From Gringo to Tico Blog

November update..from the finca
November 7, 2013, 7:07 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

well…I thought I would give you a bit of an update on life on the finca!
We have been here a full year as of November 2! Happy 1 year in Costa Rica full time Anniversary to us!
After about 8 years of doing the 6 month thing, it has been so good to “live” in Costa Rica!
I did leave for a short time over the rainy season….to visit my kids, have a new Grandson, you know….life things! While I was away, I became very clear about how much I do love this country and the life we are creating here!

The latest additions to the finca are 4 Cacao fruit trees, 5 Royal Palms, 75 ixoras, a Moringa tree, 25 teak trees, and some more volunteer bananas. We have one that gave us some beautiful tasting bananas! AND I did not have to plant them!
We have an abundance of cherry tomatoes, and basil! We call it the Bruschetta garden!

I planted 5 squash of various kinds before I left to go to Canada in September….and they were growing very well in the ground. A few weeks later, Bill went to see how they were doing…and they were GONE! …just gone! I guess something ate them! I was so disappointed, I was ready for a fresh squash dinner!

So….now I have some more started in a pot, and I am letting them get bigger this time before I plant them out in the garden space. This time, I will put them in a piece of cardboard when I plant them, to keep the weeds down. (make a slight or an X in a piece of cardboard and insert the baby plant in it and it will keep the weeds back for a while and decompose on its own).

I am not sure how to protect them from any critters that may enjoy them…I may put up a wire fence around them…

The “Mabels” – the hens are enjoying cleaning the place up, eating lots of bugs and give us beautiful eggs! I love knowing where my eggs have come from and that they are fresh!

I was getting milk from a neighbour and making my own yogurt, cream and cottage cheeses…however;it seems that all the milk cows in the village are all now dry, and waiting to have their next baby. I am without fresh milk till the babies arrive!

Today, I made a quart of “fermented Master tonic”, 2 quarts of sauerkraut, and restarted my kumbacha, and made 6 cups of beef bone broth to freeze.

I am waiting for my sourdough bread starter to arrive. I ordered it while I was in Canada and they did not ship it in time to get to me there.  I had them re-ship it, and I am excited to see how it is in such a warm climate. It has been years since I had sourdough…and it was in northern Alberta!

Bill has tiled the top of the pool, built a retaining wall to keep the rains out of the rancho, built the base of a bar – for him and his buddies to enjoy the odd cervesa.



pool - november 2013

looking down the lot


house-2012 looking down the lot - 2012 pool - November 2012


New license plates will be mandatory for first group
September 13, 2013, 4:23 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Schedule according to the last digit of license plates:

1: July-October 2013
2: November 2013-January 2014
3: February-April 2014
4: May-July 2014
5: August-October 2014
6: November 2014-January 2015
7: February-April 2015
8: May-July 2015
9: August-October 2015
O: November 2015-January 2016

Drivers who received new license plates after January 2012 are not required to change them again.

After several delays and confusion, a mandatory change of license plates for vehicles in Costa Rica will begin. All vehicles with license plates ending in 1 will be required to have new plates. Vehicle owners in that group will have until October to make the change.

Plates ending with other numbers will be exchanged following the schedule (see schedule, based on a license plate’s last digit).
The National Registry began implementing a voluntary program to switch out old license plates in January 2012, but starting next month, those changes are mandatory. Drivers who obtained new plates after January 2012 are not required to change them again.

The new license plates have a total of six security features including the seal, a map and the national flag of Costa Rica, as well as a unique hologram, a laser engraving and a special backlit symbol.
The security features are intended to decrease counterfeiting, Sibaja said.

To obtain new plates, vehicle owners must present the old ones, fill out a form and pay ₡15,000 ($30), which includes two metal plates and a sticker for the windshield.

New plates for motorcycles cost ₡8,000 ($16) for one metal plate and one sticker.

New vehicles registering for the first time may apply for alphanumeric license plates at a cost of ₡20,000 ($40).

Exchanges can be made at the National Registry’s main facilities in the southeastern district of Zapote, at local branches in Limón, Puntarenas, Guanacaste, Alajuela, San Carlos, Pérez Zeledón and Paseo Colón, and at Bank of Costa Rica and Correos de Costa Rica branches throughout the country.

Starting July 15, applications will be available online at the National Registry website, Vehicle owners may authorize third parties to exchange plates, as long as they present documents certified by a lawyer.

90 day passport / visa stamp At Paso Canoas or Rio Sereno
September 12, 2013, 11:30 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

In the past month I have had many reports of issues for many  of us “perpetual tourists” here in Costa Rica (a very important contributor to the local economy) … who often go to the borders of Pasa Canoas and Rio Sereno … there’s some new sticky regulations on the Panama side … and some friends have been denied entry to Panama without $500 cash (or current bank statement)  or a credit card.  AND an airline ticket back to their home country. 

So…heads up for next time you go…ensure you have the cash, a credit card, and a ticket to your home country. (some folks present their BNCR debit card as the credit card, and because it has the “Visa” sticker on it, the Border Agent accepted it)  

Be prepared and save yourself some hassles.

Back a few years ago…this was the process at the border, then they slacked off on all the regulations. And we all got complacent.

When I was there 6 weeks ago, I only needed my airline ticket and the credit card…but it is different for everyone. Some folks only need a bus ticket.  Be prepared and be safe!

NEW!! Internet via Kolbi USB device changes!!
September 5, 2013, 1:42 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

okay gang…I came back from a wonderful trip to Scotland, visiting my son and his family and discovered ICE / Kolbi changed the rules while I was away.
Saturday we paid our usual 9,000c for a month of unlimited internet, Wednesday it ran out…..really?? Houston we have a problem…. !!!!

But we did not know what it was. We put another 10,000c on it to get through the morning till I could take the time to figure it out …and I did a 2.5 hour Skype call with the folks who serve on our local road Association Board with me…and then had no internet left..all of the 10,000c was eaten up in that call!!

SO… to Uvita  and ICE I go..and this is what I discovered…..
They changed the plans as of September 1 and did not notify any of us…
Now, for those of us without a Cedula…..we follow these steps:
1) gather some sort of proof of ownership for your corporation. I used an old Juridica Personeria that I had on hand.
2) your passport
3) your USB internet device
4) a receipt of payment of ICE power. ( not necessary, but helpful if you have one)

Now head off to the ICE office with these things in hand.

You are going to be getting a contract with ICE for unlimited internet / month for – 1mbps for 10,000c or 2 mbps for 15,0000.  I bought the 2mbps one and today I am getting 1.38mbps download speed when doing a speed that is pretty good.
This contract goes month to month, can be cancelled at any time, or put on vacation if you return to North America for any length of time.

You will pay 10,000c to activate your account, you will receive a new SIM card. If you are using a router, have the dude at the ICE office de-activate the PIN #.

You will now receive a bill via e-mail after 40 days, and there after every 30 days. This bill can be paid anywhere you pay bill, purchase minutes for your prepago phone, etc.

At the end of the day it seems to be an easier process, the internet seems really good… I am actually getting closer to 2 mg, and instead of prepaying, now I pay a bill when it arrives…probably at the same time I pay my Electricity.

It only cost me $40 to find this out… Life in the jungle!

Problem with the code for the NEW e-book
July 24, 2013, 7:37 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

It is our sincere apologies!! The code I sent you yesterday does not work! There seems to be some problem with we have rectified it with this code ……

We at From Gringo To Tico regret any inconvenience this may have caused!
Rhonda and Rita; target=”ej_ejc” onClick=”javascript:return EJEJC_lc(this);”><img src=”; border=”0″ alt=”Add to Cart”/></a>

NEW!!! 2013 updated e-book is here!!!!
July 23, 2013, 5:20 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

….we have great news!

The NEW and IMPROVED 2013 e-book is here!

We have completed all the changes and updates, added some new pertinent information to make life in Costa Rica easier for YOU!
For you…our avid followers and previous customers, we have made this new book available to you at a lower cost of $6.00
You can purchase it here.

We hope you find this new e-book valuable and enjoy your life and the discovery of Costa Rica.
Have a wonderful day!

Rhonda and Rita
..the hardworking gals at “From Gringo to Tico”

Mandatory car insurance for tourists now can be paid online
July 19, 2013, 5:01 pm
Filed under: Driving in Costa Rica

Posted: Monday, July 15, 2013 – By Tico Times

The Traffic Law stipulates that owners or drivers of foreign-registered vehicles must sign and maintain in force the mandatory car insurance while the vehicle remains in the country.

Starting this week, tourists or travelers needing to enter the country in their own vehicles can pay for auto insurance online.

The National Insurance Institute (INS) created a new section on its website ( called “Póliza Turista,” where motorists can upload vehicle information in order to calculate costs, and then pay for it online using a credit or debit card. Once online payment is made, users print a receipt that they should keep as proof of payment.

When arriving in the country the receipt must be presented to Customs officials who will grant a certificate of permission for the vehicle to circulate in the country.

Article 60 of the country’s Traffic Law, which entered into force last year, states that “owners or drivers of foreign-registered vehicles must sign and maintain in force mandatory car insurance while the vehicle remains in the country.”

In case of an accident, the insurance provides access to medical care, payments for temporary and permanent disability as well as life insurance.
Drivers caught without the mandatory auto insurance can face fines up to ₡47,000 ($94) and have their license plates confiscated.
The website is available only in Spanish, but those needing information in English can call a toll-free number, 800-83-53-467, or send an email to:

Information in English is available by phone and by email.