Sunday, November 25, 2012

November in Costa Rica

Today feels like November--November on the BC coast, only a tad warmer. As I sit here in my office, there's a really nasty, cool wind blowing straight up from the water and onto my back. I'm giving serious consideration to putting on a jacket.

The forecast is for the rest of the day is for more of the rain we've had the past week, but with a promise of sun Monday and Tuesday, then back to rain and wind, thunder and lightning, and all the rest of that fun stuff Wednesday. Yup, it is definitely time for more clothes. Be right back...

 Ah, that's better. I even found a scarf.

Ah, there we go!
But I sure wish I had a fuzzy hat. Have to see what I can do about that.




                                                                                                                                               
Thanks to Lenovo's photo capabilities with it's cute little hats and other accessories, I have my fuzzy hat. Not a big improvement, but better than nothing.


Okay, maybe I shouldn't be complaining about the weather, but there's two ways about it--it's downright ugly today. I seriously doubt I'll get any surf-splashing this week, but I might go out into the yard and wade in the ditches. That's always good for a laugh or two. The lawn is like a sponge. Walking on it, my feet go squish, squish, squish.

We've both been busy the last couple of months since our return to Costa Rica. Bob takes almost daily trips to the corner store (about a mile from the house) on his bike. We were forced to retire the Jeep earlier this month. It cost way too much to keep it running, and when it was fixed, the "fix" usually lasted about a week. Add that to the necessity of paying for insurance and taxes and air-care (a real joke) and we realized buses, taxis and the bicycle made a whole lot more sense. Once a week or so, I take a bus to either Cahuita or Puerto Viejo and prowl the larger supermarkets (also a joke) for some of the things we can't get in the corner store. Right now, I'm longing for some clams but no one is carrying them at all, fresh or canned. Canned mussels, yes, but I really don't want "Manhattan Mussel Chowder." Somehow, it just doesn't have the same cachet. If my craving grows too strong, it may require a long, tedious bus trip to Ciudad Limón in the hope of finding some there. Note to self: Next year, add a few cans of clams to the salmon and tuna I make Bob carry in his suitcase. Hey, he's stronger than I am!


We had a toucan in the yard not long ago, and the hummingbirds are a constant source of fun and excitement. They really are mean-tempered little beasts. Recently, I watched a video about them and came away amazed at their violent nature. Gram for gram, they could out-fight Bengal tigers. Rain or shine, they hang out in our pink mimosa tree where there have to be hundreds of blossoms at any given moment, but they all insist each of those blossoms is the only one with enough nectar available so it must belong only to the strongest, noisiest  and neediest among them, which each one believes, beyond any doubt at all, is he or she.

If these little birds fascinate you as they do me, check out YouTube  for videos on hummingbirds. Unfortunately, the PBS video I watched a while back is no longer available.

When you're all done here, I hope you'll take the time to visit my other site at www.judyggill.com where you can learn more about the weird (and sometimes wonderful) life Bob and I lead in our peripatetic fashion.


Sunday, October 14, 2012


Today, October 14, 2012, The Little House in the Jungle is getting back into business after a somewhat rocky start. We're both well, and the house, which felt pretty insecure for a while, has stopped jumping at unexpected noises, though the claw-hammer still resides beside this computer.

As some family members and friends already know, The Little House endured a break-in two weeks before our return. All our electronics were stolen--those we had left behind, anyway, which were the Uninterrupted Power Supply, the ADSL modem, the wireless router, and one small netbook through which we ran the ADSL (our Internet hook-up, for those who have "real" cable running right to their houses, instead of just sneaking in on the telephone line). Also missing in action is the TV--an old thing we used for watching DVDs, and the DVD player. Oddly--and really, when you think of it, sort of amusing--the thieves didn't get my ancient printer/copier/fax/scanner, but they did manage to take the power cable that ran it. I guess, when they were in the bedrooms tossing the mattresses to see if we had cash or jewels hidden underneath, they had no clue what was wrapped up in a big plastic garbage bag on a dresser. It wasn't wrapped up to protect it from thieves, but from geckos, who love all its little recesses and nooks for laying their eggs. As in years before, prior to storing the printer this way, we both went through it with brushes and probes (chopsticks) poking and prodding and seeking out geckos and gecko eggs. We found none and gleefully stuffed it in the bag, tied a big knot in the top of the bag and put it away.  Well, guess what? When we opened it up before noticing the power cable was gone we found a fair number of cracked gecko eggshells and a few desiccated gecko babies.

Now, don't go saying "Awww..." because, trust me on this, there are more geckos in this little house than anyone could want. Yes, they eat bugs, which is nice. But they don't eat ants, which I think should be their prime purpose in life. That, however, is pooping all over my kitchen. Other places, too, of course, but it's in my kitchen I really wish I could at least litter-box train them, if not house-break them altogether.


While I'm feeling sorry for myself and angry at the violation or our personal space, worse things are going on next door. Our dear friend, Filipe Herrera, who has acted as guardian for our house during our absences for the last six years, was diagnosed with throat cancer and underwent a laryngectomy. His prognosis is good, the doctors say, and he is now learning how to use one of those breath-activated voice boxes. It was poor Filipe's absence in the hospital that left our house vulnerable to opportunistic thieves, all of whom fear him and his well-honed machete. To make things even tougher on the Herrera family, his wife, Colleen, who comes in twice a month during our time away, to sweep up the gecko poop, wash the floors and keep the place far more spiffy than I ever manage, is the one who discovered the mattresses tipped up and off the beds, the drawers all opened and emptied, the place in one major, unholy mess. That lovely woman cleaned it all up! I think, under the circumstances, with a sick husband and her own worries, she should have locked up the house again and walked away. But no. She took care of it all, even had someone come to repair the jimmied metal back door where the thieves got in. It is Costa Ricans such as Colleen and Filipe, our other near neighbors, Carlos and Veronica (the lady who makes those delicious patis Bob breakfasts on every morning) and other friends who have offered hugs and words of sympathy, of apology, of sadness, of shared anger, who make us willing to stay here in the warm for six months every year. Not all Ticos are thieves!


Besides, I love swimming in the Caribbean, as I plan to do tomorrow.

In the meantime, I've reconstructed my  waterfall, which tumbles from one clay pot to another and, when it reaches the bottom pot, is recirculated to trickle again, creating a sweet, musical sound on my patio. Since we have a screen that blocks out 70 percent of the ambient light, making the patio too dim for plants to grow well, we've provided a little light for them. The heliconia blossoms you see hanging down here, and their tall leaves in the background, along with the fans of palm, are real, in vases of water. The rest of the greenery, well, I must confess it came from Michaels. Now all I need to do is persuade the local bugs--those the geckos don't eat--that cloth and plastic are bad for them.


Today, October 14, 2012, The Little House in the Jungle is getting back into business after a somewhat rocky start. We're both well, and the house, which felt pretty insecure for a while, has stopped jumping at unexpected noises, though the claw-hammer still resides beside this computer.

As some family members and friends already know, The Little House endured a break-in two weeks before our return. All our electronics were stolen--those we had left behind, anyway, which were the Uninterrupted Power Supply, the ADSL modem, the wireless router, and one small netbook through which we ran the ADSL (our Internet hook-up, for those who have "real" cable running right to their houses, instead of just sneaking in on the telephone line). Also missing in action is the TV--an old thing we used for watching DVDs, and the DVD player. Oddly--and really, when you think of it, sort of amusing--the thieves didn't get my ancient printer/copier/fax/scanner, but they did manage to take the power cable that ran it. I guess, when they were in the bedrooms tossing the mattresses to see if we had cash or jewels hidden underneath, they had no clue what was wrapped up in a big plastic garbage bag on a dresser. It wasn't wrapped up to protect it from thieves, but from geckos, who love all its little recesses and nook for laying their eggs. As in years before, prior to storing the printer this way, we both went through it with brushes and probes (chopsticks) poking and prodding and seeking out geckos and gecko eggs. We found none and gleefully stuffed it in the bag, tied a big knot in the top of the bag and put it away.  Well, guess what? When we opened it up before noticing the power cable was gone we found a fair number of cracked gecko eggshells and a few desiccated gecko babies.

Now, don't go saying "Awww..." because, trust me on this, there are more geckos in this little house than anyone could want. Yes, they eat bugs, which is nice. But the don't eat ants, which I think should be their prime purpose in life. That, however, is pooping all over my kitchen. Other places, too, of course, but it's in my kitchen I really wish I could at least litter-box train them, if not house-break them altogether.

While I'm feeling sorry for myself and angry at the violation or our personal space, worse things are going on next door. Our dear friend, Filipe Herrera, who has acted as guardian for our house during our absences for the last six years, was diagnosed with throat cancer and underwent a laryngectomy. His prognosis is good, the doctors say, and he is now learning how to use one of those breath-activated voice boxes. It was poor Filipe's absence in the hospital that left our house vulnerable to opportunistic thieves, all of whom fear him and his well-honed machete. To make things even tougher on the Herrera family, his wife, Colleen, who comes in twice a month during our time away, to sweep up the gecko poop, wash the floors and keep the place far more spiffy than I ever manage, is the one who discovered the mattresses tipped up and off the beds, the drawers all opened and emptied, the place in one major, unholy mess. That lovely woman cleaned it all up! I think, under the circumstances, with a sick husband and her own worries, she should have locked up the house again and walked away. But no. She took care of it all, even had someone come to repair the jimmied metal back door where the thieves got in. It is Costa Ricans such as Colleen and Filipe, our other near neighbors, Carlos and Veronica (the lady who makes those delicious patis Bob breakfasts on every morning) and other friends who have offered hugs and words of sympathy, of apology, of sadness, of shared anger, who make us willing to stay here in the warm for six months every year.


Besides, I love swimming in the Caribbean, as I plan to do tomorrow.

In the meantime, I've reconstructed my  waterfall, which tumbles from one clay pot to another and, when it reaches the bottom pot is recirculated to trickle again, creating a sweet, musical sound on my patio. Since we have a screen that blocks out 70 percent of the ambient light, making the patio took dim for plants to grow well, we've provided a little light for them. The heliconia blossoms you see hanging down here, and their tall leaves in the background, along with the fans of palm, are real. The rest of the greenery, well, I must confess it came from Michaels. Now all I need to do is persuade the local bugs--those the geckos don't eat--that cloth and plastic are bad for them.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Little House in the Jungle is Back in Business (again)

Folks, we had a truly fantastic holiday season. Tara, Ata, and Andre arrived on Christmas day after a long, exhausting flight from San Francisco, with many delays and no chance for rest. Bob and I also had a lousy Christmas Eve, thanks to a mistake made by the man who owns the B&B we'd booked our room in. (For those of you not in the know, our house is a long, stressful four-hour bus trip away from the Central Valley and the airport, so we went in the day ahead and rented a car, not trusting our ancient Jeep to make the trip). Anyway, the B&B owner had rented out his "rancho" an outdoor seating & dancing area, for 12 hours--from noon to midnight, for a party--he thought. Turned out it was from midnight to noon on Christmas Day, and it was a rave, complete with yowling drunks, boom-boom-BOOM-boom bass, and other such disturbances. He didn't charge us for the night, which was pretty decent of him.

The next day, we got to the airport in plenty of time to meet our kids' flight--only to find it had been delayed by a few hours. When it finally did arrive, the airline had lost one of their pieces of luggage--the most important one, of course, with fresh clothing and meds. Hence, two stressed out parents, a really laid-back baby, along with two tired grandparents spent a night in a hotel very near the airport where all slept quite well. I was too tired and not hungry enough to join the others when they went out for dinner. My Christmas dinner consited of cheese, crackers and wine accompanied by a good book. Can't think of a better one.

The day after Christmas,after the lost luggage finally turned up, we came home. Andre--what a great little trouper he is--slept part of the way and when awake, watched eagerly for horses. We had vegetable beef soup for dinner, since that was the quickest thing to thaw.

For Tara's birthday, Dec. 27, we went to an animal rehabilitation center where Tara had her heart's desire fulfilled--she got to hold a baby monkey. It loved her hair and grabbed a fistful, probably thinking it would find a mama monkey in there somewhere. That night, we finally got our planned "good" Christmas dinner, a lovely roast of pork loin marinated and cooked on the rotisserie, accompanied by all the usual stuff and followed up by sweet, yummy platanos (plantains, slowly cooked in butter), bad for us, but oh, so delicious.

Sometime during this period, Tara and Ata went on a zip-line tour, which Ata loved and Tara sort-of enjoyed, despite screaming a lot, or so it's reported. Granny and Grandpa sensibly stayed home with Andre, who loves to watch horse-shows--jumping and/or racing--on the computer, or the iPhone, or iPad. He's also fascinated by basketball (brought his own ball and hoop) and tennis, though since BB, tennis has begun to take a back seat.

This trip was Andre's introduction to surf. He wasn't very sure of it at first, but after his mama carried him out till it splashed her knees, and his sneaky granny splashed his feet, he began to relax, uncurl his toes, then his knees, then to laugh, then to beg for more until hypothermia became a real concern.

Tara, Ata and Andre went horseback riding on the beach, while Granny stayed home and tried to get caught up on some reading for work. Later, we went back to Cahuita, introduced the rest of our family to the owners of Kelly Creek Hotel--Shannon, Alan, Meghan and Sean had met them a number of years ago--then went to Black Beach for more swimming.

Ten days goes much too guickly when there's a lot of fun and a not-quite-two-year-old on hand. On New Years day, we drove back to our B&B in the hills near Alejuela (Ah-la-WHAY-lah), a beautiful place with a roaring waterfall, and lovely grounds filled with interesting plants and flowers, as well as perfectly bilingual little kids with brand new bikes, who were delighted to show off their riding skills.

We spent two nights there, the first with a picnic supper, having had a late and filling lunch after visiting the spectacular Zoo Ave (Ah-vay), where not only aves (birds) are rehabilitated, but many animals as well. Tara took lots of great photos, so you'll need to check out her FaceBook page for some of them. I stupidly left my camera in the trunk of the car.

And wouldn't you know it, Laurie Burns? We went to Ceviche del Rey in Alajuela for dinner, checked the menu first thing, saw Chocolate Mousse proudly listed, asked the waiter and he sadly shook his head. "No, we don't have that." We asked why all the C-d-Reys have it on the menu, but never on hand and he shrugged. Pura Vida. (I had flan).

The next day, we got the family to the airport, turned in our rental car, and because by then it was too late to catch a bus home, spent a night in San Jose in a very nice little boutique hotel not far from the bus terminal. It's one we'll visit again, I'm sure.