Sunday, December 30, 2007

Hey, What's Your Handicap?

Hey, what's your handicap? (click on cartoon to enlarge)
I saw this cartoon by Glen McCoy in the Belleville New Democrat, Belleville, IL, and thought it so appropriate for Costa Rica. Go anywhere, and see if you can find a handicap parking spot, which is empty. Just watching the people get out of cars, usually very young people, it begs the question, "Hey, what's your handicap?" If only I could say that in Spanish now! After having been with several of my handicapped friends, and not being able to find a vacant spot, I know what they go through. Shopping is not easy for those who would be much more comfortable if they could find a closer parking spot, where marked parking is provided, the room by the parking spot to get out/in, say nothing of the gutters and extremely uneven, or broken sidewalks just getting to the store. The person pushing the wheel chair, has the hardest job, getting inside the store. I know the newer stores and shopping centers have made great strides to accommodate the growing older population, not only aging gringos, Ticos as well, but how nice would it be to have even sidewalks, and wider entrance ramps from the street to the sidewalk. Education in the schools, teaching children the respect for others needs, and proper enforcement of the law, would be a big help. Just a thought...

Friday, November 30, 2007

Thanksgiving Week

Early in the week, I drove to Orosi to visit with a friend. What a drive it was! I was okay with the directions (3 pages of them) going down, except for one wrong turn, taking me 30 minutes to get back where I needed to be. But coming back home was something else! I spent 1 1/2 hours in San Jose, because I missed my first left turn. I drove quite aways north, then quite aways south again...asking questions several times. As my Spanish is still 'not very good', at best, I saw a lot more of the San Jose area than I had ever seen before! Finally, I asked a traffic policeman, and was able to understand that I needed to go north again. And when I finally saw a sign for the airport, I knew I was going to be okay.

While I was in Orosi, we took a drive to my friends new 'finca', farm for those of you who don't understand Spanish either. They recently bought a finca with about 6 acres. There is a family working the land for them, clearing, planting, and it is looking pretty nice. The valley is somewhat tighter than where I live, but so beautiful too. Sometimes, I have a hard time deciding if I like places better, the more I see. I am very happy where I am, but understand why they felt like they were home when they saw this piece of property. In so many ways, it is different, yet similar in ways too. The 'river runs through it' takes on a vivid meaning there. The rock and slopes are huge, and there are nearly 400 fruit trees as well as the natural growth. I took 20 some pictures and am posting a couple here. To see others, click on my Flickr display on the side display.
If you look, deep in the mountain is a waterfall, 3 when it is raining. Photo to the left.

Charlotte and I stopped to eat at a small, typical 'soda' (restaurant) near the river after hiking all over their property. While we were waiting for our meal to come, a truck started across the bridge just outside the soda, and as happens frequently, stalled out right as it got on it. I had to take pictures of this event also. It provided our 'dining entertainment', and more diesel fumes than I ever wanted to inhale. Over the course of an hour, cars came and some went, as they changed their minds and turned around and chose, perhaps, a different route, or not. The traffic that stayed, some came in the soda for lunch or at least a dish of ice cream. Just as I was taking pictures, the truck became mobile again, and the traffic jam moved on. We saw the truck, again having trouble about 1/2 a mile from the bridge, beside the road. Many of the trucks here are held together with chewing gum, honey, and/or a prayer. Reminds me of a few cars we use to have when I was a kid... Dad could fix anything.

The house my friend is renting during the interim, until they build, is very beautiful, and the yard is a wonderful garden, but the STAIRS...Oh, My Gosh...every room is up or down! They get their exercise daily, without leaving home. No wonder she was always 20 steps ahead of me and waiting...when we were walking her property.

Thanksgiving day was wonderful too. I came home in time to go to a friends' for turkey and all the fixin's. It was a great meal, but turkey is hard to come by here, and to the tune of $75.00 for the bird. I am surprised there are not more 'turkey farms' here, instead of all the 'chicken farms'. I would have to say that my ambrosia salad and chocolate cake were the hit of the party, even surpassing the bird. Turkey is way over rated...don't you think.

The days are beautiful again, and rain is an occasional thing again. I have to show you a sunset, and a rainbow I caught, just a few days ago, well, maybe a week or so ago. And I will only mention the days now, yes, days I have been cleaning mold. You know the saying "less is more", well here, "less is less" I mean. I am going to do some 'down-sizing', or I guess they call it 'right-sizing' now. Right-sizing for here is getting rid of anything you don't use on a daily basis. Loose it or clean it, during the rainy season! And lest I incur the wrath of someone yelling "dehumidifier", yes, I know...but short of one in every room and closet, well, you get the picture. Next rainy season, the doors are coming off the closets! And they may not go back up. For now, lamps are burning.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Plants, what wonderful plants!

My history with plants has never been a very good one. Well, most of it anyways. When I was a child, my parents always had a garden each year, and we grew and canned most of the food we would need for the winter. The growing season in Montana is somewhat shorter than here in Costa Rica, but we always had great veggies to can each fall. When I was married, we had several gardens over the years, depending on where we were, and how long we thought we would be there. Most of the gardens were good ones. Even after I was single, I liked growing herbs, flowers, and a few veggies, tomatoes, and I had a good bunch of green peppers one year.

Now that I am here in Costa Rica, veggies are so inexpensive, and readily available, that growing much of a garden would only be for the fun of it. I have collected many plants in the past few months though. I use to call them house plants, but here they grow mostly naturally, and do very well, in the right light. House plants and I never had a lasting relationship. Mostly, I forgot to water them, and then when it was too late, I gave them too much water, trying to save them. Now, I will try my hand at "plants" again, but think I may have a better chance of success here. This week I heard of a local family who will be moving and need to get rid of most of the plants she has collected. I was amazed at the number of plants she has for sale. Big ones, little ones, and everything in between. I don't know the names of most of them, and perhaps never will, but they are so beautiful. Now if I can keep the ones I bought from her alive. My patio looks like a green house and gives me a peaceful feeling, just setting outside. Pictures to follow... Got to get a few baskets, to hang, and a couple larger pots to transfer some of the plants into. One is an orchid, and is blooming now. It is large, and so beautiful.

The rainy season has been so good for the plants I had previously planted. They seem to have taken off the last 2 weeks with the extra sunshine since the heavy rains have slowed some.

I am having the time of my life! What a great life it is!

Monday, October 22, 2007 Weight, the kind that "someday" becomes your friend. Dedicated to Saratica (hope you see this)

After reading Saratica's blog about fighting the extra lbs., 10, 20, 30 or how ever many you have to lose, I am posting this. And who ever started calling it "lose" anyway, it always seems to find us again. You may ask, "What does this have to do with Costa Rica?". Well, even with the wonderful fruits and veggies here, some of us still fight the extra lbs. all the time. One of my dear friends, (tall and slender friend, who only fights a few lbs.)sent this and I am sure you will get as big a laugh from it as I did. Women understand the continuous struggle.

Haven't we all had similar experiences?

...Dear Diary, For my sixtieth birthday this year, my daughter Rachel (the dear) purchased a week of personal training at the local health club for me. Although I am still in great shape since being a high school football cheerleader 43 years ago, I decided it would be a good idea to go ahead and give it a try. I called the club and made my reservations with a personal trainer named Belinda, who identified herself as a 26-year-old aerobics instructor and model for athletic clothing and swim wear. My daughter seemed pleased with my enthusiasm to get started! The club encouraged me to keep a diary to chart my progress.

MONDAY : Started my day at 6:00 a.m. Tough to get out of bed, but found it was well worth it when I arrived at the health club to find Belinda waiting for me. She is something of a Greek goddess - with blond hair, dancing eyes and a dazzling white smile. Woo Hoo!! Belinda gave me a tour and showed me the machines. I enjoyed watching the skillful way in which she conducted her aerobics class after my workout today. Very inspiring! Belinda was encouraging as I did my sit-ups, although my gut was already aching from holding it in the whole time she was around. This is going to be a FANTASTIC week-!!

TUESDAY : I drank a whole pot of coffee, but I finally made it out the d o or. Belinda made me lie on my back and push a heavy iron bar into the air - then she put weights on it! My legs were a little wobbly on the treadmill, but I made the full mile. Belinda's rewarding smile made it all worthwhile. I feel GREAT-!! It's a whole new life for me.

WEDNESDAY : The only way I can brush my teeth is by laying the toothbrush on the counter and moving my mouth back and forth over it. I believe I have a hernia in both pectorals. Driving was OK as long as I didn't try to steer or stop. I parked on top of a GEO in the club parking lot. Belinda was impatient with me, insisting that my screams bothered other club members. Her voice is a little too perky for early in the morning; and when she scolds, she gets this nasally whine that is VERY annoying. My chest hurt when I got on the treadmill, so Belinda put me on the stair 'monster'. Why the h*** would anyone invent a machine to simulate an activity rendered obsolete by elevators? Belinda told me it would help me get in shape and enjoy life. She said some other s*** too.

THURSDAY : Belinda was waiting for me with her vampire-like teeth exposed as her thin, cruel lips were pulled back in a full snarl. I couldn't help being a half an hour late, it took me that long to tie my shoes. Belinda took me to work out with dumbbells. When she was not looking, I ran and hid in the restroom. She sent another skinny b**** to find me. Then, as punishment, she put me on the rowing machine -- which I sank.

FRIDAY : I hate that b**** Belinda more than any human being has ever hated any other human being in the history of the world. Stupid, skinny, anemic, anorexic little cheerleader. If there was a part of my body I could move without unbearable pain, I would beat her with it. Belinda wanted me to work on my triceps. I don't have any triceps! And if you don't want dents in the floor, don't hand me the D*** barbells or anything that weighs more than a sandwich. The treadmill flung me off and I landed on a health and nutrition teacher. Why couldn't it have been someone softer, like the drama coach or the choir director?

SATURDAY : Belinda left a message on my answering machine in her grating, shrilly voice wondering why I did not show up today. Just hearing her made me want to smash the machine with my planner. However, I lacked the strength to even use the TV remote and ended up catching eleven straight hours of the Weather Channel.

SUNDAY : I'm having the Church van pick me up for services today so I can go and thank GOD that this week is over. I will also pray that next year my daughter Rachel (the little s***) will choose a gift for me that is fun -- like a root canal or a hysterectomy. I still say if God had wanted me to bend over, he would have sprinkled the floor with diamonds!!!

I picked myself up from the floor, after having the best laugh all month!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Surfin' the net!

Finally, the days are normal again. Mornings are nice, sunny and afternoons or evenings the rain showers come. Those of you, not in Costa Rica, who read Costa Rica blogs have probably gotten tired of hearing about the rain. Well, true it is the rainy season, and most of it is not too bad. We living here learn to do our running around early in the day, and can set back and relax while the rain comes rolling in. It is amazing to see it come. Sometimes, it is like a wall of water one can see in the distance. Usually, those are the extremely hard rains.

I have been spending much of my time, while it rains, either reading or on the computer. So you will probably see the sites I have been visiting or the blogs I find by what I add to my list, from time to time.

This time, I have been subscribing to, and downloading programs on iTunes. I found that I could see the evening news (ABC, CBS, or NBC) each day this way. It is nice to be able to keep up with what is going on, and what the major issues are in the USA. Even though it maybe somewhat later than when it airs there, at least I can see it. The news on satellite TV is limited, the English site for news is pretty much CNN International, and covers much more of the Asian countries, and unless something major is going on in the USA, it does not have coverage there. Those who have cable TV are able to see the major networks, and see most of the current programming. Satellite programming comes out of South America, mostly, and is re-run programs, or movies which frequently, were never shown in theaters anywhere. And understandably so, they can really be bad. I did not realize that one, outside of the USA, can not stream programs on the major networks. While I was surfing sites, I found a forum about that very issue. Because many of the programs are sold through iTunes, I am able to see my favorite shows by purchasing and downloading them. Technology, how far we have come! And I can only imagine what improvements and innovations will take place over the next few years. I would never have imagined, even a couple of years ago, that I could have so much at my finger tips, while living in a 3rd world country. I say that loosely, as I am reminded from time to time, but hardly ever think about it as I go about my daily routines. Much of life here is so comfortable, and tranquil, that alone, is a reminder to me that I am not in my prior life.

I love jazz and bossa nova music, and I found a wonderful, online station, which is fabulous, and has many, many different genre. They have a link on the “radio” stations on iTunes, so I went to the site, and found they have all this online music. What a wonderful find!! One thing I discovered was that when I stream at 128K, it breaks up, but when I choose on of the lower steams, it plays just fine. So I am groovin’!

And to think that I was always too busy to enjoy the simple things in life…

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Woodpecker might have to go...

This came in an email today titled "Religion can be fun!" And with all the rain we have had the past week, I thought it was too cute.
I also found a clip I will put here too...rain, we've got it! "Here, we got (spoken in 'Bubba Gump Shrimp talk' - Forrest Gump movie)blowing rain, pour-down rain, outta no where rain, liquid sunshine rain, refreshing sweetwater rain, all hell breaks loose rain, monsoon rain, gully washer rain, a Real toad strangler rain, endless rain, sprinkle rain, soaking rain, all damn day rain, flooding rain, river running rain, wish it would quit rain, blinding rain, raining rain, raining tadpoles rain, wash out rain, mudslide rain, flood the streets rain, no school today rain, watch the grass grow rain, bored silly rain..."
Thankfully, we had a nice morning today!

Monday, October 15, 2007

It's a Beautiful Morning....sunshine.... (or something like that, the song)

It is so nice to see the sun shine in the mornings again, after the 6 days of constant rain. I think everyone feels better now. The sun gives me hope, and makes me want to do things that I just don't find the energy for when it is raining. I am sure it is giving the road crews time to get out and do some repairs to the roads which have collapsed during this last rainy spell. I'm glad I do not live to the west of San Ramon where the roads under perfect conditions are not the greatest, and with all the rain, landslides and heavy traffic, some are not even able to go home.

Romie and Rob are able to stay in their home tonight, and how happy they are! It has been nice having them "camp in" here, and we enjoyed many DVD movies during the rain storms. I made notes and posted the DVDs on the side display. had some cool displays for movie rentals, DVDs, music and books for personal web pages now.

Now, when I miss seeing them, I only have to drive over the hill, and I'll be at their house. The cleaning, polishing and putting things away were accomplished today, so they can feel they are home now. Happy Days!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

This was written on Oct 10th, so the count now is 6 days of constant rain...

Three Days of Constant Rain Closes Three Roads, Costa Rica and the Central Valley for the most part, has woken up to the third consecutive day of rain, causing mudslides responsible for the closure of three major roads according to the Minsterio de Obras Pública y Transportes (MO{T).A portion of the road connecting San José to Pérez Zeledón in the southern zone is blocked. The road connecting Tabarca, south of San José, with Rio Conejo permits only restricted movement, allowing only vehicles narrower than 2 metres (6.5) to pass through.And mud and rocks converting the better part of a lane on the Inter-American highway along the Cerro de La Muerte has restricted traffic through the area.The Conesjo Vial (Conevi) says that it has mobilized heavy equipment to clear the roads and restore full transit through the affected areas, though they could not give a definite timetable for when the work will be completed.

October is the worst month of the rainy season for rain falling on most of the country except for the Caribbean coast, which gets theirs in January.The reason for the constant rain is being blamed by a low pressure system stalled over the Central Valley and the northern region.

Typically during the rainy season, the mornings are filled with sunshine, clouding over and heavy rain and thunderstorms in the afternoon. However, during the past three days, there has been little of any sunshine and then only for short periods in the afternoon, as the constant rain has continue to fall during the night and well into the day.The Instituto Meteriologico Nacional (IMN) - national weatherman - is predicting that the rainy season will extend into November. Typically the season ends by the end of October.

Another News Clipping about the Flooding

10 Dead, 5 Missing in Avalanche
by Rod Hughes
UPDATE: As of 8 p.m. Friday, eight more bodies have been uncovered by rescue workers, bringing the confirmed death toll of the avalanche to 10 with at least five more persons missing.
Atenas–An avalanche of rock and mud buried seven homes in Bajo Cacao in the San Isidro district of this town northwest of the capital during the early morning hours yesterday. As of this writing, two persons are known dead and 13 are missing as rescue crews and neighbors dig frantically through the accumulation of debris that once was part of a hillside.
Heavy rains signalling the end of the rainy season–wetter than normal–also flooded homes throughout the Central Valley this week, as rivers left their beds and flowed into surrounding neighborhoods. But this morning, the attention of the country is focused on the rescue attempt.
Shortly after 1:50 a.m. yesterday, a neighbor gave the alarm that “a tragedy of great proportions” had occurred. Other neighbors heard the thunder of the slide and struggled through a torrential cloudburst to the scene in pitch blackness. One of them, Freddy Artavia, told the newspaper La Nacion, “The rocks and trees didn’t let us pass. It was very dark and we couldn’t see a thing. It was raining a lot.”
By 9:05 yesterday morning, the first victim’s body was found, that of 25-year-old Jeffry Aguero. By 1:10 in the afternoon, Red Cross workers found Arquimides Aviles, 40, an employee of a nearby chicken ranch. Red Cross rescue crewman Randal Viquez of nearby Atenas arrived shortly after 2 a.m. and described utter confusion and screaming.
One of the first things Aguero did was to rescue a child of about seven whose feet were trapped by the slide. He was immediately taken to an improvised medical facility in the Fatima community center.
As often happens during disasters, there were miraculous escapes. Isabel Sandi was carried 100 yards by the slide but managed to extricate herself from the ruins with only a glass cut on her hand. “My husband had more injuries than I. It was dark and we didn’t know where we were,” she said.
The avalanche, 200 yards wide, left a path of devastation 400 yards long down the hillside, reaching the bank of the Cacao River before it stopped with parts of three autos showing through the debris. But the seven missing homes were not the only casualties. The Red Cross felt it prudent to evacuate 22 other homes in stricken Bajo Cacao as well as 40 more in the La Mandarina housing development.
Meanwhile, more than 785 homes have been damaged by flooding on the Pacific slope and 235 persons are in emergency shelters. Especially hard hit was the Puntarenas province town of Parrita.
And, if that were not enough, the national Weather Institute says the torrential downpours may not be nearly over, with a low pressure area in the Caribbean moving in Costa Rica’s direction. The country’s topography is so narrow that a low pressure zone close in on the east inevitably sucks in wet air from the Pacific, bringing rains.

Saturday October 13th, no rain yet today. Hopefully, things will dry out some to prevent more mudslides. A portion of the Auto Pista (major road), between San Ramon and Puntarenas collapsed yesterday also. Don't know if it is open yet. A friend was going to meet us for lunch, yesterday, but was not able to get on the highway.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Headlines - Town not far from here

Costa Rica Mudslide Leaves 4 dead, 14 Families Missing
Thursday , October 11, 2007

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica — Torrential rains caused a hillside to give way in central Costa Rica on Thursday, killing at least four people and burying houses, authorities said.
Two days of constant rain triggered the mudslide near the town of La Mandarina de Atenas, where 14 families are missing, said Miguel Carmon, president of Costa Rica's Red Cross.
Rescue workers were using heavy machinery and sniffer dogs to search for the missing, Carmon told reporters.
Authorities declared a state of emergency in four municipalities where rivers are close to jumping their banks and more mudslides are feared.

Wow! And the forecast for the next 14 days is for much more rain. The satellite map shows clouds and rain, and not much else.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

And Still....Raining!

This is Romie and Rob (Romie's son), on a warmer, sunnier day...
Romie, Rob and I are "camping in". Today, we will go to town for a new supply of movies and food. This looks like it may last awhile...the rain and the "camping in". But we can handle it! With plenty of good books and movies, good food and snacks, and great companionship (the boys included), who could ask for more? All is well in our world!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Rain, Rain...It must be October!

Yes, this is the second full day of rain, with much the day before also. It has been a heavier than usual season of rain, and I wondered if I would know the difference when October came. Everyone said that Oct is the heaviest rain, and it is holding true to form. When I awoke during the night, I could hear it raining.

In spite of the rain, yesterday was moving day for Romie and Rob. Fortunately, the truck was covered, making it much less difficult. Cesar, our Tico friend, and a couple of his amigos were the "man power" behind the operation. The move went without a glitch, but on the other end, was not the same story. The new house was suppose to be finished, but as things seem to have a life of their own, it was not. While furniture was being placed, a friend was sweeping and mopping, just to get the floor clear enough to get things in out of the rain. More about this in a day or two. Romie and Rob tried to stay in the house the first night, and were so sickened by the paint fumes, that they soon realized other arrangements needed to be made. Romie and Rob will be staying at my house for the time being...more to follow. Contractors who will never be recommended to anyone...for more than one reason.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Pictures today

Spanky got a bath this week, and Sunni will get one in a day or two. I just love the softness of their white fussy fur when they are so clean. High maintainance for sure, but oh what a reward! Bath time is so much easier here in the pila (outdoor sink). It is a combination of 3 sinks, one deep well, and 2 shallow. Makes the job much less difficult because it is just the right heigth. And they don't seem to mind it too much until I wash their faces. Then they are ready to get out! Takes a while to dry them also. Spanky is the first two pictures, and Sunni is the 3rd picture.

Franklin, my gardener, planted my new palm today. It is at least 15 or 18 ft. tall, and you will not believe that I paid $12 for the combination of the tall palm and the shorter under growth palm. One of my Tico neighbors cleans yards for others when the growth is too thick. I asked him to save a few plants for me, and he has. For than less than $50, so far, I have gotten so many plants, I don't remember how many. I will take pictures as the plants grow and put them on my blog. Some of my plants are free cuttings from friends and others I have just stopped along a road and taken a cutting, or gotten it from a farmer's field. So many plants that are used in the states for house plants, grow here in the wild. So now, you know where your house plants came from.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Thoughts on Aging...

I received this today in an email. It is so true, and it so totally describes where I am at this point in my life. I made just a couple changes to the original, to fit my life.

"The other day a young person asked me how I felt about being old. I was taken aback, for I do not think of myself as old. Upon seeing my reaction, she was immediately embarrassed, but I explained that it was an interesting question, and I would ponder it, and let her know. Old Age, I decided, is a gift. I am now, probably for the first time in my life, the person I have always wanted to be. Oh, not my body! I sometime despair over my body, the wrinkles, the baggy eyes, and the sagging butt. And often I am taken aback by that old person that lives in my mirror (who looks like my mother!), but I don't agonize over those things for long. I would never trade my amazing friends, my wonderful life, my loving family for less gray hair or a flatter belly. As I've aged, I've become more kind to myself, and less critical of myself. I've become my own friend. I don't chide myself for eating that extra cookie, or for not making my bed, or for buying that silly cement gecko that I didn't need, but looks so avante garde on my patio. I am entitled to a treat, to be messy, to be extravagant. I have seen too many dear friends leave this world too soon; before they understood the great freedom that comes with aging. Whose business is it if I choose to read or play on the computer until 4 a.m. and sleep until noon ? I will dance with myself to those wonderful tunes of the 60 &70's, and if I, at the same time, wish to weep over a lost love ... I will. I will walk the beach in a swim suit that is stretched over a bulging body, and will dive into the waves with abandon if I choose to, despite the pitying glances from the jet set. They, too, will get old. I know I am sometimes forgetful. But there again, some of life is just as well forgotten. And I eventually remember the important things. Sure, over the years my heart has been broken. How can your heart not break when you lose a loved one, or when your child suffers a lost love, or even when someone's beloved pet gets hit by a car? But broken hearts are what give us strength and understanding and compassion. A heart never broken is pristine and sterile and will never know the joy of being imperfect. I am so blessed to have lived long enough to have my hair turning gray, and to have my youthful laughs be forever etched into deep grooves on my face. So many have never laughed, and so many have died before their hair could turn silver. As you get older, it is easier to be positive. You care less about what other people think I don't question myself anymore. I've even earned the right to be wrong. So, to answer your question, I like being old. It has set me free. I like the person I have become. I am not going to live forever, but while I am still here, I will not waste time lamenting what could have been, or worrying about what will be. And I shall eat dessert every single day. (If I feel like it) MAY OUR FRIENDSHIP NEVER COME APART ESPECIALLY WHEN IT'S STRAIGHT FROM THE HEART! MAY YOU ALWAYS HAVE A RAINBOW OF SMILES ON YOUR FACE AND IN YOUR HEART FOREVER AND EVER! FRIENDS FOREVER!

Enjoy your day!

Rush Hour the country!

Late yesterday afternoon, 3:30 ish, I heard several cars drive by my house. After about 10 minutes, I started counting cars. Why would I do that? On a normal day I see 3 or 4 cars on this country road. I am located about 3/4 mile off a main road, on a very rustic, dirt, rockie, washed out road, and even the neighbors don't go out every day. By the time I had counted 30 or so cars, I realized something must have happened on the main road. Traffic is like rushing water here, when one passage becomes impassible, it will find another way or make one quickly. Later, I was told that 2 power line poles had fallen (so much rain had softened the ground) on the road and traffic was blocked both ways. No one waits, you can't, because it takes forever for someone to come and move the obstruction. So if there is a way around the problem, they will find it. They were turning off the main road, onto any available side road, and trying to find another way around the mess. The roads here are mostly private roads which go to houses or farm fields, though one is a round about, and if you make the proper turn, you will get back on the main road again. Because this is a mountainous area, the private roads are only maintained to a "barely passable" status, and any abnormal amount of traffic, in the rainy season, will destroy a road in no time at all. One neighbor had just put over $2000 into fixing his very long drive.

After 2 hours of constant traffic, and people getting stuck everywhere, a neighbor drove his car out and blocked one entrance, and asked another neighbor to close and lock the gate to his drive. The gate is normally closed and locked at 6:30, but last night it needed to be closed sooner. There were several cars stuck in the farmers field, lower in the valley after taking a wrong turn. One car got stuck near my house when he spun out trying to make the hill, and I am sure his paint job was scratched when he backed into my barbed wire fence. No harm done to the fence. Most posts in fences here were once tree limbs, and when placed in the ground, they soon develop roots, and waa-laa, another tree is born. I must say, I like the effect. After a few seasons, the fence develops into a very nice surrounding.

And yes, we were without power for 1 1/2 hours. I think my friend has it right. She is almost ready to move into her newly built home. One feature she had added was a propane gas generator. She will be the one neighbor with power when the rest of us are sitting in the dark. I may look into the same solution. I usually read when the power is out. Most of us have powerful lights, battery type, for power outages. Scheduled outages usually don't last more than 4 or 5 hours, but who knows ICE's schedule. And unscheduled just hope they find and fix it before your freezer thaws. Oh the challenges of life in paradise! I still would not trade it for anywhere else.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

New "Navcafe" in Palmares

Saturday was the Grand Opening for this new shop in Palmares. Live music, performed by a local dual, presented a pleasant background for friendly neighborhood conversation. The young waiters/waitresses provided food and drinks in a festive atmosphere.

Palmares is a small, very tropical looking town. The streets are lined with palm trees, and greenery that make it one of the most inviting towns I have visited in Costa Rica. People are friendly, and the weather is warm and inviting all year round.

The store front was, in the past, called "One Stop", and offered an internet cafe. Now, after much construction and hours of painting and much work, it has so much more to offer. Murals line the walls of the cafe, providing a tropical forest atmosphere. "Navcafe" is a coffee brand from the local area and is served in many different blends of drinks in the coffee house. You may have tasted other Costa Rican coffees, but Navcafe is going to have you 'hooked'. You will love the delicate aroma and savor the rich bold taste of this coffee. Sweet delicious desserts and smoothies for the "non-coffee" drinkers are offered also. Not only is it an internet cafe, it has a butterfly garden, with many varieties of native butterflies. But the one major new addition is the "Smart Tours", featuring the many wonderful vistas and notable spots in the San Ramon/Palmares area. This is a great town to stop by on your way to the Pacific coast beaches, or if you are heading east to San Jose. It is located with easy exit/access to the auto pista, and will provide a rest during your travels in Costa Rica. The tours range from the coffee plantation, a cloud forest, culinary archaeology and folk roots, and a guided walk to study heliconias and gingers in the Avocado Mountains. These tours will not only explain the effect of "global warming" on cloud forest, and the co-evolutionary patterns of a neo-tropical forest, but the walk with bring you closer to nature than you have ever been before.

They have a web site which is under construction, and will have links to the coffee plantation, the tours, and other places of interest in the area. It should be ready soon. Book mark it for later reference, and call the number below for more information on tours.

Friday, September 28, 2007

All this and Pizza too!

Fridays are Pizza day in our circle of friends. It has become our regular Friday "here comes the weekend" day out. There are just so many chores to run and usually we save them up and do everything when we are in town. Having a scheduled “day out”, makes for a great time with friends, and a good way to make new friends also. Grace's is a good little pizza place in San Ramon, and the owners have grown accustomed to seeing us on Fridays.

The morning was so nice, and now it is raining. I hung a load of laundry outdoors, for the second time, and they did get dry. Some times it starts to rain before the clothing is dry, so I have to put it out the second morning to finish drying. Well, that is while I do not have my dryer. It is out for repairs right now. I did not know it, but with a gas dryer, if you run out of gas, and it continues to run for a long time, it will burn out the ignition. So, dry clothing, no, not even after you have gas again, just one of my new learning experiences. The propane bottles are smaller here, and now, I have not figured out how long they will last yet. I guess a gauge is in order.

I just finished reading "The Poisonwood Bible", and what a fantastic book! It is the first book by Barbara Kingsolver that I have read. I will be reading her other books. It was one of those books which kept me riveted from the very beginning. I am glad I brought my books with me to Costa Rica. I did not have time while I was working, to read all the books I wanted to, and added to my shelves. Now, I spend the time, without the guilt, reading and am enjoying it much more. Just as I always imagined, there is always time to do what I really want to do now that I am retired. I stay so busy that I don't know how I ever worked a full-time job. What am I saying...and the other part-times jobs I always seemed to have also. Too busy making a living to be able to make a life. I think my kids would have benefited the most if I would not have had to work so much.

I had to buy some poison for the giant leave cutter ants in my yard. In one day, less than 8 hours, they carried away an entire schefflera bush with hundreds of leaves. I have two scheffleras, the same size, but now one has no leaves. I am curious if leaves will grow back or whether to cut the bush back and let it start again. Going to a nursery and asking is not an easy thing to do here. My Spanish is not good enough for that yet. Maybe I'll have to get a friend to ask for me. Here, they are the most beautiful plant, more lush and green than a regular house plant. I have them planted in the yard, so I would hate to loose them. There are some plant forums, and I may put a question out there to see if I can get an answer also. I did find out the ants have a fungus in their home, and they carry the leaves in to feed the fungus. Who would have known!

Monday, September 24, 2007

With My Heart - Costa Rica

I'm posting this video so you all can see why I love Costa Rica so much. I used some stills that were taken near my home. The credits are at the end, and you can stop it on any shot you would like to look at for a longer period of time. Enjoy!! The song is beautiful also. "Con un Mismo Corazon". Translated: "With My Heart".

Click on the arrow above to view.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Moving Information for you researchers out there.

I am making edits to this post as I think of things, or come across situations where there is information that I think will be very valuable to you. So, you will benefit from time, as well as experience. I will put numbers into the post, and you will find the explanation below this post.

I started this in July, and finished writing it today, so I'm not sure what day will come up on the post. If anyone is following this, I must apologize for not keeping up with my blog. Much has happened since I last wrote here. I made my trip to CR in Nov. 2006, and had a great time. I was fortunate to find a local family to stay with, and canceled my other boarding plans to spend the entire two weeks with them. I did a few one day trips and saw how beautiful the country side is. I loved what I saw and decided to move to Costa Rica as soon as I could get my things packed and finalize things at home. I hired Barry Wilson,, sold some things, and packed as much as I could get in a container and still have room for a car. I sold my sedan, bought a 4WD Geo Tracker and had it shipped within my container. That gave me 27 feet of space to put my belongings. Mostly, I am happy that I brought the things I shipped, (1) but like everyone I have talked to, there are some things I would have left behind and some things I would have waited to buy here, had I know what I know now. Hind sight...more about that below. Perhaps it has something to do with where one chooses to live in Costa Rica too (2). I have chosen to live in the Central Valley area, just north of San Ramon. It is so lovely here, and I could not be happier that I have chosen to make this my home. Each day is a beautiful day, even though it is the rainy season, it is not all rain like I was accustomed to in STL. There has only been a few days, since I arrived, in which the sun did not shine for a part of the day. Usually the mornings are sunny and very beautiful. After noon, it will rain for a couple of hours, and usually, it has cleared off by sunset so I can see the small town lights for miles up the valley after dusk. There is a place in the mountains that we call "stairway to the stars" which is a street of lights which seem to go straight up into the sky. I can see 6-8 small communities along the hill tops in the distance. On the nights of the full moon, it seems like time stands still as the country side is lit up with green billows. The trees look like green pillows. I’ve never seen it so light at night, and all from the moon and the stars.

For those of you who use this as a resource to find out more about Costa Rica, I am going to cut and paste pieces from emails I have written about some of my “hind-sights” about the “stuff” I brought to CR.

I came from the Midwest, St. Louis area, and it did make a difference in the delivery time for the shipment, but not any more than I expected. I shipped the last week of March 2007, and it arrived on my doorstep the 23th of May. The only damage I had was because I tired of packing late in the game, and should have packed one lamp shade, glass, better. I am going to list some of my observations, and things I would have done differently. Remember cost are what they were in early 2007…may vary depending on place and date.

1. I shipped a 40' container, and my car inside. I'm glad I did ship the Geo Tracker, 4WD; has come in handy here, low gas usage, and size for maneuverability(3). The moving company that loaded the household goods, measured and left enough room to load the car last. I had to hire a different company to load the car properly, on a flat bed, and raised it to back into the crate. They tied it down very well. Cost for loading car, $250.00, included tie downs.

2. The household mover was a separate cost. I packed the boxes myself, labeling each and numbering them for a complete packing document. I used Excel, and typed it from my hen scratching in a notebook. Then I emailed the finished list to Barry. The way you label the boxes can be very important(4). The local moving company came to my house, gave me an estimate, and stayed pretty close to the given price. The cost for local mover, including insurance (which was not much), was $2, 200.00. It took 5 hours, with 5 men, to load my things.

3. Now, about what I brought. There were many boxes, and am glad I brought most of my things, with few exceptions. I would have taken my "work clothes" to a resale place and sold them, if I'd have realized the total uselessness of most of them here. I worked in an office setting and have some very nice clothes, most are packed away now, and I may never use them. If they are not cotton, silk, linen, rayon, or denim, they are useless here. The more casual, the better. Even when we go out, we do not dress up. (5)

4. I shipped most of my furniture also. Now, I know what does not translate very well here. The padding used in furniture in the states is too heavy for here, mold is the problem. My sofa and matching chair are fairing pretty well (6), but my recliner has developed mold. I needed to have it recovered anyway, and will do that, so it was not a total loss. Reupholstering is reasonable, and great fabrics are bountiful here. Comfort is why I shipped the recliner. Having it covered here may change the situation, and I may be very happy I have it. If I had it to do over, I would have sold all the padded furniture and had rod iron made here, with removable foam covers. It would make washing much less difficult. Same goes for my table and chairs. I am going to have new seats made for the chairs, which I can remove and wash. Another thing I have noticed is that any dresser, chests of drawers, etc. are not real practical. I find the shelving units, which were built into the house, having more ventilation are best. My wooden drawer units, are developing mold also. Mold grows on anything that stands still for more than 2 minutes. As this is the rainy season, I am sure I have learned a valuable lesson. I will have upright units made, with shelves to accommodate and replace my chests of drawers. The clothing inside the drawers which are not used and washed weekly, develop mold. If the wood furniture has a high gloss finish, it may fair better. IKEA would be an excellent store here, for northerners. Units, baskets, and that kind of stuff, would sell very well here. They sell a lot of plastic units in the stores here, but most are flimsy, and very expensive. If there are units you especially like, get several and leave the other furniture there, would be my suggestion. Nice rod iron, with removable cushions, units for the yard work great here on patios, and some work well in the house also.

5. Some things will depend on your individual life style. Think in terms of that. Easy cleaning, light weight, easy drying, portable, airy are all good things here. Mold will form on any surface. If it is difficult to clean, you will hate it after a while.

6. Bring anything you love, even if you have to go buy it. Bring anything with an electrical cord. Bring fans! All electronics are very expensive here. Because of the higher price of DVDs here, many people bring a good library with them. I have Direct TV, but they repeat movies and shows, frequently, so a good movie is a break. once in awhile. I brought a large library of books to read. I am so glad I did. I am a knitter, crocheter, and beadier, so I brought a good supply with me, and am glad I did.

7. I shipped all my appliances, frig, elec. stove, washer, dryer, upright freezer. I have had 3 of the 5 repaired since April this year. But repairs are reasonable, verses buying new. Bring computer, laptop, printers, scanners, (lotza paperwork need copies), paper shredder, TV, stereo stuff (if you like to hear music), Linksys Wireless Router, wireless phone to use Vonage (is a reasonable cost alternative for long distance calls to the states). If you get a stateside number on Vonage, you will be able to receive calls here for a fraction of the cost. If you want to get Vonage, please let me know, and I will refer you, we both get a discount for it.

8. If you have certain cosmetics, hair products, or whatever you love, stock up on them and ship them. Just an example.... I love Bath and Body hand soap, sprays, etc. The hand soap in the states is approx. $4.50, here at the malls. the only place you can get it, the same thing is $35.00. I kid you not! Yes, the local brands are okay, lower price than an import, but not the same quality.

My crate 40’ cost about $6000. Plus, factor in an additional $2000-$3000 for taxes on the house hold things, car licensing, taxes, etc., at a minimum, and how you value your goods will make the difference. Again, I shipped much more than some people ship. Other than the specific things I listed above, I am glad I shipped what I did. All costs considered, I came pretty near to paying $10,000 for the move, lock/stock/and barrel. A friend moved two 40' crates, and some with another couples things. So, each person decides what to do, according to their life, and love of stuff, cars, etc.

Any questions, I’ll be happy to answer an email. Make a comment and leave your email address.

(1) As time goes by, I have grown less fond of most of the things I thought meant so much to me as I was sorting and getting rid of things before coming here. Along with a couple dehumidifiers for rooms you will put the things you do not wish to mold at all, i.e. photos, valuable family items...bring a couple digital humidity indicators. You can buy them many places, and The Weather Channel has a very good one for reading time, from a satellite and temperature as well as recording highs and lows.

(2) No, all of Costa Rica has a mold problem, and so any reference to mold applies everywhere, some worse than others.

(3) On Sep 27, 2008 - I continue to be very pleased that I brought the Tracker. It cost me less than buying one here, and I knew the car when I bought it from a neighbor. There are several great mechanics who can service it, and parts are easy to come by for it. As the price of gas continues to climb, it has proven to use far less gas than other cars my friends own. The 4WD has come in very handy many times, not just getting out of my own drive, and on dirt road which are slippery as ice during a rain storm, but as of this date, I have been in the ditch 3 times with it, and twice men were able to lift it out when it could not be driven out. Yes, it happens here, I consider myself a pretty good driver, and I know very few people who have not backed into a ditch that they could not get out of. If you have been reading my blog, you will know what I mean.

(4) Email me for specifics, as I do not want to put it here in my blog.

(5) We had a beautiful wedding here in June 2008, and sun dresses and light cotton/linen shirts for men were the most comfortable. Every thing looked very tropical. THINK TROPICAL!!

(6) Sep 2008 - When I brought my sofa and chair here, they were actually 14 years old, but did not look a day over brand new. Now, after the moisture...I am not happy with them at all. I will have them recovered, perhaps, depending on price, verses totally new wood, etc. The wood may not be a hard enough wood to handle the mold either. More research needed. I wish I had not brought anything padded, and had them made here. The one thing that has done well here, is my outdoor furniture! The padding is different from indoor furniture, and so is the fabric, so the mold has not gotten to it, and the framed furniture cleans up well with soap and water and a brush! Incredible!