Look at what my talented husband built... he finished the beautiful wooden doors to our carport. All that's needed now are some handles. Kevin will custom make those out of steel. Yes, he really is amazing. I'm still working away at repainting to freshen all outside surfaces. I still have to touch up the awing portion of the carport. It's on the list of things to do. Things get done, one day at a time. Pura vida, baby!
We have a few wasps and bees buzzing around, it comes with the territory when you have as many flowers as we do. However, most of them are of a smaller variety. We have a broccoli plant growing in our herb garden, right outside our back door, and Kevin noticed this honking big bee. It didn't appear particularly aggressive. Bigger doesn't always mean meaner. With all the bee problems in the world, we're always grateful to see them here.
The onions that I planted in our outside garden a few months ago... the ones that were barely hanging on (I almost dug them up and got rid of them) have proven runts can grow up to be hulks. These onions are HUGE! and so very aromatic and tasty. I'm glad we didn't give up on them. We have 5 or 6 more the same size.
Oh, and our butternut squash are beautiful, too. As big as a large pineapple. It really is nice when your garden feeds you well. It's the best part!
So, we're up to 11 eggs today... out of 14 hens. It won't be long now until we'll be at 100% production. It's amazing to me. For over a month, nothing. Then one, then two... soon 14 every single day for 18 months or so. I packed our eggs up into cartons and made our first delivery today. It's a great excuse to visit with our neighbours and friends. It's been a while since I've seen some of them. We're back on track. Nice.
These Bettys are a bit cheeky. They're much more playful than batch #1... they run and chase each other around as though they're playing tag. They're fun to watch.
Kevin has been working hard building doors for our carport... doors to match our garage doors he made a few months ago. As seems to be the usual pattern, Kevin has to start from scratch. "No doors? Pfff, I can make them."
The idea is to build functional doors that look good. Our carport stores firewood, tools, our clothes dryer, sometimes the ATV, sometimes the trailer, and a bunch bits and pieces. Admittedly, it looks messy and not very welcoming. Adding doors will provide slightly more security, but mostly will create what we call "curb appeal'.
Remember all that wood that was drying vertically in the carport, well, Kevin cut a lot of it to size (making all the calculations, measuring, cutting, etc. That alone is very time consuming just to make sure he's got it right). Then he designed how the doors would be hung. He decided, due to the weight, it would be better to have all the weight of the doors resting on tracks from the bottom with guides on top. He had to mix, apply and smooth out cement on the very uneven floor of the carport, place the angle iron (the track) and make sure everything was level. And there's a job! Better him than me... no, really, that kind of detail in beyond me. He's definitely got a mind for accuracy. We all have our talents.
Then, Kevin conditioned the planks of wood ready for staining. Once the doors were stained, he put everything together. He and I lifted the individual (heavy) sliders and placed them on the track. Kevin added the coach bolts (which he painted black) to add character. All we need now are handles... oh, and two more doors, which Kevin is currently building. I just love them!
I'm happy to report that Phoenix and Ben made it back home to Canada safe and sound late last night (well, actually early this morning since it was 1 am). From all our talks and their Facebook posts, it appears they both had a fantastic time here and Panama. Of course, time flew WAY too fast, but some time is better than no time, so I'm very grateful.
Now daily routines will resume, for them as well as for us... it's called life... it's true, even in the beautiful paradise setting we're so blessed to live in.
Our new Bettys are now giving us 8 eggs a day: we're not at full production yet, but it won't be long now. They're getting bigger and plumper. They don't seem quite so skittish, either. They allow us to approach them and stroke their feathers... without making too big of a fuss.
Our garden is producing potatoes, onions, butternut squash and cucumber (although they look more like pickles to me). Our tomato plants are producing fruit, but they're really different from the variety I'm used to. I'm not sure what kind these are, but we have medium sized ones and tiny ones. I can't say they have a strong tomato flavour. I find them quite bland actually, which is a huge disappointment! I remember, as a child, picking tomatoes from my parents' garden and we'd cut them up, add a bit of onion salt and pepper and gobbled them up. They were so tasty. Not these one. We'll have to try again with a different variety... trial and error seems to be the name of this game.
My kitchen herb garden right outside our back doors (where I transformed the hot tub) is now full of dill, sage, arugula, aloe vera (thought I'd killed the aloe, but they survived!), mint, lemon basil, and yet another tomato plant, which I did not plant. The seeds must germinate in the compost... it's the only explanation we have for all our random tomato plants.
In the mornings, for the past couple of weeks, my task has been to paint the outside of the house: the railings, the walls, the concrete pillars, the supporting steal beams, just to freshen everything up. Here's a peek at the before and after of the water wheel. First, I power washed it as best as I could to remove all the old paint that was flaking off. Not having ever used a power washer before, there was a bit of a learning curve... I was completely drenched by the end of it all. I started to rain, but I wasn't quite finished and figured I couldn't get any wetter, so I kept going. It was kind of fun! The next day, I painted it. Kevin and I are rather pleased with the result.
Phoenix, Ben and I have been having a great time in Puerto Viejo. The small town is quite the tourist spot and I do feel like I'm on holiday. It's a completely different atmosphere to our little corner of paradise in the mountains. First, it's really hot and muggy. The temperatures seem to hover above 30°C/86°F all the time... even at night. There is no glass in the window frames... just screen mesh to keep the bugs out. I'm used to our comfy duvet covers at night, but even with the overhead fan above the bed, the thin sheet is not needed.
I've not slept well. Well, I slept very well from 10 pm to 2 am... that's when the rooster started his "wake up" song and dance.Then other birds would chime in... then the barking dogs (near and far). It was a cacophony of jungle sounds. And loud!!
Yesterday, we were picked up at 6:15 am by the white-water rafting tour company. We were ready! The trip up to the base camp normally takes about an hour and a half; however, the locals had blocked the highway in protest of something (not really sure what). They wouldn't let anyone pass. Our tour guides knew a detour, which we took. A half hour later, we are stopped at another blockade. Our tour guides and other people in cars got out of their vehicles to try and reason with the people blocking the road. The road was strewn with branches and logs. One guy had a machete and no one wanted to test his unpredictability. At this point, we were convinced the day would be cancelled and we'd have to turn back. We set up a different road, where there was another third blockade. This wasn't looking good. Then, the cars ahead of us starting moving... they let us through... AMEN!!! We were late, but we made it to the base camp in time to have a quick pit stop and woof down some breakfast. Then our guide gave us safety instructions, taught us the boat commands, handed each of us a helmet, life jacket and paddle. And off we went.
The rafting expedition (strong word, but I like the essence of it) followed 18 km (approximately 4 hours) down the Pacuare River. Apparently it's considered one of the best rafting rivers in the world. Because it's the beginning of the rainy season, the water is quite a bit higher than during the dry season and can provide up to Class 4 rapids in the section we were in (Class of rapids go from 1 to 6, 6 being for the ultimate expert. Class 4 includes long, difficult rapids, narrow passages, turbulent water that requires precise maneuvering and sends hearts racing). And Class 3 and 4 is what we got!
Between the rapids, we also enjoyed some calmer waters, too. It's hard to fully appreciate the scenery when you're hanging on for dear life and paddling like a demon, so it was nice to be able to coast and absorb the environment from time to time (and catch our breath). In this particular narrow passage, we were given the opportunity to get out of the raft and go for a swim, which many people did.
White-water rafting has always been at the top of my bucket list. It's just one of those adventures I'm drawn to. It did not disappoint! I loved every single minute of it. Phoenix kept saying she could do this for a living... and Ben, who wasn't quite sure what he was signing up for had a great time. I have both my sisters to thank for this amazing experience... it's my early 50th birthday gift... so thank you Lyne and Lucie!! A gift I will never ever forget.
I Skyped Kevin last night to tell him all about it and told him that if we plan all our vacation trips around white-water rafting, that would be just fine with me!
This morning, we'll have some breakfast, pack the car and off to San Jose to drop Phoenix and Ben off at the B&B near the airport. Today, we say goodbye. I will drive back to the mountains, back to Kevin and Frankie... back to my life. They will fly to Panama where they have an overnight layover, will stay in a 4-star resort, hang out at the pool and finish their trip together, having shared what I think will be the beginning of many travelling memories.
It's been an awesome week, it filled my cup and spilled over! Feeling so, so blessed.
In a couple of hours, I'll be leaving Kevin to mind the farm for the next 4 days. Phoenix, Ben and I are driving down to the Caribbean coast to a little town called Puerto Viejo. We'll be enjoying some hot, muggy beach lounging and some refreshing, exhilarating white water rafting time, too!!! I've never been white water rafting before, but it's been on my bucket list for a long while and Tuesday is the day! Yay! And I have both my sisters, Lucie and Lyne, to thank. This is my early 50th birthday prezzie. I'm SO excited. Best gift ever!
From there, I will be driving Phoenix and Ben back to San Jose where they'll stay overnight in a nice B&B and taking off the next day. It's going by so quickly, but I'm taking in every minute.
Depending on connectivity at the hotel, you may or may not hear from me until Wednesday evening or Thursday. Hopefully with lots of nice pictures.
Kevin and I went to San Jose on Wednesday to pick up my lovely daughter, Phoenix, and her boyfriend, Ben, at the airport. I've simply been consumed with spending as much time with them. It's been fabulous!
Yesterday was Phoenix's 24th birthday... I'm so proud of the woman she has become. We invited Nacho, who had met Phoenix last year during her visit here. We thought it would be a nice reunion for them to catch up and for Nacho to meet Ben, as well. Kevin and I were also delighted to see him: it's been several months since we've seen him. We had a delicious chocolate cake, too, with candles and everything. It was a really nice celebration.
Yesterday also brought some adventure. I had to go into Santa Maria and San Marcos to run a few errands. Phoenix and Ben came, too. We stopped to have some coffee and I gave them a quick tour of both towns. It started to pour as we made our way back home. By the time we reached the bridge in Rio Blanco – the bridge with have to cross to get to our place – the river swelled and was gushing over the dirt bridge making it impassable. I had to park the SUV near the school and we walked over the horizontal tree trunk that is used as a foot path. Phoenix and Ben were game. We jumped over the rushing water that was spilling over and causing a stream in the middle of the road. It was a muddy mess, but we laughed and said "Costa Rica, baby!". We got home, changed into dry clothes and got ready for dinner.
In the meantime, Kevin was taking care of the ponds, making sure the dirty water was not coming through the aqueduct. The river rose two feet in just a couple of hours. This morning, the sun was shining and pretty much back to normal. There was a man in a digger repairing the bridge, as well.
Phoenix and Ben were supposed to go horseback riding today, but Phoenix wasn't feeling very well, they cancelled the tour. Tomorrow, I'm taking them to Providencia to spend some time at a beautiful waterfall. We'll head out early (hopefully it will be sunny) and be home by lunchtime, before the rain. And then on Sunday... we drive to Puerto Viejo for three days! We're going white water rafting!! I've never been, but it's on my bucket list, so I'm THRILLED and can't wait! (My two lovely sisters gifting me with the experience for an early 50th birthday present... my birthday isn't until November, but this is the perfect gift! I'm a lucky girl ).
So, our friend the osprey has been in our midst the last couple of days. He circles over the ponds then perches on a branch, just like in the picture, waiting for the right moment to dive with laser focus. As majestic as this bird of prey is, he's after our trout and we're not having it. So far we've been able to distract him by making noise and making our presence known, causing him to veer and fly away... following the river down to Martin's ponds. There is some good news; luckily for us apparently it's not heron season. Thank goodness for small mercies.
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Dave and Krista are a couple from the Pacific Northwest that led overwhelmingly busy lives.
Click here to pick up your copy of Anne's book! It's all about their adventure and the establishment of Hush Valley Lodge: from leaving their middle-class suburban lifestyle in Canada to reinventing themselvess in the beautiful mountains of Costa Rica. Check it out and if you enjoy it, please spread the word! Thanks!