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!

Our House is “Finished” – Week 39

Well, as you all have probably guessed, we have moved into our house!  Unfortunately, the house wasn’t ready for us, so we have been frantically working on it to make it livable. And, it hasn’t been easy!   This is why we have been off-line for these past four weeks.  The move was absolutely crazy…bordering on chaos.  But, before we get into the big move, let’s get caught up first.

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This slice of Cristobal wood is going to be hung on the wall above the kitchen bar.  Eddie is preparing the hooks on the backside of the piece.

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A piece of rebar and a notch make a place for hooks to hold up the wood piece.

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Eddie uses a template to locate the hooks on the wall.

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Workers hoist the wood up the scaffolding in preparation to hang it.  The slice of Cristobal is very heavy.

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Success!  Now, down comes the scaffolding.

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The entry gate is taking shape.

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Manglillo wood is used for the gate.

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Eddie is installing a water meter.

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Eddie and Marvin are working on the water line from the storage tank to the house.

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Eddie is installing the water booster pump and filtration system.

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Rusty the cat is checking on the progress of the pool.

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The pool is almost ready for water.

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This is the plumbing for the pool pump and filter.

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Eddie is installing supports for the big shelf above the bar.  Again, Rusty is supervising to make sure all goes well.

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A big slab of Cenizaro wood makes a beautiful shelf.

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The carpentry crew are installing the interior wood doors.

So, you have seen that we have been very busy these past few weeks.  Ellen has been cleaning like crazy.  Dust is everywhere!  It’s a never ending battle trying to keep up with it.  The next installment will be about moving day.  Stay tuned!

Our Vision Becoming a Reality

So here is a fun little thing that I put together… during the course of construction, I’ve periodically taken photos of the house construction project from the same vantage point.  In time-lapse fashion, I put a series of these photos together to show the progress of the construction from the beginning until now.  Hope you like it!

Building Our House – Week 29

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A lot has happened theses past two weeks!  The roof tile has been installed along with the solar hot water system.  The solar company originally was scheduled to install the system in January, but they had a cancellation and asked if they could do the installation this past Friday.  Fortunately, that part of the roof had already been completed, so it worked out for them to do it.  Interestingly, they came prepared to install the system on a flat roof not a tile one.  Not too many people have flat roofs here, so Eddie was surprised that they weren’t prepared.  Our workers saved the day.  They welded a frame on which the solar panel could rest.  It took quite a while to construct.  As a result, the system installation took longer than they anticipated – an all day affair.  Eddie came up with a good idea to protect the PEX lines from the sun by using air conditioning line insulation.  The next day, he climbed up on the roof and did that work himself.

Installing the solar water heater.

Installing the solar water heater.

All connections are complete.  PEX lines (red & blue) to get covering to protect from UV rays.

All connections are complete. PEX lines (red & blue) to get covering to protect from UV rays.

The pool tile has been installed as well and now the guy is working on grouting it.  It looks awesome!  Our foreman’s young son has been up at the house this past week.  He told me he is excited about swimming in it.  He wanted to know when it would be ready.

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Eddie and Edgardo (our foreman) installed the PEX distribution manifold for the water lines.  Eddie has been teaching him how to work with the PEX system.  Edgardo and his father have expressed an interest in using PEX in some of their other projects.  Eddie told them he would help them with ordering, importing and installing.

PEX distribution manifold for hot and cold water lines.

PEX distribution manifold for hot and cold water lines.

Things are really moving along now with the interior space.  The tile guys finished working on the master suite bathroom and have started working on the guest suite bathroom.  Eddie and I are very pleased with both the tile selection and its installation.  The guys are doing a fantastic job!  The other day they started tiling the main floor both upstairs and downstairs.  It’s looking beautiful!

Master bath tile work underway.

Master bath tile work underway.

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This is the floor tile going on the floors, other than in the bathrooms.

This is the floor tile we are using in most of the house.

The metal worker making our banister for the staircase that leads up to the guest suite came by on Monday with his crew.  It took them all day to weld the wrought iron pieces together, attach it to the stairs and paint it.  It was painted black and then a bronze finish was applied.  It’s absolutely gorgeous…a true piece of art!

Wrought iron stair railing has been installed.  It will have a wood hand rail as well.

Wrought iron stair railing has been installed. It will have a wood hand rail as well.

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The workers continue to put up the wood tablilla on the ceiling.  They are now working on the two story section of the house.  It’s a lot of space to cover.

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Last week, we visited the cabinet maker who is working on our kitchen, both bathroom suite vanities, interior doors, side outer door and the main door.  He and his workers have completed the frame for the kitchen island and both bathroom vanities.  They had some of the doors and drawers finished and were in the process of sanding them.  Everything looked great so far.  Eddie asked them to begin working on the two outer doors next so that they will be ready when the windows and the patio doors arrive and are installed.  That way we can secure the house.

The bathroom vanity frames are in process.

The bathroom vanity frames are in process.

Got drawers?

Got drawers?

Raw lumber (Cedro Amargo) for the doors.

Raw lumber (Cedro Amargo) for the doors.

When Eddie drives up to the lot to check on things, he usually parks his truck a little further up at the entrance of another lot that is right below our friends Toni and Gib’s house.  Gib is quite the comedian and the ultimate joker.  He always has something humorous to add to the conversation and we recently discovered that he likes to pull pranks, too.  Last week when Eddie pulled up, there was a handicapped sign in front of his parking spot!

Eddie's usual parking spot.

Eddie’s usual parking spot.

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Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!

Meow-y Christmas!

Meow-y Christmas!

Building Our House – Week 27

These past couple of weeks, the house has kept us quite busy.  We have spent a lot of time choosing just the right color of grout for all the tile work, colors of interior and exterior paint, and looking for bull-nose Coralina for around the pool.  Eddie spends several hours a day at the house supervising and helping out.  The next big project there will be to install the manifold for the PEX water system.

Some paint samples for the exterior.

Some paint samples for the exterior.

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The PEX manifold will go in this cavity and be covered with some wooden doors.

The PEX manifold will go in this cavity and be covered with some wooden doors.

The 4 tons of tile from Santa Ana was delivered, finally!  The tile company doesn’t have their own delivery, so they get bids for you from delivery companies.  The delivery company that was deemed the most reasonable in price ended up being not so reasonable.  They held our tile “hostage” for more money when they realized exactly where we lived.  Then, the driver wouldn’t drive it all the way up the hill.  Eddie thinks he was scared because he is a city boy and not used to driving up steep hills.   The driver stopped 150 yards short of the property.  So, Eddie and a couple of the workers had to off load the tile into smaller trucks and take it the rest of the way.  It took took seven trips!  You can just imagine all the cuss words. Pura Vida.

Porcelain tile "delivery". The driver just wanted to get the tile off his truck and go.

Porcelain tile “delivery”. The driver just wanted to get the tile off his truck and go.

The guys continue to stain the tablilla (wood panels for the ceiling) and have begun installing it.  They installed the sheet rock for the ceilings in the kitchen, master suite, bodega and side entrance.  They have been working on installing the roof tile, installing ceramic wall tile in the master bathroom, prepping the pool and the stairs for the tile work.  There is always a lot going on at once.

Tablilla installed in the guest suit bathroom.

Tablilla installed in the guest suit bathroom.

And here in the entryway

And here in the entryway

Roof tile installation has started.

Roof tile installation has started.

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Yesterday, we received word that our windows and sliding doors are ready for installation.  That will happen the first week in January.  It will take five days to install it all.  The solar hot water system is scheduled for January 11.  We are coming into the home stretch now!

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This small closet will house the water pressure booster pump and the water filtration system.

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A few steps leading to the pool equipment room were built.

Our new kitty Rusty is growing.  He has gained about a pound already.  He has such a cute personality and we’re having a lot of fun playing with him.  Rusty loves to be outside playing with sticks, little bugs and Lopez’s dogs.  He tries to play with Pacho, Lopez’s cat, but Pacho won’t have anything to do with Rusty.  Perhaps that will change when Rusty is a little bigger.

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Building Our House – Week 25

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In the foreground of this photo, you can see the roof tile and some of the gutter pieces.

Things are moving along!  The guys continue to work very hard.  These past two weeks, they have sanded the wood tablilla for the ceiling and are now in the process of applying the stain and polyurethane.

Sanding the tabilla

Sanding the tablilla

Finishing the tablilla

Finishing the tablilla

They finished the rework to the front entrance and the applying of the final finish coat on all the walls.

This is where we had a portion of the half wall torn out to improve the entrance to the house.

This is where we had a portion of the half wall torn out to improve the entrance to the house.

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The gutters have been installed and are in the process of being re-painted.  The first coat of paint didn’t match the roof tile very well, so that had to be adjusted.

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All the shower valves were plumbed and the walls patched.

The shower valve for the guest suite is plumbed with PEX tubing.

The shower valve for the guest suite is plumbed with PEX tubing.

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This is the outdoor pool shower

Soon the guys will begin installing the roof tile and tiling the pool.

On another note, last week we woke up early in the morning and found that there were three dogs outside our door!  Turns out that our caretaker Lopez, adopted another dog from a friend.  Her name is Olivia and she is about eight months old.  She is very shy and sweet doggie.  Olivia is a Tico mix…we think she has some Chihauhua in her.  She is best buddies with our new kitty…yes, believe it or not, we adopted a kitten shortly after Olivia arrived.  It was a spur of the moment decision.

Olivia

Olivia

Already best buddies!

Already best buddies!

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Eddie and I were talking about finding an orange cat as they seem to be excellent hunters.  Not sure if that’s really true or not, but our daughter has an orange cat that is an great hunter and Lopez has an orange cat that is an awesome hunter.  We just happened to stop into the pet store in Uvita a week ago and there was an orange tabby kitty waiting for us.  We just couldn’t resist…and so we adopted him.  His name is Rusty (already given to him) and we think he is about 9 weeks old or so.  He is so cool!  Rusty has an fantastic personality.  We really enjoy playing with him and so do Olivia, Paloma and Chiquita.

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Time for a nap!

Time for a nap!

Building Our House – Week 23

Our house is coming along nicely!  Both Eddie and I are very pleased with the progress and the quality of the work.  These past two weeks the guys have been working on leveling the interior floors and the pool deck, sanding the tablilla (wood paneling for the ceiling and under the outer roof), fixing the front entrance, and finishing up the windows and doors.  The electrician’s crew have been doing more electrical work.  The cabinetmaker who is going to make the kitchen cabinets, all the interior doors, front and side doors came by to measure the openings, and the window company stopped by to take their measurements as well.  In addition, we have another cabinetmaker who will make the closet doors, bathroom cabinets, staircase railings and furniture for us.  So, there has been a lot of activity at the house.

The floor in the spare bedroom is being leveled

The floor in the spare bedroom is being leveled

The wood for the ceilings is being sanded.

The wood for the ceilings is being sanded.

We had a portion of this half wall knocked out to improve the front entrance.

We had a portion of this half wall knocked out to improve the front entrance.

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The wall for the kitchen bar counter was built

The wall for the kitchen bar counter was built

The electrician is installing the electrical box for the pendant lights that will hang from the big wooden shelf over the bar.

The electrician is installing the electrical box for the pendant lights that will hang from the big wooden shelf over the bar.

Eddie talking with cabinetmakers Caesar and Don Diego about some projects.

Eddie talking with cabinetmakers Caesar and Don Diego about some projects.

A few weeks ago, our friends Tia and Mary Carmen were visiting and  Tia suggested that we visit Eugenio’s wood workshop in Playa Hermosa, which isn’t far from Jacó.  The drive is about an hour and 15 minutes.  Last year, Tia bought all sorts of gorgeous wood for tables, bases for tables, pieces for the wall and had it shipped to her home in Florida.  She thought we might find a few things at Eugenio’s for our house and she was right!  Tia and Mary Carmen, who is a former interior designer gave us some wonderful ideas.  We had a fun day looking at the wood pieces at Eugenio’s “shop.”

Mary Carmen and Tia looking at some of the wood pieces at Eugenio's Woodworking.

Mary Carmen and Tia looking at some of the wood pieces at Eugenio’s Woodworking.

Ellen spotted a piece of Cristobal for a possible wall decoration.

Ellen spotted a piece of Cristobal for a possible wall decoration.

Last week, Eddie and I returned to Eugenio’s.  His son Andres who speaks English and runs the shop for his father found a nice piece of wood for the shelf needed to hang the pendant lights over the bar in the kitchen.  He also found a slab of wood that will work for one of the bathroom counters (the sink will sit on top of it).  And, we bought the gorgeous piece of wood (cross section of the base of a 500 year old tree) that Tia and Mary Carmen suggested we hang on our big living room wall above the shelf.  It took a few days to sand and varnish the wood, so we had to make another trip to pick it up.

Another section of Eugenio's wood shop.

Another section of Eugenio’s wood shop.

Andres putting the final touches on the bathroom counter top.

Andres putting the final touches on the bathroom counter top.

This slab of Cenizero is ready for the bathroom counter.

This slab of Cenizero is ready for the bathroom counter.

This slab will be the shelf above the kitchen bar (also from the same tree as the bathroom counter top).

This slab will be the shelf above the kitchen bar (also from the same tree as the bathroom counter top).

This is the cross section of the Cristobal tree which weighs about 200 lbs.

This is the cross section of the Cristobal tree which weighs about 200 lbs.

We successfully loaded everything into the truck.

We successfully loaded everything into the truck.

In addition, we have been shopping for tile for all of our bathrooms – for the floors, walls and showers.  We spent hours in a store in Santa Ana (near San Jose) picking everything out.  It wasn’t an easy task to pick out colors and style for everything at once.  We wished that Tia and Mary Carmen could have been with us to help.  The house isn’t ready for the tile just yet, so it will be delivered beginning of December.  It all added up to 4 tons!

Ellen in front of the tile we are using in the master suite bathroom.

Ellen in front of the tile we are using in the master suite bathroom.

The tile showroom in Santa Ana where we found the tile for the bathrooms.

The tile showroom in Santa Ana where we found the tile for the bathrooms.

While in Santa Ana, we stopped at a place called Cerámica Las Palomas that our friend Chris told us about.  We bought a painted sink there for the half bath.  The one on display in the shop was too big, so a smaller one is being custom made for us.  It should be ready in a few weeks.

We liked this sink for the half bath.

We liked this sink for the half bath.

We are standing at the edge of the pool deck thinking about what it will be like when the house is all done.

We are standing at the edge of the pool deck thinking about what it will be like when the house is all done.