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Making Rain Forest Tea

Kimberly and KayaLast week a friend came to visit for a few days.  Tom and I met Kimberly Beck Hovland, who writes the blog 10 Degrees Above, in Cahuita a few months ago.  Casey Bahr – A Dull Roar – and his family were visiting Kimberly and her husband Barry on their 22 acre farm a couple of hours away and they came to Cahuita to hike and hang out.  We drove up and met up with all of them for lunch at a restaurant in Cahuita and had a terrific time.  I told Kimberly that she would be welcome to visit any time so she took us up on the offer to have a short vacation from her working life at the farm.  As you can see from the picture we weren’t the only two happy to see her – Kaya was in love Smile

The first day Kimberly was here she was talking about how she makes tea every morning by collecting lemon grass,Lemon grass guanabana (graviola/soursop) leaves,Guanabana leaf hibiscus leavesHibiscus leaf, and mint from the farm.  As it turned out, we had everything in our garden except the mint so she showed me how she made the tea by throwing everything in a pot to boil and then letting it steep for a while.  The first batch was a little bit weak so the next batch I made sure to have more of the lemon grass and less water.  I also added ginger, which we don’t grow,  and turmericTurmeric  (which we do) roots and a bit of lime and it is delicious!!  I am not one for sweet drinks but for those who are (namely Tom), I add some of the raw honey I have in the cupboard.  Just one more benefit of living in this great spot! 

Last weekend we went to see Luis Angel Castro who is a singer/songwriter in Costa Rica.  My Spanish teacher will often have me listen to his songs and try to understand them and by doing so, I have become a huge fan.  He was playing Luis Angel Castroat one of our favorite restaurants – Stashu’s Confusion – which is small and intimate.  We got to meet him and ended up buying a couple of CD’s.  His music was even better live Smile   Evidently he is moving  back to this area from the city and so I am hoping that we will get to see many more of his performances.  Here is one of my favorites: 

Puerto Viejo by Luis Angel Castro




Finally – a couple of weeks ago our friend Marvin and his wife dropped by to show us their new baby.Marvin family  She is adorable and has the fattest little baby cheeks ever!! 

So that is it for now from my little corner of the world.  I hope that friends and family in the states are surviving the brutal winter up north………………


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Another Adventure!

Tom going to get physicalOn Friday Tom and I headed off to Limon to renew our drivers licenses.  We got them initially three years ago in San Jose and it took forever and seemed really complicated.  This time we thought it would be a breeze since renewing our residency in Limon in October had gone so well. 

License renewal placeWe got to the place in Moin, outside of Limon, at about 8:15 and first had to get a ‘physical’.  Physical busThe doctor was in an old school bus that was in bad shape.Bus waiting room (1)  I think it used to be a roaming bus for a dentist since the ceiling was all decorated with cartoon teeth Smile  Roof of busThe doctor took blood pressure readings and listened to our chests and gave a bit of advice and sent us on our way $80 poorer ($40 each). 

Christmas at license renewal placeWe took the card he gave us saying that we had passed our physical and went to a small building to wait to be called.  Waiting room at license place (1)There were only a couple of people ahead of us and it was going fast so we were happy to think we would be back on the road to Puerto Viejo in a short time.  Oops – wrong………. 

Tom went in first and found out that because our drivers license had our passport number on it and not our cedula number, we would have to get a piece of paper from immigration saying that we really did have residency.  We knew that the law had changed and brought our cedulas with us to show them.  But even though we had our cedula with us, we still had to get the piece of paper.  So we climbed back in the car and drove into Limon to the immigration office.  Traffic was nuts since it was rush hour so it took a while to get back to Limon. Immigration Luckily there was no line at immigration and the person who helped me with my residency paperwork in October was the one to help us again.  She knew exactly what we needed so printed off two copies, signed them and sent us on our way.  So, fifteen minutes later we headed back to the drivers license office.

Once there it went very smoothly.  There was some additional paperwork needed so it took more time for each of us but within 1/2 hour we were done and had new licenses good for six years.  Yahoo!!

One day last week we had two new raptors hanging out in the yard. Laughing Falcom One – a Laughing Falcon – we had seen before but could not get a good picture of.  This time we did.  The other bird is a Black Hawk Eagle and it was gorgeous!!  Tom got a couple of great shots.  It evidently eats other large birds like Toucans and Black Hawk Ealge looking at meBlack Hawk Eagle 3Chachalacas as well monkeys and large rodents.  It was wonderful to see but I’m glad it didn’t stick around and eat all my animal and bird friends Smile

Other than that, it has been an uneventful couple of weeks.  I’ve been working longer days at my job and Tom has been spending most of his time working on the house.  Even though it is only four years old, living in this climate takes it’s toll and there is always some kind of upkeep to be done.  The weather has been unbelievably gorgeous but we have had some rain which we are glad about. 

Now it is time to go hang out on the back deck and pretend I am like my sloth friend who was sleeping on her back in a tree in our yard yesterday.  It’s a tough life……………Sloth sleeping in a tree

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Another Thanksgiving–Amazing!

Pink flowers

It is hard for me to believe that we just celebrated our 4th Thanksgiving here in Puerto Viejo.  Actually celebrated is probably not the correct word.   We had a giant tree fall across the road and into our yard so Tom spent most of the day


Tree across the roadwith neighbors as they cut it up and tried to repair the damage.  Luckily our wonderful gardener Pedro was scheduled to be here on Friday so he brought a couple of guys and they got everything cleaned up.  Tree in our yardWhile this is a common occurrence when you live in the rain forest, it is the first time we have a a tree fall into our yard.  We were so lucky – no damage at all to structures – just to our fence and the hibiscus hedge that surrounds the property.  All easily fixed. 

Cowboy at the barThe last couple of weeks have been eventful.  Last Saturday there was a Tope horse race in our little town.  Horsemen and women come from all over the country and race their horses up and down the beach and around the town.


Kids on a horse It is such fun to watch.  It reminds me a lot of growing up in Wyoming and going to the county fair and rodeo – without the ocean of course Smile  These races occur all over Costa Rica throughout the year and they are a big deal.  There are literally hundreds of people who go from town to town and race, have fun, and party all weekend.

Sunday was the launching of the PARTY BARGE!!!  The owners of our neighborhood bar The Point – Tiffany and Popeye – decided six months ago that they were going to build a barge that people could be taken out to from the bar and hang out and party.

It floats!A lot of people donated to the effort and although it often looked like it was not going to happen, Popeye never lost faith.Its off  After hours of delays due to the difficulty of getting the barge off of the sand and into the ocean, it finally happened around 4:30 pm  on Sunday.  Honestly, it was hysterical to watch!  It now sits quite a ways off shore and I am not quite sure what the plan is but it doesn’t really  matter.  They had a vision and they saw it through – pretty cool!!!  Barge in the ocean






Other than that, things here in my little corner of the world are pretty much the same – kickin’ back and enjoying life Smile

Pictures from the yard

Hawk screamingHawk screaming

Vultures roostingVultures roosting

Two Poison Dart FrogsPoison green dart frogs

Bug with green eyesCool bug with fluorescent green eyes!

Brown JayBrown Jay


Newspaper mothNewspaper moth

LizardCool lizard

Baby bird just fledgedBaby bird just fledged

Pronthonatry warblerPronthonatory warbler

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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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