Tag Archives: Expat living in Costa Rica

Incredible Transitions… these traditional gatherings in Costa Rica

fireworksNew Year’s Eve was an incredible, touching, noisy, loving surprise this year… My past year has been one of firsts, of understanding more and more of the traditions of this culture and the incredible personal awakenings shared with family and within my relationship with myself.

I’ve been caught up in ‘observation’ mode since I arrived here in Costa Rica: learning about the culture; learning about what family is really all about; learning, watching and participating in a new life; and welcoming and assimilating the many differences I’m glad/happy to adjust to here in this new country.

Last night – New Year’s Eve – I experienced the lastest traditional family gathering ritual. Family sharing a meal, children racing around, fireworks going off as if we were in the middle of a war zone… the dogs yelping and running in and out of the house for safety…while each adult opened their heart. This tradition was new to me. I hadn’t heard about this and I wasn’t prepared for the emotional tension. The very visceral nature of each person’s soliliquey  about what the past year with each person around the dinner table meant to them was powerful. I had a choice to ‘observe’ or to participate. Empathy moved in quickly. Participation followed.

Person after person held the floor. Person after person simply opened up their heart and threw it up all over the table as a gift for the family ‘song.’ Hurts, challenges, delights, thankfulness were revealed one by one around that table – each  shared how they were impacted and had grown this past year through their relationship with each of the others sitting there. By the time the 3rd person began their story, I was holding back sobs. This kind of authenticity overcame any resistance I had left to bonding with this family.

The previous New Year celebration I’d begged off attending, and instead spent it alone in the mountains listening to the fireworks as if they were popping popcorn. This year I sat in the midst of brutal, cleansing honesty without shame, sitting around a table of people who respected, loved, admired, had issues with, and truly loved one another. As if we were a fire lit to warm one another.

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Visa Run to Grenada, Nicaragua…

Yes, it’s almost that time again… another Visa Run this coming October to extend my stay another 90 days.  This time I’m going to Grenada, which means the Penas Blancas border, hothothothot weather, and new adventures. I’ve not been through this border before. From what I’ve heard, I better be prepared with water on hand, a hat, and lots of patience.

I’m gofrontera-penas-blancas-460x270ing to take Tica Bus there and back. Since the earliest bus is at 3am, I’ll stay at their little hotel, located above the bus station, the night before. The cost is minimal, but you get a clean room with private bathroom for only about $20, so it’s worth it!  The trip has a couple of options – one of which is Executive Class and the other Tourist Class. I’m gonna take the Exec bus because it’s faster, they stop for breakfast, have a bathroom on board, and help you through Customs… well, at least they point you in the right direction.

photo of tica bus

As you can see, the bus is plenty plush and comfortable. Sometimes, though, they have the a/c cranked up to uncomfortable levels, so as hot as you know it’s going to be in Nicaragua – no matter where you go – it’s prudent to bring a sweatshirt, at least….. some people even travel with blankets!

I found an incredible site online as I was searching for potential places to stay in Grenada…. wikitravel.org/en/Grenada_(Nicaragua). It’s a thoughtful listing of lodgings, activities, eateries and asides regarding everything Granada broken down from budget to very comfortable options.

I’ve chosen Casa San Francisco Hotel which has a Visa Run special at 3 nights for $139/single and $159/double, which is an outstanding deal for this boutique hotel.

Casa San Francisco

hotelcasasanfrancisco.com. It looks like a great spot in a great location. With a pool, a/c, cable tv, wifi, and an ambiance that feels personal, I’m really looking forward to this vacation!

Antsy…

WARNING!!!

There are pictures of those damn kitchen ants in this post… As most of you know, I am a peaceful person who has learned to reign in an Irish temper ‘issue.’ Well, I thought I had, but these Costa Rican ants are really, excuse me – bugging me!

ants3This is not an uncommon site in my house if I forget to put a spoon in the sink after I’ve served myself a meal with it.  You’ll notice that the entire area around the spoon is spotless. It takes less than a minute for a swarm to show up and attempt to get away with the goods. These ants are smart, too… they’ve learned that when they ‘hear’ me or the vibrations of my using the counter they freeze, hoping I won’t see them I guess. Or maybe they’re hearing me say bad words and that’s the freeze trigger?

ants2This is not an unusual site, unfortunately, if I haven’t cleaned off the counter for an hour after fixing a meal.

This is the deal… most of my life I’ve not had to pay that much attention to keeping surfaces relatively clean – certainly picked up – but relative is, well, a relative word, isn’t it? Yep. Since I’ve not had to deal with pests of this type before my cleaning skills were passable to spontaneous people dropping by my house and having a cup of something in the kitchen while we chatted. But after a year and a half here on a farm in Costa Rica, I’ve finally come to the conclusion that deep cleaning is on the agenda following every single meal I make… or I’ll just continue to get crazier and crazier about the issue.

This is one of the trade offs when living in an original tico house where not every surface falls flush to another surface… nothing’s actually plumb: all window sashes show the sky around at least two of the edges;  there are holes drilled large enough to move piping into the sinks in the kitchen and bathroom, without sealing or caulking to finish the job; there are holes in the walls to run wiring that have not been sealed… you understand where I’m coming from by now. So, it’s either accommodate the ants – which to a certain extent I do by telling them over and over again “I love ya, but if you’re in my house, you’re DEAD!” (maybe that’s why they freeze on the counters …)

ants1So, for a year and a half I’ve lost my temper innumerable times with the ants, none of which survived I’m happy to report, but which also doesn’t mean much cuz there are torrents of them just waiting for the opportunity to replace those who have fallen in battle…

This morning I reached under the counter to pull out a pan to make breakfast and found it covered with dozens…. dozens of ants. That was the last straw. I am now going into bitter battle mode. Time for the boric acid solution which they will voraciously eat and take back to their leader wherever she is, and then the colony will die. Yippee she said dancing with her hands in the air to a happy beat!

At least I won’t have to inhale the ever-present Raid vapors anymore once I have a supply on hand and that’s the good part… the bad part is that I do have guilt about killing an animal, even if it is an ant. I guess that’s why I’ve waited so long to do something about it.  I know, I know, I live in Costa Rica, get over myself.. everyone here deals with ants in their coffee or juice once in a while, but this is just ridiculous. Time to grow some and welcome the Boric Acid Sword of Righteousness!!

Enchantment…

For years I’ve awoken in the morning and with my first cup of coffee pulled one of the cards from Doreen Virtue’s Healing With The Angels Oracle Cards, asking as I shuffle them three times before cutting to the card I’m going to pull “What should I concentrate on for myself today.” Last week I pulled “Enchantment” and I’ve not pulled another card since because whenever I see or remember that card something wonderful has happened in my life that I’ve saved in my heart-centered treasure chest to share on this post…

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1. Thunderheads were forming over the mountains across the valley – huge, frothy white clouds expanding as I watched. All the sudden there was a darker cloud that floated in front and formed itself into a heart! that looked just like this. Took my breath away because of the simple awesomeness of the moment and the transcendent realization that you don’t have to look for Enchantment, just be willing to accept it as it occurs.

 

two butterflies2. Butterflies have been flying around me as I’m walking around the finca, or sitting on the patio just enjoying the birds, cats, nature… they’re so playful and exhuberant and incredible acrobats. Their ‘shows’ are fantastic when played against the myriad trees, bushes and plants around the yard. I’d give them a 10 if it was the Olympics, just gasping at their ability to flexibly adjust in mid-air, mid-flight, mid-ecstacy.

 

greenhummingbird3. Whenever I’m at my computer there is a hummingbird who looks like this picture that hovers immediately in front of the window above my desk… what is it thinking? It tries and tries to find a way into my casita – or me – or the energy that’s being promoted at the time – I don’t know.  For whatever reason, this hummingbird is pure enchantment to me because it’s a sign there’s something special happening that’s attracting it.  When it gets tired, it rests on the branch of a tree and simply watches me…

 

Resting with Evangeline 4 mos

4. And, again, here’s me with Evangeline… I don’t know if she’s just a big four month old, or if this picture is a true representation of how short I actually am. Whichever, I am truly at peace with her and having her sleep in my arms is a treat beyond measure, truly enchanting.

I’ve allowed enchantment to reach my heart lately…  and I think it’s a portion of feeling gratitude for a life I cherish. We’ve all been experiencing enough options for grief lately that we need the balance of incredulousness and giddy happiness for it’s own sake.  I’m consciously allowing these moments, these instances, of pure pleasure  to reach my heart and  lift my spirits. They happen all the time… I hope you’re experiencing them too!

 

Birthdays and Facebook Fatigue…

bbqbigpicLook at all those smiles… we had a marvelous birthday celebration for everyone in the family who had a birthday in July… I’m one! Here are two of the others… Laura, my daughter in law, and Alejandra who is married to Laura’s brother.

bbqcakeThe family came to my house for a barbeque. The weather held up, there was lots of good food, the kids running around having fun, and I felt a smile throughout my body as the day went on. It’s a wonderful way to celebrate with such a large group. As the kids get older maybe we’ll see some futbol out on the front lawn…. hope hope hope. It was so weird watching the US vs Costa Rica last night on tv… I’m just getting into futbol and really enjoying it.. the time just flies by… it reminds me of a game of chess, except in motion.

Before the party, my granddaughter Lorelei came over and we made cookies.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASuch a cute cookie… both of them! HA!! And so photogenic… Here’s another shot of the decorated goodies

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMany were ‘left over’ at my house and I am sorry to report that they are now banashed into the gut of a newly 63 year old!! Loved every single bite.. but the party’s over, it’s time to go through sugar withdrawal and welcome the next 30 lb loss, while I learn the rules of futbol to replace my Facebook addiction.

Yes, sorry to say I now have too many friends on Facebook to leave it to an hour to peruse all the new posts… jeesh, too much of a good thing? Or time to cull the list of those who mysteriously have appeared as friends whom I’ve never heard of…

Dawn…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADawn from my front porch … the Central Valley below is a glittering pink panorama.

Dawn’s a special time when the Oropendas call to signal it’s time to get to work, the rest of the birds are chirping or yelling – depending… all adjusting to what the weather has presented them with as the sun is rising.  Usually the farm cats or squirrels are crawling over the tin roof, and at one point all the dogs on the mountainside break into the most amazing caterwauling I’ve ever heard – a special kind of dog concert. … I’m sure they’re talking to one another, maybe checking in to let one another know their status? I don’t know, but they do it at dawn and again at around dusk.

Don’t know why I’ve awoken at 1 am the past couple of mornings. The only downside to it, really, is missing dawn… when I wake up this early I usually sleep through dawn, which for me is a disappointment.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is my favorite spot at dawn, after standing at the window overlooking the Central Valley sparkling lights while filling the coffee machine, I settle down in my overstuffed chair with a cup of coffee and watch the sun come up on the jungle behind my casita… comfortably ensconced with the smell of Cafe Britt coffee wafting around me, contemplating my day and what I’d like to make of it.

Lately my life has changed. I’m beginning my second year here in Costa Rica. I’ve gone through the honeymoon stage and am now really feeling settled. Retaining the love for this country and the initial delights that captured my heart to begin with a year ago, has offered me a new depth of feeling I haven’t experienced before. To use an analogy: it feels like the flirting/crush stage I’ve had with Costa Rica has now evolved into love – there’s so much more to discover, and there’s all the time in the world to do it. I’m really here to stay and it feels as if  the country is loving me back.

So is my new granddaughter… she’s experiencing a dawn of a different type. And this is how my life has changed recently.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAObserving her discoveries has shifted me into a … what can I call it? A state of grace? I don’t know, but after an afternoon of watching her blossom, I feel a new sense of community with everything around me… and I think that must be part of what she is experiencing. When I get home from babysitting I have this marvelous hangover of that unconditional love we all read and talk about, but rarely hold onto long enough to feel the attendant bliss it provides.

Then… after a stimulating couple of hours…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s time to rest in the hammock for a short, but profound nap…

At this point I’ve been awake for about three hours and it’s about time for me to hit the snore slab for an hour or two before the cacophony of nature welcomes me with a new dawn, and a new opportunity for bliss… night night…

 

 

 

 

Morphos, Horses and Toucans…

Oh My! What an incredible experience I am having in the midst of a very humid paradise! Heh heh… it is so humid that after a walk with Lily I pour sweat for another twenty minutes and getting out of my clothes to shower is like peeling an orange….. I have more pictures for you!  Do you know the Lunesta commercial on tv where the butterfly is flying so weirdly… as if she’s swooping up then down then up then down… actually, that’s exactly how these morpho’s fly…. I was watching one at this site in the next photo where I always see them, and yelled out loud ‘It’s the Lunesta butterfly!’ with great glee I might add… even though it was just Lily and I on our Route 2 walk…

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And I have to add here that the horses, all the horses I’ve seen here are really pretty animals and once they know you, after you’ve acknowledged them, they don’t pay much more attention to you. I don’t care, I say HI! anyway… they probably think I’m a young puppy with the enthusiastic energy I’m exhibiting.

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But here’s my grand excitement of this house sitting trip thus far:

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Yep, toucans in a tree… can you believe it? I couldn’t. I just stopped in my tracks and felt like the heavens had opened and my heart with it and was totally bamboozled with joy. Never seen one, much less a treefull of toucans before… what a treat!

Lily and I on the Route 2 walk enjoyed the following sights along the way: Here she is on the rickety bridge that has steel beams under the rotting wood over a small raging river.

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And here is a picture of the local school.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Yes, the following sign DOES say that you can buy this lot along the large river for $49.5k.

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And your final picture for today…. the mountains under a cloud… this is what the locals in Ojochal see each day… well, maybe not the clouds all the time by a longshot, but you can see in this picture how incredibly close and high they are,  and they’re topped by clouds in this one…. ah….. sure you don’t want to come and visit this most beautiful place and wander with me via local bus and on foot through paradise?

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