This is Part 3 of a three part series that chronicles the true experience of one U.S. citizen who decided to move to Costa Rica for retirement. Part 3 covers the third, fourth and fifth year of our hero’s residency in Costa Rica (2011-2013).
Part 3 of the story follows our hero, Dudley Bodoh, the Golden Gringo or “GG”, through the trials and tribulations of becoming an ex-pat retiree and permanent resident of Costa Rica. He decides not to get a car and later confirms this as a good decision. After a few months he initiates the process of obtaining official residency but is duped by an unscrupulous intermediary and ends up becoming a “perpetual tourist” for over two years. Eventually he succeeds in this pursuit by doing it himself.
GG discovers an unexpected benefit in writing his monthly newsletter, the Golden Gringo Chronicles. It forced him to learn more about the history, traditions and culture of his adopted land.
He learns that the rich history of Costa Rica; the pre-Columbian native Americans that inhabited the land since recorded time, the 300 years of Spanish occupation starting with Christopher Columbus in 1502 and ending with the overthrow of Spanish hedgemony in 1821, and the modern era from 1821 to the present.
GG would also learn about the legends of Costa Rica and the mystery related to the stone spheres that have been found in southwestern Costa Rica as well as on some islands. He would also learn the existence of a treasure that was very well documented and very real yet never found after a pirate buried it on a Costa Rican island.
In Part 3, GG encounters the tremendous biodiversity and wildlife that is Costa Rica. Thousands of varieties of animals and insects and new species are being discovered all the time. There would be many kinds of bats, birds, bugs, butterflies, crocodiles, frogs, killer fish, leafcutter ants, lizards, monkeys, oxen, sloths and wildcats, as well as plant life more prolific and varied than any he had ever seen including over 3,000 species of orchids.
GG would come to realize a climate totally different from any place he had ever known. While hurricanes don’t happen in Ticoland, some Pacific storms could nevertheless pack a terrific punch. Earthquakes became a new experience for our hero, including finding himself in the middle of the second most powerful earthquake in Costa Rican history, an experience he would never forget.
GG would also have the worst health crisis of his life, congestive heart failure and might have died but for the quick action of a local private doctor. Later, he would join the public health system where he would find the bureaucracy a bit daunting but the medical personnel competent, caring and sensitive.
As GG spent more and more time simply living in Quepos he came to learn and appreciate the fruits and vegetables available to him. Not only were the traditional tropical fruits like bananas, mangoes, pineapple and papaya exceptional fresh and tasty but he came across fruits he had never heard of, like cas, mamones, mangosteens, guanabana, acai and many others, some having great health benefit.
All during these early years, GG learned about the Costa Rican psyche and its cultural expression. He came to k now them as a gentle people who very much dislike confrontation. Their gentleness carries over to the way they treat their kids, very loving and very generous. GG also learned that Tico music is filled with romantic images and a strong love for their country.
After five years, the Golden Gringo spent some time doing a quantitative re-evaluation of his move to Costa Rica based on experience. Several places came out cheaper than Costa Rica but none came out better when an objective evaluation of the most important factors to GG were considered.
Though GG would always be grateful for being fortunate enough to be born and grow up in the United States, and would always remain a loyal American, the Golden Gringo had now also become a Tico.