A Successful Campaign

What makes some social campaigns succeed and others fail?  Is it just having someone who is inspirational leading it, or a lot of money supporting it?  None of that hurts, by any means, but the most important aspect is to involve as many different aspects of the community as possible. Why?  Because, the more people and agencies who back a project and feel that is relevant and important, the more people will be informed which increases the rate of success. This support typically includes the Municipality, the Ministry of Health, and other government agencies as well as the private sector including businesses who are both directly affected and interested in the campaign. This also includes involving the education sector and the general public.  When all of these sectors can be brought together to support the cause, then that cause will be more likely to succeed.

The Atenas Swim Campaign is kicking off to a strong start. To see how it is measuring up:

1)      Business Support:  The swim instructors in Atenas were gathered first and they will be presented to the public during the Christmas Fair the weekend of December 16, 17, and 18th.  They are offering the regular classes and vacation swim classes with reduced prices for those children who are being sponsored.

2)      Institutional Support:  The project was presented to the Ministry of Health and then to the Municipality of Atenas.  Even though this is a campaign that obviously will directly benefit the private swim instructors, the focus is on the general security of the public around sources of water and both institutions were completely supportive even giving the Municipal symbol to put on flyers.   The Municipality also said that they would make the swim campaign a priority for the Sports Committee which would provide some funding in the future.   The Ministry of Health feels this is an important initiative and has agreed to have a representative on the Swim Commission which will be formed in January after the holidays.  There is already a specific group in the Ministry of Health formed to use sports in general as a tool to keep kids healthy and out of trouble and this initiative will fall in line with this need and also lower the risk to our children.  Due to this alignment, future funding could even be possible from this collaboration.   

3)      Public Awareness:  Flyers have been created to hand out to the public during the Christmas Fair on December 16, 17, and 18th. These flyers include general information about safety around rivers, the ocean, and pools during the Christmas break and stress the importance of learning to swim.  The flyers contain the Atenas Municipality symbol and the copies were sponsored by Tristan & Newton Real Estate. 

4)      Private sponsorship:  As the general public is being made aware of the need, 120,000 colones have already been donated to sponsor children not able to afford lessons but who wish to learn.  This currently will cover 6 children in a three-week swim program during vacations and we are aiming for the ability to provide a total of 20 children in need with the lessons this January.  To do this, we would need 280,000 colones more (which can be through complete sponsorship of 20,000 colones or shared sponsorship of 10,000) but it is a goal that I am sure we can reach. 

5)      Education:  As soon as the schools are back in session in February, water safety information will be distributed there as well and the Commission will coordinate with the schools to provide presentations about water safety.

The more organizations that support a project ensure that it will be projected out to more of the public and will be better received than with only an individual effort.  Since the swim campaign already has the support of 2 major public institutions, private businesses, and individuals, I have no doubt that this campaign will be an ongoing effort with far-reaching results.

To be a part of the commission and the swim campaign or to sponsor a future swimmer, please contact Tina Newton at tina@tnrealestatecr.com.  Tina Newton and Cecilia Tristan are co-owners of Tristan & Newton Real Estate and proud sponsors of the swim campaign.  They can answer all of your real estate and legal needs.  Check out the website at http://www.tnrealestatecr.com and the Facebook page for listings and more information.


Dengue, to Fear or Not to Fear?

The Scare.  A friend of mine, who is headed back down to Costa Rica, asked me about the dengue situation in Atenas because they had read that the cases in Atenas were sky high.  I was surprised about the question because I’ve only heard of a couple of cases recently.  I’m not sure exactly where my friend read this information, but after searching the internet, I did find an article about dengue in “La Prensa Libre” which publishes online and listed Atenas at the top in Costa Rica (http://www.laprensalibre.cr/Noticias/detalle/81094/atenas-encabeza-cantones-afectados-por-dengue). 

Time to put it all in context.  First, the way this article was reported was incredibly misleading.  Statistics can be used to influence people in many ways.  For the average person, who may not be professionals in economics, these stats without explanation or improperly stated can be alarming (which is probably the intent in the first place).  This specific article states that Atenas leads  with the highest percentage of cases for the first 31 weeks of the year 2016.  It reports that there are 3,134 patients.  But if you read closely, that number is per 100,000 inhabitants.  Since Atenas doesn’t have 100,000 inhabitants, but only around 15,000, the actual number of cases would be closer to 450.  Still terrible, but a truly different number.  Also, the director for the country states that at the beginning of the year, they were getting reports of 1000 cases/week (for the country, not Atenas), but since it was stated right after the statement about Atenas having the most cases, with a quick read, you might think he was talking about Atenas.  And he goes on to state that currently (August), he was at about 100 cases/week for the country.  We are now in November.

Fighting dengue.  Atenas had a large fumigation campaign several months ago.  It was recognized that mosquitos and dengue were a problem and addressed (although probably not totally eliminated).  But people are reading these statistics, now, in November, and are getting scared to come now. 

Dengue transmission.  Dengue and the other mosquito carried diseases are transmitted when one infected mosquito bites another person.  The distance that mosquitos travel is usually not that far (typically no more than 300 feet reported by mosquito.org), so it is the biggest problem between families and people living or working close to each other.  It’s also more common in the lower altitudes where more mosquitos thrive rather than up where it is cooler.

Symptoms of dengue.   Dengue is terrible.  I have seen true cases of dengue where people run high fevers for 5-7  days straight, are in extreme body pain, and break out in rashes with an extreme tiredness that can last for weeks.  Unfortunately, it seems that every time someone here has a fever, immediately it is proclaimed that the person has dengue.  Even if they get better in 48 hours and discount it, they already made the announcement in the community that they had dengue and that is what people remember.  Fact, the regular labs don’t do dengue exams.  Only the Ministry of Health can run a dengue exam which takes 1-2 weeks for the report to come back.  Therefore, no one waits for this report and instead, the doctors request blood exams for platelets counts which can be returned the same day.  The labs check the levels of platelets in the body and if they lower to an extreme amount, it is assumed to be dengue.  Regular viruses will also lower the platelets.  So only after multiple days of platelet testing and counting will a doctor declare that it APPEARS to be dengue.  Treatments for these viruses are the same with lots of liquids, medicine to control the fever, and rest.  Antibiotics do not work as these are viruses, not infections.   

So, what to take from this?  Be careful and a bit suspicious with health reports in unofficial news sources.  You need to check the source, understand the stats, and put it in context.  Atenas does have flair-ups with dengue, so use repellent or long sleeves to help prevent mosquito bites and but don’t give up your life just because of rumors or badly-stated statistics.  

Tina Newton is the co-owner of Tristan & Newton Real Estate and has lived in Atenas for 17 years.  Feel free to contact her at tina@tnrealestatecr.com with any questions, real estate related, or not.  Check out the website for current listings and the Facebook page for updates.  They look forward to helping you find the home of your dreams.  Names to Trust…Homes to Cherish.

What is Your Heat Index?

Coming to Costa Rica is just coming to Costa Rica, right?  Nope.  Costa Rica has many different styles of living and climates.   If you are thinking of coming to Costa Rica, you should visit the country, many parts of it.  You have to determine what is right for you.  Think about what you need in your life to make you happy.  It’s extremely important to look at the positives as well as the negatives so you can make a decision that is right for you.

The Beach!!

dolphin-6Everyone who wants to come to Costa Rica wants to live on the beautiful beaches, but the reality might not be ideal for everyone. Costa Rican beaches are amazing and the views are spectacular, but you have to remember, the beach is HOT.  So, if you are a person who doesn’t appreciate the heat, this area may not be for you.  The disparity in incomes is more obvious as you have the ocean-front mansions next to small, local homes.  This disparity often creates higher crime areas, so home protection is very important.  Also, beach communities are usually more transient with tourists coming and going and the community there to support this business.  beach-shotFinally, the beach areas are remote in the sense that if you have to do paperwork in the capital, you can be 2-6 hours away and healthcare facilities are also further apart.  On my recent visit to Guanacaste, I was surprised that as much as this area has grown, you may have to drive quite a distance to get to the gas station or a major supermarket.  Sounds discouraging, but if you really love the beach and all it has to offer, then this is for you.  There are some truly spectacular beaches and being immersed in nature is still possible.  On the other hand, if you like easy convenience and a real community feel, then check out some other options.  



Okay, so if you aren’t into the heat and prefer the cooler weather, Costa Rica has that as well. Heading up in altitude will cool you down.  The areas of Monteverde, Tilaran, and Poas in the north or Dota, San Isidro, and San Vito in the south are higher in altitudes where the quetzals fly.  The weather tends to be cooler with more rain.   I’ve often gone during a crisp day, thinking “THIS is my weather.”  But then I remember that with the rain comes a lot of cloudy days and chilly nights and I get chilled easily. 20160110_113026 (Copy) However, for someone who loves to cuddle up around a fireplace in a sweater after a beautiful sunny day, it’s perfect and, again, Costa Rica is small, so a trip down the mountain will warm you right up.  The community aspect also tends to be stronger than in the beach areas because people live there year-round.   Again, you have to decide for good and for bad, what you enjoy.

Major City

Convenience!  00q0q_1zsbcd5nfal_600x450Yes, everything from malls to fast food to great medical care.  Oops, and the traffic that big city life brings.  Security also becomes of primary importance.   If you like everything right around you and the action of it all, then city life is for you.  If it seems stressful and overwhelming, look somewhere else. 


Small Town

20160229_083028If you are looking for the welcoming community feel with an immersion into the culture, small towns are the places to look.  These are places where people have lived all of their lives and know everyone, and everything, that everyone does.  Remote?  Some are, and some could be as close at 15 minutes to the big city. You can even combine a small town up in the mountains outside of Heredia which gives you easy access to the city without living directly in it or a central town like Atenas that is 45 minutes to the center of San Jose and an hour to the closest beach for vacations.  20160906_092856.jpgOkay, I’m a small town girl, so you might see my preference, but small town life is not for everyone.  Some people need more action or to be on the beachfront or completely isolated.  That is not for me to decide, that is up to you.  But it is important to know that about yourself and check out these different areas before you make a permanent decision.  You don’t want to invest a lot of money in one environment, just to find out that in 6 months, this was a bad decision for you.

We, at Tristan & Newton Real Estate never want to push you into anything that isn’t right for you.  “Names to Trust…Homes to Cherish” is our motto.  We are happy when we find that perfect home for you and helping you determine the right home is part of the job.  We have fabulous homes all over the country and we work with other real estate agents to find the right home for you if we don’t have it listed ourselves.   Feel free to contact Tina at tina@tnrealestatecr.com for any questions about living in Costa Rica and check the website and Facebook pages for more information.cecilia-y-tina


Security Tips for your Home

Living behind bars is something that few people want to do.  The fact is that someone who really wants to get into your home can do it.  However, the majority of thieves are going to look for “easy” targets, places that have valuable items and require little work or risk.  If someone wants to take a lot of risk, they will probably be looking to break into a bank, not your home.  Therefore, there are several options to making your home more safe and allowing you to sleep in peace.

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1)      Bars on the windows.  No one likes them, but they do provide a high level of security.  It makes it very difficult to get in.  There are also removable bars available which if removed, trigger an alarm.  Unfortunately, they still look like bars, but they don’t prevent someone from getting out in case of an emergency. 

2)      Properly placed plants.  If bars on the windows are too much for you, spiky plants placed under windows can be a great deterrent.  It might not stop someone prepared for it, but for someone looking for a quick and easy entry, it would make someone think twice.

3)      Alarms.  Many types of alarms exist along with different levels of sensitivity.  Everyone hates when an alarm continues to go off for no reason, but not only will it usually scare off burglars, but it will wake you and your neighbors up.  The importance is to have it adjusted to the level you want and mainly have it for windows and doors.  Motion sensors are great, but it’s true that random animals will set them off all of the time.

20160608_070135 (Copy)4)      Cameras.  Cameras may not stop someone breaking in, but they can catch them afterwards and is a big deterrent.

5)      Signs.  Even just the signs that state you have cameras or alarms can be deterrents.  Does someone really want to test and see if they are true?  Just the possibility that you have alarms or cameras can make someone move on to another location.  Guard dog signs can even make someone think twice.

6)      Lights.  Making your property well lit outside can deter thieves.  In addition, leaving lights on inside so that thieves think someone is awake can be a good idea too, especially if you aren’t going to be home.  Basic timers can be found in hardware stores so that you can set lights to come on at certain hours.  Motion sensors on exterior lights are great and not as annoying as an alarm going off.

7)      Stop posting your vacations on Facebook.  It’s important to let a few close people know so they can keep an eye on your house, but as great as it is to post when you are leaving and returning, thieves LOVE this even more.  “Leaving for New York for a week” means they know they have a week to get in and get out.

8)      Leave someone in charge of your home, to house sit or at minimum check in on your home and pick up the mail or notices left in your gate. 

9)      Make sure all workers (gardeners, maids, etc) are fully trustworthy.  Anyone with a key to your home can be an asset or a direct ticket into your home for a thief.

10) cropped-20160229_083028.jpg  Lock your doors and windows.  This sounds obvious, but it’s amazing how many thieves enter through open doors or windows. 

11)   Be aware and report strange vehicles slowly patrolling your neighborhood or people looking suspicious.  Police may not be able to do anything if they can’t catch the burglars in the act, but being reported may make them move on and provides a suspect as well if anything happens later.

12)   Have a secure room where you can lock away your valuables if you are going to be gone.  Also, don’t leave expensive items out in general areas of your home.  Laptops left in the living room or right inside a window are easy targets as thieves can “grab and go” often without fully entering the house. 

13)   Backup computers.  It stinks to get a computer stolen but usually it’s the information and work that is much more valuable than the physical computer itself.

14)   Keep lists of identifying features of valuable items or even photos so they can be identified in case the items are located and also for insurance purposes.

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There are many more, but these are some of the things that we all know, but should be reminded of once in a while.  No one should live paranoid but making basic precautions can help keep you from being a target.   Please feel free to add additional tips as comments!

Contact Tina by  email or on the Facebook page or check out the listings on the Website.