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


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


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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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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 ……….



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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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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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