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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

30 More Reasons Why I Love Costa Rica

We frequently get vendors at our gate. I've bought shrimp and white fish from the fish guys. Recently, a fellow selling flowering plants showed up and I bought quite a few pretty plants from him. The prices are always good.

Today, a guy selling eggs appeared. I was able to tell him, in Spanish, that my Spanish knowledge was small but we muddled along - I heard him say the eggs were jumbo sized, and they were. I was a bit confused about the price but Lance understood him. I brought out a bowl to put my egg bounty in - was able to count along up until "seven" - and the eggs just kept coming. I ended up with 30 - yes, 30 - big, fat, fresh jumbo eggs. They are beauties.

The price? 2,400 colones or $4.80 CAD - for 30 jumbo eggs!!! Delivered to my door!!  That is like 16 cents an egg.

Furthermore - because there is no way we can eat 30 eggs in good time - I traded a dozen of them with our neighbors Mike and Alina for a half round of local white cheese that was made yesterday. I love this cheese - sliced and fried in a pan with pepper and served on hot toast with lots of butter.

In Canada, we just went to the giant grocery store and bought stuff wrapped in plastic and never met the people who produced it and who knew how old it was. This is so much better!

30 fat eggs


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

More Cédula Information

My friend Claudia has very kindly said I could link to the blog entry she wrote when she acquired her cédula. I think she has expressed her feelings so well about how important it is to acquire legal residency.

So click here and enjoy reading what Claudia has written.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Milestone - We Have Our Cédulas!

Friday was an important day - the day we received our cédulas, or cédula de identidad.

The cédula itself is a credit card sized ID card with our photos, a personal identification number, personal information and our signatures. The reverse includes additional information.

Every citizen and every legal resident of Costa Rica is issued a cédula - it is the legal identification instrument here. There are different ways for foreigners to become legal residents of Costa Rica, the most common being pensionado, rentista, and investor. I won't go into all the details here - one good source of residency information is ARCR (Association of Residents of Costa Rica).

One thing I want to stress in this post is the importance of getting yourself a good lawyer in Costa Rica to handle your residency application. I have mentioned our lawyer, Romulo Pacheco in San José, in previous posts and highly recommend him. We received our cédulas in just a little over a year. We know people who have spent three years or more and who are still slogging through the process. There were no snags. For example, when we had to make visits to government offices, Mr. Pacheco provided us with an English speaking attendant who smoothed the way every time.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Costa Rica - 1947

This is an interesting YouTube video of Costa Rica in 1947.

The beautiful white airport terminal is now the Museum of Costa Rican Art, alongside La Sabana Metropolitan Park.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Fine - Just See If I'll Ever Help YOU Again ...

Not ten minutes after I posted my heart warming blog entry yesterday about the baby clay colored thrushes we saved from certain doom, Lance told me there was only one in the nest!

Sure enough, we found the second one in a lantana bush a meter or two from the nest. We put it back in the nest, and the next one left .... we put that one back and they both left ....

Meanwhile, momma and poppa are telling the neighborhood that we're torturing the national bird of Costa Rica.

One baby hopped/fluttered out into the street, then into a drainage ditch where I followed. Don't do this - the drainage ditches here are enormous for a good reason - to handle the huge volumes of rain water after a tropical storm. This one was dry at least but I'm feeling the effects in my right leg today.

Neighbor Mike heard the commotion and offered this sage advice: "Let nature take it's course". What great advice, especially since I was overheating from baby bird wrangling. I mentally threw up my hands in defeat and wisely went inside for a cold shower.

Moral: Baby birds know when it is time for them to leave the nest.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Saving Costa Rica's Wildlife

Okay, it is just two tiny clay-colored robin chicks that we are helping but still - the yigüirro are the national birds of Costa Rica - so we are playing a small part. Actually, I should be calling them clay-colored thrushes because the name "clay-colored robin" was changed in 2010. Yigüirro is their Costa Rican name.

According to Wikipedia, "in 1977 the Costa Ricans chose the yigüirro as a national symbol (over many much more colorful birds that inhabit the country) due to its strong and melodious song that always comes during the start of the rainy season. In addition, unlike many of the forest songsters of Costa Rica, the present bird has been familiar to the general population since the country's early history, thanks to the species' tendency to live near houses and settlements."

Last week, a palm leaf fell from one of our trees and carried with it to the ground a nest containing two very small robins. They fell out of the nest on the way down and one had the pin feathers on it's back, plus it's tail, pulled right off. The nest was falling apart too.

We reshaped the nest and put it into a round drainage tray from a garden pot, gently replaced the chicks in the nest and considered what to do next.  Note: ugh, wear gloves when handling a nest and baby birds - it and them were teeming with bugs!

Our first thought was to replace the nest from where it had fallen but we realized it was too dangerous to go up the ladder, which was swaying with the palms.

Eureka! Lance had a brilliant idea. He took one of our plastic lawn chairs and wedged it in between the  trunks of five palms and then put the nest on the seat of the chair. Then we tied palm leaves together and tied them to the palm trunks to provide shade and privacy. More shade was achieved with big banana leaves over the top of the chair.

It took a while for mama and papa to locate their babies, as the nest was now lower to the ground and a  few feet away from it's original location.  But find them they did and feeding recommenced. We were worried the fall had mortally injured one or both chicks but they are fine and growing daily. Today I noticed the tail-less chick has started growing a new tail. Both are now covered with fluff instead of pin feathers. They are also standing up, turning around, taking a few hops, picking the bugs out of their bodies, and flapping their teeny little wing stubs.

Lance even cut up plastic bottles and slipped them over the palm trunks so roaming cats would not be able to climb up.  We stroll by quietly now and then and peek in to check the chicks. The parents don't get upset by us and wait until we leave before flying into their high-end bower with worm goodies.

The babies, same day as their accident.

Lawn chair in the palms - can you spot it?

Finished bird condo, built to specs. The parents fly in and out near the chair seat.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Playa Esterillos Este

On Sunday, June 24, we were fortunate to have our Maryland friends, Lee and Tom, ask us if we wanted to accompany them to Playa Esterillos Este, south of Jaco and Playa Hermosa. Esterillos is divided up by rivers into three sections - Esterillos Oeste, Esterillos Centro and Estrillos Este.

We were visiting our Canuck friends, Diane and John, who had rented a beach front cabina at Estrillos Este for a week. They were staying at Encantada Ocean Cottages and their cottage had a king size bed, two single beds, bath of course, and a small kitchen area. The ocean was just steps away. This is a great place to stay.

I made a video of the beach, which you can see here: Estrillos Este. It's not the best video but you can see how uncrowded the beach is. The waves were quite strong and can be dangerous for swimming but  one can walk for what looks like miles along the beach.

For lunch, we went to the Backyard Hotel, a surfer bar in Playa Hermosa. The food was good, although a bit more pricier than in Atenas. I ordered appetizer fish tacos and it was full meal sized - four fish tacos and I took two of them home for the next day. Playa Hermosa, 10 km south of Jaco, is where sea turtles lay eggs from July to December and it is well known for its great surfing waves.

We also drove through Jaco to check it out - it seems like a vibrant place albeit for surfers and tourists.

To finish off a great day, we stopped at Villa Caletas to watch the sun set over the Pacific Ocean. What a wonderful place this is. We had drinks in the amphitheatre and admired the view. This is one hotel I would like to stay at one day.

I love going to the beaches but they are more hotter and humid then what we experience living here in Atenas so we both agree we could not live there full time but for holidays - great!

Almonds fresh picked from the beach almond trees. I'm just not sure when they actually ripen and can be eaten.

Playa Hermosa

The beach at Playa Esterillos Este, the tide was out.

Imperial Beer!

Watching the sun set over the Pacific Ocean from Villa Caletas