House For Sale – Winding Down Our Time in Costa Rica!

It has been seven years since we made our leap to Costa Rica and I guess we have recently come down with the “seven year itch.” We have decided to put our home up for sale! There has not been any particular happening that has driven us to this decision, but mostly a yearning for a change of scenery (“What?”, you say! “How could it get any better?”) and opportunities to do different things.

The view from our pool deck is spectacular!

Our time here has been full of adventures and if you have been following this blog for a while, you know quite well what I am talking about. We are very blessed to have had the opportunity to experience living in such a picturesque and amazing country as Costa Rica. The natural beauty of the diverse flora and fauna, the wonderful people we have met, the tranquility, and the great (mostly) weather are a few that top the list. There will be many things that we will miss — and a few that we surely won’t! No reason to dwell on the negatives, though.

The last month has been a busy time for us – focusing much of our time on cleaning and de-cluttering the house to get it ready to show. Needless to say, after so much work our muscles are sore and we could use massages, but the place looks great. The local real estate market has been heating up recently with much interest coming from the United States. I can’t imagine why people might want to get away from the states right now -Ha Ha! So, with the house now in show condition, all we need is a buyer… Check out the sales listing here. Perhaps you know someone who might like to have a Costa Rica get away.

Have you ever seen such an amazing rainbow?
We have some wonderful sunsets. No two are the same.

Baby Hummingbirds – Hatching to Liftoff

Several months ago, we noticed a mama hummingbird starting to build a nest in a Lipstick palm tree right next to our house. We had a great view into the nest from a second floor window that overlooks the palm. Quite intrigued, we kept a close watch and tried to document the progress with photos and video. Mama entertained us for many hours a day. We were constantly checking on her.

Hummingbirds are small, but their eggs are tiny! To give you a perspective, the opening of the nest above is only about 1.25 inches across. The eggs are about the size of jellybeans! The nest is amazing – built of very fine plant and leaf fibers. Mama also collects strands of spider web and uses them to add strength to the nest. To provide some camouflage, she attaches lichens around the outside. Apparently the nest of each species of hummingbird has its own particular look. This one is the Rufus-tailed hummingbird.

The two baby hummingbirds hatched around the 7th or 8th of October. Mama sat on top of the babies to keep them warm in between feedings and at night. She stopped doing this a few days before the babies were ready to leave the nest. We had several big storms during this time and we were so worried about them. The wind and rain were very strong and thrashed the palm leaves against each other. We thought mama would be thrown from the nest, but she managed to hang on!

The mother was very busy collecting food to feed her chicks. She returned to the nest every 15 minutes or so and stuck her long beak way down the babies’ throats to deliver the food.

Hungry birds are growing fast!

One day, Mama had to defend her babies from a lizard. She was flying around the lizard and squawking at it. Eddie ended up helping her out. He took a broom and used it to shake all the branches around the nest. The lizard took the hint and took off.

Their feathers are becoming distinct.

The above photo taken only a little more than two weeks after the eggs hatched and it was the last one we took since it was the day that the little guys flew out and away. We went upstairs to check on them a few hours after the photo was taken and the nest was empty. It is amazing how fast they developed! Below is a short video compilation showing the progression.

We read that the babies will hang around the nest for a day or two learning how to fly and for mama to show them where to find food. Shortly after we realized the babies had left the nest for good, we started to look for the cat. Fortunately, Rusty was easy to find and we locked him inside!

A gorgeous double rainbow. It was even more spectacular in person. It appeared in the early morning of December 31, 2020. Happy New Year! Hopefully, 2021 will be much better than 2020!

Nature Provides Great Entertainment During the Pandemic!

We are so fortunate to have an almost constant stream of wildlife visiting our property – a great source of entertainment! While we often feel like we are reliving Groundhog Day, nature always seems to come to our rescue and offer up something fun. Speaking of rescue, we have recently had a couple of opportunities to help out our animal friends. The first was when we discovered a hummingbird that had gotten tangled up in the web of a golden orb spider. This spider’s web is incredibly sticky and extremely strong. I managed to pluck the little guy from the web and hold him still in my hand while carefully pulling off the sticky filaments. I was afraid that he might have injured himself, but he immediately flew off once untangled.

Then, the second rescue happened while we were on one of our early morning walks on the beach. We spotted something in the sand near the high tide line. Upon closer inspection, we found an olive ridley sea turtle on its back. At first I thought it might be dead, but Ellen said, “turn it over”, so I did and found the turtle to be very much alive. The turtle had come onto the beach to dig a hole in the sand and lay its eggs. Apparently, she somehow got turned upside down in the hole and could not get out. We think she must have been there for at least a couple of hours, since the turtles come to lay their eggs at night. She seemed very tired from the ordeal.

The turtle in the nest hole after being turned over.
The journey back to the ocean took her awhile, but she made it!

So, in about 60 days the baby turtles should be hatching and hopefully making their way into the water. We are going to keep watch and maybe, if we are lucky, we will get see the babies hatch. You may remember from one of our blog posts a few years ago, we did see a group of newly hatched turtles make their way to the ocean (check it out here). It’s always a great feeling when you can help a creature get out of a helpless situation.

You probably would not expect to have an iguana looking at you through the window, but that is what happened to us the other day. We were in the main living area of the house (with the door open) when the dogs alerted us to a visitor outside on the pool deck.

The iguana took a defensive stance against Olivia and started whipping its tail toward her. The tail was hitting the glass and making a racket. I managed to close the door while Ellen called the dogs inside through the sliding door in our bedroom. Then I got my camera to take the photo. A beautiful creature for sure – very prehistoric looking!

The same sloth that we reported about in the last blog post has been coming back to the same tree located next to our pool deck. For the past month or so, we have seen her (we figured out it’s a female) for periods of several days at a time. Then she disappears for a couple of days before returning. Ellen decided we should name her “Slothie”. We have enjoyed photographing her and watching her graceful movements on the tree branches.

Slothy enjoys eating the leaves of the cecropia tree.

One of our favorites has to be the white-faced capuchins. They visit us fairly regularly, especially if they smell bananas nearby. When we harvest a stalk of green bananas from one of our trees, we hang it up by our carport to ripen. We recently had left a few ripe bananas hanging up and the monkeys came to help themselves. They are so cute and fun to watch.

The monkeys will do their best to try and scare you away!

Another amazing sunset! Be safe and stay well!!

We Have Many Interesting Visitors: Critters & Insects

Costa Rica’s tourism mascot, the three-toed sloth, is a very cute guy. We recently had one visit us, hanging out in the tree next to our pool area for a few days. He was feasting on the leaves and fruit of a Guarumo tree.

The sloth captivated us for hours on end. We became obsessed with tracking his movements in the tree – and since we’re basically hold up at the house due to the Coronavirus, we did have the time to watch! Eddie had his camera and tripod set and ready to capture the best poses.

Then, the day after we discovered the sloth, our neighbor, Ray, noticed we had a family of Crested owls in the trees above a section of our driveway. For several weeks, a male and female along with their young offspring perched in the same spot during the day. The Crested owl is not very common in Costa Rica, so that made it even more special.

Costa Rica is home to a species of Army ant known as the Cleaner ant. These ants constantly undertake raids in the jungle, killing and taking home insects and small animals. Their main prey are the nests of other ants whose eggs and larvae they steal. Army ants do not build nests themselves. Instead they bivouac for a night to several weeks in hollow logs or underground. The ants are almost blind, so they rely mostly on their sense of smell to navigate.

Army ants’ bivouac, a temporary home made up of their own bodies. (photo by Daniel Kronauer)

Consider yourself lucky should army ants visit your house as they will clean it from scorpions, ants and cockroaches. They systematically cover all of the areas and when done, they leave as quickly as they arrived. The Costa Ricans call them Limpiadores, which means Cleaners in English. Check out the video of their recent visit to our house. (We did manage to keep them from coming inside the house!)

Another curious insect here is the stick bug. The ones we normally see are skinny, twig-like and measure 4 to 6 inches long. However, we recently had a visit from a different species of stick bug – a larger and very odd looking one. After seeing some of the weird creatures from the insect world here, it is obvious where the creators of monsters for horror movies might get some of their ideas.

When provoked, this guy spread out some wing-like projections from its back.
All folded up and looking like the stick it is holding onto.
A butterfly on a butterfly! The live one is a Dryas iulia or the Julia butterfly.

We often have Gladiator tree frogs visit our pool at night. They swim around and cling to the edge by the waterline. It is amazing how loud their croaking is given their small size! Like most frogs they are active at night. When seen around the pool, they appear greenish, but they seem to be able to change their skin color to match their surroundings while hiding out during the day – just like a chameleon. Below are a couple of photos of these frogs taken during the day.

We got a real treat when a Rufous-tailed hummingbird made its nest in a small palm tree next to our house. They are master craftsmen when it comes to nest building. They even use spiderweb in the construction of their nests and to hold overhead leaves in place to act as a roof!

When mama was away, I got a close-up view into the nest. The opening is only about the size of a half dollar coin. Notice the lichens placed around the outside as camouflage.
June 21, 2020 – Our 40th wedding anniversary

We had wonderful plans to celebrate our 40th anniversary, a visit to North Carolina to visit our children and a three week trip to Ireland, all of which was cancelled due to COVID-19. However, we are so grateful to have good health and to be riding out the storm of the pandemic in beautiful Costa Rica!

Everyone Loves Olivia!

Olivia, now around 5.5 years old, is our very social and loving Tico dog. She was given to us by Lopez in 2016 when we moved into our house. Lopez, the caretaker of the house we were renting, had taken Olivia in several months earlier, but decided that since she had become such good friends with Rusty, our new kitten, we should take Olivia with us.

We agreed that Olivia had become part of our family and that we could not leave her behind. Olivia spreads joy to everyone she meets. She loves attention and is in heaven if she can sit on your lap. Beware as she is a kisser.

Besides kissing and licking, Olivia expresses her affection through her tail. It is wagging and thumping 99% of the time! She also has an amazing smile where she will grin showing off her front teeth. So very cute, but almost impossible to photograph….sorry, we will keep trying and post any successful pics as soon as we can!

Oliva loves to go on walks, especially at the beach. She enjoys chasing the little sand crabs and trying to dig them out of their holes.

Like our other dog Wylder, Olivia also loves to go with us in the truck.

Olivia and Rusty are still good friends and enjoy hanging out together.

Olivia enjoys visiting our neighbors Toni & Gib and Liz & Ray on a regular basis and considers them to be part of her family. She feels at home with them just as she does with us (and sometimes maybe more so). Her wandering started years ago when she met her boyfriend, Zorro. Zorro was a cute guy who belonged to Liz & Ray. Sadly, he is no longer with us.

Zorro and Olivia

We say Olivia is like the Energizer bunny since she will go and go and go. Nonetheless, she does need her time to recharge…

Olivia was a good sport this past Christmas – dressing up as a penguin, but I am pretty sure we had more fun than she did.

We have been asked many, many times by friends and family if they could take Olivia home with them – even by some who are not “dog-people”! She makes an impression on everyone!

Immersed in Nature

Living in Costa Rica, we are blessed with an amazing array of flora and fauna at our doorstep. During the almost six years of living here, we have seen (and attempted to share with you), some of the many things that Mother Nature has to offer here – quite often accompanied with an exclamation of “WOW” or “INCREDIBLE” or “BEAUTIFUL”. It has certainly given us a deeper appreciation for nature and its diversity.

We have grown accustom to seeing and hearing the regulars around our property, like the toucan, aracari, laughing falcon and white-faced capuchins – to name a few, but once and a while we are visited by something that we don’t see as often.

Here is a video of a Sloth that was in the Guarumo tree next to our pool area. It, along with lots of other animals and birds, likes the small fruits of this tree.

The golden orb-weaver spider is a common sight here. Their silk is a golden color and is incredibly strong. Here you can see one weaving a web.

So, occasionally we get visitors that aren’t native to the jungle…like this one that surprised me and the dogs one morning as we were returning from our walk.

A cute green and black poison dart frog hopping around the pool deck
This guy was trying his best to look mean and scare us!
An amazing moth!
Wow! You can’t get much prettier than that!

If you take the time to look around here, you will most likely see something that you have never seen before. We are lucky to be able to experience a place like this!

Christmas in July

(Well, it really happened in December, but here it is July already! Where does the time go?)

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The 3rd annual Christmas Party for some of the local children and families was held on December 22, 2018.  We are incredibly delinquent in our blog posting!  So sorry!!

Once again, Toni & Gib hosted the now greatly anticipated event with the help of Liz & Ray and Ellen & Ed.  Each year, we feel the need to outdo the previous year, or at least offer up something new.  Disney’s Frozen was a theme incorporated into the Snow Village and so a special backdrop was masterfully created by Toni, Ellen and Ed.

 

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Ellen and Toni were busy in the kitchen putting together the treats for the party.

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Ellen has made it a tradition to give a handmade Christmas ornament to all of the children.  This year she crocheted over 50 Santas!

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We always have some fun arts and crafts for the kids to enjoy and take home with them.

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Liz helping the kids with the arts and crafts

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Of course, a piñata filled with candies and treats was part of the fun.

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Alfredo helps out by emptying the piñata into the air.

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Time for a swim in the pool!

Wow!  The Snow Village and trains were incredible!  Over the top!  Toni and Gib really outdid themselves this year.

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Click on the arrow below to watch the video of the amazing Snow Village…

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Gib and Ray working in the outdoor kitchen.

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Everyone enjoyed the delicious cookout!

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Alfredo and Toni

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Liz, Toni, Lorena and Ellen

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Santa relaxes while Ellen hands out the Santa ornaments to the families as they depart.

A little Christmas cheer goes a long way to keep Santa happy!

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We are already planning the next Christmas party.  The kids (and adults) enjoy it so much!

Pizotes, Parties, Pies and Other Things…

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The pizote (aka white-nosed coati) is a mammal similar to a racoon that is common in  Central America. We often see them on our mountain, running across the road or climbing up a tree to grab some fruit.  Given the opportunity, both Olivia and Wylder, will chase the pizotes.  They look cute, but their sharp claws can be dangerous to dogs that venture too close.  Recently, Wylder got reminded of this when she ran after a pizote that was in our papaya tree and got a big gash on her nose.  It was decided that stitches were in order, so we took her to the vet in Quepos where she got four stitches and some antibiotics.  This was the second time Wylder got a cut on her nose from a pizote, so it seems she can’t resist the chase.

In early October, Eddie turned 61. In celebration, we had a birthday dinner with friends at Paul and Eugene’s for some great Thai food.  Awesome as always!

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With Peggy and Chis

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The guys (Benny, Gib and Rich) enjoyed some of Eddie’s home brewed beers

 

In November, our friends Tia and Mary Carmen stopped in for a fun over night visit during their Costa Rica vacation.  They also enjoyed some of Eddie’s beers!

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We enjoyed a fabulous Thai meal at Paul and Eugene’s rancho restaurant – Spice in the Jungle

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Rusty just can’t resist checking everything out! 

A Thanksgiving tradition has been set! We enjoyed yet another turkey feast at the home of our good friends and neighbor, Toni and Gib.  (We are sooooo lucky!).  Nothing is spared by these wonderful hosts when they throw a party!

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Taking a break with Toni

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Ray, Eugene and Paul

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Speaking of traditions, another is having Eddie’s fabulous apple pie at Thanksgiving.  Eddie’s pie was so popular this year that Liz, Ray and George wanted more.  Liz asked Eddie if he wouldn’t mind giving her and her friend George a lesson in making the delectable dessert.

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Liz and George’s apple pie received high marks from Eddie

When we moved to Costa Rica in January 2014, one of the first things we did was to buy our Toyota truck – a gray 2006 Hilux 3.0 TurboDiesel.  It served us very well, but we recently decided it was time to sell it and buy a newer vehicle.  So, after quite a long search, Eddie found a nice white 2013 Hilux for sale in San Jose.  It’s similar to the old Hilux, but has some updated features and of course is 7 years newer with a lot less miles.  We were able to sell the 2006 to another expat who is a friend of one of our new neighbors on our mountain.

During one of our morning walks on the beach, we saw something in the distance close to the surf.  As we got closer, we realized it was a two-toed sloth.  The poor guy was really struggling to crawl his way out.  The tide was rolling in much faster than the sloth could move.  While Eddie kept the dogs at bay, I found a large piece of bamboo to help move the sloth. The proper way to touch or move a sloth is to either grab the scruff of the neck like one would do with a cat or lift them under the arms. The sloth will throw out his arms to the sides. They have very long claws and I was afraid that my arms were not long enough to keep him from swiping at me. So, I put the bamboo under his chest and arms and slowly dragged him toward the trees. This guy was pretty heavy and it didn’t help that he was all wet and sandy.  It took me about 30 minutes to get him close to the trees. A Tico was having a picnic with his family and as I got closer to them, he came over and asked me what was going on. I explained how I had found the sloth in the surf and he amazed. He took over the task of getting the sloth to a tree. He wasn’t afraid to grab the sloth the proper way.  After the man got the sloth safely to a tree, he called his family over to look at him. I got quite the upper body work out…my arms were very sore the next day!

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The area where we found the sloth is adjacent to where a river empties into the ocean. As we were walking back to the truck, we discovered his tracts coming from the river. So we then realized that he must have fallen out a tree into the river upstream and drifted all the way down to the ocean. Obviously, he was disoriented and when he got out of the river, he crawled toward the ocean instead of the tree line.  He was lucky that we were walking along the beach that morning!

 

 

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Rusty meets up with an iguana, but decides he better leave it alone

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A heavy rain storm washed out the foundation at one end of this bridge on the road into Hatillo.  The bridge was built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers back in 1984.  Fortunately, there are other ways in and out of Hatillo, but we are hoping that it does get repaired sometime in the coming year.

Wishing everyone a wonderful holiday season!

 

Having Fun with Family

It has been a very long time since we have posted…but rest assured that we are doing well and enjoying the slower paced life at the beach!

We were very fortunate to have some family visit us recently.  Our son Erik and his girlfriend Susana were able to spend a week with us in early May.  We had fun eating out and touring the local wildlife sanctuary Villa Alturas near Uvita and the Vanilla Farm located near Naranjo (outside of Quepos).

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Dinner at The Gate One Charter.  The airplane has been converted into a bar.  We are standing on one of the wings.

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Susana and Erik enjoying craft beer at Fuego Brewery in Dominical.

Then, mid-July Ellen’s brother Britt and his girlfriend Krissie visited for a week.  We had a very relaxing time…mostly hanging out at the house enjoying our fantastic view.  We were incredibly lucky with the weather.  There were only a few sprinkles here and there.  They brought the good weather with them…and took it away when they left!  On the day they left we had 4.2 inches of rain in just an hour and a half.

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Krissie and Britt enjoying the pool.  Krissie jumped right in, but Britt took a while…we thought it was going to take all day for him to get in the pool past his ankles!  After all, the pool was a cool 79 degrees!

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Drinks and dinner at Fuego Brewery.

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The drink menu at Fuego Brewery.

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Britt ordered the craft beer sampler. 

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Getting ready to go zip lining at Hacienda Baru National Wildlife Refuge & Lodge, located just 10 minutes from our house.

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Britt napping, which he seemed to do a lot, but then he was on a much needed vacation!

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We were able to have some nice walks on our favorite beach Playa Linda.

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Olivia and Wylder love to run and play on the beach.

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A fun evening at Gib’s place who lives a little further up from us with friends Paul and Eugene who live on the lower part of our hill.

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Gib cooking salmon for us in his new outdoor kitchen.  It was a fabulous meal!

Britt was on his laptop catching up on worldly events while Krissie enjoyed the view and caught up on her reading.  Olivia and Rusty kept her company.

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Lunch at Toro Loco in Uvita.

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Walking around Dominical

It helps to have a handyman around especially when you live in the jungle!  It’s not like we have AAA or an Auto Zone on every corner.  We had just pulled into the carport when Eddie realized there was something wrong with the truck.  He discovered very quickly that the radiator had a hole in it and needed to be replaced.  This happened late on a Friday afternoon.  Eddie first called the Toyota dealership in San Isidro to see if they had the part.  They did have it, but wanted over $1,600 for just the radiator!  This part would cost around $350 in the U.S.  So, Eddie called a few more places and found a third party Japanese-made radiator for $200.  Obviously, not the same quality as a Toyota, but it would get the job done.  (The truck is 12 years old.)  Fortunately, the part store was open on Saturdays and Eddie was able to borrow Gib’s car to go and fetch the radiator.  It was quite job to do the replacement.  He had to remove several parts to get to the radiator.  It took him all afternoon to do it!

 

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Eddie replacing the radiator. 

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Driving the pets to the vet in Quepos for Olivia and Rusty’s annual check-ups.  Rusty hates to ride in the truck and meows all the way there. 

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Wylder likes to sit on the edge of the pool deck for long stretches like a gargoyle looking for animals below.

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Olivia is such a sweet doggie!  She took a liking to Krissie and vice versa.  Olivia was so sad when Krissie had to leave.

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The Masked Tree Frog is a regular visitor to our pool at night.

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Celebrating our 38th wedding anniversary (June 21st) at Heliconia, a great restaurant in Ojochal.

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Another beautiful sunset!  We never get tired of our view.