leaving Tom behind, I can call him on the house phone. 

We have no idea how much data or calling is available on the SIM card which the employee gave to us at no charge.  Surely, we’ll find out soon enough when it runs out when we’ll add more. 

There are plenty of aisles in the market mostly with Costa Rican and imported processed foods and goods.

The language barrier could be challenging for some.  None of the locals speak English, not the lovely cleaner Isabel, who was here for seven hours yesterday (big house, lots to clean), not the taxi driver, not the employees in the shops, the banks, etc. 

Today, I downloaded an English to Spanish translation app that when shaking the phone will allow me to speak in English to translate into spoken Spanish.  This should do the trick, at least enough for us to get by.  Here again, we’ll adapt.

We weren’t able to find “organic” laundry soap.  Instead, we chose a bottle of Tide.

We’re still looking into sightseeing options.  So far, the cost for about a three-hour outing is expensive at US $200 (CRC 114,917).  At nearly US $70 (CRC 40,220.95) an hour for the two of us, we need to consider other options which may require renting a car for a period of time. 

We’re loving this exquisite property, the scenery, the sounds and the wildlife easily finding ourselves bird watching throughout the day.  The local people are friendly and somehow we manage to communicate.  Adapting to a new environment is actually part of the joy we experience as we continue to travel the world.  It stretches us, challenges us and opens up new worlds we never imagined we’d explore at this time in our lives.

May new worlds open up for YOU!  Happy day!

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Photo from one year ago today, August 5, 2016:

Lots of motorbikes parked at the beach in Phuket Thailand.  For more photos, please click here.


Unusual currency requirement in Indonesia…We’re figuring it out, as always…




Gaday stopped at the side of the road when he spotted this monkey and baby.  We had no idea we’d see much wildlife here.  Of course, we were thrilled!

“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”


Our new feature for Bali leaves us wondering which photos to post first as we continue to be amazed by the activity on the beach both day and night.  Last night we took this photo from the veranda of our cabana with the beach in the background. 

Each day brings a series of surprises we never expected in Bali.  Sure, we anticipated lots of sunshine, hot humid weather, balmy breezes and an endless array of colorful vegetation and people.

Little did we know we’d encounter wildlife, especially on a drive to the village or by staring out to the sea from our veranda.  The camera is always close at hand.

Archway over the road intended to welcome visitors from the local harbor.

Arising no later than 5 am these days we’re often out of bed while its still dark.  This morning, I was antsy to get up and online during the better signal periods of day on the very slow signal to complain to one of our credit card companies that their two cards weren’t working. 

Once again, they assumed the cards were stolen when we used them in many locations.  They put a temporary hold on them.  Why didn’t they email and tell me instead of leaving us embarrassed when they were declined at a register in Denpasar? 

Another mom and baby.  Note the funny hair pattern on the baby’s head.

We accept the reality that few card holders, other than business travelers, use credit cards in such a variety of locations.  After the call, the two cards are working again but will be of little use here in Sumbersari, Negara, Bali, a relatively remote location with none of the local shops accepting credit cards.

As a result, using cash is the only way to make purchases in this location including some of which we’ve paid in cash thus far:

1.  Prepayment for food the cooks purchase from local vendors each morning for our meals which is usually under IDR $132,680, US $10, per day
2.  Pre-payment for any items we want picked up for us in Denpasar (the harrowing four hour drive).  At the moment, we’re awaiting the delivery of 10 kilos of ground beef to last for these first two months at an estimated cost of IDR $3,000,000, US $211 which we gave Gaday in advance unsure of the actual cost.  He’ll either bring us change or require more cash to cover the cost.  We’ll report back later when he returns today with a cooler filled with the meat, packed in ice for the long journey.
3.  Transportation to the ATM, sightseeing or shopping, usually no less than IDR $100,000, US $7.54, for up to an hour outing; IDR $250,000, US $18.84, for a half day;  to a maximum of IDR $500,000, US $37.68, for a full day outing.
4.  Payment to the “tourist police” for protection at the house.  (We just paid a one time fee for these first two months of IDR $60,000, US $4.52).
5.  Laundry charges twice a week for our clothing only. (No charge for bedding and towels).  Last night we paid both Ketuts IDR $54,000, US $4.08 for two loads of laundry.

This photo is blurry when taken while moving when it was captured.  Check out the look on his face! He looks worried. We keep our distance.  Wild monkeys are known to bite humans and carry many diseases including Zika virus which has been prevalent in Bali for many years, not only just recently.

The funny aspect to these charges is the low cost for all of these products and services along with the huge amount of local currency required to make these purchases based on the exchange rate. The required denominations for the currency is astounding and was confusing the first day or so.

Another confusing part is the fact that we, nor any other traveler, can get more than about IDR $4,000,000, US $301 at any given visit to an ATM.  This is based on rampant illegal activity in Bali.  As a result the machines are set only to dispense a certain amount of cash from each ATM which varies from location to location.

An ornate house along the road to the village.

This requires that we’ll need to get cash much more often than in the past when we freely used credit cards for most purchases.  We’re figuring it out as we go.  Most tourists come to Bali, staying in resorts where none of the above cash expenditures would be necessary. 

The beautiful difference for us as opposed to staying in a hotel or resort is we have an exquisite house all to ourselves, professionally prepared meals, a daily pool and landscape guy, a driver and two lovely dedicated housekeepers and cooks who serve our every need. 

This house, owned by a local property tycoon is elaborate in its Hindu design.

(No, we don’t ask the staff to “wait” on us.  We make and serve ourselves beverages and still “pick up” after ourselves.  Although, if we don’t fold a bath or beach towel neatly, they discretely do so when we’re not looking).


Could be a family…

In a few days, we’ll need to get more cash and plan to do some sightseeing in the process, stopping at an ATM along the way to reload several more millions IDRs (Indonesian Rupiahs). 

Again this morning as I write here, we’re sitting in the two comfy chaise lounges, sipping our coffee while facing the pool and the sea, a short distance from the edge of the infinity pool.  The sound of the surf, the birds, the geckos and on a clear day, the sight of Java across the sea, makes this one extraordinary experience we’ll never forgot. 

This is the closest ATM which only dispenses IDR $4,000,000, US $301 per customer per day.

Knowing we’ll be back again on September 1st is no longer a concern as it was before we arrived and is now laced with thoughts of this treasure to which we’ll look forward to returning for an additional 59 days.  Pinch me!  Are we really in paradise?  I think so.

Have a beautiful day wherever you may be and thank you for sharing this life with us.  Without all of YOU it would be difficult to document our daily lives to this degree.  Knowing YOU are there drives us to experience more, observe more and of course, take more photos.  If YOU’LL keep coming back, we’ll keep going!

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Photo from one year ago today, May 4, 2015:

I gave Tom this haircut one year ago.  This was him before the cut.  After my cut, he had professionals do it.  I suppose I don’t blame him.  For more Kauai photos, please click here.