Suggestions on what to do with your free time in Costa Rica
by guestblogger TicoNuevo
If you have arrived in Costa Rica without a job, without a mission or without a business to found, that probably makes you a retiree of whatever age. If so, you’ll probably find yourself with plenty of free time on your hands.
When you have tired of shopping trips to Escazu, visits to the Pacific and Atlantic coasts, treks through the national forests, reserves, botanical and butterfly gardens, bus trips to San Jose’s museums, or the daily excursions into the countryside, you may decide that you want to be productive, better informed, entertained and/or rewarded with some of your time.
You’ll become pretty unhappy in a hurry if you don’t get involved and have some level of social interaction.
In nearly every local region of San Jose and the Central Valley, there are a multitude of ex-pat women’s groups that meet regularly. If you are of the distaff persuasion, consult one of your newly found lady friends who may personally invite you to a get together or tell you who you should contact.
For men, it’s a bit more difficult. There are a number of VFW posts (and, yes, I realize you lady veterans can join as well) that are located around the Central Valley and I’ll bet there other guy groups you’ll run across with only a little effort.
For couples and singles of either gender, we’ve found ex-pats have formed local wine clubs, dinner clubs, political party clubs and a personal computer club meets in Belen. In addition, there are a number of English-speaking and multi-lingual independent and denomination-affiliated churches. Some churches split services into both Spanish and English and they are always involved in community projects.
San Jose also offers a theater group, a women’s club, a newcomer’s club for women only (sorry guys), and, if you’re a practicing or recovering alcoholic, there is no shortage of AA chapters throughout all of Costa Rica.
Learning-teaching the language
There are social groups and clubs dedicated to helping ex pats learn the Spanish-language and/or help ticos to learn the English-language or both. They are what I would describe as social immersion groups that serve wine and/or dinner. A rather civilized approach if you ask me.
Many ex pat folks also seem to have found paying or volunteer positions teaching English to ticos and ticas. It may be something you might want to consider.
We haven’t been here long, but we came here with a goal to be able to give something back to the community in which we reside. Right away we became aware of a number pet rescue groups. Keeping dogs as pets is a relatively new concept, but it is really catching on quickly. There is no shortage of strays, here called “street dogs.” In addition, plenty of dog owners have had to give up their loyal and faithful Fido for any number of reasons. There is no shortage of need for pet foster homes or volunteers to attend to the display of adoptable pets at shopping centers and ferias, whether the canines are street dogs or house-broken ex pets (pardon the pun). There are pet rescue groups that also include our feline friends.
On the humane and human level, almost every large town has a hogar (home) for the elderly and one for orphans and foster children. They are great causes and there is a tremendous need to generate donations and revenue to keep them operating. Both types of homes have become popular causes for local ex-pat communities and these groups are always in need of volunteers and patrons. Atenas ex-pats have organized and annual chili cook off with a growing international renown to raise funds for the local children’s home. Some ex pats have adopted the community in which they live and adopt or invent projects to promote, inform or benefit the communities in which they reside.
I intend to be proactive and creative about how I direct my volunteerism. I have talked to local tico and tica professionals. For one thing, there seems to be a need here to instill a sense of direction and motivation in the Costa Rican youth. (Why does that sound familiar?) There are also certain community and professional groups that would welcome experienced professionals who can bring a certain expertise or new and fresh perspective to their chosen profession, cause or focus.
If your Spanish is better than mine, you may even want to consider joining a local Lion’s, Optimist’s, Rotary, or similar club. When you make Costa Rica your home, it’s not a bad idea to jump in and get involved and, perhaps, be able to make a difference by investing some of your free time. Just remember, it’s illegal for non-citizens to get involved in Costa Rican politics. But honestly, with all the political chaos taking place back in the States remaining politically uninvolved sounds perfectly acceptable to me.
The author of this blog, Ticonuevo, is a US expat who moved to Costa Rica and used the services of GoDutch Realty to purchase a property in Costa Rica. In his blogs, Ticonuevo describes his own experiences of taking the step of moving to Costa Rica and getting a new life started.