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Monday, October 29, 2012

Genny and the Cane Toad

It is said that cats have nine lives. If this is indeed true, Genny is rapidly using them up. She certainly is chipping away at the only one I have.

This morning she had an encounter with a cane toad, known here as sapo grande. The scientific name is Bufo marinus. They look like this ....

.... and this was a small one that I photographed a year ago. They are poisonous - as eggs, as tadpoles, as adults. The venom is secreted or possibly squirted.

At around 6:30 am today, Lance saw Genny backing away from a toad and she ran up onto the patio. Sure enough, she started drooling profuse salivation which told us she had contacted the venom. We had educated ourselves on what to do for a cat if this happens so we immediately washed her mouth out with two large glasses of water, then wiped the gums, teeth and mouth with a wet cloth. If I had been thinking more clearly, I would have used the garden hose - on a trickle of course - to more thoroughly rinse the poison out.

You have to be very careful not to force any liquids down the animal's throat - it could go into their airway. After this treatment, we watched to see if she would vomit, have difficulty breathing, stagger, convulse - thank goodness, none of this happened.

Given the current state of her overall health, we decided to get her to her vet in Santa Ana as a precaution. They said we did all the right things, including bringing her in for observation. She was due to go back this Thursday morning anyway for more renal blood work, so we opted to leave her in their good hands until then. It's stressful for her to be travelling back and forth.

People who live in Costa Rica and have pets already know about the cane toad but it can't be repeated often enough that we must keep our animals away from them. There is a lot of very good information on the internet also.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Spam on My Blog

I know that some of my blog readers have been experiencing problems leaving comments because of the "word verification" that I had installed on my blog. I've had the same annoying problem myself trying to figure out what the distorted letters/numbers were supposed to be.

So I removed that and then the spam started. In an effort to stem the spam, I installed a block that forwarded all comments to me for review before I allowed them to be posted. Now I just get spam waiting to be vetted by me!

Sorry to say I have had to reintroduce the "word verification" .... but please keep reading my blog! Thanks, everyone.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

October in Costa Rica

This October has been relatively dry. Normally October can be the rainiest month of the year. That doesn't mean it pours rain non-stop day and night though. What usually happens is the morning will be sunny and clouds start to build up early in the afternoon. Then we experience an hour or so of refreshing rain and that's it - at least where we live. The weather patterns will be different in other areas of Costa Rica and at different elevations.

Being here in the green season is very nice. Everything is so lush, the beaches and resorts aren't crowded and hotels and vacation rentals offer lower rates.

We have learned to do our laundry early in the morning so it can line dry before the clouds shuffle in. Having a nice, breezy day speeds things up too. We had torrential rain most of last night but it's nice being cosy in bed and listening to the rain. We have a tile roof so the sound is not bad but I've heard that, with a tin roof, you can't hear a thing inside the house.

I walked to the Coopatenas mercado this morning when it was still clear,  picked up a few groceries, taxied back with Diego and the rain started again as soon as I stepped into the house. It's been pretty much non-stop since then. The temperature inside the house is 73.2F/22.9C. Coming from living in the Pacific Northwest, rain doesn't bother us at all.

Found out that the activities celebrating San Rafael Parish actually start today in the centre of Atenas and continue on until Sunday. I guess the parade we saw last Sunday was an early start.

Our 12 year old cat, Genny, is having health challenges. Two weeks ago she became very ill, stopped eating and drinking and could hardly walk. We initially took her in to see Dr. Olman Solano in Atenas, he took blood samples and injected her with an antibiotic. We highly recommend Dr. Solano. He and his staff are very kind and caring towards animals. His office is located 100 m. east of the ICE office, central Atenas, or 100 m. south of Su Espacio. Phone number 2446-6646, emergency 8995-8585. English spoken. Office hours after 5:00 pm.

By morning, Genny was worse. Since Dr. Solano is at the vet college during the day and only has office hours in the evening, we decided to take Genny to her vet hospital in Santa Ana - Hospital Veterinarios Asociados. I've highly recommended this practice in previous posts. Genny boarded here for a week when we first arrived in Costa Rica.

Dr. Solano's blood results had shown Genny was severely anemic and Dr. Carlos Loria at Hospital Veterinarios Asociados took x-rays and did an ultrasound right away. We knew Genny only had one kidney really working well, the right one. But the ultrasound showed a tumor on that kidney and cysts on the left.

They admitted her and we were able to bring her home three days later. During the three days, we were constantly kept informed via e-mails of results of blood work, etc., diagnosis and recommendations. There is no treatment and no operation available for her. The results of her hospitalization have been wonderful. Since returning home, her appetite has improved greatly, she is very active and alert, still hunting for lizards. Since this is an issue of quality of life, not quantity, she is really living the pura vida! She will still be monitored via blood work though. Barney comes and visits every day or so and they sniff noses and exchange the latest news.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Saint Rafael, Atenas' Patron Saint

The weather this morning was very foggy, so we decided it was a good day to walk into Atenas for breakfast at Kay's Gringo Postres. It's more comfortable to go on a long walk without that tropical sun beating down. The ambient air is comfortable - it's the sun that makes one sweat.

We needed to pick up a few groceries at El Canario mercado, near the church and park. We had no idea there was a festival today so what a nice surprise to see tents and booths were being set up outside the church and in the park. The church bells were ringing.

We were just in time for the religious parade. After some research on the internet, I believe this was the annual festival of Saint Rafael (Raphael?), Atenas' patron saint. The parade consisted of individual groups (of families?), each group carrying the image of a saint, angel or other religious figure. The figures were beautifully decorated with fresh flowers and colourful fabrics.

A priest was walking out in front and behind him was a band of young men playing what sounded to me like lively jazz or New Orleans style music. This was a very happy parade, nothing somber about it. All the images were carried into the church. I think there will also be a cattle auction later on today.

My big regret? I had not brought my camera!! This is a no-no - always, always carry your camera. The priest was taking photos so I wouldn't have offended anyone if I had done so too.

If you are in the Atenas area today, this would be a good festival to go to.

Friday, October 19, 2012

New Italian Restaurant in Atenas

Bella Vista is a newly opened Italian restaurant on highway 3. Heading west from Atenas on highway 3, it is on the left, a short distance outside of town. There is a banner sign on the fence but it doesn't face traffic so you will have to watch for it. The building is wood and looks small from the outside but that is deceiving.

We've eaten here twice, both times ordering pizzas made in their wood fired oven. The staff is very welcoming and hard working. The space inside is quite large. There are three separate areas to dine in - one is in front of the pizza oven so you can watch the activity there. There are also tables outside under cover.

White linen napkins are used - a rarity these days. We were served, gratis, bruchettas as an appetizer. The pizzas are thin crust and there is a really good selection of varieties to try. Next visit I plan to try one of the pasta dishes.

They did not have their liquor license on our last visit but apparently it is in the works.

You can also call and order a pizza for pickup. Bella Vista's phone number is 2446-5184. We highly recommend this restaurant.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Barney Don't Need No Stinkin' Street Signs!

This is Barney, a young unneutered male cat who showed up at our house about four or five months ago. He was also visiting neighbors, in particular Tony and Rosemary. We named him Barney the Barn Cat because he's welcome to stay around outside, but we are not turning him into an indoor pet cat. With the year 'round good weather we experience, he does fine outdoors.

Barney and Genny became instant friends. Barney has a very loud voice and doesn't enjoy being petted or touched very much - perhaps being unneutered makes him more aggressive. He was on the thin side so we started feeding him whenever he showed up. He would hang around for a while, then go on his way.

We decided to do him a favor and have him neutered, inoculated and treated for anything else, like ticks or worms. We started feeding him inside Genny's airline carrier and eventually he was comfortable eating in there.

Two months ago, when we had the use of a vehicle, Lance shut the door on the carrier, loaded Barney into the car and off they went to Atenas and the vet. Right outside the vet's office, as Lance was unloading the carrier, Barney made a break for it and escaped thru the bottom half of the carrier's door. Either it wasn't secured or he somehow opened it and the space he escaped through was quite small. He was last seen running down one of Atena's streets. Lance felt terrible about it, of course, and we've always wondered what Barney's fate had been. There are so many dogs in Atenas, many running loose.

Whose face was staring through the glass patio door this morning? Barney's of course. Like any Costa Rican, he didn't need street signs to navigate his way back from Atenas, two to three miles away, to our house in Vista Atenas. It took him two months.

He looks pretty good considering. We are going to try again to get him neutered. If we can get him in the carrier, Tony and Rosemary will drive him to the vet and we'll split the cost of his treatments.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Back Home Again in Vista Atenas

We're back home again in our pretty little casa in Vista Atenas. We spent the last two months housesitting for friends in Picaflora, with lots of visits to our Vista Atenas home to attend to gardening and so on.

Picaflora is a housing development one mountain ridge over from Vista Atenas. The houses are built in the Bali style - lots of wood sliding doors with many glass panes. Very beautiful. We enjoyed the luxury of a pool, a huge kitchen with propane stovetop with five (five, count 'em!) burners, and a refrigerator with ice maker (my favorite).

Genny came with us too, of course. What she didn't know was that there is a resident cat - Cleo the Abyssinian. Same age as Genny (old). My visions of them becoming BFF's (Best Friends Forever) were rapidly dissolved on the first day when the two of them saw each other before we were ready for it to happen.

You wouldn't believe how fast two old cats can move. Cleo attacked rapidly with noises to match. She chased Genny under a bed with me in fast pursuit. I managed to grab Genny out of harm's way. Cleo was so upset she peed her pants. She did that again the next time she saw Genny. Eventually it all calmed down, with Cleo looking at Genny through a glass door and frowning, and the two of them muttering. The spitting and growling eventually stopped.

My sister Mady and her husband Mike visited us for two weeks in September and I have lots of pictures to share about their trip here on my next post.

My sister Mady and Cleo