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What a Beautiful November Day!

IMG_0192The weather the last few days has been rainy and overcast.  It is actually a great thing as it has been so dry here the last few months that those on city water are under restrictions as to when they can use water and those who have wells are finding them drying up.  So we are all delighted that it is finally raining here.  But this morning there was a break and the sun was out so I headed on down to the beach for a walk.  As usual I cam back with a renewed appreciation for where I live.  IMG_8570

One of my favorite things is watching the wild horses meandering up and down the beach.  These two were just hanging out drinking water from the river but also from the ocean.  There were a lot of people out enjoying the day as well and lots of birds chasing bugs.  IMG_8562

I passed by our local neighborhood bar, The Point, which has had an ongoing project for the last few months – they are planning to launch a party barge!!  IMG_8574People from all over have donated and it is now ready to hit the water.  The only problem is that now the water is a bit too rough so the formal launch has been delayed to the end of the month.  I have to say that I had little faith that they were going to pull this off but I have been proven wrong.  I will definitely be there to watch this huge raft hit the waves Smile

A few weeks ago, we met up with some old and new friends in Cahuita and had lunch.  Casey Bahr (A Dull Roar), his wife Tamara, and son Sean, were visiting Kimberly Beck Hovland and husband Barry (10 Degrees Above) at their property outside of Limon.  IMG_8420We met the Bahr’s a couple of years ago on their first trip to the Caribbean side of the county and were delighted to see them again and meet Kim and Barry.  We had a great lunch and a terrific time catching up.  

One of the highlights was seeing the painted rocks that Tamara has created.  She is an incredibly talented artist and has proven it again with these.  A photograph does not do them justice – they are stunning!  IMG_8418I am looking for a shop here in Puerto Viejo that would want to sell them and have had a couple of leads.  Most people was to sell using commission only but I am going to try again when the tourists begin arriving for the high season in December.  I think they would sell like crazy as souvenirs. 

So now I am off to hang out on my new back deck, read, and watch a little American football while enjoying the view. IMG_2004

Life is good Smile



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Ah September………

View from new deckSeptember and October are the most beautiful months on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica.  And because most of the people who come to Costa Rica to visit are told that this is the rainy season (which it is on the Pacific side but not here) there are almost no tourists.  Not so great for the businesses but wonderful for  those of us who live here and have the incredible opportunity to enjoy this beauty in isolation.  Snorkeling is the best since the sea is so calm – almost like a lake.  So when my 60th birthday rolled around last Sunday, we headed off to our favorite spot at Punta Uva.  It was so great to swim around and see all the amazing life underwater.  We didn’t stay long but definitely got our first taste of many more adventures to come. 

We did have very sad news on Wednesday though.  Our good friend and neighbor Juni died leaving his wife and four children.  JuniHe had just turned 50 on September 6th.  The funeral and burial experience in this culture is very different than in the U.S.  Because there is no embalming, burial needs to take place quickly.  Sometimes burial takes place on the same day – particularly in the case of an elderly person.  GravesiteAlso, the gravesite is dug by hand – there are no backhoes used for this purpose.  Several of Juni’s friends, including my husband Tom, headed out early on Thursday morning to dig and prepare the grave.  It was three long hours of work. 

The wake was held that night at the community cultural center and friends and family came and talked and hugged each other.  Then the family stayed with the body all night.  On Friday morning the funeral was held in the cultural center which was extraordinarily hot!  Funeral 1On the porchMany of  us went outside to the porch to get some fresh air hoping for a bit of a breeze.   When the service ended, the casket was put onto a truck and taken to the cemetery not far away while a parade of Taking Juni to the cemetarypeople walked behind.  EntourageAnother service was held and then there was a lot of spontaneous singing.  Finally, nine days after a person dies there is a celebration of his life. Cemetery It is thought that this is the day that the soul leaves the earth and enters heaven so people gather around to make the transition easier. 

FinishedTo end on a good note – our new deck was finished last week and it is wonderful to sit out there and just look at the wonderful garden!  We love the other side of the house as well but it is nice to be able to sit and watch the different variety of birds and animals that visit the backyard.  It is amazing that there is a difference in just a few feet but there really is. 

Cool beetleBeetleCacique 1Cacique

Hanging around the backyardSloth smiling at me

Hawk in the yardHawk on the ground

Juvenule seedeater on cacaoJuvenile Seedeater


Red dragonflyRed Dragonfly

Kayas new favorite placeKaya’s new favorite place

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Weekend Celebration!

BandThis last weekend in Puerto Viejo was spent celebrating the Afro-Caribbean culture of the area.  There were parades, food, movies and dancing in the streets.  Parades in Puerto Viejo are unlike anything seen in the U.S.  They mostly consist of bands that are almost entirely drums and people walking along with the bands.Marching  Streets are not cleared out and often there are cars parked along the side or even driving through the middle.  Sometimes, as happened this weekend, people walking are dressed up.  In this case the men, women and Childrenchildren who marched were all dressed in the costumes of their heritage.  Limon ladiesBeautiful

The black population in Costa Rica runs anywhere from 1% to 3% of the population depending on the source cited.  Almost the entire population resides in the Limon province where I live.  Afro-Caribbeans came to Costa Rica in the late 1800’s to mid 1900’s primarily  to work on the railroad and then on the banana plantations.  Until 1949, blacks were not allowed to go up and over the mountain into San Jose but were confined to the eastern shores.  There is still a great deal of prejudice towards the black population and government services seem to be allocated last to the Limon province.  Poverty and the high school drop out rate are the highest in the country. 

The community elders were honored on Saturday night and the stories of their settling this area were very moving.  Most have lived their entire life right here in Puerto Viejo earning a living fishing, selling goods, or by whatever means they could figure out to take care of their families.  

Community Elders

Hollywood celebrities Danny Glover, Alfre Woodard, and Delroy Lindo came to town to help with the celebration.  Movies that showcased the actors were shown and they hung out with the people around town for three days. 

During the parade we saw lots of our friends who were also out on the town enjoying the festivities.  Our neighbors Beatey Beateyand Juni Juniwere having a great time as were a multitude of others Smile  It was a great time to be in Puerto Viejo!!

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It’s so good to be home :-)

Sloth eating breakfastWhile I love seeing all my family and friends in the U.S. I have to say it is always so wonderful to be able to come back home to Puerto Viejo.  Today I woke up and sat on my new deck and watched a sloth eating breakfast in one of our trees.

I then headed to the Feria Feriaand met up with friends and bought several chocolate bars, some natural insect repellent and some vanilla made at the Botanical garden by my friends Peter and Ancel and PeterAncel.  I also found out that they got married yesterday which made a great day even better Smile

After that I rode my bike down the road and said ‘hola’ to about 100 people who were also out enjoying the day.  On the way back I stopped at the Puerto Pirata Deli Puerto Pirata Deli– one of my favorite breakfast/lunch places in town  owned by our neighbors Flora and Eric from Italy – and had a great mango and yogurt smoothie while watching the activity in and around the ocean.  There were lots of dogsDogs playing on the beach and people having a wonderful time playing in the ocean and walking on the beach.  A group of little kids climbed onto a boat Kids on boatthat was anchored just off the shore and were playing in it when they spotted something in the water that caught their interest.Something in the water  I don’t know what it was but there were squeals and hand clapping all around.  There was also a man bicycling with his dog in the bicycle basket just having a good ole time. 

Dog in Basket

Once back home, I watched Tom and Marvin (our carpenter) work on the almost finished new deck off of our bedroom.  It is going to be the most wonderful place to sit and relax, especially in the morning while sipping a cup or two of coffee.  Here is what it looks like now:

Almost done 

They have done amazing work in just a few weeks.  And in about two or three days it will be completed. 

I am just not sure life can get a whole lot better Smile


Here are a few recent pictures from around the yard.


Yellow catepillarYellow Catepillar


Looking upLooking up


Dragon FlyDragon Fly


Pepper in our gardenPepper in our garden

Neat bugCool bug

Tree with spikesTree with sharp spikes


Red FlowerRed flowers

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Three Years Today!!!

IMG_5165It seems fitting that I arrived home from a visit to the United States just in time to celebrate our third anniversary living in Puerto Viejo.  I haven’t posted in this blog much since last year – actually just one post – but I hope to remedy that in the coming months.  It isn’t so much that there isn’t anything to say, just that IMG_5476I have been busy Smile  Between working my telecommute job, Spanish lessons, yoga classes, tending the garden, reading, etc. I have not made the time to write. 

My visit to the U.S. was a good one.  I saw friends I hadn’t seen in several years and  got to spend time with my son IMG_7778and his family in Colorado and my Mom and brother in Wyoming.  The IMG_7865wildflowers in Colorado were gorgeous and I have to say that there really is just nothing like coming into the Buena Vista Valley on highway 285 and seeing the towering collegiate peaks – truly awe inspiring.  But it was so good to get home to Tom and the dogs. 

While I was gone Tom and Marvin (our wonderful Marvin on the roofcarpenter/friend) worked on building a deck off of our bedroom.  After all of the work Tom had done on the backyard, we realized that we spent very little time enjoying all of the wildlife that was now coming to visit the plants and trees.  So adding a deck that we can sit on throughout the day to enjoy both the wildlife and the garden was a perfect solution.  There is still a lot of work to be done but it will IMG_0096definitely be worth it in the end.

I came back to Puerto Viejo loaded down with all the ‘stuff’ we either we cannot get here or that costs so much less in the U.S. – long lasting batteries, a wireless printer, a backup battery for my computer for when the electricity goes out (which is happening more lately) and inexpensive replacement clothes along with lots of other things.  Living in the rain forest is hard on clothes – stains abound on every piece of clothing we have almost.  So bringing back new shirts and shorts makes it feel like Christmas in August. 

I have to say that the three years we have been living here have exceeded my expectations.  I had hoped that I would like it but worried a bit that once the newness wore off I would tire of life here.  I read so many stories of people moving here and then finding that it just wasn’t the place for them and returning to where they came from.  That has not even been close to my experience.  I still love being here every day and when I am gone I can’t wait to return.  We have made such good friends and waking up to the amazing IMG_0081bird sounds IMG_5533and


howler monkeys every day is my idea of a wonderful life.  I do miss my family but find that I make it back to see them much more than I did when living in Idaho.  And hopefully they will all be able to come down again one of these days.


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Two Years Today–YAHOO!!!

Red Throated FruitcrowIt is hard to believe that it was two years ago today that we arrived in our new home in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Costa Rica.  At about 11:30 a.m. on August 13, 2010, we rolled into the driveway of our home with our friends Susan and Rex.  Since that Baby Possumtime, we have definitely settled in and truly feel part of the community.  We have made good friends and slowly have assimilated into the culture and lifestyle here.  Every day brings something new – a new bird or bug or animal to research, the varying changes in the ocean from almost flat to seven or eight foot waves, occasional torrential rains which are wonderful to watch and listen to in our outdoor living room, and new fruits and vegetables to try. 

Baby dinosaurOur families worried so much about the fact that we were so far away and were afraid that we would not see them anymore.  I assured everyone that they would probably see us much more than they did when we lived in Moscow, Idaho and that has definitely turned out to be the case.  Both Tom and I have been able to get Orchids in our yardback several times since the move and because I have not been working, I was able to help out my Mom when she broke her hip (twice!) by being there to help her through the recovery.  I never would have been able to take that time before.  I also was able to visit my son and his family in Colorado for ten days in July and Tom just got back from visiting the girls and his friends in Colorado as well.  When we lived in Idaho we only saw them all twice in the years that we were there. 

Yellow HeliconiaOne of the things that I have come to love about our life here is the slow pace.  I know that many North Americans move here and become frustrated by the lack of urgency in almost everything but, for me, it has been wonderful to realize that if something doesn’t get done right this minute or even this day that the world will not end Smile  Patience and a feeling of tranquility are the things I now value in my life and it is wonderful to live this way. Red and yellow heliconia

I have said before that to classify Costa Rica and Puerto Viejo as paradise would not truthful and the advertisements that do so are misleading.  There are very poor people here and the crime rate, particularly theft, is high.  The roads are bad and the garbage often piles up on the side of the road for a week or two when the garbage trucks break down or if it is a holiday (and holidays happen very often in Costa Rica Smile ).  And, although this is slowly changing, corruption in both the government and the police has been a big problem. 

Now, having discussed the negatives, is there anywhere else in the world I would rather live?  That would be a resounding NO!!!  I love Costa Rica and I love my life – what more could I ask?

Calm Punta UvaCalm SeasCalm Playa Chiquita

Rough seasRough Seas


Iguana ready to go back on the treeIguana ready to go back in the tree


Our yard then and now……..


Our yard thenOur yard now

New backyard

Yard and house from the backNew BackyardMore backyard




Baby dinosaurBaby dinosaur


Frog on BromeliadGreen frog in bromeliad


New praying mantisLeafy Praying Mantis

Spider hanging outGolden Orb Spider



Red and yellow heliconia

Yellow Heliconia

Red flowers


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Party Time in the Caribbean!

The last few days we have met some great new people.  Our friends Toby and Tina who own our neighborhood bar and restaurant are getting married on June 23rd and some of their friends from Colorado and Oklahoma came down for the pre-festivities.  It didn’t work out for them to all stay for the wedding so a huge party was held at the bar as a kind of catch all party to celebrate the wedding and a few birthdays.  Toby and Tina fed everyone a great barbeque with all the fixings and a band The Bandplayed from 2:00 in the afternoon until late into the evening.  We met new people and touched base with friends we hadn’t seen in a while.  It was just a great time.

Big SmileWaiting for Food

Enjoying the dayMartinChatting

Yesterday we were invited to join the Colorado and Oklahoma gang for a magnificent lobster fest at the home of a couple named Alif and Junior.  Junior’s family is one of the founding families of Puerto Viejo who came from Jamaica in the early 1900’s to work.  Junior is busy all the time taking people on tours and running a successful business but he took time out to cook us the most amazing meal – barbequed lobster fresh from the sea, beans and rice, patacones, and salad.  It was such fun to get to know the Colorado and Oklahoma gang in a more intimate setting as well.  The Colorado group all live in Gunnison and Crested Butte where I lived for six years and where my son and his family still live.  It is always fun to reminisce about times past and they all updated me on recent changes in the valley.  I will actually be heading out to Gunnison on Saturday for a ten day visit and talking with all of these new friends made me even more excited to get back and see the family.  It really is such a small world. 



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Visit to the organic farm

Yesterday our Spanish teacher, Martin, (maestro de espanol) took us on an adventure to an organic farm nearby.  It was amazing!!  The owner was a wonderful man with a great sense of humor.  He was very patient with us as we trudged all over his land and asked questions.  As was Martin Smile  The views were spectacular – you could see way out on the horizon.  There was so much humidity in the air that we could not get a clear view of the ocean but on less humid days I could see that the view would be even more spectacular.  The owner grows the food for his family and there was everything you could imagine.  Bananas, breadfruit, mangoes, a variety of limes, ducks (and babies), soursop, avocadoes, mamon chino, corn, starfruit, lettuce, tomatoes, just to name a few items.  I ended up coming home with a huge squash that the owner picked and gave to me so Tom can be expecting to eat a lot of squash soup!  The flowers were just gorgeous and we saw some amazing grasshoppers – I have never seen them in the variety of colors we saw yesterday. 

We ended our day sitting  by the pool at a restaurant and hotel owned by one of Martin’s friend.  After a couple of beers and bocas I was ready to come home and go to bed.  What a great day!!











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Settling In……..

Bromeliad flowerIt probably seems a bit odd for me to be writing about setting in when we have now been living in Puerto Viejo for twenty one months.  But I think that it just takes longer to feel like you really are truly living here, and not just visiting,  than it takes moving from state to state in the U.S.  Obviously moving to a foreign country, especially a third world country, that is so much different than where you have been raised your entire life, is a huge step and it takes a while to assimilate.  At least for me.  But also, the locals here and the long time expats see people come and go so much that it takes some time for them to feel like someone like us is truly going to stay.  Many of the expats here come down for a few months and then head back to their home in the U.S. or Canada.  People we meet are often very surprised to learn that we do not have a home in the U.S. to go back to live in when we tire of it here (or when they think we will tire of it here Smile).  When we moved it was always our intention to make this our permanent home and now it really feels like it is.  yard

That is not to say that I still don’t marvel at how beautiful it is or that I don’t run for the camera when I hear a new bird or see an animal.  I can’t imagine that I will ever become complacent about how much I love living here.  But there is no way I would mistake my life here as a vacation.  We have friends, have become involved in the community and have put down roots.  We have even done a lot of work on the house – some because we wanted something different and some because it was necessary.  And the work on the yard and garden will be ongoing forever ensuring that boredom will never be an issue Winking smile.

I have found that there are two types of expats living in Costa Rica.  Simplistically – there are those who moved here understanding that is not the U.S. and there are those that have moved down here thinking they could make it become the U.S. – or something close to it.  We are in the first category.  Those in the second category are unhappy with their choice but often have invested everything in moving here (as we did) and now are unable to get back because to do so they would have to sell everything for at least what they paid.  That is not easy to do here.  And many who have retired here would have to go back to work since it would be difficult to live on what we can here.  I do understand that life can be difficult here.  There are often long lines wherever you go – especially to transact government business – and theft is a huge issue.  There are some people who have been robbed multiple times.  For some reason, we have not had the negative experiences that many others have.  I will not be foolish and say that we never will, or that we occasionally don’t get frustrated with the bureaucracy but certainly no more than we did in the states. 

Flowers in the yardSo – it will be interesting to see what the next months and years bring.  I am looking forward to it!!

Some photos……….


How cute is thisGrocery shopping with mom

KayakingKayaking in the ocean


Five sistersSisters walking on the beach


Everybody has a cell phoneEverybody has a cell phone!!


Buddies hangingTassle and Odie watching the world go by

Parrots in the yardParrots in the backyard

Friends dancingFriends dancing

More dancingA night out Smile


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Time Flies…………

It has been a busy couple of months since I last posted.  I still can’t get over how time just slides by and I don’t even notice.  We have been here twenty months and definitely feel that this is home.  I was most sure of this when I noticed that I was sitting in the outdoor living room watching the birds and listening to their songs and I didn’t jump up immediately to go get my camera to get “just one more shot”.  That is not to say that I don’t still take lots of photographs – I do – but I don’t take as many Smile 

In March we had two sets of guests.  Friends Betty and Bill IMG_5598from Spokane, Washington were here for a few days and we had a great time once again.  We didn’t do a lot since they were here just a few days but we had a great time and ate some scrumptious food! 

IMG_5688My niece Caitlyn and her friend Sophie came for a week a few days after Betty and Bill left and they were wonderful guests!  They both turned thirty in 2011 and they wanted to celebrate so they came to Costa Rica Smile  They spent a lot of time on the beach and did a lot of wandering around.  They also went to the local Waldorf school and observed the Waldorf experience here in Puerto Viejo.  We also went to the waterfall DSC07292and to a cacao farm IMG_5694that a friend of mine owns and learned how to make chocolateIMG_5713 from the cacao pod.  Pretty cool!!  I was sorry to see them go…………..

We had our first (fantastic) experience with the health system here a couple of weeks ago.  Tom suspected that he had a bleeding ulcer as he had had that affliction a couple of times in Colorado.  Since we are now members of the national health plan, we went to our clinic a couple of miles away.  They saw him immediately and sent him to get lab work done.  When we came back, the doctor said we had two options.   We could go to Limon, which has a basic hospital, and be reassessed to see if they would do an endoscopy or, if we could afford it, we could just go directly to the emergency room of one of the private hospitals in San Jose.  Since Tom still has money in a health savings account, we went with option two.  Before leaving the clinic, however, they gave him an IV to help stop the bleeding and relieve the pain. 

The next day, we set off at 6:00 a.m. as it is a four hour drive to San Jose.  We arrived at 10:00 a.m. at the emergency room of Hospital La CatolicaIMG_5835 and were seen immediately.  The nurse did the initial intake assessment and then the doctor came in and said that we should go ahead and get the endoscopy done to see if there was still bleeding.  So, off they went.  They put Tom to sleep, did the endoscopy, determined that the bleeding had stopped, biopsied the ulcers, and took him to recovery.  The doctor came in shortly after Tom woke up and gave us the pictures and a prescription and said we could go home.  We were on the road by 12:15 and home by 4:30.  It was amazing – the best hospital experience we have ever had.  And – it cost $150 for the hospital and $250 for the doctor!!   The main difference between going the private route and the public route would have been the additional time it would have taken – probably a couple of days.  At any rate, Tom is back to abnormal and feels great!

In other news – we have had to replace our wood floors with tile.  I was so upset initially because the wood was so beautiful.  IMG_5910However, termites and mold ate away at the floorboards and there was a danger of the floor caving in.  So – we called our wonderful carpenter and jack of all trades and he came and fixed it all – with a lot of help from Tom.  We now have beautiful tile floors that can’t be eaten up. IMG_5954 I have to say, it is beautiful and so much easier to keep clean and free of dog hair and dirt.  So all ended well…………

Other than that, we just keep keepin’ on.  It has been rainy the last week or so but we welcome the rain.  It was hot and dry for a few weeks and our trees and plants were pretty parched.  Today is absolutely beautiful – not a cloud in the sky and the sky and the sea are bright blue.  Life is good Smile

IMG_5951  Blue crab in our garden


IMG_5785Yummy chocolate made from scratch


IMG_5619IMG_5636More bananas from our yard



IMG_5641Sofi and Kaya enjoying the sun

DSCF3888Ibis by the ocean

IMG_6062Neighborhood turkeys enjoying bananas

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