Finally the day arrived. I was retired from working a full-time job!

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I woke up (after sleeping late) and thought, hmmmm, I do feel different. I don’t know exactly how, but there is definitely something different going on. I couldn’t stop glancing at the clock, though, to see if it was time to start getting ready for work. It wasn’t.

Then my first Social Security check arrived. They pay you one month behind (that way they can cheat you out of one month’s pay when you die – don’t you just love how our government operates? Makes one so proud, eh?)

This adventure, moving to Costa Rica, was really going to be a challenge. I would have so much to do when I arrived, in addition to going to Spanish immersion school for the first month. I would need to find a permanent place to live. I had a temporary place reserved near the school, but I didn’t think I would want to stay there for long.

Once I found my new home, I would need to buy furniture and household stuff – everything, from the refrigerator to curtains to salt and pepper.

You don’t shop the same way in Costa Rica as you do in the United States. In the U.S., you just go to Costco or Walmart or Safeway and get most of the stuff you need. In Costa Rica, you have to go to different stores, sometimes in different towns, for different things.

You can buy meat from the carnicero, fruit from the fruit-seller, bread from the panader+¡a, spices from the spice-vender in the market, shoes at the zapater+¡a, clothes from the “ropa americana.” These are stores that sell used clothing from the U.S. They are good places to buy clothes in Costa Rica. Locally made clothing falls apart too quickly, so even Costa Ricans buy much of their clothing at the ropa americana. I do, too.

Where does one buy picture-hanging hooks, I wondered. Who knew? It was an all-day excursion finding out!

Well, I wanted an adventure, and I was going to get one!

Finally, I had gotten rid of most of my stuff in California. I rambled around in an apartment with nothing in it but my bed, computer, and five open suitcases in which I kept shifting stuff around, hoping each time that miraculously all of it would fit.

It didn’t. What didn’t was abandoned

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At seven one morning, Lucy drove me to San Francisco International for my flight to retirement in Costa Rica. Warm and welcoming David Calderon met me at the airport and drove me to Apartotel Roma in Heredia, where I lived during my first month while attending Spanish immersion school.

Perhaps I would continue to live in the province of Heredia after I completed my month of study, but I wasn’t sure. I had visited many parts of Costa Rica, but visiting a place and living there are not the same thing. There are several places where I thought I might settle down for a few weeks to see how I liked it. I would rent a bodega (a small storage unit) in which to leave my meager possessions while I galavanted about the country a bit.

On my final night in the States, I took a walk along the beach. My last walk on a beach in California – possibly forever.

There were many “lasts” in the final week. My last pizza at Engfer’s in Seabright. My last meal at Charlie Hong Kong. I heard the screams come floating on the wind – for the last time – from the rollercoaster at the Boardwalk, the amusement park on the beach in Santa Cruz, just across the San Lorenzo River from where I spent my last night in the United States (at least, for a while).

One could get sentimental talking like this. Maudlin, even. But let’s not! There was just too much excitement ahead. No time to look back. I can always reminisce when I get old!

This article is one in a continuing series that chronicles Lair’s move to Costa Rica from the United States. Watch for a new article each week.

PS. A note from Scott Oliver – Founder of – There are a growing number of those big warehouse type mega-stores in Costa Rica including PriceSmart, Office Depot and the largest hardware store in Central America called Ferreterias EPA (the group is from Venezuela) which is located on the East side of San Jose in Curridabat..