Monday, March 31, 2008

Meeting more Fabulous Friends!!

Bridget is Dancing alone and with Alisa

What a wonderful country! I have met so many wonderful Ticos since I have been here, and some have become so dear to me. I have always been blessed with the best neighbors, and here is no exception. Yesterday, we went to a kind of 'fair-well' party for a friend of my neighbors. I had never met Bridget, but the neighbors asked me to go alone. Bridget is from Switzerland/Austria, and comes here to rest and relax with her friends here. I was in for such a delightful afternoon. I also met a friend of Bridget's, Alisa, who is Swiss also. A long with other Tico families, I now can say I know many more people here. There were conversations going in 3 languages, most of the time, and sometimes language was not needed. What a lovely day, and the food was the best typico Tico I have had here. Wonderful! They served a wonderful drink, similar to an Eggnog, for us to 'salute' our friends.

Then, today, Bridget had a smaller "Tea Party" for a few of us. You know how sometimes, and few times at that, one really connects with another, well Bridget is that kind of a person for me. Retirement was meant to be like this... A time where one can really relax and connect with those closest to us. Where time almost stands still, and one can be still and hear the birds sing and simply enjoy ones friends, the smiles and the laughter of happy souls. Etilma, my Tica friend, is an artist, and has a creative spirit as well. She paints beautiful nature scenes, and I think she is almost a force of nature herself. She is learning English, and is so open and willing to try her new words out on me. And when she speaks in Spanish, is so understanding of my short comings also. My life has been truly enriched being here with such wonderful people!

Two Opposites! My last blog and this one! Hell Burning...

This is the cane fields burning in Costa Rica, perhaps the worst environmental thing they do here. Well, one of at least a few others I can think of. They burn it to get rid of the sharp leaves that make it very uncomfortable to cut by hand. When will they get machinery to cut the cane? Great question! If they were not so poor, and believe me, the farmers are the poorest of the poor, they many be able to worry about the environment. It saddens me to see each field burned, for I see countless carbons being used up. I think it makes a reversal of the carbons saved by not having heat in their homes. And for now, there are no other options. Even if they had machinery, it would have to be small because it could never crawl into some of the small fields they have here. The largest equipment used for the cane harvest is the large trucks used to transport the cane to be processed. And they take up the entire road when they are on it. The next month, as well as the last, are some of the most dangerous times on the roads of Costa Rica. One must be constantly cautious, and ready to stop, and drive into the ditch, to avoid the oncoming truck. Each curve requires most of the opposite side of the road to negotiate the turn. Semis on my side of the road, are absolutely the most terrifying monster here. Things nightmares are made of. Sweet Dreams!

Friday, March 28, 2008

60 Minutes of Heaven on Earth 8 p.m. March 29th

Go to and commit to turning off your lights for 60 minutes. Read more about the global effort and calculate your "footprint".

This video is the account of the 2007 Earth Hour. Please, Do your part to make this years Global Earth Hour.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Humpty Dumpty...and I didn't break!

I had a real scare today. The back door flew open, I must not have latched it well, and I wasn't able to get to it, at the time. The boys went running out, like bullets. Those two dogs, really run when they get a chance. I quickly tried to get them back in. Sunni came but not Spanky, when I scream "TREAT". They usually do, but Spanky has his times, when he just needs an adventure. I went after him in the car. I headed down the hill, and he came to the car...loves to go bye, bye, so I usually know he will come. I leaned over to get him, and I lost my balance, rolled out of the car, and you guessed it, my car continued down hill without me. I skinned both knees and hands pretty good, and fortunately, the car did not roll very far, before it headed for the ditch and came to rest on the fence. As it rolled, I had visions of it going much farther, and kissing it goodbye. Neither of us got caught in the path, at least. I had to crawl on top the hood to turn the wheel lock on the right side, so my 4X4 would work. The adrenalin had kicked in, and I was moving. Only a few scratches on the fender of the car. Thank God for rubber bumpers! I was more shook up than anything. The car is not worse for the wear. But what came over me when I saw where it had more fence post down, and it would have hit a cement light pole. Oh, the lessons I must learn! Boy, do I need a fenced yard.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Fish Cook-Out

Good Friday, was a good day to have a Fish Cook-Out! Steve organized the day, and arranged for us to be able to actually prepare and cook our own fish. It was marvelous, all 18 of us, working around a wood cook stove in the back room of this fish farm. We each prepared our own fish with fresh herbs, oils, limes/lemons, salt rubs, floor mixes, homemade concoctions, or any combination there of. Then we cooked them in pans over the open fire from the stove. Bless the lady's heart, she never once got angry or pushy with us all there cooking our own fish. Not the same as a Fish Fry, but much better. They do offer it deep fried, but being much more health conscious, we opted to do the organic method. What fun it was! The day was beautiful.

One can catch their own fish from the ponds. It is a beautiful setting, relaxing and large enough to accommodate many at one time.

Desperate, Fearless Knitters

Thursdays are our regular Knit-Ins...and this week, it is Holy Week and many businesses are closed. We knew our regular place was closed, so we planned on going to NavCafe...beautiful garden setting... Well, as Costa Rican law would have it, (there's Murphy's Law, and then there is Costa Rican Law), even after telephoning to check the hours of operation...we arrived at 10 and they had changed to a noon opening. So, we headed for the Mall to knit. After braving the rain, and finding Johnny, a security guards, we were able to turn on the lights and knit there. We drew a crowd very quickly, sooner than we could get our cappuccinos from the food court. It takes persistence to accomplish yet another thing in Costa Rica. Neither rain, nor closings, nor lights out, will keep a desperate Knitter from the Knit-In!

My Top Down Sweater is coming along nicely too.

Water, Water...everywhere...and now more than just to drink.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Finding Giacomin Cafe...and a night of Jazz at NavCafe

If you thought you would miss too much by living in Costa Rica, you perhaps have not been out enough, or yes...there's always the grandkids. I miss them too...but what a wonderful, full life, if lived. A Jazz band, good friends, great food, and even a date... Yes, strange in a place so far away from all the normal ways singles meet.

Knit-Ins are going great...projects being worked on, friendships being made and really a lot of fun too. This is holy week, and with Costa Rica being a Catholic country, everyone seems to have come out to church or will over the next week. The tradition of atonement, for a year of complacency, or just a remembrance of the symbolism. Many places will be closed over the next week, while some rest, others will vacation. This is a busy time at all the spots of leisure.

Thursday will be a little different, the place we normally meet to knit will be closed for the holiday. So, we will figure something else of our homes, the park, or maybe somewhere else. Yesterday, the gals from Heredia met in a nice cafe, Giacomin, near the mall, Paseo de Los Flores to stitch n bitch...well, mostly visit. We had such a nice time and after meeting gals I had corresponded with for a long time, to finally meet them was a rewarding day. Knitters have a connection that goes deeper than just the projects we are knitting on. Making new friends, and sharing our lives, made me want to return and connect again. It is a very comfortable Cafe also, sofas, nice chairs and great atmosphere.

Friday was the date...dinner and conversation. Singles are a rare breed in Costa Rica, well, northerners that is. Another difference from those residing in the states, is that it takes a certain amount of grit to sell everything, or pack up ones belongings and move to a foreign country, especially for a single person. The fact that most people come here as couples, is not by chance. We all require support and a kinship that is not easy to replicate in a different culture. Many men come here in hopes of finding a beautiful, younger, often sub-subservient Tica to share their life with, and many are available. If that is what one's desire is, there are plenty of opportunities. For the single women, moving here, has a totally different draw. So finding a single available man, amongst us is rare. Developing male friendships is more difficult here. There's just are not many unattached men, even including the Tico male population.

Saturday evening several of us went to NavCafe for an evening of Jazz and relaxation. There are some retired Jazz musicians who have gotten together with other Tico musicians, and have practiced enough to produce a great sound. Coffee, food, bottles of wine and a wonderful atmosphere served to make for a great evening. The gardens at NavCafe are beautiful, and serene and with the orchids blooming, it took my breath away.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

For all my Knitter/Crocheter Friends

Just had to add this today...too funny!

A man and woman had been married for more than 60 years. They had shared everything. They had talked about everything. They had kept no secrets from each other except that the little old woman had a shoe-box in the top of her closet that she had cautioned her husband never to open or ask her about.

For all of these years, he had never thought about the box, but one day the little old woman got very sick and the doctor said she would not recover. In trying to sort out their affairs, the little old man took down the shoe-box and took it to his wife’s bedside. She agreed that it was time that he should know what was in the box.

When he opened it, he found two crocheted dolls and a stack of money totaling $95,000. He asked her about the contents.

‘When we were to be married,’ she said, ’ my grandmother told me the secret of a happy marriage was to never argue. She told me that if I ever got angry with you, I should just keep quiet and crochet a doll.’

The little old man was so moved; he had to fight back tears. Only two precious dolls were in the box. She had only been angry with him two times in all those years of living and loving. He almost burst with happiness.

Darling,’ he said, ‘that explains the doll, but what about all of this money? Where did it come from?’

‘Oh,’ she said, ‘That’s the money I made from selling the dolls.’

Just a thought...(mine, of course) what if she had bought more fiber, and enjoyed the profits?

Knit-Ins are going Great!

And now there are 5... crafters meeting regularly. We really do knit/crochet, but we are having a ball getting to know each other also. All have lived here different time periods, some speak more Spanish than others, but we all love to do things with our hands. New learners, and more seasoned knitters, all helping each other. Not only do we realize each others crafting skills, but often are able to assist in other ways also. Problem solving is always easier if someone else has 'been there, done that', and can tell you what worked for them. In a foreign country, friends are a necessity, as well as a blessing. I never dreamed I would be having so much fun in my retirement. Like most, I figured I would have to work at something, (i.e. greeter at WalMart, bell ringer at Christmas) just to make ends meet on a pension. Living here, means I have learned to deal with other aspects of retirement in different ways, but I still have time to really enjoy my retirement also.

Several of my friends are building homes and are working through all the elements that go with that. Seeing the progress, and the delight in their eyes, encourages me as well. I bought a pre-existing home, and am very happy with it, as it is more of a northern style home. Just seeing how happy my friends are when things go right, makes the more difficult battles easier also.

Above: new knitter/a beautiful
Next: our crocheter/a beautiful
Below: the teacher's helping hands
a baby blanket

At the Knit-In, one discussion developed about our most difficult 'thing, time, process' here, so far. These were the things we discussed: language barrier, paying bills, getting address changes made for certain accounts, having to arrange for repairs and the time it takes to get the proper assistance, and darned if I remember the rest. Age does that to you, even here. I guess I will have to start taking notes if I want to write them later. The thing that struck me the most was, for each item, one of the others had a solution or at least another avenue to try. One of the gals brought a gas stove, and 3 months later, is still trying to get it in working order here. Most USA stoves are set up for natural gas, and all gas here is propane. The best thing, if you are bringing one here, is to have a repair person convert it before packing it to ship. Same would be true of a gas dryer. Mine was on propane in the states, so no conversion was necessary. Most appliances develop some problem when you go to use them here anyway. The electrical items all seem to have something wrong. My washer, dryer, and refrigerator, all had to be repaired within a week of getting here. The washer had a transmission leak, which we found when we moved it to put it on the truck. To say the power here is the same, is not completely correct. I have an APC power surge protector, which always ran on the backup battery, which has now burnt out. The power is lower, and gets surges and goes out frequently, so maintaining a constant rate for a computer is difficult. The computer works fine on a less high-tech protector, but I dare say, perhaps not as protected either. I will replace the battery in the better one when my daughter comes to visit and brings it. Until then, I pray more.

Even with all the pitfalls, the silver lining is still wonderful. Helping each other get through all these difficulties, makes each of us stronger, and enriches our friendships too. For those who refuse to 'fit in' to this way of life, they don't make it here very long, and find they would rather put up with being a greeter at WalMart, and return home. For the rest of us, we are home.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

When did I ever find time to work?

What a great summer this is turning into. The last two Sundays there has been a George Lundquist tour in for dinner at David and Arden's home. This past was the largest crowd. Arden is a wonderful hostess, and meeting new people who are retiring and considering Costa Rica as a possible place to live...just a delight. Several couples help out on a regular basis, and I, being single, have decided that this is a great outreach for me also. Most of the people I had first contact with here in Costa Rica, were friendships gained through CRL (Costa Rica Living, a Yahoo Group). We became fast friends, and have helped fill the void left after leaving my friends and family in the states. By continuing to meet new friends, I find I am enriched by each ones life and tales. Laurie was a delightful person! She and her husband, Jim are considering moving abroad from New Jersey. Her tales of living all over the world, as a student and child, were fascinating and most enlightening. What an interesting life she has had. Truly our lives are enriched by gaining neighbors and friends who have such wide, diverse backgrounds to bring to the mix. We are a varied bunch of risk takers, entrepreneurs, and some even, thrill seekers. To pick up and move away from all the things we have know for so long, and to a place which is a 'step back in time', takes a 'special' kind of personality. Yes, there are a few my friend likes to call the 'wanted and unwanted' (I'll let you think about that one), but for the most part, we add a new dimension to our lives by living here.

Monday, Annie and I packed up a lunch, sandwiches and Texas chocolate cake, and headed out to Parker's home. She has the ideal spot, in the woods, secluded, view of the ocean, and she has created a work of ART in her home and yard. She has the touch! Think we found a place for Annie to rent also, she needs to be closer to her building site. Parker and I had 'happy hour'...or two at 'The Poet', and caught up on things over a shrimp dish. Great by the way!

Tuesday, I made lunch, a delicious lettuce wrap and fresh fruit/jello salad, for my Tica neighbors. Lunch was terrific and as I am still learning Spanish, they bare with me as I look up words to explain things. I am still amazed at how much I am understanding. Found out that the road construction is underway again, not far from here. The road will take the traffic going to Arenal, away from the road near us, and place it on the far side of the valley. Not only will it be less noise for us, (which is a minimum to start with) it will make our trips to town safer also. No more large trucks taking their side of the road, and mine, on the narrow hairpin curves. Another plus will be that it will be a better, straighter road to the hot springs we love so much! Hurrah! I guess Costa Rica has come up with the funding from China now that they offended Taiwan. Does everything have to be about politics?....yes, pretty much. Money and politics are so closely woven, that you can't have one without the other. It is a two-headed animal.

Today is a birthday party for several of the neighbors, and we will have a feast together to celebrate another year and still kicking!!! Tai food, and great conversation is my bet. Plus, Ines will come over for another English/Spanish lesson. This is my best platform for learning, getting right in there and trying to say things the way she does, and teaching her the English words also. Conversation is my best modem.

Tomorrow is the Knit-In...and I am really looking forward to it! Isn't that what keeps all of us going anyway? Being able to look forward to the events in our lives, and the expectation of the great time we will have. My friends (whom I have not yet met) in Heredia have scheduled a Stitch and Bitch time for Sunday March 16th, so I am going to to test the bus schedule to get there for that. There has got to be an easier way to get to Heredia than through San Jose, but it may take longer, will have to check it out. What else do I have to do anyway? It is great not to have to fit working, baseball, soccer, and college homework into the picture any longer!!! Yes, this is retirement!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

New Knit-In, in San Ramon

For you knitters, crocheters, or whatever you enjoy doing, if you can bring it with you, come join us at Cafe Delicioso on Thursday mornings, 10 a.m. You can't miss us, we are the ones with the sticks in our hands. If you would like to learn, just come and we can teach you. Some of the gals are learning, others are experienced and we will all learn from each other. All levels welcome. Great time to meet other gringo ladies, make friends, share your talent, and socialize. If you are a male knitter, by all means, come join us.