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

Morning on the beach

Morning on the beach

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

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

Passion Fruit Cheeseca

Passion Fruit Cheesecake

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

Rum and chocolate

Rum and chocolate

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

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

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

Good morning (2)

Sofi bringing BIG stick home


Walking to Puerto Viejo

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Neighbor with a new puppy

Neighbor with a new puppy

Bay Wren

Bay Wren

Tri Colored Heron

Tri Colored Heron


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Snorkeling Season – NOT!!

Fish in clear water

Fish in clear water

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

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

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

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

Beautiful sunrise

Beautiful sunrise taken by my friend Ro last week

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




Hello world!

Hello world!







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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


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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