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

OriolOriole

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

MothMoth

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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This is some kind of office!!

My officeIt has been a few months – four to be exact – since I last wrote.  Not only does time fly by but I have been unusually busy.  I decided a while ago that I needed to look for a job.  Unexpected events in the last couple of years helped me understand that if we want to travel at all or be prepared for the unexpected, we needed to set some more money aside.  So, I spent two months looking for a job and found one that is perfect!!  I telecommute from my ‘office’ on my deck where I can still watch the birds and animals and feel a part of nature.  But I also am learning something new and making some money.  Definitely a win-win for me!

We are in the rainy season now and it has been welcome this year.  The last four months were so dry that people were running out of water.  In November we got 22 inches of rain and the plants loved it.  I will never cease to be amazed at how quickly things grow here.  One day we are putting a new plant in the ground and in a month it seems as if it is nearly grown. 

The last couple of months we have had more hawks in the yard that we have seen in the entire time we have lived here.  They are constantly talking to each other with their high pitched squeal.  I have enjoyed spotting them and IMG_0852watching them swoop around the yard until they got one of our favorite little animals that we have enjoyed watching grow up.  A couple of weeks ago a black hawk snatched up one of our little ‘dinosaurs’ and took him away for his noon meal.  It made me sad – we had loved watching that one grow up.  Yesterday, though, we saw the other one that we have living in our bodega and a new one who was running around on one of our trees.  Life goes on in the rain forest.  Smile

 

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IMG_7046On Saturday mornings we walk into town and go to the farmer’s market and then normally stop and have brunch at restaurants owned by friends.  It is good to see everyone and catch up.IMG_7125  As we walk along, we continue to pinch ourselves to make sure we aren’t dreaming. How lucky we feel to have found this place SmileIMG_7097

 

Not too long ago, we went to San Jose with a friend and stopped along the road at one of the fruit and vegetable stands to load up for the week.  I love the colors!

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Some pictures from around the yard:

 

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IMG_0770Two toed sloth – looks like Cousin ‘It”

IMG_3627Orchid

 

The house

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The ‘kids’

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