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Cactus in Bloom

Friday, January 31, 2014

The Identity of the Mystery Bird

I'm sure everyone of you have been waiting with bated breath to know what we saw...
Say, have you ever wondered about "bated breath"?  It's not "baited breath"...  which sounds like it smells kind of fishy, but is a shortened term.. "abated breath"...  which sounds kind of Shakespearean, doesn't it?

Oh...  back to the bird....
Bill & I walked down to the Rickety Bridge today...  with binoculars and cameras in hand.  I was hoping to spot the kingfisher, but anything about is fair game for my photography efforts.

The Tricolored heron was there...
I had a grand time catching it in various poses.
He is every bit this bluer than blue color!

When the water was still, its reflection was like a mirror image.  

There are lots of minnows and small fish in this creek...  excellent fishing area for herons, egrets and the like...
I was trying to adjust the shutter speed to pick up the rapid movement...  instead got this funny photo that shows him at his most awkward.

We were at the creek quite a while, and, sure enough... the kingfisher appeared...
Green Kingfisher
He tucks himself in among the foliage when he's not diving after fish...  at times he was difficult to spot.
We've seen the Green Kingfisher before while in the Rio Grande Valley.

Oh yes...  the mystery bird...
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron
Right there in the mangroves where he likes to be.
Same place he was yesterday, only this time he raised his head.

Not only him...
But there were at least 6 Night-Herons here (only 2 are visible in the photo), as well as other birds nestled in among the branches.  Looks like a fair size rookery.

This rookery is located about a hundred feet upstream of the creek....  just around a bend.  I'd sure like to find a way to get up there and just watch for a while....

Maybe I will...

That's All For Today!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Other Observations....

I don't want to talk about the water today...  it is what it is...  there are other things in life.  We stayed home all day yesterday what with the maintenance guys in and out, so today we were ready to walk to town.

But wait...  a couple of photos from last evening...
The foxes came for their dinner...
Why feed the foxes?  Well, they hang around the place every evening...  did before we got here.  I'd rather provide them with a meal than have them into the garbage cans.  They are tiny things...  about the size of a housecat.  We don't even attempt to make friends with them...  we can watch them from our doorway, but if we move even a little, they are on high alert.  They are wild critters and will remain so.

Another thing from last evening..
The fire across the valley escalated...  lots of smoke...  some fire...  first in one area then another.  Brush fires...  quickly over.  Maybe these brush fires burn off enough that they prevent serious fires from happening.

Okay...  now today...  We headed into Coco around 7am...  plans to meet up with Steve and Ann for breakfast.  As we headed off our hill, we saw a large flock of swallows..
I believe with their chestnut necks and upper breast these are Southern Rough-winged Swallows.
If anyone has any other ideas, please let me know.  
We've been seeing them dive and swoop a lot in the early morning...  must be doing a great job of insect grabbing!

We had enough time to take the beach route today...  
 Look at this huge ship that was out in the harbor!
Wouldn't you just love to see it under full sail?

Of course we had to cross the Rickety Bridge...  that's the place I need to spend some time as I'm just sure there's a kingfisher hanging out....  but today, I was rewarded with...
The Green Heron...  giving me the cold shoulder, I guess.

AND!  YES!  A new bird for here!!!
The Tricolored Heron.  
Not a new "life" bird, but the first we've seen here.  It was hanging out just about 10-15' from the green heron.  WooooHooooo!

We went on to meet our friends...  had a great typical Costa Rican breakfast....  then headed to a travel agency to make some plans.  More of this later...  but...  I will say that our visa is only for 90 days... we have to go out of the country (and re-enter) sometime during that time to start our time over.  We see a short trip to Nicaragua in the near future.

While walking through town, this is a common sight in the early morning...
The shopkeepers all sweep the sidewalks in front of their stores every morning.   You see this all over town..  and the folks in the residential areas often sweep... and rake ...  the front areas of their house.

After leaving Steve and Ann, we headed back towards the beach...  and the rickety bridge...  for our walk home...
Oh Wow!  A Great Egret flew in - to the same spot the Tricolored was earlier....
I can see where this is a place I need to spend some time... with binoculars and "big" camera in hand.

And...  the puzzle of the day...
I could see a dark area up in the trees along the bank of this stream.  I didn't have my binoculars and my little Canon doesn't have a view finder.  It's like shooting blind...  not what I like, but again...  it is what it is....  I thought it was a black vulture, drying out it's wing feathers.  Anyway, when I got home I downloaded my photos I can say that I really don't know what it is...  maybe the tricolored heron?  Or is it a bird at all?   

Guess I'll have to go back tomorrow better equipped!

That's All For Today!


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Progress on the Water Situation...

Without getting into all the technical details, I'll start by saying by  6am this morning, Bill & I were both able to take showers ...  using the "well" water from the well next door.  I don't think they are turning our complex off at 10pm now as there isn't enough water to fill their tank anyway.  I think the well builds up over night and since we're early folks nobody below us is using water at that hour and there's enough water at least for a couple of showers.

We usually walk into town by 8am...  sometimes earlier...  sometimes a bit later...  but today we were still home at 9am...  and a good thing....  

Robert has hired an electrician to wire the place for a pump...  yes! ...  that holding tank he had installed on our deck will soon have a pump so we don't have to depend on gravity to provide the pressure to use water effectively...  meaning... a shower where you can actually rinse your hair.

Victor, the electrician showed up.  In a car (not a truck) with a ladder tied to the top...
You can see here how steep our hill is...
But yes, Victor is here to wire the condos so that a pump can be used to provide pressure for the water coming out of the tank...  and soon to be tanks....  that are on our deck.

He's an electrician, right?  This hole that is the access area to some wires is what he needs to get into...  right? 
Nope...  Bill has no idea what these wires are for.
Victor just needed the boards that covered that hole to use to stabilize his ladder...
which is kind of between our deck and the next door condo deck..  on the 2nd floor, of course...

Wouldn't OSHA have a ball with this?

Whatever...
It worked for Victor....  he got up on the roof...  found the part of the roofing he could take up and get into the ceiling part...  to get to the wiring...
The photo on the right shows a picture that's hung on our wall...  the left photo shows what's hidden behind that photo...

Bill has already figured out what circuit breaker goes to what....  
Victor demonstrates a new trick to Bill...  he was up on the roof and poured some water down a conduit from up there just to find out for sure where the other end of it was....  yep!  It came out behind the framed picture.  (Quite frankly, I doubt if Bill will have many opportunities to use this bit of info)

This is the back side of our condo...  Victor is on the roof just above the one we live in.

He gets the wiring done...  and ties his ladder to the top of his car...  and off he goes...

Yep!  He replaced all those boards he used that cover this hole in the ground.

Later in the day, Robert arrives...  he has Juan in tow...
Juan is a welder...
He will make a platform that will go on the roof (or balcony) that will hold the electric pump.  We're not sure when Juan will return to do this, but Robert is really doing what he can to make this water situation better.

When all this is done, we'll have water at all times.  Even if the well can't produce enough water to supply all these condos, there are trucks that deliver water daily to those who need to buy it.  We'll see how this all shakes out...  but...  though things aren't "right" yet, it looks like a viable solution is close at hand.

We never did make it to town today....  
I had a bird watching area I wanted to check out...  but that can wait for another day.  In the afternoon, we noticed that across from us the brush fires were burning

Now, at 6pm it's starting to be dusk...  we can see a few flames flaring up, but it doesn't look like anything serious.

Just another day in Costa Rica...

That's All For Today!









Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Water, Water Everywhere...

In the nearby ocean, but for us..... Not a Drop to Drink....

Kind of the theme of my blog today...  the photos won't have a thing to do with the water situation...  they're just filler because pictures are fun to look at...

Now...  about that water situation...  seems that the condo complex across the street controls the water for the condos on this side of the street.  We aren't owned by the same company.  That company has some holding tanks (with pumps) at the top of the hill, just up and across where we live.  We found out within the first 24 hours we were here (guess how we found out?) that they turn off the water to our group of complexes at 10 pm every night and (if we're lucky) turn us back on at 6 am each morning.

A mother and son...  keeping the hot mid-day sun off them with a parasol.

Since Bill & I usually rise around 5:30 we found this out rather quickly.  We could adjust to that...  except...  sometimes the water wouldn't be turned on until...  well...  maybe 7:00...  maybe 9:00...  and one day it was noon.  


A new restaurant in town...  a VW Juice bar

We're low maintenance type people...  but ..... not having water ...  any water...  until noon just won't do.  We call our landlord.  We explain the situation.  He agrees it isn't acceptable, so he has his crew install an "emergency" water system on our upper deck.



Can you believe how big this Walking Stick insect is!  You could just about use him as the real thing!

This is a 50 gallon holding tank, which we fill when we have water from the "real" thing.  
However, this has it's drawbacks... 
What comes to our faucets is gravity fed...
Right!  Barely a dribble...  try taking a shower...  or better yet, shampoo your hair and try to rinse that off!
There's no pump...  so there's no pressure.

These oxen were at one of the volcanic parks.

We deal with this for several days.  Then...  last week the water from "next door" is turned off around 5pm...  and doesn't come on....  
Well...  maybe a dribble the next morning.  And since then water has been extremely scarce.
We're told that the well feeding these condos is dry....  and so they must shut off the pumps to allow it to recuperate.  The place next door fills up their holding tanks while the getting is good, but since we run directly off the well, we're out of luck.



A Preying Mantis...  on my lawn chair.

Again, I'll say...  We're low maintenance folks...  lived for years with a compost toilet...  a woodburning cookstove...  heated with wood (which Bill cut)...  had a huge cistern for water for our critters...  you get the picture...  we just don't require much.

But...  yeah...  we need water....


Water Apples...  don't know enough to write anything about them.

Today we walk back into Coco...  talk to our landlord....
He has plans to fix this situation...  
But, at the same time, he does let us know that he has some other rentals that will be available in a few days...  just in case....


 When we were in Liberia last week, we met these 2 nuns and their friend.  Had a fun conversation.

This afternoon he, and his crew arrive at our condo...  they check out the situation and decide to put in another holding tank...  with a pump!.....  And, (the situation as is, we don't have hot water coming from the existing holding tank), we'll have hot water as well.


This guy was about the size of the bottom of a tea cup...  he was in our outside drain area.  

We have written to the company where we made our reservations (AirBnB) so that they are aware of the situation...  and also to find out our options if this doesn't work out.....

Right now, it looks like our Landlord is honestly working on this...  the next few days will tell.
So.....

The Junk Yard Dog....
Right now...  this is pretty much my feelings about the whole thing....

Of course I'll let y'all know how this shakes out.

That's All For Today!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Sunday, Sunday....

Several songs about Sunday come to mind, but none really apply to us these days...  no frying chicken....  no fathers playing with their kids...
No, for us, Sunday starts pretty much as usual...  except, we are having some severe water problems, so morning showers and washing breakfast dishes are more of a hassle than they should be.

I like to go to 10:00 mass at the "green church" (I still don't know its proper name) in town, so we head in around 9:00.  I know that I'll get there early, but that's okay....  sometimes the choir practices for a while before mass, and I like hearing that....

As always...  along the way, I see such interesting things....
 Oh Look!  A broom seller!  He pulled in on the other side of the road we're walking down towards town.  Really LONG handled brooms...  I suspect they cut them off to fit their new owner.  (no cracks, please, about which fits this witch)...  Our condo already has a broom so we didn't stop.  But, years ago, when Bill & I sold our cheese and eggs at the Farmer's Market, there used to be a fellow who sold broom there...  he had even set up his broom-making equipment in the bed of his truck and would make a broom right on the premises.  So...  seeing this guy today not only brought back some good memories, it made me wish I needed a broom and could buy one from him.

Oh well...  on to the beach.  
We walk along the beach for maybe a third a mile or so....  and there are always boats of various sizes just off shore.  Some are bringing in fish from their catch...  some are taking on their supplies for their next fishing trip.
These guys have just loaded up their supplies....  they are taking them out to the bigger ship that is moored out in the harbor.  Wouldn't the US Coast Guard have a time with this one?  There about a dozen guys aboard...  Okay...  they aren't going far...  just out to a bigger boat that's moored out in the harbor.  Do you think there are 12 life jackets aboard?  Dream on....  these folks just do what needs to be done...  

I head on to mass....  Bill hangs out in the nearby park.  After church, Bill meets up with me.  We've found that the church ladies sell dishes of food after mass.  Last Sunday we bought a dish and it was quite good...  yucca and some other traditional Costa Rican foods.  Today was a dish of paella....  which is saffron rice with the "seafood de jour"....  Since I make this fairly often at home, we passed on it today... 
Mostly because we caught up with Ann, our "Ohio" friend, whom we hadn't seen all week.  After a long chat with her, Bill & I headed towards home....

But not before seeing this....
A dove has established a nest just above a light outside the church grounds.  I should have been keeping track of how many species of doves we see here, because there are actually several....  I think this is one of the White-winged doves....

I've shown y'all the rickety bridge...  well, that's a pretty good birding area.  
We've been seeing what looks to us like some kind of Kingfisher.  However, after returning home and getting out our field guide, we've decided otherwise.  We've seen and IDed 4 of the 6 species that are here....  and it's way too small to be an Amazon Kingfisher...  and just doesn't fit the Pygmy species.  Guess we'll have to take our binoculars and "big" camera back there and sit a while....

The afternoons go pretty fast...  we're having some severe water problems...  I'll probably write a blog on that later as we may have to relocate...  but....  (nothing to do with the water)  this guy hangs out in our condo...
I don't know if he's a lizard...  or a gecko....  or what????  But I suspect he's the source of the loud cackling noise we hear in the evening and during the night.

Yeah, we still feed the foxes....
My friend, Dizzy, asked me what species they are.  I think they are the same grey fox that y'all have in the States....  
This guy got a bit weary of us watching him this evening...  so he headed over to a different area...
Took a little nap....
Then came back for seconds after we went inside.

Bill noticed that below us there was another fire....
That bright light right in the middle isn't the fire... it's some folks night light.  But, you can see the smoke rising out of the valley....

Since our fire a few days ago, I don't think there's anything left close to us to burn...  however, it's been quite windy here and I still have to clean the soot and charred foliage off our porch, the outside washer and whatever else the wind brings it to.

Oh yes.....  that parade....
Apparently a whole lot of horses (and riders) came through not too long after Bill & I headed home.  And for those of you who might wonder...  no, it's not a language difference (Bill speaks Spanish quite well) it's more a ...  what shall I say?....  a cultural thing.....  One of the locals we know here told us that things are so disorganized she quit riding in the parade several years ago.  I'll let it go at that.....

Anyway, tomorrow, we have to talk with our landlord about our lack of water....  so...  if I don't post for a few days, you'll know we're in...  transition?

That's All For Today!



Sunday, January 26, 2014

Everybody Loves A Parade....

As I wrote yesterday, there is a festival going on in Coco....  we see the banners and the signs.  There's to be bull riding, lots of food, other kinds of "carnival" type booths.  Apparently we were too early for all the festivities yesterday...  our friends Steve and Ann told us they went later in the evening...  they missed the bull events but saw the other festivities.

Like yesterday, we asked several people the schedule of events...  and again got several different answers.  But several folks seemed to agree that the parade participants gathered at the park that runs alongside the beach...  oh... from noon until the parade starts....  and the parade starts around 1pm...  or maybe 2pm....  or it could start at 3pm.

Bill & I headed into town after lunch today...  and took the route down to Coco Beach.  
Sure enough...
There's a horse tied to a tree.
Actually, there were 2 other horses tied nearby.  The cowboys who rode them were hanging out under a palm tree having a good time.
This looks like a good sign to us...  looks like the beginning of something.

The beach and adjoining park are jumping!
Lots of picnics, lots of family and friends just hanging out having a good time.

 Lots of food vendors...  
And souvenir vendors.....  and people selling lottery tickets...
A very laid-back, relaxed atmosphere.

Lots of cameras...  
That little girl in blue is taking a picture of her parents....
The lower right is a guy wearing a huge hat.  I saw lots of people getting their picture taken while wearing it.  I was busy with my camera...  and the cotton-candy vendor even stopped to pose for me.


 People of all kinds... dressed in all ways....  
The top left photo is of 5 people sitting on the wall opposite us...  All 5 of them were talking on their cell phones at one time.  That's a whole bank of pay phones just behind them...  I'm betting that one of these days those will be totally obsolete!
Lots of dogs...  A few police, but nothing I saw that they had to deal with.

 It's getting on to 2pm.... Bill & I head up the street.  We decide to go to a balcony restaurant and have a drink, thinking we'd have a good place to look down on the parade.  
More people watching...  those girls in the tall boots seemed to be selling tickets of some kind...  maybe to the rodeo.  That woman in the tri-colored skirt is selling lottery tickets.
On the upper right, that dog was riding in the trunk of the car....  seemed to be okay....
Lower left - a couple dancing on the sidewalk.  Music was loud enough to hear throughout the area.  
And lower right...  a car with a (paper mache?) bull's head mounted on top....  loudspeaker blaring...  possibly encouraging everyone to attend the festivities that will be going on at the nearby field.
We finish our drink...  decide to have a ceviche.....  seems like this event is going to be running a little late.

Finally, just after 3pm a group of mounted police go past...  and shortly after that a truck with 4 or 5 bulls....  and straggling way behind all this were about 4 horseback riders.  I will have to say that those horses did some fancy stepping, but not being a horse person, I don't know what it was.  It was every bit as fancy as the Texas Two-Step ;-)

It's 4pm by now....  and...  some folks are still sitting in their curb-side seats...
But most are putting their chairs away or moving on.

I ask the restaurant waiter what was happening...  he told me the parade was over.
So...  we paid our bill and headed down to the sidewalk.  We happened to run into a couple we'd met the other day...  she said the big parade would be later...  maybe 5pm or so.

I think it's that "or so" that made us decide to head on home.  I know, I know...  Tico Time and all that....  but both Bill & I had had enough of people, partying and parades for the day.

We'll see what the festival brings tomorrow....

That's All For Today!