Walking Through the Busy Streets of San Jose – the Capital City of Costa Rica
San Jose is the capital city of Costa Rica, located in the Central Valley and is the political and economic hub of the country. A third of Costa Rica’s population lives in the San Jose area with nearly one million coming in every day as the workforce of the country so you can imagine that it is a pretty busy little city. Anyone who has been to the San Jose usually has the same sentiment: capital cities aren’t exactly the nicest. There are many reasons why there are barely any expatriates living in San Jose, especially the retired ones. For those who don’t want to stuck in city life and want to enjoy their retirement years to the fullest, they head to the coasts to spend their time at the beach. It may not have the glitz and glam of New York City or Miami but there are many historical and cultural attractions in San Jose that you won’t find at the beaches in Costa Rica. If you’re interested in seeing how the city Ticos live, make sure to take a stroll through the central avenue of San Jose and you’ll gain a deeper insight into the lifestyle of the majority of Costa Ricans. The capital city of Costa Rica, San Jose Central Avenue Central avenue in San Jose is where you can find rows and rows of stores, restaurants, banks and businesses and this is also where you can find yourself stuck in traffic for a long time and witness crazy city driving. There’s a square near the National Theater where many locals come with their families and let their kids play with the pigeons. The National Theater Like this post? Click here to get more like this straight to your inbox! To see what it’s like walking through central avenue in San Jose, check out our video to get a glimpse of what a Saturday afternoon in the city is like. And this is the day before Costa Rica won against Greece so the whole country was World Cup crazy! Check out what San Jose looks like from the sky!
Diseases, Illnesses and Shots Needed for Costa Rica – What You Need to Know
When I first moved to Costa Rica, it took my body awhile to get used to the tropical climate. Not only did I move to a place that’s considerably closer to the equator, but I had never been exposed to that intense level of heat before. To be honest, I’m still not quite used to it but luckily, I haven’t gotten sick that much in my two years here. I’ve met many travelers in Costa Rica who were so paranoid that they brought their own utensils. I understand that there is this idea that tropical countries are full of deadly diseases that will kill you if you eat fresh vegetables but these are all huge common misconceptions. Just like anywhere else in the world: United States, Canada, England, Costa Rica, there is the possibility of getting sick no matter if you live there or are traveling. That being said, there are a few things you do need to be aware of when you visit Costa Rica. I always encourage people to go beyond what their travel agent or their friend says (who has probably never visited Costa Rica) and do some of their own research. Check the Costa Rica Ministerio de Salud’s website for statistics and important health information. Also check the CDC’s Health Information for Travelers to Costa Rica for up to date information. Don’t just blindly follow what the rest of the herd is saying or doing and find out the true facts for yourself. So which illness would you like to read about first? Malaria Dengue Fever Stomach Flu and Diarrhea Hepatitis Rabies Typhoid Fever At the end is a list of shots you should consider getting when visiting Costa Rica. Diseases and Illnesses in Costa Rica Malaria When I came to Central America for my first time, I was given chloroquine pills to take as antimalarial medication. I, like so many other visitors blindly believed my PCP and spent the dollars and time to get these pills. Not only are they huge and terrible to swallow but it turned out to be a waste of money! Malaria is not rampant in Costa Rica despite what the media may tell you. Costa Rica has done a great job in the past few years in eliminating malaria, which is a disease transmitted by the insects of the genus Plasmodium. Infected individuals are at high risk of death. Malaria used to be fairly bad in Costa Rica with over 44,000 cases in the 1990′s but in 2012, there were only 8 reported cases. There are a couple hot spots in the country such as the Panama/Costa Rica border and Matina so if you are going to be in those areas for a long period of time, it would be in your favor to take the pills and consult your PCP. The best thing to do for prevention is using lots of bug spray that works for you. Not sure which ones to bring? We have a list of mosquito repellent products we tested ourselves to see which ones we liked, which ones worked and which ones didn’t. Dengue Fever This disease you do need to be aware of. Dengue fever is what the news should be talking about more in terms of diseases transmitted by mosquitoes in Costa Rica. First, you can catch dengue multiple times and survive. Someone had told me that if you catch dengue more than once, you won’t live the second time. This isn’t true. There are 4 different strains of dengue but none of them provide cross-immunity to one another so if you catch one strain, you can still catch the other three. This disease is carried and transmitted by the Aedes mosquito. Infected individuals are not at risk of death unless infected with the hemorrhagic fever. Otherwise, symptoms are like a really bad flu with vomiting, diarrhea, sweating, fever, chills, loss of appetite and rash. Sometimes people catch dengue without knowing it, passing it off as a bad cold or flu. There is no vaccination or cure for dengue so all you can do is wait it out, drink lots of fluids and go to the doctor if it gets worse or you don’t feel better in a matter of days. Dengue fever in Costa Rica has broken an all time high with over 38,000 cases last year. Mortality rates are low at .003% but we all need to be careful. The government has been working hard to eradicate mosquito breeding grounds (stagnant water) and educating the public about protection. How to prevent getting dengue fever? Using mosquito repellent and avoid being near swamps or stagnant water. Stomach Flu and Diarrhea I’ve caught both of these a few times. I don’t have a particularly strong stomach and it gets easily irritated when I drink tap water. I never even drank tap water in the States! So in my personal case, I avoid drinking tap when I can and buy bottled water. You should too if your stomach is sensitive. When I got the stomach flu, it hit me quite hard. I think it is because it’s much hotter here so I’m losing fluids more rapidly. Sometimes it was so terrible I had to go see the doctor and other times I was able to just drink lots of fluids, rest and wait it out. They have diarrhea medicine, electrolyte drinks and powders and nausea meds at the pharmacy which helped me a ton when I got sick. If you come down with either of these, make sure to drink lots of water and take it easy. Saltine crackers and electrolyte drinks were my best friends during those times. Hepatitis There are five strains of hepatitis. Hepatitis A and E are transmitted similarly, through contaminated food and water. Unless you find yourself out in the middle of the jungle, it’s unlikely to catch either of these through the food and water here in Costa Rica. It is always a possibility so it is important to get the vaccination. Like I mentioned before, I’d stick to bottled water if you have a sensitive stomach otherwise the tap water here is safe to drink. Hepatitis B, C and D are spread through contact with infected blood and body fluids so protect yourself if you find yourself in a situation where any of this type of contact may occur which includes any sexual contact or piercings. Rabies Unless you’re going to be in close vicinity to livestock, wildlife or remote areas, you do not need to worry about rabies. Yes, there are animals with rabies here but if you don’t stick your head into a bat cave, you’ll be fine. Typhoid Fever Typhoid fever is caused by a bacteria that is contracted through contaminated food and water meaning it has come in contact with feces of an infected individual. Typhoid has severe symptoms that can lead to hemorrhaging, encephalitis, and rashes. Be very careful to always wash your hands, especially if you are in a rural area and get rid of the poor sanitary habits. This is crucial to preventing typhoid fever. Shots Needed for Costa Rica This part is important. I believe in vaccinations (I know some people don’t but I don’t want to get into that) and there are some very important ones if you’re traveling abroad. You should be up to date with all the routine vaccinations such as MMR, chickenpox, polio and diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis. A flu shot isn’t a bad idea either. For Costa Rica, these are the CDC’s recommended vaccinations: 1. Hepatitis A and B 2. Typhoid fever 3. Rabies (only for those working with wildlife or in places that put them more at risk for animal bites) You do NOT need a yellow fever vaccination to enter Costa Rica unless you are traveling from South America. They will stop and quarantine you at the airport if you do not have proof of this vaccination. Find this information useful? Click here to get more posts like this straight to your inbox!
Interview with Sarah-Jane from Chasing the Donkey
Croatia is certainly a country that deserves all the attention it has been getting lately and part of it is due to the amazing work Sarah-Jane puts into her blog, Chasing the Donkey. Her blog talks everything Croatia and she shows you how you can travel like a local and see Croatia through her eyes as an Australian expat. Before you hop on over there to check out her fabulous recipes, personal expat stories and informational articles about places to go and things to do in Croatia, read her interview with us first! Meet Sarah-Jane from Chasing the Donkey Please introduce yourself. A little bit of background of you and your blog My name is Sarah-Jane, but everyone calls me SJ or Mrs. Chasing the Donkey. My blog is Chasing the Donkey and its a mix of a Croatian Travel Blog and an Expat Blog. We like to get about and around in Croatia. Blogging about the best food and the culture. Plus we share stories about our life in rural Croatia. Share with us your travel style We’ve been to about 20 countries – and in each one, we spend far too much money and enjoy life to the very last dollar. We’re what you would call luxury travellers, if we had to be branded. Here in Croatia we travel at least every 6 week, we try to explore as much as we can as sitting still for us is just not an option. What are some of your favorite travel moments? Worst? We spent almost all of 2010 exploring the world (mostly Europe) and I have so many fabulous memories from that time. Arriving in Russia and Egypt were my best memories, as they are places we had long spoken about traveling to. Although my worst travel moments were in Egypt, on a broken down bus and in Russia with a guide who had next to no idea how to lead a bunch of loud Australians and Americans. Tell us how you ended up in Croatia. Had you been there before you moved? My husband is Croatian. He was born in Australia, but his family are here. I first came in 2000 and spent 6 weeks here and came again in 2010. We had inherited some land before we decided to move to Croatia but once we realised just how much we loved the lifestyle, we decided to come and make it home. Once back from our vacation it took us 2 and a half years to save and get things in order to make our dreams come true. Give us some insight into your new life in Croatia. We live in a rural area, in a small village of less than 2,000 people. It’s teeny tiny and a huge difference to living in Sydney where we had come from. Our house is about a minute walk to a beach – although its not one of those fancy beaches I show off on my blog. It’s more like a bay, but we love it and so do the German tourists who flock here each summer. The next big town is Zadar and that is just 30 minutes drive away or we can head to Zagreb and be there in 3 hours if we need a hit of the city life. What’s your favorite thing about living in Croatia? Did you have a hard time adjusting from your previous home in Australia? Any cultural shocks? My favorite is the slow pace and the fact we eat from the garden. We have no fresh produce available it still blows my mind. On the flip side, adjusting was and still is hard. The biggest struggle for us so far has been adjusting to the system. Things can be slow and more paperwork and stamps are needed for any document than I thought possible. The other issue I face is being alone. My husband works abroad for weeks at a time and being in a small town there are no expat services or groups to help make friends. For someone who has never been to Croatia, what are some must do things a first time visitor cannot miss? Depending on what you like to do, there are so many options. If you love nature, we have 8 breathtaking National Parks and countless beaches and islands. If you love history, be sure to head to Dubrovnik and Split, the old walls and palace are definite must see’s. Plus of course you have Istria, and sailing… the list goes on and on. How did you come up with the name Chasing the Donkey for your blog? Well, you see I fell in love with Croatian donkeys on the Kornati Islands when I first came to Croatia in 2000, and then in 2010 there was a donkey near the house we inherited. I straight away said ‘I want one’. Ever since when talking about Croatia and our plans to come here, I kept saying I want a donkey – so I feel like coming to Croatia I was chasing my donkey. What is your best advice for someone who is thinking about moving to Croatia? Talk to people living where you want to live. You need to know the status of what the town has or does not have and if that suits you. For example my area of Zadar is not a big expat community so we do not have social gatherings or international playgroups like they do in Zagreb. Also, save, save and save. Although things in Croatia are not as expensive on some EU countries, the cost of living here if you are on a local salary is very high. Ohh and pack all of your bikinis and board shorts as the beach life here is so wonderful! Tell us some of your 2014 travel plans We have an adventure packed year ahead. We have a National Park this month & we’re visiting 2 of the islands next month. Then in June we are heading to Tuscany for a summer break with friends before trekking along the Croatian coast for some beach time. We started to build our house in September so we will be close to home for that. Then later in the year we have a trip to Istria and I am planning to be in Athens for TBEX in October. Then the year finishes up with a trip to the Philippines and back home to Australia for Christmas. Hopefully with all of this travel, I’ll learn to pack a little lighter…. 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White Water Rafting at Rio Pacuare, One of the Best in the World
Foward! Hard! Duro, duro! I could hear our guide’s voice behind me, yelling us to paddle stronger as we quickly approached the next rapid. I tightened my grip and paddled as hard as I could, sputtering water out of my mouth and bracing for the wave to hit us. Woosh! Water splashed all over me and I found myself teetering on the edge of the raft with my arms flailing in the air. Yeison grabbed my jacket and pulled me back in, preventing fall number 2. Yes, we were voluntarily white water rafting at Rio Pacuare in Costa Rica, a 108 kilometer long river that is famous for being one of the best places for rafting in the world. Were we crazy? Probably, but then we were in good company with lots of other locos who wanted to brave the rapids and go on an adventure like no other. White Water Rafting at Rio Pacuare Rio Pacuare is on the Caribbean side of the country, bordering Talamanca mountain range. Not only is the river one of the best in the world, it’s home to a huge range of wildlife and the native Cabecar Indians. I had been anxiously wanting to do rafting at this particular river after everything I’ve heard about it and now I can finally kick it off my bucket list! Rio Pacuare 1 day trip Our one day tour consisted of rafting 19 miles from San Martin to Siquirres on Class III and Class IV rapids. Rapids are classified on a scale of 1 to 6, 6 being deathly dangerous and 1 being very small and easy. So class 3 and 4 rapids were right in the middle and quite large. We got picked up bright and early at 5:40 AM by Rios Tropicales in San Jose for a long bus ride to the river. After a full breakfast, we reached the river shore and started getting ready for our exciting adventure! You’ve probably seen Jurassic Park right? Remember how beautiful the park was with lush jungle? That’s pretty much what came to my head when we reached the river (except for the dinosaurs). Everywhere you look is green green green! Especially since we are in rainy season so the forests are abundant and thriving. It felt so peaceful and serene to gaze at all the nature around us. Here we go! Our guide taught us the different commands and what to do in case of emergency. At this point, there was no turning back and all I could do was set my nerves aside and enjoy the beautiful ride. The first rapid came pretty fast, just a few seconds after we pushed off. As we twisted and turned, I couldn’t help but scream “Wheeeee!” It was like going on a roller coaster and I do love roller coasters! Yeison has done this exact rafting before at least 5 times so I was expecting him to be some what of an expert. He’d already gone through the worst possible scenarios so imagine my surprise when he was the first one to fall off the raft! We hit a rapid and plop! He fell backwards and disappeared into the water. Thank goodness for guides. Our guide Otto grabbed Yeison and yanked him back onto the boat like nothing. “Haha you fell first!” I teased Yeison. But the teasing didn’t last long as we hit another rapid and I had to concentrate on paddling and keeping myself from falling! There’s Yeison getting hit by the water! As we were rafting down the river, I couldn’t help myself from saying “Wow.” There were beautiful cascading waterfalls, birds flying everywhere and intense jungle on both sides.The air you breathed in felt like the purest and freshest air on earth and I just wanted to savor that feeling. At one point, it started pouring down rain but none of us cared. It felt amazing! I looked up to the sky, closed my eyes and embraced the water falling on my face, relishing every drop. It felt magical, almost unbelievable that we were in a place so beautiful. This was pura vida. Around halfway down the river, the class IV rapids started appearing and quite a few of them too. It was time for the true test of our strength and skill. Forward hard! This rapid looked pretty intense and from the sounds coming from the other boats, it seemed like a few people fell out or were very close. Although my shoulders were hurting, I took the paddle and went forward hard. I’m not sure what happened right after because the next thing I remember, I was in the water and I could feel myself slipping underneath the boat. I threw up my hands to grab onto anything and I miraculously got hold of the safety line. I tugged on it, pulled myself up and then all of a sudden, I was on the raft again! Otto the savior pulled me up and thankfully I was only underwater for a few seconds. But my joy didn’t last long, I had to grab my paddle and get ready for the next rapid! As we approached the next rapid, I was looking at Yeison who was sitting across from me in the back. I paddled hard, looked up and saw everyone fall out of the raft!It was just me and Otto left and our boat was quickly swirling away from the rest of our companions. I threw out the handle of my paddle for someone to grab but we were too far. Paddle backwards now! Otto yelled. I paddled back as hard as I could to get closer to our group. Otto pulled up one guy, then the girl with Yeison on his way but we were missing one! I looked around frantically but I had to keep paddling. We’re missing one! By that time, everyone was scrambling around on the boat trying to get situated and I saw a raft float next to me with our last companion in it. Phew! At least he was saved! Towards the end of the tour, everyone in our raft had fallen in at least once (actually everyone fell twice but me). There were a couple class IV rapids left until the end and by that time, we felt like pros. We survived! Boy was I sore when we got out of the raft, I had trouble walking! But what a beautiful and exciting day it was. White water rafting is definitely the best activity I’ve done in Costa Rica so far and the Rio Pacuare lived up to all the expectations. I know there are other places in Costa Rica to go white water rafting but I don’t think they even compare to the power of the Pacuare! If you go, go with Rios Tropicales. They are one of the oldest companies in Costa Rica and have been operating tours since the 1980′s so they know all the ins and outs of the river. The guides were awesome, their breakfast and lunch was delicious and I felt incredibly safe with them. Want more adventure in your inbox? Click here! Watch our video to see the all the excitement for yourself! (and Yeison and I falling out) What to know before you go: 1. This is an all day tour so get a good night’s rest. You’ll need all the energy you can get! 2. Wear clothes that can get wet and dry easily. Wear your swimsuit underneath. 3. Bring a change of clothes and a towel 4. You can leave all your stuff on the bus during the tour and it’ll meet you at the end 5. Waterproof cameras only! We attached our Go Pro to Yeison’s helmet 6. Wear closed toed shoes or hiking sandals with the toes covered. Our Keens were perfect 7. If you want to wear sunglasses, bring a strap. You can also buy one at the gift shop We were guests of Rios Tropicales but all thoughts and opinions are our own. Thanks for taking awesome pictures of us!
Blogging Life Report June 2014
It’s been 10 months since we published our first income report, and it is very interesting even for us to look back and see the difference between our first month and today. We feel more comfortable blogging and living the dot com life style. Like anything in this life we have our moments where we have to work long hours to make it work but at the end everything is worth it. One of best memories I will always keep with me is the Costa Rica national team kicking ass in the world cup so far we are in the round 8 and we will see how far can we go Celebrating the win over Italy! We are still working on side projects and our priority is to set up some processes automatically. We are just 7 weeks away to start our trips to USA and Asia and we are not going to have the same available time we have right now to work on the blogs. So let’s start talking with the biggest improvements we have done for Mytanfeet this month. Integrating LeadPages and Aweber together As we mentioned in our last income report we canceled our mailchimp account and moved to Aweber. It has been exactly one month since we switched companies and the results are amazing. On top of that we added a new tool called LeadPages, which is the best landing page generator you can find online. They have hundreds of professional designs and you can set it up in just minutes. In 9 months of using Mailchimp we collected 316 subscribers. You guys can check our April Income report and go backwards, we were gaining an average of 35 new subscribers a month. With the integration of Aweber and LeadPages together we earned more subscribers in one month than the number of subscribers we got in 9 months. More subscribers means more traffic, income, comments and possibilities of your content being shared The main idea is to capture the new reader’s email by using leadpages and their amazing templates. Then once you have the email you have to setup a follow up series of emails with Aweber to your new subscribers. In those emails you are going to invite your new subscriber to read some of your old posts that you know are very good and profitable for you and of course all these posts most provide real value to the reader. Usually they are your top posts or the ones that have the most conversions. Once you set this up, all your new subscribers will go through all your key posts and your chances of your statistics will increase. Just by doing this, we increase our Amazon affiliate clicks by 32% and our affiliate sales by 15% which is not bad at all. I wrote an article of how we set up lead pages on my Internet Marketing blog you can read the article by clicking here. We are also very happy with the performance of our new hosting company Traffic Plannet Hosting. If you guys are looking for a premium hosting you should check them out. June 2014 Report Traffic Visits: 24 363 (+5970) Unique Visitors: 20 544 (+5204) Page views: 36 674 (+3772) Income Report Affiliate links: Amazon: $156.86 Bluehost: $180 Share a Sale: $450 Advertisement: Direct advertisement: $462 Adsense: $31 Donations from Readers: $28 Tours partnership: $1241.50 Free lance work: $110 Total Income for June: $ 2659.36 (+$83.05) Get our monthly reports to your inbox by clicking here! Social Media and email subscribers Twitter followers: 8156 (+646) Facebook likes: 1093 (+73) Emails subscribers: 332 Celebrity Status Google Page Rank: 3 Alexa Rank: 92313 (+1233) Domain Authority: 36 (+2) Page Authority: 44 (+1) Plans We’ve been integrating a lot of new features to our blog which you may not see right away but has made a huge difference. For the next month and a half, we’ll be setting the foundation for the projects we’re working on and that’s our main priority. We want to increase our subscriber numbers as much as we can since we get the most conversions from that email list. Although social media helps a lot to drive traffic, conversions from Facebook and Twitter are not close to the amount that we get from our subscribers. We’re going to be finalizing our plans for visiting Seattle and then working on our plans for Asia as well. Also we will be watching the World Cup closely and cheering for Costa Rica! Did you know that this is the furthest they’ve ever gone in the World Cup? They made history reaching Round 8! Get our monthly reports to your inbox by clicking here!