Author Archives: Mom|Realtor|B&B Owner in San Ramon Costa Rica

About Mom|Realtor|B&B Owner in San Ramon Costa Rica

Creator of Blue Tierra Realty of San Ramon, and owner of Costa Rica's Paradise Management Realty (both have recently merged). We have been helping our clients sell, buy, and managing real estate for over 10 years. Also proud owners of Vista Valverde Pacific View Rentals in San Ramon Costa Rica. Now with our new Bio-Climatic House!

We made it BACK! So…is San Ramon still the same during the Pandemic? Let me tell you!


Ok, FINALLY! we made a month long trip back to our beautiful mountain top in Costa Rica and it was O SOOOO Wonderfuliciously amazing!!!

We know a lot of you have been waiting for the pandemic to start subsiding before resuming regular travel around the globe and I think that time has come. TIME TO GO VITIST COSTA RICA!!! At least it was time for us. We all missed home SOOO bad. Just a quick bit – since we are dual citizens, we Got one way tickets down to CR but waited until we felt like coming back to book our return trip and it paid off. I grabbed return tickets about a week before we decided to head back stateside and they were only 215USD direct from SJO to EWR. Round trip I think we made it at about $460/ticket. Now I know most of you will need to show proof of return travel to get into Costa Rica, but remember to check your tickets regularly since many airlines will refund you $$ if you ever see that same ticket advertised on their site for less. Just set the notifications and call them if you see it for less! and take a pic of the price on the site. (btw, my daughter helped me set that up – there is NO SHAME in getting someone age 2+ to help you navigate today’s technology!)

But I digress – Costa Rica’s covid is not as loose as my daughter made it out to be back in 2020. She lived through the beginning of it in San Ramon from March 2020 to September 2020. She said no one really wore masks, and even my friend said people were lax about it in lots of public places. NOT ANY MORE. EVERYONE in San Ramon wore masks indoors and outdoors and I got stares for not wearing my mask out in the streets. I swear, I think they would have made me wash out my mouth with hand sanitizer at every store entrance if they were allowed to. LITERALLY every store (ok, maybe not the little local bodegas, but all the others) checks your temperature and makes you use hand sanitizer before walking in the front door. Many of the hand sanitizing stations check your temperature on your wrist at the same time as spitting their gooey chemicals on you – its pretty cool. At the malls, they check your temp before going in but then every store requires you to apply hand sani before entering. Every grocery store has a line outside so people can have their temps checked. It actually got annoying by the end of the trip since we had so much to do and so much shopping to get our rentals back in shape for all of you! You each owe me a gallon of hand lotion – my hands are still in detox.

But moving on to the trip – many of our friends are social distancing but not masking person to person since most interaction is outside. Ironically, in NYC all our parks are open since the science shows outdoors transmission is almost nonexistent as long as you socially distance. Unfortunately, Costa Rica did not get the memo, at least not in San Ramon. The whole central park is closed, yellow police ribbons crisscross all the benches, sitting areas and playground, plus the stadium is closed and most schools. You go to the beach in Tamarindo and Brasilito area, however, and everything is open – even schools are in person, some private ones maskless. Sounds like the US, right? Depends on where you go. So When visiting Costa Rica during the pandemic, check the kind of lifestyle you want to lead here, and find the place that fits it best. Contact us if you want same help 😉

Below are some pics from the Museo de los Niños in San Jose. This time they grouped us into 20 person tours who visited each exhibit for exactly 5 minutes with a guide and again we had to use hand sani every time we entered and left a new exhibit!

Aside from the Pandemic, everything is open, stores seem to be thriving, and all our favorite places are still open and doing well. My daughter takes the bus into town all the time from the bottom of our mountain and said people just wear their mask, and hand sanitize when getting off. Simple as that.

So is San Ramon still the same during the Pandemic? The rain is still wet, the sun is still bright, and the clouds are still filled with beautiful lightning storms for an evening of delight overlooking the Pacific Seaboard from our perch at 4000 ft above sea level. So if you think it is time for you too – come visit our newly revamped Vacation Rentals in San Ramon Costa Rica. Hopefully we will be back soon as well. Idania will help you settle in, though she does not speak a lick of English, but let us know what you need – the one thing we have learned this past year, if nothing else, is we can make anything happen, even remotely. Pura vida!!!!

Wellness, Relaxation, Adventure – what’s our Pura vida? Find it here at Vista Valverde…


Our Life with Covid 19 Updates and other Nonsencial stuff


Life with Covid 19 in NYC

Wow, I cannot believe I was so busy in Costa Rica with my kids and my mountain and businesses that I did not have time to write for years at a time! As of this Covid 19 update we are in NYC, or at least half of us are. I came back to NYC last year in September with the kids, to help care for my father, who recently passed away in February about 30 days before the city went into lock down

Living Between NYC and Costa Rica

We are a split family right now, thanks to the virus. We had been traveling back and forth quite a bit (thanks to Jetblue and United having cheap direct flights from EWR and JFK to SJO – SJO is the Central Valley’s International Airport and don’t believe the hype about one coming to Orotina!), and living half in CR…half here, some of us there at times, some of us here at times. Now we cannot travel, and I sincerely appreciate my life in Costa Rica more than ever. My children miss it terribly, and while I know I need to be here for my mother and my next degree that I am studying for, I cannot wait to start integrating my life back there again! I will TRY and document some things here for other moms (and Dads!) who want to move to Costa Rica, and are trying to figure out whether it is really do-able. I can tell you right now… it is!

Is it Still possible to Move to Costa Rica during the Covid 19 Pandemic?

NO! Not DURING – but completely possible after. Listen, the world will re-open so be ready. For now, you will need to wait since the country is in lock down and not allowing anyone in who is not a Costa Rican citizen.  The borders are closed as they struggle to contain the virus, just like all the other countries. There seems to be less spread for now in Costa Rica than many other countries, and it is concentrated in the larger areas. San Ramon has seen VERY FEW CASES which is AWESOME! Keep up the good isolation San Ramon! And folks reading this from elsewhere, please know Costa Rica is not a shangri-la and untouched. It is part of this world just like anywhere else, and right now there is only about 1 flight in and out every 2 weeks from the US, and ONLY CITIZENS are allowed to travel into the country because of the Covid-19 virus measures in Costa Rica. Even if you are a permanent resident, my understanding is you will NOT be allowed in.

PLAN for your Move to Costa Rica, just like us!

So if you want to move to Costa Rica, use this time wisely and do your HW.  Get ready. Shoot, I am! I have been ordering my seeds, getting the art supplies ready for my daughter, ordering sun dresses from Old Navy – making sure the suitcases have zippers and the passports are up to date. My kids and I are CR citizens and can go at any time, but since the flights are few and far in between, and I am now caring for my 86 year old mother who has NO legal papers in Costa Rica, we need to rethink life just like all of you. But get ready and MAKE YOUR PLANS! I have a feeling there will be a bit of a rush when this starts to lift as folks start doing the things they always wanted to do. Like Move to Costa Rica.

Make Sure you Don’t go Broke with Kids in Costa Rica

Please know you will need to have a cash flow.  This may seem obvious, but for some it is not and Costa Rica is not Mexico or Nicaragua cheap.  If you can work remotely, I highly suggest getting on that now and talking to your company about doing it from CR.  If you can’t work remotely, make some other realistic plans since non-citizens are NOT allowed to work in CR unless hired by a company there with proper visa work. (All things that may change now, I will post links for this as soon as I start gathering that info – you might want to shoot me an email or sign up to get those updates from us)  One smart way to move is to take out the equity in your home in the US if you have one, rent it out to cover the loan, and then buy a few other stateside rentals that can pay your bills in CR.  I can connect you with VERY reputable companies that have helped other clients of ours prepare for the financial end of their move this way. Don’t just grab a ticket, fly your family down when the border opens, and buy a small farm thinking you can teach some yoga to make ends meet since you spent all the cash on a pretty house with a view. Its not that easy. Trust me – we found out the hard way and now I am back in NYC getting another degree while caring for my family’s estate and putting things in order.  Granted, I needed and wanted to do that anyway, but remember – you can’t live if you can’t feed your kids.  And all the lemons, coffee beans and mangos in the world won’t fill them up! But there are ways to live cheaply, there are places that need some things more than others (businesses, doctors, teachers), and if your money flow relies on the internet, then you need to cross out a LOT of Costa Rica from your options of places to live so lets start talking about your options. I have helped so many families realize their dream of living in Costa Rica, there is no reason why you should be any different. And I can’t wait to start working with families to do that again – helping folks move to Costa Rica and start a new life.  Especially in this time where crazy ideas are becoming real – living on a 9 acre farm with no one else around just might sound like Paradise more than ever now.  It did to me 7 years ago, and still does now

Whats Happening at Vista Valverde B&B and my Real Estate Company in Costa Rica?

They’re not dead, just resting – at least I hope! But seriously, only time will tell. Vista Valverde is, of course, closed for now.  And sometime during the week my father passed away, I noticed my real estate sites were down – and By the time I called my tech guy in Costa Rica, it was too late. Something happened and the cloud company canceled my sites. ENTIRELY! No back up (tech guy is no longer my tech guy, needless to say) So I am rebuilding from my old site at – Paradise Management Realty. Welcome to Blue Tierra’s Paradise Management! lol… where there is a will there is a way, and I am hoping to bring the businesses back to life in spite of the Covid-19 pandemic. I am also trying to work with Kai and Bruno who will be running our Wellness Retreats at Vista Valverde to discuss real measures we can take to keep ourselves safe, and our guests and clients in the next stages of life with this virus, and the new understanding of what our future holds in the context of possible future pandemics. What do we need need to improve upon as a small hotel? A retreat center? A tour base for future expats exploring our area of San Ramon? How do we proceed? Do we want to? And if not – what is next?

Self-Isolation in NYC vs. Costa Rica

So as the time ticks by and we self-isolate in a 2BR apartment in NYC, we dream of self-isolating in Costa Rica.  I dream of answers to the above questions, in a completely uncertain day to day to future.  My office overlooking the Pacific Ocean and the mountains of San Ramon have given way to a small plant, my father’s globe, and a view of buildings along 95th street in NYC.  What I wouldn’t give to be in San Ramon now where the boys can run around free, I can teach my daughter piano and bring her suitcases full of art supplies.  I’d be running around our mountain dotted with mango trees, pines and lemons, and I could work on the possible re-opening of 2 businesses, just like I am here in NYC – but not in NYC! Vista Valverde B&B and WELLNESS Retreat Center (yes – that last part is new! what do you think?) and Blue Tierra Realty’s Paradise Management of San Ramon (I am still working on that title, lol). I will NEVER again complain about having too many lemons, I miss them so much. Vista Valverde has every kind you can imagine…. green on the outside and inside, green on the outside orange on the inside, yellow on the outside yellow on the inside, orange on the outside orange on the inside, green on the outside yellow on the inside… I now have about 102 recipes on our Lemons – What to do with them All? Pinterest page and I can’t wait to try them all! Of course that would be in between running around the mountain and building tree houses with the boys, going to the Multi-Plaza mall in Escazu with my teenage daughter, hammock sunsets over the pacific, swimming under waterfalls and falling down on the beach as the waves lap over me. I. Miss. Home.

Its been a long time…


KODAK Digital Still Camera

Closer than you think in Costa Rica’s Central Highlands.

BEFORE San Ramon

Its funny, when I was looking for info on San Ramon and schools before moving here, I saw what looked like a few great Blogs, started reading them, and then they puttered out.  Why were these moms not helping me any more?!?!?!  Where did they go?!

In San Ramon

Then I did the same thing!  I posted a few times, came up with a list of ideas of things I wanted to write about, thought up great blog articles in my head and then blah – no time!  I think as a mom, its hard to work and take care of the kids and take time for yourself.  And living in Costa Rica! and then there is the BLOG!  It becomes more like the BLOB at times!  Anyhow – I am still here, and even though this post will be brief, I wanted to let all the future expat moms of San Ramon, and the traveling moms of Costa Rica know that I am still here!  If you have questions – ask!!!

What’s NEW? Sunlight closed and Blue Tierra opened…

So what’s new?  Well, Sunlight school closed – I am SOOOOO bummed!  Loved Sunlight.  Anyhow, we had to switch schools the first day, and the only place that had room for both boys was Colegio Bilingue of San Ramon.  So we are back there.  Seems to be working out OK.  Its hard to follow all the new ways of doing things, AND I am creating a whole new start up Real Estate business (Blue Tierra Realty Group) with a construction company (Eco Diseños) and a relocation tour company through our B&B (Vista Valverde), the works.  So sometimes the kids school stuff falls through the cracks.  Man, its annoying how much stuff there is to follow – internet things on Edmodo, then each class has a chat on Whatsapp, then they send emails, AND they have an Agenda they send home each day with more notes.  I swear my kids need their own secretaries for this school! lol.  Not my style, but I am glad they are learning a little bit more of classroom English – almost all their subjects are in English.  I hope they are learning the Spanish too, though I am not sure.  I’ll throw an update on the school year after we get through the next rounds of tests.

So I will try and keep up a little more on the personal blog and places we like (and don’t!)  So check back for more this month!!!

Mountain VIews in Costa Rica

Ocean behind the clouds!

Scorpions and June Bugs and Downpours, Oh my!!! Its the Rainy Season Again – 2016!


I thought I would write a follow up to my rainy season report for last year!

It is amazing what a year, or 3 can do! I now venture out without shakey hands to the rains that are coming with full force. I realize that it sounds A LOT worse inside my house than it actually is outside, thanks to the metal roofs. Sure, the torrential downpours are not my friends. I sit and hide on the side of the road until they leave so I can see enough to drive home. But really, its a few minutes, and I just don’t plan on doing big trips in the early morning or late afternoon. I can get just about anywhere in Costa Rica if I leave at 9am- there by 3. N, S, W, E, Pacific, Atlantic, Panama border, Nicaragua border. And with the kids in school, really the worst thing is having to drive home at 3:30. NOT that big of a deal…

Right now my stint is the scorpions. Big and small, apparently its their time of year and I have found 4 in the house curled up inside dirty laundry on the floor, the dog’s blanket, under the door mat and one just cruising through the kitchen. They stop and play dead, and then I make them dead. My daughter says the bug spray does not kill them, so I explained that is what the can is for. Just spray ‘em to stun them and hit ‘em! I’m not so against killing/mutilating things in my home like scorpions. Sorry. That zen side of me goes right out the window.

It is also the time of year for June bugs. They are insatiable. I realize its may, but they are what we call June bugs up north. They love the light and come in full force every night. But its funny – we call them the dumb bugs too. They literally fly into you like a ball and fall to the ground. Sure, they freak you out, bit they are harmless as far as I can tell, and we just sweep them up in the morning and throw them down the hill.

What else for the time of year? Fire flies. DO NOT leave a light on outside at night or they will be ALL over your outside ceiling and wall. And these are not cute little fireflies like we have at home. I always wondered why we had fireflies and lightning bugs. Let me tell you – if there is a difference- these are the lightning bugs – they are about 3/4 inch long, thick and dumb too. In the morning, you can sweep them off the wall and they actually fall onto the floor! I am sure someone may give me some scientific insight into this, I am just happy they fall and I can sweep them because being swarmed by 1000 of them from my roof (I did NOT heed my own advice about the light one night) is not my idea of a good time! Or my guests’. “Welcome to Costa Rica!” I sarcastically say as they ventured onto the front porch that ‘whoops’ of a morning. Nothing like a delicious breakfast of Costa Rica and American fair, complete with a wall of creepy crawlies! Haha yes, the bug free world so many of you are used to is NOT the world of the mountains in Costa Rica.

But why do we have so many? And really, for the most part, it’s just this first month of the rainy season. The rest of the eyar has its own big seasons, but they are not as abundant as right now. Perhaps it’s because of the 170 different bird species that have reportedly been seen in San Ramon alone, the 27 difference varieties of orchids and little finca we have here at Vista Valverde, or the beautiful mix of sun, rain, clouds and fresh mountain air that everyone enjoys, even all those creepy crawlies. The circle of life is big my fiends, and when you get this high up, you cannot take all the good without the insects. This is their home as well. And we need them for the cycle. So freak out a little, sure, but then realize that most of them are big and dumb – admire their beauty, from the hammer head ants, to the jaguar beetles – (these are the officially named bugs of VV compliments our 4 and 6 year old). Come see what beautiful bugs we have in store for you – and if you have a name that fits, perhaps you too can have an official bug here at VV! 4000 feet above sea level can be a pretty awesome place – and its different every day. Don’t take your eyes off the view, they can change in a minute – Rains, sun, land, sea, clouds, bugs, birds, flowers, palm trees, ferns, butterflies, sloths…. Just be careful coming up the drive – it can be a little foggy this time of year too 😉

Pura vida,

This is Just now


Over and over I get asked the same question. … Will you ever go back?  Granted, we are in the business of moving here – and at a B&B where many folks stay while deciding whether Costa Rica is right for them, its no wonder we get asked so often.  It seems that many are surprised when I give a simple answer  – “This is just NOW. Nothing has to be permanent.”

With 3 kids, 2 businesses and 4 dogs, are they looking for something more definite from me? People are searching for a finite and definite reason for possibly making a change in their own lives. Is what we do, do-able? Is it attractive enough for them? Or maybe they just are looking for me to say- we were crazy, hell no! and give them some affirmation for their own day to day experience of life wherever they come from.  Truth be told, I would have said the same thing at any point in my life, about anywhere I lived, and anything I was doing at the moment. This is just now.  My email address for years was a mis-spelled version of Gypsymama, and a degree in archaeology allowed me the luxury of being able to do just about anything, anywhere. That included bartending, which led to opening my own bar; paralegal, then legal assistant in real estate sales which led me to accept the offer to take over Paradise Management Realty with my husband here in Costa Rica.  Prior to that was the initial dream of living in David’s native Costa Rica, which led us to buy Vista Valverde B&B here in the beautiful town of San Ramon.  Every choice and “heads up” in life leads you to the next, and I guess I just don’t try and hold on too hard.  This is just now, before was then, and next is… well, up for grabs.

We are all set in this permanent mindset – what are we going to be when we grow up? We are asked over and over again as children – a form of almost the same question I am being asked now.  Its as if they are trying to figure out if I changed my mind mid-life, came to Costa Rica, and they want to know if I would go back to being what I was before.  Is this it? Is this what I want to be when I grow up?  Well, I don’t know.  And since you are asking, and you are here,  or you are thinking about moving here, chances are you don’t either.  And I am going to be no help with that except to say –  It’s OK to not know.

Let’s look at it this way.  People are looking for you to give one answer to the grow up question. Right?  When I was a kid, I’d say – pilot, mechanic, physicist, pianist and archaeologist.  “Oh, so you don’t know,” is what the “grownup” would respond.  Really, is that what you heard?  Because what I said was, I wanted to be many things.  Not that I did not know. But the questioner wants one answer, because its all they have been taught.  Your answer is meant to dictate the rest of your life, and tell them all about you, from where you are going to live to how many children you have. When you answer pilot, mechanic, physicist, pianist and archaeologist, they just can’t wrap their head around it.  It’s like moving to Costa Rica! But that does not mean it is not possible, and it certainly does not mean the child does not know what they want to be.

This brings me to the purple elephant in the room – that part of the question “when you grow up”.  Perhaps its this very part of the question that makes it impossible for so many of us who move to Costa Rica to answer these kinds of questions in the first place.  Will we ever go back?  Not if that means we have to grow up in some way!  If growing up means one choice, one destination, then maybe that is why we are here now.  And maybe that is why the generated question – will you ever go back, will I ever choose what I want to be when I grow up, live it, do it and that’s that, or return to some former choice, is not one I can even answer. We like it here.  You don’t have to grow up here, in a way.  You just have to grow old-  that’s nature’s choice, and I’m fine with that. I will keep jumping in waterfalls as long as I can.

Even if we return to NY, or the States in general, it would never be for that 9-5, materialistic, drinks at happy hour and deals on the golf course action.  So what do we do now that we are here?  Why would someone want to move here?  Can you support yourself? Will you be happy here like us?  I think that will require another post entirely, but lets touch on it for a second.

In order to understand why someone moves here, or anywhere that does not fit the generic mold of growing up in one of the first world countries like the US,  you need to get your mind off a linear existence model.  First of all, even I won’t work for $3/hour.  I just don’t know how to live off that.  So getting a regular job and living life like the scheduled 9-5er, or here in CR 7-6er, is not the life I want.  But many expat families have!  Some get transferred from their own country to areas in San Jose and Heredia, mostly, and some find work here. I chose Costa Rica because I see options to other things like having my own business, and being able to do so without all of the extra weight that a small business owner carries in the states.  Having a successful business here still has its risks, but the risk is not your house and your life.  You spend time with your children, enjoy life, even while having your own business, or even having a 9-5 job! We all know the shit that small businesses go through in the states no matter what the government says about Main Street.  And while I’m at it, what about all the businesses off main street?  It’s just too hard in the states- and I have done it, successfully.  I don’t want to anymore.  I am not willing to give up my personal life for my business life. Raising my kids requires my money and my time.  I understand that now, and I can get that here.

One of my clients wants to move down “Because its like the States was 100 years ago.   You have the freedom to do what you want.”  And that is part of the basic mindset a lot of folks have down here.  Costa Rica has a lot more freedom, and the ability to succeed if you think outside of the box.  If you have savings, you can think inside the box and live pretty cheaply for what you get in return.  Not that Costa Rica is the cheapest country for expats to choose from, but once you look at the healthcare and the peaceful stabilty, it is well worth the slightly higher pricetag.  Some people come for the climate, some come to stretch their retirement dollar, some come to raise their families, like us, in a slightly less competitive, more down to earth, environment.  And some just come to surf!  But if you think you are going to come here and get one or more of those things with all the rest being like life back home – no matter where you go in Costa Rica, from Escazu to the Panamanian border, you will be sadly disappointed. This is different, in every shape and form.  And no matter how ready you are, you won’t be ready – and that’s ok too.  Its part of the adventure, enjoy it!  If you don’t, you can always do something else.  This is just Now, nothing has to be permanent.

So to answer the question as I hear it, yes, I would go back to something completely new. I would possibly resettle in California, which we love, or maybe the Florida keys… probably not upstate NY, but definitely the NYC, where I grew up and still absolutely love.  The lakehouse upstate would go back to being a summer home, maybe even a new little B&B.

My husband and I work, we work hard, we work hard for ourselves and our family, our life and our freedom here.  What we have found is our work goes further than the tax man and the mortgage broker. What many retirees have found is their hard earned money goes further than their medical bills and their heating bills, and they can take mini vacations all year long to the places in Central and South America they always dreamed of. What many families have found is that their children can be home-schooled or put in private school with small classes for less than their school taxes back home, learn other languages, and have more freedoms and adventures of their own as well.  We are here to live, not to die – we are here for personal adventure as well as some thrill seeking – we all know what Costa Rica has to offer when it comes to volcanos, waterfall jumping, white water rafting, surfing, you name it. But its the adventurous spirit that sees those things as a lifestyle, not just as a vacation. And that is why we are here, and why going back to us, is not the right question really.  More of  “Is this your last stop?”  and to that question, I will answer: I doubt it….

Pura vida.

Things to do in San Ramon Costa Rica with Kids (of all ages)


San Ramon and its surrounding areas is chock full of things to do for families.  Even if you are older, you will probably want to do a few of these things too.  She here goes my list of Things to do in San Ramon Costa Rica with Kids (of all ages).  I know some things cost money – if you go, please let me know what they are!  Rates are usually different for residents and tourists, so my husband is the one who always goes up to pay or they try to charge me tourist prices!  I never really pay attention.  Tell me! lol, gracias.



2 I know of that are public and open –

(1) Big Gym – if standing in front of the Church in town, take the street on the left heading towards the blue church.  The gym will be on your left with free exercise equipment outside.  (Just on a side note- all this equipment is new, recently covered, though outside in the cool San Ramon air, and anyone can use it!  Same with the tennis court, and the Olympic sized pool) Keep walking towards the church, and lake a left after the tennis court. The playground just around the corner!  Bring sands toys, the whole thing is a giant sandbox!  Small, fenced in, and great for all ages.  There should be a bathroom inside the gym, but I could never find it and it’s just as fun to walk around the block to the pizza place, grab a slice and use theirs.  Also great for playdates because not too many people use the playground – and bring water!  Can get hot!

(2) The 2nd playground is behind the public library.  From Pops, it is 1 block west, make a left, and go about 275 meters south.  All wooden, ropes, the works.  Lots of kids play here, surrounded by nice family neighborhood.


Bajo de la Paz – not to be confused with a Paz waterfall gardens in Poas.  La Paz, San Ramon is a gorgeous lush area of horseback riding to waterfalls, and fish for your own trout or Tilapia fish restaurants.  Our favorite is Rancho Carrucha – they even have tiny cabinas is you want to spend the night.  Horseback riding here too, and playground for kids to play while you eat.  Even a soccer field! 2445-1940  Call ahead of time for horseback riding and speak Spanish!   At least how many, what day, and how long…. they are very nice.  About 25 minutes towards Piedades norte – stay left at deco church, stay elft at fork with no sign, stay left at fork with sign to La Carrucha, or there’s another great one if you stay to the right at this sign and just after the yellow bridge on your right.  Big soccer field at this one, and really cute restaurant, though no playground.



$5 bus ride from station in town to La Fortuna!  Take a taxi for a few bucks once you are there to the $8 hot springs complete with water slides!  On your right just before you get to Baldi.  Photos with the Baldi’s Hot Mama are free – it is outside the main entrance 🙂  2 hours weekday, 3 hours local weekends.  Or drive just under 2 hours.


Though small, this is a great 1 hour excursion with the kids.  Exhibits change.  Just off the park, can’t miss it.


For 500 colones for an IceCream from McDonalds postre stand on the corner, go to the park and just let the kids run around.  Playing hide and go seek, tag, climbing on the war canon (a monument to old times!) – there are always kids there just running around, and parents who let them!  Don’t freak if they disappear for a minute behind a tree.  You will feel how safe it is after a little while!


There are 2 here in San Ramon.  Ask about lessons or free time at the Olympic sized pool by the gym.  I have posted the “signs” here!

My kids took lessons with school at the other one and once I figure out where it is I will post an update.


Eco Musas or LAS MUSAS

Our tico style swimming pools just 10 minutes from the town – follow the road past UCR and make a right into San Pedro.  When the road splits before Colegio Bilingue, you will see the big sign for Las Musas, take a left.  Follow the road to the entrance.  Park!  There is a fee, I will need to check what it is.  Also a nice restaurant overlooking the falls.

Amazing waterfall!!!!  A sheer cliffside with water cascading down!  Feeds pools that they made for swimming and one giant waterslide!  Plus a kiddie pool.  Picnic tables, BBQs (rustic, bring wood or coals, maybe even the grill top…) swingsets and little play area, family friendly hiking trails, even covered ranchos if you get there early enough.  If not, plenty of benches to choose from and other sitting areas.  Showers, changing areas and bathrooms make this a complete day!  Eat in the restaurant and let the kids fall asleep on the way home.  Sounds like a good day to me 🙂


Villa Blanca?  Los Angeles Cloud Forest?  which one is it?  One and the same… Villa Blanca is the hotel and Los Angeles is the cloud forest it rests in.  A gorgeous boutique hotel made up of traditional styled tico casitas, each with a fireplace for those cold, Cloud Forest Nights.  It is owned by the environmentally conscious and tico friendly owner of Si Como No in Manuel Antonio (he is know to take excellent care of his employees, something I love to hear, being married to a tico myself!).  There is no cost to go and walk the trails, though there may be a small entrance fee to their observatory or for a guided tour.  You can call ahead to ask, everyone speaks English that we could tell!  And the hotel entrance is really cool – after your hike, tour, what have you, treat yourself to a really excellent meal.  (prices are high for San Ramon, but worth it if you miss some expensive tasting cooking….)  Again, a full day and kids asleep in the car on the way home.  🙂  Oh!  And you can see the cows being milked at 2pm at the entrance!  the Front desk will give you a map and all the details for all there is to do.

NECTANDRA CLOUD FOREST – secret!  shhh….

Check them out on Trip Advisor –  a more intense experience than Villa Blanca, and half the distance of Monteverde, you can meet with a private guide who knows everything about rain shed and hikes you through almost the whole forest – really find out about how the rainforest works, and how the world will stop working as we know it if we don’t take care of the rain and cloud forests.  Though Monteverde is a cute town, there really is no reason to drive all the way there just to go to the cloud forest.  This place is even better and just 45 minutes outside of San Ramon on the way to La Fortuna.  Its a great way to split the trip to La Fortuna, spend the day at the forest, then drive another 45 minutes to the hot springs, the volcano, then on to the lake. Another great day!

TREEHOUSEs HOTEL and the Lake Arenal Area

Though the Treehouses Hotel is not necessarily in the Arenal Lake Area, it makes for a great trip from San Ramon!  Have a fun night with the kids in these upscale homes in the trees, then go to the lake!  Windsurf, boat,  hike the trails.  For more on the area check the Lake Arenal websites.  There’s quite a few to choose from!  But try and stay at the treehouse hotels!


45 minutes towards the beach, but turn towards Quepos and then it is on the right a few houses down from The Double Tree Puntarenas.  Again there, is a small parking and entrance fee (11o0c?), but the beach is completely clean, in a small little alcove where everyone is swimming.  There are signs for RIP currents which scared me, but there weren’t any – I think they are there for security, and I am sure there are some from time to time, but everyone was in the water.  There was even a banana boat!  Nice restaurant right on the beach, little beach kiosks, bathrooms and showers.  Black beach so be prepared to wash up before you get back in your car!


back to the big gym in town – there are several difference classes that can be found for your children here, from rythmic gymnastics to Volleyball.  Its not overly organized, that I can tell, but there is an office inside that may be able to help a little!  There was no schedule when we went, basically separate people/groups can rent out the different rooms and make their own schedules, so the gym itself has no interest in making a master list of what is available and when.  But if there is something your kids are interested in , you can go ask for the info on the teacher, then contact the teacher for the details on their classes.


I fought tooth and nail to keep my daughter from becoming a cheerleader in the states.  I don’t really care what other people think about it, I can’t stand the concept of a bunch of girls jumping around and showing their underwear to cheer on a bunch of guys that are raised above all else because they can do something with a ball. She’s my daughter and I want her to be cheered on!  That being said, she is also a gymnast and there are no gymnastics here in San Ramon that we have found.  Cheer Army here is just a troup that practices cheerleading as a Sport, they do not go flipping over scores, the flip for themselves!  SO …. I agreed to let Jesse join.  Its about $20/month, and not only does she love flying through the air, but she also has made many friends and her Spanish has improved immensely!  They used to practice at the gym, but they rented a whole building in Palmares, 20 minutes from San Ramon.  Please contact me directly for the details on that.

SINEM,  something something National Education de Musica

From trumpet to piano, if your child (or inner child) wants to take on an instrument, this is the place to do it!  Intense as it is fun, the kids study at least 2 days a week, and put on concerts.  And my friend John donated his mini grand piano so it is one of the few places that does not rely on an electric keyboard.

There are several other things for children here in San Ramon, and as we find out about them, I will make posts and update this one.  Dance lessons, karate (next on my list for my oldest son), art classes – and don’t forget the University of Costa Rica for adult classes.

I also have a basic list of 100 things to do near here and low long they take to get there by car on our B&B website – you can check that here at



One of those days


You know, it feels like one of those days where I should just pay the $10 and have someone else clean my house and go to the bar for a $2 beer.  Just sayin’…..

Best Places to Stay with Kids in Costa Rica


Welcome to Costa Rica!  This may be one of the best places to travel with children, but it still helps to know where to stay, what to do, or simply whats around where for your kids, especially when driving long distances.  You deserve a vacation as well as a trip – 2 very different things.

This will be an on-going list as we stay at more places and visit more great parts of Costa Rica while we live here.  I am also part of several groups here on families in Costa Rica so if you don’t see what you are looking for in a particular area, I can ask everyone and see if they have suggestions,  These are closed groups that the general public does not normally have access to.  Our children are 4, 6 and 12 – but we moved here over a year ago and have been adventuring through Costa Rica with out first  since she was 11 months old.  Enjoy!

San Jose – The Capital City

Holiday Inn Aurola – by far the best place we have stayed so far in San Jose- you can walk anywhere in the capital, all the museums, some playgrounds (which I may be able to map out for you later), restaurants, you name it.  AND IT HAS AN INDOOR POOL!!!!!! Awesome gym with all new equipment for parents who are interested, gorgeous views from the upper floors, VERY comfortable beds and pillows.  Bathtubs!  Most places in Costa Rica do not have bathtubs.

Wifi (soso)
Free Breakfast (great)
Indoor Pool (great)Gym (Great)
2 restaurants and a casino – (soso)

Closer to SJO – Doubletree Cariari

Bathtubs in rooms, nice big pool, homemade hot chocolate chip cookies when you arrive – really the best things is the pool – but not during the rainy season because its not heated.

wifi (great)
Pool (Great, when hot outside)
Restaurants (great, good service)
Pool Table (really nice but Bring chalk!)
Casino (nice)

Near Sabana Park

Apartotel La Sabanna

Great folks run this place, and though its not a brand new 5 star hotel –  they are little apartments, kind of of like a beach bungalow, and a pool in the center with the hotel around it so you feel VERY safe with the kids.  And you ahve a living and full kitchen and right across the street from the famous Central park of the city – La Sabana.  I honestly don’t remember if there was a bathtub or not – its been a while since we stayed here but we keep referring people and they keep giving it rave reviews.  Even a coin-up washer and dryer!

La Fortuna (Arenal Volcano)

If you don’t visit the Tree Houses Hotel with your kids, why bother being a parent?!?!?!?  Its on a road loop that starts before La Fortuna, and gives you a bit of a drive (maybe 25 minutes) to the main attractions like the the park and the different hotsprings, but its a great experience.  San Carlos, Costa Rica

Los Lagos – really our favorite with kids because of all the different temperature pools, great water slide, swim up bars and restaurants, massage chairs in the water!  Plus horseback riding at the hotel, really nice folks who work here, a gift shop that is NOT overpriced, and just a great one-stop shop all around.  Plus great views since it is almost at the base of the volcano.  Stay at the hotel and the pools are free.

Baldi Hot Springs

With a children’s play area and many water slides, this is our other favorite.  More jungle atmosphere with lots of rain cover and tons of pools.  Everything is great for rain or shine.  Nice Spa and plenty for everyone to do.


Manuel Antonio

Costa Verde, stay in the houses with the family and feel like you have your own private pool.  Monkeys all over, gorgeous views, shuttle at night to their airplane restaurant up the road! Showers, no bathtubs.

Hotel Verde Mar,

Great little apartments right on the beach and an old school tico concrete pool right next to the beach.  Can drive up to the hotel, and walk through the gate to the beach.  But locked from the beachside coming in so it is safe. Great budget friendly option – don’t need a car since the local bus from Quepos stops along the road.  Little book store for used books and bottled drinks at front desk.  Ask for a room on the bottom floor so kids can play outside the door in the gardens if you need some time to get ready and they are on top of you inside.  Showers, no bathtubs that we know of.


Hotel Fonda Vela – really nice, stay in one of the older rooms that open onto to grounds so kids can run around outside. Fountain to play around, seating table and chairs.


Wifi at front desk, not so great at room
Pool with roof, though not indoors2 big hottubs
pool table
nice restaurant on site
RIGHT at entrance (2 kms?) to Monteverde Cloud Forest, and about a 3 minutes drive to Children’s Eternal Rainforest and then to Santa Elena and town with the other Cloud Forest.



Not a 5 start hotel and casino, but a fantastic beach hotel – clean, tvs, showers, close to everything, free parking and right on the beach! cabinas for rent or just take the rooms.  we like the rooms all the way up front to the right (111-113?  i think..) they have sliding doors that open right onto the sandy area, then a white fence, then the beach, so kids can play in sand right outside the room, but with the fence separating them from the beach.  A/C and lock box too.  At night, if you are lucky, you can see the lightning storms over the pacific way out by just sitting in your chairs outside.

3 pools, 1 children’s (1-2 feet deep)
playsets and playhouseshammocks
game room with pool table, pingpong and smoothie bar
great tiki bar with food for snacks or lunch on beach


San Ramon, Alajuela

Just 45 minutes from the airport, no reason to spend your first few or last few nights anywhere else.  A great tico town that will really give you the flavor of Costa Rica – something not to be missed with your children,and close to may of our smaller cultural attractions, normally outstages by the beaches and larger attractions.

Our B&B, Vista Valverde, or course is the best place to stay with your kids!  But not just for the views, trampoline, swingset, farms and pinas (and babysitting!)… but for what is near us as well.  Day trip to Sarchi, where our famous oxcart factories will show you how the antinal symbols are made and painted, right before your very eyes.  Visit the Botanical Gardens in Sarchi and enjoy strolling through acres of gorgeous gardens and play areas, and take snacks!  Thinking of taking home one of those great wood and leather rocking chairs?  This is the place to do it – and they send it right to your home if you choose!

Visit Zarcero and the amazing topiary gardens and gorgeous church, enjoy watching the kids as they run around and play hide and seek!  Eat at a local soda and have a Casado for about $5.

Head to La Paz, our local San Ramon La Paz, and go horseback riding to our waterfall, or for the younger ones, just a half hour guided pace..then fish for your own lunch in the trout pools!  They cook it for you an everything!  Have a few beers and enjoy a tico style afternoon as the kdis paly on the swingsets outside the open air rancho restaurant.

The is a great place to start or end your vacation.  There is so much more to Costa Rica than beaches and yoga, or the big tourist areas – treat your family to our culture and a little of our lifestyle.

Praying on the Bus

Praying on the Bus

So… I was told by my 11 year old daughter that she got me a coveted spot as a chaperone on her next school trip – of course, the night before the trip.  Part of me was very excited.  When we lived in Brooklyn, NY,  she had several class trips and I went on every one. A move to upstate NY surprised me with none – the school district had chosen to take them out of the budget (one of the many things that drove me nuts about the Monroe Woodbury school system –  50 minutes from NYC and no field trips?!?!?!?! no Bronx Zoo, botanical gardens, bear mountain even????)  So our move to San Ramon Costa Rica renewed my field trip spirits!

I go to school with my girl at 7am.  I smile, nod at the few folks I have haphazardly met through school pickups and drop-offs in rain monsoons and sun burning heats (no bus pickup to where we live) …… but for the most part, I am on my own.

My daughter is so sweet – she knows my Spanish is still horrible, that I know no one, and keeps coming to my side with her girlfriend, to watch over me.  I felt completely out of place, sticking out like a sore thumb due to a wardrobe/health choice that does not involve skintight jeans and/or 5 inch heels.  I am alone.  Every other mom has another mom.  No dads, save one, who is also readily accepted by all the other moms.  They’ve all been at the school together for years.  I am new.  Only one other mom says hi – she has been to my house with her other daughter who is my son’s age.  Her English is OK, but she has her other moms and they are 4th grade, not 6th like my daughter – different part of the bus, different part of the sidewalk, different.

But my girl is sooo excited that I am there, I sort of hide by a column, feeling very hi-school “which group do I belong to” all over again.  But J chooses for me – I am to sit with her other friend’s mom on the bus.  The woman is very sweet as she sits next to me, but I know her sister is at the front of the bus and she wants to talk and not sit next to the mom who speaks horrible Spanish and knows no one.  Thankfully, the other lady moves to the seat behind us and the pressure is off me to be social.  It would be nice to make a friend, but awkward is just, well awkward.  With no coffee, and feeling less than confident, I was not ready to take on the challenge.

As I sit there my mind wanders.  I start to question and remember all at once.  Why did we move here?  My daughter is sooo good at fitting into all the new situations we throw at her and she is a adjusting so well.  She is a bright light that the others flock to. We moved for the kids – didn’t we?  We did it for the kids and the experiences they would have, the life we were hoping to offer them, with them – not just on the weekends.  We would have our business, see them all the time, go places, take adventures.  And here I was, doing just that, and completely miserable.  Almost in tears, and the whole bus around me was chatting and laughing and sharing snacks and I sat by the window, holding my breath.  Feeling a little outcast, though I could not really figure out why.  I love new adventures, new places, new faces… don’t I? Sometimes I feel this way here – and I get very mad at myself for not learning more Spanish in the time we have been here.  I make a mental to note to work on that – go to Green Mountain school and sign up for classes.  The rest I just chalk up to a bad week.

Then the most unexpected thing happened.  J somehow motioned to me from across the bus aisle and I looked up.  A lady at the front was talking and everyone was quiet, then she bowed her head, and everyone else did to.  Wait a second, are we praying? Praying on the bus?  Before a field trip?  They were Praying, praying on the bus, before a field trip.

I was raised in a half Jewish, half Christian home.  I went to church before taking a plane anywhere because my mother made us, and we prayed at Thanksgiving.  My best friend’s mom shocked me in high school when we sat at the dinner table and she said we needed to say Grace.  My Jewish friend put her head down, so did her Jewish mom, and before I could follow, they both said “Grace!” and they laughed at me and we ate.  Though my mother would hate to admit it, and despite several 2 week stints at summer bible camp, that was the extent of my organized religious experiences in life.  My father denounced the Synagogue directly after WWII, and therefor his religion slipped away as a result.  Though I was taught some basics, I was told to choose what I felt.  I felt nothing.

And now everyone around me is praying on a bus, before a field trip, outside my daughter’s school.  As if I couldn’t feel further apart from the whole experience.  I felt like I was in small town America in 1960.  And for whatever reason I started to giggle.  This was insane!  I thought to myself.  Praying before a trip?  My mood instantly started to change.  I thought about how we are so hard pressed in the USA to to include god in our schools, or not – depending on your stance, and here he/she/it is on the bus.  Or to be fair, he, its a catholic country after all.  Jesse said they pray a lot but I could hardly imagine until now!

Part of me thought it must be nice to be around all these folks that all think the same thing – but then I thought nice is not always imaginative, creative, intellectual, thought provoking, or even right.  Its a private school so even in the states they could do what they want – a Christian School could pray all the time, even in Brooklyn.  But it caught me so off guard, I just laughed!  I suddenly felt so happy to have been brought up the way I was, to have experienced so many different things and have so many free thoughts to explore everything around me, not just in body but in mind. I was happy with my college attraction to and understanding of American Indian beliefs in spirits and a connection to the earth.  A single belief in a god to me has always been something I could not grasp, especially when I see all the evil that comes from it, and the hatred.  I wondered what religion would do to all these children, if they would grow up to love, or to hate, or both, depending on what the other person was or believed.

And suddenly I realized why I was so different. Even if I spoke Spanish, I would be thinking the same thing. Its not just the heels, the jeans, the language.  It is everything.  As much as I love Costa Rica, I will never be a tica.  My husband spent 20 years in NY and says hes a gringo.  I could spend 50 years here and never make it to tica.  And I think I laughed all at once, because its OK.  Its OK to be different, I could still share myself with everyone.  I would just have to get used to being the crazy gringa a little more often, and put myself out there more.

So when we were on the field trip, to the museum of Natural History with its dinosaurs and extinct fossils, to the National Theatre where the kids did not even know who Beethoven was (I of course pulled out my iPhone and played the girls the 9th Symphony and told them his story), to the mall, where I made Jesse finish her HW, and for supper at Taco Bell and a bouncy house, I just relaxed.  I am who I am, and every one here must be a little different, and as I learn the language, I will encourage my new friends to explore their differences and their uniqueness, even if its not the norm.  I like our life here, and I like the unexpected bus praying, even though its not for me.  It wakes me up and makes me think.  And I can’t wait for the next field trip this Friday – Poas Volcano and the Waterfall Gardens!   I will find a little Sioux Prayer and share it with my girl on the bus. Hmm, maybe I could try and translate it into Spanish….

Rainy Season… Let me try and spell it out for you. R-A-I-N-Y Season.


The rains are unforgiving this time of year. I don’t know where you are from, but in my hometown of NY, this would be considered a monsoon. Every day. And if the rain skips a day, watch out. The rain gods don’t forget, they get even. The storms come through as a wall of water, soaking you to the bone just stepping out of the car at school pickup. I don’t even know if my umbrella could hold up that much rain, it would probably just buckle under the pressure. That much rain.

Driving can be fierce – still have not used the 4 wheel drive and David says thats “good” because I don’t want 4 wheels spinning -?!@#$ really? Was that supposed to make me feel Better?! He says 4 wheel drive is for the mud – well honey, take a look at our mud slide, I mean road. I may end up at the mall one day, either waiting for the storm to pass or just riding the wave that took me there! I could spend hours finding things to do just to avoid driving up our dirt roads in it. Though folks do it all the time, in regular cars even! Kids get picked up from school, people go to work, grocery shop – I am still skittish.

Half the drivers here don’t even turn their lights on. THAT drives me nuts. Its like the people who walk right in the street and expect you not to hit them. Hello-o! DO you think I can see anything?  It looks like I am driving along at the bottom of the Ocean!  One guy was driving past me before I even knew he was there. If this was NYC there would be bodies flyin’ and cars crashin’ all over the roads. It would be like something out of one of those end of the world movies. But not here, NO no no, not here in San Ramon (I have heard they use the sidewalks in San Jose). Here we just drive very slow because Carlos does not use his lights in the rain, and neither does his bother, and we know that.  We swerve around Maria who is walking down the middle of the road going to her sisters house, or we wait behind her as a truck is coming the other way because we can’t expect Maria to move to the side of the road for oncoming traffic.  But let me tell you, as much as it drives me nuts on a regular day – not in the rain.  In the rain, I say Maria can walk wherever she wants, and I will drive 2 miles an hour to make sure I don’t hit her.

Streets become rivers, drains become swirling vortex’s of mud and god knows what else, the windows shake from rolls of thunder that pass through the skies looking for an exit, but there is none. It keeps rolling, getting angrier until it throws down its lightning in a fit of frustration. Over and over and over.  Bets go down about the electricity staying on or going off.  Just the other day I stood outside my own home, watching the lightning over someone else’s town. How beautiful. The thought of fireworks drew me outside to this amazing sight going off somewhere far west, so far west that we did not even hear the thunder, just saw the lightning crackle across the sky between two storms. Back and forth, back and forth, yet above me, clear skies and stars with a few thin clouds that flew by from the pressures so far away. Gorgeous.

I welcome the rainy season – its a time I am used to – when you are inside, snuggling under a blanket, watching movies and doing puzzles because it is too cold to go outside. Its our winter. Its our downtime, even light a fire, read a book time. Its the reason some houses in San Ramon have a fireplace. And it is also the MOST Beautiful time of year in Costa Rica. Because after the storm… the sun comes out. Everything is clean, fresh. The flowers are in bloom, every one of them – the greenest green is even more so against the whitest white, the reddist red even more crimson against the bluest sky. I love this time of year – i can’t believe how many birds I hear when I close my eyes – it reminds me of a silly nature CD I used to have in college – meant to take you away to the forest or the jungle – well, its my home here now. And the rains bring the flowers and the fruits, and the birds.  Sure it brings the challenges as well, but mixed with so much of the rest of this amazing stuff – well, lets just say I am off to brave my new road.  See you soon 😉