Monkeys, Monkeys, Monkeys!

Lately the monkeys (White-throated Capuchin) have been visiting us on a more frequent basis, especially when we have a bunch of bananas hanging up on the terrace.  They are so cute and a lot of fun to watch…very entertaining and so we spend quite a bit of time watching and taking photos of them.  We just can’t help ourselves!

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There are about 12 monkeys in the group that visit us and one of the members is a Spider Monkey.  Our neighbor told us that the group adopted him when he was a baby.  The Spider Monkey is very shy, but each time he visits, he gets a little braver and comes closer to the terrace.  There are several of the monkeys that are getting a little braver each time they swing by.  They walk along the terrace railing, climb on the clothesline and don’t seem to mind too much if we are right there.  A friend told me that we should be cautious of them not only because they are wild animals, but because they like to steal things.  They last time they visited,  I saw one of the monkeys grab a wash cloth that I had hanging on the clothesline and tug on it.  Good thing I had it secured with a clothes pin!

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If the dogs realize the monkeys are visiting, they will chase them away from the terrace.  The monkeys jump back into the trees and then violently shake the branches trying to scare the dogs away.  While they are doing this, the monkeys are usually very vocal.  This scares Chiquita and she hides under the table.

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A Visit to the Vet

About 10 days ago or so, we noticed that Paloma had a patch of hair missing from her back…it looked like she had been in a fight or had scraped herself on a fence.  We talked to Lopez about it and he thought she had tangled with a wild pig, as that has happened before.  He put some medicine on it, but it didn’t help much.  It got worse and worse.  Patches of hair started turning black and then falling out.  We were worried that she had mange (caused by mites).  Left untreated mange can be deadly.  Since Lopez is away on vacation, we decided it would be best to take Paloma to the local veterinarian now rather than wait for him to return.  It seemed like a good idea to take Chiquita to the vet, too.  We are guessing that she is between 4 and 5 months old and it might be a good idea to have her spayed.  We wanted the vet to give her a general exam to make sure she was old enough and healthy enough for the surgery.  Before Lopez left on vacation, we talked to him about having Chiquita fixed and he agreed that it was a good idea.  He doesn’t want puppies, either.  He has told us several times that three dogs is more than enough!

All 3 dogs, Lucas, Chiquita & Paloma on a morning walk up our hill

All 3 dogs, Lucas, Chiquita & Paloma on a morning walk up our hill

On Tuesday, we had an appointment with the veterinarian.  On the drive there, we put Paloma in the back seat and I had Chiquita on a towel in my lap.  We weren’t sure how Chiquita would deal with being in the truck.  Turns out, she was great and so on the way back we let her sit with Paloma in the back seat.

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The vet was very nice and he gave both Paloma and Chiquita a thorough exam.  Despite flee collars, they both had a lot of flees so the vet put on Frontline.  Paloma was diagnosed with a fungus and we were given some anti-fungal cream for her.  She received the usual annual vaccinations for an adult dog and a rabies vaccination. (We have no idea whether Paloma had received any vet care during her two year absence.)  Chiquita was diagnosed with worms and so she (and Paloma) received de-worming medicine.  Chiquita received her first round of vaccines and at the beginning of September we will return for the second round.  After that, she will be ready to be spayed.

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Both dogs were very well behaved in the exam room and waiting area.  The vet was incredulous when we told him how Paloma had returned to Lopez after a two year absence.  Also, he was particularly taken with Chiquita and commented several times that she appeared to be very smart.  Both Eddie and I beamed like proud grandparents, go figure!

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They’re glad to be going back home!

Fingerprints and a Visit to Clínica Bíblica

A couple of weeks ago, we made appointments at the private hospital, Clínica Bíblica located in downtown San Jose.  Our appointments were scheduled for early morning of Tuesday, August 5th.  We decided it would be fun to stay a couple of days in San Jose area to do some shopping and to have lunch with our Spanish teacher, so we made hotel reservations at a quaint hotel called Hotel Louisiana in Santa Ana.  Usually we stay at a wonderful B & B in La Garita, but the Hotel Louisiana in Santa Ana is closer to the hospital and less expensive, too.  It came highly recommended to us, so we gave it a try.

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Shortly after we made our medical appointments and hotel reservations, our residency attorney emailed to let us know that we had our date with immigration.  Wouldn’t you know…it’s in early October when we will be in North Carolina!  Our attorney assured us that he can put in a request for a new appointment and we are hopeful that it will be at the very end of October or in early November.  Before our appointment with immigration, we need to have our fingerprints taken.  Our attorney asked us to be at his downtown office early morning on Monday and he would take us to the police station where we would be fingerprinted.  This worked out well for us since we were going to be in the area anyway.  The only catch was that we couldn’t drive into the downtown area.  There is so much traffic in the downtown area that there are driving restrictions.  The last digit of the license plate determines the day you can’t drive into the restricted zone and our day is Monday.  It’s a $20 cab ride from our hotel to downtown San Jose.  So, it would have been a $40 trip!  Instead, we decided to take the bus which costs about 75 cents each, so round trip it cost us only $3…a good deal.  The bus dropped us off at a small park about a block from our attorney’s office.  It was a pretty morning, so we didn’t mind the walk.

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Heading back to our hotel on the bus

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We arrived at our attorney’s office in plenty of time.  There was another person already there and our attorney told us he was expecting another couple to arrive any minute.  While we were waiting, we chatted with the other person waiting – a delightful lady who recently moved to Costa Rica.  During our conversation, we discovered that she has friends who take lessons with our Spanish teacher.  It’s a small world!  It wasn’t long before the other couple arrived and we were on our way to the police station to get fingerprinted.  Even though we arrived fairly early, there was a very long line.  In Costa Rica, it’s a huge perk to be pregnant, disabled or a senior citizen.  People who qualify receive very special treatment, such as, moving to the front of the line at banks, government offices and other places.  Our new acquaintance just happened to be a senior citizen and she was called up fairly quickly.  The entire process for her took around an hour or so.  It took us three hours – most of it was waiting and waiting!  Once we were called up, the fingerprinting process took about 20 minutes.  Before the actual fingerprinting (with black ink), we sat with an officer who put our information into the computer.  Just as my officer entered the last key stroke, the power went out!  Typical for Costa Rica.  Eddie and I had different people, but we still finished up about the same time.  The other couple that came for fingerprinting had driven on their own and they gave us a lift back to the attorney’s office.  We always seem to meet such nice people!

On Tuesday morning, we arrived at the hospital early.  Eddie needed to see an ophthalmologist and it was time for my annual mammogram and breast MRI.  Since we have an incredibly high deductible with our US health care insurance in order to keep the premiums reasonable, Eddie convinced me to give Clínica Bíblica a try.  We were both very impressed with the hospital, staff, technicians and doctors, many of whom speak some English.  The equipment was state-of-the-art!  The hospital’s marketing coordinator who helped us make the appointments speaks English very well and she met us at the mammography registration desk.  When I was called up, she translated my history to the technician so there wasn’t any miscommunication.  The radiologist reports will be translated to English for my doctor in the U.S.  I’ll also receive copies of all my scans on a CD.  Eddie’s appointment with the ophthalmologist went well, too.  When Eddie told the ophthalmologist (who spoke perfect English) about the type of machine his NC ophthalmologist uses, this doctor commented that his machine is a much newer model than the one used in NC.  Almost forgot to mention that they don’t keep you waiting here.  Eddie and I both were called after a five minute wait time.  I’m pleased to say that we had a great first experience at Clínica Bíblica!

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Relaxing at the cafe after my appointments

This is the original part of the hospital built in 1930, which is now the cafeteria and offices above.

This is the original part of the hospital built in 1930, which is now the cafeteria and offices above.

The mammogram cost $40, the MRI $750 and the ophthalmologist check-up was $84, much less than what we paid last year in the States.  No wonder why medical tourism is so popular in Costa Rica!

 

We had a heavy rain for most of the day yesterday.  Chiquita and Paloma were curled up trying to keep warm.

We had a heavy rain for most of the day yesterday. Chiquita and Paloma were curled up trying to keep warm.

Grillin’ is Great!

After 30+ years of cooking dinner, I’m thrilled to be passing on the torch to Eddie…grillin’ is great!  It’s absolutely amazing what one can cook on the grill.  Most of my favorite recipes that I baked in the oven at home in North Carolina can be cooked on the outdoor propane grill.  For instance, Eddie has cooked manicotti, lasagna, several casserole dishes and chicken dishes that I usually baked in the the oven.  Everything has turned out perfectly!  Electric is very expensive in Costa Rica as it’s government controlled, so I only use the oven for baking cookies and banana bread, which I don’t do very often here.  (In the near future, I’m planning to cook banana bread on…you guessed it..the grill!)   Who knew that cooking on the grill could be so versatile?  If I had known this, I would have been having Eddie cook all these dishes on the grill many years ago.  Well, what can I say?  Live and learn!

Tonight, we had some of the Red Snapper that Lopez caught Wednesday afternoon on the beach of Guapil using only a hand-line (no fishing pole).

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Eddie found a fabulous recipe for Grilled Red Snapper with Tropical Salsa Sauce on-line and he fixed it again tonight.  It was a culinary delight!

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It doesn’t stop here.  This past Sunday, Eddie decided to B’BQ pork spare ribs.  A few days earlier, we went to the butcher in Quepos and he cut the meat to Eddie’s specifications (the American way, which includes the bone).  First, Eddie smoked the ribs for three hours using the old grill as a smoker with charcoal and fruit wood.  Then, he moved the ribs to the new propane grill and cooked them on very slow heat for another three hours.  They were awesome!  The meat just fell off the bone.  I’m not much of a pork eater, but I must say these ribs were fantastic.  We invited Lopez to eat with us and he was impressed, too!

Eddie using the old gas grill to smoke spare ribs

Eddie using the old gas grill to smoke spare ribs

Finishing the ribs on the new grill

Finishing the ribs on the new grill

Ellen is so happy she doesn't have to do all the cooking anymore!

Ellen is so happy she doesn’t have to do all the cooking anymore!