Recently I posted about that famously popular question, “What do you do all day?“. Today we get another perspective on that question from guest poster Steve Friedman.

Steve and Martha Friedman moved to Costa Rica  from Denver Colorado last year after retiring. They are currently living in Playa Hermosa, Guanacaste. Steve blogs at his satirical site here.

What Do You Do In Costa Rica?

Do – noun; indicating ones’ occupation as in “what do you do?”; verb to indicate how one occupies their time as in “what do you do?”

This is a difficult question to pose to people in Costa Rica, since for many of us expats the former definition no longer applies, or at least doesn’t apply while we are down here. The second definition, “how does one occupy their time?”, is what requires some serious thought to explain.

To begin with, a lot of Costa Rican life involves some serious “Not Doing“; Like not shoveling snow, not cutting the grass, notweeding the lawn, not picking the kids up to go to this activity or that activity, or not going to this board meeting or that board meeting. This is because the first definition  of “do” no longer applies. Most of us expats have unshackled our lives from raising our kids, maintaining our enormous homes, going to the mall or warehouse stores, or dealing with the mountain of stuff we’ve acquired. So now that we’ve freed ourselves from careers, houses and stuff, we do, well……..

For starters, the women here, at least in Playa Hermosa for the most part, are far more organized than the men. My wife for example has every morning filled with either water aerobics, ladies book clubs, canasta, spa day…. – all things involving primarily  women. A man may choose to go to one of these  activities only at their own peril, as one of the main purpose of these activities are to “get away from their spouses“.

Thus the men are generally left to their own devices to find “what to do”. After a great deal of searching  I have basically broken them down into six categories of “doers”

  1. Planners-  These are the entrepreneurs, who rather than face the boredom of retirement plan to start some kind of new enterprise down here, no matter what it might take to do so. A lot of this seems to involves real estate.
  2. Putterers–  These are people who have decided to buy property and build a house down here or already done this. So much of their free time is totally consumed by puttering around fixing this or that or waiting  eternally for other people to come and do this-or-that, and then watching them meticulously as they complete their task.
  3. Pumpers– These are men whose sole goal and activity in life now is devoted entirely to fitness activities. This may involve endless laps of walking, jogging or swimming , or more formalized work outs involving weight training or pilates or Extreme Yoga. Not me either.
  4. Players-There are a number of men who like to play. This may involve more civilized and structured sports such as golf and tennis or unstructured sport activities such as fishing, bicycling, paddle boarding, surfing, or some other sport activity.
  5. Patrones –  The Patronesare guys (and gals)  that seek out and volunteer for every possible community thing and then spend their days trying to get other people involved in whatever causes they’ve taken on. I confess, I was never a joiner of causes and everything from Shriners to Lions never really had much appeal for me.
  6. Piddlers– Piddlers spend hours on their computers, blogging, playing fantasy football, basketball or whatever, Facebooking,  or watching a movie or TV,   or about anything that fills time without any specific purpose. Unfortunately I’m becoming one of those.
  7. Ponderers– Ponderers spend their days often sitting in the same chair overlooking some breathtaking view of the beach and ocean from their front porch, and pondering the eternal questions of life, or even “what to do tomorrow”. They sit in almost Zen-like transfixed poses quite bolted to whatever  thing they happen to be sitting on laying on (hammocks are definitely the way to go for this group).

Finally there are those of us who can’t really say what we do, since our lives have become so unplanned that asking us what we do would be like asking a Zen master “what do you do”. We really can’t say “what”, we just “do”.


Are you living in Costa Rica and are retired? What do you do here? Leave a comment below.

Hasta Luego,


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