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Posted by on Oct 10, 2013 in Attempts at Humor, Bugs, Culture, Moving to Costa Rica, Tips | 20 comments

The 5 Most Gringo Things we Brought to Costa Rica

The 5 Most Gringo Things we Brought to Costa Rica

Gringos – that’s what we are and, despite our best efforts, it show’s. Through the things we use on a day to day basis and in the clothes we wear, we can’t hide the fact that we are; Non-Tico, North American, Gringos. In preparing to move here, we tried really hard to sell the majority of our stuff before we came; in fact, all that was left of 18 married years of accumulating “stuff” was 9 suitcases, packed to the gills, that traveled with us to Costa Rica. Not surprising, a few of the things we brought accentuates our Gringo-ness.

DFW to SJO - Everything we brought to CR was in these 9 bags.

DFW to SJO – Everything we brought to CR was in these 9 bags.


The EX copy copyThe Executioner

This is not your everyday tennis racket – no, this one is electrified – ELECTRIFIED, and useful on those pesky bugs that the wife is mortified of, and it has a name – it is The Executioner. One might think that such a “hands off” bug killing device would preclude one (me) from having to be the bug murderer; one would be wrong. I am learning to live with with the guilt. We purchased on but I am sure it is available anywhere quality bug killing devices or “As Seen on TV” products are sold. By the way – this thing works extremely well, runs on 2 AA batteries and has a nice, crisp, report when it zaps a bug. Only $19.99 but buy within the next 10 minutes….


How to blend in to tico cultureShorts – Really clothes in general but Shorts in particular

The most telling feature of the Gringo species is their clothing. You may see a Tico with an Aéropostale shirt on, ok, you will see many Ticos with Aéropostale shirts on, but it is more than a graphic T-shirt that gives us away. It’s the whole package; the fabric choice, the colors, and it is the shorts. It would be one thing if we lived near the beach and wearing shorts would be the norm, but we live up in the hills, in coffee-farm land, and no-one, except Gringos, wear shorts. Some Gringos wear long pants; not me – never, ever, ever…I spent most of my life living in Texas and having to endure its endless Summers, and now that I get to enjoy endless Spring, here in Grecia, I just can’t imagine defiling myself by wearing pants. If it’s not clear, by my 6’3″ height and shade-of-ghost whiteness, that I am not a Tico, then by-god let the shorts give me away…and the sports sunglasses, and the headband (yes, a headband, OK), and the watch and …you get the picture


GinsuGinsu Knife Set

I already know what you’re thinking, “They still make Ginsu knives?”. The short answer is yes and the advertising dollars Ginsu Knives spent decades ago are still paying off. Call it a testament to TV marketing, we bought the knife-set that never needs sharpening, that was from an infomercial 30 years ago, that can shave metal off of a hammer. We wanted a knife set that we didn’t have to worry about and would be sharp enough to slice a tomato into nice, uniform, slices without creating salsa; a knife that would allow me to julienne fries like a chef.- and the infomercial showed me how it could all be done with the Ginsu. All I can say is – I am a sucker, whether in Dallas, TX or Grecia, Costa Rica – I am a Gringo Sucker. It’s a good thing that everything Jen cooks, meat wise, is very tender because the Ginsu knife is perfect for a sucker, it sucks.


005 AppleThe i’s Have it

We brought with us from the States the entire iEverything suite of products from Apple; (2)iPhones, iPad, iPod – touch and classic, a MacBook Pro and MacBook Air – enough electronic gadgetry for a small town, and we had downsized. It all started with the iPod years ago as I found that iTunes was great for helping enable my music addiction. Then my PC laptop contracted swine flu and I bought another and another. Finally, reading that MACs’ operating system contracted fewer viruses than PC’s, and that we would have no problem with usage in Costa Rica, we took the proceeds from the sale of our home and used the money as a downpayment on the MacBooks. We had already had iPhones and luckily they were the variety that had a SIM card and could be used here. Adding to our list of iProduct was the iPad, for our reading pleasure and for Words with Friends, of course and  the iPod Touch….I am still not sure why we have that.


Hula GirlThe Weighted Hula Hoop

I know, I know…I  K N O W. “A WHAT?” Well, to be frank, it is what the name implies – a Hula Hoop that has weight added to it. You remember the Hula Hoop, the children’s toy from the 70’s – well this is it, but modified with added weight. You gyrate your hips to Hip Hop music and  because you bought a Hula Hoop with ADDED weight, you get a better workout. You may be thinking, “How the hell did you get that on the plane?” Well, we bought with-in the 10 minute time frame that was left on the infomercial, because of this, we were awarded the upgraded, tear-down, model. That’s right – we now own, and have in Costa Rica, a Weighted, Travel, Hula Hoop. Actually, we bought it at Dick’s Sporting Goods – I just didn’t want to admit that we bought a travel, weighted, Hula Hoop on purpose and the upgrade angle somehow made it less sad – I know it doesn’t.


As I assimilate into the culture of our new home, I am not sure I will ever completely shed my Gringo-ness, nor whether it is completely necessary to do so. Maybe I can tone it down just a bit though. As I was writing this post I couldn’t help but think that there just may be a correlation between “As Seen on TV” products and iProducts, and those things that make us stand out as Gringos. Hmmm, Ya Think?

Hasta Pronto,




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Greg Seymour is a quitter. At 41 Greg and his wife Jen quit their jobs, sold damn near everything they owned and became Intentionally Unemployed and retired early to Costa Rica.
In addition to writing on this blog, Greg has written for other online publications and has written two popular books about living in Costa Rica:
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  1. And that mixer! Gotta bring the kitchen supplies and iSupplies, and of course a hula hoop (especially a weighted travel one!!!). We brought a whole road bike. If you’re going to be here a while, you might as well have the things that make you happy.

    • The mixer at least provides a semblance of practicality, even though it was anything but practical to get it here. With or without this gear I don’t ever think I will be mistaken for a native.

  2. another great post………..especially the shorts….having lived in florida for thirty years wearing shoes is another issue. im shipping a small crate full of auto parts, tools and household goods including one of those mixers……pura vida

    • Thanks Jim! I agree on the shoes. See you soon.

  3. Are you into Hooping??? If you’re on Facebook – you might want to check out: – there are regular hoopings in San Jose & more!!! Marty started it & she’s GREAT (tell her Vicki Connected you!!!)

    For ME – what was CRUCIAL was GOOD high thread count sheets, Memory Foam Mattress Toppers (for the hard as rock beds here), GOOD quality stainless steel pots & pans, my Magic Bullet mini-blender & also my Mac’s!!!!

    If your bug zapper goes (or anyone is interested in finding one here) – Super Sony (my FAV Asian Grocery Store – it’s AWESOME) usually has them!!!!

    • Thanks for the Tips Vicki – Jen is the Hoop’er, I can’t even get the thing to go one rotation.

  4. We brought 2 suitcases each plus our dog. We wanted to get away from having stuff. I do not or will not own any I pads or phones. We came here to get away from all the crap the US makes us want. I will say if you are a plus size lady to get your clothes in the US it is very hard to find plus sizes here. Also good tennis shoes as most are knock offs and not real material. And if you do need something we have had things mailed to us with no problems. I will also say coming here was the best thing we ever did. We have found out what life is really all about. Having a roof over our heads, food in our stomach and loved ones around us! Hope this helps!

    • Thanks for reading and commenting Elizabeth. We are enjoying our decision to move very much and I hope that feeling continues long-term. Well, despite my list here, we downsized tremendously and are certainly living smaller; smaller home, smaller amount of stuff, better food, entertainment is now time with friends or a meal out etc…etc…Gringo or not, I am not giving up my electronics.

      I am happy to hear others enjoying their decision to move here. How long have you been in CR?

  5. There is nothing wrong with the Apple products (coming from someone who also has a plethora of idevices ;-))
    And that’s too bad about the Ginsu knives; that infomercial really was convincing! All these years I thought I was missing out. Guess not LOL.

    • Don’t get me wrong – I love all my Apple products however, part of our move and early retirement thought process, was to simplify, and electronics is one area we did not slim down. In fact, one of our criteria when selecting a country was it had to be wired.

      Thanks for reading.

  6. Yeah, the iDevices really make us stick out as Gringos. But the hula hoop – that just identifies you as AWESOME.

    • I don’t know about that Caelan, I see it as Jen is awesome….despite the weighted Hula.

  7. We don’t live in CR, but it’s on our list of possibilities. We will be going back for the third time this year. I had to comment on the weighted hula hoop! I have one, too, and love it! I have never known anyone else to have one! We also have i everything! Love my Apple products. I could get rid of almost everything I have and not look back……but not my iPhone, iPad, and MacBook! LOL!

    • Hi Karen,

      We use the iProducts daily – the hoola hoop, not so much. In fact I don’t think it has been used. Apple products work great here. Good luck with your next trip and let us know if we can answer any questions.

      • Thank you!
        I probably wouldn’t use the hula hoop in CR either. There are too many better things to be doing in CR. We are living in Abilene, TX now. We moved here from the Dallas area when we bought an existing business here. My husband is from Texas, but I was born and Raised in the Chicago area. If and when we sell the business, we have been considering CR for retirement, at least part-time. We are still fairly young, 50 and 52, so don’t know if we could realistically pull it off. Would absolutely love to, though.

  8. I am so excited you found a way to bring a weighted hula hoop to Costa Rica!!!! (Yep, big nerd here)

    How are you finding the connectivity/wifi speeds in Grecia? One of the issues we had in Coco was reliability of connection and both my husband and I work online.

    • Hi Tina – speed and connectivity is not a problem. We pay $38 for 3mb. The service has been down 3 times in about 7 months but only for like an hour each time. In the rainy season we unplug the router at night, if we leave the house, or if there is thunder/lightening. I have heard many stories of electronics getting fried.

  9. I am coming to CR in a couple of weeks, trying to decide between Grecia, Athenas and Escazu. I am a retired single woman, will not have a car, would love to meet some expats. I need a one bedroom furnished apartment. Any suggestions on which town and how to rent my apartment?

    • Hi Pam,

      Here are two Facebook groups, one for Grecia and one for Atenas, I would ask your questions regarding housing and gringo get togethers there as you are apt to get much better info than just from me.Grecia Group – Atenas Group –

      There is quite a distinction between Escazu and Grecia/Atenas. Escazu is very much N American, has great shopping and eating while Atenas and Grecia are more rural. If you love the big city check out Escazu, if you are looking for a more laid back vibe check out the other two.

      I hope this helps,

  10. Hi, I bought your book several weeks ago. I really enjoy the info & humor. I looked up Grecia this morning & found your blog. Great info. I am hoping to move to Costa Rica. I am 66 single female, nurse. Taking care of my Mother now. Looking forward to a new life.

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