Sunday, July 31, 2011

July 31 2011

Today I am unusually sad.  Sitting in the airport lounge reflecting, the last 24 hours have been mundane but unhappy.  It feels like it will be a very long time before I am back to Ojochal, the many friends and good times.  Hasta Luego. 

Friday, July 29, 2011

A Beehive of Activity

Literally - the guys working on the last of the landscaping issues encountered some nasty bees in the trees - plus we found ants in the cupboard, and too many cockroaches for our liking - So, call in NICK THE BUG GUY!  Nick is exceptionally well known - he even sprays for bugs at President Chinchilla's home in San Jose!!  He surveyed the property, found the bees (apparently an aggressive but transient breed passing through), a scorpion perched under the eaves, and carpenter ants - in addition to the many usual bugs.  A thorough spray inside and out (around the base of the foundation - all the grounds and plants, the surrounding jungle edge, inside (including in all the cupboards and under the furniture).  No respiratory protection or removal of stuff from the cupboards - 'it is all safe and natural - a mixture of stuff from various trees and plants' (it kills them but not us?!) - - I am sure we will see Nick again (every 6 months we here is normal).

Meanwhile - this big fella greeted us Wednesday morning and stay for 3 hours - until I shoo'd him off
This morning, it was Esther Williams in the pool!  A field mouse swimming from one side to the other, frantically looking for a way out - I scooped it up in the plastic cup - a life saved!  but the flight across the road and into the bushes probably nixed my initial help.

Thursday brought finish to the kitchen with installation of the lazy susan (4 men, the IKEA instructions and 2 hours), the front to the TV cabinet, replacement of the pendant light in the kitchen (which stopped working again 5 hours later, followed by a second one this morning) and some other minor bits.

I finally got my bank card - with the new accounts, it was noted that the card was not issued in the company name and could only have one account - so a new card was ordered in Cortes for pick up in Uvita (last Thursday)  Tuesday in Uvita - no card, oh wait, yes a card, but in my name, not the corporation.  You need to take this one, but we will order a new one for pick up tomorrow.  Wednesday in Uvita - 10 am at the bank - - not here, when was it ordered? Oh it won't be in until this afternoon - Thursday ... Voila, a card, with a pin and it works - - now I have 3 cards!

Tuesday and Wednesday were social evenings (dinner with Dwight & Wendy - Keith, Karen, Jan & Sonya) such good times with such good people!  Our social calendar in Toronto is never this full (that's cuz we are too tired to move in the evening!).

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Walk Softly and Carry a REALLY Big Knife!

A new Motto!
It certainly is a way of life here teenage boys with a great machete strapped to their leg - a middle aged man whacking away at the weeds on the side of the road - even the elderly overweight woman walking to the store, machete in hand.  They are useful tools - clearing the road, path or cuneta - killing the snake that won't get out of the way - lopping of the branch that is too low.
So, yesterday we joined the ticos (and most gringos) and bought a machete. 18" long (the first one the guy in the store pulled out must have been a metre long - - muy grande!!!) and fits nicely into the leather case - case $10 - really big knife $5! - - well, off to clear la jungla!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Beach Day / Rain Day

Sitting here on the terrace watching the remnants of a thunderstorm over the ocean with the colour of the sunset on the clouds - shades of peach and grey! while here it is raining with heavy mist on the mountains

It has been like that for much of the day - thunderstorms overnight, overcast and threatening during the day, and then a wonderful hour around 3 with glorious sun and then the thunderstorms came from the ocean and the mountains together - a good day to read, cook and blog (with a little real work thrown it for good measure).  Plus it is a holiday for the locals, so errands will have to wait for tomorrow!

Yesterday was the complete opposite - clear sky and lots of sun until late in the afternoon - a whole group headed to the beach for sun, fun, beer and munchies - I walked for about 30 minutes along Playa Tortuga (to the turn to the bay and back) - the tide was very low and you had to walk 100m to the water and then that again to actually get any depth - the water was clear and warm!  the wind off the ocean was hot and humid - a great day, including entertainment at the expense of our friends (what happens at the beach stays at the beach!)  A great way to spend a Sunday.

Jungle Trek

So, this morning I decided it was time to check out the jungle behind the house.

What we know is that it is dense - never been cut, has a river of some sort and is a ravine.

So, I donned my outfit - long sleeved shirt, shorts, rubber boots, hat and gloves (the only ones were Lisle's rawhide gardening gloves), and took the camera - - I really was a ridiculous sight!

I headed down the slope to the tree where the monkeys have been, and looked for a way in - all I could tell was that there was a VERY steep slope within a foot of the start of vegetation.  So, not there - walked over to the road and down to the end, where the cuneta disappears into the jungle - about a 15' drop into a hole that has some concrete in it - - not there.  Walked back to the other side of the house, behind the carport.  There is a place where a tree has fallen and been cut - climbing over that you can see where water from the lot has formed a channel - kind of steps.  Worked my way down about 30', and a drop of about the same - huge fig trees with great buttress roots, interesting plants (little red flowers on a tree) - really dense - really old and really tall

From there, it drops about 15' - where the water from up the ravine comes down and drops like a waterfall - and then the riverbed continues behind the house to the road on the far side.

So, no further than that without real pants and a machete - may try coming at it from the road side

Saturday, July 23, 2011


So there was an issue with the paint on the hardscaping - retaining walls, steps, shower - and Christian had his guys on it right away - they stripped the shower and sanded it down - - and then the rains came.  So after a week of rain and 3 days of dry weather, the painter arrived.  He primed the shower and has painted all the other surfaces with water resistant paint - all the walls and edges, all around the property - today he is on the shower, returning to its sunny yellow/orange self.

He has been here going on 3 days - arriving and 6:15 am and working until 6:15 pm (when he can barely see since it is pretty dark by then) after which he cleans up and calls for his ride.  Last night we got home from Boca just past 7 and he was walking up the hill. He was back at 6:15 and just finished at 12:15 - hard worker and amazingly thorough.

A lazy day - Lisle went to Gentlemen's breakfast - new is no more "Juice in the Jungle" - has served its purpose of building the community - maybe afternoon drinks with friends - sure hope the good weather holds on!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Pot of Gold

Apparently there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow - if that is the case, we are headed to Bruce and Barbara's right now!!

At 6 am I was enjoying a beautiful sunny morning - sipping my coffee - and I heard it coming - the rain through the jungle behind the house - by the time I got out of my chair it was here - sudden but not too heavy - 5 minutes of sun shower and then gone, with the gift of a rainbow - there were two at the beginning, but by the time I got the camera the upper one had disappeared - great start to the morning!

So, the clouds are playing around the mountains - some dark and ominous, others bright white and fluffy, sliding into the valley - the ocean is clear to the horizon with high white clouds way out there - some sun, some cloud.

Lisle has headed to the bank to give them the documentation they wanted - we decided we both didn't need to go - we'll see if that is a mistake.  Figured out yesterday that you need to pick one thing a day to do - yesterday was planned that Lisle would go to the Doctor to see about his bites (OMG!!) then to the pharmacy (he has been there already and seems to be reacting to the antibiotics they gave him) and then to the bank and the butcher - with stops at the grocery in Uvita and Ojochal.  Well the doctor was at lunch, and there was a wait at the pharmacy - groceries and home - almost 3 hours - - the trip to the bank and back would have been another 3 hours - - slow and steady keeps you busy and sane!!

Yesterday the SWAT team descended on us - the Ventana crew to fix everything that was left on the list - mirrors, screens, locks - most of the day - I think there are a couple minor things left with a plan to complete before the end of next week and we are talking to Robert tomorrow about any of the significant issues - hopefully that brings us to an end of the construction phase for real!!

Christian was supposed to be back to start repainting the shower today - so far no sight of his guys.

With all the 'business' we have had a chance to relax and socialize - Tuesday night was dinner with Dwight and Wendy at Exotica and last night dinner at Jan and Ross's with Keith and Karen - great food with great friends is always a treat!

The monkeys seem to have abandoned us!  None around for 2 days now - Tuesday afternoon  another male came by and was howling at the troop, whose male was definitely answering back - guess they decided to shift location for a while!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Return of the Tropics

So, it seems we are back to normal weather - Monday was perfect - sunny, a few clouds, a nice breeze, 32C and NO RAIN - today the same and the radar shows nothing in the offing - maybe a stretch of good weather!  Still rain in the mountains - fascinating to watch the clouds form and shift.

Monday was finally our trip to the bank to open another account - Sabrina had called ahead so they were expecting us - Jefery actually spoke English well although his lack of confidence was evident.  He worked through things diligently and methodically and asked all sorts of questions and typed away at his computer - our passport # changed from last time, there was more $ in the account than they expected, where did our $ come from, what was the business of the corporation, can we verify our income form Canada - again, we are opening a savings account for pete's sake!  He was never anything but polite and kept saying all this is because of the new banking law - 1 1/2 hours later we had a US$ and Colones account - but have one month to bring him additional documentation!!

So today we are new parents - the frog eggs hatched in the fountain!!!!
The groundskeeper stopped by - I showed him and he said - - Is good or bad?  I figured he was supposed to know!  Oh well hopefully the other wildlife will eat them before we are over run with a plague of frogs!

The combination of water and sun has brought the plants to life - flowers showing themselves!
 Heliconia psittacorum - related to the bird of paradise

 the Shrimp plant
the fire spike

And finally - the day ended with another spectacular sunset - I love rainy season sunsets - clouds and colour in the sky - in the dry season you get to see the sun slip below the horizon, but usually that is the end of it - last night we got this!

Sunday, July 17, 2011


After an entire week of rain - pretty much continuous rain - today we got sun - a few light showers and cloud on the mountain - but sun - I sat out by the pool and read - I think I got burnt!  The sky is still overcast a lot, but it is clear to the ocean and warmer (27C).

Seem to have lost yesterday and today - internet, movies, reading - Lisle went to the Pharmacy to get antibiotics for his bites - - really not pretty!

Yesterday discovered that the fountain (water feature as Christian prefers to call it) is actually a maternity ward!  Many, many, many little gel eggs (frogs I think).  Christian said that is normal - they'll clean them out when they do maintenance - OMG - BABY KILLERS!

And then there is the BIG FUZZY BLACK caterpillar that seems to be making a cocoon in the tarp covering the outdoor shower (waiting for dry weather to repaint it) - Christian said - OMG DON'T TOUCH IT!!!!  Apparently they are cute, so they have some kind of alkyd on their fuzz that can make you very ill.

Friday at Dean and Michelle's was great fun - all the neighbours were there and we had a fabulous pot luck.  Best was meeting Michelle's daughter Emily and her companions - they have been volunteering in San Ramon (teaching, building, etc) and they get to travel on the weekends - I spoke with Gary who is 21 from Colorado - just finished his degree in Mathematics and it going to start his Phd in September - he wants to work in Finance (mergers and acquisitions, venture capital etc) and has 5 more years of school - he came to live with a family, brush up on his spanish, volunteer and have a bit of an adventure!

Dean and Michelle headed home today - maybe we'll see them in the winter - sad to see friends leave!

Friday, July 15, 2011

I Think We're in Vancouver!

So, overcast, raining (sometimes torrential) and about 23C since Tuesday - doesn't that sound like Vancouver??

After Monday's heavy rain, we discovered Tuesday morning that there was now an island in the river - the power of the water is awesome!  Drove to San Jose for our shopping fix - shelving and such, some food - and the special list for the neighbours - burger patties, steaks, salami, etc (stuff not easily accessible locally - at least not at a reasonable price) - out at 7:15 back at 7:00 - a very long day, but not bad driving and the rain was intermittent and light.

Wednesday - the Bank - when we set up our chequing account, we did it in Cortes with the help of Sabrina (she works for Ventana and does this sort of legal stuff with clients - and she speaks Spanish).  We decided that we would try to open the savings account in Uvita - they speak English there!  Arrive - great, no line, explain what we want - she disappears and returns with a printed list (apparently what we need to open the account).  We knew we needed the certification of our corporate status (got that from Sabrina a few days earlier - a legal document that lists our positions in the corporation and our passport numbers etc - only good for 30 days from when it is issued)  BUT, since the other account was in Cortes she didn't know us - so we need a letter of introduction from a lawyer, the original corporation documents, and verification of our sources of income!  I need less to get a loan in Toronto - Does she understand we are trying to give her money to hold for us? - let's regroup, talk to Sabrina and try again!

Thursday is the market in San Isidro - nearest 'city' - about 50,000 people, on the Pan American Highway, about 90  minutes from the house (I know, a very long way to drive - through the mountains - for fresh vegetables! - but having never been it was an adventure).  Keith and Karen joined us and acted as our guides to the market and the city (Maxi Bodega (Walmart/grocery store), the main ICE office, where you get your driver's licence renewed, the Plaza ... )

The market is a large covered area with hundreds of vendors - everything from pineapple to papaya, corn to tomato, beets to cabbage, and all sorts of stuff that I have no idea what it is (roots and fruits!).  Lisle was in heaven - one of these, two of those - watermelon, beets, papaya, herbs, tomatoes, corn (we'll pass on that next time - I guess you buy it to feed the cows!).  The best thing - Lisle is learning Spanish - after a few times of me saying "he said 1200 colones" he got the hang of the numbers -hooray!!

Today (my god it's Friday already) lazing around - Dean and Michelle are hosting a party since Michelle's daughter and her friends are here - so we will see everyone around 4 for food, drink and stories.

Well, the skies are clearing a bit - can see the mountain and the valley - and out to the Ocean, but it is still raining - oh well, think I'll take the shovel we bought and go up the road to try to divert some of the water from the channel it is carving and get it into the cuneta where it belongs - manual labour!  We'll see how long I last!

Monday, July 11, 2011

My Head is a Little Foggy

Or maybe it is just my eyes - it rained the night away (and what rain and thunder and lightning) and Sunday it looked more like San Francisco or London!

Did some condo work in the morning (call back to Canada) and then we all sort of called of the beach day that was planned - so we went to visit Yves in Uvita.

He and his former partner built a local hotel in 1996 and sold it in 2001 - he built a home in Uvita and suggested a day by the pool - it was actually clear for part of the day and we could watch the clouds covering Ojochal to the south - spectacular (modest but amazing) home with great grounds and the most awesome view - the Osa to the south - Cano Island - the Whales tale - the 3 sisters - and mountains of San Josecito to the north.  After a tour of the house and property we spent 2 hours in the pool (1/2 of that while it rained) drinking beer and chatting while the MANY parrots played in the gigantic Royal Palm above our heads.  After we dried off we headed to the local pizza joint (beach side of the highway just before the Whales and Dolphins turn off) that just opened - italian guy covered in tattoos and his tica wife with a brand new baby - great pizza!  Nice to enjoy the day with new friends - next weekend our turn to show off!

Rain most of the night and the day dawned clear - which lasted until about 12 - at which point the sky opened and we have had the most rain we've seen yet - heavy - no visibility - constant - - water everywhere!
but at the end of it all there is some good -  a great view of the mountain waterfall!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Critters and Construction

Today seems to be critter day - all sorts of new ones - some interesting others just odd

Meanwhile the outdoor shower is back under construction

The paint was all moldy and puckered - had to be completely stripped - Christian said it needs to dry out for 3 days (like that will be likely before December - hence the plastic covering)

Friday, July 8, 2011

Time Flies

I looked at a calendar this morning - OMG! our time is 1/3 done!!

Yesterday was spent doing the books for the condo - our property manager left in December (a good thing) and the Board has been doing a fantastic job in taking over, but no one on-site has bookkeeping skills, and no "accounting" system was in place - all different now - up to date and sustainable!

I thought we had settled into a late afternoon rain pattern - that's how it started yesterday - then it rained all night - this morning was clear, but started again around 11 am - coming down the mountain as the view to the ocean is sunny clear and spectacular!

Went for dinner with Yves last night - met him online - from Montreal originally, but has been living here more or less permanently since 1996 - built a local hotel back then and has since done other small developments - supervises the construction.  He lives in Uvita.  He's a really nice guy - interesting and experienced with life here - speaks spanish and french, but struggles with english!   Maybe the start of our own gay community!

more bugs - they amaze me!  Lisle said he has 'thunder thighs'!
The workers are here fixing stuff with the outdoor shower (paint isn't working) and some of the concrete - yesterday they dug up 2 of the planters and relined them with cement - today - stripped all the paint off the shower and are sanding it down - then seal the cement and repaint.

Lisle headed off to look at more land (a real deal!) and for provisions - returned without the land (thank god!) and with tuna and shrimp - YUM!

I think it is almost time for drinks at Boca!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Day 10 and Day 11

So I have to stop with the day thing - it took 5 minutes to figure out what day it was and if I missed something!

A new addition to the neighbourhood - our first Anole!
NO! it is NOT a Gecko! and YES it is cute + they eat bugs!

The monkeys are still in the tree (4 days now) - I guess the food and accommodations continue to be sufficient - I'm sure they will just disappear as suddenly as they arrived.

The oddest of bugs - they continue to amaze me - think horsefly but the size of a loonie - big black eyes and a body that looks like it is made of shiny green metal - looked like a transformer toy!  Will take a photo if he comes back (no I didn't kill it - but shooing it the patio door was way more difficult).

Yesterday I went to Karen's to help with some bookkeeping stuff (Lisle drove me there, and I walked back - 25 minutes up and down the hills - the flip flops were a mistake!!) while Lisle and Dean & Michelle headed to ICE.  Lisle needed to get our cell voicemail set up - it shouldn't be difficult but it is all spanish telephone menus for service (tengo uno por ...).  Of course no one will even speak to you without your notarized corporate papers that are valid for 30 days ($25 thank you) - apparently it is now set up, but I still can't seem to get the voicemail that it says is in the mail box!

Dean and Michelle needed to buy a cell and activate it - we did that in October - took the same 2 hours - they also have an interesting problem with their electrical bill.  It is sky high (an empty house - $260/month).  Dean said if they shut down the main breaker (no power in the whole house) the meter still shows a power draw!  Someone is getting a free lunch!  They have been writing letters, but now get to try to produce some action through a face to face conversation - let's see if that works!

Lisle returned with meat from the butcher - ribs !! they are marinating now - - YUM.

The day started with rain and a rainbow (sorry no photo) but quickly dried and was beautiful - and ended with a thunderstorm over the ocean (no rain here).

Today is a sunny and bright morning - coffee - house cleaning - flower rearranging (the tropical plants last forever so you just keep plucking out the dead bits - this time next year they will all be coming from our garden!)

Monday, July 4, 2011

Day 9

Howlers again this morning - 5:00 am - this time my video
They spent the day eating leaves and sleeping.  Jan and Sonya brought Jim and Denise by to see the house, and everyone got to take photos of them.

Lisle ran some errands - I read - lunch - music - swim - email - another day.

The rain has just started - forced my from my lounge chair at the end of the pool - 36 hours without rain - a good sign "little summer" my be here.  Some thunder in the distance but just a gentle rain.  We might actually get a sunset tonight!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Day 8

Day 7 concluded with afternoon drinks to celebrate the arrival of Dean and Michelle and their friends, a quiet dinner at home and copious amounts of rain.

Day 8 started with a very clear correction to our concept of Day 7 wildlife - no they were not spider monkeys - they were Howler Monkeys and they made that known at 4:40 am until 5:10 am.  They have located themselves in the tree by the pool house. (I have an audio file, but it won't upload - check this out on Youtube)

They were quiet until 6:30 when it started to rain, and then it was constant until the rain stopped - 45 minutes - the rest of the time I sat watching the group of them eat in the treetop - quite the sight - the rain stopped and they seem to have disappeared - see if they are back in the morning!

We then set about connecting the network cables - the house is wired, but not connected to the router - so, room by room we tested and labelled - all done.

Then to the beach - Sunday is beach day - the closest is a very deserted spot - Playa Tortuga - down an unmarked road and across a bog - park on the beach - no shade, but no other people - some beer, some sun, some surf - 3 hours then off to the bar for more beer and then to the diner for dinner - a full Sunday!!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Day 7

July 2 started very peaceful - birds calling and a clear sky - sitting on the patio looking at the spectacular world

Saturday morning is the "Gentlemen's Breakfast" at the Riverside Diner - 8:00 am for coffee, eggs, bacon, toast, potatoes and more gossip (a regular pastime!).  Good food and good guys.  The talk was all about the police meeting about community safety - we have a new "Jefe" (Police Chief) who wants to understand the community and security issues - bridges and water (trees have fallen in the river - could take out the bridge if we get a good rain, so they need to be removed) and general comings and goings in town.

Just as we were getting ready to go for breakfast, there was a rustling in the trees - Spider monkeys!  We counted 6 and a very small baby.  They moved through the ravine slowly, climbing up the trees, swinging about and relaxing in the sun.  Very exciting for us newbies!!

Off to do some sweeping, a swim and a nap - it might just be sunny all day!!

Landscaping - yes there are photos!

So, after documenting everything without the memory card, I retraced my steps.

The landscaping works wonderfully and the plants add the right feel everywhere.
The plants are small (Lisle said "I wish they were bigger" - Karen said "Careful what you wish for!") but have grown noticeably in the few days we have been here.

To the right of the drive is a great little oasis with a great view of the ocean and a "water feature" (Christian's architectural speak) - a really neat space 

The front walk extends to stepping stones to the pool

The pool is like an oasis at a boutique hotel

And at the back is a peaceful walkway to bring you close to the jungle - cool and solitary.