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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… and Now The Dry Season is Almost Over

If you are following this blog, you know it has been awhile since our last post.  It’s not that we have been incredibly busy, but rather there has not been that much new to report on.  So, sorry about the long dry spell.

Early in January, our son Erik, came for a visit.  It was great to have him here and spend time together.  Erik has been to Costa Rica several times before, and has done many of the adventure activities available.  So, being a little tired from working, he just wanted to take it easy and relax.

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We did some walking on the beach.

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Checked out Dominical’s own microbrew pub, Fuego.

Erik was only able to be here for a week, but timed his visit so he was here for Ellen’s birthday.  Toni and Gib threw a party to celebrate, and as always, it was a blast.

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Our new dog, Wylder, is adjusting well to her new surroundings.  She, Olivia and Rusty all get along well together.  IMG_1612e

We got Wylder in Nosara, located on the Nicoya peninsula, where there is a little less wildlife than in our neck of the woods.  One day, she and Olivia went barking after some animal just down the hill from the pool.  I quickly called them back, but I guess not quick enough as Wylder got a taste of what we have here.  She came back with a gash across her nose from what we think was a pizote (aka coati), a member of the racoon family.  Wylder’s nose was bleeding quite a bit and I was concerned about infection.  It was a Friday afternoon and Ellen had taken the truck to go to her beading/craft class.  So, I called Doctor Fabiola, a local vet who makes house calls!  She came up to the house on her motorcycle and tended to Wylder’s nose.  Fortunately, it healed up fine without any problems.

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This is how Wylder’s nose looked the next day.  The liquid bandage that was applied did not stick too well (the nose tissue is too soft for stitches).  So, it just had to heal on its own.

In early February, we had the honor of attending a baby shower for Geovany’s daughter (Geovany and his crew does our gardening).  We were excited to have the opportunity to get to know some more of our Tico neighbors and see how they put on a baby shower.

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We had a fun time at the shower.  Three weeks later, mom gave birth to a 8lb. 7oz. baby girl!

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Some of the guys get to know a little of what it is like to be pregnant, when they are asked to tie their shoes!

One important project that was completed is the construction of a retaining wall and drainage system where we had a landslide last August when almost 11 inches of rain fell in just 5 hours.  The wall will stabilize the area from having any further problems in the future.

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The retaining wall as viewed from down below

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Rain water from the pool deck and surrounding areas will now be channeled and piped down the hill.

In mid-February, Ellen flew to the states and I followed at the beginning of March for a visit with family and friends in North Carolina.  For me, this was a long overdue trip as I had not been back for 18 months.  It was great to see everyone!IMG_0635e

One of the things that I did while in North Carolina was to assist Erik with finding a car to replace his 17 year old car.  We had fun looking around at cars and finally made a deal on a nice 2013 Camry.

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Erik with his sweet new ride!

While away in North Carolina, we had a great, young Canadian couple house sit for us.  They took great care of our place and loved our pets like they were their own.  It gave us peace of mind to know that all would be OK while we were away.

Another project that got finished up recently was the construction of a stairway to make it easier to access the upper portion of our property.  We have a variety of fruit trees planted up there and so wanted a way to get up there without killing ourselves.

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Juan and Vergilio did a nice job constructing this stairway out of river rock.

Our first big pineapple was recently harvested  from up there!

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One early morning with nobody in sight, the dogs had a fun run on the beach!

So, that pretty much brings you up-to-date for now.  This dry season has been a hot one, for sure!  So now everyone is looking forward to when the rains start to come back again, which should be in a few more weeks.  Pura vida!

The Dry Season is Here…FINALLY!

Amazingly the rains continued into December.  We received 14.75 inches!  Most of it happened within the first week.  We were beginning to think that the rainy season would never go away!  Slowly, but surely, the heavy rains have petered out and the sun has returned.  It was not a moment too soon for me…cabin fever was setting in and had me wishing for a mall close by for some shopping therapy. img_1567e

The rainy season didn’t seem to affect Eddie much…he spent time catching up on the indoor projects as well as doing some cooking.  He had some fun making pizza and it was delicious!

For several months we had been looking for a piece of furniture for our living area for extra storage and to display a few trinkets.  We had trouble finding something ready-made, so Eddie designed a hutch and a furniture maker built it. It took three months start to finish, but it was worth the wait.

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The piece is made from Cenizaro wood.  The glass shelves for the top were too big and we had to have them re-cut. 

In mid-December, we drove to Nosara in Guanacaste to pick up the newest addition to our family, our dog Wylder, who had finished her training.  Wylder is 15 months old and a mix of Belgium Malinois  and Dutch Shepherd.  She is an awesome dog!  img_0416e

Wylder has adjusted quite well to her new home.  Olivia seems very happy to have another dog around the house and Rusty seems glad to have another “buddy,” too.  All three of them are getting along well.img_0460e

As Christmas approached, Toni (our neighbor just up the hill) suggested that we have a little Christmas party for all the Tico children on our mountain and for the children of our workers who live in our town.  Word spread quickly and before we knew it, we were planning for a huge crowd.  Toni offered to host the party.  Her husband Gib put up their snow village complete with motorized cable cars and a beautiful Christmas tree.  Toni, Liz and I came up with some activities for the children – decorating gift bags (for all the treats) and cut-out sugar cookies, and a piñata filled with candy.  We wrapped some small gifts for each child and Toni’s son played Santa’s Elf.  The weather cooperated and we had a gorgeous sunny day!

Last week, we took Rusty and Wylder to the veterinarian for check-ups.  We found out that Rusty weighs almost 14 pounds!  Wow!  He should really weigh about 11 pounds, so he has been put on a diet.  And, he is NOT happy about it.  The experience going to the vet seems to have brought Rusty and Wylder closer together.

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A selfie with Rusty on the way to the vet. Rusty doesn’t like to ride in the truck.

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On the way home…they both survived!

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Now they are best buddies!

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Walking the dogs on our crowded beach.

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Wonder how many calories are in this bug?

New Year’s Eve at Toni and Gib’s.  Toni (on the left) and Liz (on the right) of me. Toni calls us the Tres Amigas.  We have a lot fun doing things together!

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A pineapple growing in our garden.  Looks like something took a nibble.

 

Enough Already! Rain, Rain Go Away!

There’s no doubt, November has been a rainy month.  Over 40 inches fell, making it the wettest month this year (about 200″ total).  There have only been two days this month without any rain!  When Hurricane Otto was heading our way last week, we all were expecting a deluge.  To our surprise, total rainfall in our area was only a few tenths of an inch.  Other parts of Costa Rica and Nicaragua were not so lucky.  However, after Otto passed and headed out into the Pacific, we have had nothing but rain…16 inches in the past four days.  Historically the rains taper off by Thanksgiving and the dry season is in full swing by December.

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This morning our rain gauge showed 5.8 inches for the previous 24 hours.

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This has been our view for quite some time.  Most days we can’t even see the beach.

So, what have we been doing to occupy our time when the rain has been falling?

We went to our friend’s party with a great mariachi band.

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and had lots of fun…img_0368

We celebrated Thanksgiving with our friends on our hill.  Gib, our host, cooked a fabulous turkey on his grill.img_0376img_0377

We had a jam session with bongos and drums.

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Ellen worked on macrame jewelry.img_1495e

Here are some of her creations.  Beautiful!

Of course we watched lots of movies and TV shows.

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Eddie did some repairs in the master bathroom.img_1478e

And we did some napping, too!img_1491eimg_1486

I imagine that soon we will be complaining about too much hot sun and wishing it would rain a little (we hope)!  Pura vida!

U.S. Passport Renewal in Costa Rica

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Our U.S. Passports were due to expire in May 2017, so we needed to get them renewed before our next trip back to North Carolina.  So how does one go about that in Costa Rica?  The U.S. Embassy provides passport renewal services and the following is the process of how we did it.

The first step is to make an appointment at the embassy.  So, we went online to the embassy’s website (www.costarica.usembassy.gov), clicked on the “U.S. Citizens Services” tab and selected “Passport.”  There we found a link to download the Passport Renewal Application (DS-82) and another link to request an appointment.  A screen with available appointment dates and times appeared; we selected one for each of us (separately) which were a couple of weeks out.  An appointment confirmation is emailed to you which needs to be printed and brought to the appointment.  We then printed and filled out the application form to bring with us.  Other items needed for the appointment are your current passport, new passport photograph and payment of $110 (cash or credit card, no checks).

A single passport photo is required which meets the new regulations (such as no eye glasses allowed).  You can get this done inside the embassy for about $2, which is what we decided to do since we wanted to make sure the photos passed muster.  It was quick and easy.

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United States Embassy is located on Ruta 104, northeast of La Sabana park in San Jose.

On appointment day, we drove into San Jose early and arrived at the embassy about one hour before our appointed times.  We found a small public parking lot on the side street directly adjacent to the embassy.

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U.S. Embassy building

As we approached the building, we saw a very long line of people waiting to get inside.  Everyone in this line appeared to be Costa Rican, so we asked the guard at the entrance where we should go for passports.  He said the line was for visa applicants and that we should go directly to the door at the top of the stairs.

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Entrance door to U.S. Embassy on the left

There we were met by another officer who confirmed our appointments.  He asked to see our passports and appointment confirmations.  Inside the door is the security area with x-ray and metal detector like at the airport.  No cell phones, remote keys or other electronic devices are allowed past security, so they put your stuff in a locked pouch, give you the key and keep the pouch until you leave.

Once inside, we saw the photograph station.  The line was short and we were on our way with photos in hand after a few minutes.  In the same area, we noticed an electronic kiosk that appeared to give you a number, but we were told we did not need to do that and to proceed ahead past the long lines of visa people waiting to get into the next area.  We walked through the door and asked the attendant where to go for passports.  She directed us to the passport windows on the left, which were not busy at all.  It was interesting to note that most everyone we saw or spoke to up to this point was Costa Rican.  We approached one of the windows and spoke to the woman (finally an American).  She took our completed forms, passports, new photos and reviewed them.  All was in order, so we were directed to the next window to pay the passport renewal fee and return with the receipts.  When we returned, we received renewal confirmations and were told that our new passports would be ready within 10 business days.  We were on our way in less than 15 minutes.

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To our surprise, we were notified after just five days (by email) that our passports were ready for pickup.  Passports can only be picked up between 8:00 – 11:00 a.m., no appointment needed.  All new passports have 52 pages and an RFID chip embedded in them.

All About Rusty

We have a lot of fun with our cat Rusty.  We adopted him as a kitten (eight weeks old) about a year ago from a local rescue organization.  He has grown into a very complex cat that has many talents.  As a Costa Rican cat, Rusty has adapted to life in the jungle.

Rusty the Helper

Rusty the Hunter

Rusty the Explorer

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Rusty the Cool Cat

Rusty the Covert Cat

Rusty the Napper (This is his best talent.)

Rusty is best friends with our little dog Olivia.  They enjoy playing and grooming each other.  Being that Rusty has spent most of the time around dogs, he thinks he is part dog.

Rusty has become one big boy!  The other day, he weighed in at a whopping 13 pounds.  He outweighs Olivia by three pounds.

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Rusty is missing Olivia who sometimes spends the night with her boyfriend Zorro, the miniature poodle that lives next door.

 

Projects During the Rainy Season

It has been raining quite a bit these past few months.  Since all the landslides in August, we have been staying close to home when it rains a lot.  To keep busy, we have been working on a few projects.  And of course, Rusty the cat is always there to help out!

Eddie worked on and completed the coffee table for the living area.  It’s made from a slab of Guanacaste (Costa Rica’s national tree) with teak stumps for the base.

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I have been busy hemming flat sheets to use as curtains.  My niece Megan gave me this idea.  They work great, too!

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We have a rain gauge out by our pool to record the daily rainfall.  The amount of rain is always a topic of conversation here (especially with us Gringos) and you might even say some of us are obsessed.  To give you an idea of how much rain we have been getting, Eddie has compiled the rain chart below.  So far this year, we have had 143 inches (12 feet!).  The average for our area is around 160 inches per year.  We should easily surpass that this year.

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With all the rain, we are having a problem with mold in the kitchen cabinets, bathroom vanities and on some pieces of furniture that we brought with us from North Carolina.  So, I spend a tremendous amount of time cleaning.  Finally, the mold seems to be under control, thank goodness!  Maybe now I will have more time to devote to my hobbies…after all, I’m supposed to be “retired.”

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Taking a break from cleaning to catch up on our reading.

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Rusty is taking care of some business while Eddie looks on.

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Rusty and Olivia enjoy the view as much as we enjoy it.