Only in Atenas, Costa Rica

Years ago, I mentioned to someone that I should write a book on all of the things that happen “only in Atenas”. This is a very special town that I call home and although it boasts the claim of the “Best Weather in the World”, I feel it has the Best People in the World.  These are just a few of my stories.

One day I was walking by the BCR bank in Atenas, when I saw an elderly gentleman come out of the bank and a gust of wind caught him by surprise.  Money went flying in every direction.  It was like a cloud of colones (the local currency) being thrown around.  People came rushing in every direction and I stopped to see what would happen.  They all gathered up the money and gave it back to the old man, even crawling under cars to make sure the last bill had been collected.  I’m pretty sure that in many places, people would have been pocketing that money but not here.  Only in Atenas.

When my daughter was just a baby of 2 or maybe 3 months old, I was walking in the neighborhood where we lived.  I slipped on the gravel in the road and fell with her in my arms.  I had no more hit the ground, when four neighbors came out to check on us.  Not speaking a word of Spanish at that time, they confirmed that we were okay and one of the ladies brought out honey and started smearing it all over my daughter’s forehead where she (luckily) had only barely touched the ground, with my elbow having received the majority of the impact. I had no idea that honey has both antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties, but I knew it wasn’t going to hurt her.  When it was explained to me later, I was impressed and so touched by the care that these people had given to a perfect stranger.  Only in Atenas.

Now, I have been here many years and I am always surprised and happy that it can take me 20 minutes to cross 3 blocks because of all of the people who come out to greet me and see how everything is going.  Only in Atenas.

We put together an Angel Tree project (now in its 12th year) and it quickly grew to over 300 needy children receiving gifts each year.  The expats who live here are a strong base, but it always impresses me that the locals who give gifts make up half of the donors and they will start asking me when the angel tree will go up so they can go and pick out the child that they will sponsor.  People are so giving and they told me that they enjoy the project and are just happy to know that it is a project they can trust in to go to those in need.  Only in Atenas.

We had a visiting group from the United States recently and the director of the group left a tablet in the plaza where the basketball courts are.  When they called me 30 minutes later to have me go and look for it, I knew they were crazy.  There was no way I would find the tablet still sitting there.  But I went back to look.  Of course not.  No tablet to be found anywhere.  I informed the director and he was sad, but knew it was his fault for forgetting it.  That same evening, he was contacted by Facebook by the man who cleans the plaza and asked him if he had lost his tablet.  The man had been trying to find him and finally asked his daughter to look him up (the name was on the inside of the cover) and see if they could return it to its rightful owner.  It still wants to make me cry.  Only in Atenas.

For each of these stories, I have a hundred more.  Of course, there are some other towns which I am sure would do the same things, but for us, each time we experience this, we just shake our heads and say…only in Atenas.

Tina Newton has been a resident of Atenas, Costa Rica for more than 17 years now and is owner of Tristan & Newton Real Estate with her business partner, Cecilia Tristan.  They are both always open to answering any questions about living or visiting Costa Rica. Feel free to add your own wonderful experiences.  Visit their website ,  Facebook page , or send an email with any questions you might have.




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