Pizotes, Parties, Pies and Other Things…

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The pizote (aka white-nosed coati) is a mammal similar to a racoon that is common in  Central America. We often see them on our mountain, running across the road or climbing up a tree to grab some fruit.  Given the opportunity, both Olivia and Wylder, will chase the pizotes.  They look cute, but their sharp claws can be dangerous to dogs that venture too close.  Recently, Wylder got reminded of this when she ran after a pizote that was in our papaya tree and got a big gash on her nose.  It was decided that stitches were in order, so we took her to the vet in Quepos where she got four stitches and some antibiotics.  This was the second time Wylder got a cut on her nose from a pizote, so it seems she can’t resist the chase.

In early October, Eddie turned 61. In celebration, we had a birthday dinner with friends at Paul and Eugene’s for some great Thai food.  Awesome as always!

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With Peggy and Chis

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The guys (Benny, Gib and Rich) enjoyed some of Eddie’s home brewed beers

 

In November, our friends Tia and Mary Carmen stopped in for a fun over night visit during their Costa Rica vacation.  They also enjoyed some of Eddie’s beers!

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We enjoyed a fabulous Thai meal at Paul and Eugene’s rancho restaurant – Spice in the Jungle

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Rusty just can’t resist checking everything out! 

A Thanksgiving tradition has been set! We enjoyed yet another turkey feast at the home of our good friends and neighbor, Toni and Gib.  (We are sooooo lucky!).  Nothing is spared by these wonderful hosts when they throw a party!

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Taking a break with Toni

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Ray, Eugene and Paul

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Speaking of traditions, another is having Eddie’s fabulous apple pie at Thanksgiving.  Eddie’s pie was so popular this year that Liz, Ray and George wanted more.  Liz asked Eddie if he wouldn’t mind giving her and her friend George a lesson in making the delectable dessert.

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Liz and George’s apple pie received high marks from Eddie

When we moved to Costa Rica in January 2014, one of the first things we did was to buy our Toyota truck – a gray 2006 Hilux 3.0 TurboDiesel.  It served us very well, but we recently decided it was time to sell it and buy a newer vehicle.  So, after quite a long search, Eddie found a nice white 2013 Hilux for sale in San Jose.  It’s similar to the old Hilux, but has some updated features and of course is 7 years newer with a lot less miles.  We were able to sell the 2006 to another expat who is a friend of one of our new neighbors on our mountain.

During one of our morning walks on the beach, we saw something in the distance close to the surf.  As we got closer, we realized it was a two-toed sloth.  The poor guy was really struggling to crawl his way out.  The tide was rolling in much faster than the sloth could move.  While Eddie kept the dogs at bay, I found a large piece of bamboo to help move the sloth. The proper way to touch or move a sloth is to either grab the scruff of the neck like one would do with a cat or lift them under the arms. The sloth will throw out his arms to the sides. They have very long claws and I was afraid that my arms were not long enough to keep him from swiping at me. So, I put the bamboo under his chest and arms and slowly dragged him toward the trees. This guy was pretty heavy and it didn’t help that he was all wet and sandy.  It took me about 30 minutes to get him close to the trees. A Tico was having a picnic with his family and as I got closer to them, he came over and asked me what was going on. I explained how I had found the sloth in the surf and he amazed. He took over the task of getting the sloth to a tree. He wasn’t afraid to grab the sloth the proper way.  After the man got the sloth safely to a tree, he called his family over to look at him. I got quite the upper body work out…my arms were very sore the next day!

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The area where we found the sloth is adjacent to where a river empties into the ocean. As we were walking back to the truck, we discovered his tracts coming from the river. So we then realized that he must have fallen out a tree into the river upstream and drifted all the way down to the ocean. Obviously, he was disoriented and when he got out of the river, he crawled toward the ocean instead of the tree line.  He was lucky that we were walking along the beach that morning!

 

 

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Rusty meets up with an iguana, but decides he better leave it alone

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A heavy rain storm washed out the foundation at one end of this bridge on the road into Hatillo.  The bridge was built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers back in 1984.  Fortunately, there are other ways in and out of Hatillo, but we are hoping that it does get repaired sometime in the coming year.

Wishing everyone a wonderful holiday season!

 

Having Fun with Family

It has been a very long time since we have posted…but rest assured that we are doing well and enjoying the slower paced life at the beach!

We were very fortunate to have some family visit us recently.  Our son Erik and his girlfriend Susana were able to spend a week with us in early May.  We had fun eating out and touring the local wildlife sanctuary Villa Alturas near Uvita and the Vanilla Farm located near Naranjo (outside of Quepos).

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Dinner at The Gate One Charter.  The airplane has been converted into a bar.  We are standing on one of the wings.

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Susana and Erik enjoying craft beer at Fuego Brewery in Dominical.

Then, mid-July Ellen’s brother Britt and his girlfriend Krissie visited for a week.  We had a very relaxing time…mostly hanging out at the house enjoying our fantastic view.  We were incredibly lucky with the weather.  There were only a few sprinkles here and there.  They brought the good weather with them…and took it away when they left!  On the day they left we had 4.2 inches of rain in just an hour and a half.

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Krissie and Britt enjoying the pool.  Krissie jumped right in, but Britt took a while…we thought it was going to take all day for him to get in the pool past his ankles!  After all, the pool was a cool 79 degrees!

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Drinks and dinner at Fuego Brewery.

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The drink menu at Fuego Brewery.

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Britt ordered the craft beer sampler. 

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Getting ready to go zip lining at Hacienda Baru National Wildlife Refuge & Lodge, located just 10 minutes from our house.

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Britt napping, which he seemed to do a lot, but then he was on a much needed vacation!

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We were able to have some nice walks on our favorite beach Playa Linda.

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Olivia and Wylder love to run and play on the beach.

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A fun evening at Gib’s place who lives a little further up from us with friends Paul and Eugene who live on the lower part of our hill.

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Gib cooking salmon for us in his new outdoor kitchen.  It was a fabulous meal!

Britt was on his laptop catching up on worldly events while Krissie enjoyed the view and caught up on her reading.  Olivia and Rusty kept her company.

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Lunch at Toro Loco in Uvita.

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Walking around Dominical

It helps to have a handyman around especially when you live in the jungle!  It’s not like we have AAA or an Auto Zone on every corner.  We had just pulled into the carport when Eddie realized there was something wrong with the truck.  He discovered very quickly that the radiator had a hole in it and needed to be replaced.  This happened late on a Friday afternoon.  Eddie first called the Toyota dealership in San Isidro to see if they had the part.  They did have it, but wanted over $1,600 for just the radiator!  This part would cost around $350 in the U.S.  So, Eddie called a few more places and found a third party Japanese-made radiator for $200.  Obviously, not the same quality as a Toyota, but it would get the job done.  (The truck is 12 years old.)  Fortunately, the part store was open on Saturdays and Eddie was able to borrow Gib’s car to go and fetch the radiator.  It was quite job to do the replacement.  He had to remove several parts to get to the radiator.  It took him all afternoon to do it!

 

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Eddie replacing the radiator. 

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Driving the pets to the vet in Quepos for Olivia and Rusty’s annual check-ups.  Rusty hates to ride in the truck and meows all the way there. 

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Wylder likes to sit on the edge of the pool deck for long stretches like a gargoyle looking for animals below.

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Olivia is such a sweet doggie!  She took a liking to Krissie and vice versa.  Olivia was so sad when Krissie had to leave.

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The Masked Tree Frog is a regular visitor to our pool at night.

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Celebrating our 38th wedding anniversary (June 21st) at Heliconia, a great restaurant in Ojochal.

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Another beautiful sunset!  We never get tired of our view.

 

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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