Sunday, July 29, 2012



I almost forgot - we went to Exotica for dinner on Wednesday.

I don't know how Lucy does it, but 10+ years in there is always a warm and friendly welcome and never a bad meal.

Fish Carpaccio, Ceviche, Cesar Salad, Steak, Duck, Fish, and the Famous Chicken Exotica!

Saved room for the Devils Fork for dessert (moist dense chocolate cake with just a hint of hot chile!!  YUM!!

Highly rated in Frommers, Fodor and Trip Advisor

Can't wait to go again!!!!!!!!

Creature Feature

So some creatures are more attractive than others - like to Toucan who was hanging out in the tree by the pool.  Not the smaller Chestnut Mandible - a real Fruit Loops Toucan Sam!

And those that are not attractive, are interesting in their own way.  An odd, sort of translucent spider

and a beetle I call Thunder Thighs for obvious reasons

While there are the usual caterpillars, cockroaches and centipedes, this time there are these little millipede bugs everywhere - one the patio, on the floor, on the carpet, on the walls, in the pool - you know the ones, you touch them and the curl up - they are everywhere!!  They are about the size of a pencil lead and maybe an inch long - blackish.  Then there is the one - perhaps she is the queen!

Found her crawling across the kitchen floor - touched her with the broom and she curled into a perfect little ball. Swept her towards the patio door.  She rolled right out the door, bounced twice and landed in the pool!  Not what I had intended but I guess it put her with her many loyal subjects at the bottom of the pool.

And then there are the dogs.  While the neighbours and friends have many (Coffee, Mia, Juanita ...) there are others round and about.  Was sitting the other day reading - lost in my book - when I had the feeling I was being watched and saw a movement in my peripheral vision - OMG a dog was sitting there on the patio - not that it was threatening - a little chihuahua - but my heart jump to my throat - what was a dog doing sitting there, no one is around!!  Realized is was Lucky (Omar's Dog staying at Bruce and Barbs).  Then there is the Devil Dog - this black and brown mutt who lives in the house by the river - not that he is nasty, but appears suddenly from the dark as you are driving in late at night (well 7pm when it is dark) - scared Claudio have to death last week.  And then last night, we are watching TV and there is a shadow movement on the patio - Pizote?  No, a white shaggy dog (looked like a poodle-cross) out by the pool. A shout and it dashed through the hedge and into the bush towards the gate house.  So now we have the White Phantom to join Devil Dog!!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Tony and Tina`s Wedding

So we will go with those names to avoid incriminating anyone!

A Gringo and a Tica, well known in the community tied the knot yesterday.  

The wedding was at 10 am in the lawyer`s office in Cortes (this is the actual wedding - they are going to get `married`in Santorini in October). A small event - her family, a couple of friends, and the witnesses (specifically selected for the fact they were fluent in Spanish).

The reception followed at Nanny`s - the local watering hole at the entrance to the village.  For the occasion Nanny slaughtered and roasted a pig.  Every romantic song from my high school days (read 1978) flowed from the speakers - once the mushy dancing was done, Elvis and Chubby Checker filled the air and the dance floor was full - that is until they took to `twisting`on the tables - needless to say many cervezas were consumed! (sorry - no photos - have been well paid for my visual silence!!!)

Congrats to the happy couple!!

Adios Amigos

Steve and Claudio headed home last night.  The driver picked them up in the parking lot opposite the Ojochal Police Station at 12:45 am - I know that sounds odd, but with a 7 am flight it is either an overnight transfer, or a daytime transfer and a hotel room that you need to leave at 4 am to go to the airport.

The second half of their stay was as much a blur and the first.

Sunday was quiet - too overcast for the beach - Monday was busy with Condo stuff, so Lisle and Steve and Claudio went shopping.

Tuesday we drove south to see the Boruca Indigenous Reserve in the mountains - guess they are happy being left alone, cuz we never found it.  Instead we showed off our local municipalities of Palmar Norte, Palmar Sur and Sierpe.  In Sierpe we actually found some great Boruca masks, so the expedition wasn`t a loss!

Wednesday we drove north to Dominical - checked out the beach, the surfers, the handicrafts.  Lunch at Tortilla Flats - OMG they expanded!!  Stopped at the beach at La Leona on the way back - a whole Tico family was set up in the trees at the beach - chairs, hammocks, bbq - that`s how you do a day at the beach.  Lisle and Claudio went for a swim - we picked up a couple coconuts to plant at the house.  Ran into Karen on the way home, so beer and gossip were required!

Thursday we spent the afternoon with Dwight and Wendy - a lazy afternoon with beer, guacamole and conversation.

Friday was readying for departure, but couldn`t possibly leave without another party!  This time a wedding reception we had been invited to.

As they head back to Toronto, they must think all we do is eat, drink, party and socialize - not a bad impression to leave them with!!!

Guess It's Over!

Indian Summer, that is.  Often July offers a respite from the rainy season.  A chance to catch your breath before the real rain of September, October and November.  And indeed the past couple weeks have been relatively dry.  In fact, Wednesday, Thursday and most of Friday were rain free - sunny and hot - just like February.  We even had some beautiful sunsets!

Well that ended yesterday.  The thunder started over the mountains and the ocean about 3 pm.  The rain started about 4 and has been on and off every since - heavy, light, heavy again - - in and out of the clouds.  

Rain isn`t necessarily bad thought - last night we returned from drinks about 7 pm and hit the pool.  Something very neat about friends, pool, beer and rain on a tropical night!!

Sunday, July 22, 2012


This past week with Steve and Claudio here has been a blurr!

Tuesday was the trip to Quepos to get them - driving was fine - got coffee at Cafe Milagro (YUM and for those of you in the country - they deliver!!)  Maxi Pali for supplies (nothing interesting and no less expensive than in Uvita)  Fetched the boys and home by 5.  Cold beer for a welcome cocktail - then the power went out - so, dinner in the dark (not quite what was planned but certainly Costa Rican!!)

Wednesday was chill - Lisle and Claudio went into Uvita for supplies (my beer and wine go fast!) - Steve and I read.

Thursday was a trip to San Isidro - town in the mountains about a 1/3 of the way to San Jose - Thursday they have a big Market - Karen and I needed to see a lawyer about Condominium stuff while the boys wandered and looked at the hundreds of Zapatarias.  The market was awesome - we bought bunches and bunches - Chayote and Mangostinos!

Friday Dwight and Wendy came by - wine and gossip - then off to Nanny's for beer and gossip - and OMG!  Karaoke!  All the friends were there, including the 2 Jims - a great way to introduce our Toronto friends to our Ojochal friends.  Dinner at Fabrizio's - great pizza and salad.

Saturday was quiet - Lisle and Steve went for supplies while Claudio and I read (more beer and wine!!)

Today was supposed to be beach day - but it has been overcast and raining on and off - yes I know - it is July in Costa Rica!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Always Coming and Going

The thing about our community here is that few of us are permanent.  Some is always arriving or leaving.

Dean and Michelle were headed back to Arizona Saturday - as Lisle was arriving.  Bill and Deb just arrived from Barrie to finish design of their home.

Friday was a farewell beach day - spectacular quiet beach at La Leona - treelined, no undertow or riptide - just what you want from a tropical beach - except for the tidal marsh you need to cross on the sketchy boardwalk (missing boards covered in with logs).  A great day of sun, surf and conversation - and a beer or two!  Topped it off with Pulled Pork Sandwiches at the Roadhouse - authentic southern and nicely spiced.  Bill and Deb arrived as we were finishing - in time for introductions and chat, but then joined me at home for beer and conversation about home planning and building.

Saturday was all about getting ready for Lisle's arrival - and reading my book!  Sweeping (I don't know where the bugs come from, but they like to die in the house), laundry (sheets, and clothes) and vacuum the pool (the bugs like to die there as well - 50 or so each night).  Dean and Michelle arrived at 10 am to get the GPS and say their goodbyes - - - it only took a dozen minds to figure out that if Dean and Michelle drove their car to San Jose, Lisle could drive it back and no one needed to pay for a taxi!

Messages that Lisle arrived - Dean and Michelle arrived and Lisle headed out - should be here by 6 pm.  By 7 I was worried - accident?  car trouble?  He arrived safe at 7:30 - almost 5 hours for what should have been 3 1/2 - a road collapse and accident in Parrita!

Sunday was a lazy day. Keith and Karen dropped in to say hello - plans for the beach never really materialized.  Bill and Deb came by about 10:30 - the house chat started and at 2 we moved to Mama y Papas for pizza and beer - home in time for sunset - the first glimpse of pink and orange in the evening sky since I arrived.

Today - errands and shopping before Steve and Claudio arrive tomorrow!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Head in the Clouds

While I had some work to do today, most of the day was spent reading - a quiet day a respite - a good choice for today as the rain started at 10 and kept up until 3.

for about 30 minutes it was very heavy - spilling out of the eavestroughs - and for much of the day the clouds covered the mountains and blocked everything from view

The Howlers were unhappy about the rain - calling out in complaint everytime it got heavy.

They made their way back into the big tree about 30 minutes after the rain stopped - looks like they are there for the night!

About 5 the temperature dropped from 27 to 24 - a chill to the damp air - guess it's time for wine and dinner!

Things That Go Bump In the Night

Or Howl at dawn

and all the strange creepy crawlers

Monday, July 9, 2012

What a Difference a Day Makes

OK - actually a year!  But in that short time, the garden has transformed from little sticks to tropical lushness!!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Settling In

So today was the work day.

I had to go through the stuff in the storage closet - the stuff we left behind so we would have it next time - lots of wine and liquor! - cans of tuna!

Finally found the iPod - MUSIC!!

Scuba stuff and Christmas decorations can stay put!

Weights and yoga mats - not that ambitious yet!

And there's the laundry basket full of clothes - two loads of laundry later and they are now wearable (they really smelled moldy!)

Then get the printer working (flaky with the paper, but still works fine)

Books to the new bookcase

Sweep and get rid of the frog droppings

And as a reward for my efforts - the monkeys came by to say hello!

So sitting here with thunder in the distance as there is a storm in the mountains.  The sun comes and goes - a lazy Sunday after all!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Please Don't Feed the Animals

For those of you who may not know, Lisle does ALL the cooking - yes ALL of it.  I am seldom allowed in the kitchen, except when making my way to the backyard.

So, the question has been how I can possibly survive a week here without him feeding me.

So far, Keith and Karen fed me last night and Dwight and Wendy have invited me for Tuesday.  One meal every 3 days should work!  I might even be able to fit into my Speedo!!

In case anyone was in doubt, I actually can cook.  Today - breakfast was a smoked porkchop, scrambled eggs and tortillas.  And I just finished a delicious dinner - bbq chicken breast marinated in garlic, chiles and olive oil, and a vegetable salad of black beans, chick peas, corn, tomato, onion and basil.

Bon Appetite!!

A post script - breakfast!!

Life is a Beach

Today was one of those perfect tropical days.

At 7 when I woke up, you could feel the heat starting to build.  There was not a cloud in the sky.  Beautiful blue and the mountains were bright green in the sunlight.

A quick dip to wake up = the water is 30C.  Chores, breakfast and checking in with Lisle in Toronto.

Then the call = it was Karen.  It is too nice a day to work.  We are going to the beach.  Want to join us?

4 hours sitting, chatting, drinking beer - other than a small group of Ticos playing soccer and climbing in the mountain caves, we were the only 5 people in the world!

If only every day were this!

Your Attention Please

A full day of travel followed by food and wine makes sleep easy, so I didn't expect to struggle as I lay down in bed.

Well, the frogs had a different idea - it sounded like 20 men with megaphones yelling at each other - you know that garbled electronic voice sound that you think should be intelligible but never is - OMG, I guess it was the Friday night party.

The sounds of the jungle never disturb for long and I was soon asleep - until the Howlers at 5:00!!

Nature will not be ignored!

Safe Landing

The rest of the flight was fine - on time arrival -right through immigration - baggage - shuttle - car rental - hotel  check in - in the room by 6 pm -  - time for a beer!

Halfway through the beer the stomach started again - yuk!  Finished the beer and went up to the room - I'll lie down for a bit and watch TV and then order room service - i woke up at 11:30, turned of the TV and slept until 5:30 - so much for dinner!

Early breakfast, caught up on email, check out, bank machine for cash and to Walmart (important things - body wash and Pepto Bismol!) then to PriceSmart.  Why is it that you can't go to Costco without it costing $300 - I didn't think I bought much, but it was $360.

On the highway at 11 am, and rolled into Ojochal at 2:30.  Stopped at Jucaloa for eggs (you could only buy 100 at PriceSmart) and cold beer and home just before 3:00.

Keith and Karen had invited my for dinner, so a quick unpacking and setup, shower and off to their place by 4:15.

Driving down the road, I turned the corner to killer hill and there was Dean and Michelle driving in front of me (they were joining us for dinner).  I follow along and we get to a junction in the road and they stop - Michelle gets out and waves - I ask if they are lost?! - apparently not!  they were just stopping to drop off the rotten eggs for the Pizotes!

Great company, great dinner - a great welcome home!

Up, Up and Away

A nasty gastro bug set me flat on my back on Tuesday (not it wasn't too much partying on the weekend - Lisle was down with the same thing so the holiday weekend was pretty quiet) so Wednesday was busy wrapping up work and last minute packing.

So, up early and to the airport.  James had to go to work for 7, so dropped me at the airport at 6:30 for a 10:45 flight - you know, check in, head to the Premier Lounge for breakfast and relaxation for 3 hours and then the flight.  Well, the check-in didn't open until 7:45, so a long wait in the terminal with nothing open.  When I saw the pickup truck and two taxis arrive with 8 people and luggage I decided to start the line up at the counter.  First in line, first checked in and to security.

So in my carry on I always have my laptop, the GPS, the keys to the house (all 50 of them!), power cords, USB connectors etc. And, every time, they want to search my case after they have scanned it.  This time I put everything in containers, nicely packed - still the search - seems they honed in on the keys - maybe a different strategy next time!

Well, only 2 hours in the Premier Lounge, but for $30 you get breakfast, coffee, TV, comfy chairs, newspaper (Starbucks and something pre-wrapped downstairs is at least $17).  Finished and hit the Boarding Lounge just as they were calling the flight - 10 minutes then boarded, all on, door closed 15 minutes early - off the ground at exactly 10:45.

The plane is about 75% full - a couple of large groups and a lot of families traveling to visit family in Central America - lots of kids but at least no pets!  Only issue - the plane is freezing - I was the first to ask for a blanket, and then they came flying out - people were pulling jackets from their carry-ons - seems to have warmed now, but I guess they were anticipating the Toronto heat wave.

Fingers crossed the rest of the journey is as smooth.