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Indian Paintbrush and Texas Blue Bonnets

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Wheels On the Bus Go Round and Round....

Do you remember that kid's song?  It has a ton of lyrics, and, if you and your kids were like us, you made up a few more as you went along...
Today Bill & I decided to take the bus to Liberia.  We didn't know what the schedule was, but walked into Coco. leaving our house shortly after 8am.  Got to the place we always see the buses parked, and was able to get enough information to know that the bus left every hour...  and left the Liberia bus station to return every hour.  It pulled up right at 9am.  There were already a bunch of folks getting on ahead of us...  Bill gave the driver 2,000 colons...  about $4.00...  and got 800 colons in change.  So it cost just over $1.00 American each for us to ride.  It was a bus like you'd see in the USA...  maximum seating 40 people.

We found a seat and settled in for the ride...
Even leaving Coco the bus was full....

The horn of the bus goes beep, beep, beep...
 No way in hell would I ride a bicycle along this road....
It is a two lane road...  the speed limit is reasonable....  but folks sometimes pass in illegal places.  Photographing these bicyclist was hard enough....  I didn't get a photo of the car coming straight at us... in our lane...  passing a truck...  he got over in his own lane in time, but I was still trying to get my jaw back in place and focusing a camera just wasn't possible.

Like when this horse and rider came off the shoulder on the right...  and crossed the road right in front of our big bus...  and the truck coming towards him.  

 In case you don't see what that is still on the right...
Yep!  That's his other horse, who naturally is going to go where his leader is.
And yes...  the brakes on the bus go screech screech, screech.

The signals on the bus go blink, blink, blink.....
Not that it's legal to pass in the area...  but...  what the heck?  There's no traffic up there...  why not?

We make it safely into Liberia...  check out the big shopping center there....  No, not an indoors mall...  not even much of a shopping center.  But I was wanting to buy a hummingbird feeder...  which I didn't find....  and while there we looked around the other stores.
This is about the biggest intersection I've EVER seen!  It's the Pan American Highway!  Yeah...  that road that goes from Texas, (well, Mexico) clear through Mexico, Central and a lot of South America.  Here in Liberia I bet its biggest draw is that there's a McDonald's on one of the corners.

We walked on to the the bus station and found our bus.  We bought our tickets and checked it out... ..  already full to capacity.  Choices here...  wait for the next bus or board, knowing we'd be standing, hanging onto a strap or rail for the better part of an hour.  We opted to board.

I can't think of a whole lot of good things about getting old...  but.... would you believe that a young lady got up and gave me her seat!
And not too long after that, a strapping young man gave Bill his seat.  As the bus headed out to of the bus station, the lady beside me made the sign of the cross...  hmmmm...  this does not bode well......

We figured that as the bus motored the 20 miles or so to Coco, folks would be getting off and there'd be more room

Dream On!
The people on the bus go up and down....  up and down...  up and down.  The people on the bus keep getting on...  all around the town!

This bus that "seats" 40 has every seat filled...  some with several to a seat...  and has at least 40 folks standing in the aisle.  

A few miles out of the city, the bus was pulled over by the police....
I didn't dare take a photo until the police had passed by...  Apparently we were all supposed to get out our passports or other ID and show it...  I never carry a purse...  Bill is in the seat behind me...  I'm about to panic...  Well, no big deal...  this guy barely gave folk's ID a glance...  in fact, I don't think he even looked at Bills.  I could just have easily shown my library card...  or even my Kroger Save-On card....  
We were detained about 10 minutes in all...  never did know why.

Here's my Sweetie...  in the seat behind me...  that red bag isn't his...  belongs to the person who practically was on his lap.  I was a bit luckier...  I had a big guy next to me (after the lady who said her prayers got off down the road) and he spent all his time on his cell phone.

We got back to Coco around noon and after a quick pop-in at a grocery headed home...  walking...  and got home by 1pm.

So we had a scenic trip to Liberia and back...  cost under $5.00 American....  saw some of the surrounding area....  and quite a few of the local people.  

Sharon on the bus goes...  Wow! Oh Wow! Wow, oh Wow!.....  All Around the Town!
See, I said I made up my own lyrics!

That's All For Today!




Monday, December 30, 2013

Quiet Sunday

We headed into town around 8:30 this morning...  it was kind of overcast...  I think the first clouds we've seen in the 2 weeks we've been here.  I wanted to go to 10:00 mass at the church that is right downtown and while it takes maybe 45 minutes maximum to walk we like to wander along the beach when we go to town.

About transportation here...  we walk because we like walking.  We could rent bicycles...  or even a motorscooter...  or a golf cart.  We could even rent a car.  And taxis are always available and quite cheap.  Once you get into town, you can take a bus to Liberia or Filadelfia....
Filadefia is a city a few miles southeast of us....  
We aren't stranded....  but we'll be here for 3 months and we're still exploring everything around us.

We got to the Playa del Coco at 9 am...  it was already busy...
There was a huge gathering along the back side of the park...  bus loads of people.

And it was obvious that some of them had spent the night...
There are areas set aside for camping, and with the New Year Holiday coming up, I expect we'll see more of this throughout the week.

This guy was just ignoring all the kids playing in the water....
Wonder how his luck was?

We saw this man with his little girl walking along one of the sidewalks...
Kind of an interesting hat...  hmmmm?

A little closer inspection showed this....
Not sure if he wanted to keep the sun off his head or just didn't want to carry his kid's clothes...
Pretty clever, huh?

With so many dogs running around that don't seem to have owners, I wonder how effective this sign is?
"Clean Up After Your Dog"
or...  more bluntly said...  "Clean up the poop of your dog".

I had written before that there aren't "nice" shells on this beach, but lots of broken shells, a lot of rocks and pieces of coral.  Bill's sister, Alberta, was curious about the coral....
Since I'm from a state that isn't even close to an ocean...  and I never saw an ocean until I saw the Atlantic when I was 15, I may be very wrong about thinking these are old, water-washed pieces of coral.  I hope someone out there will help me out here.

After mass, I met up with Bill and we headed home.  Y'all know how I've griped complained written about the walk up the hill to our condo... well, a kind-hearted person stopped along the road as we were walking home and offered us a ride.  Guess what?  We thanked them but turned them down.  How else will I get in shape if I don't walk it every day?

And...  just because I haven't posted one of these for a while....
The End
(I could have labeled this differently and it would have been very appropriate...  but crude)

That's All For Today!


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 AirBnB.com    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.
Cheers!

That's All For Today!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Home Sweet Home

In other blogs I've shown y'all the view from the front of our condo...  we look out over the mountain across the valley.  I've also mentioned that we have are located near the top of a hill.  I think it's just over 400 steps (my steps) from the bottom to the top of that hill...  and to our door.  Four hundred steps doesn't sound like a lot...  but let me assure you...  I am out of breath and the calves of my legs are screaming by the time I get to the top.

Now I'll show you where we live....  but first...  remember...  Bill & I aren't high maintenance folks.  We've lived almost 13 years in a 27' motorhome...  no slideouts...  pretty basic.  So, when I write that we've rented a condo, trust me... it's NOT an all inclusive resort-type place.  Actually there are 9 condos in this building, but only 2 of them are habitable...  the others are "in progress".  Yes, it has a pool, but it's not "exactly" usable...  but I think the birds like it.

Enough....  let's move inside...  As you walk in the door...
Oh My Gosh!  There's Bill...  sitting at the table...  looks like he's using his I-Pad....  but that's his laptop right in front of him.  We have WiFi here, and that's a BIG plus!  You're looking through to the right into the "living room" and behind Bill you see the steps going up to the loft-type bedroom.

If you were in the living area looking towards the front door, you'd see the kitchen on the left, the table in the middle and the stairs to the loft on the right.  Underneath the stairs is a place to hang your coats (who needs them here, anyway?) and where I've stashed our luggage.

The kitchen is adequate...  let's just say it has "potential".  If I were here longer than 3 months I'm sure I'd invest in some better cooking utensils, a few more pots...  heck... I may yet buy REAL GLASS wine glasses, as we're now drinking out wine from water glasses...  at least they're glass...  not plastic.

Okay... so I'm a bit of a snob about my wine...  I finally came around to accepting Peter Vello from a box (hey... it cost $30 American here....  more than twice what it costs in the states!!!! but...  even wine from Chile or Argentina or .... well, heck, it doesn't matter...  it's WAY overpriced)  But I really do prefer my wine in a glass wineglass...   with a stem.  

Moving right along....
The Living Area
The area back in the right corner used to be the home of that big TV that's now sitting on the floor at the end of the sofa.  Neither of us are TV fans....  so I made that my computer corner.  And, if you're curious, that pile of blue stuff in the middle of the couch is the makings of some socks I'm knitting.  (I did finish that first pair... I'll have to take a photo and show them off)...  

At the back of this room is the...  yeah...  the back porch!
That chair now has a lovely beach towel covering the gawd-awful upholstery...  and... not only that, it has a mate, just like it... with another beach towel ...  beside it.  But...  looky here...  an automatic washer!  WhoooHooo!  Because of the septic tank situation, we drain the grey water from the washer into the nearby drainage ditch...  no problemo!  Sure beats that washer we had the last time we lived in Costa Rico!    You're looking through the back slider doors into the living room here.  That's the downstairs AC unit above the washer.

The upstairs...
Here's our bed....  those windows you see in the far background are actually over the kitchen sink.  There's another set of windows over the bed....  which is quite comfortable.


And...  looking out the other way...  there's a set of sliding doors which lead out to a deck.  It looks like a solid rock wall behind us, but....  there's quite a bit of vegetation and I've seen orioles and other birds out there in the brush.  Yeah...  that's our suitcase on the floor...  that wardrobe thing on the right is okay, but there aren't any clothes hangars and the shelves are... well..... adequate... but...  okay... I'll admit it... I just haven't unpacked everything yet.

There are two bathrooms here...
No need to show you both as they are identical...  one upstairs....  one down below.
I may have mentioned that they shut the water off at 10 pm and (hopefully) turn it on at 6 am.  The only problem we have with this is that we're early risers and often are waiting to hear that gurgle of water in the morning.  We must remember to fill the coffeepot...  leave a few glasses of water out....  and...  most of all...  be patient!

Coming back in from the back porch....
This is our "Home Sweet Home" for the next few months.

Yes, it's kind of "bare-bones"....  but, honestly, some of the negatives are also the positives....
For example...  it takes us 20 minutes or more to walk to town...  but....  there's absolutely no noise here other than the monkeys howling at night or the grackles and doves in the mornings.  The water situation can be a real pain...  but...  we have a washer and can do clothes at our convenience.  No people around...  hey...  don't even ask!  No microwave.....  no toaster.  Very few kitchen gadgets.  

Truth is...  I was appalled when we first walked into this place...  I almost sat down and cried...  it was one of those "OMG....  What have we gotten in to? "  But you know what...  I love it here.  I love the "condo"...  I love the walk into town... or to the beach...  I love the quiet...  I love the monkeys....  I love the fox that come every evening....  it's truly my kind of place.  We'll see how it all pans out....

But for now.....  it's "Home Sweet Home".

That's All For Today!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Shave and a Haircut.... 40 bits...


It's no doubt been along time since any of you got a haircut (let alone a shave) for 25c.

It's hot here, and Bill's been needing his hair trimmed and definitely needed his beard cut back.
When we walk to town we pass this sign...
In case you don't speak Spanish..  this says:
Haircuts for Men.......  c2500 colones
There's even an arrow at the bottom that tells you to turn up that dirt road.  Today we turned and found the barbershop.

"Abierto"...  Open....  okay, we're in the right place and they are open for business....
Nope, no candy-striped barber poles here...  but we're fairly certain we're at the right place.

We went through the gate...  (you can see the flag at the entrance)..
  "Hola?"  we said...  and return...  "Hola!"
And a young man came down to greet us.  Bill told him he needed a haircut and his beard trimmed.  The barber sat Bill down in the (only) barber chair...
And put a cape around him to keep those annoying hairs away from his shirt.
If this looks like someone's basement....  and looks like the Department of Health might close it down at any minute, you are right....  but only if you were in the States.  Third World countries don't count in our book.
The barber cleared off a place on a much-used couch and I sat down and watched.  I did play with the barber's puppy...  he said she was a boxer...  but I have my doubts.  I didn't take a photo of her...  wish I had...  her tooth snagged on my hand and drew blood.....  dawg!  (hey.... a pun here).....  she did okay until she peed on the floor, got too rowdy and then fell asleep.

But...  back to the haircut...
Bills been getting his beard trimmed for over 30 years now...  he knows exactly what size blade to put on the clippers....  and has no problem speaking the correct Spanish to convey this.  
This guy was good....  and so meticulous!  I kept watching as Bill's hair and beard started shaping up.  Looks good....  I don't see anything out of the ordinary...

Until....
Oh My God!
This guy has lathered Bill's neck and is using a STRAIGHT RAZOR!
Real close to his jugular vein....  real close to the vital stuff that keeps us all going!!!!!
I say a little prayer that the razor is sharp....  then amend that prayer...  I pray that the barber knows what the heck he's doing.  I quit playing with the dog....  I watch real close....  I want my sweetie, the love of my life..  to walk out of here without fatal injuries!!!!


He not only survived...  he's looking darned good!
He paid his 2500 colons..... about $5.00 American....  and off we headed to town.

I love living here....  it's just a new adventure every day!

That's All For Today!
































Thursday, December 26, 2013

A Christmas Eve like No Other in My Life...

I've lived a lot of Christmas Eves....  many I remember vividly...  like in 1947 listening to Gene Autry sing "Here Comes Santa Claus" on the wind-up Victrola. We must have worn that record out!  Later a few were spent trying to construct a box of flat metal sheets into a 3 dimensional doll house or quietly roll a bicycle into the house.  

The kids are all grown and gone...  have kids of their own...  and even their own grandkids...  so they have their own memories of Christmas Eves Past...

Last night was for me, like no other.  Since our kids live in 4 different states and our grandkids live in 5 other states, and our sibling live in a couple others....  there is no way we can spend Christmas with everyone.  This year our solution to that was to live be in Costa Rica during the holidays.  That's not unusual for us, but...  this one was even more different...

I wanted to go to 6:00 mass at the church in Coco, so around 3:30 or so we headed off to town.  It doesn't take more than a half hour tops to walk, but we weren't in any hurry and took the route along the beach...

Good Grief!  What's THAT out there?
A cruise ship was moored out in the bay....
I had to google it when we got home...  it's with the SeaDream Yacht Club Charters.  Not a huge cruise ship...  only 56 couples on board...  from the website it looks quite elegant and exclusive.  I tried to figure out what this one was doing here...  looks like it will be in Panama by New Years.  Sure made our little bay look like a big city!

But bringing us right back to earth...
This Willet was wading along the shore.  We haven't seen many shorebirds, so he was a welcome sight.

And...  Oh Dear..  Looky Here...
Someone backed their SUV into the water to attach their Sea-Doo trailer...  and got stuck!
We had plenty of time so stopped and watched the guys try to get it out.  The tide was coming in...  and a couple of trucks tried to tow it out with a cable..  with no success....
A crowd had gathered, some bringing reinforcements.  Finally, two trucks pulling together got it moving and pulled ashore.  By this time they had disconnected the trailer and pulled it out separately.

Can you see all the water pouring out of the vehicle?
I bet this guy will be a little more cautious the next time...
Well, maybe not...  he wasn't a very good driver on land either.

Continuing on our walk, we headed up to Los Palmas, where friends of ours will be staying come January.  While we didn't actually see the condos where they will be we got an idea of the layout of the land and what's available.  I think they'll like it.

By this time we headed back into town.  The sun was starting to set and the beach turned golden.
It was too late in the day for most of the water activity, and a little too early for the night activity.  Just a nice, quiet walk.

I don't know the name of the church I went to, but it was fairly large, and quite well attended.
I was in the back row...  didn't want to use my flash...  the creche was at the front on the left, and there was even a Christmas tree on the right.  I especially loved the singing...  my favorite was the one about the little boy taking his burro to the manger and not wanting to be late....  in Spanish, of course.

It was only 7:00 when mass was over and the town was just starting to come alive...
Lots of lights...  lots of traffic.
We weren't in any hurry...   knew we'd be taking a taxi home anyway, so headed to one of the many restaurants lining the main street.

While under a palapa, it's still basically outdoor seating...
Here's Bill...  with his Bavarian Beer...   that's my Imperial at the lower right.

We had time to relax and enjoy the street crowd while waiting for our dinner...
That's mine on the left...  grilled octopus.  Yep, the upper right is one of the tentacles....  before you turn up your nose, let me assure you that it was delicious!  And...  no... it did NOT taste like chicken!
The lower right is Bill's sea bass.  We had to ask what that little cup of green stuff was...  it's kiwi foam.  We're still not sure what you were supposed to do with it...  guess we'll have to go back sometime and do it all again.  

The street came alive in the hour or so we sat there...
All the shops were open...  all the restaurants were filling up.  The traffic got congested and it sure looked like everyone was having a good time...

And...
This just ISN'T what it looks like....
Quite a few women were dressed much like this.  But this couple had just left the restaurant where we are... in fact, sat just behind me....  so .....  I think they were just waiting for a cab.

The restaurant person had called a taxi for me and Bill and it came along shortly....
by 9 pm we were home -  not too long before bedtime.

While I didn't have Gene Autry singing or even Bing Crosby dreaming of a White Christmas, I enjoyed every minute of my Christmas Eve.  And I can assure you, I've never had one quite like it in the past.

That's All For Today!