Infrastructure: Education, Transport, Health Care, Utilities, etc.
Schools. There are several public schools in our district. The largest and closest to us is just a few blocks from our Sustainability Center. There is no cost to attend and foreigners can enroll their children. The school cycle starts in February and they have strict age guidelines.
In addition, there are two bilingual (English-Spanish) in the nearby town of Santa Elena/Monteverde. It goes from pre-K to 12th grade and they even administer the SAT and do college prep courses.
Medical Care. If you become a resident, you will have the opportunity to belong to the public health system and pay a small sum monthly for free meds, labs, tests and doctor’s visits. The sum may be higher if you report a high income. It gets calculated on the basis of your income. My son and I pay about $50 per month. The doctors and nurses come to Guacimal a few times a week. If people need emergency care, they can travel 20 mins up to Monteverde and go to the free clinic or go to a private clinic where they speak English and are open 24 hrs, mostly catering to the foreigners. This is not free, but it is inexpensive compared to the USA. For instance, when I lived in Monteverde, and before I transferred to the public health care system, I called this clinic in the middle of the night as I though my son had appendicitis and did not want to move him. The doctor came and drew blood for tests, and examined him for $50 USD. I was greatly relieved! This was 10 years ago, but I don’t think it has gone up that much. Some times the wait times for free care can be very long. You have to learn to navigate the system, so you may choose to pay for an occasional test out of pocket to expedite the care you need, but even then, it is soooo much cheaper and easier than in the US.
Telecommunications. We have relatively fast internet at the Center now via a special antenna. Most people use internet from their phone and do a hotspot or they obtain a modem and set it up at home to give wifi to several computers. There are landlines available in most places around our area and cellular phone service via Kolbi, the carrier with best coverage here.
There is actually fiber optic running under our main road, but ICE, the Costa Rican phone company won’t invest in making available until there are enough of us who are willing to pay the price for it. But this is always a latent possibility.
WATER. We have EXCELLENT spring water! Costa Rica supplies a third of its water, specially in the rural areas, via all-volunteer non-profit organizations called ASADAS who administer the water distribution. These ASADAS fall under the jurisdiction of the overarching water distribution organization called the AYA. The ASADAS capture water either from wells or springs and set up a water distribution system. People pay for the water they consume very much in the same way as in the US. You get a bill online and can also be scheduled for automated payments online. Some farms also have their own springs and can use this water or use the city water from the ASADAS or both. A typical water bill for a household of three could be around $10-$20 USD per month.
ELECTRICITY. In our area, we get our electricity from ICE, the Costa Rican electric company. We are trying to get solar panels, but have not done it yet. A typical household of three pays about $40 USD per month.
TRASH COLLECTION. The township association has taken it upon themselves to establish a trash collection route. The community members enroll voluntarily in this effort to keep our town clean and it all works out! We pay $6 per month and the trash gets collected every Monday. We recycle, but most people don’t. This is something that we can work towards.
PUBLIC TRANSPORT. Buses run to and from San Jose/Alajuela Airport to Monteverde and Puntarenas passing by both main access highways (routes 605 and 606) twice daily. There are also collective shuttles to various locations throughout the country.
COMMUNITY ASSOCIATIONS. A group of families from neighboring communities have formed what we called COMUNIDADES. It stands for Comunidades Unidas para un Desarrollo Ecologico y Sustentable, which translates into United Communities for a Sustainable and Ecological Development. It is a non-profit association and anyone can belong to it. We are mostly organizing to produce our own organic food and to support one another to promote well-being in general.
Rios Libres was born as a community-wide movement to save the Veracruz River from being dried up. Now it we have a group chat that keeps us connected and keeps active in case of any other threat to our natural resources. It is also a way to disseminate useful information about what goes on here and elsewhere in the world.
La Feria de Guacimal. This is our Saturday market where much more than fruits and veggies are offered… there is free typical live music and lots of great food cooked over open-fires. Right now it is on-hold until the COVID19 threat passes and the government lifts the bans on social events/eateries.
RutaCom- Community trading route. We trade goods and services in our area and the route extends all the way to Isla Caballo in the Gulf of Nicoya. Trading allows people to improve their lives by allowing access to food, necessary items and services that perhaps could not be accessed if they had to be purchased with money.