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Thursday, May 24, 2012

A Busy Day

Up at ten to five this morning, not an unusual time for us. I thought I could see sheet lightning in the sky but Lance thought it was the airport beacon rotating. I think he is right because the "lightning" was so regular.

Today's weather was reversed from the usual - rain this morning and then sun this afternoon.

Thursday is exercise day and off I went at 8:00 a.m. with my two exercise companions to climb Mount Vista Atenas (at least, it feels like that) to where the classes are held. We allow half an hour to get there but I think the climb may becoming a wee bit easier.

No pool exercises today because it felt cool but we practiced breathing (that is really hard, most humans are shallow breathers), balance exercises, stretching and so on. At the end of the hour and a half, I know I felt like I had had a good workout.

Then my Canuck friend Diane picked me up and off we went to Vivero Central La Garita, a very large garden shop. I bought a selection of herb plants and almost bought some more orchids but have decided to wait until an orchid show where I can buy named varieties.

Next stop: Pequiño Mundo in Alajuela. I love this store. You never know what you will find there and I got a whole bunch of stuff on my list for a total of $50 CAD. The only items that have to be returned are two pairs of exercise/swim shorts - I should have tried them on.

Lunch: very important. We went to Princesa Marina in Alajuela. Sorry, I cannot find a website for them but here is the address: Costado Norte de la Iglesia, Bo. San Jose, Alajuela. I like this place a lot - they specialize in seafood. I ordered fettuccine with shrimp in a white sauce - very good and they don't skimp on the shrimp or the serving size - enough for take-away. Diane opted for a chicken Caesar salad with shrimp and it was very generous (super ensalada), with all kinds of fresh vegetables in it. Two mora con aqua drinks rounded out the meal.

A perfect day in a great country.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Keeping Fit

There is really no good reason not to be in decent shape in this country. People moving here have reported significant weight loss in some cases in the first year of residency. The exposure to eating more fresh fruits and vegetables year 'round and eating less processed foods might be one reason. Another reason might be adapting to different temperatures. Still another could be getting more exercise if one doesn't own a car.

When we left Vancouver, British Columbia, almost a year ago, I had belonged to a gym for a couple of years. Five days a week, two hours a day, I did cardio and weights, and hardly ever missed a day. I was lifting, pulling, pushing 33,000 lbs. a week in weights and faithfully rotating through all the cardio machines. It was getting boring and I felt I had reached the limits of weights I would ever be able to lift.

After all that work, I was concerned that I would turn to flab and lose my strength very fast if I didn't maintain that level of work. There are a couple of gyms in Atenas but they appear to have no air conditioning and that is not appealing to me in this climate. I have been walking into Atenas about once, maybe twice, a week (2.2 kms) but that's like a drop in the fitness bucket and the walk is all downhill. I could have walked the "Vista Atenas Loop" every day but couldn't seem to work up the interest on my own. It's a killer by the way. I've been told that people have called for help on their cells phones when they realized the steep hills were just too much.

Ta da! I was asked if I wanted to join a small group of women in my area who were going to participate in twice weekly classes combining yoga/pilates/water exercises. I'm so glad I said "yes". Our instructor is a professional trainer in these disciplines. These kinds of exercises are new to me and they are not easy. I love the pool exercises. Just walking up to where the classes are held takes half an excruciating hour.

I'm really happy to be exercising more seriously again. As we age, it is so important to maintain as much physical strength as we can so we can continue to be independent and self-sufficient.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Saturday in Atenas

We needed to buy some things in Atenas today so decided to go into town and have breakfast at Cafe Cultura. I've mentioned this newly opened restaurant before in this blog and urge everyone to try it out.

We like to eat in the restaurant's walled backyard. They have tables with umbrellas set up on the grass and  the ambience is so nice. We both ordered the eggs Benedict with smoked salmon and fresh fruit - it's always good. Lance ordered one of their coffee drinks - you can't go wrong with them. I usually order a fresh fruit drink and this time chose one that is supposed to be good for the circulation.

Then off we went to Vargas, the Atenas hardware store. We had decided to buy a fruit picking basket and a long, telescoping pole to attach to the basket. Our mango tree is huge and we can't reach a lot of the mangoes that need picking without some help. The basket and pole work really well and I also used them to pick oranges from our orange tree. The Vargas folks are really helpful - they always make an effort to find what we are looking for.  Today our helper asked if we were Canadians so I guess we have an accent.

We also bought some fruit and vegetables from the street vendors - always a great deal and it's fun to practice Spanish this way.

My fruit basket and pole.

The pole when it is telescoped out - this was actually a subject of some amusement  as I got some wink winks from the hardware guys and ... well, I didn't understand all of what they said.

Quatro avocados - one mil (2 CAD)

Eleven tomatoes - one mil (2 CAD)

Tres strawberry baskets - one mil (2 CAD)

Sunday, May 6, 2012

New Atenas Restaurant

Today, six of us tried out the newly opened CC's Chinese International Restaurant and Bar. The directions are frente a la Plaza de Deportes de Barrio Los Angeles, Atenas, and the phone number is 2455-0221.

Sounds worse than it is. Head east on highway 3 from Atenas and bear left at the Boyero Statue instead of going to the usual right (well, usual to me as I'm normally heading off to San Jose or Alajuela). Turn left at the church (or the Alcoholics Anonymous sign, whatever triggers recognition in you).  Then just keep driving down that road until you see the soccer field on the right - the restaurant is on the left.

As is usual in Costa Rica, the restaurant is open sided to catch the breezes. We were there at 1:00 pm and there were a fair number of people in the restaurant so I think it will be a popular place to eat.

The menu is quite extensive and they also serve alcohol. Four of our group ordered the family combo for five, priced at 23,500 colones and this included spring rolls, chicken wings, pork ribs with sour sauce, home special noodles with oyster sauce, and a big bowl of jasmine rice. A nice touch was the extra spring roll the restaurant threw in so there was one for each of us. The noodle dish was a very generous size and it looked good. There was enough left over for a take-away.

Lance and I decided to order the salt and pepper shrimp - very good - came in a cast iron sizzling pan with assorted vegetables and the shrimp were large, fresh, with lots of salt and pepper. Caveat: don't ask for "prawns" in Costa Rica. I got a blank look - ask for "shrimp". Our second choice was the black pepper beef "in sizzling plate" - it came with lots of fresh vegetables and the sauce was tasty.

The shrimp choice was priced at 7,300 colones and the beef dish 6,500. Plenty for two, plus we ordered a bowl of rice.

We definitely will go back again.  I want to try the sauteed green mussels, the cashew shrimp in bird's nest (I'm hoping the "nest" will be made of taro or something similar), some of the fish offerings and the sweet corn with minced chicken broth caught my eye.

Tsing Tao Beer

Salt & Pepper Shrimp (#44)

Black Pepper Beef in Sizzling Plate (#62)

Pork Ribs with Sour Sauce (Family Combo for 5)

Jasmine Rice

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Oxcart Parade, Atenas

We had a great time at the oxcart parade on Sunday, April 29, 2012. It was the first one we've ever seen.

I even made a video and you can see it here:

Six of us met up at Gely's, a good restaurant on the west side of the central park and always the best place to view parades and also have lunch or dinner. There were lots of things going on in the park, too. I bought another orchid for my growing collection.


The parade started on time and ran smoothly. The oxen are magnificent beasts, each pair matched perfectly in size and color. The carts are beautifully painted, as are the yokes. One pair had huge oiled horns with gold tips. Another pair had small ribbons on the horns in the Costa Rican flag colors.

As each pair and their boyero approached the judging stand, they stopped for photos and the boyero's name and where he/she was from was announced. They came from all over the country.

Brahma ox team

Hand painted carts

My favorite team