Exciting News from Home

Last week, our daughter Jane’s Hanoverian horse Deva had her first baby!!!  After five days of foal watch (no sleep for Jane), Deva finally had her baby – a bay colt at 3 a.m. on June 17.  He weighed 100 pounds at birth and learned to walk in about an hour.  He is so cute!  I just love his long legs.  Overall, the birth went well and the veterinarian didn’t have to assist.  However, the baby had a bit of trouble learning how to nurse.  Jane and the barn hand had to rig up a type of breast pump to get Deva’s milk to bottle feed the colt.  After a couple of days, they managed to get the baby to nurse, so all is good now.

The colt at about 4 hours old

The colt at about 4 hours old

Jane and colt at 4 days old

Jane and colt at 4 days old

Diva and baby

Deva and baby

The father of the colt belongs to Jane’s friend Virginia and she is going to keep the baby.  Even so, we are still excited to have a “grand-horse!”  And, we are looking forward to seeing him when we return home in September.

Some more good news!  Jane and her boyfriend Mark have a new puppy!  He is a short hair border collie and only seven weeks old.  He is adorable!

puppy2e

The bad news is that they only had him for a couple of days when he starting vomiting and not eating.  Jane and Mark are very knowledgeable about dogs and they realized something was terribly wrong.  So, they took him to the emergency vet.  It’s a good thing they didn’t wait like most people would have done.  Long story short…the poor little guy has a massive roundworm infection that has migrated to his lungs, which caused the respiratory distress and pneumonia that induced the vomiting not eating.  It’s so sad…a simple and inexpensive deworming drug (from a vet not from a place like “PetSmart”) could prevent this from happening.  Obviously the people that sold them the puppy don’t take care of their pets and that’s horrible!  Because of Jane and Mark’s quick action, the puppy will live and without any long term effects.  That’s wonderful!!!  We’re looking forward to seeing him, too.

Creepy Crawlies and Creatures of Costa Rica!

Yesterday (June 21) was our wedding anniversary of 34 years!  To celebrate, we had a lovely dinner at Roca Verde in Dominical.

Out to celebrate at Roca Verde restaurant

Out to celebrate at Roca Verde restaurant

On our way back to our casita, not far after we turned off the highway to go into Hatillo, we encountered what we first thought was a long stick in the road, but as we drove a little closer, we realized that it was really a very long snake…about six feet long.  We had to stop to avoid running over it.  Now, the rule of thumb in Costa Rica is to assume every creepy crawlie creature is poisonous until it’s proven otherwise.  We were close enough to the snake that we could see its markings very well.  We suspected that it was a Fer-de-Lance and we were correct.  Eddie hopped out of the truck with camera in hand and snapped a photo.  When the flash went off, the snake whipped around in the opposite direction.  It was difficult to take a really good photo because it was dark and Eddie was keeping his distance.  Eddie took another photo and the snake started slithering toward the grass.  We decided that it was safer to take a picture from the truck, so Eddie slowly drove ahead and I snapped a photo from my open window.

Fer-de-LanceIMG_2014

The Fer-de-Lance (called Terciopelo in Spanish) is the most dangerous snake in Central America.  This infamous viper’s large size, long fangs, and high venom production and toxicity make it one of the most dangerous creatures in Costa Rica.  It’s responsible for 46% of all snakebites and the most snakebite-related deaths in the country.  The Fer-de-Lance is nocturnal.  It likes to hunt along the roads or trails through dense grass.  It’s not afraid of humans and tends to strike when encountered instead of trying to escape.  So, it’s not a good idea to walk along the road at night without a flashlight!

Over the years, we have encountered and photographed a variety of weird and interesting creatures around Costa Rica.  Here are some of those photos for your viewing pleasure…

Blue Morpho

Blue Morpho

Caterpillar chrysalis

Caterpillar chrysalis

CRW_1325e CRW_1322e IMG_1500e CRW_1540e

Some kind of bug on my leg

Some kind of bug on my leg

Brightly colored land crab

Brightly colored land crab

Cool frog climbing on the wall outside our door at night

Cool frog climbing on the wall outside our door at night

Fancy grasshopper

Fancy grasshopper

IMG_0465e

Crocodiles at the Tarcoles River

Crocodiles at the Tarcoles River

Praying mantis with a cape?

Praying mantis with a cape?

IMG_1448eIMG_1872e

Gecko - good for eating lots of insects!

Gecko – good for eating lots of insects!

Tiny gecko

Tiny gecko

Lobster locust - a small one

Lobster locust – a small one

Leaf-cutter ants on a mission

Leaf-cutter ants on a mission

a non-venomous snake in the garden

a non-venomous snake in the garden

So, if you have made it this far without breaking into a cold sweat, then you’re qualified to visit us here in Costa Rica!

 

 

Hummingbirds

Hummingbirds are everywhere!  We have noticed that we seem to have an abundance of them around the trees next to our terrace.  So, we decided to hang a small hummingbird feeder on the corner of our terrace near our dining table.  We enjoy watching these small birds while we are eating breakfast, lunch or whenever we are sitting at the table.  It’s amazing how fast their wings flutter!  Since we hung the feeder, the hummingbirds always seem to be close by.  We have observed  a couple hummingbird wars as there are a few who are territorial about the feeder.  Several times I have been close to the feeder when a couple of them are trying to prevent each other from getting to it.  They have whizzed past so close to my head that the sound is like a loud hum.  It’s probably how they got the name “hummingbird.”

While I was in Boruca, Eddie spent a lot of time quietly watching the hummingbirds in order to get the perfect photo.  Unfortunately, he doesn’t have a high-speed flash set up here to catch them in flight, but he took some awesome photos of them stationary.  His best photos are of a male White-necked Jacobin.  The White-necked Jacobin is about 4 3/4 inches, which is fairly large for a hummingbird.

White-necked Jacobin_MG_6390_MG_6450

On Father’s Day in the late afternoon, we decided to walk along our favorite beach.  It was raining at our casita, but luckily, not at the beach.  It was very overcast, though.  The tide was very high, the highest we had seen it and the ocean was rough.  Not a good day for a swim, but a perfect one for a walk on the beach.  We had the beach more or less to ourselves.  The only other person that we could see was a man who was fishing from the beach with a long line.  Pura Vida!

ellen at playa lindabeach

You Never Know What You Might See…

It’s always a good idea to have a camera with you here!  You just never know what you might see even when you leave the house for a few minutes.  Yesterday late afternoon, we decided to drive up to the property and take a short walk up to our mountain ridge.  It’s a nice walk…not too strenuous and the views are quite pretty.  This time we had our camera with us.  There have been a few occasions that we have forgotten it when we have gone for a walk.

IMG_1984eIMG_1989e

As we were walking back down the driveway to the truck, we stopped halfway to discuss trimming back a few of the tree branches on one side of the driveway and the huge fern on the other side.  It was overcast and I was wearing my dark sunglasses.  I saw a dark blob in the tree only six feet away from me.  When it moved, I realized that it was a sloth and I turned to Eddie who was looking the other way and said, “Guess what I see!”  As I tell him, I hand him the camera to take some photos.  I was looking straight into the eyes of a Three-toed Sloth.

IMG_1994e

At first we weren’t sure if the sloth was climbing down or up the tree.  We watched it for over 15 minutes and it moved only six inches.  The sloth was climbing back up the tree – very slowly.  We have been told that sloths come down to the ground from the trees once a week to poop.  Perhaps that’s what this sloth had been doing and we got lucky to see it on its way back up to its spot high up in the tree.

IMG_1995e

A New Puppy!

As usual, Eddie gets up between 5:30 and 6:00 a.m.  I, on the other hand, like to sleep in a bit.  I usually get up between 6:30 and 7:30 a.m.  However this morning, I was up a little earlier as Eddie came in shortly after he was up and told me that Lopez has a new puppy!   Eddie had gone outside to the pool area to check his plants and Lopez came by to talk with him.  Trailing Lopez was a cute little black and white puppy about the size of a Chihuahua and Eddie asked about it.  Lopez told Eddie that he found the puppy on the side of the road on his way back from San Isidro yesterday evening.  (It’s a hard life here for dogs and cats…only the strongest and fittest will survive.  So many strays wander around the streets as many Ticos don’t neuter or spay their pets.  Unwanted pets are abandoned and left to fend for themselves.  It’s so sad.)  Anyway, this little puppy is the cutest little thing!

The new puppy

The new puppy

Lopez left early again this morning and the puppy spent most of the day hanging around with us.  She is a lot of fun and very smart, too.  I decided to teach her English commands and I’m impressed that she already knows the word “sit.”  Of course, treats help a lot!   Lopez hadn’t named her yet, so we started calling her Chicita (little girl in Spanish).  Not sure what Lopez will think about that, but by the end of the day, she was answering to it.  I hope she doesn’t “wander off” like his last puppy.  In April when we were in the States, Lopez was given a cute little walnut colored puppy that he named Panina.  We weren’t overly thrilled that he had gotten another dog…as he really doesn’t pay much attention to the two pets he already has…Lucas (dog) and Pacho (cat).  However, little Panina won over our hearts.  She spent a fair amount of time in our area and we enjoyed playing with her.  She was smart, too, and we were teaching her both English and Spanish commands.  Panina had a lot of energy and she was always bugging Lukas and Pacho.  The cat was much more tolerant than Lucas.  Panina would chew on the cat’s ears and head!  When Lucas was tired of Panina, he would jump into the planters near the pool to hide from her.

Pacho, the cat, Panina, the puppy and Lucas

Pacho, the cat, Panina, the puppy and Lucas

Last Friday, Panina disappeared.  She was at the house when we returned from our lot in the early afternoon.  As usual, she followed us to our casita and we played with her for a bit.  We don’t exactly remember if we saw her after that…we noticed she wasn’t around when we were fixing dinner later that evening.  Most of the time Lopez’s pets show up at meal time begging for food.  The other two pets didn’t show up either, so we thought they were hanging out with Lopez.  Well, we didn’t see Panina Saturday or Sunday, but we didn’t see Lucas much either, so we didn’t think much about it.  Then on Monday morning, we saw Lopez and I asked him, “Where is Panina?”  He told me that he didn’t know…he came home Friday night and he couldn’t find her.  He called and called for her and she didn’t come to him, but Lucas and Pacho were home.  The cat is always here, but Lucas tends to wander.

Lucas is about 4 years old and he knows how to find his way off the property and then he walks all over Hatillo.  He tends to do this more often on the weekends, or so Lopez has told us.  We have noticed that Lucas does disappear for long periods of time, but sometimes, he is in his little dog house sleeping, which he likes to do a lot.  When Eddie went over to the neighbor just below us on Monday to borrow his power drill, he mentioned that Panina was missing.  The neighbor told Eddie that he saw Lucas and Panina walking down the road past his house mid-afternoon on Friday.  So, my theory is that Lucas showed Panina how to get out of the property and then ditched her.  Since she hadn’t lived here very long, she couldn’t find her way back to the house.  No telling what happened to her.  The best case scenario – someone found her on the side of the road and decided to keep her.  The worst case, she got eaten, bit by a snake or hit by a car.  Poor thing!  If we had know that she had left the property, we would have gone looking for her.  We are a little wiser now, so if Chicita suddenly disappears, we will assume she went on a walk about with Lucas and start looking for her right away.

Since Lopez was gone, I decided to give the new puppy a bath

Since Lopez was gone, I decided to give the new puppy a bath

IMG_1982e

My Stay in Boruca

Bright and early (6:45 a.m.) this past Tuesday morning, Eddie drove me to Pacific Edge in Dominicalito where our friends George and Susie live.  Susie invited me to come along with her for an overnight trip to Boruca, which is an hour and a half to two hour drive away depending on the route and weather, of course!  We wanted to get an early start; we left Pacific Edge around 7:15 or so.  We had to make a stop at a hardware store for some last minute bolts that Susie needed to repair the floor loom that she made for the Borucans – specifically Marina and her group, Artesanos Naturales.  The main purpose of our “road trip” to Boruca was for Susie to repair the floor loom so that it was in working order for the arrival of Sherri, a master weaver from the U.S.  Sherri will be staying with Marina for about a week in July teaching two of Marina’s daughters how to use the floor loom.  Traditionally, the Borucans weave on a backstrap loom, which is the width of their hips.  A floor loom will make it so much easier for them to weave larger things like bedspreads.  Right now, the women have to weave several panels and then sew them together.

Marina's house and shop in Boruca

Marina’s house and shop in Boruca

Susie working on the loom

Susie working on the loom

There are two main routes to Boruca from the main highway.  We took the route that is used during the rainy (wet) season.  Along the way, we made note of landmarks, mileage and driving time.  This was for the next article in a local magazine.  Susie has titled the article, “Follow the Roots – the Road to Boruca.”  The article will have specific directions for both routes to Boruca.  Hopefully, this will draw more tourists to visit Marina’s home and gift shop.

We arrived at Boruca before 10 a.m. and it was a warm welcome!  Marina and her family are so thoughtful, generous and kind.  Before we started working on the loom repair, we spent quite a bit of time visiting with Marina, her family and a couple of people who stopped by to visit.  Also, Marina had a student staying with her, a lovely young woman (Melissa) who was working on her PhD thesis.  It’s always fun to meet new people!

Susie’s floor loom is pretty amazing.  I would never have been able to build something like that.   Part of the repairs was to replace the brake system, adjust a few other things and to re-dye the strings (can’t remember the proper term for them).  It was all very labor intensive and took most of the day and the morning of the next.  Both Melissa and I turned out to be good assistants, which made it so that Susie and I only had to stay one night instead of two.

Susie buying masks from Marina

Susie buying masks from Marina

My room in Marina's home

My room in Marina’s home

The yarn dying process

The yarn dyeing process

Marina and her daughters (she has 8, I think) are wonderful cooks.  My favorite dish was the potato empanadas.  They were awesome!!!  I ate two of them.  I should have asked for cooking lessons…maybe the next time.

Marina's kitchen

Marina’s kitchen

The next day, after we finished the loom work, Susie and I took a nice walk around Boruca.  Even though I had visited Boruca two times before, I had only been to Marina’s home.  I hadn’t explored the village.  On one side of Marina’s house is the museum with the stone sphere, the other is a small store and above her home is the church.  Just down the road is the civic center.  It’s a small village where everyone knows everyone.

Me outside the sphere museum in Boruca

Outside the museum in Boruca

The local bar in Baruca

The local bar in Baruca

This was a wonderful experience for me to get to know Marina and her family better.  In addition, they don’t speak English, so I had to speak Spanish, which I did pretty well most of the time.  It was exhausting work, though, trying to keep up with the conversation!  There were a few times when I had to ask Susie to translate for me.

The following is an excerpt from an article I wrote for the local magazine called Ballena Tales about the indigenous tribes of Costa Rica:  Hidden within the beautiful rain forests, amazing wild life and gorgeous beaches of Costa Rica are communities of indigenous people who are descendants of the Mayans and Indians from the Amazonian forests.  They were heavily influenced by Mesoamerican tribes of Central America and cultures from northern South America.  There are almost 64,000 indigenous (1.7% of the population) living in Costa Rica.  They live mostly in the remote mountain zones on reservations implemented by the Costa Rican government.  Today, there are eight indigenous tribes living on both sides of the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of Costa Rica.  Of all the indigenous tribes, the Borucans live closest to us in the Southern Pacific zone, near Costa Ballena.  To this day, the Borucans continue to be in touch with their ancestral roots – legends, dance, and crafts of wooden masks and naturally dyed woven goods.  They are especially known for the “Fiesta de los Diablitos,” a three day annual festival that takes place from December 30th to January 2nd.  This festival re-enacts the fight between the Boruca Indians (the devils) and the Spanish Conquistadors (the bull).

 

Marina's son and his daughter

Marina’s son and his daughter

A beautiful totem pole carved by Marina's son

A beautiful totem pole carved by Marina’s son

The view coming down the mountain from Boruca

The view coming down the mountain from Boruca

More Gardening…

After the last post, I think something a little more mundane is in order.  (Okay, maybe I’m still trying to calm down after seeing that monster spider and this is a good way to do it, especially after re-living the experience when writing about it!)  Anyway, last week, Eddie and I drove up to our lot to plant some Mani plants at the entrance of our driveway.  Once established, the Mani will be very pretty ground cover with tiny yellow flowers.  It took us five hours to plant them!  Even though it was mostly overcast, it was still hot work.  When we finished, Eddie looked like he had just been swimming.  He was drenched!  I fared a bit better, but not much.  Hopefully, the Mani plants will survive the trauma of being re-planted and more importantly the Leaf-cutter ants.  I guess time will tell.

IMG_1870IMG_1871

Meanwhile, Eddie has been working on his little garden.  He has planted a variety of things – chives, jalapeno peppers, bell peppers, kale, parsley and cilantro.  The other morning, Eddie noticed that one of the Kale plants was missing all of it’s leaves.  Then, the next morning, another Kale plant was in bad shape and there were holes in leaves of the jalapeno plants.  There was a fluorescent green excretion on the pot of one of the Kale plants, which reminded us of the alien in the movie, Predator.  We had no idea what was chomping away at his little plants, but we realized if we didn’t figure it out soon, there would be no plants at all!  So, about 8 at night, Eddie went outside with a flashlight.  (It gets dark here by 6:30 p.m.).  He wasn’t gone long.  Turns out the culprit was a small grasshopper!  Now, Eddie is planning to build a small green house to protect his plants from predators.

IMG_1886

Tomorrow morning, I’m going to Boruca with my friend Susie.  She invited me to go along with her for an overnight…maybe two nights depending on the weather.  It’s rainy season and the rain comes down in a torrent.  It should be a fun adventure!  I’ll post about it later on in the week.