Life here in Costa Rica is referred to as Pura Vida. Well, in many aspects it is. 

Great beaches, beautiful people, nature and amazing scenery. 

What hides behind this Pura Vida veil? 

Have you ever visited a bank and waited up to two hours to do a transaction with the teller?

A simple thing like changing a $100 bill for colones or making a deposit can take an extraordinary amount of time. 

The necessity to do what seems like simple paperwork at the “platform” can drag you down the rabbit hole of bureaucracy. Well, that is the norm when it comes to banking. The sense of urgency or wanting to get transactions done quickly by the tellers just doesn’t exist. The employees are not there for our urgency. And it is obvious.

It would be interesting to see how many hours we spend in the national banks doing transactions that probably turn into a time frame of days throughout the year. That is just one of the inconveniences that many of us face on a daily basis. You eventually just get used to it and accept that if you want to get something done, it’s necessary to be one of the many waiting.

I think banking is probably the most annoying aspect of life here in Costa Rica.

God help you if you lose a license plate on your vehicle. I did — that was an experience and expense I would not wish on anyone. 

Another scenario that makes you wonder about Pura Vida in Costa Rica is the sale of a property and dealing with someone else’s attorney, who just is not buttoned up or just doesn’t really care. 

I recently sold a property that happened to have a corporation involved with it. What a mistake it was for me to form a corporation in the first place for a home I lived in. (That’s another issue altogether.) Upon the acceptance of the offer, the real work began. Getting the corporate books up to date and filing the documents for shareholders. Going to the municipality for the tax records and much more. The checklist seems long but is important for a smooth transaction.

A very important aspect of having a corporation is to have it written in such a way that the sale of property proceeds smoothly. My corporation was written so that all shareholders had to be present in Costa Rica for the closing. This can be problematic for many, I had to have my lawyer update and add an addendum to the corporation so that the transaction could proceed with just one signer at the closing. If I had been aware of how my corporation was formed, I would have had changes made in the beginning rather than in a rush at the end.

The headaches of selling a place can be exacerbated by the many lawyers with just ever so slight variations to a transaction. I appreciated that my attorney in this transaction was very buttoned up and caught the many errors that the buyer’s attorney passed to me. While the catches were great, it did cost me several hundred dollars more because the transactional closing attorney was careless and sloppy. And with that said you just have to sit back and say, “Oh well … Pura Vida.”

Getting frustrated and expressing your irritation at situations such as banking will not get you any further. In fact, I have watched the people involved literally shut off and not deal with situations. The confrontational approach in Latin America does not work. Save your frustration and go home and yell in your pillow. You will get a better response.

You have chosen to reside in this country. Now you want it to change for you? Laughable.

This leads to many expats referring to wherever they come from, and making comparisons such as, “Back in Florida we can go to the bank and it runs so smoothly,” or, “Why can’t they do it like we have in our own country?” I just look at people crosseyed and laugh when they say these ridiculous things. 

The people migrating here are hoping for a better life in many ways. Yet many of them want to make changes that bring in what they are accustomed to. I listen to people talk, and when they blurt out these statements it is just showing the superiority complex they have dragged along with them.

Yes, Costa Rica has a way of making seemingly simple situations difficult. But going with the flow, and not getting uptight and upset when the efficiencies that we are used to are non-existent, is just life here. You will always be frustrated if you don’t learn early on. Leave your baggage back home and embrace the nuances of life in Costa Rica, or in whatever country you choose to live.

I can relate many stories of my frustrations. Some are very funny. I would love to hear some of the funny stories that you have faced here. 

This month we are focusing on the people of Costa Rica and their culture. 



June 2022 Front cover by Perry Carlile

Romilio Rodriquez Gonzalez, lives in Brasilito – his whole life, 89 years.


It’s impossible to fall in love with Costa Rica without falling in love with its people. Many first-time visitors come for the adventures, the surfing, the scenery or the wildlife. They go home with memories of a much richer human experience that compels them to return … soon, and perhaps many more times. Not uncommonly, their encounters with the Costa Rican locals are enough to bring them back permanently — or at least indefinitely — to fully embrace the pura vida life.

Howler’s June e-magazine is filled with faces of Costa Rica. You’ll see people of all ages, in many different places, doing things they enjoy or are good at doing — people at work, at play, or taking a momentary break. You’ll see many examples of culture and creativity converging through art, music, traditions and ways of giving back to the community,

We hope you enjoy getting to know the people of Costa Rica a bit better this way.



Stephanie Michel was born and raised in Costa Rica, where her passion for photography was apparent at a young age. Her so-called greatest adventure began 11 years ago, when she moved to Canada with her Costa Rican husband. It continues today in Toronto, where their two children provide inspiration for Stephanie’s business, specializing in family photography. Samples of her work may be viewed on her website or Instagram.

Clearly, creativity runs in the family, as Howler readers can see in our Young Artist Spotlight this month, featuring Sophia Berger. Proud mom Stephanie contributed the images showcasing the 8-year-old’s precocious talents as a painter and sculptor.



Annika Beaulieu is a photographer, writer, and filmmaker from Los Angeles, California who has been living part-time in Costa Rica for the last 15 years. Visit her website and follow her on Facebook and Instagram.  

Joanna Blanco. Integrative nutritional health coach who helps clients embrace wellness in five interconnected areas of life: relationships, livelihood, physical activity, spiritual awareness and diet.

Debbie Bride. Canadian continuing to create and communicate in Costa Rica.

Terry Carlile. Served as a U. S. Navy journalist for eight years, and is also a workshop trainer and keynote speaker.

Charlene Golojuch. Co-owner of Hidden Garden Art Gallery with husband, Greg.

Ivan Granados. Managing Partner at GM Attorneys, specializing in real estate and corporate law.

Laura Méndez. Founder of Pura Vida Vibrations. Offering sound journeys, breathwork experiences, cacao ceremonies & other activities.

Daniel Oses. Attorney at GM Attorneys.

Rick Philps. Canadian who practiced law in Victoria, BC before moving to Costa Rica in 1998. He has practiced law here for 17 years, having continued his education in civil law and notary and registry law. Offers legal due diligence seminars and consultations in the Gold Coast area for expats moving, or considering moving to Costa Rica. Contact or visit

Tom Schultz. BS Biology and Geology, avid birder and nature photographer, retired software executive.
Valerie Scheirman. Creator and director of, a non-profit partnership with indigenous artisans to empower people and communities in Latin America and uplift lives. A native of Colorado and retired pharmacist, now living part-time in Costa Rica and Mexico.



Perry Carlile. Perry began his photography career at his hometown newspaper in Naples, Texas. After serving in the U.S. Navy as a photographer’s mate and photography teacher, he worked as a wedding, nature and family photographer. In Costa Rica, where Perry has lived for nearly a decade, he also serves as pastor at Beach Community Church in Brasilito. 

Sean Davis. Professional photographer from the U.S., now living in Costa Rica, who loves to sleep, travel and cook. His photographs have been published by Time Magazine, Rolling Stone, Healthy Living, Petapixel, Conde Nast Traveler, and The New York Times. Visit his website, follow him on Instagram or email:

post a comment

93 − 83 =