I've decided to make it easy on all of us. I'll be writing once a week – every Saturday. I will accumulate our weekly events and synthesizing into a neat little package. I understand what a nuisance it is to follow a blog, but have no idea when to expect a post. If you wish, you can check on Saturday or to make it even easier on you, I invite you to sign up to receive it in your personal email inbox. Like magic, it will appear every Sunday saving you the trouble of checking here. Whichever suits you best. If you are receiving my blog post in your inbox and you don't want to receive it, feel free to unsubscribe. Also, if you think family members or friends would enjoy reading about our life in Costa Rica, please share... we like that!
Okay, about our week... I mentioned to Kevin that I wanted to try using the outdoor oven again. My nemesis! It's been over a year since I tried and I feel it's time. The door however was falling apart. So Kevin made a new one, as he does... he made it out of cypress with oak trim on the outside and fibrolite on the inside. It fits perfectly and looks so good!
And we managed to get a decent fire burning. We used dry, lightweight kindling and slowly added cedar pieces onto it until it was blazing. Unfortunately, the wind was quite strong and would get sucked into the dome and swirl uncontrollably until it snuffed the flame out, and billowing thick smoke poured out the front opening. This happened 4 times: it was so annoying. We decided to try again on a day that isn't so windy. It's nice to know though that there's a real chance of getting it to work and maybe heat up enough to bake bread or pizza.
We are working on creating retreat packages geared to women who need to get away and recharge. I'll keep you posted on those developments. In the meantime, we received two B&B bookings this week... one for next weekend and the other is for a honeymoon couple in early January. December and January are proving to be busy months.
That's it for now, check back again next Saturday here... or Sunday in your inbox.
Just a few hours old
As Kevin and I were coming back from running errands in Santa Maria, we drove by a pasture in Copey. We saw this small calf on wobbly legs, trying to find his balance. He was pretty new to this world... less than a few hours. How do we know this? We'll this is what we've learned over the last two years living in the country... when a baby calf is born in an open field, the placenta falls onto the ground and vultures very quickly swoop down and devour every last morsel. I love how nature has a way of cleaning things up. When we slowed down to watch the small calf struggle to his feet, we immediately saw the black scavengers finishing off the Early Bird special. Had we arrived just a little earlier, we might have witness the birth! Further off into the distance, still in the same pasture enclosure, there was another mama cow with a tiny calf... and more vultures. I get they were celebrating two birthdays. Those big, black eyes. Crazy cute.
A few good things
We were without internet or phone connection for 25 hours on Friday, which always throws a kink in my day. This time though it was a force electronic vacation. It was kind of nice. It allowed me to enjoy being outside and I read a lot, too.
Our Bettys are now laying up to 13 eggs, although one hen hasn't quite figure the whole nest idea yet. Kevin finds a smashed one lying on the floor nearly every morning. It appears this particular hen can't be bother to move from her perch to lay her egg. This is not a smart chicken, I'm afraid.
I planted some more lettuce, spinach and arugula. Our squash are taking over our garden and are getting really big. Our onions are talking their sweet time, though... just like the last batch. It seems like it takes three months for them to get to a point where they suddenly shoot up. My herb garden needs serious cutting back. It's hard to believe it looked so sparse just a few months ago. Our baby trout are growing, too!
It's been raining pretty consistently every afternoon the last couple of days... although our friends in Santa Maria told us they've had very little rain in their town (only 11 km away). The micro-climates continue to amaze us. Yesterday, our friends Maritza and Rolando came up for a visit. They're planning to take a trip to Canada in September, but as Costa Ricans, they have to apply to a visa. It's a lot of work and since all the forms are in English, we offered to help them filled them out. Applying for a visa is almost as much work as when we had to gather our information to come to Costa Rica. All for a two-week vacation. Crazy! They'll need a vacation from all the stress the application process is causing. Anyway, while they were here, it started to poor and the river rose and was getting dirty. Kevin was in the middle of taking pictures of all their documents so I went up to close the gate to the aqueduct system. As I was cleaning the smallest grate, I fumbled and let go of it right over the rushing river... it got washed away with the strong current. Ooops. So Kevin created a new grate which works even better than the one I lost. I knew he would.
Oh, and big news... well, big news as far as I'm concerned. We're now exchanging eggs for raw milk! I've been wanting to get my hands on raw milk since we've been here, but it's not actually as easy to find as one would think with so many dairy farmers in our midst. Most sell to larger companies and all milk is accounted for. Well our friend and neighbour, Elly and Abel, have enough milk right now to exchange 15 eggs for 2 L of milk. Why I've been wanting to get raw milk is that most of the issues with dairy products is that when the milk goes through all the processing, it removes the fat, the enzymes that promote good digestion, and all the good bacteria. So, I want to try it out. I also want the cream that forms on top to put in my coffee. Yum! So raw milk, homemade yogurt, homemade cheese, and fresh butter... I love this life.
Our fish food (like most farm animal food) comes in big, 40 kg (80-ish lb) sacks. We transfer some it into small containers for ease of use. As a scoop, we use an old plastic measuring cup. It's perfect. When we throw the food into the ponds with just the right twist of the wrist, the pellets spread in an even splash, giving all the trout a chance to feed. We walk up and down the length of the pond to make sure none of the trout get missed. This system has worked well for us over the last two years.
This old, plastic measuring cup's handle cracked a few months ago and Kevin managed to tape it up. It didn't look pretty, but it felt solid and was usable. Yesterday, Kevin swung his arm back to create momentum and as his arm came forward, the handle remained in his hand while the cup portion flung off, into the pond.
Glob, glob, glob to the bottom.
I was in Santa Maria when he called to let me know. He asked me to pick up another plastic measuring cup while I was in town. I was happy to do that and figured I'd have no problem finding one. I looked in four stores that carry kitchen/cooking supplies and none of the stores sold measuring cups... not plastic ones, not glass ones... nothing. I ended up buying a small plastic, oval-shaped juice pitcher, thinking that might do the trick. Sometimes we just have to improvise.
I got home, showed Kevin my Plan B purchase and he looked at me, unconvinced, but open to give it a try. An hour later, when it was time to do our chores and feed the fish, Kevin wanted to be the first to try our new scooper. He filled the new, blue pitcher up and swung it like he would with the old one. The narrow, oval opening created a different type of thrust. Instead of spreading evenly across the pond, the food landed behind him all over the terrace floor. The pellets were everywhere... except in the pond! I laughed so hard... I'm still laughing as I write this. Kevin was not impressed with my Plan B option.
This morning, Kevin took matters into his own hands... he fixed our old measuring cup and it's better than ever! Check this out... my hubby is at it again! He rummaged through our bits and pieces to see what he could use. He found this bit of garden hose.
And he attached it to the cup with rivets, like this...
The handle is sturdy and comfortable, too!
We come from a culture where if something breaks, we just go buy another one. Sometimes, fixing what you've got provides a better solution... having a handyman husband helps, too.
Thanks Kevin! My hero.
Whoa... what a busy week. Kevin and I were helping with the organization of the Bingo that took place today. The women of the community got together to clean the banana leaves for the tamales, then the following day prepared the tamales. Kevin worked with the men to get the community centre ready by installing a temporary roof and installing toilets.
On Friday, Kevin picked up our friends (two nuns and two young ladies from El Salvador who live with the nuns) and drove them here. They young ladies, Veronica (22) and Fatima (17) don't leave the city much and haven't seen much of Costa Rica. They both go to university and are incredibly studious. They have been taken in by the nuns so they can benefit from a better and safer life. It appears the girls are not squandering their opportunity. Veronica speaks English quite well so we were able to have nice conversations with her. We had a really nice time. Yesterday, I drove them back to San Jose and got back in time to watch the World Cup Holland vs Costa Rica game. Costa Rica lost in penalty kicks. So disappointing, but they played so well throughout this World Cup, they should be very proud.
We were up early this morning to add the finishing touches before the people arrived. Before the Bingo, there was a fishing tournament of three groups (kids from 5 to 8, kids from 9 to 12 and the adults). This year we decided to provide an extra service. Since not everyone knows how to prepare fish, we thought it would be nice to offer to gut, clean and filet to those who wanted it. I was at the gutting and cleaning station and Kevin and our friend, Roberto, were fileting the fish. We were charging 200 colones (40 cents) for gutting and cleaning only and 500 colones ($1) for gutting, cleaning and fileting. We made a little over 16,000 colones ($32!!!). That's completely separate from the registration fee to participate in the tournament. I think we raised a decent amount with that event. Then we had all the food... everything was so delicious and we saw people going up for seconds and thirds, so more money raised. And then there was the Bingo, which always pulls in a good crowd. It was a long day, but everything went off without a hitch and it appears everyone had a good time. We'll no doubt have a committee meeting later this week to count all the money and see how much we raised. Hopefully, it will be enough to finish the work that needs to be done. And if not... then you can be sure there will be another Bingo in our future. And so it goes in our little community.
Today is Kevin's birthday. Two years ago today, we sold our house in Burlington. TWO YEARS! Wow. It's hard to believe how quickly time flies. And yet, it feels like an eternity. Our life here is feeling comfortable, full of daily habits that we embrace. We're not newbies anymore.
Speaking of which, we had a very productive day. Kevin worked with the other men of the neighbourhood to get our community centre ready for the fundraising Bingo we're having on Sunday. The Bingo will hopefully raise enough money to finish the centre. While the men were doing man stuff, the women were cleaning banana leaves for the tamale-making production tomorrow. Even the children pitched in. The youngest, Thomas, was hard at work, giving it all he had. He's always the first one ready and waiting to get started while the other men mosey their way to the centre. He's very cute and helpful. The men are very patient with him, full of encouragement, all taking turns to show him his next task. He digs in and gets the job done. He's only 6 years old... but one of the guys.
Then later, we were lucky to get Kevin an appointment at a dentist. He had a tooth that's been giving him a bit of grief and he wanted to get it looked after before it became a bigger problem (and bigger pain). This was our first trip to the dentist in Costa Rica and far overdo. To say Kevin hates going to the dentist is an understatement.
We were sitting in the waiting room and we could hear someone drilling next door, but not a delicate drill... more like a jackhammer. It really did sound like it was coming from the dentist's office. I thought Kevin was going to have kittens. We made a joke to the receptionist and she laughed, confirming that indeed there was construction being done in the back. Phew!!
When all was said and done, Kevin said it was the best dental experience he's ever had. He didn't even feel the needle, which is a pretty big deal. He had one of his filling restored. It cost $36. And when we inquired about coming back for a check-up and cleaning, the dentist said it would cost $50. What a bargain!!
After Kevin's dental visit, we picked up some take-out Chinese food as a treat and came home. Quite a day.
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Dave and Krista are a couple from the Pacific Northwest that led overwhelmingly busy lives.
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