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Sunday, December 4, 2016

After Hurricane Otto

Where we live in the central valley, the only effects we felt from Hurricane Otto were a few rainy and chilly days with little wind. However, northern areas of Costa Rica were terribly hard hit. The Tico Times Times has up-to-date information if you are interested in reading about Otto. Hurricanes are rare here but this one crossed over Costa Rica to the Pacific coast from the Atlantic. Costa Ricans came together immediately to provide relief to the affected areas. They also reached out to the expat community for help and they responded immediately.  One of my fans readers commented on a recent post: "And, please don't stop posting. Many of us are living vicariously through you!" That's an amazingly flattering thing to say and thank you. Much appreciated. I hope I can provide interesting posts. Yesterday was a dry season day - warm, blue skies all day. Today is a green season day - started to rain last night and has been gently falling since. The last gasp of the rainy season. Good day to make some soup for dinner.  Our landlady arranged to have the half-dead passion flower vines removed from our pergola and roof, along with the shade cloth. All the grass underneath had died off because it was too shady, resulting in a muddy mess when it rained. Sod was laid and it has grown rapidly. What a difference this has made. Now the area is bright and sunny and much more inviting. I've hung all my orchids from the pergola and will hang another hammock under there also. I guess the light change has benefited at least one of my orchids. I noticed all these flower stems (inflorescences) coming out of an orchid that has never flowered before. They are coming out the top, sides and bottom of the basket. When they are fully opened, I'll take more photos and hopefully someone can identify the orchid species for me.        

Friday, November 25, 2016

Eyes on Costa Rica/Update - Page Views and Top 5 Visits So Far

This blog recently crossed a threshold of over 100,000 page views from over 24,000 individual visits and 115 identified countries. It appears that the average visitor looks at about 4 pages. The latest country is Tanzania in Africa. 


Meanwhile, I have prepared a list of the top five noteworthy locations in the world from where a visit to the blog has occurred. These are my choices. Others might have different criteria. The third, fourth and fifth place choices are not in any necessary order. It depends on your sense of humor but from my point of view the first place choice beats all and the second place choice is a close competitor. Click on “Map” or “Wikipedia” for more information on any location.


5th place: somewhere in the Cameroon, Africa (May 21, 2013)


The precise location in Cameroon is unknown. The connection was probably a satellite connection. This country was the first country in Africa from where a visit was received. The only continent from where a visit has not been received is Antarctica.


4th place: Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, Canada (April 14, 2016)


Until the visit from Cambridge Bay, visits to the blog had been received from all 10 provinces and 2 of the 3 territories in Canada. Nunavut was the third territory after the Northwest Territories and the Yukon. Now, at least one visit has been received from all provinces and territories in Canada.


3rd place: Huntington, West Virginia, USA (February 7, 2014)


Until West Virginia, visits to the blog had been received from 49 of the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. The visit from Huntington provided the missing link. Visits have also been received from the following U.S. constituents: Guam, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, not to mention the U.S. Armed Forces Europe, Canada, Middle East and Africa, and the U.S. Armed Forces Pacific.


2nd place: Empire, Nevada, USA (June 29, 2016)


Ghosts! Lance and I have driven through and stopped in Nevada a number of times. But, neither of us had ever heard of Empire, NevadaOn the Internet, we were surprised to see it described by Wikipedia as a "ghost town". Is my blog being visited by ghosts? I will need time to think about this.

 1st place: Hell, Nord-Trondelag, Norway (June 7, 2015)


It is one thing to attract a visit from a ghost. Ghosts are harmless. It is quite another to attract a visit from Hell.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Hurricane Otto

Hurricane Otto is expected to touch land in Costa Rica sometime tonight or tomorrow morning (Thursday). I don't know what sort of weather it will bring to us here in Atenas, in the Central Valley. You can read more about the hurricane in the Tico Times, and they have a real time weather map.

Just in case we end up losing power, I decided to go to the store to get some extra supplies. We have the use of our neighbor's car this week and we were just about to go to her place to get the car when - blam! - a transformer in Vista Atenas blew and that was the end of that idea. We don't know how to open her electric gate when the power is off so could not have got the car out.

So I decided to walk down to Maxi Pali for the exercise and taxi home. The temperatures here have been quite cool the last few days so it was a comfortable walk, with just a bit of spitting rain.

I bought two boxes of candles, ten in each box, and a propane lighter. For some time now, we have said we should have a small, one or two burner propane stove. Our electricity can go out unexpectedly and we never know for how long. It would be nice to be able to make coffee in the morning, or heat up some soup. We have a chorreador so all we would need is boiling water. Lots of people here have full size propane stoves and that would be ideal - much cheaper then using electric stoves.

I found a one burner propane stove at Maxi Pali and I thought the price was decent (18,830 colones, roughly $38 CAD) so I put it in my basket, along with a gas cylinder. Also decided we needed a small pot to fit on the burner, so I got one of those. Also picked up extras like cat food, tortillas, some canned goods, soups, etc. We have lots of books to read and I have my New York Times Sunday crossword puzzles.

Here is our emergency equipment:


Jorge, one of our long time taxi drivers, picked me up to take me home. We laughed so much - talked about this and that with a mishmash of English/Spanish - today is his third year wedding anniversary (we went to his wedding). 

It's 2:10pm now, and the rain has started. We'll see what develops in the coming hours. Lots of people have already been evacuated from the Caribbean side.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Miscellaneous Meanderings

Last week, we took the Atenas bus into San José to deal with a couple of matters. Waiting in line for the ruta 27 bus at the Atenas bus stop, I pointed out to Lance that water was leaking from under the front of the bus .... he said it looks like air conditioning water. We have never experienced an air conditioned Atenas bus in the time we have lived here.

Boarded our bus, and cold air was blowing through the overhead vents (similar to an airplane). Yes, it was air conditioned! Before long, we were feeling quite cold ... we are no longer used to air conditioning. It would be an advantage during a tropical rain storm, when everyone on the bus closes the windows and the humidity rises to uncomfortable levels. Our return bus was normal ... no AC. 

We were early for our return Atenas bus but the Orotino bus was ready to go, so we jumped on it. The Orotina bus stops in Atenas on ruta 3 - you just have to let the driver know where you want to get off.  Our water guy was there (I have written about him before), and we bought two bottles of water from him for the return trip home. We were already seated on the bus when I saw him, so I hollered out the window to him and he passed two water bottles up to me, and I handed two mil down to him.

Our landlady, Kathleen, recently arranged to have the back of our yard resodded. Over the years we have lived here, the area under the pergola had become overgrown and overshaded with the passion fruit vine ... it was covering the roof and blocking out any sun. Grass could no longer grow and we were experiencing mud and water flooding problems. Mario and his workers arrived and put down sod .... here is what our backyard looks likes now. So much better! I'm going to hang a second hammock here I think.


Mario delivering the sod:


On Saturday, I walked down to the Maxi-Pali store to buy a few groceries. It's about a 2 km walk so very pleasant. Lots of people to say hello to along the way. There's a lovely gentleman I see around Atenas all the time - I don't know his name - he is usually selling seasonal produce. This day he had a wheelbarrow full of fruits and vegetables. When he saw me, he opened his arms wide, said "pura vida!" and gave me a big hug. That's Costa Rica.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Halloween in Costa Rica

Our North American Halloween is not a celebration in Costa Rica. Instead, November 2nd is All Soul's Day - a very important day in the Catholic and Tico calendar. Locals honour their departed, flowers are placed on gravestones, and masses are held in the churches. It's different from the Mexican Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead).

We finally abandoned Halloween when we lived in Canada. We got fed up with having to buy overpriced junk candy to give to kids that we didn't even know. And the doorbell rang for so long and upset our cat. So we became one of those households that turned the outdoor lights off on October 31st.

But here, in our little town of Atenas, a bit of the Halloween tradition is carried on. Every year, we have two Halloween goblins show up at our gate and we are happy to carry on the traditions from their home country (the U.S.A.).

It almost didn't happen this year ... we had a major rain and lightning storm for most of the afternoon. Our laneway out to our gate was flooded, making it impossible to walk to the gate to open it.

In the nick of time, the storm abated, the water receded and we were able to greet our goblins.


Friday, October 28, 2016

Farmacias San Gabriel

For our health needs, we use a combination of the Costa Rican public health care program (known as Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social) and private medical care.

If a medication we require is not available from Caja, we try the local pharmacies (farmacias). A prescription is not usually required - it depends on what the drug is I assume.

A couple of weeks ago, one medication I wanted was nowhere to be found in any of the Atenas farmacias so we drove to Farmacias San Gabriel, located at the Rio Grande gasoline station (estacion gasolinera) entrance. There, Dr. Ernesto helped me out. He speaks excellent English, far better then my Spanish!

They didn't have what I wanted in stock but he said he would order it and deliver it to me the next day. The following morning, he phoned me to see if we were at home and within thirty minutes Dr. Ernesto himself drove up to our house with my medications - and no charge for the delivery! I paid him cash (exact change, please) because they are not yet set up for accepting credit cards outside of the pharmacy.

Needless to say, we were very, very impressed with Dr. Ernesto. I highly recommend Farmacias San Gabriel. In future, I can place my order via e-mail which is a plus for us because we don't live that close to this particular drug store.


Telephone: 2446-2046

Hours: Monday to Thursday: 8am to 9pm        Friday to Sunday: 8am to 10pm

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Caught in the Act

Our cat, named Cat, is notorious for tossing things off counters and tabletops. Nothing that weighs less then a pound is safe from him. We can hear him in the middle of the night - crash! It's a bit of a problem because it wakes us up.

Today, I got photographic evidence of the furry culprit.

Having moved a calculator and two watches to the edge of the table, they are seconds away from being swept to the floor by Cat.


And here he is with the fallen watches, one of which was in his mouth seconds earlier. Oh, that's our machete on the chair rungs.