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The Fruit Capital of Costa Rica

Last weekend, I went on a new “exploration” trip in Costa Rica to discover new areas that I didn’t know before.

I went all the way to the beach resort of Jaco, taking the road to the Pacific. But the real purpose of my trip was the town of Orotina, which has been called the “fruit capital of Costa Rica.”

I needed to see it for my own eyes!

Unfortunately, I missed the farmer’s market by a few hours, but got to taste some of the delicious fruits on sale there.Things like:

Cashew Fruit — One of my favorite. It’s the fruit from the cashew nut. The fruit has a delicious, refreshing juice and a unique flavor. As I’m writing this, the amazing smell of cashew fruit is all over the room. It’s wonderful!

Star Apple — Called “caimito” in Spanish, it has the rare quality of being purple/blue inside, but delicious and sweet, with a wonderful aroma.

Soursop — called “Guanábana” in Spanish, this is one of my favorite. We bought 4 huge fruits! The white flesh is a bit acidic, but also sweet and delicious, and it has one of the best flavors of all fruits. I like it blended, as a pudding.

At the farmer’s market in Alajuela, I also got some of the best mangoes I’ve tasted this year, “sweet” lemons, delicious papayas, and more. I also bought a breadfruit for 30 cents!

If you ever come to Costa Rica, I encourage you to make the trip to Orotina. The farmer’s market is on Friday morning.

Answering Your Questions About Moving to a Tropical Paradise

What Is Holding You Back?

Are you worried about hurricanes? If so, make sure you choose a place below the hurricane belt, such as Costa Rica.

Do you seek a place that is family friendly? If so, go to family-oriented places such as Bali and Costa Rica.

Do you need long-term residency? I think that most people who are thinking about relocating to a tropical paradise are over evaluating the importance of acquiring residency.

In most cases, you DON’T want to become a resident of the new country. Residency only becomes important if you’re thinking about a long-term move, and you’ll only make that decision once you spend a significant amount of time in the country.

That being said, some countries make it easier than others to acquire a resident status, especially for those considering retiring in these countries.Panama is an example.

Health Care — If accessibility to modern hospital facilities is important to you, then find the right country for this, and more importantly, relocate in the RIGHT area of the country.

For example, in Costa Rica, you probably want to be near the central valley to access the best hospitals of the country. I personally live a few hours away from the capital, but there’s a central hospital nearby in case of an emergency.

In general, in countries like Costa Rica, Panama and Thailand, health care is much more advanced than you imagine. For example: Costa Rica has a lower infant mortality than the United States.

You can get a high-quality insurance to cover any possible emergency at a fairly low-cost, compared to what you would pay in the USA.And if you need dental care, you can get it in those countries at about 50% of the price you would pay back home, and get the same high-quality service.

Language: The ability to communicate is important. A lot of people are not comfortable with the idea of learning a new language, or learning a complicated language. If that’s your case, don’t relocate in an area where the language is very hard to learn, such as Thailand. Instead, stick with Spanish speaking areas, or consider English-speaking countries such as Belize.

Alternatively, you can locate in an Spanish-speaking country where you’ll find a lot of English speakers and expats, such as the Central Valley of Costa Rica, or Panama City.

Poverty. How comfortable are you with poverty around you? If you are more of a “pioneer” spirit, you could relocate to a place like Nicaragua for much less money than you’d spend in more affluent places. But if you don’t like the sight of poverty, then stick to affluent places like Costa Rica or even Panama.

Granted, the standard of living is not the same as in America, but you won’t see beggars in Costa Rica — nothing like Nicaragua. Costa Rica is an affluent country for Central America.In a big country like Brazil, poverty is generally centralized to the suburbs or “favelas” of the city. As soon as you leave these places, you’ll find the country to be generally very affluent and poverty-free.

Bugs — Do you hate bugs as much as I do? Then do yourself a favor: choose a place in the city, or with some elevation. If you’re right at sea level near the beach, you’re more likely to encounter mosquitoes and bugs. If you live a bit above sea level, you’re more likely to be mosquito-free.

Local Feelings Towards Foreigners. How do people perceive Americans and other nations? This tends to vary a lot from country to country. In Costa Rica, although North Americans are affectionately called “gringos”, the locals definitely enjoy our presence and harbor no negative feelings towards us. In fact, they welcome us with open arms!In French Polynesia, the Tahitians tend to resent the French. That was not to my advantage because I spoke French, so they thought I was French.

Of course, this is for historical reasons and is not a generalized feeling, but a tendency in the culture.I would say that all of the stereotypes of “American-hating” nations are not true.Even the French, who are supposed to be rude and hate Americans, are generally very friendly with Americans, or other nations.

Here’s what happens: you have the typical “ugly” American who travels abroad. Picture a loud guy from New York, who travels for the first time to Europe.He doesn’t bother to learn “please” and “thank you” in the local language, and talks to everyone very fast in heavily accented New York English and expects and DEMANDS to be understood. He doesn’t want to learn something from the local culture… in fact he looks down upon it.So in other words, you’ve got your stereotyped American traveling abroad.

The same guy will come back home and tell everyone that “Europeans are rude and hate Americans”.So I think you can start to get an idea where the idea comes from.

Crime — A lot of people are concerned with crime in foreign countries. This is certainly a genuine concern. Certain areas of the world are dangerous. And also, certain areas of a particular country can be dangerous.

For example, let me tell you about my trip to Brazil.I started getting anxious before leaving because everyone was telling me how dangerous Brazil is. They talked about all the murders in the city, and that I shouldn’t go to visit.And in fact, they are right. Some areas of the big cities like Rio de Janeiro can be quite rough.

But did I go there?

I travelled all over the country and found it to be perfectly safe. But I didn’t not go hang out at night in a “favela” to see what would happen.Some areas of the USA can be quite dangerous. But does it mean that traveling to the USA is dangerous?

Certain countries as a whole are safer than others.

Costa Rica is safer than Guatemala, or Mexico — for example.But it also depends where you travel in those countries. San Jose, in Costa Rica, is more dangerous than a rural town in Mexico.

Safety is very relative, but bottom line is you can travel very safely if you stick to safe areas and countries.

How to Move to a Tropical Paradise

Frederic Patenaude
Frederic Patenaude
Frederic Patenaude has been an important influence in the raw food and natural health movement since he started writing and publishing in 1998, first by being the editor of Just Eat an Apple magazine. He is the author of over 20 books, including The Raw Secrets, the Sunfood Cuisine and Raw Food Controversies. Since 2013 he’s been the Editor-in-Chief of Renegade Health.

Frederic loves to relentlessly debunk nutritional myths. He advocates a low-fat, plant-based diet and has had over 10 years of experience with raw vegan diets. He lives in Montreal, Canada.