What’s New (or Old)?

As they say, time flies when you’re having fun.  We are so sorry that it has been more than two months since our last post!  (As if you were holding your breath, ha ha!)  Anyway, we wanted to let you know what’s been happening with us here in paradise!

It was a great beginning to the new year with a fabulous New Year’s Eve celebration at Toni & Gib’s, who are the ultimate party hosts.  If you are lucky enough to go to a party at their place, you can be sure that it will be nothing but TOP NOTCH.

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New Year’s Eve with friends

Soon thereafter, came another celebration… Ellen’s birthday!  The amazing Toni & Gib did it again by putting on a great party with a birthday cake and all.  Paul and Eugenio, our resident plant experts, gave Ellen a beautiful Desert Rose, Adenium obesum for her birthday.  Ellen was also treated to a birthday cake from our friends at Los Chorros in Tinamaste.

A few projects at the property have been completed recently.  One had to do with our septic system.  The house waste lines are separated into black and gray water, but both were going into the same leach field, which was not adequate in size.  So, a new drainage field (actually pit is a better descriptor) was created for the gray water system.

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It has been just over two years since the construction of our house was finished and we anticipated that we would have a flood of family and friends coming to visit us.  Well, for one reason or another, that hasn’t exactly happened yet.  So, it was exciting news when Eddie got an email from his college buddy’s sister, Jane, saying that she and Jeff were in Costa Rica vacationing and wanted to stop over for a visit.  Jane and Jeff are planning to make the move to Costa Rica within the year, so we had lots to talk about.

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Ellen’s has become extremely talented at making beaded jewelry.  Her work is so beautiful and amazing.  Of course, she couldn’t have come this far without the expert direction from Rusty the cat (LOL)!

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It’s amazing what a talented cat can do!

The “pot man” (no not that kind) comes to our area every 3 or 4 months and sells beautifully decorated ceramic pots from his truck.  He goes to a small village in Mexico where they are made and buys a container load of pots to ship back to Costa Rica.  Recently, Ellen found some great ones for our entryway and pool area.

A few weeks ago, our good friend Susie had a birthday.  We joined her and our mutual friends, Joanne and Buck, for a sunset champagne toast on the beach before a nice dinner at Por Que No Restaurante.  The sunset was awesome!

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Some of Eddie’s photos on canvas give a wow factor to our living space

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Another project that finally got finished.  Eddie cut, sanded and varnished the two teak tree trunks to make the base for this onyx/quartz tabletop that we purchased over a year ago.

Eddie enjoys brewing his own beer and wanted to share some of his brews with our friends, so we decided to invite everyone up for an afternoon party.  He had three different ales for everyone to try… a nut brown ale, a spiced winter ale and a wheat beer.  In addition, there were some Costa Rican craft beers for everyone to try and compare.  The favorite of most people was the nut brown ale.  Of course, Eddie has plans to make that one again!

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A man and his loyal dog taking in the beautiful view!

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Kids Christmas Party

On December 17, several of us up on our hill put on the second annual Christmas party for some of the local children in town.  Toni & Gib hosted the event again this year.  It was smashing success!  Everyone had a wonderful time.

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Toni & Liz slaving away in preparation for the party.  Thousands of cup cakes and cookies had to be made and decorated!

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Yummy-yummy…what a sugar high!

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There were creative activities for the kids, including decorating their goodie bags with stickers and magic markers, and sewing felt stockings together.

A piñata stuffed with candy and treats was a big “hit” with the kids.  The contents sprayed across the lawn, but was picked up by all within seconds.

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Gib created his magical snow village which fascinated everyone.

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Santa (aka Gib) made a special appearance and heard everyone’s Christmas wishes

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Santa’s elves gave out more candy and party favors to each of the kids as they left.  Ellen made special Rudolph candy cane ornaments for everyone too.

We were all exhausted at the end of the day, but planning for next year’s party is already underway.

 

Nate Delivers a Blow to Costa Rica

Tropical Storm Nate created havoc in many parts of Costa Rica on October 4th and 5th.  Strong winds swept across the land knocking over trees.  Torrential rains plummeted the country.  There was major flooding causing landslides, taking out roads, bridges and houses.  Many homes and business were flooded.  In some areas power was out for several days. The Southern Zone, where we live, was hit especially hard.  The damage was catastrophic!  Raging rivers overflowed their banks taking whatever was in their path with them.  Our neighbor Gib recorded we had 26 inches of rain in 24 hours!

In the throes of the storm, I was returning to Costa Rica from the States.  My flight was scheduled to land in San Jose in the early evening of October 4th.  Well, that didn’t happen; the pilot made one attempt and aborted the landing.  He wasn’t a particularly communicative pilot, so we really didn’t know what was going on except that bad weather had closed the airport.  My flight was diverted to Managua, Nicaragua, where we had to spend the night!  That was an adventure, for sure. Fortunately, I met some very nice people, particularly three ladies who were also traveling alone.  We ended up sticking together.  It’s always fun to make new friends!

On the morning of October 5th, my flight landed in San Jose during very heavy rains.  Eddie was waiting for me at the airport.  He had stayed overnight at our favorite B & B in La Garita, which is about a 10 minute drive from the airport.  He informed me that we were going to have to stay at Margarita’s because all the roads to the beach were closed due to damage from the storm.  Well, we ended up having to stay at Margarita’s until Saturday morning, October 8th!  Thank goodness for our neighbors, Toni and Gib.  They took care of our cat, Rusty and our little dog, Olivia and checked on our house until we could get home.

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Celebrating Eddie’s 60th birthday at a little Italian place in La Garita

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A huge boulder fell on the Caldera (toll road) which is our usual route home

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The Caldera had to be closed so that the boulder could be dynamited

The Tarcoles Bridge, also known as the crocodile bridge, was closed during the height of the storm due to high winds and water level.  We heard the river rose to about four feet below the bridge.  The photo to the right was taken during the dry season; the people on the bridge are looking at the huge crocodiles swimming below.  I took the photo on the left from the truck when we were driving back home (same side of the bridge).  You could see the debris…showing how much the river overflowed its banks.  Unbelievable!  The town of Tarcoles had flooding and we heard that many residents were afraid that the crocodiles would be swimming into their houses, so they spent the night in the trees.  Not sure if that was true or not, but those crocodiles are dangerous.  A few years ago, a drunk guy went swimming in the river and was mauled alive by the crocodiles.  It was all caught on film and the news showed it over and over.  A couple of days later, the head was found on a beach and that was all that was left of that man.  We saw the head recovery on T.V. and it was quite graphic…no censorship here!

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The Costanera (the coastal highway) was washed away about 8 miles north of Parrita

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A temporary fix was completed on the washed out section of the Costanera and the road opened Saturday morning

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The Costanera, just south of Parrita.  Believe it or not, there is a road under all this water! 

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In this same area, a semi-truck driver thought he could make it; we watched it being swept across the road by the raging water on the news when we were staying at Margarita’s

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The MaxiPali in Quepos, which is about 30 miles north of us. We shop there quite a bit.

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We had one landslide on our mountain road

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The little slide on our driveway. Fortunately, the water didn’t divert into the house this time!

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Checking out the damage on our favorite beach five days after the storm

 

The photos above are of Dominical beach.  The two on top are where the Baru River mouth is located.  Several people’s homes where swept away.

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 A bridge on the main mountain road to San Isidro de General was destroyed

Further south (about an hour and a half drive), the areas around Palmar Sur and Sierrpe were devastated.  A couple hundred homes were completely flooded and families lost everything. Community support (locals and expats together) in surrounding areas have banded together to bring aid to these families.  Within two weeks, volunteers have cleaned up the water damage and mud in most of the homes.  The families have been given food, new bedding, cook tops, dishes, linens, clothing and other essentials to start them over.  The volunteer coordinators of the TS Nate Relief Effort are truly amazing!

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Rusty and Olivia like to cuddle up

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Rusty watching the monkeys in the trees

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This group of white-faced monkeys are very shy.  They keep their distance.

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After the wrath of TS Nate, we enjoyed a pretty sunset.

Chillaxing by the Pool

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There has been some very nice weather here lately in Costa Rica’s Southern Zone giving opportunity to enjoy the outdoors, the views and to just chillax by the pool.  Even Wylder, Rusty and Olivia take time for some sunbathing in the morning.  As we are now in the rainy season, mornings are not to waste as many afternoons and/or evenings are rainy.

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A beautiful day!

We all know that for ultimate chillaxation, a good, cold beer goes a long way.  However, Costa Rica is in its beer infancy, so to speak, with Imperial, Pilsen and several other national brews dominating the store shelves.  Craft beers and brewpubs have recently started making their way onto the scene, but it’s just a drop in the bucket compared to the U.S.  So, I have got my butt in gear and started to make my own brew again.

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Bottles are being sanitized for bottling of the first batch of beer.

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Bottling of a batch of Nut Brown Ale is underway.

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Filled bottles are capped.

This first batch should be ready to try around Labor Day, just in time for some more chillaxing by the pool!

Some comfortable cushions are always nice to have when you want to sit on the edge of the pool and get your feet wet!  So, Ellen decided she would make her own with some outdoor fabric she brought in from the States.

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Sewing up the cushion covers

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Here are the cushions with foam inserts ready to have the final seam sewn.

As you know, we grow our own bananas on our property and we recently found this oddity.  A set of conjoined bananas…not sure if they were identical twins though.  This was a first for us!

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….like two bananas in a peel!  They tasted great.

Bananas, Tile and Turtles, Oh My!

The year before we started the construction of our house, we took the opportunity to do some basic landscaping on our lot.  We (really our workers) planted a bamboo hedge along the driveway, a few ornamental plants and a lot of trees — mostly fruit trees, including bananas.  Fast forward a couple of years and now we have bananas coming out of our ears!  Don’t get me wrong…we like bananas and so it’s not a bad problem to have.  Apparently, we have a great spot for growing bananas because the trees really thrive and produce some of the best bananas on the planet.  We make banana bread, banana pancakes, banana cookies, and put bananas in our daily fruit smoothie.  We have given away a ton of bananas to friends, neighbors and even strangers that we meet just walking down the street.  Everyone says our bananas are amazing.  We are lucky!

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Some of the banana trees on our property

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This rack still has a long way to go before it is ready to harvest.

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Unfortunately, it is typical for the whole rack to ripen all at once.  We are drowning in bananas!

In an effort to add some color and beautify the open stairway next to the kitchen, we decided that adding some ceramic tile would do the trick.  We had in mind to use some colorful Mexican tile, but finding that in Costa Rica would be extremely difficult, if not impossible.  So, we got on the computer to search for Mexican tile and found a great online retailer of ceramic tile in San Diego (Tierra Y Fuego).  We had our order shipped to Florida, where the warehouse for ‘Get It Here Jerry‘ is located.  Jerry and Lowell Thomas provide a great service to those living here in the Southern Zone with their freight consolidation business.  Several weeks later, we were able to pick up our order of tile from Jerry in Uvita.

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The wall is ready for the tile to be laid down

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Eddie is applying the grout

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The final result!

One of our favorite things to do is to go walking on the beach.  When the tide is right (near low) we will head down to the beach with the dogs for a nice walk in the early morning.  Usually we are the only ones there at that hour.  Olivia and Wylder love to run around and chase the birds and the little crabs that burrow in the sand.  On our beach walk this morning we had a special surprise.  We saw a group of about 30 newly hatched turtles frantically scurrying from their nest towards the relative safety of the ocean.  Since it was low tide, it was a long way to the ocean!  Beginning now through the next several months is the nesting season for the Olive Ridley sea turtle.  Females return to the same beach where they were hatched to lay their eggs in the sand.  We watched and assisted as needed to make sure all of the hatchlings made it to the water.  Even the dogs helped out by chasing away several hawks nearby that would have certainly snatched up some of the baby turtles if we had not been there.  It was quite a sight to see and we felt like we did a good service to help the baby turtles survive.  We happened to be in the right place at the right time.

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Keeping Busy

It’s been a while since we have posted an update…not sure where the time goes!  We spend a lot of time hiking on our hill, walking on the beach, chilling out by the pool and enjoying our fabulous view.  Our projects and hobbies keep us pretty busy, too.

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The carport is still a work in progress. Getting things organized is taking some time. Eddie built closets to house his tools and supplies.  He needed more shelves for the one closet and decided to make a removable unit.  He welded together the frame and used treated wood for the shelves.  I helped with the painting.  This project took quite a while.  The oil based primer took several days to dry.  Everything needed two coats of primer and then two coats of paint.

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Another time consuming project…an enclosure to protect (and hide) the propane tanks. I think that Eddie really likes to weld.  He keeps thinking up projects where he can do it!  The wooden front is removable; it just pulls off for easy access to the tanks.  Not sure how Eddie managed it, but the enclosure has the same finished texture as the outside of the house.  Very impressive!

When I’m not cleaning or reading a book, I’m making beaded macrame jewelry.  Recently my friend Liz sent me a photo of a gorgeous beaded rope bracelet that she saw in the Portland Museum gift shop.  I could tell that it was much thicker than the macrame rope bracelet that I have been making and I was determined to figure out how to make one. After a bit of research online, it was quite a surprise to find out that the bracelet was crocheted!  It took hours and hours of  watching several YouTube tutorials, taking notes, ripping out my work and starting over to FINALLY figure it out!  It’s a challenge to get it started, but after a couple of rows, it becomes easier.  I’m currently working on my second one, which is shown in the photo.  It will be fun to create new patterns and finish them in different ways.

 

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Rusty is never too far away when we are working on something.  He is a good supervisor!

As we have mentioned before, the torrential rains can cause a lot of problems.  Drainage of the rain water from the properties and road above us were eroding parts of our driveway.  When we had our driveway regraded, we had the backhoe guy add some boulders to help slow down the water that cascades into our gutter.  Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough, so Eddie built a little wall using concrete and river rock.  So far, it has worked, but the true test will be in October, which is typically when we have the most rain.

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Time for a little treat!  Olivia (little white and black dog) doesn’t like to take her Nexgard, so Eddie has to bribe her with some cheese.  Of course, everyone has to have a little bit, even Rusty.

One of Rusty’s favorite spots to relax.          Wylder likes to watch out for critters.

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Olivia spotted this huge crab and alerted me before I stepped on it.  I didn’t even see it until it went into attack mode.  We talked about eating him for lunch, but he disappeared as quickly as he appeared.  This is the first time we have seen a crab like this one.  (Eddie took the photo.)

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Every morning we eat breakfast on the patio – rain or shine!

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Checking up on the fruit trees on the upper part of our lot.

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A rain storm coming in from over the ocean.

 

Thunder and Lightning

The rains have arrived!  So far in May we have recorded 30 inches of rain.  Lately we have had several thunder and lightning storms.  The one the other night seemed to be right over us.  The thunder was deafening!  We have lost power and Internet several times this past week.  About two weeks ago, it was raining pretty hard in the evening.  Eddie heard a loud reverberating thud and went outside to investigate.  He discovered that part of a tree had fallen, but it was too dark to investigate further.  The next morning, we found that a large tree had split in half.

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Rusty is checking out the damage.

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Unfortunately, the tree was too damaged to save and we had to hire the tree climber to cut it down.  It’s such a shame as the monkeys really like the fruit from this tree.  Fortunately, the monkeys stopped by the day before the tree was cut down, so they were able to eat a fair amount of the fruit.

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The upside is that our view of the mountains has improved.

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Approximately a year and a half ago we noticed a few papaya trees growing where our builder’s workers had their temporary kitchen.  The other day, we noticed that a papaya was ripe and ready to eat.  The interesting thing is that the papaya is round unlike the rest of the papaya we have seen in Costa Rica.  It tastes slightly different, too.  Eddie asked our gardeners if this type of papaya was rare as we haven’t seen it in the farmer’s markets or grocery stores.  They told him that it was a common type found in the fincas (countryside).  So, Eddie did a little bit of research and discovered that the University of Costa Rica developed the kind of papaya that we see in the stores.

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Last week, we took Rusty to our veterinarian in Quepos (a 30 minute ride) for his annual check-up, which included two vaccines.  Rusty isn’t particularly fond of riding in the truck and it helps to have Wylder along.  This time, Rusty didn’t meow his elongated meow all the way there!  But, as you can see in the photo, Rusty was not thrilled.

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We were pleased to find out that Rusty has lost two pounds!  He is now close to his target weight, which should be around 11 or 12 pounds.  It was lunch time when we finished with the vet appointment and we decided to stop by a little café called the Brooklyn Bakery.  (They have the best bagels and sourdough bread.  Both of which we buy on a regular basis.)  It was Rusty’s first experience in an eatery and he wasn’t quite sure what to make of it.  He hid under the chair most of the time.

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By the time we returned home, poor Rusty was rather traumatized.  It took him a few days to recover from the vaccines!

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Olivia, Rusty and Wyler all get along quite well.  We have so much fun watching them play and relax together.  They are just too cute!  We can’t help but to take a lot of photos of them.

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Eddie has been working on welding another set of doors for the closet in the carport.  This set are sliding doors.  The projects around the house seem to be never ending.  There is always something to do!

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