Pura Vida – Part 5 (The End)

This post will close out this series on the Costa Rica Trip.

On the 22nd we visited some family and Sofia received a princess dress. She must have been impressed with the dress because she refused to take it off when we returned home and slept in it that night.

On the morning of the 24th, she put on different clothes, but again put on the new dress after dinner when it was time to see what Santa had brought her.

What I have seen in Panama and Costa Rica is that families, that have money enough to buy presents, have the opening of the gifts late on the 24th after a large dinner. I have never understood the eating of a large dinner late at night. The rest of the time we normally have a small dinner and a larger lunch meal, which makes sense to me.

As you can see in the previous photo, Sofia greatly enjoyed opening her presents that had magically appeared while she was putting on her princess dress.

On the morning of the 24th, we took a little time for me to take some photos in Puriscal’s central park area. I was told that Puriscal has a population of around 30,000. As all of the towns I saw, the central park was pretty.

Also, as with the other towns, it has a large church at the end of the park.

You can see from the photo, that the church is currently in a state of disrepair. Following one of Costa Rica’s earthquakes, the church was damaged to the point that it was considered unsafe. It has recently received authorization and money to restore the church to its original form.

In the mean time most of the people that attended the old church have nod moved their attendance to this new church a few blocks away.

I thought Puriscal was a nice little town. Larger than Boquete and with what appears to be better weather than Boquete. We attended one of the Saturday farmers markets in town and bought and sampled many of the products. Lots of samples were given out as you shopped.

The size and quality of all of the fruit and vegetables was better and cheaper than what I see here in Chiriquí. That really surprised me, because I think Chiriquí’s quality of those products is outstanding, when compared to the US.

Puriscal still has that small town flavor and unlike Boquete it has not been altered by the influx of gringos. There are many gringos living in the area, but architectures and attitudes have been preserved. If you look at the Chiriquí Chatter photos of Boquete in 2003 and compare it to today, you will see what I mean.

Puriscal is about 30 minutes from San Jose. To get there, you travel on very curving roads, similar to driving up toward Volcan in Chiriquí. All of the paved roads I was on in Costa Rica were very good. The only bad toads I saw was in the Frontier area. The InterAmerican Highway was good and I understand the new coastal highway is outstanding.

Driving in Costa Rica was a dream compared to Panama. The drivers were courteous and the roads were well marked. In most of Panama, the roads are poorly marked and Panama has to have the market on rude drivers. What a difference.

As I said, I found produce to be equal or cheaper than Panama in the Puriscal area. Electricity is much cheaper. If houses have stoves, they will most likely be all electric. Only a gringo can afford to pay the bills on an electric stove in Panama.

Gasoline was more expensive. Land appeared to be cheaper, but the taxes are higher. The prices of cars are totally out of sight. Bringing a car into Costa costs a fortune in taxes.

Still it appears that Costa Rica would be much cheaper than living in the US. Whether a US citizen would like Panama or Costa Rica would depend on whether they could adapt culturally. In Costa Rica you are going to have to learn to say, “Pura Vida” in every third sentence. I think it may even be a law.

Driving from Puriscal to San Jose you go through a couple other areas I thought looked nice. One was Colon and the Other Santa Ana. There you found all of the US styled US restaurants and one had a MultiPlaza mall like Panama City.

I really thought that the climate and weather in Costa Rica was better than in Panama and even thought I might be able to enjoy it there. Never say never, but it would be an option for me. At the present, I still prefer David. I don’t have the cool weather or the courteous drivers, but I am comfortable her and know my way around and can get anything I want within 10 to 15 minutes.

While driving through the townships, I kept noticing that all of the Police cars were brand new. They looked like a Toyota sedan, except I thought I recognized the emblem on the front of the car as being Chinese. I asked about the cars and learned that China had donated the Police cars to Costa Rica and was building a world class soccer stadium in San Jose as gratitude for Costa Rica dropping relationship with Taiwan.

I can’t say that such a relationship with China makes me all that happy. Panama on the other hand has recently received a private plane for the government from Taiwan. I am not all that pleased with that gift either. Both look like bribes for favors rendered or promised.

I couldn’t have had a better time on my trip to Costa Rica. I found people friendly and my time relaxed. But as with all trips, I was happy to return to my home and things that fall in my daily routine.

I will close with just two words. It may be the last time you see or hear me write them. PURA VIDA!

The start of this series may be found HERE.

9 thoughts on “Pura Vida – Part 5 (The End)

  1. Welcome back Don. I once visited the ‘Black Hole of Calcutta’ and thought it was a marvelous place to live, housing much cheaper then here, carrots the size of baseball bats, no police cars (no need for police), the people extremely friendly (very courteous bike riders), no taxes, free electricity like you mentioned before in some parts of David. The weather fabulous, no need to take a shower during the monsoon season. A virtual paradise. (ALL THIS SAID WITH MY FINGERS CROSSED). Don, you have to live in a area for some time in order to rate it (I lived in C.R. for four years before moving here 1995-1999). Visiting an area and living in an area are completely different things. Although I was robbed once living here in 10 years, I’ve been robbed so many times in C.R. in 4 years that
    I’ve lost count. The Chinese must have also repaved all the roads because I wouldn’t own a car in C.R. for fear of it being devoured by one of their famous pot holes. Just my two cents, Pura Vida.

  2. Don Ray:
    Nice analysis of the living in CR. The church and park combination is proper of most Latin American countries. If you look at any town in Panama (including David) you will find a park (Cervantes) and a church (Sagrada Familia) right to it. Originally, David main park and church were those at Barrio Bolivar, where the Cathedral is located, next to the park.
    I am glad you are not moving to CR anytime soon

  3. Hi Patrick. I totally agree with you on living in a place for a reasonable period of time before moving there on a permanent basis. I have lived in Panama almost 7 years and understand it pluses and minuses. I advise people at least living in Panama for 6 months (3 in the wet season and 3 in the dry season). Both seasons are very different and some people like one and not the other. I think in general the crime rate in CR is higher than in Panama, but the area around Puriscal seems to be reasonable.

    Hi Jaime. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. For the time being, I am happy with Panama and David and it gets harder for me to change my environment with each day that passes.

  4. Don,
    Agree with Patrick. I lived in Alajuela, Costa Rica for two years when there weren’t any other gringos there. It’s another beautiful and quaint town, and I made a lot of friends. Alajuela has certainly changed over the years. Been back to visit family in San Jose & surounding areas a few times. The produce and hand made goods are superior to Chiriqui, the scenery, even around San Jose, is comparable to Boquete, and the beaches are much nicer. It’s a beautiful country. But I wouldn’t live there again. No bad experiences, just that Costa Ricans have a slightly different mindset and approach to life. I like them, but prefer Panamanians. Costa Rica is much more expensive in general, although it appears Panama is catching up quickly. Each to their own. Make mine Panama.

  5. Hi Don Ray,
    Nice to hear that you enjoyed Christmas in Costa Rica with Sofia and dear ones. She is always a lovely princess, isn´t her?


  6. “In Costa Rica you are going to have to learn to say, “Pura Vida” in every third sentence. I think it may even be a law.”

    Yes Don it IS the law, lol!

    My family and I are leaving for a few days to visit Costa Rica to renew our tourist visa. I’m already prepared to say “Pura vida!” a million times. I’m even training my almost 3 year old to say it too.

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