Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Arrivals

Today Lisle is venturing into the City to BUY stuff (yes, he has been almost 3 weeks without any real shopping!), with the excuse that he will pick James up at the airport this afternoon and drive back.  A VERY long day, and not great driving at night!  I would really prefer a driver to pick him up, but the stores call!!

The trip involves long shopping lists with things from EPA, Walmart and PriceSmart.  Lightbulbs, wine, orange juice for Bruce, another beach umbrella, pool noodles, and I suspect party favours (we are hosting new year's eve!).

The Fausts and their friends are also arriving this afternoon.

Maybe they will all bring the sun!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

No Sight of the Dry Season

Not sure what is going on, but it has rained every day since December 10 - sometimes a brief shower or like yesterday and today on and off all day and very heavy.  The locals say the rain is supposed to stop after the 28th (today) so let's see if they are right!
The ocean is clear but the clouds come in and the rain gathers over the mountains.

Still you can get a great sunset!  Tuesday and Wednesday - both taken standing by the pool in the rain

Meanwhile, in San Jose, they have out the winter woollies - high of 22C low of 14C and windy!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Celebrations

So our first Christmas in Ojochal - away from family, but certainly not alone or absent friends!!

Christmas eve we were graciously invited to Bruce and Barb's for a traditional dinner (Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, broccoli, peas, gravy) followed by chocolate treats, homemade candy cane ice cream, and homemade shortbread of various types (seems everyone brought some - and all were delicious).

It was an all Canadian celebration - Bruce and Barb, Lisle and I, Dwight and Wendy, Gary and Kim, Steve and Laurie - good wine followed by good food and covered end to end with great conversation, fun and friendship.  Late in the eve, Wilson (the groundskeeper for the phase and weekend security) stuck his head around the corner of the house - he was on his way to the guardhouse.  He was quickly welcomed to the table provided ice cream and cold beer and wishes of Feliz Navidad from all!
Christmas day dawned - well not exactly - at 6:00 am it was mostly cloudy with the hope of sunshine.  I slipped from bed and ran down the stairs, and there it was - proof that Santa can find you wherever you are!
And guess what!?  If you are really good, Santa will actually make you pancakes for Christmas breakfast!!
After Breakfast - to the beach - arrived just after 10:00 am - sunny, hot and humid - about 30 people from the community on this quiet beach - some beer, some munchies, lots of laughter, fun in the surf, conversation under the umbrella - - so many mice people and friends (new and old) - All in all lots of Christmas spirit, just with a tropical flavour!
Home at 2:00 - had to leave the beach before high tide or the access road floods - swim in the pool and calls home for season's greeting and then off to dinner!

Keith and Karen invited Lisle and I to join in their Christmas feast, along with their daughter Liz, her friend Eric and Jan & Sonya.  Cocktails and chatter led to a Christmas sunset.
The kitchen began to bustle as the final preparations were tackled - Turkey, stuffing, dressing, mashed potatoes, squash, broccoli, corn and gravy - all done to perfection by Karen and her band of helpers.
All followed by Pineapple tart and shortbread - more wine and more conversation! 

Even the sun hung around til all was done!
Very hard to find a better way to spend Christmas, or more welcoming friends than these!

Quite the eventful day - so much so that some of us can't manage ourselves off the couch this morning!
I wonder if there is a Boxing Day sale at the beach!?

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Cheer

So, the day is upon us.

We have no Christmas lights or fake tree - 3 tasteful stockings hanging in the window and on the stair (Well Santa needs something to put stuff in!) and a grouping of Poinsettias.

As I noted a couple of days ago, this day is a big deal here.  While I know the christian part of the celebration is important to them, I am surprised at the North American style to the display. 

December 10, downtown San Jose was closed off for the Festival de la Luz - a night time parade and street party that was a cross between the Toronto Santa Claus Parade and the Rose Bowl Parade.  For 3+ hours there are floats covered in lights and marching bands - local, national and international - that marched and danced and did formation and played Christmas caroles.  Interesting, but I don't think there was a Santa Float!  We only saw it on TV at the restaurant, but even there the sound on the TV was turned up and everyone was focused on the spectacle.  Apparently this happened the next weekend in small towns around the country.

Interesting FACT - Most people know that Paris was the first city to have electric lights - hence the City of Lights title - but few know that San Jose, Costa Rica was the second city, right downtown in the Barrio Amon! - -  So the Festival of Lights is fitting.

Our day will be spent enjoying the quiet of the morning and the few presents we dragged along, connecting with family and friends, the afternoon at the Beach with friends (weather permitting), and dinner with Keith and Karen and their family.

Feliz Navidad - Merry Christmas

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Sky's The Limit

Everyone asks - Do you have a spectacular view of the ocean?  Yes we do (well not spectacular as in expansive, but the view is such).

But the ocean view is great only because is offers a great perspective on the sky - the clouds, the light, the sun setting.  The same is offered by the view across the mountain valley and over the peaks, and through the jungle to the mountains and sky beyond.

Sitting here now, the ocean and coast is in fog and rain, we are in the sun and there is a wonderful rainbow in the sky.

Dawn over the mountains

Sunset over the ocean

A storm brewing

And of course the full sunset!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

December 21, 2011

The winter solstice - the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere - and the marking of the last year of the world if you believe the Mayan doomsday folks.

So if it is the beginning of the end - wishing you all the best year ever!

Personally, I think if the Mayans were still around they would have printed a new calendar by now - don't we manage to do that every year?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A New Day Dawning

Wow, What a difference a few hours makes!

Yesterday was another day of continuous rain.  But when we got up at 5:15 this morning you could feel the difference in the air.

Up so early as Lisle is off diving today.  Even in the little light, the air was clear and within 15 minutes the sky was blue, and then the sun as it lit the ocean and the village below.  A breeze from the ocean and not a sound but the birds.

A beautiful Costa Rican Day!

Monday, December 19, 2011


I love the little things that live in and around the house.

The floral arrangement on the table outside has become home to this little fellow - when startled he leaps to the sofa and then the door.

Last night, this giant grasshopper sat on the screen door watching TV with us then settled in for the night on the beam over the dining table.
This morning, I went to open the patio doors at the front - Looking at them I thought, "was that there before?"  There were marks all over the outside of the glass that looked like someone had thrown a muddy rag at them over and over again.  Slid open the right door, slid open the left door - OH - this was sitting between the screen and the glass doors.  Apparently he had been climbing all ove the glass feasting on bugs!
The birds around are usually beautiful and colorful - not so with these beasts - the first shot is from the tree in back of the house, the second is atop a hydro pole on the road into town, both from today!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

I'm Dreaming of a DRY Christmas

A week to Christmas - hard to believe!  But is certainly feels like it around here - OMG - lights and artifical trees everywhere!  Today was the community children's Christmas party, held in the parking lot at Jucaloa (the local supermarket).

At least that was the plan until the heavens opened.
We ventured to the beach at 11:30 - it was cloudy with some sun, and were going to meet up with Dwight and Wendy (Wendy just arrived back in Ojochal after a trip to Calgary to see their first granddaughter!).  It was sunny there for a bit, then a gentle rain started and stopped and started and stopped, then got more persistent and then heavier - -1:00 we all fled!  Lisle and I headed to Uvita for supplies and then on the way home Lisle said let's stop for lunch.  Halfway through lunch, the heavens opened - it was so loud we had to shout at each other across the table.  Well, we go to the river and decided against crossing (I ventured out into the river and it was about 6" over my knee).  We retreated to Bruce and Mary's until things let up and the river subsided - home about 5:00 - I hope they build the bridge soon!!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Rain Rain Go Away!

We are in the middle of all that - rain and thunderstorms forecast for the next 3 days - highs of 23C - mountains are shrouded in cloud and we can't see the ocean - - I think I'm growing moss on my head!!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Return of the ...

Now that the plants have covered the bare soil, there is a lot more life - no snakes that we have seen, but a poison dart frog was sitting in the gutter out back before disappearing into the mani.  Cane toads (or some other giant frogs) have been leaving presents for us each morning (yes they poop all over the place and it is the size of a cigar). And something carried Lisle's sandal 30' and left it amongst the palm trees (a pizote? - cross between a raccoon and an anteater).  Lots of birds - the toucans are around, and the masked falcon.  But no monkeys yet.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Sunny Morning

Well Wednesday dawned with sun - although there is a lot of cloud - bright for the first time since we arrived.

So after breakfast and some work (yes, I have been working - WAY TOO MUCH!!), we decided to go for a walk - "the loop" up past Charlie's, around the back where the road is gone (the lot above came down on it in Nov 2010 - likely just going to leave it as the land above is unstable and clearing it may only let more of it come down), climb over the mess, over to the Faust's, hello to Wilson (the groundskeeper in the phase), around and down to the low point, past the guard house, then the climb back up to Charlie's and home.

Some photos from the trek - Lisle in front of a little bamboo plant
The guard house and bodega
And our house - through the trees from the low point of the road
Home hot and sweaty - dip in the pool - and then some photos around the house (will share those next post) - then the rain came - heavy and for 5 hours - along with the clouds - could barely see across the valley to Bruce and Barb's house - it even felt chilly (well ok, the temp dropped to 25)!  Quieter now - time for tv and dinner!


So, thought I would share the Ojochal social calendar.

Yesterday I reported that we were going to Adelante (a hotel/bar/restaurant) because Jan was getting a haircut.

Well we arrived at 3:00 pm and the haircut was in progress

So we grab a seat at a table with Sonya and Brad and order beer.  Dwight arrives shortly after.  Jim & Jim phone me as they are "dying to see us"... so they head on down to Adelante.   The owners "Mart and Yanna" (Estonian) also sit and socialize, but only after Yanna finishes her other job - she is the hairdresser cutting Jan's hair.    Nikki the bartender joins in as well as Rita, the cook.  Then Vickie and Gordie arrive - it's Vickie's birthday.   Sonya has B-day gifts for Vickie.

6:30 - time for dinner !

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Settling In

So, I will apologize for the lack of photos - just too grey and rainy - this morning (Tuesday) was better, but the rain started at 11, just as the garden guys were finishing.  Supposed to continue through Wednesday and then clear - hope so, I already feel the algae growing on my head!

Monday was organizing, laundry, figuring out the entertainment centre (how do you get the sound outside again?).  Everything seems to be working fine - some lights burnt out - the paint on the exterior patio surfaces is a mess (Christian is working on that).

No monkeys - can hear them in the distance.  Toucans are around - hummingbird built a nest in the palm (abandoned) - so did some bees (not abandoned!).  Plants are awesome - photos to follow.

Have been working too much on office stuff, but almost done the worst of it (only one more major thing) - such is life.

Oh well - time to get ready to head out - a big day - we are going to watch Jan get his haircut!!  The barber sets up at a local hotel - we can have lunch and beer and socialize while he gets a trim - - any excuse for a party!!

Travelling Tales - Part Deux!

Sorry - ran out of steam yesterday.  Doing nothing is just exhausting!

Sunday was a quick breakfast - reload the car - - how is it that the two of us can fill a 5 passenger SUV with luggage and still think we are going shopping!?  Nevertheless - shopping it is!

Walmart and Pricesmart - a fabulous large beach umbrella in a rainbow of colours - food (36 eggs, 2 loaves of bread, capers (to add to the bottle already there) sun dried tomatoes and meat!) - cleaning supplies and toilet paper to last a decade (Lisle's rule of thumb is if you think you might need it you better buy it - it won't go bad - hence the 4 containers of laundry detergent and the 18 roles of toilet paper - but no coffee filters or paper towels!)  And don't forget the wine (24 bottles).  Somehow it all went in the car.

Lisle was tired so I drove.  It started raining while we were on the Autopista - nothing serious.  Then on to the Costanera and a quick stop at Tarcoles for a pee and water.  Then the rain started in earnest.  Not heavy but non-stop the rest of the way.  Fortunately little traffic and no police stops.

More shopping and cash machine in Uvita and then home!

The road into Ojochal has had work done to smooth it out after the worst of the rainy season - not so for the road into Phase 9 and up the hill to our place - - HUGE muddy ruts - good thing the 4 wheel-drive works.

Barely 3 1/2 hours - good time.

Unload the car and crash - beer, dinner, TV (the Borgias - quite the depraved group!), bed!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Travelling Tales

Monday at 5:00 pm - sitting with a beer.  Think all is set up again - finally!

Airport was packed when we arrived on Saturday morning - in the door at 7:00 am for a 10:00 am flight - there were easily 100 people in line for the flight - families, groups - luggage and more luggage!!  Showed our internet boarding passes and were sent to the short line - slow but short.

Now we are no less luggage ladden - 2 backpaks, 2 carryons, 3 large suitcases and a hockey bag.  When we get to the counter, Lisle's carry on is twice the allowable weight and his suitcase is 5 kilos overweight - all else is right at weight - we have the option - check the carry on at $175 and pay extra weight for the other suitcase, or repack to get the carryon below 10 kg and so long as the suitcase isn't over 36 kg we only have to pay $55 for the overweight bag.  So off to the side we go and start shifting from one bag to the other - we manage to accomplish this - other than looking like idiots packing in the middle of the airport!  It's 8:15 by the time we get to the gate!

On to the plane - departure time comes and the plane is 1/3 empty, and no one seems to be getting on - maybe a nice flight with some extra space - no such luck, they start coming in waves - families with 5 and 6 kids, all headed to Central America to visit family for the holidays! Two rows in front of us and the 3 on the other side of the aisle!  The one family has a dog!  The plane is full to capacity and because there are 6 or 7 in each group, they are seated apart and worried about the kids and calling to each other - - Papi, Papi, Papi.  We are off - 20 minutes late.

Then the dog starts - it is a little thing, fuzzy and yaps constantly - for the next 3 hours - even the headphones and loud movie soundtrack couldn't drown it out - DROWNING! There's an idea!  Finally mama takes it out of the carrier and it goes to sleep on her lap - I somehow think drugs were involved!

Land, get off, and find we are getting right back on the same plane - fortunately none of the families are going to Costa Rica!

Get to San Jose, through customs and baggage in record time - shuttle to the rental - into the car by 5:15 - very speedy.  So, I ask Lisle if we need the cell or GPS as they are in the carryon - no, he knows the way - except for the wrong turn that gets us to a dead end - let's try this road, no - how about this turn - - let's get the GPS.  OK, now it can't find the satellite!  So I say turn here - it is in the right direction - 1/2 mile later it joins another road - now we know where we are!

Hotel, check in, collapse.  Dinner - - oh, the hotel dining room is closed for a Christmas Party - guess it is Rosti Pollo!  Cerveza y pollo! and then bed

Saturday, December 3, 2011

One Week and Counting

The idea of 4 weeks away over Christmas sounded like a good idea at the time - now with a week left before we fly - OMG!  Shopping and packing are not done - my week at work is back to back including a 1/2 day partnering session with dinner and a Board meeting - Christmas with my mom and my son - 3 Christmas parties and 2 presentations on our new strategic plan!  I am exhausted and I haven't started yet!

Need to shake it off and focus - what will get done will get done and this time next week we will be in the air!