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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

“Old Rockin’ Chair”

A lot of things have come with our new rental house in Grecia. One of them is a Costa Rican rocking chair:

It’s made of tooled leather and wood and is very comfortable (the bell came with the house too, but I’m not sure what it is used for). This rocking chair is so comfortable and I enjoy rocking in it with the mountain breezes blowing and admiring the incredible view. Here are some of the images tooled into the leather:

I don’t know where this rocker was made. It could have been in the town of Sarchi, a Costa Rican town famous for it’s elaborately painted oxcarts.

In any case, here is Louis Armstrong singing, just for you, “Old Rockin’ Chair”.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

“I’ve Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts”

We do indeed have lovely coconuts and credit for the title of this blog post goes to Fred Heatherton who wrote that novelty song in 1944 in England.

Our tree is loaded with coconuts:

Two coconuts were on the ground so I picked them up. This is one of them:

I had no idea what to do with them, so I turned to trusty YouTube and found this video made in Costa Rica: How To Pick the Best Ripe Coconut. I decided to practice opening the second green coconut following these instructions. Using our machete very, very carefully I began by hacking off the indicated end. Machetes are really scary to use, to my mind, so I stopped and got a kitchen knife which worked pretty well and was less dangerous. Until I got to the hard inner nut, the green outer shell was easy to cut through and eventually a hole opened up and I could see coconut water. I think I hacked off more than I needed to.

Dropped in a straw and, voila, a refreshing drink!

Friday, April 13, 2018

Feria, Grecia, Costa Rica

Today we went to the Grecia feria - a weekly farmers’ market that starts on Friday at noon and runs all day on Saturday. It is much larger than the Atenas feria. 

You can find just about anything - all sorts of fruits and vegetables, meats, seafood, clothing, leather goods, fresh flowers, orchids and so on. There are quite a few sodas (small family run eateries). 

We wandered around and ended up buying small sweet bananas, radishes, a papaya, corn on the cob and two bunches of fresh cut flowers. The flowers are incredibly inexpensive. Here is what I bought for 2,000 colones (about $4 USD):

At this price, we can have fresh flowers in our house every week.

As we returned to our vehicle, the largest iquana I have seen up to now was right beside our car:

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Old Home/New Home

We decided to move from Vista Atenas to Hacienda El Paseo near Grecia for various reasons. First and foremost, we wanted a larger house at reasonable cost. The new house came furnished and includes 3 bedrooms, 3 1/2 baths, all major appliances, etc. This allowed one bedroom for ourselves, an art studio for me, and an office for Lance. The house happens to be in a gated community. But this was not one of our prerequisites. Remarkably, the appliances include television sets in three different room. That too was not one of our prerequisites.

Unlike the old house, rent for the new house does not include utilities (electricity, water, cable TV and internet). Otherwise, the rental cost of the new house is only marginally greater than what we would be paying had we remained in the old house. The added cost of utilities is likely to be less than $200 per month. 

The new house does not have its own swimming pool (nor did the old house), but there is a community pool a short walking distance down a winding street. That's all we need. Looking after and maintaining a private pool can be burdensome.

Like Vista Atenas, Hacienda El Paseo is not the formal name of a town or other place in Costa Rica. Both places might be more aptly described as communities. Vista Atenas is primarily but not exclusively an ex-pat community where a number of languages are spoken. Hacienda El Paseo is more like a bedroom community for workers who commute daily to towns and cities in the region. The predominant language is Spanish.

Speaking of languages, the real estate agent who we dealt with was Chris Schoo ( He is Dutch and speaks at least 5 languages (English, Spanish, Dutch, French and German). He did a first class job introducing us to the community and the services available in and around Grecia.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Another Move!

Part 1 .... Our planned move from Vista Atenas, Atenas, to Hacienda el Paseo, Grecia is finally complete. We made the almost final move on Saturday, March 31 - which meant we moved our Cat and his litter box to our new house. I borrowed a cat carrier from our neighbours and Cat was very unhappy to be put into it. Cat owners know what that sounds like. It was only about a 45 minute drive from old house to new house but he didn’t like some of the twisty turns and uphill climbs. For the most part, he tolerated the trip very well. 

He disembarked in our bedroom, and promptly went under our bed. We put his litter box, water and food out in the same room and shut the door to give him some peace and quiet. 

We ended up deciding to rent a storage locker for ten days because we didn’t know precisely when we would receive the keys to our new house. This turned out to be a good idea. We used Lion Share Storage Mini-Bodegas, not far from Grecia. Larry and Nancy Rusin are really nice people and very helpful. Having the locker meant we could ferry stuff from our Atenas house to the lockup at our own pace. As it turned out, we received the keys to the Grecia house on March 27th, so then we started taking our stuff there. This included my orchid collection.

Then we cleared out the storage locker. We still had nine of my easels at the Atenas house so we hired Anibal and his friend to pick them up and take them to the Grecia house. Moving them in our SUV would have meant two trips. We don’t own furniture and I thought that we didn’t have much stuff .... wrong. We have a lot of small things, my paintings, small kitchen appliances .... you would be surprised at what ties you down.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Weather Report, Vista Atenas, Atenas, Alajuela, Costa Rica - March 2018

When measured by average overnight lows and average daytime highs, March was the hottest month so far this year in Vista Atenas (near Atenas). Not uncomfortable in the mornings, but approaching uncomfortable later in the day unless you have a shaded, well ventilated house.

Currently, the season is the "dry season". A lot of the greenery has turned brown and many leaves have fallen. This will change in a month or two when the "green season" begins. Then, because of changing weather patterns bringing more clouds and rain, average overnight lows will be higher and average daytime highs will be lower.

This will be the last weather report from Vista Atenas. The next will be from our new home in Hacienda El Paseo (near Grecia). We do not expect much difference because the new home is virtually at the same altitude as the old home in Vista Atenas. Altitude is a critical factor when deciding where to live in Costa Rica.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

A Tale of Two Shoes

I have a pair of sandals that I really like. I think I ordered them from Lands End and then a friend muled them down to me.

The soles eventually started wearing out so I took then to our local shoemaker. I thought I said I just wanted new soles put on. He asked me to pay what I thought was a kind of hefty deposit (10 mil). But I paid and kept checking back every week to see if my shoes had been resoled.

What was really going on was that he was building me a new pair of shoes. His wife didn’t like the the new soles he had selected, so she prevailed and I got my new higher heeled sandals! She gave me the thumbs up. Here are the new sandals.