Although we are Canadian (me) and English (Kevin), we are always happy to partake in our U.S. expat friends' Thanksgiving Day celebration... it means a great time catching up and a lot of good eating! This year, our friends Annika and Roger hosted, cooked a most delicious turkey and stuffing and the rest of us pitched in with side dishes. The table was overflowing with scrumptious food. As our contribution, I made homemade bread and brought some fresh butter. We all had a wonderful time... the weather was perfect, sunny and warm. Summer has definitely arrived in this part of the world! Since Thursday, the skies have been blue all day with no rain whatsoever. It feels good to see the end of the rainy season (until May, anyway).
And this Tuesday, we'll be selecting the trout in the large pond, dividing the biggest fish from the smaller ones, and transferring the biggest ones to the pond across from the guesthouse. They're ready to sell to Roberto!!! Very exciting. We'll be selling approximately 150 trout per week. After removing that huge plant and creating a gate, Kevin, Martin and Jairo (pronounced HI-RO) made the narrow canal much wider, increasing the size of the pond, but also strategically placing rocks to create more splashing surface to help oxygenate the water. The pond looks so much bigger now. And, Kevin soldered each rod to create the grate, of course... because he's clever that way. Check it out!!
This time of year also brings lots of rainbows... we captured this one just a few days ago. It still takes our breath away, and it never gets old.
Oh, and my daughter, Phoenix, and her best friend, Kaila, will be here this time next week. They arrive next Sunday!! I'm SO excited. Can't wait to see my baby girl. They're only here for five days, but we have lots planned. It will be Kaila's first time on a plane and first big trip out of Canada, so we want to make sure she has a nice time.
As the northern countries start to feel the chill in the air, we are enjoying lovely summer temperatures. Yes, I am rubbing it in.
We hosted an amazing couple from France two years ago... Marie-Pierre and Philippe. Last year, they returned yet again. We've become friends and have been keeping in touch ever since. They have been looking at property in Nicoya, particularly in the Playa Samara area. Last week, I received an email from Marie-Pierre telling me they have arrived in Costa Rica, have rented a lovely house for a month in Samara and would love for us to come visit. With an eco-tourism meeting in Santa-Maria on Tuesday, Thanksgiving lunch at Annika and Roger's on Thursday (yum! cannot miss that!), getting the ponds ready the following Monday to start catching and selling, lots of garden preparation to sow more seeds, B&B guests arriving December 3, then my daughter, Phoenix, and her best friend arriving for on December 6th for a week, the only available time was this weekend. So I contacted Marie-Pierre to let her know and she said this weekend suited them perfectly. Unfortunately, Kevin had to stay behind to take care of the ponds and animals, so this was going to be a solo trip.
I woke up at 4:15 am yesterday (Saturday) and left the house to start my journey at 5:15 am. It was just starting to get light, so it wasn't too dark, but it was early enough that there was no traffic on the Pan-American Highway. It was overcast, but not too my fog... until I reached San Jose. I'd never seen so much fog in the capital before. However, it felt like I was the only one on the road, so it didn't prevent me from making good time. The clouds dispersed by the time I found myself on the other side of the city, on my way to the Pacific coast. The sun was shining and the temperature was creeping higher and higher. I left wearing a fleece jacket, but as I approached Puntarenas, it car temperature gauge was showing 30C. And muggy! I took my fleece off and haven't needed since. I made very good time: it took me 5 hours from home to Nicoya (the town). Once in Nicoya, I called Marie-Pierre to let her know I'd be soon in Samara. She said they would meet me at the entrance of the village and would lead me to their place form there. It was too complicated to try and give directions.
I had been following a very slow truck between Nicoya and Samara... I mean REALLY slow. So, I decided I would pass it. I waited for the yellow dotted line to be in my favour and I checked if there was any on-coming traffic. It was all clear. I passed the truck, but as I did so, I needed to accelerate over the speed limit to get around him. Just as I did so, comfortably, two policemen were standing at the side of the road checking for speeders... and I was caught red-handed. They waved me over. Ugh. One of the policeman walked over to my open window, asked me for my driver's license, which I produced immediately. He checked that our stickers were up to date... they were. Then he asked me for the vehicle's registration. I opened the glove compartment, took out the manual booklet where we keep such things and it wasn't there. I looked everywhere. In the meantime, the policeman asked me where I lived, what this a rented car, and so forth. He then looked at my license, which has my maiden name and asked me if I was French (I'm answering as best as I could in Spanish while still frantically looking for our registration card). I didn't fight or object to getting a ticket... I was speeding in that small window of time and got caught... it was unfortunate, but you have to pay the piper, right. So I started asking him where I could pay and he said at any bank. He told me it would be 7,350 colones ($15 U.S.). He was very nice and very patient, but I still couldn't produce the registration. I asked if he would mind if I called my husband to ask him where I might find this card. The policeman just looked at me and told me to not worry about it, told me to slow down, and to have a nice day. So no ticket!!! Yay! I thanked him and got on my way. I was very careful to not drive above the limit. A few minutes later, in my rearview mirror, I see the police car speeding up behind me with their siren light on. I pull over, thinking maybe I had misunderstood, perhaps he didn't let me off... or maybe I forgot my license??? As I pulled over, the police car sped by me paying no attention to me whatsoever, going what seemed like 120 km in a 80 km zone. Hmm, so that's how they play this game, I see. I could hardly get upset, considering he didn't right me up.
So after this little distraction, I made my way to Samara and within 30 minutes, I saw Marie-Pierre standing on the side of the road, waiting for me. We said our hellos. We parked the SUV and they drove me to see the beach. We decided it would be nice to have a drink, which we did at a little outdoor bar directly in front of the ocean. The view was perfect. Then, it was time for lunch, and grab something to eat. I had a spaghetti with shrimp and white sauce. So delicious.
The village of Samara reminds me of Puerto Viejo a little. Lots of little artisan shops. And the heat... so hot and sticky! After lunch, Marie-Pierre and Philippe lead me back to their place. There is a concrete bridge that we have to cross before climbing the dirt road 300 m up to their rented house. When we got to the bridge, the river had swelled due to the earlier rain and was spilling over with quite a strong current. With the mud creating a slick surface, we didn't want to chance it. Certainly, Philippe's small rented car would not make it across... and although our SUV most likely would have (with Kevin at the wheel), I was not feeling so adventurous.
Philippe called one of his neighbours to ask if there was another way up. His neighbour said to sit tight, he's be down in a few minutes to guide us up a different way. The detour only took a few minutes out of our way, except Philippe's rented car simply could not grip the road so he had to leave it at the bottom of the hill, and he and Marie-Pierre jumped in with me. Our SUV had no problems managing the steep and rocky terrain and we arrived at their house safe and sound.
Although it was raining, it was still a gorgeous view...
After our little Costa Rica hiccup, Philippe got changed into his bathing suit and jumped into the pool to cool off.
We had a lovely evening. Marie-Pierre and I chatted until 11 pm. By that time, having been up since 4:15 am, the long journey and the heat, I was exhausted and ready for bed.
I slept well... until about 4 am, I heard the strangest sound. Thank goodness Philippe had warned me that I would hear this odd noise, so I was somewhat prepared. This sound can only be described as what water draining from a bathtub located in a wind tunnel might sound like. It had this hollow airy resonance... a bit eerie. This noise in the distance were monkeys in the jungle. If Philippe hadn't mentioned it, I would never have guessed what it could possibly be... it seemed so unearthly... netherworld-like. It lasted about an hour and that was it. We don't have monkeys where we live, so it's not a sound I'm familiar with. I expect I'll be hearing it again tomorrow morning. It's amazing to be in the same country and experience such diverse climate, flora, and fauna. It never ceases to amaze me.
I will be leaving tomorrow morning at about 9 am so that I'll miss the morning traffic in San Jose. I'll be back home by early afternoon. It's been a great little holiday. Thank you Marie-Pierre and Philippe (I practiced speaking French all weekend! My mother will be so proud)
So, I celebrated my birthday on Wednesday... yes another year has gone by, if you can believe it. And of course, it's the day I'm a tiny bit older than Kevin... and he likes that A LOT! He gets all giddy because he gets to call me his 'old bird' again. But, then again, I get to call him "my toy boy" now. So we're even.
We were invited for dinner at our friends' Adriana and Roberto for a lovely meal. Roberto cooked some fish, but the flesh of the fish was brown and had the texture of lamb. It was very unusual, but absolutely delicious. Roberto added some Caribbean spicy sauce, with yummy rice and coleslaw on the side. And having someone cook me a meal is always a treat and appreciated. We always have fun when we get together, too! I also received emails and hundreds of messages on Facebook from family and friends all over the world: Australia, India, Brussels, France, Switzerland, the U.K., the U.S., Costa Rica and Canada of course. I sure felt the love!
One of the best gifts I received was the news that my daughter, Phoenix, and her best friend, will be coming for a visit in three weeks!! I'm SO excited!!!
Although I had a lovely week, today, we received some sad news. One of our favourite neighbours back in Canada passed away on Thursday. We named our little dog, Bobbie, after our dear friend, Bob. We would see him walk his sweet dog, Lilly, around the block. When my son, Jude, was young, he would walk our dog, Frankie, around the same block and would often stop in front of Bob's house to have a chat. Bob was a really good guy, and we often think of him and nothing will change that... we will continue to think of him and hold fond memories.
We've lost a few friends along the way while being in Costa Rica, and with recent tragedy in Beirut and Paris hitting deep to the core of the world's heart, we are reminded how frail and precious life is. And love will get us through. Always love.
We welcomed Chelsea from Denver, Colorado this weekend: our first guest of the season. Although Chelsea travels quite a bit, it was her first time travelling outside the U.S. on her own. She had never been to Costa Rica and found Hush Valley Lodge on Airbnb. Chelsea arrived on Friday and spent the weekend going on the coffee tour in Santa Maria, hiking our trails (still pretty muddy at the moment, and even though she slipped and fell in the mud, she was beaming with a big smile on her face), and she caught her dinner, too. I'm pretty sure if we awarded a prize to the quickest catch, Chelsea would have won hands down. The hook barely hit the surface of the pond and she got a bite. It was the first trout from this batch, too. Lots of 'firsts' this weekend.
Yesterday, I kept Chelsea company on a little road trip to Providencia to see a beautiful waterfall. Low misty clouds high up on the mountain ridge created a ethereal, magical feel, but by the time we got to the waterfall the sun was poking through. We stayed for about a half hour soaking up the sound of the rushing water and the peaceful surrounding. Then just as we were back in the SUV heading for home, it started to rain. Our timing was impeccable It was lovely to get a chance to chat and get to know each other a little better.
Chelsea works as a hospice nurse for terminally ill patients and I found her incredibly inspiring. She is extremely dedicated and has found her calling, but says she needs time on her own to recharge her batteries. To take care of others in such a profound way, she has to take care of herself along the way, too. Good advice for us all. Hosting Chelsea was a fabulous start to our season. We can't wait for her to come back for another visit.
If you want to read what Chelsea wrote in our guestbook, click here.
September and October brought us some relaxation, and now that we're well rested we're ready to welcome this season's guests! We already have several bookings confirmed... our first arrives this Friday.
We also celebrate our Bobbie McGee's first year with us. October 28th marked her arrival into our family. She's made herself rather comfortable here. She has broken through the house threshold though. We now let her lounge inside on a towel near the door, but mostly she stays outside. And she still sleeps in her crate outside every night where she's cozy and safe.
She's very sweet, gentle and easy going. She loves Frankie and gives her lots of kisses and even though Frankie feigns indifference, we knows better. They're pals deep down.
A little update on the pond where we cleared that big plant last week. Kevin and Martin spent four hours building this concrete gate. It will help divert the water from the canal into either the pond on the right or through the canal to the far pond - or both - while keeping the trout from swimming upstream into the canal. This week, they will fill in the gaps with rocks and secure the rails. I'll have more pictures next week to show you the final result.
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Dave and Krista are a couple from the Pacific Northwest that led overwhelmingly busy lives.
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