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Saturday, July 27, 2013

Pizza Night!

About once a month, I get the urge for pizza so I put the call out to friends after deciding on a day and time. It's casual - no pressure to go - and please bring friends, the more the merrier.

Last night, about 14 of our friends showed up at Ristorante Pizzeria Alida, on highway 3 (the road to Orotina and Puntarenas). They are open Wednesday through Sunday from 12:00 am to 10:00 pm and closed on Monday and Tuesday. Their telephone number is 2446-4060.

Directions: 700 meters west and 50 meters north of the Coopeatenas gas station on highway 3 (our only gas station). Solution: take a taxi there if you are unfamiliar with the area. Otherwise, there is plenty of parking around the restaurant.

When Alida's is open, you will see a table outside of the gate with a tablecloth and wine bottles on it. If they are not there, the restaurant is not open.

This restaurant is run by partners Alida and Nicolas. The pizzas (thin crust) are baked in a wood fired oven. Alida is the chef and Nicolas runs the front of the house. They have no trouble with a large group suddenly showing up. Nicolas and an assistant effortlessly grouped together several tables to make one large one for us, orders were taken quickly and dinner was served in a timely manner.

As is usual in Costa Rica, this restaurant is open air ... a roof of course but not enclosed on all sides. There is nothing better then enjoying a good meal with the tropical breezes blowing in, especially when it is dark and the skies are giving us a light show with sheet lightning.

Total cost of our meal for two: 17,000 colones (about $34 CAD). We ordered the Dellacasa pizza and half a liter of white wine. The final total includes taxes and tip. We had enough pizza left over for snacks the next day. Pizza is not the only thing on the menu. There are pastas too, but I have not tried them so far. The pizzas keep calling me! We have never been disappointed eating at Alida's.

This restaurant was awarded a 2013 Certificate of Excellence by Trip Advisor. And now for the photos:

From The Menu .. we ordered the Dellacasa pizza.
The DellaCasa ... so good.


Saturday, July 20, 2013

Thunder and Lightning Strikes

Lots of thunder and lightning the other day (July 17) - a true sound and light show, including 1.7 inches of rain.

When we realized the storm was on our doorstep, we pulled the power plugs on our computers and peripherals (printer, router, cable modem). We probably should have done the same with the TV and kitchen appliances, but the consequences of them being fried by lightning are far less severe than losing a computer with its software and stored data. You can replace a TV or a microwave oven by just buying another one - or some modular part. But, reinstalling software on a new computer with all the old preferences and other settings and/or recalling, reinstalling and organizing lost data from a back-up source can be tremendously time consuming. If you don’t have a back-up source for important data, then the consequences may be insurmountable.

Shortly after we disconnected, all the power went off for about 4 hours until ICE came to the rescue. ICE (pronounced “ee-say” in Spanish) is the government power agency in Costa Rica. Where we live in Atenas, outages tend to be relatively infrequent. But, on any given day, there may be one or more “blips” where the power switches off and on within a split second. This turns out to be more of an annoyance than a serious issue. Sometimes, a “blip” will cause an internet connection to be lost and it becomes necessary to go through the bother of reconnecting.

Surge Protectors

All of our computers and peripheral equipment are plugged into “surge protectors”. This protects against the usual outages and "blips". However, it would be a huge mistake to assume that this provides adequate protection against lightning strikes. The surge from a lightning strike could easily blow through any surge protector that you might buy at a computer or electronics store. See, for example:

Heavy duty surge protectors or systems which can afford significant but not unlimited protection against lightning strikes are available but are undoubtedly far more costly than the store bought varieties. See, for example:

In Costa Rica as elsewhere, one should never leave computers, etc. plugged into anything if there is any threat of a lightning storm.


Monday, July 15, 2013

Another Nice Day

I really cannot think of a day in Costa Rica that has not been nice. Actually, that is an understatement. A more accurate word would be "beautiful".

Today we met newly arrived expat friends from Maryland for lunch in Atenas. Welcome Carol and Paul! We had lunch at La Carreta, which has moved one block over from their previous location. They are still across from the park, just a block up. I can recommend the breaded shrimp with a green salad and papas (fries). There was enough on my plate to ask for take away so I have something to snack on tonight. We were too full from lunch to think about having dinner tonight.

Here are a few photos of our day. At this time of year, the late afternoon sun hits our patio area so I came up with the idea of attaching my pareo on a bamboo stick and temporarily hanging the stick from the rafters. It does help and I think it looks nice and colourful from the street.

Catholic Church, Atenas
Palms in the Central Park.
My brilliant idea to help block the sun from our patio.


Sunday, July 7, 2013

Tracking the Weather in Atenas

My husband Lance is collaborating with Paul and Gloria Yeatman on keeping daily rainfall and temperature statistics for both Atenas and San Ramon, a town that is at a higher elevation than Atenas and therefore experiences different rainfall and weather patterns. Costa Rica is a country of microclimates. Many think that the country may be uncomfortably hot and humid. That is simply not so. It depends on where you choose to live.

Paul and Gloria live in San Ramon and have a very informative and interesting website called "Retire For Less in Costa Rica". They share many of our philosophies about living a simpler life with less "stuff" to clutter up your space and mind. Their site offers lots of helpful information about living in Costa Rica.

Lance recently received a rain gauge as a gift from our friends and neighbours, Rose Mary and Tony ... thank you! On the days we have rain, he records the amount of rainfall and also the daily high and low temperatures at our altitude. It is interesting to compare the different figures between Atenas and San Ramon, especially for those people researching living in the Central Valley of Costa Rica and wondering what area would suit them best.

Lance's rain gauge

Notice the nice green pole the gauge is mounted on. It is mounted in an area unobstructed by overhead foliage. We went to the Atenas hardware store, Vargas, and found the perfect piece of wood behind the store in their lumber area. It even had a pointed end to drive into the ground. Then we bought some outdoor green spray paint for the pole and a couple of screws to loosely mount the gauge on the pole. The loose mounting allows the gauge to be lifted away from the pole to eye level for reading, emptied of water, and placed back on the pole with ease - ready and set for the next day's reading.


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Snakes in Costa Rica

I was at our neighbour's house today for a swim and decided to get the pool net in order to sweep up a few insects in the water.

The old blue net was not attached to any pole so I opted to use it. It's easiest to just walk around in the pool scooping up the debris.

Without even checking, I lifted up the net by the rim and immediately realized that something very colourful was inside it. In the next instant, I realized it was a snake and threw that net as hard and as fast as I could. The net covered the snake up and it looked like it was trapped inside.

I ran home to get my husband and my camera. By the time we got back, the snake was leaving the net but I managed to get a photo. It moved very fast into the dense thicket of palm trees.

Was this a coral snake - very poisonous - or the false coral snake?

Here is my snake:

False Coral Snake

Turns out this snake is a false coral snake. Note the ring markings: black, yellow, black, red.

Here is the poisonous coral snake:

Poisonous Coral Snake

The ring markings on the poisonous coral snake are red, yellow and black, with the red rings bordered on both sides by yellow. This photo is courtesy of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

These rhymes may help you remember the differences (although they completely left my mind when I saw the snake): "Red touches yellow, you're a dead fellow", "Red touches black, you're OK, Jack". My wag of a husband added another line, just for me: "Nose to nose view, shame on you!".

So, fellow Costa Rican folks, this was just a reminder to pay attention. With all the beauty around us, it's easy to forget that we still live very, very close to nature ... isn't that one of the reasons that drew us to Costa Rica in the first place? Shake out your clothes and shoes before putting them on, don't touch anything outside without first looking closely at it, buy a pair of rubber boots ("wellies") to wear when you walk around outside on your property, look before touching ... just be aware, and enjoy this beautiful, beautiful country.