December ( already!!)

How can it be November already?! I remember when the older folks would say how time went by so fast…well,them are now ME!!!

We’re finally pretty happy with the house after some fixes & new appliances. The roof is finally leak-free! The whole front had to be replaced. The not-automatic-anything washer broke after less than 2 months,so we bought a new one of our own-we’ll either take it if we move or sell it. And, we also bought a stove after Steve got fed-up trying to bake @ unknown temperatures in an unreliable oven. We’d take or sell that also. It’s the little things,isn’t it? Being able to put the clothes & detergent in the washer, set it,& just walk away… Don’t take as much for granted as before.

Living expenses here continue to rise. Gasoline prices were raised by the government last month & it took $130 to fill the van. There’s no competition, the price is set by the government, & the price is the same @ all gas stations. Steve’s monthly mandatory contribution to the national healthcare (CAJA) was raised 50% this month. I pay less because I belong to a group, so we’re going to see what we can do about Steve’s.

Some expats are looking @ Ecuador, Panama,or Nicaragua as the next place to live. The thought of moving to another country,with all the government agencies & paperwork to be completed again, sure doesn’t appeal to me.  Maybe it would be different if I were younger, But I can’t see doing it again @ this point in my life.

We sure do enjoy the pool! What a treat! Dama likes the water & will usually get in once. Then she’ll roll around in the grass. We’ve made sure the others can swim & know where they can reach the steps to climb out, but they don’t enjoy it as much as Dama.

The view of the mountains in our back yard is incredible & changes with each hour. Of course, now it’s still the rainy season,& the clouds roll in from all directions. We’ve met alot of our neighbors & are getting to know the area.

On Wednesday, we are returning to the US for 3 weeks. It’ll be great to see family & friends again, &, of course,spend Thanksgiving with family. I’ll also be glad to spend time in the Hagerstown house with my 2 cats. One big thing,I’ve ordered a new camera-I left mine outside overnight in the rain & ruined it!! So, that’s on my “bring back” list,among other things that are added daily,it seems.

“See” you later.      Pura Vida!

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Sunday

Today, after church,the congregation was invited to a park where there would be the baptism of several people. We were to take a lunch for ourselves, so after breakfast this morning,I hardboiled 6 eggs to take. We packed them, as well as bottled water, some crackers & bananas.

It was a nice ceremony. The people,assorted ages,were baptized in a swimming pool they had @ the park. Everyone sang after each was baptized. The son of US friends of ours was included in the group,also a girl from Steve’s English class that has been attending since the beginning,last year.

Steve had visited the home of our pastor with the electrician we had hired who knew them. He saw several pieces of original art done by a lady from the church. We talked a bit with her @ the picnic. Turns out,she lives not far from us & we offered to take her home from the picnic. We left soon after the ceremony because it had started to thunder & we didn’t want to be in an unknown area if it started to rain hard. She invited us into her home & showed us alot of her work.It’s so original-she uses material from the environment for her pictures. It’s hard to describe what they’re like, but they are 3-dimensional due to the material used,from sand & stones to wood fibers.

We’re going to take her with us to the English lesson tomorrow evening.

It’s raining this afternoon,but not RAINING!!! No leaks noticed yet,but we’ll see as the days pass & the hard rains come through.

At the church,there’s a US pastor & his family who are based here & sponsored by a group in Texas. He has an English service one evening a week,plus they host mission groups that come to the area. He’s really a very gifted speaker & we’ve gotten to know him & his family. He heard on Friday that his father,living in Texas,had died suddenly. So,they went back Saturday for this sad time. Luckily,they had spent time in the US with family this past summer. The pastor had a moving prayer for them during the service this morning.

Cherish every moment.

The Roof

Today, as promised,the landlady/owner came with the workers @ about 8:30AM. They were here to fix the roof…but, first,they all had to eat breakfast. (her mother lives next-door) So,they returned awhile later, @ which time we had to open the gate for them-meaning,the dogs had to be put inside with the doors closed (they can push open the screen doors!).

The men proceeded up 2 ladders & removed sections of the roof. Then…PROBLEM,BIG PROBLEM!!! The roof sections she bought were not the same size as the old roof. The roof sections look like adobe & have wavy parts that have to match-these didn’t!

So, everyone went to lunch.

Then,later, they took the old roof sections & put them back on. While the sections were off, we could see daylight through the ceiling, so,apparently,they don’t use a sub-roof, just these metal adobe-looking pieces.

They all left afterward. We were supposed to make a list of things that needed to be done-she never looked @ the list.

So, we’ll wait for the next hard rain.It didn’t rain hard today,probably tomorrow. Wonder how many towels & buckets we’ll be needing then.

Who knows when anyone will return?

I forgot to mention in my last post,when discussing the house,that there is a room next to the master bedroom that has an “almost-door”! The room is made of glass panels with jalousie openings @ the top (the whole house has these instead of windows that open). There is no door to the outside & one can only reach this room through the master bedroom. And, the window in the next-largest bedroom looks out onto this room, which has,by the way, only a view of the wall surrounding the property. It appears that there was once a sliding door from the master bedroom to this room, which has been replaced by a wood door that doesn’t reach the other side. And it has a latch as a lock! But, of course, it doesn’t reach the door jamb, so it’s useless!!???

We’ve learned-don’t ask “why?”!!

the “almost door”!

New House (continued)

We have a few “house geckos”,it seems. They make a chattering sound once in a while & sometimes answer each other. Sounds more like a bird-“tch, tch,tch…”. I don’t mind them inside,though. They eat insects & are supposed to be good luck & indicate that a house is “harmonious”.

The roof still leaks-I’m tired of having to keep the furniture moved out from the wall & keep towels on the floor. It leaks whenever it rains & it rains every day!

The shower in the hall has a “suicide shower” that the first handyman broke when he tried to fix it. The landlady is supposed to buy & install a new unit.

The Jacuzzi motor is still @ a fixit shop somewhere.

The drapes don’t work in the bedroom-the land lady is supposed to fix that. The drapes here in my computer room are torn-I think I’ll suggest that I just cut them off above the tears-couldn’t look any worse!

We hired an electrician & installed a new ceiling light in the kitchen & a new range hood with light & fan. Previous to that, the only light in the kitchen was a 40 watt bulb mounted on the ceiling (& they’re high ceilings!!) In order to see to cook, Steve brought in the floor lamp we bought for the living room. The old range hood was there,but had no buttons & had just a wire hanging down. So, we’ve had to do some things ourselves just to be comfortable here.

The landlady says the workmen are supposed to return tomorrow to do some things here. We’ll  see, no breath-holding!!

She had to buy a washing machine for the house since that was stipulated in the rental contract. We think she must have bought the cheapest thing on the market!! It is all plastic, & not automatic in any way. I fill the washer side, turning off the water when @ the right level. Then set the time to agitate. Then drain the water & put the clothes in the spinner. Then fill the washer again for the rinse. Then put the clothes back into the washer & set the time to agitate. Then empty the washer & put the clothes back in the spinner. I will say that the spin does get the clothes quite dry,so they don’t take as long to line-dry. There’s been a learning curve with all this. You can’t use much detergent or it’ll never rinse out. And,if you put small light things on top when spinning,they’ll get thrown out & go down inside,alongside the basket. Hard to get out-I used a long set of kitchen tongs, then had to fashion a wire hanger hook to retrieve the tongs when THEY fell in!!! Good thing I have skinny wrists & hands,even so,they were all scraped-up after these adventures! Good thing I’m retired & have plenty of time for all this!

suicide shower

We did buy an electric dryer,making me feel like a spoiled gringa! I just didn’t want to have to re-wash all the clothes when they don’t dry & get moldy when it rains all day later.

Costa Rica Road Trip

Today we had to venture into unknown territory, driving-wise! Steve bought a new  motorcycle. There are papers to be signed, requiring an attorney. The place where he bought the ‘cycle had no attorney, so an appointment was made for 11AM today to see their attorney, whose office was in another store, in another city, close to San José.

Steve checked maps as much as he could, considering that nowhere is CR has an address. So, we set off 2 hours early,in the direction he thought we should go. No street signs,no road signs, no route number signs,no signs even to tell you what town you’re in!!! I quit counting how many people he had to ask for directions! He also called the attorney a few times to narrow it down. We went this way,then we went back the way we came, we meandered over alot of roads & through alot of traffic until we arrived @ our destination only 10 minutes late (considered on time or even a little early by CR standards!!).

But,  we weren’t finished with our adventure!! We had found an inexpensive desk on Craig’s list & we next had to find where the seller lived. Another series of phone calls (thank heaven for cell phones!!) & asking directions of people on the street. After finally meeting her & going to her condominium, we saw the desk,paid the agreed-upon price,& she told us she also had a coffee table & end table for sale if we wanted to see them. Well, we had been looking on Craig’s list for these items, also. So, we ended up buying all 3 items from her for a good price. We have found it to be difficult to buy used furniture/household items here. People want too much money for used products. Of course,alot of things are more expensive to begin with,so people ask alot for them,unrealistically,when they decide to sell.

We treated ourselves to lunch @ TGIF!!  Worth every colon!

 

Back in Costa Rica

We returned to CR in the beginning of  this month. Since we were robbed again (they took Steve’s motorcycle!), we immediately began looking for another house to rent. Unfortunately,the rental market was pretty slim this year. We had thought, since this was the rainy season, we would be able to find lots of reasonably-priced houses to choose from-not so!! So, we used our realtor, plus word-of-mouth from friends, &  friends of friends-saw a number of places. Some well-priced, but much too small,some just not suitable.  There was one place,nice, hot water throughout, with a fenced yard & in town. But,it had a teeny, tiny kitchen. I liked it, & we were going to see it for a second time. But,our realtor had a house in the country for us to see. As soon as Steve saw the kitchen,that was the end of looking!! Lots of cupboards, full-size oven,full size refrigerator/freezer. Semi-furnished & more $.

So,that’s where we are now.It is a lovely house, or would be if the owner took care of it. Has an 8-foot wall surrounding the property with a remote-controlled gate in front. Has a POOL!!! (I always wanted a pool,but had no room for one when I was married.Plus,in the US, one can only use a pool for a short time. Here,a pool can be used year-round.) The yard is all grass, so the dogs can run all around & don’t get muddy anymore-we were forever cleaning the floors in the other house! Steve enjoys the outside work,taking care of the yard & the pool. The pool was a mess when we moved-in,but now it looks great & we’ve been in every day. It’s nice not to have to go anywhere,just put on your suit & jump in!

The house still needs work done.The roof has 2 places where it leaks when it rains hard, & it does that almost every day! The toilet leaked & she did have someone fix that. The sink leaks as well as the counter around the sink. Some of the drapes don’t pull correctly. There is a Jacuzzi tub in the master bath-the motor didn’t work,so some men removed it to be fixed elsewhere. The owner is supposedly a businesswoman & is so busy-I would never think of renting a house that needs all this. She tries to fix things herself & does everything on the cheap! There are just alot of little things,like holes in the ceiling & torn curtains that I just wouldn’t put up with. Even the bed has a torn vinyl cover on the head & footboards. So, we’re fixing some things ourselves-we replaced the non-working stove hood.Put in a new kitchen ceiling light.

The owner is supposed to be here this week to do some more things inside. It already looks alot better now than when we moved in. Plus,we had to buy quite alot of things-lamps,sheets, dishes & glasses. Remember,it was semi-furnished! It’s difficult here to find reasonably-priced used furniture or appliances. Things are expensive to start with,so when selling,people ask way too much. So, we still have some things we’re looking for.

But,we’re growing to like it here. We’re in a regular Tico neighborhood & have already met some of our neighbors. Actually,we live next to the landlady’s mother, & next to her is the landlady’s sister & brother-in-law.

More later about some differences here.

our new house

our backyard & pool

North American Tour-Finale

We had a great visit with the family in Michigan. The children are all growing like weeds & Justin is now taller than both his mother & grandmother! This was the first we’d seen their present house & it’s lovely. Everyone has their own bedroom & are getting alot of use out of the backyard pool.

Our visit to Michigan lasted 2 days & it was nice to spend a whole day with the family. Tonya took Wednesday off work & we were also able to see Arya,Chris’ daughter.

Leaving Bloomfield Thursday morning,the original plan was to stop at a campground in Ohio for the night. Well, as we stopped for a food/bathroom break, we decided to go all the way to Hagerstown. It was agreed that we would stop at a motel if Steve got too tired to continue.

So,  that was what we did. Our last stop was at a McDonald’s in Breezewood, PA & we continued on to Hagerstown without any difficulty. At McDonald’s we had an interesting meeting with a husband & wife who had taken a cross-country trip by motorcycle last year. They each rode their own motorcycle & part of the trip was on the old Route 66. Unlike us,they stayed in motels along the way & went clear to California. (Originally, we had planned to go to California, but had amended that decision. At the end, we were glad we didn’t go that far.) We arrived at our home around 9:30PM & were glad to be home & sleeping in our own bed. And I think the cats were happy to see us, too!

We rode through 16 states over 52 days for 8800 miles. Quite an accomplishment,if I do say so myself! I had a fabulous time & ran out of adjectives to describe all that we saw. It was wonderful to meet Steve’s family that I hadn’t met before & to again see those that I had. Everyone was so hospitable & we appreciated the time they spent with us.

Riding a motorcycle apparently makes one approachable,because we had so many conversations with strangers. They wanted to know where we had been, where we were going next, & how we were doing. We compared notes with other riders, & alot of people were interested in the trailer & how it handled.  Local residents gave us suggestions on places to visit in their area-unfortunately, we didn’t have the time to see many of those. Places for another trip? Who knows?

It was the trip of a lifetime. I was so lucky to have the time, the opportunity, & the companion to accomplish it. All that time, all those decisions, & we’re still speaking!! And planning our next adventure…

 

 

North American Tour-Day 52

We got a late start today. Steve had a tough time sleeping due to the intense itching, so he took a sleeping pill & slept in later than usual. Then, he called his doctor in Maryland, who called in a couple of prescriptions to the WalMart down the street a little from the motel. Luckily, we were in an area with a WalMart, so they would be sure to have the meds needed. We had to wait a little while, but not bad.

Once we were on our way, we rode from Des Moines, Iowa to Peru, Illinois, where we’re in another motel. Traveling through Iowa, there were gently rolling hills with field after field of soybeans & corn, mostly corn. Corn as far as I could see. And it’s very green here, much more green than the western states we just went through. No evidence of irrigation needed.

More road construction & alot of trucks traveling with us. Temperature was in the 90’s.

We treated ourselves & had supper @ Olive Garden here. Had a great meal with good wine. We’re both stuffed!!

Hopefully, Steve will sleep better tonight. Tomorrow, we’re headed to Bloomfield, Michigan. This is a suburb of Detroit where my daughter-in-law lives with her husband & my grandchildren. She said they have a pool, so hopefully, we’ll get some relaxing pool-time there. We plan to stay 2 nights with them & head to Ohio Thursday & Maryland Friday. No laundry duty necessary since we’ll be home soon!!!

North American Tour-Days 50 & 51

Yesterday we remained in Tyndall, SD, staying with Steve’s friend, Bill. That evening, Steve & Bill went fishing along the Missouri River. Steve caught a catfish & a raging case of chiggers! He’s really itching today!!! Plus, they got back late & in bed about 2AM, so it was a late sleep-in day.

Also while @ Bill’s, he & I sat @ the computer & he introduced me to several wonderful singers I had never heard of before. He has an enormous collection of records-45’s, LP’s, & even 75’s. He’s found he can find any song/singer he wants to listen to on YouTube. We even found some obscure songs I had liked back in the day!

Today, we rode from Tyndall to Des Moines, Iowa. It was a pleasant day to ride-the temperature is down & it was slightly overcast. There was a little rain to start, but it didn’t last, so we removed the rain jackets we started in @ the first break stop @ a McDonalds. We also discovered that we finally have a cell phone signal, so Steve was able to talk some with his daughter, Abby, & catch up a little with her. Later, I was able to call my daughter-in-law, Tonya, & make plans to stay with them @ their house outside Detroit, Michigan,this week.

Traveled past rolling hills & field after field of corn & soybeans. These fields looked alot better than those in SD, some were being irrigated. Farmers in SD are worried about their grain crops & associated jobs with the continued drought there. When we went through Arkansas & Texas we saw a crop called milo or sorghum-it’s about knee-high with an orange-red seed top & is used for animal feed. Learning all kinds of interesting things.

As we rode through Iowa, we passed an area with alot of wind turbines. I think they look so graceful, like dancers. I do wonder why more areas don’t have them-so many are so windy, seems like they’re wasting the wind!

We’ve encountered the usual summer crop of orange cones (road work throughout the US!). No traffic back-up so far, though.

We’re luxuriating in another motel. (not really luxurious, but is to me compared to camping!!!) I really think Steve would have been miserable in the heat with the bites he has, so the air-conditioning is appreciated. We had a good supper of Chinese food @ a restaurant next door to the motel. We were worried about the restaurant, since there was no one else there when we arrived-you know, the usual rule is-eat @ the restaurant with the most cars in the parking lot. But, thankfully, it turned out to be an exception to the rule.

Seeing the trucks on the road today reminded me-in Utah, we saw a large number of triple-trailers. Semi’s with not 2, but 3 trailers! That’s the only state we’ve seen them.

Riding the motorcycle, I’m getting a strange tan lines. Since I wear my jacket almost all the time, my hands are real brown. Also, I bought a neat pair of sport shoes in Texas that I’ve been wearing-they’re low & real light & porous, so are very cool, but have thin straps along the top, causing a crisscross pattern on the top of my foot. Looks odd with flipflops!!

I think we should almost reach Indiana tomorrow, if all goes well. We’re @ the point in our trip that we’re ready to be home. Hopefully we’ll be in Hagerstown by the end of the week. And, we bought our return tickets for Costa Rica-August 9th. I’ll just be glad to be back in Hagerstown & spend some quality time with my cats!! This all has been a wonderful experience, but there’s no place like home…

North American Tour-Days 48 & 49

Yesterday, we left Kadoka @ a reasonable hour & proceeded across South Dakota to Tyndall. We met several motorcycle riders @ the motel where we stayed. 2 couples had ridden 12 hours from Illinois that day!!! Granted, they were on big bikes & the women had the seats with backrest & armrests, but that’s still way too long to ride, @ least for Steve & me. It’s still hot! They just wanted to be sure their rooms were air-conditioned!!!

Seeing dark clouds up ahead when we got gas, we covered the things on top the trailer with the tarp & put on out rainsuit jackets. (in case I haven’t mentioned it, bungeed on top the trailer are 2 bag-chairs, the tent, 2 sleeping bags, & the small cooler.) We did run into a little rain, but it didn’t amount to much. Afterward, it got really humid, as well as hot, so, off came the rainjackets.

On the way through South Dakota, we kept seeing signs about every half mile for “Wall Drugs”. They were advertising everything! Cold water free, free coffee & donuts for honeymooners & veterans, 5 cent coffee… Steve’s friend, Bill, had said we should stop just to see the place. So, when we got to Wall, SD, we did go there. We were looking for something & thought, of all places, this store should have what we were looking for. Steve had bought a cooling scarf @ WalMart before we left on our trip & had worn it everyday. Well, during that hellish ride through the desert in Utah, it blew off!!! So, here we were @ Wall Drug, on a mission. This place is huge & wandering! There are stores selling various things, all opening into each other-a souvenir shop (where you can buy a gen-u-ine coonskin cap for $20-made in China!!?), a camping supply shop, jewelry store, cafe, western art room, rock-hunting supplies, t-shirt shop…we didn’t go into every room. I just went & asked a clerk for what we wanted & sure enough, they had them!! And made right here in SD-more expensive than the first one, but nicer. (I had also gotten one originally, but the material was red & I couldn’t get the color to stop running. I have a white motorcycle jacket & figured it would be ruined by the red color, so I threw it out. I later regretted this when it got so hot. Leslie,the wife of Steve’s cousin, Sam,  had a cooling scarf made in Arizona that she had never worn, & gave it to me. What a blessing!!! And I like the colors, too. It feels wonderful when it’s so hot!)

So, we took our purchase & proceeded to Tyndall, where we’re staying with Steve’s friend, Bill.

Last evening for supper, we went to the corner bar downtown & had the best mushroom swiss hamburger I’ve ever had! And great french fries, too-done just right by our waitress/cook. While we were there, there was a downpour. People inside went outside, just to stand in the rain, it had been so dry for so long! It did cool it down some. Bill then took us around town a little & down to the Missouri River. There we met a man who was just sitting on a bench enjoying the evening. We got to talking, & he told us stories that were told to him by his grandparents-his great-grandparents had settled here before the Civil War (or, according to the Southern states-the War of Northern Aggression!) His great-grandmother had cared for Custer’s horse after Custer was killed & it’s buried on their land. He’s also seen fossils & other interesting things around this area. It’s so interesting to talk to people who have lived in an area for generations-not too many of us do that anymore (live in one area all our life, that is.)

Steve & Bill were going to go fishing this evening, but it was just too hot today. They’re hoping it’ll be cooler tomorrow. I think we’re leaving here Sunday morning & heading East.

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