Friday, May 27, 2016

5 Things NOT To do The Night Before Your Vacation

Why does the night before going on a vacation always have to be so hectic.  Here's why:

1: Don't book the hotel the night before.  No No No!  Reserve your hotel rooms at least a few days before ,if not a week before, your trip and get everything spelled out clearly so there is no confusion or questions.

2: Don't reserve a rental car (if you need one) the day before.  You can reserve the day before but you risk not having many options left for you to choose from or rentals in your budget.  Also, make sure you know how you'll be going about securing the rental in the first place.  If you need a credit card, make sure you have one because getting a rental is more than just paying the amount to rent the vehicle per day. You need a hefty deposit, in some cases, by credit card  first to secure your rental.

3: Don't reserve a hotel without knowing it's location and proximity to your desired getaway of choice.  If you need or want to be close to a certain area, ask the location question to avoid getting yourself into trouble.

4: Don't invite more people on your vacation than you can fit on your vacation.  If you reserve a hotel for x amount of people don't invite xx amount:  they won't fit in the hotel, they won't fit in the car.

5: Try to stay relaxed.  Enjoy the process as much as the getaway itself.  Don't stress about the minor details that can be worked out once you actually go on your vacation and get to your destination.  Start packing at least 2 days before your trip so you have less work the night before.  And remember: vacations are supposed to be fun.  Don't make the little things bug you.

Friday, May 20, 2016

When It Rains, It Ashes???

It has been 'raining' ash here in Costa Rica for the last week or so on and off and today it got really bad.  Volcanic ash has been spreading throughout the San Jose region and it's making people a little on edge.

Not that we're all that worried that the volcano is going to blow (we're pretty far away from the danger zone and the people that are close by have been evacuated.)  But it has been wrecking havoc on our cleaning schedule, as petty as that sounds.  I went outside this morning to a carport filled with black dust, ash blown just about everywhere.

When I left with my son for his dentist appointment today, ash was falling still and, with the wind blowing, was getting into my eyes, my hair, my mouth.  It's a dangerous combo those two, ash and wind.  It gets all around and it is a to sweep up.  I had to really get a good dusting on all the furniture in the main parts of the house, especially the all purpose room.  When I was done dusting and sweeping that one room, it looked like I had not cleaned it for months.

Plus, with all the sweeping I've been doing and the dusting and re-dusting (as the ash keeps coming and wind keeps blowing), it's been hard keeping my feet clean in my flip flops.

Now those are just my small gripes, lets get to the more troubling aspects of this whole ash situation.  The Ministry of Education has suspended classes until further notice due to all the ash.  And many people have taken to wearing surgical face masks like the ones they wore in China when they had that bird flu scare.  Volcanic ash can wreak havoc on your lungs.  If enough gets into your system (as it's hard not to breathe it in when it's swirling all around), it can act like cigarette smoke.  It's a health hazard and so now the kids are required to wear face masks to school, that is when they do eventually go back to school.

So, we might live in 'paradise' but with the random earthquakes and the threat of volcanic eruption (but first comes all the ash), paradise never seemed so scary.  Honestly, I am not really scared, and neither is anyone else for that matter.  But it does bring me back down  to reality that life is precious and anything can happen.  Mother nature is not one to be messed with. So live for today.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Having Too Much Fun

When it comes to vacation, I go all in and I go HARD!  I want to find the best hotels and get the best deals just to make our money stretch.  This time around, we're planning an impromptu mini vacation with my grandmother and uncle's wife, who will be visiting us for 2 weeks this month.  They want to enjoy their stay in Costa Rica and so enjoy their stay they will (I'll make sure of that).

My grandmother already knew what she wanted to do and where she wanted to go; Puerto Viejo.  We had been there with her before and she loved it.  So planning that trip was easy.  We know Puerto Viejo pretty well, as it is one of our favorite vacation destinations.  I found a nice, simple hotel with a pool and quaint rooms near the town center.  And because it is currently low season for tourists, prices were at a rock bottom low.  Puerto Viejo: CHECK!

Next, I figured my uncle's wife (who is really the one who wants a 'real' vacation while on this visit) would like to also do something else fun while she's here.  So I looked up a few inclusive tours to places like Baldi Hot Springs in San Carlos near the Arenal Volcano.  I was lucky enough to find a tour company that I had already toured with who as offering a great deal on a one day tour to Baldi with three meals included along with entrance fee.  However, they only offer tour dates on Saturdays and we only have one weekend with my grandmother which is already planned for.

So what to do?  I know going to the beach alone would not suffice.  So here I am, on this Friday, searching for car rental companies so we can head to Baldi Hot Springs on our own.  I called Baldi and the price is fairly reasonable, so I think we can do it.  As a bonus, we can go on a Sunday morning and be back by Sunday night in time to get the kids ready for school.

We do need to reserve all these things ahead of time as my grandma arrives on the 21st of May and Baldi would have to happen on the 22nd to give us time to enjoy our beach trip the following weekend.

The other vacation I find myself planning is the big family trip we will hopefully be taking with my family in December (my family as in my hubby and kids and my extended family as in my sisters and brothers, nephews, mom and stepdad).  That is is going to be a nicely planned vacation.  We're planning 7 days at the beach, so we need a really nice place to stay.  A hotel spacious enough for everyone but affordable enough for us to make sure we can throw in some fun activities while at the beach like off roading and jet skiing.

Since December is a high season time of year in Costa Rica, prices tend to double for everything from the hotel to the food.  And places also tend to book up fast so that is a vacation we need to book ASAP as time is not our friend.  And because we're traveling as a large group, a lot of hotels offer group rates, which we hope will be beneficial for us if we book early.

So yeah, I am having too much vacation planning for sure.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Hoping For A Major Change

It has finally happened after biding his time patiently.  My hubby has made a step up the career ladder.  For 3.5 years, hubby worked IT at a call center.  Shortly afterwards, he was promoted to supervisor with just a slight increase in pay.  He enjoyed what he did because he liked his co-workers and his work environment but he was not, and has never been, a fan of call center work.

Fast forward to just a few days ago where he tried his luck in applying for a position at one of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in the world at one of their locations here in Costa Rica and he landed the job (effortlessly).   It is a bitter sweet moment for him because, like I said, he liked his job and even better, loved being supervisor which came with a lot of benefits and privileges.  His work environment was also very relaxed and he liked his co-workers and agents.  But he knew it was time to say goodbye.  He can finally leave call center jobs behind and work for a real company.

Now, the position he took is temporary but with the ability to be a permanent one if he proves to be a valuable asset to the company.  I am confident in my hubby's abilities in that matter but the fact that he can finally work for a 'real' company just excited me.  It's not just the fact that it's more money, although that does help.  It's the fact that he has something now on his resume that can be a real boost for him in attaining any job outside of the call center world.

To explain a little about call centers here in Costa Rica, they are considered to be good jobs to have, if you speak English.  They are supposedly well paying positions and they usually tend to hire a lot of people, which is good for the economy.  However, they pay way less than what is required of the position, in my opinion.  Most call center jobs are jobs that have been outsourced.  Since salaries in Costa Rica are significantly less than in the States, call centers can get the same amount of work or more for half the pay.   Not saying call centers are bad, they're not.  They give a lot of people opportunities to make a decent living whereas they might not have been able to otherwise.  But for us, as an expat family, the call center lifestyle was getting a bit old and it was time for a change (physically and financially).

So, lets talk about the money.  Hubby is finally going to be making a decent salary with a stable and reputable company.  Honestly, the pay could be more but I'm thankful it is more than what he makes now.  That in itself will help us tremendously when it comes to our bills and budget.  Another pro of the job is the proximity to our town.  He won't have to deal with as much traffic to and from work anymore. Plus the location where hubby will be placed is literally right behind a mall, which houses his favorite place to go to the movies.  SCORE!

Rumor also has it that working for a real company like this one brings more benefits.  They tend to treat their employees just a little better with a lot more incentive to encourage an efficient work environment. Every one knows happy employees tend to work harder and hard work brings on better productivity.  We shall see if the rumors are true.

Hubby starts his new job and position in a few weeks and I am so excited to see how he likes it and just how much better working for this new company is.  I am hoping for the best and praying he gets offered a permanent position in no time.  But even if his position remains temporary, hubby has a back up plan and I know he will keep moving up the career ladder.