Category Archives: Puerto Viejo

Welcoming Old Friends and a New Year!!

Happy New Year

Happy New Year

The holidays have come and gone but it is not at all quiet here in Puerto Viejo.  This has been the busiest I have seen this little town and the restaurant and hotel owners happily are in agreement.  It has been CRAZY!!

Crazy traffic

Crazy traffic

The beaches have been packed

People everywhere

People everywhere

and the streets in town are barely passable by bicycle or foot even though there has been a lot of rain.  But I am not complaining.  The energy is great and it is fun to talk to some of the people who are experiencing Puerto Viejo for the first time.  Like my friend Dan and his two daughters Kim and Kristina.

Playing with the monkeys

Playing with the monkeys

I worked with Dan at the University of Idaho and he emailed me a couple of months ago saying that he and the girls were going to come to Costa Rica for a week in late December/early January and asked for some suggestions.  I told him of the places we had visited throughout the country and in the end he decided to come here.  He rented the main floor of a house way down the Playa Negra beach and spent time going out and seeing the sights.  For being here only a week they packed a lot in.  They hiked to a beautiful waterfall; learned how chocolate was made from the pods of cacao trees; toured Manzanillo National Park and saw tons of flora, foliage and animals; visited the Jaguar Rescue Center; and managed to get in a few yummy meals as well as a bit of shopping.

Anteater

Anteater at the Jaguar Center

Shopping

Shopping

On Saturday before they left the sun was out and it was gorgeous and they were able to hang out on the beach all day before we headed to Stashu’s Con Fusion for a great meal.

Fun as Stashus

Fun as Stashus

 

 

 

 

 

Tom and I had a wonderful Christmas day – several friends came over for a late afternoon potluck and we all caught up on each other’s lives.  It was very different from other Christmases we have had here and I really enjoyed staying home and just relaxing.  New Years Eve we also stayed in.  The fireworks were just too much for the dogs,  They were petrified so we decided that a night in was best.  And it turned out to be a great decision because there was a torrential downpour later in the evening.  We just got cozy and listened to the rain, thankful that we were not outside.

Basilik

Basilik

 

Naughty Sofi

Naughty Sofi

Sofi gave us a scare last week. She almost killed one of the Basilik lizards that lives in one of the giant trees in our yard.  We had seen the lizard earlier sitting on a bush enjoying the sun. While I was working in my office I heard a bunch of commotion outside my door and went out to check it out.  There was Sofi with the poor lizard in her mouth.  I yelled and she dropped it and it climbed up on one of the screen doors.

Basilik after Sofi tried to eat it

Basilik after Sofi tried to eat it

Up close

Up close

Tom picked it up and we checked it and didn’t find any damage so he put it back in the tree and it scurried up to safety.  We are constantly on watch to try to make sure that the dogs don’t harm the jungle animals but that was definitely a close call.

So that is all the excitement in my life for the last few weeks.  We are going to enjoy the sun for a while today and then kick back and watch the NFL football wild card matches.  Life goes on here in my little corner of the world – Pura Vida!!

A few photos:

Wiley - he is getting old but loves to hang on the deck

Wiley – he is getting old but still loves to hang on the deck

Cool bug

Cool bug at the Rescue Center

Huge waves on Playa Negra

Huge waves on Playa Negra

Woodpecker

Woodpecker

 

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Wonderful Fall wildlife and – oh yea – Thanksgiving!!

Puerto Viejo Barge

Puerto Viejo Barge

October and November seem to be the best months for wildlife to come and visit us in and around the yard.  The fall bird migration from North America begins in early October and so we see lots of birds that are only here for a short time.

Bronze tailed Plumeteer

Bronze tailed Plumeteer

The trees all around us are full of berries and yummy things to eat so even the birds that are here all year around tend to hang out more nearby.Scarlet Rumped Cacique

 

 

Black Striped Woodcreeper

Black Striped Woodcreeper

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sleepy sloth

Sleepy sloth

Although it is my understanding that sloths mate and have babies all year long, we tend to see babies in our trees in the fall.  This fall we had three different babies with their moms hanging out for two to three weeks each.  The latest mother seemed very young and her baby was constantly clinging to whatever it could grab to stay on board.  I really enjoyed sitting on the deck and watching these two for the time they were here.

Mom and Baby Climbing

Mom and Baby Climbing

 

 

 

Hang on baby!!

Hang on baby!!

We also had a cherenga (agouti) visit for a while every evening.

Cherenga

Cherenga

We had a fruit tree that was dropping fruit and this cherenga loved it!!  Once or twice it brought its little cherengas with it but more often left them in the lot on the other side of the fence.  Which was good because when I could not get Sofi and Kaya in the house in time, they would go out and give chase.  Needless to say the cherengas were in and out quickly.

 

 

Female green iguanaOn Friday we noticed a green female iguana sitting high up in one of the cacao trees next to our yard.  On close inspection, it is clear that she is pregnant.

Pregnant Iguana

Pregnant Iguana

Iguanas lay their eggs about 45 days after conception and it looks to me like she must be getting close to that.  She sat there all day just looking around and occasionally climbing down a bit to eat some leaves.  Here’s hoping for a new batch of healthy baby iguanas 🙂

Hungry Iguana

Hungry Iguana

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hanging out

Hanging out

Music

Music

Thanksgiving gathering

Thanksgiving gathering

 

We headed down to The Point for their annual Thanksgiving feast on Thursday and it was once again a great time!  About sixty people showed up -North Americans and Ticos alike – and we all visited and caught up on each others lives.  There was music and some singing and at the end of the evening a fire dancer performed.  Another U.S. holiday celebrated in grand style here in Puerto Viejo………

Fire Dancer

Fire Dancer

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few photos from around the yard……..

Pink Orchid Orange Orchid Masked tityra female Male three toed sloth Frog hanging out Black winged dragonfly

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Ahhhhh – The Sound of Howler Monkeys in the Morning……..

Morning on the beach

Morning on the beach

The last few days we have heard howler monkeys close by again. For several months we have only heard them way off in the distance. While I have to say that it is wonderful to know they are still near, it does mean that our days start much earlier than they used to. After the blue whale, the howler monkey is the loudest animal on earth and I believe it every morning at 4:00 a.m. 🙂

Daily life in Puerto Viejo has been going on as normal. We have met some new people and have had some fun times. A woman from Canada named Alicia came to town to scout out potential places to live when she and her husband retire in a few years. We spent a couple of wonderful evenings with her – one was my birthday where I had this amazing passion fruit cheesecake at Stashu’s for dessert.

Passion Fruit Cheeseca

Passion Fruit Cheesecake

At the end of October the annual Puerto Viejo Chocolate Festival was held.  There was a bit of a glitch that occurred because the proper permit had not been obtained to hold such a large event and the primary venue was shut down.  However the workshops and other special events went on and we were lucky enough to get tickets to the ‘Chocolate Pairing’.  Our friend Kimberly was in town so she, and our neighbors Ron and Don accompanied us to Chile Rojo where we got to sample pairings of delicious types of chocolate with different types of alcohol.  Not only did we taste wine and chocolate but beer, rum, and scotch as well.  Who would have thought that those combinations could be so yummy!!!

Rum and chocolate

Rum and chocolate

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I have been spending a lot more time lately taking walks on the beach and into town.  For a while I was working too much and was spending too much time at home.  It has been so great to get back out again and really experience my wonderful chosen home 🙂

I have recently created a new blog just for birds called (surprise) Costa Rica Bird Lover (www.costaricabirdlover.com ).  While it is still a work in progress, I have added about 80 birds to the collection.  So if you want to take a look, feel free 🙂

Here are a few pictures from the last couple of months:

Good morning (2)

Sofi bringing BIG stick home

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Walking to Puerto Viejo

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Neighbor with a new puppy

Neighbor with a new puppy

Bay Wren

Bay Wren

Tri Colored Heron

Tri Colored Heron

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Snorkeling Season – NOT!!

Fish in clear water

Fish in clear water

For the second year in a row it is looking like the September snorkeling season may be a bust.  Normally in September and October the ocean is like a lake and the snorkeling is spectacular. We take every possible opportunity to go and play with the fish during these months.  However, the sea has been too rough except for a very few days and I am missing my favorite activity!  Hopefully things will calm down over the next couple of weeks and we will be able to resume our passion for watching fish underwater 🙂

However, we have been able to keep ourselves occupied with no problem.  For the fourth year in a row we met to pick our fantasy football teams at the local watering hole “The Point” and once again it lived up to our expectations of a fun filled evening.  Tom the wizard Eye of the tigerOur commissioners kept things moving along so all ten teams ended up with a full roster in just three hours – a record!!  We won our first contest last week so will see how it goes today.  Last year we came in third and ended up winning $100.  We hope to finish in the money again this year but the competition is tough so we will see.

The President of Costa Rica came to town for the annual Southern Caribbean Cultural Festival that celebrates the Jamaican heritage of so many of the people here.  He went out fishing with some of the local fisherman and it looked like he enjoyed himself.  Here he is climbing off the boat after his excursion.  President Solis getting off the fishing boatInteresting how little security there is – where are all those guys in black suits and sunglasses???

The annual chocolate festival is coming up in a few weeks and it is shaping up to be even bigger than last year.  There has been a concentrated effort over the last many years to bring back the art of chocolate making in the area and to support the small scale cacao farmer.  So this festival was started to bring attention to the many uses of the cacao bean – from medicinal to the delicious concoctions that can be made.  People can participate in tasting events, learning activities like how the chocolate is actually made, as well as non chocolate based fun like dancing and just hanging out with friends.  It should be a great time!!

Beautiful sunrise

Beautiful sunrise taken by my friend Ro last week

Other than that we are still enjoying life – walks on the beach, bicycling into town and hanging out on the back deck watching the world go by.  Life is good 🙂

 

 

 

Hello world!

Hello world!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Musings (and a scorpion!) on New Year’s Day

Kids art at the cultural centerWhile sitting in my comfy recliner – yes – we broke down and got a couple of comfortable chairs finally- trying to decide what to write on this New Year’s Day, I felt something on my upper arm.  I turned to look and saw a BIG scorpion crawling off of my shoulder and onto my arm.  It calmly moved from my arm to the top of the chair and I hopped up and ran like crazy to get away.  ScorpionI have never seen a scorpion and it was terrifying!!  I know that they can’t kill you and that the pain is bad but not intolerable, but seeing one up close and personal is scary!  Tom was still in bed and I didn’t want to wake him so I ran to get a broom to try to sweep it out of the room.  However, when I got back it had hidden somewhere so I have no clue where it is.  Needless to say I am NOT sitting in my comfy chair until it is found and gone.  (The picture above is not the one in my house since I was not able to get my camera in time, but is one exactly like it…..)  I will try to concentrate on things like this beautiful butterfly that decided to hang out on our window screen instead.  Butterfly on the window 1

The scorpion  was kind of the topper to a couple of weeks of excitement here in Puerto Viejo.  The weekend before last was the celebration of the Second Annual Chocolate Festival.  Chocolate festivalThe town was swarming with people – I think it is safe to say that it was a success.  Peter at festivalVendors at the festivalThere was an amazing array of chocolate things – beer, tea, and facial masks as well as the normal yummy eating kind.  We did not go to the opening night gathering but definitely will next year – from all reports it was a blast! 

 

 

 

Christmas bikesThe town has really exploded with people coming for vacation.  Ticos from San Jose have begun to discover Puerto Viejo and so are coming to enjoy the sun and the time on the beach when they are on holiday.  We have always had lots of vacationers from other countries but this holiday season there are definitely many more.  It is very difficult to drive through town and  would be nervous about bicycling as well – too many people and not enough road Smile  I am glad for the business owners – it has been a bit of a dry spell the last few months. Three Pelicans in the ocean The seas are rough but that hasn’t stopped either the pelicans or the people from enjoying themselves.

 

 

On Christmas Even we went to The Point for a little while to listen to and sing carols. Carolers at The Point It was fun to see everybody and hang out for a bit.  Christmas day we went to a potluck at our friends’ botanical garden again.  This was the fourth year we attended the pot luck and it was once again a fun time.  Such a variety of people show up and we always meet someone new and catch up with old friends as well.  Santas on the beach

 

We stayed in last night but got to hear the fireworks at midnight from around the town.  It was deafening for about half an hour.  Fireworks are illegal here but clearly the law is not enforced as there are fireworks going off for weeks before Christmas.  They should end after today.

Tonight we are going to our neighbor’s who arrived from Portland for their three month stint again.  They spend three months here and three months in Portland and we are always sorry to see them leave and delighted to have them back.  It takes about two weeks to catch up on all the news Smile

So now I am just sitting and reflecting on the last couple of years and looking forward to the new one.  It really is hard for me to believe that this is the fourth New Year’s Day we have celebrated here.  Truly this is home ……….

New-Year-fireworks_thumb

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This is some kind of office!!

My officeIt has been a few months – four to be exact – since I last wrote.  Not only does time fly by but I have been unusually busy.  I decided a while ago that I needed to look for a job.  Unexpected events in the last couple of years helped me understand that if we want to travel at all or be prepared for the unexpected, we needed to set some more money aside.  So, I spent two months looking for a job and found one that is perfect!!  I telecommute from my ‘office’ on my deck where I can still watch the birds and animals and feel a part of nature.  But I also am learning something new and making some money.  Definitely a win-win for me!

We are in the rainy season now and it has been welcome this year.  The last four months were so dry that people were running out of water.  In November we got 22 inches of rain and the plants loved it.  I will never cease to be amazed at how quickly things grow here.  One day we are putting a new plant in the ground and in a month it seems as if it is nearly grown. 

The last couple of months we have had more hawks in the yard that we have seen in the entire time we have lived here.  They are constantly talking to each other with their high pitched squeal.  I have enjoyed spotting them and IMG_0852watching them swoop around the yard until they got one of our favorite little animals that we have enjoyed watching grow up.  A couple of weeks ago a black hawk snatched up one of our little ‘dinosaurs’ and took him away for his noon meal.  It made me sad – we had loved watching that one grow up.  Yesterday, though, we saw the other one that we have living in our bodega and a new one who was running around on one of our trees.  Life goes on in the rain forest.  Smile

 

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IMG_7046On Saturday mornings we walk into town and go to the farmer’s market and then normally stop and have brunch at restaurants owned by friends.  It is good to see everyone and catch up.IMG_7125  As we walk along, we continue to pinch ourselves to make sure we aren’t dreaming. How lucky we feel to have found this place SmileIMG_7097

 

Not too long ago, we went to San Jose with a friend and stopped along the road at one of the fruit and vegetable stands to load up for the week.  I love the colors!

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Some pictures from around the yard:

 

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IMG_0770Two toed sloth – looks like Cousin ‘It”

IMG_3627Orchid

 

The house

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The ‘kids’

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