Enjoying Time with Friends and Neighbors

A couple of weeks ago, several of us spent the afternoon at Eddie and Betty’s watching football games and sharing delicious munchies.  (Appetizers are called bocas here.)  Everyone brought a a boca to share.  It was a fun afternoon!

Football Sunday at Eddie & Betty's

Football Sunday at Eddie & Betty’s

That same evening about 8 p.m. we received a phone call from our neighbors Doug and Corinne who were on their way home from Eddie and Betty’s.  They were parked outside our gate.  It had been raining heavily and there had been a huge landslide just past our rental so the road was blocked.  Since they couldn’t get past the landslide, we invited them to spend the night in the other house.  The next morning we all went out to take a look at the damage. The following are some photos of the landslide, which caused a big tree to fall over.  It took several hours to clean up the mess.

Corinne, Doug and Eddie checking out the landslide on the road

Corinne, Doug and Eddie checking out the landslide on the road

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Corinne and I had a lot of fun talking about our favorite recipes.  One of her specialties is baking cinnamon rolls.  Not only did she share her recipe with me, she taught me how to make them!  It is an all day event, so we arranged to work on them later in the week.  On the morning we were to get together the power went out, but we decided that if it didn’t come back on when it was time to bake the rolls, we would try to do it on the grill.  As soon as we arrived where Doug and Corinne were staying, the power came back on…yea!

The rolls take several hours to make as the dough needs a lot of time to rise, but it’s worth all the time and effort.  They tasted fantastic!  I don’t eat much wheat, so I had to restrain myself.  Eddie on the other hand enjoyed several.  Even so, it’s a good thing the rolls freeze well.  It would be problematic to outgrow our clothes here!   There isn’t much shopping in our area; the nearest mall is in San Jose.

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After our baking session, we all walked up to Toni and Gib’s for dinner.  Toni had planned to join the baking session, but due to the long power outage, she had to pass.  The outage caused a delay in their food preparation for dinner.  Toni and Gib are awesome cooks and it’s always a treat to be invited to their home for a meal. They know how to throw a party!

Gib, a master in the kitchen!

Gib, a master in the kitchen!

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Toni, taking a break from the kitchen, with Ellen and Corinne

We have also enjoyed meeting up with George and Susie for dinner in Dominical.  As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, they own Pacific Edge Cabinas in Dominicalito.  Their place is wonderful…a little mini-paradise. (www.pacificedge.info)

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Our new neighbors just up from our rental are very nice, too.  Dale and Perry are renting the big white house right next to the road.  We walk right past their house when we are hiking up the hill toward our lot.  We have had many “over the fence” chats.  Just recently, we helped them through the process of signing up with the CAJA and obtaining their temporary clinic cards.  After a successful visit to the CAJA office in Quepos, Dale and Perry treated us to lunch at Dos Locos, a Mexican restaurant…well as Mexican as you can get here, which is much different from home. It was still a nice meal, though. To get the clinic cards, we had to go to the hospital in Quepos, which is a short drive outside of the main town.  We were lucky that the nice lady was there instead of the young man.  She remembered Eddie when he stopped by to extend our temporary clinic cards while I was still in Chapel Hill.  She was so happy for us when we showed her our Cedulas (residency cards).  She typed up our permanent clinic cards in a flash.  It was Dale and Perry’s turn next.  We had warned Dale and Perry that it might take a while to get their temporary clinic cards as it took us well over an hour.  It took only 10 minutes for them!   It was good fortune that it was the nice lady who waited on us.

For Thanksgiving dinner, we went to Toni and Gib’s.  Dale and Perry were invited, too.  As I mentioned above, it’s a special treat to have a meal at Toni and Gib’s; they truly outdid themselves for Thanksgiving.  The food was delicious and we all stuffed ourselves silly!   The turkey and all the trimmings were cooked perfectly and it all tasted so good.  I think the turkey was close to 20 pounds.  Usually, it’s difficult to find turkey here, but Costa Rica imports them especially for the expat community for the holidays…for a steep price as with all imported goods.  On our way back from San Jose two weeks ago, we priced the turkeys at the AutoMercado grocery in Jaco and they were $6 a pound!  Yikes!!!  I splurged and bought a bag of fresh cranberries there for $9 in order to make my own sauce for the big day.  We also brought along Eddie’s awesome apple pie, my cheese ball and freshly baked Norwegian Butter Horn rolls.  It was quite a feast!  Toni and Gib love to entertain and they do it with style!

Wow!  Ready for the feast!

Wow! Ready for the feast!

Gib and his branded turkey (RR for Rancho Ramirez)

Gib and his branded turkey (RR for Rancho Ramirez)

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Ellen chatting with Dale, Sonja and Perry

(Unfortunately, Doug and Corinne missed a spectacular meal as they had returned to the U.S.  They don’t live here full-time.  We all missed them!)

It’s Official! We are Residents!!!

Our appointment with Costa Rica Immigration in downtown San Jose was scheduled for Tuesday, November 11, 2014 at 9 a.m.  We were meeting our attorney at his office at 8:30 a.m.  Since it was early in the morning, we decided to drive to San Jose on Monday afternoon and stay overnight.  As I’ve mention in previous posts, it’s about a 3 hour drive to San Jose.  We weren’t on the road that long; we were somewhere between Hatillo and Quepos when the cars in front of us were stopped on the highway.  At first we thought it was because of an accident, but we quickly realized that traffic had halted due to a sloth in the middle of the road!  Everyone got out of their cars (myself included) to take some photographs.  The 3-toed sloth was crawling along the pavement as fast as he could move.  Even so, he was moving slowly to me.  (See a previous post about sloths…)

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Our appointment at Immigration went well over all!  Our attorney drove us there along with another couple.  We met up with two more couples (one with a teenager about 13 or so) at the Immigration office.  We all got into line and our attorney gave us forms and instructions.  He was not allowed to come into the Immigration office with us.  So, we were on our own!  Eddie and I waited about an hour and 15 minutes in the waiting area for one of our names to be called.  Our attorney told us that whenever either of our names were called, we were to go in together.  My name was called first and it was pronounced “Aye-jayn.”  Good thing a friend prepared me for that or I might have missed my chance!  Thank you Darlene 🙂

We were a little nervous about the appointment as we were a week over our 90 day allotted time period because of our visit to North Carolina in September/October.  We were very fortunate that our Immigration officer didn’t question us about being a little late.  (It could have added hours to the process.)   Two of the other couples with us were not so lucky…and ended up being there most of the day.  (We had to take a cab back to our attorney’s office to retrieve our car because he had to stay with the other two couples who were having troubles.)  We aren’t sure why we fared so well, but suspect that knowing some Spanish helped us a lot.  Because we both are under age 65, we had to go to the post office (just around the corner) to arrange to have our Cédulas (residency cards) mailed to us.  If we had been over 65, our cards would have been issued the same day.  The Cédulas were mailed to the Quepos post office via registered mail, which is the closest post office to us.  We were told it would take one week.  Sure enough, we stopped by the Quepos post office this past Tuesday afternoon and our Cédulas were there!

Cedulas in hand in front of the Quepos post office!

Cédulas in hand in front of the Quepos post office!

So it’s official…Eddie and I are now temporary residents of Costa Rica!  Our Cédulas a good for two years.  Then, we renew them for another two years.  After that, we will be able to apply for permanent residency, which will give us a longer time between renewals.  Once our tourist visa stamp in our passports expire, we can apply for our Costa Rican driver’s licenses.  Stay tuned!!!

Girl’s Night Out!

Last weekend I was invited to attend a girl’s overnight outing with some of my new girlfriends from “Thirsty Thursdays” at Los Chorros Restaurante.  We all had a fabulous time!  Maureen hosted the event in her home, which is actually a hotel; she and he husband John own a boutique hotel called Río Magnolia in Alfombra, not far from Tinamastes.

The amazing view from Rio Magnolia!

The amazing view from Rio Magnolia!

Their place is absolutely beautiful!!!  It’s definitely a 5 star hotel and we all felt like princesses.  The rooms were gorgeous.  There were flesh flowers on the towels, robes, sink and soap dish.  The view was spectacular, too!

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Kitty, Maureen and me

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My luxurious room

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Rio Magnolia is beautifully designed and decorated. Here is the great room with a great fireplace for those chilly evenings.

Maureen made lasagna for dinner, which was fantastic…she is an awesome cook!  The rest of us brought appetizers and desserts.  We had just a tiny taste of the wonderful experience of staying with them.

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Wow! Maureen’s fabulous lasagna and Helen’s delicious chocolate brownies

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Wessa and Helen relaxing on the terrace

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Kitty and Maureen

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Here is a link to their web site:  riomagnolia.com   This is the perfect place to stay for a romantic get-a-way, wedding, special anniversary, family reunion or to just unwind a bit!

The next morning, Helen and her husband Jim’s worker/caretaker named Johnny was scheduled to pick us all up at 9 a.m. to drive us to Helen’s home, which isn’t that far away maybe about three miles, but due to the roads, it’s about a 30 minute drive.  Well, we waited, waited and waited for Johnny and he didn’t show up.  A half hour went by and still Johnny didn’t appear.  So, Helen called her husband Jim and Jim called Johnny and said, “Where are you!”  Turns out that something happened to the car about half way to Río Magnolia.  Johnny had called a friend who is a mechanic to come and help.   John came to the rescue!  He offered to drive us to Jim and Helen’s place.  We all piled into his SUV…four of us squeezed into the back.  Good thing we all are fairly small women!

We drove about half way and saw Helen and Jim’s car off the side of the road; Johnny was motioning for us to stop.  We were all surprised as there was plenty of room for us to get by.  John got out of the car to see what was the problem.  We soon found out!  The mechanic friend of Johnny’s was further down the road…in the very middle, at a dead stop as he didn’t have enough gas.  (The car was on an incline and the few gallons of gas in the tank wasn’t enough and the car stalled.)  So, John had to return home to get more gas.  We decided it would be better for us to wait with Johnny rather than drive back to Río Magnolia with John.  In hindsight that was a huge mistake!

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The mechanic’s car out of gas in the middle of the road

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Helen talking with Johnny. Not obvious, but fire ants were everywhere next to the car.

We all got out of the car in the middle of the road.  It was a nice sunny day.  I grabbed my bug spray, hat and umbrella from my luggage (the rest of which went off with John).  As soon as he left, the skies darkened and I knew rain wasn’t that far away.  At the moment, however, I was more concerned about the chiggers as I was wearing sandals.  In fact, we all were except Margaret.  She was the smart one of all of us as she was wearing boots!  In the end, chiggers were the least of my worries.

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Wessa and Kitty

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Margaret with her fancy rubber boots. They saved her from the ants!

Time passed and suddenly Helen shouted that there were fire ants where we were standing.  We all jumped about and moved away.  We thought we were safe.  Meanwhile, Johnny moved the car so that it was pointing in the right direction.  (I’m still not sure exactly what happened with the car, but I suspect that it was the fact that Johnny had trouble figuring out the 4-wheel drive.)

It wasn’t long after John left us that it began to rain.

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Wessa and me trying to stay dry

Things got worse, of course.  We decided to sit in the car to get away from the rain.  And, unbeknownst to us, Johnny had parked right next to the fire ant hill!  As we started to get into the car, we realized the ants were coming into the car with us!!!  We tried to shake them off the car mats, but they are so tiny.  We all got ant bites, except for Margaret, who was wearing boots.  She was the only one prepared for this adventure!

Eventually, John returned with the gas and we were on our way.  We barely managed to squeeze into Helen’s car with Johnny driving.  It was a harrowing drive as Johnny seemed to have trouble driving the car.  It was a jerking drive and I was a bit car sick when we finally arrived at Helen and Jim’s.  It was about 11 a.m. when we arrived and we stayed for a bit before heading out.

Kitty and her husband Mike gave me a ride home and along the way we ran into traffic as a result of a huge accident involving two semi-trucks and a car.  Not good, but it appeared that no one was seriously injured!  Talk about a crazy day…I arrived home about lunchtime.  Getting home was an adventure, for sure!

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A Fiesta on the Beach!

Recently, we were invited to a party on Matapalo Beach where our friends Eddie and Betty live.  Their friends, Luis and Vaya, who own a restaurant called Club Roncador near Quepos were hosting the party.  Betty wanted us to meet more locals to practice our Spanish…hence the invitation.  She was right, of course.  We had a fabulous time!  It was a lot of fun meeting new people.

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Ellen with Corinne and Betty

The food was wonderful and we all had too much to eat!  Turns out that it was a celebration of Luis’s birthday and soon more family and friends arrived to celebrate the big event.  Also invited were our neighbors who have a house near our lot.  They will be leaving for the States soon, so it was nice to see them again before they leave.

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A toast to Luis (wearing the blue shirt), who was celebrating his 56th birthday

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Eddie with Eddie and Doug

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Our friends Betty & Eddie – closing in on 51 years of marriage!

The following day, we were returning from our walk and noticed a three-toed sloth on the road not far from our rental house.  At first glance it looked like a stuffed animal, but we quickly realized it was a sloth.  Since it wasn’t moving, we thought it might be dead or injured.  As soon as the dogs spotted it, they started barking and getting too close to it.  The poor sloth started to move and then we realized it was alive!  It started moving pretty fast (for a sloth) as it was trying to hide from the dogs.  Sloths are incredibly slow moving animals, but the the dogs scared it.  Fortunately, Chiquita and Paloma are well behaved and they backed off when we called them.  Finally, the sloth made it into the grass and we didn’t have to worry about it being run over by a car or truck.  It’s so nice to have these cool animals in our “backyard”.

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Shopping in San Isidro de General

Almost every Thursday, we drive to San Isidro de General to shop.  The drive takes about 50 minutes on a windy road through the mountains.  Our first stop is usually the farmer’s market (feria in Spanish) where we stock up on all our fruits and vegetables for the week.  We usually buy papaya, mangoes, blackberries, strawberries (when in season), pineapple, bananas, avocados, tomatoes, celery, carrots, potatoes, green beans and lettuce.

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Eddie buying some nice papayas

There are other things there, too, such as meat, baked goods, beans, spices, crafts just to name a few.  The market is pretty large and there is a good selection from many different vendors.

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Depending on what we need, our shopping varies.  This trip I was looking for a Teflon 11 x 13 cake pan and we also wanted to stop at the butchers to buy some ground sirloin.  We left the farmer’s market and drove to the church where there is small parking lot available to the public for a small fee.  I think it’s about a dollar an hour.  We prefer to park there and then walk to the different shops.

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San Isidro's central park

San Isidro’s central park

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Central San Isidro isn’t a huge place, so it’s easy to walk from one shop to another.  This day, the stores we wanted to visit were close to the town park next to the church.

We walked to one of our favorite stores called 5 Menos where they have everything from food, tools, kitchen items to fabric and clothes.  Most of the time, things are very reasonably priced there.  I did find a cake pan, but it wasn’t very sturdy and it cost more than I wanted to spend – a little over $16.

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Cinco Menos is a great little general store that has many hidden treasures

Cinco Menos is a great little general store that has many hidden treasures

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Next, we decided to walk to the plastics store.  This store has a good selection of plastic bins/baskets in various sizes, buckets & mops, kitchen items and other odds and ends.   I found the cake pan there for $10 and it was a nice one. We also bought a Sterilite file bin and a few other plastic containers for food.  The sales people tend to hover at this store.  They greet you right away and then follow you around the store.  When you find something you want, you give it to them and it’s put on the counter, then they come back.  When you’re ready to check out, they total everything up and then you pay at the cashier.  After you pay, you show the salesperson the cancelled receipt and you are handed your stuff.  So, we didn’t take a photo of that shop.  Our last stop before walking back to the car was to the butcher shop.

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On our way out of San Isidro, we decided to make one last stop at the grocery store next to the bus station.  This grocery is probably the largest one in San Isidro and according to our caretaker, Lopez, it has the best prices.  The selection of food is pretty decent overall and we noticed a larger selection of food from the U.S. this trip.  Of course, anything imported from the U.S. costs at least double and sometimes triple the price of what it costs back home because the Costa Rican government institutes a heavy duty on any imported goods.  As a result, we try to bring back as much as we can of our favorite non-perishable foods in our suitcases!

Checking out the chips!

Checking out the chips!

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We didn't buy so much here on this trip

We didn’t buy so much here on this trip

Our very last stop before we head back to our casita is lunch at Los Chorros with our Thursday lunch group.  This day we were celebrating Allan’s birthday!

 Be careful not to take a swig of beer too soon after eating a bite of cake!

Happy Birthday Allan! Be careful not to take a swig of beer too soon after eating a bite of cake!

Having fun with our gang of friends on "Thirsty Thursdays" at Los Chorros

Having fun with our gang of friends on “Thirsty Thursdays” at Los Chorros

The beautiful view from Los Chorros

The beautiful view from Los Chorros

Back to Costa Rica after a Great Visit to the US

It’s been a while since we’ve posted something new because we were much busier than we anticipated during our trip back to Chapel Hill, NC.  Now that we’re back in Costa Rica, we plan to pick up the pace.  Our trip (four weeks for Eddie and six for me) was fantastic!  There was so much to do…the usual bookkeeping, sorting through mail, seeing family, visiting with friends, helping around the house and of course a lot of shopping.  Wow!

Ellen sealing the fence

Ellen sealing the fence

Eddie chopping the grass in the pasture

Eddie chopping the grass in the pasture

Jane demonstrating her pasta making skills

Jane demonstrating her pasta making skills

We had a fun time with my cousin Al from Tampa who was in town for a Duke Football game

We had a fun time with my cousin Al from Tampa who was in town for a Duke Football game

Brunch with my friends who were former neighbors in Chapel Hill

Brunch with my friends who were former neighbors in Chapel Hill

We even managed to squeeze in a couple days in the Outer Banks (Nags Head).  Mark rented a house for a week and we joined them there for some fishing.  Since I’m not patient enough to fish, I went shopping instead!  Nags Head is a cute town and I managed to find a quaint shop that only sells local craft goods.  I bought some sea glass jewelry for Jane and me.

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Also, Jane and I hosted a home party to help my friend Susie sell some of the Borucan things that she had in the U.S.  She wanted to bring her inventory back to Costa Rica, but there was too much of it!  The party was fun and quite a few pieces were sold, but there was still too much.  For those who couldn’t attend the party, we arranged a different time to shop.  I put the duffel of Borucan things in the trunk of my car and took them with me wherever I went.  It was a huge success!  I sold around 75% of Susie’s inventory.  A big thank you to all of my family and friends who bought some things!!!  Susie was thrilled with the results.  I think I should have gone into “sales!”  To learn more about the Borucan’s, here is a link to the web site that Susie created for Artesanos Naturales:  www.borucacostarica.org

After lunch, Judy, Ann & Jeanette had fun shopping from the trunk of my car

After lunch, Judy, Ann & Jeanette had fun shopping from the trunk of my car

After Eddie returned to Costa Rica, I drove to PA for a visit with my grandmother.  We had a great time together as always!   I was also able to see both of my brothers, sister-in-law and nephews.

Gammy & I...she is going strong at 97!

Gammy & I…she is doing really well for age 97.  Hope I have her genes!

My younger brother Jim and his wife Amy.

My younger brother Jim and his wife Amy.

...and their three boys:  Max, Jake and Ben

…and their three boys: Max, Jake and Ben

My brother Britt showing me how to take a selfie with my new phone

My brother Britt showing me how to take a selfie with my new phone

My friend JoAnne whom I had not seen in 24 years

My friend JoAnne whom I had not seen in 24 years

While we were gone, several people commented to us that they hoped Lopez’s dogs would still be there when we returned to our rental house.  One of the first things Eddie mentioned to me after he returned was that the dogs were still there!  And, they looked really good.

Out for the morning hike up the hill

Out for the morning hike up the hill

Now for the sad news…the day before I returned, Lopez’s oldest dog Lucas was run over by a car.  Lopez didn’t share all the details, but it sounded pretty bad.  He received a phone call that his dog had been killed.  It was only a few days earlier that Eddie had put a dog tag with Lopez’s phone number on Lucas’ collar.

Lucas - rest in peace my friend.  He was about 6 years old.

Lucas – rest in peace my friend. He was about 6 years old.