Monday, March 31, 2008

Well this sucks.

Check cashing scam hits Costa Rica! I recently had a check from one of my clients in the U.S. stolen and cashed here in Costa Rica. I never use my post office box in C.R. to receive checks, and this is exactly why. Why they even sent it there, I don't know, because they have my forwarding address in Miami (and if you live here and don't have one, check out companies like Trans Express/Interlink or Jet Box or Aerocasillas). Sigh. It was a big check, too, for several months' worth of work.What the thieves did was to put their "business" name above my name on the check, deposit it in their account and wait for it to clear. I have a strong feeling that the account no longer exists, and it is all just a big scam to steal people's money. In fact, if we can even track down who originally opened the account I'd be quite surprised. The idiot cashier at the bank didn't even ask for a thumbprint, which most banks do now (at least they always ask me to put mine on my own checks in my own name, even though the cashiers have known me for years).

Tomorrow I go with esposo to the OIJ to see what we can find out. Moral: If you can at all avoid it, don't have checks sent here. Yes, I know it can also happen in the States, but it didn't. And I've worked for myself here in Costa Rica for almost 8 years now, and have never had a single check go missing from my mail at Interlink. Seems quite odd that the first and only check I've ever been sent directly to Costa Rica would get stolen, don't you think?

What are the odds I'll actually see that money someday?


Saturday, March 29, 2008

A personal note from me to you

Dear readers,

I started this blog way back when because one of my girls in the U.S. asked me something like, "So what is your day like? What do you do down there?" And I said, "Pretty much the same things I did up there, with some differences, of course." So I started writing about my experiences here, as a journal for myself, and in the hopes that maybe someone out there would find something interesting to read along the way.

Lately it seems my readership has jumped to this level that I can't really figure out. I mean, a year ago I could count on one hand the number of readers I had, and I knew them all personally. Not that I'm complaining that people are actually reading my blog, mind you, but there are a couple of things you might want to keep in mind.

1. Everything here is my opinion. Like the hole in one's ass, everyone has an opinion, and I'm no exception. Feel free to argue with me about something you read if you like; I may or may not get into a debate with you, depending on how I strongly feel about the subject. I might just say, yeah, you're right!

2. I'm not trying to sell you anything. Thus I feel free to give out plenty of #1. If you are so inclined to purchase something from the Amazon link to the right on this page, all of the proceeds go to support a cat rescue in Ohio that my mom works with. (I am also the webmaster of that site, there you go.) Otherwise I don't make any money from this blog. I think I might have $0.27 in Google revenue or something like that.

3. With #2 in mind, if you're going to post a comment in order to try to increase your readership at another Costa Rica site (I don't need to mention it; you know who you are), forget it. If that other site even gets mentioned in one of my comments here, I'm going to delete it. I don't appreciate whoever you are trying to make money off of me, or trying to get more readers from my silly little blog. All of my comments are moderated. Sorry. That's just the way it's going to be from now on. I read a comment on that other site from a woman who has a blog not too unlike mine (her experiences living in Costa Rica, basically), and she was pretty pissed about getting these same kinds of comments on her blog and having to constantly delete them. I feel for ya, sister. So I know it's a scam and I'm not falling for it anymore.

4. For the rest of you, I love you. I truly do! Keep leaving comments and letting me know you're out there. It helps me stay connected to the rest of the world.



Friday, March 28, 2008

Insulted by a priest

L.'s post over at Glittering Generalities today reminded me that I wanted to tell you a story about something that happened at my father-in-law's funeral, but then it was a sad time, and I wanted to wait a couple of weeks, and then I forgot about it. But then I was e-mailing Amy the other day, and she and I got to talking about our mutual distaste for proselytism and churches in general, and I told her the story. She was floored, to say the least.

So here it is.

One of esposo's dad's last wishes was to have his funeral in the Catholic church. Neither esposo nor I am Catholic, though esposo grew up in the church, and his mother (my MIL) is still pretty Catholic. I've been to weddings in churches (not my own, mind you), and if that's what someone wants, so be it, to each his/her own. So we had the funeral in the Catholic church in downtown Poas.

To begin with, the priest was late. I think that's just insensitive and rude, but whatever. The worst was yet to come. Since esposo, son, MIL and me were all the family my father-in-law had left, we sat in the front pew. Everyone was visibly upset, it being a funeral and everything. However, esposo, being the good man that he is, still did all of the rites and prayers and that thing where the priest says something and the congregation says something back in response. I didn't, because I don't know any of them, not even in English, let alone in Spanish, so it was obvious I was not Catholic. About halfway through the mass, the priest does a reading that is supposed to be relevant to the occasion. After he launches into a spiel about pagans (which always irritates me to no end, because priests obviously have no idea what pagans believe, or they would know pagans see God in everything), he goes on to talk about raising children in the Catholic church, and at one point says that if a child's father is one religion, and the mother is another, the child basically grows up with no God at all. It was as if he had tailored his speech specifically to insult our family. Ok, so he's saying that my son can't believe in God because of what his parents choose to believe? Am I hearing that right? At that point, son and I went outside, and I waited until the mass was over, and then just walked behind the hearse to the cemetery with everyone else. (Oh, and I did sing "When the Saints Come Marching In" for my father-in-law, though no one could hear me, because I promised him I would. I always found the tradition of the big band playing music at one's funeral as they do in New Orleans to be a wonderful thing -- celebrating a life instead of mourning a death.)

At first, I sort of shrugged off the priest's actions, as, well, he's just an ass and stuck in his ways and no one is going to change him. But then I thought about it and it made me angry. How dare he do this in front of half the town of Poas, when everyone knows that the son of the man who has just passed away is married to a woman who is not Catholic? And what did that ridiculous speech of his have to do with a funeral, anyway? A couple of esposo's friends have even mentioned how inappropriate and rude it was. I've mostly gotten over the anger about it, though it will always leave a distaste in my mouth for the Catholic church and I am highly unlikely ever to step inside one for a mass of any sort again.


Thursday, March 27, 2008

Am I quirky or just weird?

Maybe I'm totally and completely normal. No. On second thought, I'm definitely not normal. Ask esposo.

So my friend L. over at Glittering Generalities tagged me to do the quirky meme. I've been putting it off because I am having a hard time thinking of six quirky things about myself. Here are the rules:

1. Link to the person that tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Share six non-important things/habits/quirks about yourself.
4. Tag six random people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs.
5. Let each random person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their website.

I probably won't tag six random people. I'm just not that kind of person, you know? However, I know I have a few readers out there, so if any of you are so inclined, do this meme yourself and leave a comment back here. Would that work? ;-) I only know a few bloggers, and Amy hasn't started on her new blog yet, L. sent me this to begin with, Serial Quilters seems to be down, so I guess that means it's up to you, Manders! Ha ha...

Here are my quirky things:

1. Even if I can't stand a book, I will read it to the end. Mumbling all the way, why am I reading this piece of crap? OCD, I guess. I still love reading the same Frog and Toad book to son every night, though.
2. Speaking of OCD, I have to have all of my clothes (and everyone else's clothes) in the house hanging the same direction. Esposo, who has known me know for oh, ten years or so, still has no idea what I'm talking about when I say this. So I shall explain. If you look at the hangar, the shirt is hung with the front facing so that the opening on the hook of the hangar goes to the left. All of the hooks toward the back of the closet. It totally irks me to see a hook with the opening to the front of the closet. And though I'm a total slob, I have to do the laundry around here because I just get irritated thinking about someone else doing it.
3. I have the messiest desk of anyone I know. Still, I usually know where everything is. But that doesn't stop me from, say, buying an extra roll of tape or package of envelopes every now and then.
4. It totally disgusts me to see television commercials with people brushing their teeth. Ew. Or shaving. You just know they are going to cut themselves. I have to change the channel.
5. I once took a private pilot's class to get over my fear of flying. It sort of helped. I don't actually have any flight time logged, but I do have half of a pilot's license.
6. I am a geek girl. I love it when guys come to me to solve their computer problems. And I totally love sci-fi movies and t.v.; Sliders (the old cheesy Sliders), MST3K, Red Dwarf, The Ice Pirates, etc. I can't count the number of times I've seen Star Wars (the original, you know, not the "new" version!) or Blade Runner.

There you have it. So does that make me quirky or just weird?


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Who's coming to Costa Rica?

Some sale fares I saw on American Airlines this morning (it's in Spanish though it seems pretty self-explanatory):


Tarifa: SLXSA6D
De Los Ángeles, CA
a Liberia, CR

Reserve Ahora
De NYC/LaGuardia, NY
a Liberia, CR

Reserve Ahora
De Orlando, FL
a Liberia, CR

Reserve Ahora
De Washington Dulles, DC
a Liberia, CR

Reserve Ahora
De Cleveland, OH
a San José, CR

Reserve Ahora
De Denver, CO
a San José, CR

Reserve Ahora
De San Francisco
a San José, CR

Reserve Ahora


Sunday, March 23, 2008

Magic in La Garita

So today is Easter Sunday, and son and I were bored, so we decided to drive over to Atenas. Boy, if I thought Grecia was boring, Atenas is at least twice so. We were looking for a place called Kay's Gringo Postres, but didn't find it, so we basically turned around to go back home not five minutes after we arrived in lovely downtown Atenas. On the way back, I decided to stop at a place called Magic's Motown. They used to have a place in Santa Ana, and I guess moved over to La Garita, which is just off the highway going toward Atenas. I love Motown, and I figured any place that played Motown is good in my book, even though they serve 108 different flavors of chicken wings (yeah, I'm not even going there!). I was expecting, with a name like Magic, to find a big soul brother behind the counter, but nope, just three white people. I am assuming one of them was Magic himself. Well I guess white people can have soul, too... Since it was Easter, they weren't serving their usual menu, and their Easter menu was all meaty, so we just ordered a couple of baskets of fries and a Coke for me, an iced tea for the boy. Let me tell you, though, those fries were the best I've ever had in Costa Rica. Hands down. In fact they are some of the best fries I've ever had ever. Big thick things with the skins still on. O M G. So good. And it was a damn big basket of fries. About halfway through I thought, I cannot finish this, but you know how it goes, they're so good and you keep picking and picking at them until lo and behold the basket is gone. Damn fine fries. And nice people. And even some Motown music, which down here is about as rare as country music or big band. I'm sure we'll be back.

P.S. Yesterday I wrote "La Guacima" where I meant to say "La Garita." Blame it on a cold I've been fighting with.


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Costa Rica phone numbers change TODAY!

You may already know this, but if not, as of today, March 20, 2008, all phone lines change to 8 digits instead of 7. For land lines, add a 2 before the number, and for cell phones, add an 8.


Is it rainy season again? Already?

Actually we had a long summer this year. I was wondering if it was ever going to start raining. I like having my yard nice and green and full of plants. Esposo and son just put in a bunch of plants and at least this way I don't have to water them every day. It seems, though, that Grecia is a pretty dry area overall. When it's pouring even just over in Poas, nothing here. So I'm wondering what "rainy" season will be like here.

Did I ever tell you my dryer saga? No? Here it is. I bought a dryer, oh, I think somewhere around January of 2007. It has never actually been used. I decided to buy a gas dryer, because I thought it would be more environmentally friendly and less expensive to run. Well. Do you have any idea how hard it is to hook up a gas dryer to a propane tank in this country? No? Let me tell you, it is. Several months after purchasing said dryer, I finally managed to get esposo to go out and try to find the connections (it being rainy season at that point and all). There was only one place we could find them, and of course they didn't fit. Back to the store. Buy different size connections. This took place two or three or maybe even four times. Finally, the connections connected, the propane tank full, the dryer was ready to be used.

It wouldn't start. Of course at this point the "warranty" on our used dryer had washed away like half of my backyard was doing in the flooding rains of last year. So we had our trusty appliance tech come over and see if he could figure it out. He referred us to a place in San Jose, they came and picked it up, and now more than a year later it is still sitting there. They need a new part (a computer board or something) to fix the dryer, which of course they don't have in Costa Rica. No problem, because I can order parts from Sears since it's a newer Kenmore. However, esposo and the guy at the fixit place have been going back and forth on the phone about the part for months on end. I finally downloaded a diagram of the parts from the Sears site, faxed it over to the shop last week, and now I'm waiting for Semana Santa to be over so that I can ask them which part, exactly, it is. I told esposo that if I do not have my dryer back within a month, I'm buying another one. One that works. Probably one that is electric, I really don't care at this point. Do you know how long it takes to dry clothes on a clothesline in the pouring rain? A long time. Even if you hang said clothesline on your porch, because the humidity is close to or at 100%. Jeans can take three or four days. And then, you know, they smell wonderful afterwards. No thank you. I want my dryer back.

At least this rainy season I have a car I can actually drive in the rain without having the windows down! Woo-hoo! That is progress.


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Four-legged friends need homes

Saw a link to this site for an animal rescue group in Atenas, just over the hill from where we live. They have lots of beautiful dogs and cats and puppies and kittens in need of homes; if you're in Costa Rica for the long haul (or even the short haul -- it really isn't that difficult to take pets out of Costa Rica), and thinking about getting a pet, please check out this site. There's a lovely blind dog on there (Topacio) that I'd adopt in a heartbeat if we didn't already have nine dogs and four cats. I have such a soft spot for "differently abled" animals!

Atenas Foundation for Helping Abandoned Animals


Speaking of Semana Santa...

WTF is it with half of the Costa Rican population heading to the beach for Semana Santa? I mean, do you want to spend time with a million other people on crowded beaches, crowded roads, and in crowded hotels and restaurants? I do not get it. Latinos from other countries do not get it. Even many Costa Ricans do not get it. Most Gringos don't get it, either. It's sort of like spring break mentality in the States. Ok, so you get this time off from school and work and head down to Daytona Beach or Cancun or Lake Havasu with a million other people. I guess that's fun when you're like, 18, but not so much in your 20s and beyond. Then it's just lame. So I can see Costa Rican teenagers enjoying this mass exodus to the beaches, but not adults, and I'll tell you, it's mostly adults and families with kids that do this Semana Santa beach thing. Bleh. No thanks.

Esposo once asked me why college kids in the U.S. act, for lack of a better word, so stupidly. So childish in their partying attitudes and all that. I don't really know; I guess because they need to get it out of their systems, is what I told him. Once people graduate from college, they usually stop their partying ways. Perhaps that is the root of this Semana Santa beachgoing insanity. Costa Ricans don't really stop their partying ways once they do graduate from college. It seems to take many more years for that process to happen. Maybe they feel so repressed all of their lives that once they start partying, they just can't stop. Even when they get married and have kids. I don't know; this is all conjecture on my part based on the Costa Ricans I know personally.

Whatever, my opinion is that unless you like big crowds of drunken morons, avoid the beaches during Semana Santa. If you could even find a hotel room anyway.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Not a great start to Holy Week

On Sunday (Palm Sunday, the start of Holy Week in Costa Rica and other places that celebrate such things), I took esposo up the mountain to work. Once you hit a certain point on the mountain, there is absolutely nothing up there until you reach the summit, at which point you find one small dairy farm and some buildings that appear not to have been used in the past 20 years. Over the summit, there isn't much of anything again until you get to the "town" of Bajos del Toro (and here I use the word "town" in its loosest sense; I've never seen any location so sparsely inhabitated yet still known by an official name). And when I say "nothing up there," I mean no houses or businesses or farms, just lots of forest. I'm giving you all of this information about the mountain so that you might understand how I felt when I saw not one, but two starving dogs up there in the middle of nowhere.

It seemed to me both had been dumped by their "owner." Honestly, I've never seen a dog so emaciated in my life as these two were/are. Since there's nothing up there, and neither esposo nor I had ever seen these dogs before, the only conclusion I could draw is that some hole figured even throwing them a scrap every now and again was too much to deal with and dumped them -- oh excuse me, I mean "lost" them, because, you know, that's what the Costa Ricans call it when they dump an animal instead of doing the right thing and taking it to one of the shelters. And this hole also dumped the dogs a few miles apart from each other, so that they would really have to go it on their own, and not even have each other's company. Ooh, if I could get my hands on this person you know what I'd do! Tie him up to a two-foot chain electrical cord and leave him in the sun with no shelter and no food or water for a week or two, see how he likes it!

I try to always carry some sample bags of dog food or just bag up some of my own and keep it in the car for such occasions (because they are many in Costa Rica), so on the way back I saw one of the dogs (a German shepherd-ish boy) and tried to give him some food. He was so terrified that he ran away as soon as he saw me. I haven't seen the other dog again yet. I am hoping and praying that someone took pity on him and at least gave him a bite to eat. I had planned on picking up either or both of the dogs and taking them to the shelter myself, even though it would cost me money (they have this dumb policy of charging people for bringing in dogs but not for adopting them -- my thoughts on that another time), it was the right thing to do. Of course, I couldn't get within 50 feet of the poor animal. I left some food on the ground for him, and the following day, esposo and I brought leftovers from his restaurant and also left them on the side of the road. I can't imagine what it would feel like to starve to death.

I look around at my relatively pampered (by comparison) dogs; Isabella lying next to my feet (as usual); Tiny and Roxy snuggled together taking a nap on their doggie bed; Numi and Cheska and Chloe on the porch in the sun with their footballs; Liz and Maddie and Bonnie pretending they're going to catch that squirrel/iguana/bird if only they could get close enough. Those dogs up on the mountain could be anyone's loving companions; instead they are out there with no one, nothing, having to fend for themselves. It makes me sick and breaks my heart at the same time. Sometimes I feel like this is a reason I'm here in Costa Rica; other times I feel like this is the reason I have to leave.


Thursday, March 13, 2008

The things you find here

We don't have no stinking Target here, my friends. Though you can find stuff from Target all over the place at these retail outlet sort of stores (think Marshall's on a smaller scale). Today I stopped by the little plaza thing off the highway from Santa Ana toward Escazu, just after the bridge under which Grandma used to live with her chickens; the plaza has a Levi's outlet and I think a Best Brands. Anyway, I went in Inbox Home to see what they had because 1) I love junk shopping, and 2) I love finding a bargain. I was both shocked and amazed to find some bottles of Method surface cleaner (I bought four). If you don't know about Method, they make 100% natural/biodegradable cleaners, etc., basically stuff you can't buy in Costa Rica at all (I really dislike showering the house in chemicals). Hopefully these four bottles will last a while. At any rate, the muchacha did say they would be getting more Method products in (hooray!). I also picked up these guarana mints that esposo loves, and a "mint chocolatini" mix from Target whereby you add booze and water, throw it in the freezer, and you have a party (there's one bucket left, btw, if anyone out there wants to go get it). I hope they will get more of that in! They also have bunches of dishes from Target. Targetware. Hee hee...

Tomorrow is esposo's birthday. I thought since it was his big 3-0 we could do mint chocolatinis instead of cake. Everyone gets a cake. I bet , relatively speaking, very few people get mint chocolatinis.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Baby hummers update

I dropped off esposo at work on the mountain this morning, and went over to see how the baby hummingbirds were doing. (I mistakenly said there were three babies in my other post, but no, all along there were only two. Hard to count since all I could see was fuzz!) I was at first dismayed to see the tiny nest had fallen apart, with very little of it remaining attached to the branch, but then I noticed two tiny babies, each sitting on a different branch no more than a foot apart. Mama came by and fed one while I was standing there, and I don't know if the babies are ready to fly away or not (esposo says not yet but any day now they will be), but they just sat there on the branch with me looking at them, cocking their heads at me, not in the least bit frightened by my presence. So beautiful. Almost all of their fuzz is gone, with just a little remaining on their tiny heads. And I violated one of my own rules about traveling in Costa Rica; namely, always take your camera. So I have no photos to show you. Esposo, however, has promised to take photos for me with his camera. Unless they fly away first.

P.S. Update on the update: They flew away first. Carp.


Monday, March 10, 2008

A damn fine falafel

Who doesn't love a good falafel? If you do, too, head over to Little Israel in the Plaza Los Laureles shopping center in Escazu (at least I think it's Plaza Los Laureles; at any rate, it's the one where the Spoon is, on the back road from Escazu to Santa Ana). Little Israel is run by a woman named Rona, who is just about as nice as can be (and totally reminds me of my grandma!). She gave son a candy necklace for Valentine's Day and he, being three, wants one every time we go in. Besides having all things kosher and other yummy Middle Eastern foods that are hard to find in Costa Rica, she has a little deli in the back where she makes things like falafel sandwiches. The pitas -- also made by Rona's company (which, to be fair, she runs with her husband) -- are stuffed with falafel balls, hummus and cabbage salad. O. M. G. They are so good. So good. And only 2,000 (which is about $4 US). I have never been able to eat an entire sandwich in one sitting, son only has a few bites before he proclaims himself full, but esposo, of course, can eat a whole sandwich and then start working on mine. And? She has giant jars of kosher dill pickles. So if you're hungry and in the neighborhood, head over to Little Israel and have a falafel and a pickle. And let me know what you think!


Sunday, March 09, 2008

12 keys, 5 bank accounts

I don't know why, but some things in Costa Rica you end up with far more of than you really need. For example, I have 12 keys to this house. 12. It's not a big, giant house, either: 2 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms -- I mean, granted, it's a nice size house, the biggest house I've ever lived in, but not one that should require 12 keys. There is a different key to each door, and another key to the gate out front. Three sliding doors, a front door, a door to the garage, a back door, and a door from the washroom to the garage. That's 7 keys right there, plus the gate key is 8. Oh yeah, then there's a security door with a deadbolt from the house to the garage, so that's another key, bringing our total to 9. I guess the other remaining 3 keys fit the interior doors. Is that weird? It seems weird. Though every house I've lived in in Costa Rica is pretty much the same: a big handful of keys for one small house.

And I also have too many bank accounts. The oldest is with Banco Cuscatlan, which I opened years ago when we first moved here, because the company that I worked for also had an account there, and it was easy to get an account as a foreigner at that time. Then I wanted to get an international debit card, so I opened an account at Banex (now HSBC); if you don't remember my Banex saga, feel free to read all about it. I'm only keeping HSBC because... well... honestly I don't know why I'm keeping that account open, actually! Oh yeah, okay, it is quick with international direct transfers (within 24 hours as opposed to Cusc, which can take up to 3 days). I really never use it, though. Lately, when the need arises, I've been doing wire transfers via Cusc, and just sucking up the extra couple of days in order not to have to deal with the morons at HSBC nee Banex. I deposit international checks at Cusc, though, because they have the shortest wait time on any bank I've found so far (10-14 days, depending on which teller you get). If you know of another bank with a shorter time, please let me know! Banco Nacional has about a 30-day wait time. Ouch! Hope you don't need that money any time soon! Oh, I'm getting on esposo's account at Nacional, which he only has because of work, otherwise we both really despise Nacional and wonder why anyone would actually choose that bank. They're terrible, and slow, and have had some problems with people's accounts having money taken from them without the account holders' knowledge. Yeah, that makes you feel secure! Ok, so bank #4 is BAC, which I opened in order to get the international debit card when I was having all of those problems with Banex. Now, for some weird reason, they don't let foreigners deposit international checks in their own accounts until a year has passed, so I haven't really used BAC as much as I thought I would. I'll tell you, though, they are a top-notch bank with great customer service. Other than the minor fact that the woman who "opened" my account there was completely clueless and kept waiting for paperwork I'd already provided, I've been very happy with them (a tip: use the Santa Ana/Lindora branch rather than the Escazu/Paco branch). Bank #5 is Promerica, where I have the loan for my car. I don't really know why they opened a bank account for me. Something about being able to transfer funds online to pay my loan. However, I'd still have to go to the bank to deposit funds into the account, so why wouldn't I just pay the loan instead? It doesn't really make sense, and I doubt I'll ever use that particular account.

There you have it. Five bank accounts, 12 keys. Go figure.


Tuesday, March 04, 2008

It all depends on your point of view

You'll either think this is cool or gross. I thought it was a little of both. Anyway, here's something interesting about iguanas: They can drop their tails in order to escape like other small lizards (geckos, for example) when something grabs them by the tail.

How I know this is that Numi the Insane actually managed to catch an iguana by the tail (and how she did it, I have no idea, because those suckers are fast), which the iguana promptly disposed of and then took off without. Esposo looked out to see Numi on the porch playing with the iguana's tail. It was a good 8-10 inches long, and we went out there to get it from her. The muscles (I'm assuming they were muscles; biology was never my strong subject as I refused to dissect anything) looked like fingers protruding from either side of the tail, and there was very little blood at all, so I suppose the iguana has some mechanism to also shut off the blood flow in order to not die from blood loss. Now, the weird thing was that son, being such a boy that he is, wanted to see the tail and touch it. When you touched the tail down toward the tip, it moved in reaction to the touch. Very strange. As if the tail itself was alive. Once we were done playing with the iguana tail, we tossed it over the fence into the coffee field below.

Now I'm on the lookout for Stumpy the Iguana, who must be rather large to have had such a long tail. Haven't seen him/her yet, though.


Sunday, March 02, 2008

And still more walking

The day after the Los Chorros hike, we (son and I) drove esposo up to work, and thought we'd try the hike to their waterfalls, as esposo had promised me it was far, far easier than the hike we'd taken the previous day. To his credit, he was mostly telling the truth, though when we got to the final waterfall (El Silencio), there were, indeed, quite a few stairs to trek. He says that he didn't remember all of those stairs; but I say, yeah, right. Eh, we'd gone that far, what's a few more stairs. And yes, it was worth it.

The first waterfall, I think this one is called El Misterio (The Mystery).

The Big Mama waterfall, this one is El Silencio (The Silence). That's esposo and son in the foreground for height comparison.

I was having a Zen moment...

This is a hummingbird nest just off of the main trail. Those fuzzy things are three little baby birds. So adorable! I have never seen such tiny, fuzzy, precious living things before in my life. The nest is about the size of a teacup, and the baby birds the size of your thumb.


I go out walking

Sometimes I even go out hiking, though not very often since I blew out my knee. But I made a couple of exceptions last week. First up, Los Chorros in Alajuela. It's a nice little park, the punchline of which is a giant waterfall. We, being we, got there at 3:30, and they were closing at 4:30 (of course). We parked in the upper lot, so that meant hiking all the way down the trail to the waterfall, having a super-quick picnic, and then hiking all the way back up. No small feat, but we did it (amazingly) with time to spare. Here are a few pics from the quickest hike ever.

This one's not the best. Blame it on esposo.

This one's not too great, either. Blame it on the dog, she kept moving, and this was the best shot I could get! This is the "park dog," Chilindrina, whom we kept calling Chili Dog. She hung out, had lunch with us, and then led us back up the path when it was time to go.

If you want to go to Los Chorros yourself, it costs around 1,000 per person to get in. There are two parking lots: The one at the bottom means you have a longer walk into the park and the waterfalls, but no real serious up/down hiking. The lot at the top means a shorter walk to the waterfalls, but some big time elevation changes. Please don't ask me for directions because I couldn't direct my way out of a paper bag in this country.


Saturday, March 01, 2008

I need a day do-over

This day has kinda sucked in a big way. I awoke right around sunrise to the sound of something rather large and heavy hitting the sliding glass doors to our bedroom. At first I thought the dogs were just playing around, but then I thought I'd better investigate, and it turned out this huge bird had run into the door. Which is weird, because the curtains were closed and this particular set of sliding glass doors is set back in about a 20-foot patio. Well, by the time I got out there, Bonnie Barker Brown had taken the bird into the yard; there were feathers everywhere, and the poor thing was dead. I don't know if Bonnie was the culprit, or if it died as it hit the window, but either way, that left me to deal with a dead bird at sunrise. It's still sitting in a bucket on top of the dog pen that we never use waiting to be buried. Tomorrow, probably.

I tried to go back to sleep, but three-year-old son was having none of it, so we got up and made breakfast at something like 6:00 a.m. (Usually we sleep in until around 9:00 or 9:30.) I was ready to drop by 10, which I did, and son kindly played in his room until I woke up from having a nightmare that I was in prison with this guy (which I think was basically because I watched Lost on Thursday night and am reading this book before bed, the majority of which Robert Dudley spends locked up in "The Tower"). Okay, so maybe that wasn't such a terrible nightmare after all, come to think of it...

Anyway, then we had to go to PriceSmart in Escazu because it has the closest Promerica bank, where I have the loan for my pretty new car, that is open on a Saturday. Payment due today, March 1st. I realized esposo had the one bank card I need with him up at the hotel, so actually shopping at PriceSmart was out of the question. It was more than a little irritating to have to drive all the way from Grecia to Escazu just to make a car payment, but what the hell, it was my first car payment and I didn't want to be late. So I get there, and the guy at the bank says ixnay on the car pay. No payments on loans until Monday. WTF? I ask. "The system is down. No loan payments until Monday." Ain't that a bitch. So now I've wasted all that gas and my time for... pretty much nothing.

Son and I drive back home. The accident on the highway that had us stuck in traffic on the way to Escazu is still not cleared, and now we're stuck in traffic again on the way to Grecia.

Oh and did I mention I woke up from that weird dream with a raging migraine? Yeah. Well by this time it's doubly raging.

So then when we finally get back to the house, I think I'll blow off some of this irritation by working in the garden and planting a few plants that have needed to get out of pots for months. There are these little black bugs in Costa Rica, I'm not sure if they're the same thing as no-see-ums, because you actually can see um, but the locals call them purrujas. They are worse than mosquitoes. They are biting the crap out of me, so I decide to stop gardening, and only after I've put my roses in do I realize that I've located them right where the stairs will be built from the yard to the garage. Crap.

And Kiki the Terrible left a dead gecko in my other purse while I was out there, which, now that I think of it, was not as bad as the time as she left one in bed.

Yes, I know things can always be worse. But this day was still kinda crappy anyway. Can I get a do-over?