Trading lives: new Costa Rican expat heads to the tropics

As I settle back into life in Las Vegas, some of my very favorite travelers are headed to Costa Rica! Yes, I’m jealous, but I‘m living the dream myself in Las Vegas, so I can’t complain. But I can live vicariously through my friends! One of them, Helen, is gearing up for some serious expat time in Central America. And she was kind enough to write a guest blog for me, including some of her favorite pictures from her previous trip to Costa Rica, the one where she fell in love with like I did. Enjoy!

I stumbled across Abby’s blog at work one day, having just returned from a truly amazing trip to Costa Rica. Well, as Abby returns to the bright lights of Las Vegas I’m leaving my (lovely!) job and heading back to Costa Rica for four months. Here are five reasons why I just had to return:

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Learning Pura Vida in Costa Rica

Nope, Costa Rica is not Puerto Rico, Mexico or an island. And if you go there, prepare yourself for a sloow lifestyle — that you’ll love when cracking open a bottle of Imperial beer but may have to get used to when faced with angry crowds of high-strung tourists. Learning to enjoy the good life as an expat requires some growing pains, but ask my friend Marcelo here, it’s worth it! Costa Rica is amazing! Not sure what I mean about all of this? I tackle some of the misconceptions I uncovered during my year living in Costa Rica as a guest blogger on Nomadic Matt’s site:

Click here! Learning Pura Vida in Costa Rica

When is it time to go home?

Missing out on getting to know my best friends’ fiances got me thinking about the (not-so) dark side of the travel bug. When is it time to go home? Will it still feel like home? And how do you deal with the difficult expat dating scene? Join the discussion at where I contributed a guest post last week.

Read my story here!

My poker-playing, China-living brother checks in

My parents sure raised some adventurous kids! My youngest brother, Steven, lives in Zhongshan, China and recently disappeared from email for weeks; I knew only that he was headed to Macau with some friends. When he finally resurfaced, he sent me a casual email: “Hey, sorry it’s taken me so long to reply. I’ve pretty much been out of town for a month.” A month?! Can you imagine me not near a computer for a month? He and I are nothing alike – although he definitely has the travel bug. When I was his age, I was backpacking through Europe! Also, he told his tale of poker tournaments in the Philippines and an embarrassing sunburn with, if I say so myself, Abby-worthy dramatic flair. And now he’s officially been to one country his big sister hasn’t yet made it to! Hmmph.

My brother’s recap email, in his own words:

Macau was great. I ended up winning a poker tournament to play in the Philippines for a week. There, I won about 7000 dollars, or about 75% of the money I earned all last year teaching in China. Best 20 bucks I ever spent.

Philippines was a lot of fun, and we had free hotel rooms for the tournament. We had three days of elimination rounds, leaving the 450 of us down to 120. We then played for 10 hours and ended that day with only 42 finalists, which meant that everyone there had made at least $2000.

On day three, I started with about 200,000 in chips. I worked it up to about 300,000 with 30 people left. I ended up all in against someone who had about 200,000 in chips. I was a slight favorite to win but lost. Thankfully, I got really lucky, and in about 30 minutes I had more than 250,000 again. About 25 people left now…  All in against someone with 200,000, again a slight favorite, and… lost. This left me with only 50,000, and I was soon out, in 23rd place, making 6,8000 dollars. I was happy to win but disappointed I didn’t win either of those hands. Had I’d won either, I would’ve made the last 10 players, been on TV, and made at least 11,000 dollars with a chance at the grand prize of 270,000 dollars. Maybe next time.

After exploring Manila with some of the younger players from the tournament, Tom and I went to Puerto Gallera, a small island. This did not go as smoothly as our time in Manila. Continue Reading »»