Planting and Planning

Lately we have been spending a lot of time doing work on our lot.  It’s only a mile and a quarter up the mountain from our rental house.  A couple of times a week, we hike up there and it’s a steep hike.  My heart pounds so much that I always feel like I’m about to have a heart attack!  Occasionally, we drive up there, too, and it’s more comfortable than hiking.  We thought it would be pretty cool to plant pineapples on one of the tiers.  It seemed like the perfect place to have some pineapple as it gets full sun.

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Pineapples are plentiful here in Costa Rica and they are delicious!  The pineapples are so sweet and juicy and so much better than the ones we can get in North Carolina.  They are easy to grow, too.  Just cut off the green crown and put it in the ground.  Eddie likes to plant them in a pot of soil first.  He lets them grow there for about three months and then he plants them on the lot.  From what we have read, it takes approximately six months for the flower to bloom after planting.  Then, it could take another 10 to 12 months or so for the fruit (pineapple) to become mature.  Typically, the pineapple plant reproduces every year.

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Our house plans our progressing.  This past Friday, we spent most of the morning measuring and staking out the house to see if it will all work out.  It’s going to be a tight fit!  We did all this a few months ago, but decided to re-do it as the architect measured the lot differently.  There is a significant discrepancy, which makes a huge difference…as in the house won’t fit on the lot!   The architect is in the process of doing a review with our measurements and we hope the house will fit.  Eddie found a great program on-line, which we used to design our future home.  Here is the basic schematic of our design as it stands now (though the pool will be triangular instead of an oval; the program only has one pool shape available) :

First Floor

First Floor

Second Floor

Second Floor

On Tuesday, September 16, we fly to North Carolina!  We are really excited about going back home to see our our children, family and friends.  Even so, we are going to miss Chiquita and Paloma very much!  Paloma sleeps outside our door every night and I know she will miss us tremendously.

Chiquita knows how to get comfortable!

Chiquita knows how to get comfortable!

Even though we are leaving Costa Rica for a few weeks, please keep checking the blog as we will continue to post.

A Doggie Update

Earlier this past week, we took two of Lopez’s (our caretaker) dogs, Chiquita and Paloma to the veterinarian again.  It was time for Chiquita’s second round of puppy immunizations.  We took Paloma along with us as the fungus on her back appeared to be returning and we wanted to make sure she was going to be fine.  Chiquita isn’t too sure about riding in the truck, but Paloma loves it!  Paloma isn’t a very tall dog, but she somehow manages to get herself into the truck before the door is fully opened.  Chiquita has to be coaxed a bit to even get close to the truck.  I usually give up and pick her up and put her in the backseat.   It makes sense, I guess, as every time we take her for a ride, she gets poked and prodded…poor thing.

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The vet appointment went well.  Chiquita received shots and was so happy to get her special treat for being good.  The vet told us that the fungus on Paloma’s back had become bacterial and prescribed a medicated shampoo which we were to apply twice a day…really?  We figured once a day should work out fine and so far so good!

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After the vet, our next stop was to the auto place to have the transmission fluid changed in the truck.  We were told it would take an hour and a half.  We decided to have lunch at the restaurant across the street and the doggies came with us.  That’s a nice thing about Costa Rica…pets are allowed in most restaurants and stores.  The doggies were great!  They didn’t bark or create any type of commotion.  We were really impressed.

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Well, we dragged out lunch as long as we could…an hour and a half was up.  So, we made our way back to the shop and as I anticipated the truck wasn’t ready.  Fortunately, the doggies were welcome to sit in the waiting room with us!  Another hour and a half later, the truck was finished!  Both Chiquita and Paloma were so well behaved; it was really amazing.  As far as we know, they haven’t been trained and they really don’t need to be either.

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Just as we were leaving the shop, it started to rain hard; it was a treacherous drive back to the casita. We could hardly see the road, but we made it just fine.  We had almost five inches of rain that night along with a lot of thunder and lightening.  Chiquita and Paloma were huddled against our front door.  I wish that we could let them stay with us in our casita, but they are outdoor dogs.  (Well, we think the two years that Paloma disappeared, she was adopted by an expat who pampered her, which is why she is a little chubby, likes to ride in the truck and wants to be inside the casita. For more about the return of Paloma, check out the July blog post titled, “Monkey Business.”)  It’s not an easy life for a dog here…it’s truly the survival of the fittest.

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A couple days later, we had Chiquita spayed (with a different veterinarian).  She was such a brave doggie!  We dropped her off early in the morning and then picked her up late in the afternoon.  All went well and we arrived back to the casita armed with an anti-inflammatory and antibiotics.  Lopez was here to greet us. He was so appreciative that we took care of having Chiquita “fixed.”  He had wanted to take her to a donation sponsored clinic, which offers neutering for about $20 to locals, but there weren’t any openings available this month.  So, we offered to take care of it for him.  None of us wanted Chiquita to have a litter of puppies.  The vet charged us about $50, which we thought was a bargain, but Lopez thought it was very expensive.  The average laborer in Costa Rica earns about $3 an hour.  We aren’t exactly sure how much Lopez earns as a caretaker, but we are guessing around $7K a year with room/board included.  He sends about half his income to his children in Colombia.

Pobrecita!  Chiquita coming home after her surgery.  She is sitting in her new bed.

Pobrecita! Chiquita coming home after her surgery. She is sitting in her new bed.

It’s been three days since Chiquita’s surgery and she is doing very well.  We have been trying to keep her activity level down, but she is already back to her usual energetic self, jumping all over the place!  Today, she was rough housing with the cat and chasing him in the yard.  Her two tiny stitches will be removed on Saturday.  We are really going to miss all of the doggies when we return to North Carolina next week for a month long visit!

What’s in Your Grocery Store?

Costa Rica has an abundance of exotic fruits…many that we had never seen before.  We see them at the farmer’s markets, road-side stands, in the grocery stores and even in people’s yards. We have a few interesting fruits in the yard around our casita, too.  Eddie is much braver than I at tasting them, so I always have him “taste test” first!  If he says that it tastes good and he doesn’t show any signs of poisoning, then I have a little nibble.  He usually likes everything that he tries, but not me.  It seems like a lot of the fruit is fibrous and slimy.  I guess I have some texture issues.  Anyway, we thought it would be fun to take some photos of a few of the fruits we have tried and share!

Apple guava is very sweet.  It has many tiny seeds, which give a little crunch to it.  It’s impossible to pick them out.  Guava is most commonly used for jams, jellies, marmalade and fruit drinks (called aguas frescas in Costa Rica).

Guava

Guava

Atemoya fruit is very juicy.  It’s a little sweet and tart at the same time.  We decided that it tastes similar to a piña colada.  We have an atemoya tree near our casita.  Eddie planted one of the seeds and the sampling is about a foot tall now.

Atemoya

Atemoya

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Rambutan (called Mamón Chino in Costa Rica) looks and feels rather like a koosh-ball.  There is a large seed in the middle with a gummy, grape-like pulp around it and it tastes similar to a grape, too.  They are in abundance in Costa Rica between July and October.

Mamón Chinos

Mamón Chinos

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Mangosteen tastes sweet and tangy.  It’s very juicy and a little fibrous.  Eddie really likes this one!

Mangosteen

Mangosteen

Cacao or cocoa is of course used to make chocolate, but there is another part of the fruit that we didn’t know about.  A friend gave us one of the fruits (cacao pod) from a tree in her yard.  The inside is filled with seeds the size of almonds and a white slimy pulp which you can eat.  You suck the pulp off of the seed like a hard candy.  The pulp tastes sweet and lemony like a lemon meringue pie.  Once the pulp is removed from the seed, then it’s roasted and can be ground into cacao powder.

Cacao

Cacao

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Eddie is in the process of drying out the seeds in the sun.  He plans to roast them and then grind them into Cacoa nibs to put in his fruit smoothies that we have for breakfast every morning.

This last fruit tastes somewhat sweet like a fruit, but has the consistency similar to squash.  We haven’t figured out the name of it yet.  Any ideas?  Please post a comment if you know what it is!  Thanks so much…hope you enjoyed this post.

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What is this?

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