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Change, change, change………….

_L2R6123_4_5_tonemappedIt has been a busy nine months since I last posted.  Last June we decided to build a small casita to rent out to vacationers and to have for friends and family who want to come visit. Our carpenter/fisherman friend, Marvin, came to Tom with the idea and after much discussion we decided to go for it!  It was a long process as only Marvin and his brother Bismark worked on it, although Tom worked a lot toward the end.  Construction was delayed in July and August because of rain and then again in September and October because those are prime fishing months for Marvin. But finally in mid January it was done and it is beautiful!!  It has been rented out to vacationers since the end of January but starting the first week of April, family will be visiting – my nephew and his wife in early April, my son in late April/early May, and my cousin and his girlfriend at the end of May.  So it is working out just as we hoped!!  The website is here if you want to check it out: Casita Alegre .

We had sad news in December.  Our wonderful neighbors Ron and Don sold their house and will not be returning.  We all moved in at almost the same time in 2010 and although we are permanent residents and they came and went, we became fast friends.  I always would count down the days to their return and it is depressing to know they won’t be back.  But that is a common theme here in Puerto Viejo and Costa Rica.  It is a transient culture – some people end up leaving because the reality of living here was not the same as the dream of paradise and others just decide that they want something else – often just the life they had before.  The good news is that we are always meeting new people and making new friends and for us, the dream is the reality 🙂

We also have adopted another rescue dog bringing the total to six which is definitely the limit of what we can take care of.  Our new dog Steggie was one that I found a home for five years ago.  He had a great home and great life up the road on a farm in San Clemente but last year his owner was deported.  He wasn’t allowed to go back to his farm and so Steggie was running in the jungle and on the beach for eight months.  We tried finding him a home but had no luck.  By the time I got him he was literally dying.  Steggie skinnyThe vet figured that he had been poisoned and his liver was in bad shape.  He also was blind in one eye.  But after four months of pretty intensive treatment he is all well and looks great.  He even got his eyesight back!!  He and the two little ones wrestle all day long and now Thelma and Louise would not know what to do without Steggie.  Three amigosSo definitely a very happy ending!!

 

 

Steggie and Thelma

Mom at 90Finally – my Mom turned 90 last August and was there ever a grand celebration.  Family and friends came to Casper, Wyoming from all over the United States (and me from Costa Rica) to give her the best birthday ever!  She just keeps getting better 🙂

 

 

 

 

Some photos……..

Construction

Casita begins

 

Casita

Jungle house

Critters

Garden

 

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And then there was rain………..

 

Now that is the way to walk a horse on the beach!

Now that is the way to walk a horse on the beach!

 

From  January 1st – June 30th we got over 100 inches of rain in the area around Puerto Viejo with the majority of that coming in May and June.  Other parts of the Caribbean had even more. The President declared a state of emergency the last two weeks of June for provinces on the Caribbean side of the country due to flooding and collapsed bridges.  We were very lucky compared to the many people who had to live in shelters or those that were unable to leave their immediate area.  We mostly went on with our daily lives with the exception of a tree falling on our bodega which prompted a roof repair.

Tree on bodega But the damage was slight and was fixed quickly so no harm done.

Puppies in puddles

Puppies in puddles

And the puppies actually had a great time – they found every single puddle in the yard and wrestled for hours!!!  And I spent hours laughing as I watched 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The really big news was that we got our permanent resident status approved in May so we now have no restrictions on our residency.

Success!

Success!

We met our friends Kimberly and Barry at the Immigration Office

Immigration office

Immigration office

in Limon and within an hour we all had our documentation saying we were approved and that we would have our new cedulas within a week!!

While having temporary residency meant that we did not have to leave the country every 90 days to get our passport stamped as tourists do, we did have to prove that we had a stable income from outside Costa Rica.  We also were not able to legally work in Costa Rica if we had wanted or needed to do so. Permanent residency means that we no longer have those restrictions and the length of time between applying for residency is longer.  I had to go every year to refile for temporary residency status while now it will be every three years and after some time it will change to every five years.  So YAHOO!!!

Baby and Mom

Baby and Mom

This spring and summer we have had an unusually large number of mother and baby sloths in our yard.  There were at least five different pairs and they hung around (literally) for several weeks.  I love sitting on the back porch and just watching them.  One baby must have been nearly ready to be on it’s own as it became very brave reaching for tree limbs and swinging on them – all while still having one arm or leg attached to mom 🙂

The 4th of July party at The Point was once again a huge success. Popeye and Tiffany, the wonderful owners, provided free hamburgers, hot dogs, and salads for anyone who showed up hungry.  It was just a wonderful day. Many of us had not seen each other for several weeks while we hunkered down during the rains so it was great fun to reacquaint ourselves with each other and chat about life.  The people here are just one more reason we love living here – along with the wildlife, the ocean, the unbelievable scenery, and the amazing laid back vibe 🙂

 

4th of July party

Now that’s a bunch of people

Chatting

Chatting

Enjoying the beach

Enjoying the beach

Tassle and puppy

Dogs like to party too 🙂

 

More pictures from the last couple of months:

 

Emerald Basilik in our yard

Emerald Basilik in our yard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day at the beach

Day at the beach

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Neat gate

Neat gate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Neighbors enjoying the day

Neighbors enjoying the day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tom waiting at Immigration

Tom waiting at Immigration

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Colorful building in Limon

Colorful building in Limon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ani convention

Ani convention

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Louise - she is a character!!

Little Louise – she is a character!!

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There Are Dolphins in My Ocean!!!

Dolphin

Dolphin

Closeup

Closeup

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yesterday I went for a walk on the beach and ran into some friends sitting on a log that had washed up.  I stopped to say hello and they pointed to the ocean and said “Look at all the dolpins!”.  There were several dolphins jumping and diving including at least one baby.  It was such a thrill – in the five years I have lived here this was the first time I saw the dolphins and they were really close to the shore.

Last week was Semana Santa – Holy Week – here in Central America and for Ticos that means it is time to go to the beach!  Between Palm Sunday and Easter, the town is literally filled with people.

Easter pinks

Easter pinks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Parked on Beach

Parked on Beach

IMG_1445

 

Driving is not even an option and walking or biking is an adventure.  During a normal week I can take a walk on the beach and will see maybe five people spread out all along the beach.

Fishermen bringing in the boat

Fishermen bringing in the boat

However during Semana Santa, the beaches are packed with families playing in the ocean, camping on the beach, enjoying barbecues, and listening to music.  It is a party all the way from Cahuita to Manzanillo.  Cars began streaming into town on Wednesday morning and did not stop until Friday afternoon.  By Sunday morning – Easter Sunday and the day of the dolphins for me – the beaches in my area were almost back to normal with just a few people hanging out.

Kids Playing on the beach

Kids Playing on the beach

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Opi

Opi

Last Tuesday, four friends and I went to entertain a group of elderly people in a nursing/retirement home not far from Puerto Viejo in a small town called Bambu.  We just showed up with no notice and sang Easter songs and then spent some time talking to the people who came to listen.  It was such an uplifting experience.  There were smiles and laughter all around.  We were lucky enough to see a wonderful man by the name of Opi from Puerto Viejo.  He had been in a terrible accident about a year ago when he was hit by a car while standing by his bicycle.  When we said we would see him next time he said “Not unless you sing to me in Puerto Viejo – I will be home and walking by then!!”.

Pretty groundsThe grounds and the home itself were just beautiful and the staff seemed to really enjoy working there.  In Costa Rica, most people grow old and are cared for by there family but when that is not possible this is a wonderful alternative with a warm and caring environment.


Preparing for Bingo
Audience Introduction

Pretty ladies

 

 

 

 

 

 

For those who are curious, the new puppies are great!  Tom and I are loving watching them grow and honestly spend much of our day laughing as we watch their antics.  They completely entertain themselves wrestling and chasing each other and the other dogs and have won over our hearts – we cannot now imagine life without them.

Growing up

Growing up

 

 

Crashed

Crashed

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And then there were five……….

 

Herding cats

Herding cats

Dogs that is 🙂  On Saturday our veterinarian brought over two puppies that she had nursed for over two months.  They had been left on her doorstep in a box and were terribly ill.  When she found them one of them had no fur at all except for a little patch about the size of a quarter on the top of her head.  I had talked to the vet off and on about perhaps adopting one of them but she really hated to separate them and was hoping that someone would take them together.  Tom and I talked it over and decided to have a weekend ‘play date’ with them to see how it went with the other three dogs.  Of course we knew the minute we decided to have them visit that the play date would be permanent.

Thelma

Thelma

Louise

Louise

We named them Thelma and Louise

At first they did not want to come out of the crate and so they had to be almost dumped out.  However, once out, they began running and playing and chasing Kaya and Sofi for hours!!!  Sofi was not too accommodating and has kept her distance while Kaya has played with them a lot.  But mostly they just play together.

Sleeping

Sleeping

They also sleep together – normally one on top of the other.

We have a large fenced lot so once they are a little bigger they will be able to just roam around all day.  Now we watch them closely so that they don’t get out the fence or under the gate.  Not that they seem interested in that – they like to hang mostly around us and the other dogs.

There are many, many people here with five dogs.  You start with a couple but there are always more needing homes.  People are becoming more knowledgeable about spaying and neutering but it is still not a widely accepted practice.  And there are way too many people who come here thinking they will stay who adopt a couple of dogs and then decide that they don’t want to live here permanently.  Those dogs are often just abandoned and become street dogs.  Sometimes they are adopted and sometimes they are not.  It is really just the luck of the draw.

So we are now adjusting to the increased number in our household as well as all those things that need to be ‘puppy proofed’.  That’s okay – it keeps us young 🙂  Pura Vida for sure!!!

On Tom's lap

On Tom’s lap

With Kaya on the deck

With Kaya on the deck

Do I really want to go down these stairs?

Do I really want to go down these stairs?

In the garden with Kaya

In the garden with Kaya

Hanging with Sofi

Hanging with Sofi

With Wiley the BIG boy!

With Wiley the BIG boy!

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Another delightful evening :-)

And SHE said......

And SHE said……

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Wednesday our neighbor and friend Stash

Stash

Stash

who owns Stashu’s Con Fusion (a GREAT restaurant here) held his bi-annual potluck for customers, friends and anyone else who wanted to join in.  It is always such fun and we have a chance to meet up with people we know well and also get to meet new friends.  Stash, his son, and his Mom, Lucy, just returned from a trip to Guyana, Trinidad and Brazil where they met up with relatives they hadn’t seen in years and years.  Although I did not know it, Lucy is a celebrity in Guyana and when people found out that she was coming for a visit it was big news.  During this visit she was honored as the first female pilot in Guyana – she had articles in the newspaper written about her and was invited to meet with the President.    All in all it sounded like a superb trip.

Lucy!

Lucy!

 

The party was a great success with great food and great company. Here are just a few photos (Click to enlarge and then hit the back arrow to go back to the page):

Enjoying a laugh

Enjoying a laugh

Jimmy Mac at the piano

Music with Jimmy Mac

Leo is 70 today

Also celebrating Leo’s birthday – he is 70!!

Tom and Amaure

Tom and Amaure having a chat

The star of the show

The star of the show!!

Tup and Beate

Good friends Tup and Beate having a chat 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Four Years and Counting

Four yearsIt it hard to believe that we have been living in Puerto Viejo for four years.  On Wednesday, August 13th we celebrated our arrival in 2010.   It is strange to me how time has gone so fast and so slow at the same time.  Life here is so laid back and calm – no one is in a rush.  For some who move down here, that is frustrating but for some reason I fell right into the lifestyle Smile  The lack of stress is what is most wonderful – I can see why this little country is often #1 on the polls for the “Happiest country in the world”. 

Since I last wrote we have had a few major things happening but by far the most exciting was that Costa Rica made it to the final eight in the World Cup.  Everyone was NUTS!!!  Watching the world cupEverything in the country stopped when Costa Rica was playing and the President even gave time off to all of the workers.  There is just something about being in the middle of a crowd of people yelling and singing “Ole, Ole, Ticos, Ticos” that make life feel very good.  Soccer player  Dave Myrie paradePuerto Viejo had its own celebrity, Dave Myrie, who was a bench player who ended up playing in the second to the last game.  There was a huge parade for him and then a welcome home party at Hot Rocks, one of the main bars in town.  He was so generous with his time giving photographs and posing with the fans.  Dave Myrie with kidsDave Myrie with fans

We also went to the annual 4th of July party at The Point and met up with most of our friends, neighbors and dogs in our little corner of PV.  The Point always has a free barbeque for the neighborhood and there is always a band and fireworks at the end of the day.  It was just a great time!  4th of July floppy ear dogFriend at the point

Last but not least we have filed for permanent residency!!!  After you have lived here for three years you can apply and so we drove to Limon last week and got all the paperwork filed and paid the $100 per person.  Hopefully in three to six months, the application will be approved.  There will definitely be another celebration when it is Smile

A few pictures…….

Iguana high in the tree Iguana way up in a tree

 

Sofi holding a big stickSofi with treasures from the beach

 

Pretty  grasshopper Neat looking grasshopper

Passion flower (1)  Our first Passion Flower!

RainAfter a drought the rain came

More rainAnd continued………

 

Tom walking dogsTom and crew coming back from the daily walk to the beach – these are happy puppies!!!

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Is This the Rainforest?

Green vine snake up close (1)It has been quite a while since I wrote – about two months.  The main topic of conversation around here during that time was the terrible drought that had been going on since July.  Water wells were drying up and those places that were serviced by the city water had to ration – most areas could only use water two hours every other day.  We were lucky because our well is quite deep and we continued to be able to have water every day, although we did conserve.  Bare TreeThis is one of the huge trees near our yard that shows the effect of the lack of rain.  Rain forests don’t do too well without water.  The good news is that we finally started getting rain a couple of weeks ago and last night we had over five inches.  Everyone is breathing a big sigh of relief.

For us the most important topic of conversation has been Kaya’s knee surgery.  She has been limping for several months off and on and a few weeks ago when Tom took her to the beach she did something to it and could no longer put any weight on her back leg at all.  Our vet here recommended a specialist in San Jose to repair what turned out to be a torn ACL.  Kaya and WileyThings went okay until a couple of days after she got back.  The stitches came out and the wound was gaping.  We called our vets here in town on the Saturday before Easter and they came over and fixed her right up.  It actually was pretty hysterical. Surgery on Kaya They put her on the table in our outdoor living room, gave her an anesthetic to put her to sleep and then completely redid all the stitches and cleaned it up.  Tom got to hold the flashlight so was a surgical assistant Smile  It will be several weeks before she is able to get back to running around but she is already so much better – she doesn’t even mind Wiley laying his head on her.  Wiley laying on KayaAnd I have to add that the entire cost was 1/10th of what it was when we had the same surgery done on our Alaskan Malamute when we were living in Idaho.  Pretty interesting.  I absolutely love these veterinarians here!!  Excellent care for a very reasonable price.

We did have a couple of sets of visitors in March which was nice.  We haven’t had many at all this year so it was good to see friends and family from the states.  Tom Clive Lori (1)Clive and Lori, our friends from DC came at the beginning of the month for their third visit and my cousin Rich and girlfriend Candace Rich and Candacecame at the end of the month for his second visit.  It was such fun to see all of them even though I had to work and we didn’t get to spend as much time with them as in the past.  Still fun to catch up and spend time together.

We have had lots of wildlife visitors too – right in our yard the last couple of weeks.  Two snakes, both harmless but really long – a green vine snake Green vine snake up close (2)that wanted to go into the bedroom and hang out with Wiley, and a bird eating snake that was huge!!  Bird eating snake

 

 

 

 

 

An iguana hiding from Sofi and Kaya in the wheel well of our car

Iguana hiding from dogs

A brown wood turtle – that was completely unexpected!!  We have no idea how it got here……

Turtle in our yard

A green honeycreeper – we have seen them but have never gotten a good picture until now

Green Honeycreeper

A praying mantis that thought maybe it would like a sip of Tom’s beer

Praying mantis on beer bottle

And last but not least a sloth who has been living in a tree in our backyard who evidently just had a baby – you just never knows what you will see in this place Smile

mom and baby

peekaboo

That’s it for now.  Till next time……….

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