I haven’t written in a while – it has been a busy week! On Sunday we went to San Jose to complete what we needed to do to submit our application for residency. We headed out on Sunday and ended up having to reverse direction and go another way because the highway we were on had a bad landslide. We were only 50 kilometers from San Jose when we had to backtrack. I have to say that I am glad we did – even though it took a couple of more hours. The drive on highway 10 was gorgeous, even though it was raining like crazy the entire way. We had only been on that highway once before right after we started visiting Costa Rica and we were traveling on it very early in the morning on our way to raft the Pacuare river. So – I didn’t remember it at all. The towns along the way were all so nice and we the roads were very good. We went through many, many coffee plantations and we also drove by The Tropical Agricultural Research and higher Education Center (CATIE) just outside of Turrialba. The University of Idaho (and most of the other land grant institutions) had many joint programs for research and graduate students with CATIE but I had not seen it before. Next time we will stop.
We arrived in San Jose in the early evening, checked into a nice hotel and then went to dinner at a wonderful Chinese restaurant. It turned out that one of our waiters was from Cahuita (just up the road for Puerto Viejo) and he thought it was neat that we were living in PV. The food was very good but a bit odd in that sliced potatoes were served over rice in my chicken curry dish. The next morning we headed out to the U.S. embassy to pick up a letter from the embassy that verified that Tom would be receiving a social security check beginning December 15th. We needed that to prove that we had enough income (over $1,000 per month) to qualify for residency. It all went very smoothly and we were in and out in thirty minutes. I didn’t take the camera because we were told that we would not be able to take pictures but I should have – I could have taken some of the building and it was really nice. After getting the letter we headed over to ARCR (Associated Residents of Costa Rica) who will be handling the residency application for us and we were taken to the National Police Station to have our fingerprints taken. Even though we had prints taken in Idaho which were certified by both the state of Idaho and the Costa Rican embassy in Washington D.C., we still had to do it again to make sure we weren’t wanted in Costa Rica. That process took about an hour and then we were done!!! We headed back to ARCR and met with our attorney who finished up the application. We should get our application number in about two weeks.
We headed back to Puerto Viejo on Tuesday morning in a deluge. We came back on highway 10 since it was so bad and, even though there was not another landslide on highway 32, I’m glad we did. It is just less stressful on that highway. We got into PV around noon and have been hanging out. The weather has been beautiful until today. It started raining around 10:00 but we were able to go to the farmer’s market and pick up two huge bags of fruit and vegetables. We are starting a five day juice fast and what better way to begin than with the fresh stuff Several people have suggested that we do the fast to see if it will help Tom’s hands heal and I am thinking that it can only be good for me too. I got a juicer at a store here and it was a pretty good deal for here – about $100. Most electronics are substantially more than what we can get them for in the states.
Thursday we had Thanksgiving dinner with our wonderful neighbors. Since turkeys are so expensive here we went with blackened chicken on the grill and it was yummy. I made a carrot and cucumber marinade for salad and we cooked up potatoes. The neighbors brought excellent cheesecake, wine, and gravy for the potatoes. It was GREAT!!! They are heading back to Portland for a month or so on Tuesday and we will miss them. I did get a photograph of the turkeys who live across the road but they are the closest we came to turkey for dinner…………
Here are a few pictures from our trip to San Jose.
Church in downtown San Jose
Heading out of town
Cemetery – they are so beautiful
Church in Cartago
It is Christmas time in San Jose!
Since we have been back from Colorado the weather has been amazing. Relatively cool (considering it is the tropics), sunny, low humidity and rain at night. Today I walked the dogs on the beach around 6:00 a.m. and there was a pelican diving for fish and men fishing from the shore. There were several people walking the beach and we all said hi and noted the beauty of the day. A short time after I got back the gardener and his helper showed up to do the monthly gardening. Using a machete and a weed whacker, it takes them about three to four hours to cut back all the new growth and to spiff up the yard and it looks absolutely gorgeous. Neither one speaks English so I cannot communicate too well yet – but I vow that I will within the year!! They charge us $30 for the work and we are good for another four weeks.
We are going to have dinner with our neighbors this evening and so this afternoon I went to the little store down on the beach to pick up some rum to make some surprise drinks to take over (mange/pineapple/papaya daiquiris). At any rate, I noted that the beach was almost completely empty. That is what is so wonderful about this area. It is not yet “discovered” so there is always plenty of room on the beach. Only twice since we have been here have I seen the beaches somewhat crowded and both of those days were special occasions. On the way back I ran into our neighbors who were heading on down to the ocean for a swim. It has been a really wonderful day
Cacao fruit – someday I’ll make chocolate from this……..
Tree across the street – see the yellow leaves – it IS fall!!!
I got a message from my Aunt bubbles asking me to write in my blog so I am doing just that Her name is actually Beverly but all of her nieces, nephews, sisters, brothers, and I don’t know who else (everyone I think) called her Bubbles. At any rate, I have been a bit lax on the blogs due to our trip to Colorado and back that occurred just one week ago today. We left last Monday to stay the night in San Jose and then flew to Denver for a three day whirlwind trip. We went to collect the documents that son Jordan had collected from different states and agencies for us so that we could apply for residency in Costa Rica. He had to gather it all and then send it off to the Costa Rican embassy in Washington D.C. so they could authenticate all the documents and send them back to him. He got that all done and back about two weeks before we arrived in Colorado.
We had such a great time with all the kids and grandkids – lots of good food and company – especially for such a short trip. We had spent several months buying things on the internet and sending it to different kids, that we needed to bring back. We bought three ceiling fans that Tom put up today and they are great!!! Very quiet and they really move the air. It is so comfortable as we sit here in our living room watching the birds and it is so much quieter than when we had to use the tower fans that we brought down. We bought tons of other stuff too – so much that we ended up having to leave much of what we had planned to bring that we brought from Idaho. Oh well, I guess we’ll have to use mules to bring the rest down.
When we got back to San Jose (after a very long couple of days that started with a 1:30 a.m. flight on Saturday morning) we stayed at a wonderful B&B in Alajuela and caught up on some rest. Monday morning we took all the documents Jordan had collected and took them to the company that will be helping us with our residency application. They said that all documents were perfect and all we needed to do to complete the process is to come back and get our fingerprints and get a letter from the American embassy verifying that Tom will be getting a monthly social security check beginning in December. So we will head back to San Jose this Sunday and get in line at the embassy bright and early Monday morning to get that done. We should have our application number within a month and that means that we will not have to leave Costa Rica every ninety days and we can join the public medical plan. It seems that all the months of planning are paying off.
We got back Monday afternoon to two very excited dogs!! Kaya and Wiley went nuts when they saw us and yes, Kaya got to sleep on our bed last night
So now I am sitting in the living room listening to the birds and enjoying the most amazingly beautiful day. It has been sunny and warm (but not too warm) all day and there is just a very little bit of a breeze. Tom just took the dogs for a walk on the beach and I am once again pinching myself that we are here. Life could not be better………..
Amazing place to shop – everything you need and incredibly cheap!!
Work being done in San Jose – the streets were a mess.
Cows coming to visit at the B&B
The treetops are beginning to flower – it is beautiful!
Restaurant on the road to San Jose
Fresh fruit stand on the way to San Jose that we stopped at
Hummingbird greeting us on our return to our little paradise
Today Tom came back from walking the dogs and said that he hadn’t been able to walk them on the beach because it was covered in water. The storms in the Caribbean have caused a bit of havoc to our normally calm ocean. So I headed down to see for myself and it really was amazing!! I love the ocean and how it changes. Here are a few pictures of what it looks like today.
Looking out to the east
Looking at Puerto Viejo
Logs that drifted in today
The water drove the horses that normally wander on the beach in the early morning to the road. As I walked along, one of them came up to me looking for food but I didn’t have any for them. Not that there is any need to worry – these horses have more food than they could possibly eat – they rule Playa Negra.
Tomorrow we head out to San Jose to catch our plane to Colorado on Tuesday. It will be good to see the family and pick up the many items that we have had shipped to the kids for us to bring back but it will be nice to get back here too. I am really not quite ready to leave. We have a wonderful dog/house sitter lined up and our wonderful neighbor is going to walk them on occasion if he can, but it will still be very hard on Kaya and Wiley to not have us around. Kaya has gotten used to sleeping outside but she will break that good habit as soon as we get back – I have no doubt about it
As a parting gift to me today the Collared Aracaris showed up on our papaya tree this afternoon to snack. I love all these birds!!!
Not in Puerto Viejo or on the Caribbean side of the country but in the central valley and on the pacific side the rains have been terrible – most say the worst they have seen in years and years. The current storm is evidently the result of tropical storm Tomas which is centered in the Caribbean Sea. But the rain has been relentless for the past three months in the central valley and the pacific side and this storm just was the “straw that broke the camels back”. The country is in a declared state of emergency and they are reporting that 20 people have died in a suburb of San Jose (Escazu) and at 10 more are still missing. Roads and bridges are washed out all over the country and shelters have been set up for the hundreds that are being evacuated from their homes. Many homes have been lost to the flooding in all areas of the country (except the Caribbean side). The picture to the left is of a road between the town of Manuel Antonio and Quepos in the southern pacific.
We are leaving the country on Tuesday morning to fly back to the U.S. to pick up our paperwork to apply for residency here in Costa Rica. I sure hope that we are able to get to San Jose and that the planes are flying.
This Halloween weekend was very interesting. On Saturday something called the Tope came to Playa Negra which is the beach that is just a three minute walk from our house. I have noted before how tranquil and un-crowded this beach is – not this weekend!!! The Tope is evidently an event that brings horsemen and women from all over Costa Rica to one place to show off their horses and have a great time. The party starts mid morning when people arrive and fire up the barbeques. There is much food, beer, and soda consumed and a lot of people hanging out in the ocean and playing volleyball on the beach. Then hundred of riders mount up and ride their horses along the beach into town and ride all around our little town stopping at bars, restaurants, and shops. In the late afternoon they all come galloping back to the beach to finish up the festivities. Some of these horses were dancers and the riders led them through some of the most intricate moves I have ever seen. It was amazing to see a horse moving with as much agility as a small dog. There were cars and people (and horses and dogs) everywhere!! I thoroughly enjoyed walking along the street and taking pictures of everyone enjoying themselves.
Sunday (Halloween) was one of the most gorgeous days we have had so far – and that is saying a lot since almost all days are beautiful. Once again people were out on the beaches and in town visiting and just enjoying life. Tom and I headed to Limon with about ten other people in our little choir to rehearse with the people in Limon who will be singing the Messiah with us on December 19th at the Limon Cathedral. The director was a task master but he really knew what he was doing. By the end of our three hours together we actually sounded pretty good!! It was interesting to see the difference in who was singing from what place. Those of us from Puerto Viejo were all in our 50’s and 60’s while those from Limon were much younger – mostly 20’s and 30’s. It was great fun. The director’s wife brought us homemade pumpkin tasting bread for the ride home and it was delicious! When we got back to PV it was apparent that the Halloween parties were just getting started. Evidently this is a big celebration here in town and many bars and restaurants have costume contests. We did not go out this year but we definitely will next year – it looked and sounded like a great time!!
Yesterday, my friend Nancy asked if I wanted to go to Bri Bri (the county seat) with her so she could pick up some baby chicks and an artificial Christmas tree. Bri Bri is about fifteen miles away in the mountains and is a very typical Tico town. Sharon, another friend, decided to come along as well so we headed out in the mid afternoon for a new adventure (at least for me). We got to Bri Bri and went to the veterinarian who sells the baby chicks. Nancy bought four of them and he put them in a cardboard box and tied them up. She wanted the chicks because one of her chickens at home had been sitting on four eggs for over thirty days and they were not going to hatch. But the hen would not leave the nest. A few years ago Nancy found that if she brought live chicks to the hen that was sitting on dormant eggs, then the hen would think the eggs had hatched and would tend to the chicks and get off of the nest. I thought this was hysterical! At any rate, we then went shopping at a variety of little stores and Nancy found her Christmas tree which happened to be the last one so they had to take it apart so we could buy it and bring it back. As we stopped in all of the stores, one of us would carry the chicks who were chirping away in their cardboard box. Now this is something I never did in Idaho – or Colorado – or Wyoming………… We headed back to PV and I dropped Nancy off at her house with the Christmas tree and the chicks. Sure enough that goofy hen saw those chick, got off her nest, and started herding them around. This is the life!!