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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Spring Cleaning Addendum

In my Spring Cleaning post, I forgot to mention that Orlando is bilingual. He is available to help with translation issues. He will accompany you to appointments that you know will be in Spanish and he can interpret for you.

His phone number is 8590-5819.

We had a bit of fun when he was at our house cleaning. It's mango season and this is the big tree on our property. It's loaded but most of the mangoes are very high up. He didn't mind climbing up the ladder and whacking down mangoes with a stick.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Spring Cleaning

We don't really experience "spring" the way people in the northern climes do. Nevertheless, our house needed a thorough cleaning so we'll call it a late spring cleaning.

We hired Orlando, who lives in the Atenas area. He used to work for our neighbors before they moved away and he helped out at our first art show (Atenas Painters Association) so we knew him.

We told Orlando the work we wanted done, negotiated a price (not an hourly rate) and he started two days later. He showed up when he said he would, and provided everything he needed (scaffold, ladder, cleaning supplies, brushes, mops, etc.). The only extras we purchased were lightbulbs and window screening (about $20 USD). 

Here is what we had done:
  • Gutters cleaned (especially important here because we do not want standing water where the dengue carrying mosquitoes can breed).
  • Entire outside of house washed, including all the wood on the underside of the overhanging roof.
  • Outside perimeter tiled areas and patio area scrubbed and cleaned.
  • Five inside fabric Roman blinds - they were removed and taken to Orlando's home where his wife cleaned them. Believe me, that must have been hard work because they were stained with mold and water marks and she returned them sparkling white.
  • All inside floors scrubbed and cleaned.
  • All inside walls washed and cleaned.
  • Wood ceilings washed and cleaned. Our ceilings are very high and this is where the scaffold came in. All the wood was cleaned and polished by hand.
  • Leaking faucet in shower repaired.
  • Water in toilet was constantly running and he fixed it.
  • Orange tree pruned and all the suffocating vines on the tree canopy removed. Now the tree is open and receives sun and moisture. Orlando is returning in a month to remove any vines that have started to regrow.
  • All basura (garden trash) removed. This included piles of palm leaves at the back of the property and up a hill. The best way to reach them was to machete a path through the bougainvillea from the road. For this job, Orlando brought in a fellow with a big truck and it took two loads.
  • Replace three window screens.
  • Replace lightbulbs - a lot of the lighting is very high up and neither of us want to climb up a ladder. I went to the hardware store for the bulbs and screening with everything written out in Spanish for me by Orlando.
  • All windows cleaned inside and out.
  • Four ceiling fans cleaned.
Orlando had a helper for four of the six days of work, in addition to his wife and the guy with the truck. Total man hours came out to around sixty. They worked hard and were always cheerful. Orlando had a work schedule in mind and always told us what he would be doing the next day so we could keep out of their way. We cannot believe the difference this work has made to the house. All the wood ceilings are gleaming. Orlando said the wood is expensive tropical hardwood and deserves to be looked after. To replace any of it would cost a good deal of money. The floors have never been cleaner or shinier. We have hired a housekeeper to come in every two weeks and I am really looking forward to this.

An interesting cultural tidbit: it was me they came to when they had questions, not Lance. So I heard a lot of  "Diana, Diana, Diana". We figure this is because women are seen to be in charge of the household, not the men. Lance was the money man but I ruled the roost. I didn't mind - I'm so indispensible!

We highly recommend Orlando - he can do anything and, as he says, if he can't do it he knows someone who can. His attitude is so positive and he works nonstop. Orlando's phone number is 8590-5819.

Here's Orlando and me - in the background is Orlando's helper and the fellow with the garden waste removal truck.

 

Orlando and his helper cleaning the ceilings:

 

Pruning the orange tree: 


The vines that were strangling the orange tree: 

 

The beautiful wood ceilings after being cleaned:

 

Outdoor ceilings after cleaning:

  

Everything was cleaned, even the small louvered windows:

 

Drying the floors:

 




Thursday, June 15, 2017

Motmot Survival

For the last six days we have been having our house professionally cleaned, inside and out. But that will be another blog post.

However, the windows are now so clean that a blue crowned motmot (pájaro bobo here in Costa Rica) flew into one and seriously stunned himself. Our Cat was instantly interested and Lance was quick to shut him inside the house. I picked the bird up from the ground and put him on our hedge to, hopefully, recover. It took about 20 minutes before he seemed more alert. But our Cat was still interested in what was going on outside.

We decided to move the bird to a less periouslous perch so I moved him across the street to a neighbor's hedge, where he promptly flew away. Hurrah! I've never held a motmot in my hands before.

Here's the motmot on the ground shortly after hitting the window. You can see his gorgeous colours. What is missing is the rest of his lovely tail, which looks like a metronome.

 

Here he is recovering on our hedge:

 


Here is a link to more information about this lovely bird.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Haircut, Glasses and Pizza

In the last two weeks, I have had an eye examination by an opthalmologist at Optica Centro Visual, ordered new glasses and picked them up, had my hair cut by Ingrid at Ingrid's Hair Design, and we have eaten pizza twice at the same restaurant with two different sets of good friends.

Optica Centro Visual - we have always purchased contact lenses and eyeglasses from Rigo and Rosa here in Atenas. An eye examination by an opthalmologist can be arranged at their store, which is what I did. Rigo and Rosa helped me select frames and I chose progressive lenses which are also transitional. This means I can see far, middle and close distance just by moving my head up and down, and transitional means they turn into sunglasses when appropriate. This is important for anyone living in the tropics. They are pricy but well worth it and I imagine less expensive then in Canada or the USA.

Ingrid's Hair Design - I have been going to Ingrid for quite a while now. I showed her a picture of what I wanted but, after a consultation with some other ladies in the salon, they all agreed that what I wanted done was not possible with my hair. Ingrid went on line and found the perfect cut for my wavy hair and she was right. Ingrid has scissor skills! One thing I really enjoy at Ingrid's salon is the cold water they use to wash hair ... it is so refreshing.

Photo is me with new glasses and new haircut.


 

Pizza: Last week, we had pizza twice at Pizzeria La Finca in Atenas. First with our friends from France - Claudia and Barry:

 

And, secondly, with our neighbour Sharon and her friends and ours from Washington State ... Linda and Clifford.

 

Both times,  Lance and myself ordered a grande sized pizza ... half with anchovies and half without. I love anchovies but Lance does not.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Happy Anniversary!

Happy 6th anniversary to us! On this day - May 31, 2011 - we flew from San Francisco, to Dallas and then to Costa Rica. We arrived at 8:30 pm. A light rain was falling. Cleared Customs and Immigration. Shoved our six suitcases into a taxi and headed for San José, where we spent ten days before heading to Atenas. Our cat, Genny, had travelled ahead of us and was boarding at a vet office in Santa Ana until we were ready to collect her. It seems every expat I have met here remembers the exact date they arrived in Costa Rica.

Moving to a foreign country is a life changing experience - challenging, exciting and so worth doing. You will discover you have organizational and planning skills not previously experienced. You will learn to cope with a foreign language; different customs and laws and regulations; unusual fruits, vegetables and other food items; medical and banking systems; weather patterns; tropical insects and animals and so much more. Sometimes this will prove very frustrating but you learn to roll with the punches and relax - a good thing. Best of all, you will come to know the people of the country you have moved to.

And as each day, month, year passes you will have become a changed person. You will have grown in ways you would not have imagined. Expats come and go here all the time. Some return to their home country for various reasons, all valid, and others leave to try living in a different foreign country. Many stay on permanently, having decided Costa Rica is where they want to be. Some are "snow birds" - escaping their winter climate for a few months of tropical warmth and they return every year, like the migrating birds.

As I write this, it is  raining - much like the day when we arrived in 2011, during the green or rainy season. For us, making the decision to pull up roots and move to a foreign country sight unseen and with no knowledge of Spanish was a great adventure and one we have never regretted. Life is short. So, if you have a dream ... try hard to make it a reality. You may discover it was not really what you wanted after all - there is nothing wrong with that - but at least you will know. 

My high school and horse days friend, and friend to this day, Liz, used to send me a New York Times crossword puzzle calendar at Christmas - she knows I really like trying to complete them. We stopped the practice because of high duty charges in Costa Rica. Every day of the year I had a new puzzle to work on and they are challenging. Here is the puzzle I worked on during our flights down here. I kept it because it was such a momentous day. It's getting tattered but I will still keep it. Pura vida!

 


Monday, May 22, 2017

Cat Goes To The Vet

Last week, we took Cat to Dr. Solano for a general checkup and vacinations. As far as we know, he has never had vacinations. We know nothing of his history because he just appeared one day at our house over a year ago.He was unneutered so we had that done shortly after he appeared. It was our intention to find a permanent home for him but - hah! - of course he had other ideas. So, since it appears a cat now owns us we decided he needed a checkup.

Dr. Solano is an excellent vet here in Atenas. His telephone numbers are 2446-6646 and 2446-6068. He also has a cell phone: 8995-8585 and email: veterinariadrsolano@gmail.com. His office is located 100 meters east of the ICE office (ICE being the acryonm for Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad - the Costa Rican government run electricity and telecommunications services provider).

Cat (the name that has stuck) was very unhappy in the carrier and the short taxi ride but was a good boy while being examined by Dr. Solano and his assistants. This is a cat that is outside all day, hunting and lolling around in the grass/dirt so he had fleas and no doubt worms. He stays inside at night. He needs to lose some weight so we have him on a calorie reduced diet now. Dr. Solano said Cat is built larger then most Costa Rica cats.

The treatment Cat received was: deworming, flea treatment (Frontline Plus, I think, or similar), Felocell and Leukocell shots, and feces exam. The total cost, including the consultation, was 48,050 colones - about 96.00 USD. We also bought 1.5 kg of weight reduction kibble for 9850 colones (19.00 USD) and a product to spray on furniture to kill any fleas. Pet food in Costa Rica is pricy because it is imported.

Here is the dewormed and flealess version of Cat:


 
 

Monday, May 1, 2017

On The Buses

Last week, we rode a morning bus from Atenas to San José. We had breakfast at Soda Tapia, La Sabana, a diner from the 1950´s, that serves typical Costa Rican food for a good price. Every time we have been there, there have been lots of customers sitting inside and outside. The menu is a two sided piece of paper with all the menu items on it (in Spanish) and you check off what you want.

We both had the ham and cheese omlette which came with fried plantains and a couple of slices of toasted bread. We also each ordered a fruit drink made with mora (a species of blackberry). We always enjoy eating at Soda Tapia - the service is attentive and meals come quickly.

Later on, we took a taxi to the Coca Cola bus station. You have to specify which station you want so, for us, we tell the driver "Coca Cola para Atenas". There used to be a large Coca Cola plant here, long gone, but the name remains. We were quite early for the next Atenas bus but there was a bus to Orotina about ready to leave so we hopped on it. The Orotina bus makes a stop in Atenas - just tell the driver that's where you will be getting off because the fare will be less.

I made a video of part of our ride home to Atenas.



Sunday, April 23, 2017

Vacuum Cleaner

This is the vacuum cleaner we bought for an excellent price from a couple who were leaving Costa Rica - about three or four years ago, I believe.

 

I can't remember the exact price we paid for this vacuum and also a large size slow cooker .... maybe around $50 USD. This is the way to buy stuff in Costa Rica ... people come and go all the time here and when they leave, they want to get rid of their things and prices are very good.

So this Electrolux has faithfully worked for us over the last few years .... sucking up cat hair, bugs, volcanic ash and more. But last week, it lost it's sucking power and it was time to take it to the appliance hospital.

One thing I have learned about living in a Spanish speaking country, when my Spanish is so so, is to Google translate what I want and write it out on a card or, in this case, on masking tape. In this photo, I have my name, telephone number and the problem: "sin succion", no suction. We went to Electro Atenas, across from the park and very close to the Santa Clara bakery. They had repaired our blown out TV a couple of years ago for a most reasonable price. When I dropped the vacuum off with them, they asked for a 5,000 colone deposit (about $10 USD).

The "29173" is their order number. I received a phone call the next day saying (I think) that the vacuum was ready to be picked up. We went there the day after, picked up the vacuum, and there were no extra charges beyond the 5,000 colone deposit. We went home, plugged in the vacuum and .... it worked! 

Today I cleaned our house from top to bottom, volcano ash and all.


Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter Sunday, 2017

Happy Easter Sunday, everyone. I pulled some prawns out of the freezer to thaw this morning, thinking that we would have them for dinner. I quickly put them back in the freezer when our neighbor Rose Mary came to our gate with a present of lots of cooked ham slices. Big thick slabs of honey ham ... so that's our dinner for tonight, along with roasted Greek potatoes and a vegetable. Thank you, Rose Mary!

Sadly, the only Easter present I had for Rose Mary was a bag of Lorsban, which is used here to destroy the vast underground ant colonies that cause so much damage. It's mixed with water (I think) in a pump type container with a wand that is inserted into the ground, and pumping action forces the chemical into the nests. We both use Byron as our gardener and he had used some of Rose Mary's supply on our ant nests so we wanted to replace it for her.

 

We had a lot of garden trash (basura del jardín) piled up waiting for removal, but we hadn't found anyone to do the job for us. This is what was at our front gate, the bags contain leaves, etc.:

 

And these bags were piled around the mango tree (the huge pile of dirt under the mango are ant hills):

 

A fellow on a moto stopped by this morning and eyeballed the mess and asked if we wanted it removed. We negotiated a price and this is how it was done:


 

He needed 5,000 colones up front to pay for gas for the truck that would be arriving, so we gave him that. We wondered if he or a truck would ever return and he was just collecting money in a novel way. But I had faith and, sure enough, in a couple of hours a truck showed up with him, another worker and a boss man. Unfortunately, the truck was not a top loader but a back loader so it made it difficult to shove everything in. If it had been a top loader, they could have compressed everything down. It was hot, dirty work. The boss man gave the orders and chatted with us. We had another round of negotiations:

 

Ignore "chilli jam" at the top - I think that was for some recipe or other. See the "cebolla morado"? That means "purple onion". Well, boss man noticed that part of our hedge had been stripped bare by leaf cutter ants and he told us to slice up a purple onion and scatter the pieces under the hedge. He said this would help deter the leaf cutters. I'll give it a try, can't hurt and no chemicals involved.

Anyway, they seemed happy to have the work, we were happy to have it done, and a round of handshakes and one kiss on the cheek finished the job.

Friday, April 7, 2017

April 1 to 7, 2017

This has been a good week. We've had two separate days of heavy rain - over an inch fell on each day. It has been so dry that it was much appreciated. We are going into our green season somewhat early this year compared to previous years.

Our new cedulas/Dimex (Costa Rican ID cards) arrived at our correos (post office) on Monday, April 3rd. They were supposed to be there on March 10th so just a little over three weeks late. We are legal residents for another two years.

We ordered two dinners again from Etnia Bistro Pub, delivered right to our door. This time we tried chicken saute with peanut sauce, cucumber salad with tzatziki, and pita bread - excellent.

 

A fellow artist is leaving Costa Rica and was selling some of his art supplies. I scored big time by buying this from him:

 
 

132 Prismacolor premier colored pencils, unused! All for only $60 USD. In Canada, just one of these pencils costs $2.20, so 132 Prismacolors would be $290.40 CAD! Now I have to learn how to use them.

I have quite a few orchids blooming right now:

 

Do you know what this is?

 

This is an orchid seed pod that burst open to release a gazillion tiny, tiny orchid seeds into the wind. They are almost like dust.


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

First Rain of 2017

On March 14, 2017, just after 4:00pm, we had our first decent rainfall in months. I took this video of the cooling tropical rain falling after so many months of dryness.

Not a drop since then, at least at our house. Now that April is close, we hope to see more rain in the coming weeks. The landscape is very dry and brown right now.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Etnia Bistro Pub

Etnia Bistro Pub is the first gastro pub in Atenas. It is located just off ruta 3, across from the gasolinera de Coopeatenas. Camilo and Nicole are the owners and chefs.

They have added a new service - Etnia Express - dinner at home with the option of picking your order up yourself at their restaurant or having it delivered to your house for a very reasonable service charge. Every week Camilo sends me the menu for the following week. A quick email to him with my selection completes my order. He emails back telling me what time he will be at our gate.

Last week, I ordered two Caribbean curried shrimp dinners. Here is the menu for that week:

 
Here is our delivered order:

 

It was delicious, lots of flavors. Lance isn't a fan of cilantro but he liked it in this dish because it had just the right amount. I love anything with coconut in it and thought the rice was very good. There were plenty of shrimp. Also included were banana chips. Total cost for the two meals was 10,500 colones (about $19 USD). C1500 was for delivery right to our house by Camilo himself.

Here is the menu for the week of  March 28 to 31, 2017:

 
Treat yourself and order dinner - no cooking!


Thursday, March 16, 2017

Some of My Art

I've been painting horses and cattle for a long time. My art web page is here.

What do you do when you do not like a painting that you have created? This one, for example, I was never happy with it. I did not like the harsh bit, the overextension of the neck, the green color of the background ..... 

 


You do this ... cover it over with gesso and start again!

 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Empañadas

I decided this week to try making empañadas. I used this turkey/chicken recipe that I found at Laylita's Recipes. All the ingredients were in my kitchen, including a cooked chicken breast in the freezer, so I didn't have to go out and buy anything. I made Laylita's dough recipe - very easy.

This is the white flour that I use:

 

The package is decorated for Semana Santa (Holy Week) which this year runs from April 9 to April 15. The bags are also decorated with Christmas themes come December. Every time I see Nacarina flour bags, I think of this:


This is what the prepared chicken filling looked like, sitting on an unbaked empañada before folding:

 

Empañadas folded, edges sealed and covered with an egg wash prior to baking:

 

20 minutes later, all cooked. Oops, some of the filling ran out - no problem:

 

The recipe made about 16 empañadas so lots left over to freeze for another day. What I like about these is that any kind of filling can be used, savory or sweet.


Sunday, March 5, 2017

Eyes on Costa Rica - Update/March 5, 2017

The number of countries from where this blog has received visits has risen to 119, the latest including Bosnia & Herzegovina, Azerbaijan, Bolivia and, most recently on March 3, Mauritius. The number of individual places from where visits have been received is now over 3300.

Mauritius is a small island country about 1200 miles off the east coast of southern Africa and seems to have some of the trappings of Costa Rica. On the map below, it is highlighted with reference to Costa Rica by yellow circles.

 

The red dots identify places from where visits have occurred since September 29, 2016. The density would be significantly greater if all places both before and after that date were shown (see my October 4, 2016 blog entry).

I find it fascinating that someone in another part of the world is reading my Costa Rican blog. It's like having penpals everywhere and I'm learning about so many countries/places.


Official site: http://www.mauritius.net

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Sunday, March 26, 2017

It has been a quiet week. The most exciting thing that happened was when I discovered this in my ice cube tray:

 

I hope the end came swiftly for the little insect.

Weather wise - sunny, dry, blue skies, some ash from Turrialba volcano. I water the front and back of our property every second day but keep a close eye on my orchids. The vandas need water every day it seems. We asked our gardener not to cut the grass yesterday. Better to let it grow a bit long and not burn.

Here is a photo of one of my vanda orchids. Vandas are epiphytic, meaning they cling to tree bark or hang from cliffs and rocky areas. You can see why I have to water them every day - they grow in barely any potting medium. They also need a fair amount of fertilizer. I bought this vanda and one other at an orchid show in Alajuela about two years ago, maybe three. They were considered "babies" and would not flower for quite some time. No flowers as yet! I had a vanda when we lived in Cloverdale, British Columbia, but the conditions there were just not compatible with what vandas require so the poor thing expired. That's another great thing about living in Costa Rica - I can indulge my love of orchids at not much cost and not much trouble care wise.

 

This next photo of an orchid (not a vanda) has sent out two flower inflorescences (on the left and on the right). This orchid is mounted on a couple of wood slabs. I should see the flowers open in about a week. 

 

I found a very good vegetarian chili recipe at Latin Cooking. I use their recipes fairly often because the ingredients are easy to find here in Costa Rica and I normally have most of them here in our pantry. The only change I made in this vegetarian chili was to use ayote in place of the sweet potato. The ayote is a beautiful orange color and cooks up like a sweet potato. Maybe they are the same?  Here is a photo of the finished dish. Very healthy with beans and vegetables, plus it tasted good. 

 

I found this great product at our Supermercado Coopeatenas R.L. Pico gallo fresquita for only 819 colones (about $1.92 CAD). The photo shows an empty bag because I transfered the product into a glass container to keep in our refrigerator.  I used some of it on top of the vegetarian chili. Plus: it is a product of Costa Rica.

 

Monday, February 20, 2017

Spiders - A Funny Story

Many years ago, Lance and myself were guests at a cottage in the province of Quebec, Canada. The cottage was on a lake, it had a sauna, a huge stone fireplace, a boathouse and was very, very nice.

We had our own bedroom and one night as we were settling down to sleep, I told Lance there were spiders in the room. He said, "Don't worry, I will always protect you from spiders". Okay, that was fine with me. I never forgot that he said those words and he never forgot either.

Now that we live in the tropics, his spider protection duties have evolved into including cockroaches, scorpions, tarantulas, millipedes, centipedes and ants. We practice catch and release, except for the ants .... the leaf cutter ants can decimate a bush in no time flat. We use pellets and sprays for them. When ants get into our house - and they will in the tropics, all the time - we have to use sprays.

Today I did a laundry and, as usual, hung everything on the line to dry in the tropical sun and trade winds. At this time of year (the dry season), laundry dries fast. Brought the laundry inside and was making up our bed .... put the fitted sheet on and I saw something running out from the sheet onto the floor. Lance! Lance! A big spider just ran out from our sheet onto the floor!

He gallantedly came inside, got down to look under the bed and said, "Is that it?" I got down also and looked - it was an old, dead brown leaf! I found two more "spiders" in the fitted sheet .... they were blown into the fitted sheet by the wind .... and blew out when I shook the sheet out to put it on the bed.

Here is a scorpion that Lance found in our bedroom recently. We released it into the vacant field near us.

 


Sunday, February 19, 2017

Sunday, February 19, 2017

One of my blog readers commented yesterday on a post of mine from 2014 (regarding renewing cedulas in Costa Rica) that the information I provided at that time was now out of date and the laws have changed. Yes, that is correct. This is a good time to remind everyone - if you are in the process of obtaining Costa Rican residency/renewing your cedulas (ID cards) or anything important related to living here - please obtain professional assistance. Do not rely on blogs/Facebook pages/your friends to give you the correct information. And do not rely on something I said in 2014 that was, at that time, correct.

One thing we have learned from living here is that two people can go and do the same thing and get two different results.

Today I walked from our home in Vista Atenas down to the Coopeatenas grocery. I think it is about 3 kms. At this latitude, the sun is quite direct but this is the dry season so I hardly broke a sweat. Sunglasses are a must. So is saying "buenos dias" to everyone I meet.  I called Mario to drive me home with my three bags of groceries. 

For some reason, I had an urge today to prepare Swedish meatballs. 

Sunday, February 12, 2017

February, 2017

This year seems to be speeding along - March is almost here.

We have been distracted lately by the task of renewing our cedulas (identification cards). This is our second renewal and, for various reasons, we were late in submitting our paperwork. However, there is a one year period of grace with a small monthly fine added and one must also obtain an affidavit from a lawyer giving the reason for the lateness. They are in Spanish and we required two affidavits, one for each of us.

When we first arrived here in 2011, one requirement to maintain our pensionado status was to show that $1,000 USD a month had been converted into colones. This was done at a bank and we kept the receipts and submitted them all with our other renewal documents. This requirement was discontinued and so we stopped doing conversions in November, 2016.

Renewal paperwork can be submitted at selected Banco de Costa Rica (BCR) branches. Unfortunately, Atenas is not one of them. Our first appointment on January 19th was at one of the BCR branches in San José. Everything seemed to be proceeding nicely until I was asked if we had bank accounts in Costa Rica. We did not - there has not been a need to have one since we own no property/vehicles here. We obtain cash by using ATM's. So no renewal on this day! We didn't know this was a requirement.

I opened a BCR colones account the next day and obtained another appointment on March 8th, at the same branch, at 9:00am. Normally, a bus ride from Atenas to San José is about one hour long. However, due to lane closures on ¨La Platina¨ bridge, we were worried we would miss our appointment so we caught the 6:00am bus. The bridge, on the General Cañas Highway and over the Virilla River, is undergoing major repairs and causing huge traffic problems. Trip times both ways turned out to be an hour and 30 minutes, so not so bad.

This time, all our paperwork was in order, we paid our fees, and went happily on our way. BCR will send all the documents to Migración and we can expect to pick up our new cedulas on March 12th, so we were told. This part is easy, because they will be sent to our correos (post office) here in Atenas.

Weather-wise, we have been experiencing a lot of strong winds and also ash falling from the Turrialba volcano. No rain of course, this being the dry season. I keep an eye on my orchids and make sure they are getting enough water. They are outside all year so easy enough to turn the hose on them.

The other day I was walking into Atenas when a car pulled up beside me with two men sitting in the front. Turns out it was Carlos (one of our regular taxi drivers) in his own car and he offered me a lift into Atenas centro, gratis. It is so nice to be recognized by the Costa Ricans - we feel like a part of the community.

Here are some photos we took in San José last week. These statues are located in front of Banco Central de Costa Rica and were created in 1982 by the Costa Rican artist Fernando Calvo and are named "Presentes".

 

Me.

 

A little bit of San José - the BCR branch we went to, around 8:15am.

 

And, just for fun, a scorpion that was in our bedroom. We "practice catch and release". We throw a plastic food type container over the critters, slide a plastic sheet underneath and release them outside - in this case, into a vacant field across from our house.

 

Friday, January 27, 2017

A Super Day

Actually, just about every day in Costa Rica is super ... at least in my opinion.

As usual, we were up and about around 0400. Lance heads into the shower and I head into the kitchen to feed our cat and put the coffee on. That done, I go outside to the patio table to check email on my iPad. It's still dark of course but there are lots of morning noises ... local roosters, workers being driven up to the coffee plantations, people driving off to work, early morning wild bird sounds.

Before it's my turn for the shower, I take two eggs out of the 'fridge to warm up to room temperature, put two frozen McCains potato patties in the oven (if we are having them), and decide if I'm having oatmeal or toast. Lance always has tortillas with his egg. He is also the soft boiled egg cooker guy and has cooking them correctly down to a science. We also have fruit ... a banana usually but I also love papaya on hot buttered toast. This daily breakfast holds us until dinner, with maybe a few snacks in between ... 

Today was the day I cleaned half of our little house. I moved the chesterfield and two chairs so I could vacuum under them. What is that? It's one pair of my glasses that have been missing for months!! How did they get under there? I vacuumed and washed the floors and rearranged the furniture into a more agreeable position.

So, finding a missing pair of glasses and cleaning half the house is ... a super day.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Political Cartoons

I'm a big fan of political cartoons - both drawn and written. The art of lampooning politics and politicians goes way, way back in time. I so admire how the artists can depict a politician and their beliefs with a few slashes of their drawing pens and make a big statement at the same time, and the editorial writers do the same thing with their words.

Having said that, 2016 and now 2017 have brought about an avalanche of political opportunities for lampooning. I often save to my Facebook page what I think are really funny jabs at Canadian, USA and Russian politics. No doubt I have offended some people.

But I am here today to say that I personally do not want to offend anybody. Politics are politics.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Backpacks

A couple of years ago, our good friend and neighbor, Sharon, gave me a beautiful backpack. She knew I liked to walk into Atenas and a pack would be so useful. It was embroidered in designs with beautiful colors and made in Costa Rica. It saw a lot of use.

Here it is:

 

Unfortunately, it was stolen during our house robbery last year. I've really missed having it.

This Christmas, Sharon handed me a wrapped gift. Inside was a new backpack, woven in bright colors, and also made in Costa Rica. It's gorgeous. Thank you so much, Sharon. How fortunate are we to have such wonderful friends and neighbors. Here is the new backpack: