Easter is the most celebrated holiday in Costa Rica as well as all of Central America. Many people have the entire week off but everyone has Thursday through Sunday off. So – they all head to the beaches!!! Wednesday afternoon, cars began pouring into Puerto Viejo and the buses were right behind them – standing room only. For some it was a reason to drink all the alcohol they could possibly drink and still be standing (or not) but for most it was a family holiday. Extended families played in the ocean and on the beach non-stop for four days and it was great fun to watch.
On Saturday night, Rene and Sarah were invited to play at one of our favorite restaurants – Stash’s ConFusion (formerly Loco Natural). Of course we went along (with Sofi as she is too young to leave behind) and we all had a great time. The entire staff, volunteer and paid, as well as the owners of the Jaguar Rescue Center came out to watch Rene and Sarah play the blues. Sarah and Rene have been steady volunteers for six full months and everyone came out to show their support. There was a lot of audience participation and I have to say it was clear that everyone enjoyed themselves immensely. Especially Sofi!!!
Sunday, Tom took the dogs for a walk on the beach very early in the morning and came back and announced that it was a perfect day for snorkeling. Sarah has volunteered to help me with an exercise program (she is a former trainer – how do I luck out!) so after exercising, Tom, Sarah, Rene, and I headed out for a few hours of fun on the beach. Sarah and I snorkeled while Tom, Rene, and Sofi hung out talking and drinking a couple of beers. Rene decided to see if Sofi would like the water so he took her down. However, it clearly wasn’t her thing so back they came – both smiling. There is just nothing in the world like the area when the water is still and the sun is shining. Absolutely breathtaking. We still don’t quite believe we actually live here sometimes.
Back home, Kaya and Wiley reunited with Sofi and they played until they all were ready to crash. Not before me however. After such a great, long day, I fell asleep about twenty minutes into the moving we were watching and so went to bed. This is my kind of life
Yesterday was one that we will remember for some time. It started out early with us hearing an animal crying. We couldn’t tell exactly what it was so Tom went out to the road to see if he could see anything. He did. A tiny, tiny puppy that had been left in a ditch. The vet told us that people in Costa Rica do not neuter their dogs so there are many unwanted litters and often, when they can’t find people to take the puppies, they drop them off in the road to die. At any rate, this little doll has now joined our little family. Wiley and Kaya are not too sure about it but today Kaya started playing with her so I am thinking it will all work out fine. We have not named her yet but I think we have it nailed down to three to pick from – Skylar, Sophie, or Flora. I’m sure we will decide today.
Later in the morning, Sarah, Rene, Tom and I went to the beach (with the puppy) so that Sarah and I could snorkel and Rene and Tom could drink beer. (Actually they shared the beer with us.) The ocean was almost perfect for snorkeling and we saw beautiful fish and coral. I took a cameral with an underwater housing but we the battery wasn’t fully charged so I got no pictures. Next time I will be prepared!!
We stopped off at the vet’s to let her take a look at the puppy and she gave it medication for worms, took a look at a bad cut she has on her leg, and then gave her medication for fleas, ticks, and parasites. The puppy has mange as well so we are putting medicine on the balding spots. The vet would not take any payment for her services, only for the medication. I sometimes don’t know how she survives because she donates so much of her time. We will take the puppy back on Tuesday to begin a series of vaccinations.
Last night we went to Sarah and Rene’s (they are back housesitting for our neighbors) and had a marvelous dinner. Around 8:00, we noticed a car had come to the gate. Since very few cars come down our road we were curious so Tom and Rene went to check. Turned out a young woman named Kate was in a taxi that had been driving her around for an hour and a half trying to find the motel she had booked. We invited her in to see if she could find the directions in her email and she did – 200 meters north of the bank and then 50 meters west. The driver could not find it and there was no phone number to call. She was quite upset and so we sent the taxi away and then called and got her a room for the night at another hotel where we knew she would be safe. Tom and Rene took her to town and, needless to say, she was immensely relieved.
So – quite the eventful day. Today we are relaxing and will go to a friend’s house later to get some cuttings from her flower garden so that we can transplant them to the back. Once that is done, I am hanging out, reading, and napping. My typical day in Puerto Viejo
Kaya isn’t too sure about this
Helping water the garden
Running after Tom
Chomping on a BIG leaf
Before we moved to Puerto Viejo, we asked the people we bought our house from to recommend a carpenter as we needed to have a number of minor projects done before we moved in. They recommended a young man who was originally from Nicaragua named Marvin and we have had him make us a variety of cabinets, shelves, and furniture. A few days ago we asked him to make us a cabinet for the bathroom and when he left he offered to help me with my Spanish if I could reciprocate and help him with his English. He has come over twice and is helping me immensely (although I am not yet helping him very much).
Two nights ago, after we were done, he and Tom got talking and he told us a bit about his background. He is thirty one years old and was raised by his grandparents (who he calls mom and dad) after his parents just walked away and left their five children. He is the oldest of his siblings and has helped his grandparents support all of them his entire life. When he was twenty he almost sliced off his entire hand while working and his grandfather sold two of his farm trucks to come up with the $16,000 needed for the operation. His hand was saved and he was able to continue in his profession as a carpenter. He is married and has two children who go to school here in Puerto Viejo where they are learning English – hence his desire to learn the language himself – so he can help them with their homework. A few years ago he and his siblings built his grandparents a nice new house in Nicaragua by hand from the ground up. He also sends them $100 each month and paid to put his sister through college – she is now an accountant. All of his siblings now live here in Puerto Viejo although they do go back to Nicaragua to see their grandparents often.
Marvin is an extraordinarily hardworking young man who is both a perfectionist and extremely conscientious. At times I feel bad that he is taking time to help me when he works so hard and has a family. But he made a commitment and is sticking to it.
Today marks the eighth month that we have been living here in Puerto Viejo. It is still so hard to believe sometimes that we are here and that everything is going so well. The days seem to fly and there just don’t seem to be enough hours to do everything I want to do – watch and study birds, study and learn Spanish, work on the garden and the new yard, nap, take walks and read. Every day brings something new. It is a good life.
It has been a bit rainy the last few days but the rain seems to have given us some new birds to watch in the yard and allowed Tom to finally get a great picture of a Blue Morph Butterfly!!!! We have been trying to photograph this butterfly for eight months now but they move too fast and all we can get is a blue blur. Today, one was drying off it’s wings right outside our window after a particularly long rain. So Tom grabbed the camera and got the shot! Now we will start working on getting a movie of one flying around
We also have seen a few new birds since the rain began. One of them, the scarlet tanager, only migrates once a year in the spring. The others are around most of the year but this is the first we have seen of them.
This week we also went to the botanical garden to look at some plants for the new back yard and ended up getting a few that should be pretty neat. One, a pepper plant, is one that I have wanted for a long time. There is just nothing like this fresh pepper right off the vine and now we will have some. We also got a plant that has edible leaves for salad and they are delicious. We will be picking up a couple of other things to plan in the next couple of months to go along with the oranges, avocados, limes, mangos, cas and papaya trees that we already have growing. So we will soon begin eating right out of our own yard.
This has been such a great week. We have had “up close and personal” encounters with critters in nature and have experience just wonderful weather and terrific times with friends. The most amazing thing that happened was that we watched a momma sloth and her baby cross an electrical wire to get to a tree just across the road from our house. Tom was taking pictures of the crossing and, when we brought them into the house to upload and look at them, we noticed that the mom had something that looked like blood on her face and a tooth that was sticking out at a really wrong angle. I called friend Sarah who works at the animal rescue to get her advice and she agreed with me that it would be best to call the owners of the Jaguar Rescue Center to see what they thought. After I talked to Encar, one of the owners, and she said that since they were heading into town they would stop by and see if they thought there was a problem. By the time they got here, I had lost sight of the sloths so we showed them the photographs. Encar said it looked like the mom had eaten some red fruit or leaves and felt that both she and the baby were okay. However, it was not a wasted trip as she did ask if she could use Tom’s photos on the Jaguar Rescue website so Tom sent her several to pick from
On Thursday we had another Bocas, Beer, and Blues night with our neighbors Don and Ron and their guests Julie and Lisa, and Rene and Sarah (and a giant toad whose name I don’t know). Tom, Rene, and Sarah all played the guitar while the rest of us passed around the tambourine. We all sang the songs that we knew and made up words to those that we did not know. I recorded a couple of Rene’s songs for posterity on my you tube account. Rene and Sarah will be leaving in about six weeks to go back to England and then on to Italy and we will really miss them.
Our day started out today with a very loud crashing noise in the vacant lot next to us. When I went to investigate, I found the female iguana that has been living in a tree in the property on the ground foraging for food. She was right next to our fence and when I got next to her she became completely still. She kept looking at me but wouldn’t move. Tom got the camera and took pictures and then we came inside so that she could move off and not be bothered.
We then decided to go to Punta Uva so that I could do some snorkeling. Tom still can’t get in the ocean because his hands haven’t healed but he hung out and relaxed. I could not believe the incredible fish I saw on the reefs today!!! Very near the shore there were six to ten inch fish that were absolutely stunning! I am so sad that my underwater camera died – we are going to have to figure out how to get something else.
We are now home watching the semi-finals for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament that is being broadcast live over the internet. All I can say is – GO BUTLER!!