Saturday, June 30, 2007


Arco iris

Rainbows appear regularly in the rainy season, usually in the early morning or in the late afternoon after it rains, as it does most afternoons. I took these pictures from our front porch, looking across at our farm.



Yesterday we ran into my friend Margarita while we were in town doing some shopping. She told us that she had some guests staying in her cabina, and invited us to a barbeque at her house at 5:00. I asked what I could bring, and she said I could bring anything I wanted. Hmmm... that could be a challenge. I've gotten better over the years at cooking here, but I still find it difficult. The first time we came here, for three weeks in the summer of 2003, I didn't cook the whole time we were here. I look back at that and can hardly believe it. Anyway, I figured that I should bring a dessert to the party, and as the ingredients to my best desserts - apple pie, refrigerator cake or strawberry shortcake - were not available, I would make oatmeal cookies. I've figured out how to light the stove without blowing it up, which helps. When Alex was here two years ago he got a flash burn on his arm and face from lighting the stove incorrectly. I had everything I needed except vanilla, so I substituted bananas, and they came out great.

The kids and I have been walking at least 30 minutes a day to get in shape, and we hadn't had our walk yesterday when it was time to leave for the party. I suggested that we walk to Margarita's house, which is about 10 minutes away, and that would equal a 20 minute walk roundtrip. Kevin said it would be better to stick to our plan, so instead we walked the long way though the coffee farm near our house. This is a perfect 30 minute walk, and it passes right by Margarita's house. We dropped some cookies off at our friends who own the Rosewood Souvenir shop (where I have bought all my wooden bowls over the years) as a thank you to Lycho who gave me lots of basil for my sphagetti sauce the other day.

I've been to Margarita's house a lot, but I didn't realize that she had an outside kitchen in the shed outside her house. I had assumed it was a garage, as it had a locked gate outside it. She was preparing the barbeque there, and had already made potato/apple salad (it was great!) and had the meat marinating. I cut up some sweet red peppers and onions, and started to put the meat on skewers. Margarita mixed up some masa harina to make tortillas on the old black wooden stove, and Kevina and Catie came in to learn how to do it. Kevin had not been eager to come to the party, but he had a really good time. Margarita asked him to keep the stove going, so he had to find some wood and keep the fire stoked. There were about 6 other kids at the party, and they had a lot of fun running around in the yard in the dark and climbing the guava trees looking for guavas.

The guests staying in the cabina were from Los Angeles, and were originally from Poland. They are in Monteverde for a week, and are studying at CPI, our local Spanish language school.

I met a friend of Margarita's, Xinia, who is buying a lot right up near our farm. She was interested to hear that the kids and I walk every day so she is planning to join us on Monday afternoon for a longer walk to La Cruz. That usually takes us about an hour and fifteen minutes to complete.

We walked home in the dark with Xinia and her daughters under a full moon. It was a great night.

Thursday, June 28, 2007


Happy Birthday Alex!

Happy Birthday Alex! I wish we could all be with you on your birthday today! Instead Kevin and Catie and I are sitting in the house in the midst of a torrential downpour. The rain is thundering on the roof, and I can barely see the Don Juan Coffee Farm below us. Looks like we won't be hiking today! We went to town earlier and stocked up on groceries, so we don't have to leave the house.

I hope you have a fun dinner tonight with Jim! We love you!

Sunday, June 24, 2007


Lily on Loan

Catie has been bugging us for a puppy since we got here. She really misses JoJo and wanted to have a puppy to play with while we are here in Monteverde. In the past, finding a puppy wasn't very difficult as there were so many street dogs (zaguates) it was a simple matter to rescue a dog. In the past year or so, however, there has been a real effort to get people to neuter their animals, and this has virtually eliminated the street dog population in Santa Elena and Monteverde.

When we were at ICE trying to get fast internet access (it should take about 20 days) I asked a friend who works there if she knew of anyone who had any puppies, as we hadn't been successful in finding a zaguate for Catie. She said there weren't any more dogs on the street because they were all at her mother's house, and suggested that we ask her mother for a puppy. We got directions to her house, which is located just next to the Ranario (Frog Pond), and the next day we went to visit Dona Virginia.

We drove up and knew we had the right house because they were about 10 dogs who ran out to greet us. Dona Virginia came out, and I introduced myself and told her I was a friend of her daughter, and asked if I could borrow one of her dogs for about 2 months so Catie could have a puppy to play with. She thought about it for a minute, clarified that I didn't want to KEEP the dog, just borrow it, and then said Catie could have her pick, but she suggested that she choose Lily as she is very gentle. Lily looks like a minature Rottweiler, and appeared to be very timid. She's pretty smart, however, because as soon as we got her in the car and started to drive away she jumped out of the window. Dona Virginia called her and calmed her down, and this time I rolled up the windows before we drove away.

Jumper is not thrilled with the new temporary addition to the family. Lily is very nervous around her, and barks at her, which annoys Jumper, and then Jumper tries to bite Lily. This is her 3rd day with us and both of the dogs are getting used to each other. Lily probably wonders in her dog brain what kind of crazy people she is living with, as Catie dresses her up like a ballerina, made her a dog bed and sleeps with her every night. I'm sure this dog never went into Dona Virginia's house.


Saturday, June 16, 2007


Pura Vida!

Monteverde is a paradise for kids. Kev can ride Don Enrique's horses whenever he wants to. His horse Imperial is missing, so until we find him he can ride one of Don Enrique's. There are lots of wild strawberries on a road near our house; it's a great walk that takes about an hour to complete. Catie loves it because she can eat strawberries and guayabas along the way.


Traffic in Monteverde

Driving in Monteverde can be a challenge. These are some pictures from last week. We ran into this herd of cows who had apparently escaped from a farm, as no one was with them, on the road from our farm. The rickity bridge leads to Manolo and Beth's house, and isn't as dangerous as it looks. It's supported by huge steel beams underneath. The third photos was taken on the public road that runs next to our farm. Our farm is on the right side of the road. We left the car that day at the main gate, and walked for a mile or so. The road is pretty slippery due to the clay in the road, and it was safer to walk.
We're still in San Jose, and will be returning to Monteverde later today. Our car is finally ready; it was supposed to be ready June 4, the day the kids and I arrived. It also passed inspection yesterday, which is great news. We'll go pick it up in about an hour, and head for home. We want to make it home by 4 pm for a party at Nicolette and Ran's house.

Thursday, June 14, 2007


Random Pictures

These are some pictures of our first week in Monteverde. We went hiking along the road next to our farm, and Jumper loved the mud/cow poop puddles. Jim had to give her a bath as soon as we got home. Last year we used to make her run all the way home when she was so dirty, but she's not capable of doing that anymore, so we had to let her in the car.
We went to see Don Enrique at his stable, and while Kevin was riding one of his horse Ryan and Catie played with a kitten. I couldn't figure out later that day why Catie had so many bug bites until I saw these pictures and realized they were flea bites.
The main road through Santa Elena/Monteverde is now paved! The pavement begins just outside Santa Elena where the guy used to collect a road toll, and ends just past the gas station in Monteverde on one end, and just past the soccer field in Santa Elana. Some of the country charm is lost with paved roads, but it makes life so much more pleasant. There is less dust, and no potholes to fall into.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


We're in San Jose

We drove down to San Jose yesterday to do some business, and we're staying in the Inter-Continental Hotel. We had to leave Santa Elena at 5 am to make sure that we would arrive at the hotel in time to attend a land/property auction. Jim wanted to have an idea of what the current market is like here.

We hit a lot of traffic once we got on the PanAmerican Highway, and it took us about 3.5 hours to get to San Jose. Kevin and Catie stayed in the hotel room and ordered room service and watched movies while we attended the auction. The most expensive piece sold was a 400 acre tract next to the airport in Liberia: 40 million dollars. Incredible.

Mark met us at the hotel that evening and we had dinner at a sushi bar. Kevin thought he was ordering 5 pieces of tuna sushi, and he found out when it arrived that he had actually ordered 5 PLATES of sushi! What a surprise. I guess the waitress figured he looked hungry.

Monday, June 11, 2007


Tiana at the beach

Sandra sent me these pictures of T and Brandon at the beach. Brandon caught this 4 foot hammer head shark using Kevin's fishing pole. Way to go Brandon! We love you T!


We're Back!

We've all been back in Costa Rica a week today; Jim arrived a week before us. Our trip here was thanksfully uneventful. The flight was only a few minutes late, and Jim was there to pick us up. Jumper travelled really well, and was really happy to see Jim. We drove straight to Monteverde and got here around 1 a.m. We have spent most of the week getting the house cleaned, the garden cleared out and getting settled.

Two days ago when we were driving near the stable where Kevin got his horse Imperial we saw a huge snake in the road. We've determined that it was a boa constrictor and not the dreaded feu de lance, which can kill its victims in 4 hours or less. The rule of thumb in approaching a snake is to remember that it can strike you within 1/3 of its length. The snake we saw was about 7 feet long, so I may have broken that rule in taking the photos. This snake was about as thick as Jim's upper arm.
Kevin and Catie and I and one of our neighbors went for a 4 mile hike near our house on Saturday morning and we found this bird hopping around under some trees. It was just learning how to fly. We have observed that there are many more birds near our house than in past years, which is wonderful to see. There are many flocks of parakeets that fly near our house in the morning.

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