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.

img_0393

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

img_0396

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.

img_0362e

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.

img_1462e

Ellen worked on macrame jewelry.img_1495e

Here are some of her creations.  Beautiful!

Of course we watched lots of movies and TV shows.

img_1480e

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

united-states-of-america-passport

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.

embassy-map

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.

us-embassy

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.

us-embassy-2

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.

img_0360e

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

img_1382

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.

img_1224

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