Wednesday, December 31, 2014

My New Year's Message - 2015

6:30 am New Year’s Eve – sitting on the stairs out back watching a howler monkey climb through the trees.  We haven’t had monkeys here in 2 years, but this one started howling yesterday at sunset and picked up again at 5:00 am.  Only one that I can see, and he is way in the jungle so photos are just dark and shadowy.  Hopefully a sign of a good year to come.

It is very hard to believe that 15 years ago we were sitting waiting for the world we knew to crash around us that the Y2K ‘bomb’ hit.  Those of us responsible for services and infrastructure spent the day and through the night in ‘command centres’ monitoring events, checking systems, and largely feeling like fools as we quickly came to understand that nothing bad was going to happen - - all dressed up and no place to go!

That really does seem like a lifetime ago.  Half of my son’s life – as he turns 30 in a few weeks.  In the intervening years the world has seen things that have seemed unimaginable – 9/11, the Katrina devastation of New Orleans, the Tsunami in the Indian Ocean, and the global economic meltdown.
Perhaps it is a result, or just another happening, but the new millennium has been highlighted by divisiveness, fear and hatred.  In politics, war, social encounter . . . life in general.

America was the land of the free and the home of the brave – now, the place of ultra conservative republicans v. hedonistic democrats.  Canada was proud of a socially progressive society within a fiscally responsible framework – now the social safety net has fallen victim of personal protection and the haves take more from the have nots.  Occupy and Anonymous scream about the 1% that control 50% of the wealth – yet interestingly, the top 10% of the 1% are some of the most progressive and socially minded folks on the planet.  We need to stop looking about to cast blame and start with ourselves and our communities to create positive change.  Our political processes are broken because that is what we have told our politicians we want and expect – division and anger – you can’t have what you want if that means I don’t get what I want - - what happened to compromise for the greater good – despite how it has been viewed in recent years, it is not a loss for everyone.  Kindness and generosity should always be 'in fashion'.

The monkey made me happy and thoughtful – perhaps everyone just needs a monkey to distract and engage them!

So, as 2015 is upon us, I look forward to happier days, healthier ways, less stress and more monkeys.

Happy New Year to friends and family – love you all.


Thursday, December 25, 2014

Feliz Navidad!

We always get asked - what happens at Christmas in Costa Rica?

The answer is - much the same as in Toronto or anywhere else!  People gather to enjoy their family and friends - it's just warmer!

So, some very Costa Rican Christmas images!

Dan and Lisle

Decorations at home

Celebrating at the beach

Ticos like to decorate just like everyone else

Or just let nature take over

But never would they do this

And while it may not be a cold and white Christmas where you are, everyone wants to be here!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014


Today is Licence Plate day.

When you buy a new vehicle, it doesn't come with a plate.  They only register vehicles after they are purchased and plates are issued once the registration is complete.  When you leave the dealership you have this plastic sleeve on the windshield with a paper in it - temporary registration.

So, they said - the plates will be ready in January.  No problem.  Then they call last week - the plates are here in San Jose, will you be in today to get them??   NO!  We are not doing an 8 hour round trip to get plates.  Lisle was going to get then when he took me back to the airport at the beginning of the month.

How about you send them to the dealership in Perez Zeledon (San Isidro)?  That is only an hour away.  Sure - so after waiting and checking, we confirm they are there.  Second trip in a week (our first maintenance was scheduled for last week - had we known we would have postponed for a few days).

Apparently we are not permanently legal!!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Welcome Winter!

The Winter Solstice past last night and we awake to WINTER!

A glorious sunny day with blue sky.

Almost as if it were waiting for winter, the dry season began Thursday last week - like someone flipped a switch.  The 4 weeks previous had been very rainy - making up for a relatively dry October. Then on Thursday, the air was different.  While dark clouds gathered over the mountains, they were brightened by the sun over the ocean.  A gentle rain each of Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening - Sunday beautiful and dry - even overnight!

In celebration Sunday was spent lounging in the pool reading Gone Girl!  Welcome Winter!!!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Montezuma Oropendola

Yesterday morning there was the strangest noise outside and movement in the trees.  The cluster of palms just behind the herb garden was full of birds. Black, short bright coloured beak, yellow fan-tail, about the size if a football.   They were having a party.  In and out of the palms to the trees behind, constantly moving and sounding off.  There were about 20 of them.

As I had never seen them before I went straight to my friend Google - bird black yellow fan tail Costa Rica. The first image it returned was that of the partiers. (don't ya love technology!)

The Montezuma oropendola is a fascinating bird. This large bright yellow tailed bird (18-20 inches) builds pendulous nests, which cluster in colonies of sometimes 140 or more. The most bizarre feature is Montezuma's unforgettable song, of wheezing, gurgling and popping sounds. The male will execute a complete somersault around a branch while simultaneously singing this medley of sounds.

We saw their nests by the hundreds when we visited Tortuguero several years ago, but never saw the birds.

Turns out they are more chestnut than black but my friend Google allows for those sorts of details.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Back in Ojochal

Day 1 coming to a close - sun is setting and dinner needs to start soon

A busy day - unpacking and sorting - Lisle has been here 2 weeks so he has settled in and I am disrupting his organized chaos. Oh well, think everything is away.

The travel was uneventful - first time on Air Canada Rouge - albeit premium service - no complaints - really friendly, good food, very attentive staff, arrived safe and early!

Usually I dread travelling alone as the person next to you wants to chat - sure enough before  we were even away from the gate the conversation started.  Fortunately this guy was really interesting - serial entrepreneur - connected to Google and android phones - who is challenging the world to be a better place - kids learning through independent education - asking big questions and figuring out the answers by themselves - search Andrew Greig and Kids Got SOLE (  The most fascinating 5 hours I have spent in a very long time.

Today has been rainy for the most part - clouds in the lowland towards the ocean - stopped about 4 - and now the power is out - and it is getting dark fast (good thing the Surface has a long battery life - too bad the internet isnt on the battery backup!)

In the dark for 90 minutes - back to life and posting - candles and iPhone flashlight - our saviours!