On this last day of 2013, Kevin and I look back with gratitude for such a great year. We've been so lucky to have been hosts to some awesome guests. Word of mouth is spreading fast and furious and 2014 is promising to be busy! My book is nearly done... no, really... I know I've been singing the same refrain for several months now, but I'll chalk it up as part of the experience. It's a bit like a house renovation, it always takes longer than expected.
We also saw the full year through and made it through unscathed. The rainy months were completely tolerable: no issues with the river getting too high or too scary. The summer months were very dry, yet the natural springs filled our tanks up until the rainy season. We were careful not to waste it without being overly stingy and there was no problem.
In just ten days, we will be going to San Jose to receive our temporary residency papers, which is a nice feeling. It's been an amazing 16 months for sure and we know it's just the beginning.
All the best in 2014 to everyone who continue to follow our journey. Here's to making dreams come true... if you can dream it, you can achieve it!
Miriam gifted us with two spreaders she made herself... perfect for the blackberry jam we offer our guests. Her business is called Rescue and Transform. Check out her website to see all her crafty goodies at www.rescueandtransform.com. We just love them!
My former colleague from my previous life came to Costa Rica for a holiday with her family. I used to work with her and haven't seen her in over a year. Miriam and her husband, Ed, her two sons, Alex and Matt, all stayed at our B&B for three nights. It was a blast to have them here. It went by so quickly! They left a really nice note in our guestbook, too. Go check it out!
So, it's been a nice few days! On Monday, I decided to get some exercise and go for a hike. I walked down to Copey (4 km/2.5 miles) to deliver eggs to our friend in exchange for her fresh-pressed apple juice. Then I walk about another kilometre to my other friend's (and Spanish teacher, Sonia) place to give her a Christmas gift as a token of my appreciation for all her help. The walk down went faster than I had anticipated and I felt great. The walk back, well, it just about killed me! The hike is uphill and I stopped a few times to rest, drink some water and give my self a pep talk. I was determined not to call Kevin to pick me up and made it home. What a workout! Although I was really sore the next day, it felt good to get out there and see everything from a different perspective. Once I'm able to feel my legs, I'll try it again.
Then, on Tuesday, December 24, I spoke to Phoenix and Jude on Skype. They were gathered at their grandparents for Christmas dinner. Seeing them and speaking with them was the best present ever!
Christmas day was pretty quiet. We went to Martin and Clara's restaurant for lunch then I worked in the garden and cleaned the chicken coop... just another day.
Yesterday, Kevin and I spent the day cleaning up, getting ready for our guests who arrive this afternoon. My former colleague, Miriam, from my old work, Davis, and her family are spending 3 nights in our guesthouse then will drive down to the Pacific coast for a few more nights. It's so nice to see her and fun catching up. I made them broccoli-cauliflower soup as an appertizer, Shepherd's Pie for the main course and pineapple cake for dessert. I hope they liked everything.
Today, we were invited to have dinner with our friends Cindy and Larry in Santa Maria. Some of our other friends, Anika, Roger and Tony were also there. And we met a new couple, Maria and Michael. It was great fun. Everyone brought a dish and turkey was served. It was all delicious! While our family and friends are hunkering down and snuggling indoors, we spent the day chatting outside in glorious sunny weather.
We spent the day preparing for tomorrow's Christmas dinner at our friends' place, Cindy and Larry. There will be about 11 of us and we're all being asked to bring something. We volunteered to make ceviche and a baked broccoli and cauliflower dish. Kevin also smoked some trout, which is always a treat. It was a pretty productive day.
We also Skyped with Kevin's mum, my mum and later with his sister.
I also read on Facebook about the nasty ice storm that hit Burlington, Ontario, where our kids live and where we used to live. Many people have lost power and are having to brave the cold weather as the temperatures are dipping in their homes. Although it doesn't feel much like Christmas here, there are advantages to living in a place where daily temperatures reach 25°C... no ice storms!
Our friends Andrea and Beto from Casa Al Revez in Copey came by this morning to hike our trails. They have two groups of volunteers who are arriving in January and they're looking for an interesting project for their volunteers to work on. They had asked us a few months back to think of possible repairs, building fences or other structures that we might need. Kevin and I thought about it and we decided we'd love the volunteers to make directional signs and colourful benches along our trails and maybe even a map so our guests can feel secure they won't get lost when exploring our forest trails. Also, some trails are easier than others so maybe we can colour code them to indicate level of difficulty.
We led Andrea and Beto on several of our trails and they both had great ideas! After our hour-and-a-half hike, we came in for lunch (I made pizza, guacamole and fresh-squeezed orange juice). They stayed a few hours and we talked about all the possibilities. It will be interesting to see what they come up with. Unfortunately, it won't get done before our next two sets of guests arrive next week.
Kevin and I drove down to San Jose to meet our immigration lawyer. As part of the immigration process, we have to get our fingerprints recorded at the police station. We met him at his office then he drove us to the station. We got there early so the wait time was minimal. They called my name first and I was asked a bunch of questions in Spanish, which I was able to answer. While I was still being interviewed, Kevin's name was called. His interview was quicker because they realized he can only speak English. Now there's a good trick! The whole process took about an hour or so, then our fingerprints were rolled in ink... what a mess! It was Kevin and my first time ever having that done. I was expecting the fingerprints to have clear, defined lines, but mine just looked like a big, black smudge. I'm not sure if at a forensic level they'll be any good, but what do I know. Hopefully, they'll never need them.
Next step: we have an appointment in January to make our temporary residency status official.
This is our hot tub. It's been unused since we arrived last year. To keep the water hot, a wood stove is used. I don't know about you, but fiddling with fire to keep the water hot seems like a lot of work especially when the idea of a hot tub is to relax. Neither Kevin or I was particularly keen so we kept it empty. I felt it was a real eyesore and wanted to make better use of the space since it is right outside our back door. It's the first thing we see when we open the door and walk out.
Kevin and I removed the chimney and the fire box.
At first, we thought we might fill the bottom of the tub with rocks, but that was going to be heavy and would take a long time to collect from the river. I thought it would be easier to buy some wood chips from the lumber yard.
The bags take up a lot of space and are very light. I could manage these quite easily. We bought 14 bags and covered them in two layers of large black garbage bags, which fill the bottom of the tub.
Then, once the bags were in place, I added loose wood chips to fill in the gaps.
Then to fill the rest of the tub, we needed compost. Kevin and Martin have been cleaning out one of the ponds near the guesthouse and the muck is rich with fish poo. I shovelled some in buckets and then dumped them into the wheelbarrow. I then lugged the heavy load up to the new garden. I would do a little every day for over two weeks. It was incredibly hard work. I overdid it the first day and it took my back a week to recover.
Yesterday and today, Kevin helped me finish the task. I just wanted it done! And finally, it is. I planted some flowers, aloe vera and herbs. Hopefully, everything will take root and we'll have a beautiful garden to greet us when we walk out onto the terrace. Time will tell, but today, Kevin and I both agree it looks so much better than an dirty, empty hot tub. And I love that it will also be useful.
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Dave and Krista are a couple from the Pacific Northwest that led overwhelmingly busy lives.
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