Working in Costa Rica- the internet

One of the reasons we chose Costa Rica is that the Internet and electricity infrastructure seemed reliable.  I work remotely for a US company from our home in the states.  I sought this job because my husband no longer wanted to spend the winters in the snow and cold.  So, if he was going someplace warm in the winters I wanted to be sure I could go too!  I am a homebody at heart anyway and even if we never became snowbirds I knew working at home would be a great fit for me.

Here we are 1.5 years later and I am waking up to “go to work” for the first time in 2017 in my office in Samara, Costa Rica.   Overall it looks like I can get my work done here.  I have had a few challenges to overcome which have been very stressful!

We visited Samara in October 2014 for the month to first, see if we wanted to live here and second, find out if I could actually work here.  It was our test visit.   In booking our casita I had asked the owner 20 times about the internet speed and reliability.  She knew I worked online and the internet was critical for me.   As we were checking in to our apartment she mentioned in passing that the next day (my first schedule work day in CR) was a “planned” power outage from 8am -2pm!!!

The entire region was without power (and of course that means Internet too) for those 6 hours!!   It turns out power outages are scheduled periodically as the linemen work to fix or improve our service.  So, as long as I know the outage schedule  I can take vacation on those days or flex my time.   Sharing how the restaurants and grocery stores continued to serve and sell during these total power outages is a good story for another post!!

Monkeys on the wire

A second challenge is the power wanes and surges throughout the day and goes completely off a few times each day. Unless it is a scheduled outage, the power comes right back.  It flickers off only long enough for the internet to go off and for me to lose connection.  Then I need to await my laptop to find the wifi, re connect, re login the the VPN and then into the RDP.  Frustrating!  Last week we bought a surge protector with a built in battery for about $80US in Nicoya.  Genius!  Now we do not lose internet with every power flicker.  Work has gone smoothly ever since.

I have only had one other issue which scared me into thinking I would never be able to work here.  My company contracts with large corporations across the US.  The IT department from one of our largest clients  called me directly (something that never happens as I am a relative peon in my company) to say that “if I don’t stop using that VPN that routes through Costa Rica their security department would cut off my access!” :0!  Apparently they are looking at IP addresses from outside the US as potential security threats.  He seemed ok with it when I explained that I am actually IN Costa Rica.  He said in the future I should let them know so their security department does not get alarmed and turn me off.

It did not occur to me that my IP address would be an issue.  I thought the internet was the internet.  However I work for over 20 different clients and haven’t had any other issues.

So, there have been some adjustments but the joy of being here has been

worth these few problems.  Each day I start  on the deck…birds, yoga, howler monkeys’ chorus, the sound of the waves on the beach and my view of the fading stars and the emerging dawn.  Lucky me!!

Costa Rica Christmas fiesta, rodeo and New Year’s fireworks on the beach

Rodeo arena on Samara Beach, Costa Rica
Carnival and bull riding arena. Playa Samara, Costa Rica
Delicious treats
Jack waving from the arena
Cowboys drawing their bull
The Fiesta rodeo on Playa Samara, Costa rica

Samara, Costa Rica hosts an amazing Christmas Fiesta with carnival and rodeo every year Christmas Day to New Year’s Eve.  Tico’s come from all over Guanacaste to be part of this annual celebration on the beach.

We went to opening night of the rodeo and sat high in the stands.  For 4,000 colones (about $7.50US) several hundred people filled the arena.  The Cowboys, cheered by their fans, were introduced as they pulled the name of their bull out of a hat.

8 seconds of the cowboy on the bull or less and then the real show begins!   (No offense to the talented athletes riding the Bulls intended!!) A bunch of men jump in the arena to encourage the bull back into the pen.  They never succeed and then the Cowboys ride in and lasso the bull.  These skilled horsemen where the highlight of the show.  How can they ride so fast while at the same time lasso the bull by the neck so accurately?

Outside the arena the carnival delights with bright lights, rides, a DJ and salsa dancing and lots of food and beer.  And, notable to me, somehow a banos vendor puts in flush toilets and charges 500c for their use.  Far nicer than porto-poddies…but where do they flush…?

Every night the rodeo draws crowds.  During the day the beach is the place to be.  Families, honeymooners and mostly Costa Rican’s are swimming, surfing, building sand castles and sun bathing.   This is a great vacation spot for Christmas week.

Anticipation for New Year’s Eve on the beach was high.  Many of our new friends here told us about the Bon fires and fireworks.  The local hotels and restaurants hold parties and sponsor these fireworks.  We walked along the beach like kids, holding hands and delighted with the romance of the evening.  The sky was clear, stars brilliant in the new moon sky and the beach lined with the glow of the restaurant lights.  Several bonfires were lit along the beach with young people laughing, talking and closing out 2016 In Costa Rica.

We walked home to our deck on the hill to bring in the New Year.  The fireworks started about 9pm and went on and on to midnight!  It was a magical evening for us.  Sitting on our deck was like being in a planetarium.  The stars were awe inspiring and the fireworks show was beautiful.

Happy New Year!  May 2017 bring you the desires of your heart.