Saturday, May 27, 2006
Happy Birthday to Me!
Friday, May 26, 2006
Back to the vet this morning. Kevin skipped school so that he could assist, and Catie decided she needed to watch the operation too. I figured watching the operation would be more instructional than any science class that might have today, so I agreed. Kev sat right next to the operating table, and Catie alternated between inside and out. I sat outside and read the newspaper. Dr. Villalobos called me in to talk to me halfway through. Jo didn't have a hernia; he had a pretty good size tumor, which he had just removed. In Catie's words, it looked like a mushed worm and was disgusting. He was pretty sure that he got it all, and then proceeded to sew up the cut. Catie announced that she didn't think she wanted to be a vet after all.
Cate and Kev went back to school after the operation. Kev was very happy that he hadn't missed his marble party (his teacher puts a marble in a jar every day if the class had been good, and when they accumulate enough marbles they have a party). Cate was happy that she hadn't missed her Reading Buddy from 6th grade who comes every Friday. I was happy to have some time to myself! I stopped and returned the videos which didn't work (most of the time the DVD's from the rental store don't work they are so badly scratched), mailed IKE'S cigars, bought dog food for Dona Marta, bought bread and pastry at the bakery and then went home for a cup of tea.
Jim is returning from San Jose today with the Jeep. He had to get a new battery and new tires, and have a new key made. I hope the rain holds off until he gets up here.
Thursday, May 25, 2006
The day before yesterday I was sitting upstairs when I hear a flock of birds making a lot of noise. They sounded like toucanettes. It sounded like they were on top of the roof, so I went outside to take a picture. When I got outside, I realized that the sound was coming from the front of the house, where the garden is terraced with a wild mixture of coffee plants, banana trees, and all kinds of flowering shrubs and trees. Try as I might, I could not actually SEE the birds, which was very frustrating because they were very loud and very near.
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Here's a picture of the cricket that Jo befriended the other day. I finally put the cricket in the garden so Jo wouldn't hurt him. In addition to bugs getting into the house, birds fly in. Yesterday a hummingbird flew upstairs and was banging against the skylights in a futile effort to get out. Kev managed to capture it in his hands (no easy feat - it was fast!) and when he released it out the window it looked like a magician's trick. I got a picture of it when it was resting on the windowsill.
Kev is STILL sick. He had another fever last night, and was up half the night coughing. This morning he feels better, so he's reading and doing his homework to keep up. We're also reading new book: Prince Caspian from the Chronicles of Narnia. It doesn't help that the weather for the past few days has been cloudy and rainy; the house feels damp and cold. It's chicken soup weather, so I think I'll make that for dinner!
If you also read my son Angelo's blog http://jetapplicant.blogspot.com you will know why I am inserting this link:
Saipan is actually a lovely tropical island, and you can read all about it on Angelo's blog.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Getting Back to Normal
Our mission today is to mail Tiana her party dresses! I'll go to Chunches to buy some brown paper bags that I can use to cut up and wrap the box. I figure if Angelo's coffee made it to Saipan that I'll entrust the mail system with T's dresses. I'll also buy some cigars today to send to Angelo.
Monday, May 22, 2006
Wake Up Calls
Sunday, May 21, 2006
The trip to Granada was wonderful, and we all had a great time. It took us a little longer than we planned to get into Nicaragua, as we didn't know that we needed permission to take our car out of the country. We drove all the way to the border at Penas Blancas (about a 4 hour drive from Monteverde) and were told we needed a special form from the Registro in Liberia. So we drove the 1.5 hours back to Liberia and got the form we needed, and then turned around and drove back to the border. The border is little frantic; there are lots of guys hanging around working for tips to show the newcomers what they need to do to cross the border, as well as coyotesI exchanging colones and colones waving huge wads of bills in your face. ("No gracias, no gracias, NO GRACIAS!") As this was our second time at the frontera in one day we knew what to do and it was then a simple matter to cross the border: La Aduana (Customs) signed off on the Permiso and we stood in line and got our passports stamped. We then had to drive our car through a huge fumigator (can't those bugs from Costa Rica also fly across the border?!) after paying $3 for it. ("OK, everybody hold your breath!")
Then we had to get into Nicaragua. We parked in front of immigration, and were swarmed by men eager to help us navigate through the system. There were no signs posted with instructions, so we "hired" someone to help us. First we had to get a small post-it size paper from an official in the parking lot, and then we had to have it signed by the policia. Our guy helped track the policeman down in a bus across the parking lot, and he scribbled his intials on the paper. Then, to an office inside to pay $12 to Customs, then $7 per person to Immigration and we were off - or so we thought, until we were stopped just outside the border by another official demanding $1 per person for the local government.
The Pan American Highway in Nicaragua was in perfect condition. What a treat! Unlike the Costa Rican portion, which is badly repaired and full or potholes. The highway passed by twin volcanos and a huge lake, and the smaller road to Granada was lined with flame trees, which reminded me of Saipan. Granada is a lovely old Spanish Colonial city that was founded in the 1500's. Many of the old buildings have been restored or rebuilt, or are in the process of being restored. We stayed in a huge suite in the Alhambra Hotel. There are lots of horse carriages in the city which even the locals use as taxis. We visited the local market and bought party dresses for Catie, Tiana and Cate's friend Ryan. We ate in some great restaurants, and toured the city by carriage, car and walking. The Grandadinos were very friendly, and we would love to go back for another visit.
Friday, May 19, 2006
Back From Nicaragua
Monday, May 15, 2006
The Cabalgata in Cerro Plano
The cabalgata was scheduled to leave at noon. At noon, there were only a few riders registered, so I figured we were in for a wait. The 6,000 colones (about $12) registration fee paid your entrance (with a big number to wear on your shirt or leg), lunch and three drinks. There was also complimentary beer once you signed up, as well as free chicharonnes and yucca. We waited for the other riders to arrive in a big grassy area where there was plenty of room for the horses to graze. The announcement finally came that we would leave at 2 on the dot! Remarkably, we actually started out just after two. The route went from Cerro Plano down to Santa Elana, then up towards Canitas to the soccer field, then around up by the clinic, and back up the back hill to Cerro Plano. The only really tricky part for me was descending the steep hill into Santa Elana because SO MANY horses were sliding down at the same time. Kevin was in front of me, and I decided that if he could do I could do it.
Jim and Catie met us back at the fairgrounds, and we had our lunch in the reception hall. It was a very fun way to spend Mother's Day.
On Tuesday morning we are driving to Nicaragua, and plan to visit Granada, a colonial city. The border is about 4 hours from here, so we plan to get an early start. Our friend Shannon is also coming with us. The kids packed about 3 days ago, so it didn't take much to get ready. I have to throw a few things together before I go to bed. I'll let you know what Granada is like!
Saturday, May 13, 2006
We went shopping in town this morning, and also went to the library at the Friend's School. Catie got some Dr. Seuss books, and I got books byAnne Tyler, Nora Roberts and Anna Quindlan, all favorite writers of mine. Kev got a new waterproof jacket in Vitosi's, and while he was trying it on Brandon came over to say hello. Brandon is Kev's friend who was kicked by a horse in the cabalgata two weeks ago. His spleen was hurt, but he's OK now. We bought him a jacket too as a "we're glad you're OK" present. The jackets are the same, so the boys will look pretty smart in the next cabalgata - which I think is tomorrow in Cerro Plano in Monteverde.
Cate bought another pair of sandals. So far Jo has destroyed two pairs of sandals. We also got some cute teddy bear sheets for Catie's bed. We're going to take Jo to the Vet later, and then take a ride down to Idale's house to drop off some sewing projects. I bought some material so she could make cushions for the chairs in the casita. She's also going to make some boxers for Kev and some pj's for Cate. I'm figuring out how to get things done here!
Tonight there is another show at the Galeron Cultural and I can only hope that Nacionalito doesn't make another appearance. It is a recital for all of the children in the area who are taking music lessons. Ricardo and Tina's children Max and Isabela are playing their violins. I'm sure that we will know a lot of the performers.
Last night Kevin and Catie attended their friend Rosie's birthday party. They had a great time between the dancing, the games and the pinata. I'll post some of the pictures here. They knew most of the kids from school.
Thursday, May 11, 2006
When Kevin gets home from school we have to dig out the water pipe that runs under our driveway. Someone from Public Works stopped by yesterday to ask me to do it. There is so much water when it rains that every home owner has to make sure that the water can pass freely in the drains in front of their houses. Ours is quite plugged up with mud. If we don't clear it out the water will cut a ditch in front of the driveway and we won't be able to get into the garage with the car.
Today Margarita and I walked in the woods behind the Santamaria's cafeteria. It was a pretty strenuous hike and we heard a lot of birds. I left the dogs at home because on our walk yesterday Jumper chased, caught and killed a small chicken. This will NOT make me popular with the neighbors. From now on I'm only going to let her run free on our farm.
Living in a Cloud Forest
The Guest House (Casita)
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
Happy Birthday Joe Stacy!
Monday, May 08, 2006
Just Another Manic Monday
My neighbor Denise had invited me to walk with her this morning, so I went to her house at 8:30 am with Joe and Jumper. We decided to walk up through La Cruz, a distance of about 3 miles or so. Jumper was behaving so well that once we were off the main road I let her off the leash. She approached a few farm dogs along the way who were amazingly friendly, and so I was completely taken by surprise when she saw three small goats in front of someone's house and ran after them. She managed to catch one of them, and was in the process of trying to bite off a hind leg (or so it appeared) when our screams alerted the inhabitants of the house, who rushed to save the goat. Jumper is lucky they didn't shoot her.
I managed to get Jumper back on her leash, and Denise held her while I went to assess the damage done to the goat. Jumper killed a duck in another neighborhood a few weeks ago, so I wasn't hopeful. Luckily the goat was unharmed, and it turned out that I knew the people in the house. The woman owns the store where we bought our cell phone, and her husband drives the school bus. Oh dear. They were very understanding.
We had dinner tonight (hamburgers and fries) with Nicollette, Ryan and Jackson at the Santamaria Cafeteria, which is a little restaurant up the street from our houses. While we were there the rainy season started, or so it would seem. It started to rain torrentially, and it is still raining heavily now an hour after we're home. This is really the first real rain we've had since we've been here, and we can probably expect that there will be rain like this every day until we leave in June.
Sunday, May 07, 2006
Sunday at the Galeron Cultural
We came back to the house and had fish and chicken for lunch, with rice and salad. Kevin made brownies, and we had them with ice cream for dessert. The fish is one that Jim caught in Tamarindo. I think it was wahoo.
At 3:30 we went up to Monteverde to the Galeron Cultural with our neighbors Nicolette, Ryan and Jackson to see what we thought would be a puppet show. It was packed! We knew a lot of people there, and the kids had fun because a lot of their friends were there, and they could run and play before the show started. The show started with a huge inflated figure who was shaped like a building and was called Nacionalito. Aha! I figured it out - the show was sponsored by Banco Nacional and this was a plug for the bank. The MC called children up by grade levels and asked them simple mathematical questions, and everyone got prizes. Kev and Catie didn't go up because it was all in Spanish, and then felt somewhat intimidated.
The room was overly crowded, it was very hot and it was hard to see the see the stage, and as Kev and Cate weren't understanding much anyway, we went and sat outside and they played some more. The adults laughed about the inflatable building person; we figured he would be downing a lot of beer tonight to compensate for how hot he must have been inside that plastic suit. On a somber note, it would appear that Banco Nacional is at least working on community relations/public relations by sponsoring these cultural events, following last year's bank assult when 9 people died and many more were injured in the bank. I think it's great that they are offering these programs in the community.
It's a school night, so we'll all go to bed early. Most nights we are all in bed by 8 pm. It's light by 5 am, so we tend to go to bed and get up early.
Now THAT'S A Bug...
Saturday, May 06, 2006
On Friday morning I picked up my new friend Lidieth and we drove to the school together. Her daughter Rosie is in Kevin's grade, but in another class. We were the only volunteers, and so we got to work separating all the clothes. We had a lot of fun because some of the clothes were pretty outrageous, straight out of the '70's. Some of them looked like they might have come with the first wave of Quackers. (Monteverde was founded by a group of Quakers from the southern U.S. in the 1950's.) We worked until school was dismissed at noon, and then figured we would all go have lunch at my house and come back and finish up.
The car wouldn't start when we went to leave. This happens with some frequency, and I have to take my wrench and bang on the battery cables, which usually fixes it, and the car starts. No such luck. A teacher at the school, Kevin, tried to jump the car, and when that didn't work, tried to clean out the alternator and then checked the battery water level. That didn't work either. I called the taller where I had taken the car earlier in the week to fix the brakes, clean out the air filter and afix the rear view mirror, and Ramon and Carlos were there within minutes to check it out. They didn't have any luck either. They checked all the fuses, admitted defeat, and said they would be RIGHT BACK with more tools. I should not have believed them. An hour later when they hadn't returned I called the taller to find out where they were, and the manager expressed surprise because he thought they had already fixed my car. They were back working in the taller and hadn't said anything to anyone. ARGHHH! I couldn't get angry; the manager called me Donita and said he would take care of it. Sure enough, the owner Jorge arrived on the scene in about 5 minutes. He deduced that the alarm system had somehow cut off the supply of gasoline to the engine, and said he'd have to tow the car back to the taller. This involved tying my car to his car using a length of fireman's hose. We all piled into Jorge's car and drove back to the taller, towing the Land Rover. Jorge told me he would work on the car in the morning, which he did. He never did find out what was wrong... after giving up on it, he started the car and it started. And he only charged me 15,000 colones, which is about $30.
Back to the cachivache - I didn't realize that I had the key to the classroom where the cachivache was to take place, and there was an eager crowd waiting to get in at 9:30 am for the sale which started at 10. One of the teachers had to break in, as no one knew who had the key. I got there right at 10, and the sale was in full swing. It was like a scene from Filene's Bargain Basement on a holiday sale day. I had no idea the cachivache would be so popular. It makes sense, though. There is really nowhere to shop in Monteverde, and new clothes are rather expensive. The prices at the cachivache were 300 colones (about $.60) for all the women's and children's clothing, and 500 colones (about $.95) for all the pants, shorts and skirts. Such a deal! I had to leave to pick up my car before the taller closed at noon, and so I couldn't stay until the end of the sale at 1:00 p.m. I'm sure the school made a lot of money even though everything was so cheap because we sold so many things.
Kevin bought himself two pairs of overalls, 4 shirts (one of them says "WANTED: Will trade sister for new bike", and one is a Life is Good t-shirt), 2 hats and a belt for approximately $6.00. I got 2 pairs of shorts, three shirts, a skirt and two scarves. Catie bought a stuffed cat that has a pouch for the baby kitty. A good time was had by all!
Kevin and I modelled some of our purchases when we got home.
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
Things We Will Miss When We Leave Monteverde
1. Riding down the main street in Santa Elena on horseback.
2. Climbing trees at school.
3. Fireflies lighting up the night in front of our house every night.
4. The view of the Gulf of Nicoya from our front porch.
5. Kevin's friends Brandon, Derek and Jose Andres.
7. Imperial (the horse, not the beer).
8. Reading in a hammock.
9. Going to Sabores for brownie delight ice cream sundaes.
10. Blue Morpho butterflies.
11. Seeing millions of stars at night, including the Southern Cross.