Along the Natchez Trace

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Preguntas? Respuestas!

As we usually do, we walked into the town of Coco this morning...  and of course I took a bunch of photos.  As we walk along, I'll try to answer some of the questions y'all have asked...

Lizard...  about 8" or so...  crossing the road.
We don't see a lot of wildlife or you better believe I'd be showing you.  The foxes come at night and we've gotten a few pictures of "deer in the headlight" kind of thing...  but not very good of the fox.  We hear the monkeys all the time...  every morning and often during the day....  but we only saw them in the trees that first time we walked to town.  Birding here isn't anything outstanding...  we're right on the coast and the "good" birds are up at higher elevations.  We had excellent birding when we were in Cuidad Colon in 2011, but chose to come closer to a beach this time.

A fruit vendor... carefully peeling oranges with one of those peelers your Grandma might have peeled apples with...  you know...  you stick the fruit on a spindle and turn the handle... the "blade" takes off the peeling.  The oranges he's peeled are right in front of him...  they look kind of odd to me as I've never seen anything like this.  Which brings me right to the 2nd question...  Why eat octopus?  Well, to begin with I'll try anything.... I've eaten kangaroo, snails, ...  you name it.  I'm not a vegetarian, and once upon a time Bill & I were totally responsible for the meat we ate... raised our own goats,  rabbits, chickens and other fowl.  We figured if we were gonna eat meat we could see it through from beginning to end (hey...  we even had a compost toilet...  does that qualify for seeing it to the end?)....  So....  when something's on the menu, unless it's an endangered species...  I'll try it, and not feel at all guilty.  

I don't think I've been asked any questions about the "domestic" animals here...  We see a lot of dogs, and a few (very few) cats.  This dog was just precious...  he was digging up the beach...  had quite a hole by the time we walked by.  Does he belong to anyone?  I don't know...  

Do we drink the water?  Do we eat the food?  
Yes...  and Yes.  The water here is okay to drink...  straight out of the tap.  Truth is, Bill and I don't drink "tap" water anywhere.  We've bought bottled water to drink for years... even in the States.  Mostly because we're not fond of the chlorine taste...  or whatever.  As for food...  these street vendors were lined up along the ocean front this morning.  We stopped and bought a "kebab"  - I couldn't remember the Spanish for "beef"...  we seldom eat beef and never buy it....  and the guy assured us it was "pollo" (chicken).  We split the kebab...  it was beef...  it was delicious.  When I buy fresh fruits and veggies I give them a bath in a sinkful of water...  with a few drops of Clorox.  I ruin a lot of tee-shirts that way because I'm sloppy...  but we've never had dysentery yet.

How's my Spanish?
This part of Costa Rica is SO touristy, you don't have to know Spanish.  Nearly everyone (local) is bilingual.  Tourism is the big thing and English is spoken everywhere.  Many of the downtown souvenir shops and restaurants take American dollars.  
Now, as we walk home, we're in an area that folks don't speak English.  This panaderia (bakery) is in a person's home...  the sign out front says "Pan Casera"...  homebaked bread..  This is a stop that Bill makes nearly every time we're walking back from town.  He is always able to converse with the lady of the house.  He did well with the barber yesterday.  We do okay giving the taxi driver directions.  As for me, I do much better reading than speaking....  and am usually just lost when it comes to hearing and understanding.  Way too fast for me.  But...  we try...  we practice....  and.. as the saying goes...  we're a works in progress.

This is a hotel/restaurant that we pass as we're walking into town.  It's right on the beach...  it's gorgeous.  Right now (Christmas through New Years) is the high season.   Read: Expensive!  Places rent for $750 a week...  and higher.  There are lots and lots of condominiums around.  Some folks have time-shares...  some come here and buy a place to live for 6 months or year-round.  The closer you are to the beach or to downtown, the higher the cost.  It sounds like $1,000 a month is pretty normal for a condo if you stay long-term.  (one or two or three months).  Most folks want a swimming pool included...  they want shops nearby...  a clubhouse...  happy hour.  We found our place through    That's a website where you can find any kind of accommodations just about anywhere.
It takes me and Bill about 45 minutes to walk from here to the grocery store if I don't stop and gawk along the way.  (So we're not sure exactly how long it takes because I ALWAYS stop and gawk!)
Our place is only a 10 minute or so walk to Playa Ocotal...  another beach.  So we have choices.  As I've wrote yesterday, our place isn't elegant.  But it has everything we want.  We paid $655 for the first month.  I'm a bit embarrassed to admit that we're not sure what the actual rent is per month...  It may be $500 and the other is for a deposit and cleaning...  or it may be $600...  or... well, it may be $650.  Bill made the arrangements months ago and we don't have a print-out of the invoice with us.  I'll let you know in a couple of weeks.  
It cost us each $730.62 to fly from Dallas/Ft Worth to Liberia, Costa Rica.  That's a 4 hour flight...  and round-trip.  No frills....  So the flight here (and home) is a big part of the expense.
Grocery shopping...  lots of fun, but quite expensive.  Even the fish and other seafood is high cost.  I'd guess that our groceries cost about a fourth to a third higher than in the States.  I'll have to think about that one....  We seldom eat out, so groceries are a big part of our expenses.

What the Heck?
We've lived in Mexico off and on, and one thing you often hear is a vehicle driving through town with some kind of speaker system...  announcing to the world anything from a sale at a store to  what candidate to vote for.  Yeah... that's a huge speaker on top of this van.  As I wrote a few paragraphs up... I have no idea what was being announced.  It sounds like one of those gawd-awful used car dealerships that used to advertise on TV years ago.  

I mentioned yesterday that this place doesn't have wine glasses....
A trip to town today fixed that little problem!
In the lower right picture is the company that makes the glasses.  Hey!  Anchor Hocking...  based only about 50 miles from my hometown in Ohio!  I used to drive through Lancaster and you could see the furnaces or kilns glowing through open doors.  Unfortunately, they have moved their factories to China...  and it looks like only the main office is still in Lancaster.  
So...  that's me on the left...   enjoying a glass of white wine (it doesn't look white, does it?)...  Oh well, it's something we bought...  it's from Chile...  it's okay.  
And I hope I've answered a few of the questions I've been asked.  I love reading your comments and am happy y'all take the time to stop by.

That's All For Today!


  1. Nice post Sharon. I still don't think I would try the octopus. I think it's so cool that you walk to town...and it's a new adventure everyday.
    I guess people buy the oranges already peeled. That's very interesting to me!

  2. I love reading your blog as you two are doing what I project we may be doing once we are "finished" full timing in the RV... keep it up...

  3. Thanks for filling us in on the the ins and outs of your stay there.

    Nice that you finally got your wine glasses

  4. Very interesting. Those oranges look more like onions.

  5. Interesting, the cost of food. Do the locals have some diet you haven't discovered yet?

  6. Enjoyed this neighborly post about day to day life in your temporary home. The howler monkeys are the LOUDEST mammal on Earth - a little trivia. I worked so hard on my Spanish in Guatemala; I was rather disappointed when everybody spoke English in Costa Rica. I just went ahead and spoke Spanish anyway. They certainly didn't mind!

  7. Another great post - I'm really enjoying your account of the CR visit. If people are freaked out about eating octopus, they should just cut it into smaller pieces, fry it up and dip it in marinara or even Ranch dip. Aren't octopus and squid pretty much the same thing? Everybody likes Calamari!

  8. They had the cars/trucks with loudspeakers Honduras as well. The first time it came around I ran down to the hotel desk afraid it might be announcing an advancing army or some disaster. I got blank looks when I excitedly asked if something was wrong.

  9. Thank you, Sharon... that is exactly the kind of information I was anxious to learn... you ate kangaroo???? man? glad you found your wine glass... I mean we do have our comfort levels... ha

    great fun!

  10. The food chain is an interesting thing, isn't it? You've certainly experience a lot more of the variety in it than most people ever will. Thanks for sharing. Great pictures.

  11. We also soaked our fresh vegetables in clorox before we ate them. The use of "night soil" is common in most third world countries and is transmitted through the vegetables. We never noticed the clorox taste or smell in the vegetables and made it 6 years living in CR and never had a stomach issue.

    Another caution we took was not eating shrimp at a buffet that had been sitting in a bowl all day. It was common in Africa to put the leftover shrimp in the frig and then add fresh shrimp the next day. Over the course of several days you never knew how old the shrimp was. More than one friend paid the price from eating bad shrimp while w were there, but we lucked out.

    It sounds like food prices have risen quite a lot since we were last in Costa Rica. We lived off the local food supply and didn't eat that much imported food.

    Nice blog, seems like we are back down there. However, I would go crazy without some form of transportation so I could venture further out from the beach.

    Have fun.

  12. Wine is supposed to be a really good antibacterial also, if you travel and don't have the stomach bacteria to digest the local food bacteria. I read that somewhere. The convict grave diggers didn't get the plague during the great outbreak and were given only bad wine and old bread, but the plague is a virus. It does kill through secondary infection however, like many viruses. Guess what I'm saying, maybe wine is a travelers best medicine. What do I know. I rarely even get out of the house.