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Costa Rica

2005 - 2006

 

March 2006

Costa Rica in March

 

February 2006

Costa Rica in February

 

January 2006

Costa Rica in January

 

December 2005

Costa Rica

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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March 2006


We found some newly painted walls in our casa. Also lots of cock ups .. no sheets on the 2 guest beds, a blender that can’t make margaritas, an open box of milk and a broken cap on a honey bottle so ants got in. Good news was a lovely air conditioner in the master bedroom. Larry suggested we give that room to Donny and he and Mary really appreciated it over the two weeks they stayed. Mary arrived late Friday and almost didn’t get on the last Sansa flight to Quepos. She needed LOTS of margaritas to calm her down.

We went to the beach, saw monkeys (except Mary didn’t), ate pizza, enjoyed Happy Hours, dined at Rancho Leon and had lots of fun with the Tighes and Pillers when they showed up. We got their call on Walkie Talkies and met up with them at Manuel Antonio Park while they were still on their Caravan Costa Rica tour, which they loved. Two days later they called again and we met at Bahia Azul. Carl was really sick of beans and rice and wanted pizza, but was happy with a big juicy burger at Gran Escape. Later we taxied out and enjoyed their lovely pools at Hotel Parador and had drinks and lots of laughs in their room. The next day we went again, played at Playa Vizan awhile and saw an active sloth close up, then back to the pools and poolside lunch. That night we had champagne and more in the room and shared youthful reminiscences. We laughed so hard!!

When Mary and Donny left to return home to snowy Wisconsin, Tighes and Pillers moved in with us. They had a nice big Caravan rental so we went to Estrillos Beach and Rancho Leon one day and Manuel Antonio the next. We toured a beautiful new condo building and all felt we could be comfortable in the $500k - $125k homes for sale, though we could really only afford the $500 monthly maintenance fee.

When they left we got ready for Heidi’s arrival, then took a bus to Monteverde in the north central part of the country. Hildy Feen, a friend from SPC days was on tour with a docent group from Olbrich Gardens in Madison. Other SPC friends Russ Kumai and Carol Cameron have a home in Monteverde and have lived there 5 months a year for 5 seasons. I remember when they made their first trek here to participate in bird counting back in 1991 or so. We had a nice visit with all, enjoyed a bopping salsa concert, saw an emerald toucan, enjoyed the Hummingbird Gallery at the Monteverde Refuge and had lots of good food, especially the pizza, at the Hotel El Bosque where we and Hildy’s group stayed. Lucky the food was good because the hotel was pretty far from other choices, except for Stella’s Bakery across the road. It was brrrr cold up there and we only had our beach clothes along. We looked like loons with all the tourists in bird watching attire.

We returned on Sunday night and Heidi, Jaime and Natanya arrived Monday late afternoon. We went out to the airport to meet them. Usually there are taxis available, but not this time. I got the number and called for a taxi, but none available. I called our caretaker Wilberth and he sent out his cunado (brother-in-law) and we were delighted to see him. Jaime is still very bashful and clung to mommy a lot. But Pop-Pop and Grandma got a few invites to play with her.

We had a busy yet restful week with something fun each day. We started out going to Manuel Antonio Park and had fun in the water and watching monkeys and sloths and iguanas. We were restored by the good pizza at Iguana Jacks. We booked a Mangrove Tour with a guy in Manuel Antonio and did that the next morning. He isn’t the naturalist DeeDee and I enjoyed on our tour in December, but we did see 2 kinds of anteaters, some bats and a tiger crab. There were no monkeys and a guy on shore said he’s done the tour 100 times and only missed monkeys 6 times. The monkeys seem to be on a different schedule this month. We don’t see them much in Manuel Antonio in the evening either.

They dropped us at Rancho Leon for lunch. We had pina coladas in big pineapples and ate our way thru the fruit later. Jaime played with a cute puppy, ground some grains in a grinder and rested in the hammock. She had one or two meltdowns a day and that day the taxi driver had to endure the racket. The doctor I saw in February came to the restaurant and recognized me with a hug asking how I am now. We were impressed.

We got a slow start the next day and went on a Butterfly Tour at a Nature Reserve in the afternoon. Butterflys are more active in the morning so we didn’t see so many kinds, but we had an interesting time. We could go back to the butterfly place for a week but didn’t get there. We walked down to El Avion, the restaurant built around the plane shot down in Nicaragua during the Regan administration for sunset and Natanya bought us all a great dinner. Earlier I needed eggs for pancakes and the girls went off to the nearby Abastecedor El Pacifico for them. They didn’t return forever .. so I went looking for them. Senor Jerardo was had no eggs and told me he is closing the shop .. taking a vacation .. health reasons. Our landlord Gene say Jerardo sold a farm south of here and will use the money to build cabins. I will miss him so .. as will the neighborhood.

Natanya and Heidi wanted to try a canopy tour, so we signed up at a newish one near the airport. There were 2 small busloads of us. Guides got us all harnessed up and instructed us at the first stand. Twelve people took off on the first cable, then a Quebec lady grabbed the cable too hard and braked too much and got stuck midway. When the guide went out to help her, the wire holding the cable taut gave way and the two plummeted into the tree tops. Panic city. The first run is an easy practice run, so it is short and not too high off the ground. Eventually other guides walked in and pulled them back to Start with ropes. The lady was shaken and a few bruises, but laughing and not injured. We could quit or join the others midway. Natanya bailed but Heidi wanted to try, so I did too.

They walked us all over to the midpoint, just a short way away. Some to wait for the van to arrive to take them back to the Hotel, the rest of us to wait for the others to finish the first half of the course. When Heidi saw the run .. the second longest at 350’ and couldn’t see the other end and could see how far down the ground was, she also bailed. I did the course and it was fun. We all had an adventure and it only cost $28 instead of $165.

That night we all went for a flashlight night tour at the Nature Reserve. I’d gone earlier and saw lots of gladiator and bullfrogs, kinkajous, a glass frog and a green tree frog. This night we saw frogs and a sleeping sloth. Special sightings were click beetles (fireflys) and the Fitzinger Rain Frog. Our guide was Brian, so Jaime chattered on about how Brian had the same name as her Daddy. She even squealed with delight when a frog jumped on her head. We had 2 boys, Lorenzo and Dante, from New York on the tour and they were very vocal and enthusiastic and knowledgeable. It gave Jaime great courage. Dinner was at Rico Tico’s at Hotel Si Como No across the street. We got 5 passes for a movie at the Hotel which we may use.

Saturday Natanya and Heidi shopped for great gifts to take home. We went to our favorite local soda for breakfast and landlord Gene and caretaker Wilberth were there and did our ordering. Gene regaled us with his stories. Jaime had a melt down after breakfast, so Pop-Pop offered to take her home to rest. We were afraid he might get arrested carrying off the screaming child, but he was safe. We hit all the shops and the farmers market. Lots of coffee and vanilla and kids clothes and toys and postcards got packed to replace the clothes they planned to leave behind. Heidi also found room for the many toys and shoes we had for Jaime. Later we walked down to Bahia Azul and enjoyed dinner and the sunset. Jaime was particularly happy and animated all evening, so we have lots of beautiful pictures and videos. There was a carnival in town for the night so we all enjoyed watching Jaime ride the merry-go-rounds. We got 3 tickets, then 4 more. The ticket line was really long by the time she had 7 rides and it was time to go. Another meltdown all the way home. She just wanted ONE more .. pleeeeease mommyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy ….

Sunday .. our last day .. we went to the beach in Manuel Antonio. We rented a canopy and 4 lounge chairs. The tide was high and the sky cloudy. Natanya lost her sunglasses to the surf and we all had to hang on to our hats and glasses, finally leaving them with our stuff. We all got rosy and packed with sand. Natanya bought 2 rounds of snow cones and Jaime just loved her bubblegum blue ice. Natanya and Heidi did one last round of shopping and bought sarongs and wooden frogs. Heidi bought us dinner was at La Cantina and it was yummy.

A big plate of breakfast burritos, last minute packing and we sent the girls off to the airport in a pirate taxi. Larry and I followed on bikes and we had a last few minutes together before the Sansa plane arrived and was ready for them to board. Hugs all around and off they went and got home safely without incident.

We have another month here, then on to Washington for DeeDee’s birthday and to look at RVs. May we’ll be buying and trying. Heidi, Jaime and Emily are coming to Seattle for a week in June, then we’ll be heading toward Wisconsin for Donny’s 70th birthday bash in August and Jaime’s 4th birthday and Dr’s appointments. Meanwhile the wet season is approaching and we’ve had rain 4 times with the skies really opening up tonight and more power outages.

I won’t be posting monthly logs and pics anymore and not much of anything until later in the year .. except some cutie pie granddaughter pics and some RV updates. So check now and then and maybe there’ll be something new. People in Wisconsin .. we’ll be seeing you in September. Can’t wait to catch up with you.

 

February 2006

 

Well .. what did we do this month? We made another visit to Manuel Antonio Park mainly to walk the trails and see more animals. You can take a tour with a naturalist for $20 each and see heaps .. or you can lag behind and later look where they looked and see what’s to see. A lady I spoke with from California took a tour and said you’d swear they put slides on the telescopes they use with the visitors .. they see so much good stuff you’d never spot yourself. We didn’t see any howler monkeys this time, but we did manage to convince ourselves that those dark spots wayyyyyy up there were sloths. The camera saw them better. One even had a baby with it, and good binoculars did show it. We saw more cute monkeys, 2 coatis, a deer. We found ourselves sharing our finds with two women bikers from Holland and later we had beers and dinner with them to get all their biking stories on Costa Rica, Cuba, China and Vietnam. They have our admiration. Another highlight of the day was at a rest stop for us in the park. We hiked to a beach and were resting on a log with a bottle of ice water and big hard German pretzels when a good sized iguana / lizard spotted Larry’s pretzel and wanted him to share. Lots of us watched him hurry over and grab a bite. Larry needed a change of underwear after that one.

We took the local San Jose bus to Carara National Park for the day. The park has lots of scarlet macaw parrots, but we only saw them from way afar. We heard a howler monkey, saw capuchin monkeys that seemed to like to throw sticks at the tourists, and saw and heard a few toucans, again way up high. The park is in a transition zone between rain and dry forests and contains five different life zones. There were talll trees similar to those in Australia, lots of butterflys and leaf cutter ants that work in large armies filing to and fro on a well-worn path carrying bits of leaf to their nest. We must look up what they do it for.

We hiked all the trails and had a good day for $6 for the bus and $14 park entrance fee total for both us us. We avoided the local tour for $90 each, which may have included breakfast but had you back in Quepos by noon. Our cheaper day went from 8:00am til 6:00pm. With a 2+ hour bus ride each way. We have frequent power outages here in Quepos, but that night was Valentine’s Day and the power was off and on all night. We dined by candlelight in the Italian restaurant and didn’t have hot water in the shower til 11pm. Someone climbed a nasty hill to our balcony and stole Larry’s AM/FM/SW radio and 2 beach towels that night. Wahhhh ..

Ron and Ann Jordan and Mike ‘Cookie’ McDonald from Maine stuffed us into their rental car with them on their last night and we did some bar hopping up at some of the spots between here and Manuel Antonio. We had a few sunset drinks at El Avion, a beautiful hilltop two story open-air restaurant with great ocean views, built around a plane shot down in Nicaragua during the Reagan years when our country was selling arms to Iran for exorbitant prices and using the money to support a group attempting to overthrow the legitimate government of Nicaragua. Eugene Hasenfus from the Marinette area parachuted to safety and capture from the plane. Later we had pricey beer at the Bat Cave in the Mansion Inn and tried for a drink at The Parador, but after many consultations the guards said maybe tomorrow night we could get in. The Mainers returned to cold and snow and a big storm. Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr …

The National Election three days of prohibition were observed quietly. Most bars were closed and a government seal was put over the doors. By Monday most looked broken, though the bars were still closed. We only got the Super Bowl on a Mexican Fox network and didn’t see the great ads. We’ve never watched the Super Bowl but always hear about the ads and decided to give it a try this year. Wrong year bucko. Those that paid $30 a head to go to bar / restaurant parties and get some booze and buffet watched this same lame channel. We found election headquarters at the local school. There were booths and banners and hoopla for each candidate outside the school. The two top contenders were Arias who was president and the 90’s and who supports the free trade agreement CAFTA with the US, and Solis who wants a new agreement. If no candidate gets 40% of the vote, there is a runoff election in March. Arias was predicted to win big, but both Arias and Solis eked out just over 40% so there is not another election but there will be endless recounts and squabbling.

We went to the local weekend farmer’s market a lot. Banners advertised Fiesta Quepos and we were curious to see what that would be and where. We couldn’t see any evidence of a fiesta, though there were lots of horses one afternoon. Finally Gloriella our caretaker said it is in Paqeta, out 4 miles near Rancho Leon where DD and I went after the Mangrove Tour and where Larry and I saw the clown at the birthday party. It must be something you are born knowing .. there was no evidence of details that we saw. Gloriella said there are good concerts. We got a glimpse of it from the bus to Carara and there were quite a few rides and a food stand but we decided to give it a miss.

We have a new dog across the road below and when he barks and jumps around a lot for no reason, we now see the lovely bright green lizard or the big green and red iguana on his roof. There was a prisoner escape at the OIJ next door to the dog one day. Suddenly a little guy did a runner and one by one six wardens ran after him. One guy followed in a pickup. It wasn’t a few minutes and the pickup returned. A warden guy opened the door and he pulled or the other pushed and the runaway fell PLOP to the ground like a bag of cement. Then the warden kicked the guy 5 or 6 times and they yanked him back inside and lots of yelling followed. Hmmmmmmm …

We were pretty excited about our trip to San Andres, Columbia. We got a 9:30 flight from the little airport here and caught the 1:00 to San Andres. It was a wonderful holiday. The island is a coral reef and there’s a long straight reef about a mile out all along the coast .. at least the side we saw. The water is the beautiful Caribbean green and there’s a constant white froth out there as water rushes over that reef. The Aquarium is a connection of 15 3-story towers built right over the ocean .. all joined by bridges and walkways. You are constantly seeing the ocean and being cooled by a nice breeze. The food was mostly good and we stuffed all the food and drink we could fit into a day. We visited the other 4 resorts for lunch and were really happy with the Aquarium recommendation. It is a very closed compound and we didn’t get the jewelry peddlers and hair braiders until we stepped out of it and any street noise was buffered by communal buildings. We could walk a few blocks to the many stores selling electronics to tourist trash and to 2 of the resorts as well. Marazul is the prettiest and newest and also a protected enclave but no place to walk to and the free shuttles run only every 3+ hours. It is very relaxing and wonderful on the beach or pier, but the rooms themselves are set back and not as water or breeze accessible. The nightly entertainment is mostly a way to involve the guests in shenanigans. International contests for guests from Argentina, Peru, Costa Rica, Panama, Mexico and Canada. They never call for people from the US because there are none .. almost. They really cater to the Canadians. Everyone we talked with was from the Toronto area. All come via www.Sunquest.com. Outside the resorts, the island is a bit shabby with the usual contingent of rundown buildings and 3 or 4 riders to a motorcycle. Lots of visitors rent a golf cart to tour the island. We will go there again some year.

We met Mary and Don at the San Jose airport the day after we returned .. well Don anyway. Mary discovered the day before that her passport expired 4 months ago, so she stayed back to get a fast update from Chicago and will arrive March 3. She’s Ms. Organized she says .. well she says mis-organized. It is a shame .. she’s been planning this trip since Christmas. We 3 located our shuttle and made it back to Quepos at dusk, stopping only for a market and to see the crocodiles at the Tarcoles Bridge. The macaws from the Carara Park are said to fly along the river at dusk, flying from the reserve’s tropical forest to the mangroves at the mouth of the river, but we must have been a bit early. Maybe just a bit .. the crocodiles seemed to be lined up near the bridge, along one bank, and all facing the direction the parrots would fly from.

January 2006

 

We had a pretty fun month. New Years was pretty quiet despite the many pockets of fireworks throughout the town. A big downpour dampened a few plans early in the evening but later it was lovely. We were waiting to see if there would be a big fireworks display near the water, as a Quepolandia magazine said there usually is but the sponsor backed out this year. They were sure someone would step up for it, but it didn’t appear to be the case.

It didn’t feel quite so hot this month and the humidity dropped some. The rains stopped finally too so we started going out more at night. But as I write this we are enjoying an all afternoon rain that feels so cool. Luckily we went to the beach yesterday and planned to stay home today.

We try to bus to Manuel Antonio beach twice a week and stay for Happy Hour, sunset and dinner somewhere. The other days we read and practice music and such til late afternoon when we take our chairs down to the waterfront for sunset, then to Quepos Internet and out for dinner. We are trying more of the little Tico places where we struggle with the menus and communicating with the staff. Lots of beans, rice, salad, fried plantain with carne / beef or pollo / chicken or pescado / fish or chuleta / pork. There are quite a few Internet places here in Quepos, one slower than the next. But Carlos at Quepos Internet just got a new line and now all of his computers are fast. It is delightful. And he still charges just $2 / 1000 colones per hour.

We also started biking everywhere except when we catch the bus to Manuel Antonio. We go out to the airport and watch the small planes come in. It’s a great Sunday afternoon event for the Ticos too. One day we stood on a hill across the road from the runway as a plane approached noisily. Suddenly a big iguana tore out of the bush just behind us and beat ass across the street toward the plane. It was a shocker and a wonder that it would run toward the noise instead of hurrying away from it.

Another day after the Farmers Market we rode north and made it to Restaurant Rancho Leon where Deirdre and I had lunch following our Mangrove Tour. It is a pretty little open bar and restaurant. I’d noticed bunches of bananas hanging from the eaves the last time and now birds were nibbling at them. I asked the barmaid if the bananas were there for the birds. She said No .. they’re plantain we use in the kitchen. Ohhhhhhhh …. They look just like bunches of big green bananas, but maybe the stalk is huskier. There was a birthday party in progress with quite a number of small children and a fair number of adults. A clown arrived and spent a long time entertaining the kids with balloon animals and lots of chatter and laughing that we didn’t get at all. Just before we left, the bar guy made a pina colada for a customer. He served the fruity icy mixture in a small pineapple from which he had scooped the fruit for the drink, with a straw through the lid. He gave us a taste and it was delicious. We’ll be back.

We noticed a field of teak trees as we headed for that bad bridge I wrote about in December. I learned from a friendly American woman at the custom-made swimsuit store that the locals call this the ‘Oh Shit! Bridge’. We biked over it on our way out, but as traffic was heavy in both directions when we returned, we took the footpath, such as it is. We finished the day at our favorite sunset pub Bahia Azul. It is the only (decent) public place on the water and a great way to watch the day end.

Rod and Ann Jordan from Maine are our new neighbors and we enjoy cocktails with them. We met Rod one day and loaned them all our Quepos magazines and Tico Times and such. We had drinks soon after and the next day we saw them in Manuel Antonio having dinner at the Marlin and we waved from the bus. We headed to Barba Roja for sunset and dinner, along the hilly winding road between Manuel Antonio and Quepos. Low and behold they stopped in there too in their rental car. We joined them after dinner and we all managed to put away quite a few more, after which they drove us home.

The next day they took us with them to a little Tico beach with snorkeling that we planned to walk to some day soon. It is down a road from a bus stop along the route to Manuel Antonio. Lots of homes and hotels are on this road, including Hotel Parador where Tighes and Pillars will spend a few glorious nights in March. Well .. were we happy to be in that car. We never would have figured out where the trail to the beach was if we even would have made it so far. We did see a few fish but it wasn’t like Hawaii.

We booked our trip to San Andres Island, Columbia. Check www.decameron.com to see where we’ll vacation. Decameron has 5 resorts there, 3 at one price, 2 a bit higher. The Lynch Travel guy recommended the Aquarium Hotel and there were lots of great reviews of it on the web, so we are going for 7 days. All meals, snacks, alcohol drinks, cigarettes, snorkeling gear, pools, beach chairs, nightly shows, discos, taxes, tips, etc. are included as is the flight from San Jose and land transport on San Andres. Bob and Marsha Steffen from Madison hoped to join us there but Marsha can’t get off work at that time. We are looking forward to the luxury of it.

We booked it for Feb 20 – 27, then found out we can’t get back to Quepos that night. So we’ll spend the night in San Jose, meet my brother-in-law Donny and his partner Mary the next day and we’ll all come back in a small shuttle bus. It will be fun. They can see the crocodiles and all. They stay for 2 weeks. During that time Carl and Mary (Zmeskal) Tighe and Joe and Sarah (Schmitz) Pillar will take a 10 day tour of Costa Rica ending with their 2 day stay at Hotel Parador, then will slum it with us for ONLY 2 days more. We will celebrate my 60th, Joe’s birthday and St. Patrick’s Day together. We did the same in Hawaii together 2 years ago for Joe’s 60th. We want them to stay longer and I know they will hate to leave. A few days later Heidi and Jaime and Heidi’s friend Natanya come for a week. Oh it will be fun!! Jaime knows all about Howler monkeys and more and it will be so fun watching her see them in the wild. Daddy will stay home with Emily and the dogs.

We continue to enjoy our casa. There is always something to watch .. the vultures and kites soaring, butterflies, the pretty birds close on the wires, the iguanas on our roof and next door on Casa Warilla. Ann feeds theirs star fruit and it loves it. We’ll try that and maybe bananas too. Just watching the frenzied rate that the banana trees grow is a wonder. Larry has discovered a lovely green iguana in our tree the last few days. He first noticed a leaf moving a lot when there was no breeze about .. and it was the iguana eating. The next time he was looking at a branch where he might put a banana. He moved a few leaves and there was the iguana looking at him eye to eye. He is just impossible to spot, even when you know it is there. Amazing.

There’s been a banner up about some event in Quepos January 28, no time given. We went down early for sunset hoping to catch the action on the big stage they put up. Minutes from sunset a nice parade came by and lots of Ticos watched. Later there were steak and tortilla sandwiches for $1 / 500 colones. Yum. The event started with a long DJ noisy warmup. At 8:00 the stage came alive. This was the Quepos Festival to select Senorita Quepos. It was a Miss Quepos beauty contest. Ten young buxom chicas strutted their bikini clad stuff and said a few words. Between struts there was dancing. We didn’t stay long and don’t know if the girls had to display any other talents.

Next Sunday is Super Bowl Sunday .. and it is a national election day for Costa Rica. There is a law from the 1950s that prohibits any sale of alcohol the day before, of and after an election. So bars that normally profit from the Super Bowl may close or at least will lose money that day. A few places are having a ‘party’ and you can reserve a spot for $30 and some alcohol will be included. We have a good stockpile always and don’t care a bit about football, so we won’t suffer.

We did hear from Donny that my ex-sister Mary died in Florida early in the month, age 65. Her new husband didn’t give any details. She had a stomach problem. She also had a drinking problem, as he does. She divorced all family and friends 5 years ago. Sad that there’s no sadness. But I will miss her. She was always a role model .. for how NOT to live your life.

December 2005


We had a long and uneventful trip from Ireland to Costa Rica. Flights were full, Continental served good food but no free wine, customs and immigration were a breeze. The food was so good that we weren’t even hungry when we spent hours in Newark and all the good hamburgers and pizza and stuff was available that we’ve missed for 15 months. We got to San Jose and a bus was waiting to take us to the Best Western Irazu we’d booked for the night. There was an open air bar and good salsa music, but we just hit the sheets.

We had a breakfast coupon for Denny’s the next morning. Denny’s was attached to the hotel. We retrieved our bags from storage and left on the Interbus just after 8a.m. We were the only passengers in the 8 passenger bus all the way to Quepos. The friendly driver spoke Spanglish (he said) and pointed out teak trees, rice fields, coffee fields and palm oil trees and the processing plant. We had a rest break mid-way .. a bus transfer point. There were 2 little stores / sodas and we had a Coke and some fruit and cashews.

The roads were wonderful outside of San Jose and varied thereafter. The route was windy thru mountains .. up up down down around curves. The driving seemed very reasonable .. reasonable speeds, patient waiting for large trucks and pulling over when needed. Sometimes there would be painted lines but mostly not. Occasionally the road would be like a washboard over areas that are washed out by rains. Our driver told us the name of each town we passed thru so we could follow on the map he’d given us. He stopped at the Tarcoles Bridge where we could get out and observe the 25 or so crocodiles visible from the bridge. We saw the entrance to Carara Biological Reserve we hope to visit one day and see lots of Scarlet Macaws, huge multi-colored parrots. He stopped to let us get a glimpse of Jaco and Playa Hermosa, a popular tourist city and a surfing beach we’d read about.

Towns were small and homes humble. We are happy we chose a nice casa in Quepos. We had a long wait as workers did some bridge maintenance a short way from Quepos. All the traffic from the other side was allowed through before we could continue. We noticed that buses and big trucks went very slowly over the bridge. When we got to go over, neither Larry nor I saw much wood covering the very narrow bridge on either side. Yipes!!

We hoped the bus driver might take us right to our casa but the bridge delay made him already late for his return passengers. So we got out and I asked a hotel lady to call a taxi for us. Shortly a small beater blue car pulled up and the guy managed to get all our luggage and us in and he quickly got us to our casa. The caretaker was there with our keys and soon we were all settled in and ready to see the town.

Our house is pretty nice .. attached to another rental Casa Warilla and the caretakers have a narrow home along the back. We are on a crowded little road but we spend all of our time on the porch that is totally private and overlooks a road below. The OIJ Office of Investigative Justice building is below and across the street so we like to watch the paddy wagon bring in the derelicts. The floors are all green tile, rooms are huge, one big bath and one tiny one, 2 TVs with cable, lots of ceiling fans, and the great porch convenient to the kitchen and the guest bedroom. We have 3 gas burners, no oven, a tiny toaster oven and a ¾ size fridge. The only hot water is in the shower and there’s no need for any adjustment there .. just on and off. The DVD player won’t play our many CDs from Ireland. Wahhhhhhhhhhhh …

Walking downtown is a hoot. Roads are bad with big holes and often there’s a drain area between the road and sidewalk you must leap over. There are lots of variety stores where we are buying lots to make our casa more comfortable: hand towels, storage containers, soup spoons, speakers for our MP3 players, shakers for spices that only come in bags, beach towels and chairs. There are lots of little Tico sodas / restaurants and plenty of nicer bars and restaurants and a variety of grocery stores. It was hard at first finding things we could turn into a meal, but we’ve figured it out. There’s a nice Farmer’s Market Friday night and Saturday. For Christmas I found some lovely olive and onion breads and some cinnamon rolls from an Amish lady. Lots of avocadoes, tomatoes, citrus, papaya, veg. There’s often an old Victor Allen’s coffee truck around that makes us lonesome for Madison. Coffee is cheap and wonderful. So is vanilla so we combine the two. Good coffee liquers too and rums. Beer is pretty lame though cheap. Total fixin’s for guacamole and salsa and chips. Stores don’t close for siesta .. in one country that could really use one. There are lots of ATMs. We can only withdraw 100,000 colones each time .. about $200.

There are iguanas and lizards about. Two iguanas regularly sun themselves on the OIJ roof. Larry spotted a big bright green lizard on a roof opposite. We see iguanas scoot under our eave and Casa Warilla occasionally. One day a beauty tottled down the small tree in our yard and stayed awhile at a safe distance. It had a green body with red head and black and yellow stripey tail, about 3 feet long totally. Haven’t seen him since nor another like him. Another day a tail-less iguana plopped onto the porch. It tried to climb a teak pole and couldn’t. He managed to get up and over a chain link fence, then couldn’t climb a tree on the other side. I asked Diego, our nature guy on the Mangrove tour, about it. He said they can release their tail to a predator if caught and can regrow the tail only a few times as it takes a lot of energy. This iguana looked like it had used up its energy. We mostly see and hear tiny lizards at night. Larry found one trapped in the sink on Day 1 and one was in our clothes cupboard once.

The Quepos beach isn’t so nice but we take a bus 4 miles to Manuel Antonio which has a lovely beach with lots of stands selling beautiful sarongs and towels and jewelry and pottery. Also a variety of restaurants and beach chairs to rent. The bus trip costs about 26 cents each way. The day really wipes us out. It is very hot and humid.

There is also a national park at Manuel Antonio. At high tide you take a small boat across to the entrance for $1 / 500 colones. Park entrance is $7 for non-residents, $2 / 1000 colones for residents with papers. The park is less crowded than the Manuel Antonio beach, has several beaches, lots of iguanas, howler and capuchin monkeys, raccoons and coatis. It has some snorkeling but not great and so far there has been a lot of rain so the water is murky.

Deirdre arrived December 17 and stayed 12 days. We had fun but the heat killed her. Her back was hurting so the walk downtown and back wasn’t good either. She enjoyed the beach and the park. She wanted to do a Mangrove Tour, so she and I took one. We got picked up and taken to the boat launch place. They wanted us to see crocodiles, but none that day. We saw lots of seabirds and learned lots about black and white mangroves, fungus that grows on them, and termite nests. We got a close and personal glimpse of 2 small harmless boa constrictors and at a troupe of capuchin monkeys who came really close to us. We signed up for lunch so they took us to a little outdoor bar / restaurant nearby. We had fish and chicken cassadas with grilled fish / chicken, rice, black beans, potato goop, coleslaw and fried plantain served on a wood board covered with the leaf they use to make tamales. The boat ‘captain’ took us there, waited while we ate, then the tour place guy where we booked the tour picked us up and took us home. Very personal service. The other people on the boat came from a hotel and didn’t have the lunch option.

Deirdre brought a fondue pot along and we had fondue Christmas eve, as we often used to in the olden days. We cooked meatballs stuffed with olives and cheese, marinated steak, and shrimp and veg dipped in tempura. Very fun. The sterno didn’t work too hot so we put the pot on the stove and took turns cooking up a batch. This worked better than expected. Deirdre had the idea that we could then use the fondue pot to make popcorn and it works swell. What a thinker!!

Dcember 8 is a big holyday in this most Catholic country. They set up several food booths and a performing stand for the week and had big partying the nights we walked by, with dance performances. There were great fireworks December 7 evening that we enjoyed from our porch. Also lots of small fireworks and noisy firecrackers for Christmas.

We have a few people booked to visit in February – March. We must leave the country for 72 hours by the end of February as we can only stay 90 days at a time. The travel agency is suggesting a trip to San Andres Island, a small Columbian island off the east coast of Costa Rica. An all inclusive 3 days at a resort with all meals, airfare from San Jose and taxi to the resort is going for just under $300 each. Other options are Panama and Antigua, Guatemala. We should visit the Panama Canal, but it will be too dam#ed hot to do the tourist thing.

So .. so far it is pretty nice, though insufferably hot and humid. Ants on the porch but not many in the house. Something we never see bites starting at sunset. If you can leave the bites alone they are gone by morning, unlike midgie bites. Avon Skin-so-soft is helping if you get it on in time. It took me a week to adjust, Larry still has not adjusted totally. He doesn’t think we’ll last til May.

 

The day before Deirdre left there was a 5.1 earth quake that she felt but we were in the house and didn't feel, but we heard all the Tica people below yelling as it happened.