Packing for the US

Packing, packing, packing… What to take? Not only for the stay in Maryland, but the 3-month motorcycle trip. Plus,I’m taking back some clothes & shoes I haven’t worn here. If I haven’t needed them by now,I doubt that I will. Quite a few things for Salvation Army.

We had a hummingbird in the kitchen this morning. I was in the bedroom & heard the dogs carrying-on.  Went out to the kitchen & at first I thought it was a butterfly in the window. But it was a poor hummingbird, trying to find the way out! Poor thing! I was able to pick it up with a crumpled paper towel & carried it outside. It flew away without any apparent injury. I was just glad it managed to evade the dogs!

The taxi is set to pick us up at 4AM tomorrow morning (!!!). Friends offered to take us to the airport,but we couldn’t see asking someone to do it that early. Originally,we were on a later flight,but United changed us to this one. We will NEVER fly United again (unless absolutely necessary,I guess). They have screwed-up our flights several times & we’ve had to check on-line every couple weeks to check. The last several times they’ve scheduled us for a second leg that leaves before the first flight arrives!!! We’ve had to call United each time to have it corrected. Best of luck with that merger! We’ll schedule with TACA from now on-they actually give passengers a meal!! and free drinks!!! Plus,their flights change in El Salvador-it’s a small airport & you don’t have to sprint to the other side of  a huge place like Houston to get to your next flight.

We have a couple errands to do in town this afternoon, then we’ll have time to relax this evening. Finish laundry,finish packing.

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Doña Ana Beach

We had a couple of beautiful days this week, sunny, no humidity, windy. Great for drying clothes & opening the windows. Then,yesterday & the day before, were overcast & rainy, with more of the same predicted for the next several days. Anyway, our Canadian friends are leaving Monday & won’t return until December. So, they wanted to go to the beach one last time. Even though it was raining off & on, we went to the beach yesterday morning.

Surprisingly enough, there were quite a few people there. A group of English-speakers & several Tico families. Luckily, we found an empty roofed table, so our stuff stayed dry. Everyone but me went into the water-I like to go in when it’s hot, not just to get in. I had a book to read, so I was content  just to be outside, hearing the surf.

One of the beach cats, a pretty calico,spent almost the whole time with me, so that made me happy,too. (I’ll be glad to see my Maryland cats again soon.) There are 3 or 4 cats & several dogs that usually come around at the beach. They’re all well-behaved, wait to see if some kind soul will give them a little food, & don’t look too skinny (maybe they belong to someone & just stop by, no collars & no way to tell) Unlike the street dogs in Nicaragua, who are pitifully skinny, & to whom you want to give your whole meal!! This is the friendliest I’ve seen any of the cats there.

So, we all had our last beach visit for awhile. They & we will be packing for our respective flights north.

Ropa Americana

Today we went to the town of Grecia with our Canadian friends. Grecia is a larger town than Atenas & is very busy, with lots of stores, restaurants, & traffic. And, like most towns in CR, it has alot of one-way streets. You have to look at the arrows painted on the road (if they’re not worn off!) or see the sign “no hay paso”. You can’t tell by the parked cars, because,unlike the US, where you’ll be ticketed for it, they park on both sides headed in either direction!

We went to a store called “Ropa Americana” (means American clothes). It’s previously-owned/donated clothes for men, women, & children from various sources. There are huge bags that are dumped in a large area, & people (mostly women) sort through to get things they want. You can be given a bag of your own to sort through & you just pull things out & either keep things,or throw them on the pile. People are very nice while sorting,with no yelling,pulling,or fighting with each other. You get to know what others are looking for & throw things their way if they might like it, & they’ll do the same for you. It was actually alot of fun!! Steve even got a bag to sort through! In this area, the items are 400 colones apiece,or about 80 cents. You just put everything you want in a plastic bag & take it to the cashier. They have a couple other sections with clothes on hangers-these are a little more expensive,but still not much. Just like alot of thrift stores, not everything is in good condition, but some things still have tags on them from high-end US & Canadian stores. Apparently,alot depends on what comes in on that particular day.

We rewarded ourselves for all the money we saved by eating at a good Chinese restaurant afterward. Our friends fly back to Canada Monday, & we go back to the US Tuesday. Alot to do between now & then, but it’ll all be done eventually. We’re going to the beach tomorrow.

Trip to Los Lagos

Yesterday, we took a trip to Los Lagos with our Canadian friends & a Tica friend. Los Lagos is a hotel/spa near the Arenal volcano,that has thermal pools. Arenal is no longer active- it’s last eruption was 1968 & it had smoke & lava flow until 2010. There are many hotels in that area & many spas & thermal pools. (Turrialba is the most active volcano in Costa Rica @ the present & it’s south of us.) Arenal is northwest of us.

That part of the country is another area with different climate, vegetation, & crops. It’s a big milk-producing area & grows alot of tropical plants for exportation & vegetables. They get much more rain than the central valley where we are & it’s considered part of a cloud forest. At a higher elevation, it tends to be chilly & foggy with low cloud cover. Driving through,it’s very green & one sees a variety of flowering plants & bushes that we don’t see around Atenas.

Los Lagos has a butterfly area, frog area, & crocodile pools. The butterfly area was lovely,with alot of different butterflies all over,plus some hummingbirds. Couldn’t see much in the frog place, they hide most of the time.

It did rain some, not hard & lasted maybe 15 minutes or so. We found some large-leafed shelter spots & didn’t get very wet.

The thermal pools are so relaxing. The hottest is about 110 degrees F, according to Steve. They have quite a few pools of varying temperatures, some right next to each other, so one can easily go from one to another. If one is too hot or not hot enough,you can just try another. There weren’t many people there, so we had most of the pools to ourselves.

Another high point-piña colada in a pineapple with a cherry & a little umbrella!!!

Sunday

Luckily,it didn’t rain at all yesterday, & the bonfire went as planned yesterday evening. Lots of old dry wood & a roaring fire. We brought Lay’s potato chips (tasted so-o-o good!!! we try not to buy snack food) , friend Helen brought hot dogs, the Lucas family brought soda, Carolina chili, & stuff for s’mores, & Al & Clara supplied everything else. We had such a nice time.

Why is it that hot dogs taste so much better cooked outside or at a baseball game?! I ate 2 !!

We sat around the fire & just told stories. It’s always interesting to hear other people’s stories.

Al’s cousin, Eileen, is visiting from New York until Thursday. She’s a widow  & it’s her first trip here.

We went to church this morning-standing room only! It was good to see everyone again. They are such warm people-& it was really hot in there, so doubly-warm! Next Sunday is the annual oxcart parade, so we’re looking forward to that. Plus, that’ll be our last Sunday there until we return in July or August.

Saturday AM

It’s Saturday-the weed-whacker grass cutting starts at 6AM, also the house construction in the next lot. Hammering, sawing, singing,& yelling back & forth! Of course, the dogs see the guy next door with the weed-whacker & have to bark at him! Lots of dust everyday, too.

The weather people say that the rainy season hasn’t started yet, but it’s rained almost every day this month. Wouldn’t be so bad if the yard was all grass,but there are alot of places nothing has ever filled-in, & it’s dirt/mud. So, the dogs go out & dirt comes in! Steve helps with the mopping (& thank Heaven houses here have tile floors,NO CARPET !!!), so we just make note that at such& such a time, the floor was clean!

Speaking of dogs, Dudley was stung by something about a month ago & his whole face swelled.  (all the dogs try to eat every bug they see!) No breathing problems, thankfully. He was better with a dose of Benadryl, which we had , & one dose of Prednisone,which we bought over the counter at the pharmacy. (photo attached) And, while we were away, Duke killed a bufo frog, which are poisonous to dogs! Our house-sitter, Ana, rinsed out his mouth with milk & lemon juice. No apparent ill effects, thankfully again.

It was nice to see all our friends at Bible study & Wednesday church again. Tonight we’re going to a big bonfire at our friends’, Al & Clara’s, house. They had a wall built & cut down alot of trees, therefore a big pile of wood to burn. So,we’ll cook hot dogs & make S’mores. Hopefully it won’t rain.

To Osa & Back

Friends here in Atenas have a house in the Osa Peninsula that they rent. (the Osa is in the south of Costa Rica,on the Pacific, & is less developed than the rest of the country) We went with another couple for a week last week, & returned to Atenas Monday.

Had a great time. There are so many birds & creatures that are found nowhere else. The house is on a tributary of the Sierpe River, which empties into the Pacific. So, the river has high & low tides, & crocodiles! In fact,one afternoon, we saw a crocodile eat a vulture that was on the riverbank across from us!! It came up a couple times-Chomp, chomp!!

We went to 2 beaches, both very different from each other. One had a regular beach, very few people, & nice swimming. (it had few people because it was difficult to reach!!) The other was more of an estuary, with the combination of fresh & salt water, & even had blue crabs, like the Chesapeake Bay, & the surf was very far away.

It was very hot & humid, some mornings with not a breath of a breeze. For me, a great place to visit, but wouldn’t want to live there.

We took a 3-hour boat tour on the Sierpe River. Very interesting with a good guide. We all took alot of pictures-saw birds, monkeys, snakes (in the trees!), crocodiles, & a cayman (small crocodile-type thing).

Steve cooked most evenings, but we did eat out some. Found a great US-style restaurant, with the best steak we’ve had in Costa Rica. Went there twice-Roadhouse 169.

I like visiting other areas of Costa Rica, & hope to visit more after our return from the US.