Take Your MEDS, Be Smart, Be Safe, Be Well

Many people believe that MEDS is an abbreviation for medicines. Well, it could be – I am not a doctor. But to me, MEDS stands for Meditation, Exercise, Diet, and Sleep. During these crazy times of the COVID-19 virus. It is very important for all to Be Smart, Be Safe and Be Well!!  Costa Rica MEDS
During these very stressful days of being “locked down” in your house or being “quarantined” for 14 days. Please remember to take your MEDS. To be safe is to be smart! Because when all this is over Costa Rica still wants you to come and enjoy the beauty of this wonderful country.

 

Playa Hermosa meditation
Meditation: There are many forms of meditation this could also be in the form of praying or a quiet time to yourself, it helps clear your mind and brain and will give a calming effect to the worrisome situation at hand.

 

Diagram of exercises you can do at home
Exercise: Take it from a partially fat guy, at least that was what my doctor referred to me once when he said I had to lose 10 Kilos, but that’s another story. There are many very easy ways to exercise, even if you’re trapped in your home. I am sure I do not need me to explain what to do. JUST MOVE YOUR butt and get the blood flowing. Raising your fork does not count, which leads me to the next item.

 

Fresh food you can find in Costa Rica
Diet: We are what we stuff in our mouths. If you eat lots of processed fatty stuff, guess what you will be fat like me. Or eat healthy things, lots of fruits, vegetables, natural items – not processed foods.  Sure they may taste good but they are not good for you. If it is made in a factory, don’t eat it. If it is made by mother nature enjoy it.

 

Woman sleeping with a mask on
Sleep: We all seem not to get enough of it. Sleep is meant to help the brain release and reset. If you’re not getting enough, you will feel more stress, more fatigue and overall lousy. You should aim for a minimum of seven hours, eight to nine is even better.
The cool thing about living in Costa Rica, during this crazy time, MEDS are easy to take. With thousands of locations to chill alone with no one in sight, it is easy to meditate.  Even during these crazy times, it is easy to exercise, even in my condo, while looking at the ocean. With the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables available in Costa Rica, diet is easy to maintain. Have you ever had mango ice cream?? It is to die for. I make it with fresh mango, eggs, low-fat milk, and organic agave syrup (for the extra sweetness). Last but not least, being close to the equator means there is plenty of dark night time, about 10 hours a day, so you can get plenty of sleep.

I am going to 100% honest with you: I am taking my MEDS and I have cut out a lot of artificially processed foods from my diet. The killer was giving up sweets.  I love the stuff!  I am sleeping longer and doing a daily exercise routine. That doctor won’t call me a fat guy again!

I just love living in Costa Rica. Pura Vida!

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Coronavirus and Costa Rica’s Response

Unfortunately for many people worldwide, this Coronavirus has affected them in ways they never imagined. On a positive note, Costa Rica’s government has been diligent in taking action to protect the people of this beautiful country.

Costa Rica Minister of Health and PresidentAs I have written previously about the Coronavirus, including an update, and as a recap, the ports of entry have been closed to all foreigners up to at least April 12, 2020. Citizens and legal residents of Costa Rica are permitted in and will be quarantined for up to 14 days. They will go through a health check upon returning to the country at the point of entry and are required to give details of where they have been and where they live in Costa Rica.

Many planned events such as topes (Horse parades), festivals, sporting events, concerts, you name it, have been canceled so people are not gathering together and potentially spreading the coronavirus even further. Bars and night clubs were ordered closed. All restaurants are allowed to stay open but can only serve 50% of their total capacity.

All public and private schools are closed for the next two weeks, then there is the Semana Santa vacation, (Easter break) kids will be out of school for over 4 weeks. Many private schools have turned to on-line classes and work for students to continue their education.

As of writing this here is a link to the Costa Rica Ministry of Health website showing the confirmed cases in Costa Rica. Unfortunately, as of the 18th of March, there is one reported death. An elderly man of 87 years.

http://www.ministeriodesalud.go.cr/sobre_ministerio/prensa/img_cvd/img_datos_marzo_2020_09.jpeg

To help fight off the inevitable economic problems that will face Costa Rica, the Costa Rican Congress approved, in its first debate, the Tax Relief Project – COVID-19. Here is a rough break down of the draft.  I received this information from one of the largest and most trusted law firms in Costa Rica, Dentons Muñoz.

Deferral on the payment of Value Added Tax: Value Added Tax payments due on April, May, and June 2020, can be deferred until December 31, 2020, without the application of any interest or penalties The obligation to file Value Added Tax returns will remain unaltered.
Partial payment deferral (installments): Taxpayers will be authorized not to make partial Income Tax payments in April, May, and June 2020.  The deferral does not apply to taxpayers with a special fiscal period previously approved by the Tax Administration.  The deferral will not apply to other taxes regulated in the Income Tax Law (e.g., salary withholding, withholdings of remittances abroad, among others). Consequently, filings and payments must be made as provided by the current applicable regulations.
Deferral of the payment of Selective Consumption Tax: In the case of taxpayers registered at the Taxpayers Registry, the Project proposes a deferral of the payment of the tax for the months of April, May, and June 2020. The obligation to file the tax returns remains unaltered and the payment of the tax is postponed until December 31, 2020, without interest or charges.
Deferral of payment of customs duties: In the case of taxpayers registered in the Taxpayer Registry, they will be able to nationalize merchandise without paying tariffs during the months of April, May and June 2020.
Extension of the Deferral: Finally, the Executive Branch was authorized to extend the deferral for an additional month, to have tax payments due in July be paid by December 31, 2020.
Exemption on commercial leases: An exemption from the payment of 13% of the Value Added Tax was approved for the months of April, May, and June 2020, for the leases paid in commercial activities, as long as the lessor and lessee are registered at the Taxpayers Registry.

Validity: The publication is expected to take place by the end of the month, in which case, the measures listed above would enter into force in April. For this initiative to become a law, Congress must vote this a second time which is expected today March 19, 2020.

More updates to come. Be safe, be smart!! This shall pass.

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Update: COVID-19 Costa Rica

Hello from beautiful Playa Hermosa, Guanacaste, Costa Rica. With all the talk and concerns of the Coronavirus, world-wide, Costa Rica is taking steps to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.  Here is an update on the Coronavirus, aka COVID-19) in Costa Rica.

COVID-19 in Costa Rica
I received the information below from a reputable Costa Rican law firm specializing in immigration. This information, for residents and non-residents of Costa Rica, covers new immigration procedures put into effect because of the COVID-19 virus. Especially for those that may be in the process of obtaining their residency.

COVID-19 Costa Rica
I highly recommend that if you are in the process of obtaining your residency in Costa Rica, to contact the firm you are working with to be up to date on the status of your residency application.
The President of Costa Rica, Carlos Alvarado Quesada, along with the central government is taking the COVID-19 issue very seriously.  They have issued a decree that put travel restrictions at all borders. Land, air and sea ports of entry, will be closed off to all foreigners, starting the 18th of March at 11:59 PM and will continue through at least Sunday, April 12 at 11:59 p.m.

Citizens and legal residents returning to Costa Rica will be allowed in but will be quarantined for 14 days during this same time period. As of writing this, those that will be quarantined will need to disclose where they live in Costa Rica to the immigration officials at the entry points.

From Outlier Legal Services:
The Immigration Department issued this evening, Monday, March 16, 2020, Resolution N° DJUR-043-03-2019-JM, which, in summary, states:
• The Immigration Department WILL NOT receive Residency applications going forward and until May 17, 2020. This includes all categories. Basically, Residency applications are suspended until May 17, 2020.
• Consequently, documents that will expire within this period will be deemed valid (meaning their validity will be automatically extended) until July 17, 2020.
• Exigencies will not be raised by the Department until July 17, 2020.
• The Immigration Department will continue analyzing applications during this time. Hopefully, it will give them time to catch up on delayed work.
• Approvals and rejections will continue to be issued and notified solely via fax or email only.
• The exclusive attorney window used by many professionals to follow up on applications will remain closed until May 17, 2020.
• DIMEX requests: Will work solely through Banco de Costa Rica and Correos de Costa Rica by APPOINTMENT ONLY. Residencies based on marriage to a Costa Rican national can and will only be renewed at Immigration. Therefore, these will be suspended and may be processed between May 17 and July 17, 2020. If any of the other categories cannot be renewed through Banco de Costa Rica or Correos de Costa Rica, applicants will have until July 17, 2020, to process their renewals.
• Entry visas for Restricted Nationalities are suspended until May 17, 2020.
• Tourists (non-Residents) who entered the country after December 17, 2019, may legally remain in Costa Rica until May 17, 2020.
• Minor’s exit permit requests and issuance of Costa Rican passports will continue to work, as normal.

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Driving in Costa Rica

What is it like to drive in Costa Rica? Exciting, nerve-wracking, scary, maybe dangerous, but never boring. At times you will feel like you are on a roller coaster; at times you will feel like you are in a video game. Driving here can be intimidating for a visitor. But it gives you the freedom that you won’t have when riding a bus.

Driving in Costa RicaA valid driver’s license from your home country is all you need to drive in Costa Rica. Always have your passport or a copy of it handy just in case you get pulled over. There is no need for an international driver’s license. Yours will be good as long as your stay is less than 3 months. Check your passport entry stamp for the exact date.

In Costa Rica, we drive on the right-hand side and most rules of the road are similar to those in North America. Speed limits are posted in kilometers per hour. Seat belts are required. That said, rules are not enforced much. As a result, they are not obeyed much either. For example, in rural areas especially seat belts go unused, a parent’s lap is the child seat, and passenger limits are often exceeded. Police checkpoints are common, but usually, they only check your passport, license, and registration.

Costa RicaRoad conditions vary from well-paved, multi-lane highways and two-lane roads to pothole-filled dirt roads that cross rivers. Four-wheel drive is recommended if you plan to visit remote areas.

 

Driving in Costa Rica can be a challenge because roads and highways are not well marked. They have numbers according to the map or GPS, but signage is almost non-existent unless you are on some of the major highways. Therefore, I highly recommended that you use GPS or the wifi on your phone to connect to a mapping program. The app Waze is excellent–I use it at times.  It’s very popular here because it takes into account traffic and construction as well as comments from fellow travelers about current conditions. It is easy to download and set up.Costa Rica Highways

 

 

 

 

Not everyone has a car in Costa Rica.  A lot of people get around on bicycles and on foot. What does this have to do with driving in Costa Rica you ask?   Well, keep reading.

Pedestrians are extremely comfortable walking alongside the road—or even down the middle of it! Beware of kids walking to school, mothers pushing strollers, and the family dog walking abreast—not single file—alongside a busy highway. It is especially dangerous at night when people are wearing dark clothes. They feel confident because they can see you with your bright headlights just fine, but they have no idea how invisible they are to as you are blinded by the glare of an oncoming car and hurtling along at 50 mph.

There are also a lot of motorcycles on the road since they are more economical and are not impeded by heavy traffic. Be aware, though, that motorcyclists seem to believe they are above the law and possibly even immortal. Especially in the busy traffic environment of San Jose, you need to be alert to motorcycle behavior. They weave and squeeze between cars, so thoroughly check your side mirrors before changing lanes.

Hazard lights are kind of a get-out-of-jail-free card here. If a driver wants to stop in the middle of the road and talk to a friend in the other lane, they just put on their hazard lights and you can’t complain (“Hey! Didn’t you see my hazards?”). They may use them to let you know there is a problem up ahead, and that is more helpful. Turn signals are sometimes used by someone in front of you to let you know you can pass them, but that could also be a dangerous misunderstanding!

Unsafe passing is a national pastime here. NEVER think someone won’t pass because of a solid line or zero visibility. There is nothing you can do about it except stay alert and cautious. And never assume it can’t happen.

In the event of an accident, call 911 and your rental car company. Be sure to not move the car, even if it is blocking traffic. The police will arrive and record all pertinent information, and your rental car company will bring you a replacement.

The good news is all gasoline stations are full service! And the price per liter is set by the government, so there is no need to shop around for the lowest price. Gas stations take cash or credit cards, but make sure to check the charge on your printed receipt against the amount on the pump before you sign it just in case the attendant decides to include a generous tip.

Now you are ready to hit the road. Driving in Costa Rica can be interesting. Don’t be intimidated, it will be OK.
Gentlemen, start your engines!

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