It's fun to be The Tourist. I have some girlfriends visiting here from Ohio and it's been great hanging out with them. We did the zipline at the Chiclet Tree Canopy Tour (more photos by Andres). "Our group" was just us girls and the guides. We were zipping from cable to cable without much time to catch our breath. The BEST canopy guides and Andres, the photographer, is totally talented.
It was FABULOUS and a what Rush....
ripping through the trees!!
Absolutely gorgeous view, the zipline is way up in the mountain overlooking Hermosa Beach.
Oh, what fun!!
Thursday, September 28
Tuesday, September 26
It happened as I was having my breakfast this morning on my trip to the airport.
First, let me say I drove that mountain like a champ today. I've learned quite a bit about driving that mountain. Like downshifting, not riding my brakes, taking it slow. I didn't know what "use compression" meant when I first bought my car. The signs are in Spanish and it depicts a truck declining a mountain, not a car. After a couple clutch replacements and a few brake jobs, I understand those signs now.
The traffic going to the airport was very light. Only a few hazards...trucks loaded down with materials driving at a snails pace, workmen on the road picking it out and other workman spreading asphalt. I saw one old man almost get hit by a car. He was crossing the major highway like it was some country dirt road. Traffic stopped to wait for him to cross. The things you see when passing through all these little pueblos. I managed to get past all the twists and turns and finally, up on the mountain, there is the Mirador Restaurant.
I've always wanted to stop there, So I did.
Click here for the tour photos - click "View as slideshow" (top right), click the back button (top left) to get back here.
I was the only customer there so I walked around looking at everything while waiting for my food. They set my breakfast down at the most choice spot in the entire restaurant.
The view was breathtaking, it stretched all the way to the Pacific Ocean. The breakfast was perfect. The background music set the mood (instrumental, Witney Houston's - "I will always love you"
in The Bodyguard)...
AND then it happened, I felt in love with Costa Rica all over again.
I remembered those old time feelings when I first visited here and couldn't wait until the day came that I was actually living here. I soaked in the view and forgot about all the day to day downfalls.
I was totally swept away with the indescribable magic of Costa Rica.
Posted by la Macha on Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Today is the day my friend returns to Costa Rica after having spent a couple of months in the States. I volunteered to pick her up at the airport. SHE KNOWS, as I, that THAT is a big deal. It's so great to see a friendly face when you come out of those glass doors at the airport. All the taxi drivers are lined up at the front saying "Lady, lady, need a taxi". There's probably 50 of them.
She has been that friendly face for me as well, many times.
It's only a two hour drive (if there are no obstructions or delays) but for someone from the Florida Flatlands, it's a huge rollercoaster with plenty of perils. The driving here is incredible and mostly takes a lot of nerve. The buses swing around the hairpin corners with the back-end of the bus in your lane. I've learned to go slow doing those mountains.
It helps to have the right tunes on. I play some kick-ass Southern Rock and it gets me there. The trick is to drive with no fear, just drive like you know where you are. I am hoping it doesn't rain because it causes people to drive crazy. They drive faster and take more chances passing cars. Wish me luck.
Posted by la Macha on Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Monday, September 25
The McKee project had their bake sale this week and raised over $1000 from the generous contributions of supporters. The McKee project has been helping animals in the Jaco area for years and you can see the difference they have made in our community. When I first came here in 2000, there were stray dogs everywhere. You couldn't sit at a restaurant without them coming up and begging for food. It was heartbreaking to watch these dogs comb the streets for any scrap of food. Many were hit by cars and only the "streetwise" survived. The McKee project has found hundreds of adoptive homes for these abandoned dogs. They also help poor families with the cost of neutering their pets and educating the public as to the need in vaccinating animals.
The bake sale is part of a fund raising drive to finance Jaco having an animal shelter and clinic. If you would be interested in helping, just contact me, I'll be happy to connect you with the McKee Project Group.
Keep up the good work girls!! YOU do make a difference.
Posted by la Macha on Monday, September 25, 2006
Saturday, September 23
It's Saturday and Jose shows up promptly at 7am to help me with my projects. Today it was the garden and spread more rocks. The bees live in my ficus tree and Jose helped me relocate them. I have tried to kill these bees three times and they keep coming back so I put their nest in another tree. Pura Vida.
Posted by la Macha on Saturday, September 23, 2006
Friday, September 22
Thursday, September 21
The Lapas fly pass my house everyday. These are beautiful Red Scarlet Macaws and they fly two by two. The flock of Lapas that pass my house has an odd one though. I sometimes see him flying solo or with two others but he's always with the group. They like the nuts from the Alamandra Tree and since I have one in my yard, sometimes they flock to it. My house is two story so I have a perfect view of them in the tree next to my window. It is an awesome sight.
You can always tell when it's mating season because of the ruckus they create. I've even found one of their tail feathers at the bottom of the tree. On one side of the feather, the colors are iridescent.
You can't help but notice them when they pass because of the loud squawking sound. My African Grey parrot, "Hootie", flew away last January so I always look up to see if maybe he has joined the Lapas.
Posted by la Macha on Thursday, September 21, 2006
Wednesday, September 20
When I first moved into my house, I was unnerved by the sound of a woman screaming every night. It was a very eerie sound and I felt helpless not being able to offer any assistance. The sound came from far away, up in the mountain.
I asked my neighbor if he had heard the same cries and he explained that sound was
I was astonished and relieved. It sounded just like a scream from a human!
Now, with all the construction, I don't hear it very often. I do happen to see White-faced Monkeys ever now and then. They come down from the mountain and I see them crossing the highway. There are tons of these monkeys that live at Manuel Antonio National Park just south of here. The monkeys are very tourist savvy and will steal your food out of your bags. They get down right aggressive when you take it away from them. The best time I think to see the monkeys is late in the afternoon when they come down to the trees at the park beach to see what goodies were left behind. They are truly fascinating and I could watch them all day.
-photo taken at Manuel Antonio National Park
Posted by la Macha on Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Monday, September 18
These prehistoric looking creatures are all around where I live. Before all the dogs and the fence, I used to feed them fruit and they would come right up to my door practically. They love pineapples and papaya. I've had my fence (and dogs) for over a year and they still come to hang out in the Alamandra tree. This is a real trick because they have to get pass the dogs. The dogs try to climb the tree but resolve to wait for hours for the iguana to come down. These iguanas are smart and they out-wait the dogs. I'm not sure how but every now and then, the dogs catch an iguana. Some are as long as four feet! They catch them by the neck. The iguana will play dead which gives me time to rescue it and put it outside the fence by the river. Some iguanas get away leaving their tail, those I name "Chinga" (tail-less). They have fierce tails that whip their opponent and their talon-like claws can dig in deep. My Max (alpha dog) has scars under his neck from catching iguanas. Once they chased a HUGE iguana inside my house. It was the size of a small alligator!
So far, I've escaped injuries from my rescues. The trick is to grip them behind the neck (like a gator) and HOLD THAT TAIL.
F.Y.I. Costa Rica offers many challenges.
I would never dream I could catch an iguana.
Posted by la Macha on Monday, September 18, 2006
Sunday, September 17
Saturday, September 16
Yes, it's an art or in my case, I have perfected it to a science. I find the longer I wait to complete a project, the more proficient I am at completing it. Go figure. Living here in the "Land of Mañana" has helped me to hone this delay tactic. In Costa Rica, when someone tells you "Mañana", it doesn't necessarily mean "tomorrow". It just means not today.
I always dread taking my continuing education course to renew my Florida real estate license. I go through this every two years and every two years, I wait until it's almost overdue. Today, I got crackin' and cracked open the book to study for the exam. It didn't take near as long as I had thought and I had my test graded on-line. Modern technology makes it soooo simple.
I passed and all this before noon today. PURA VIDA!
FYI - You don't need a real estate license to practice in Costa Rica.
Posted by la Macha on Saturday, September 16, 2006
BetaBlogger put my sidebar back up at the top!
AND, Photo editor is working,
Con toda la Pata
The photo is of a neighbor's horse that used to visit me until someone stole him.!!!
I call that house in the photo
"Little House on the Prairie". It is now used as the sleeping quarters for the 20 men constructing the houses on the mountain.
Pura Vida, BetaBlogger is working
Posted by la Macha on Saturday, September 16, 2006
Friday, September 15
Thursday, September 14
A group of guys just ran past my house carrying a flaming torch.
The bus followed with back-up runners. A Police car as lead
and an ambulance van as the "caboose".
Celebration of Independence Day for Costa Rica!!!!
Posted by la Macha on Thursday, September 14, 2006
Wednesday, September 13
5:15 pm I load up the dogs and drive to a beach spot where I know they can run and not fight with other dogs. When we get there, they bail out and I search for driftwood. I was looking down and walking and when I looked up, there was the Most Incredible DOUBLE rainbow I have ever seen. Even better than the ones I've seen in Hawaii. This one was a full double arch and all four ends were visible. It stopped me dead in my tracks. I was in awe. Words can not describe or a photo do it justice. (I didn't have my camera with me or I would have attempted.) What's even more incredible is it hasn't rained. It's bright colors stretched from the ocean to the mountains, in a clear spectacular view.
I felt fortunate.
Posted by la Macha on Wednesday, September 13, 2006
When I first started visiting Jaco (2000), it was a sleepy little tourist town. Not much traffic, not many cars and hardly no new condo construction. Banco National was being rebuilt and one new shopping center in the central. NOT ANY MORE. In six years, I have watched Jaco grow so fast that I can't imagine "WHOM" is going to buy all these condos now being built! It's like my hometown in South Florida, after hurricane Andrew. They came in droves and built to the limit. We now have so many projects going up here, it would be difficult to count them all. And a new hotel, Ramada. I saw a huge billboard for it.
In the years 2000-2003, you could actually ride your horse down main street and it was perfectly calm. People were on bikes and walking, we had a fourth of the taxis we have now, and about half of the current auto traffic. There weren't many SUV's and only a few buses. I really don't remember WHEN I realized I wouldn't be riding horseback through downtown Jaco anymore. It's now illegal to ride your horse on the beach but some still do. Mostly, Tico horse tours. They do allow cars to park on the beach during over-flows like Easter holiday, etc. but normally, it's prohibited ($20 fine).
Time sure does change things and the little Jaco I knew, is no longer here. Even the type of tourist have changed. It used to be families and couples, some surfers. Now it's a lot of men looking for a good time, fishing and "what-not" (prostitution is legal).
It's a little sad to see the same thing happen here as what happened in South Florida. The North American investors (i.e., United States) are here in full force, building a New Jaco. The reasons I moved here are slowly fading. Progress is good but the by-product could cause me to move farther South in search for the Real Costa Rica.
NOTE: Click on the link to PHOTOS.
Posted by la Macha on Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Tuesday, September 12
Monday, September 11
Today, CNBC is covering the events of 911 that changed so many lives five years ago. The sequence of events are as fresh in my mind as if it happened yesterday. We all watched it on t.v. in absolute disbelief/horror and we ALL remember where we were when it happened.
It was THAT kind of news. It affected our core Spirit.
For me, it was life changing. I had thought it might be a good time to move out of my country when I saw the USS Cole hit while I was visiting Costa Rica in Oct. 2000. A chill ran through me that I cannot describe. When I saw the Twin Towers go down, I KNEW my days were numbered in the U.S.A. I was still in the States when the first anniversary of 9/11 rolled around and I remember American flags on every house and every car in my town. I wasn't there for the second anniversary.
It made me realize again how brief life can be and I wanted to make sure I lived my dream before my time came. Terrorism affects the world but here in little Costa Rica, I don't feel as threatened as I did living so close to the ports in South Florida.
I would hope that my Fellow Americans are honoring this memorable day by flying Our Flag of Freedom - LIBERTY and JUSTICE. In my mind, we all join hands and say a prayer for those lives that were needlessly taken.
You are remembered.
Posted by la Macha on Monday, September 11, 2006
Sunday, September 10
I went to my first authentic Tope today way up in the mountain at Mata de Plantano. It was pretty incredible and much to my surprise, not much is on the internet about Costa Rican Topes. People come from all around and ride their horses in the Tope. It's an all day festival, ending with the bull rides. The money raised helps the school of Mata de Plantano. I saw Real Cowboys and some beautiful horses! "Puro Tico" - I was the only blonde so I stood out like a three-headed martian. Everyone was happy to pose for the camera and the misplaced Gringa. I have loads of photos.
Check out this Link of Photos. When you get to the "Flickr" link, click onto "View Slideshow" (on top right) and enjoy some
PURA (Pure) Costa Rica.
Posted by la Macha on Sunday, September 10, 2006
Saturday, September 9
I will try and reiterate what I previously wrote this morning (it was lost).
Life here is pretty much stress-free, that is, unless you try to accomplish something.
Yesterday, my mission was to accomplish those things on my to-do list that I hadn't completed on Thursday. Looking at the list, it all looked fairly simple but getting it done, well that's another matter.
Take for instance paying bills. We do not received bill statements in the mail here. Also, the bank does not issue checks on your personal account. It is possible to pay a bill electronically through the bank, but I'm not that savvy and it's in Spanish. In order to pay a bill, I must go around town to the different designated payment sites. Sounds easy, huh? I pay ICE (telephone and electric) at the location that has the original bill. There are other places in which to pay but they do not give you the bill, only the receipt as payment proof. To pay ICE, I need to make two trips because the two bills are never there at the same time. Cable Tica is fairly easy, just one trip, one office for two bills (t.v. and cable internet). The Internet provider, Racsa, I pay at the pharmacy. The water payment is yet at another location. To pick up my garbage, that payment is made at the Municipal (I now pay annually).
Are you getting the idea?
Yesterday, I needed to pay for my car insurance. Insurance isn't manidatory here like in the States but for peace of mind driving in This Country, it's required. Actually, my bill isn't due until next week but we have a BIG holiday coming and things get a little crazy here. It's "Independence Day" week for Costa Rica. As I was saying, I needed to pay my insurance so I went to my bank to get the money (everyone living here knows what that's about, ie. waiting). Then, I needed to go to another bank that my insurance company uses to make the deposit into their account.
At Banco Costa Rica, the guard prompts me to stand correctly in the "snake line". This concept is foreign to "Americans". The front line runs parallel to the teller booths and "snakes" around to the end. The person at the head of the snake goes to the next available teller, UNLESS you are pregnant, disabled, elderly or CRAZY! Those people can go to the front and the "special teller" helps them. One bank (Banco National) has a universal sign above the "special teller" depicting a lady pregnant, a man in a wheelchair, an old lady with her cane, and a person with circles and lines over her head like Medusa. Naturally, I'm drawn to THAT teller, especially on Fridays. Once I make the deposit, I must go find a fax machine and send to the insurance company a copy of my receipt for their proof of my payment. All this took about two hours. It's actually not stressful unless you are in a hurry. I never get in a hurry anymore.
I needed a few items from the grocery too but again, it's not one-stop shopping. You must go to two or three different stores to get everything you need. I was running into the same people I'd seen at the other stores, it's a common practice here.
Friday is also open market day. They close one street here for the vendors to sell produce and other items. On Fridays, the buses come in droves from San Jose and surrounding areas for our beaches. Our population more than triples for three days.
There are flags and banners being put up all over town in honor of Independence Day next Friday. Our little town is going to be packed with people. No one is allowed to sell alcohol on Independence Day so everyone stocks up the day before. Needless to say, everyone drinks more because of this cut-off. I am happy to have my to-do list done and can join in on the upcoming celebration. Independence Day is the 6th anniversary of my first arrival to Costa Rica and it's my birthday. I'll be celebrating with the whole Country. Pura Vida
CORRECTION: They do sell alcohol on Independence Day. I never know.
Posted by la Macha on Saturday, September 09, 2006
Thursday, September 7
Have you seen Karo Corn Syrup (photo link) here in Costa Rica?
If so, please email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and let me know which store and it's location. I've checked every store in a 20 mile radius in my neck of the jungle. I need this for my brownie icing. Thanks, Macha
(betablogger photo editor is not working, again)
Posted by la Macha on Thursday, September 07, 2006
Wednesday, September 6
Here we go again.
Click on that first sentence and check out a link I stumbled onto.
The link was written February, 2002.
It's over four years later and the same news is on today.
The link, "same news", is Bush's speech earlier today.
Guantanamo! link to headline "Guantanamo now holds top terror suspects"
Another's opinion -Where’s Osama been Hidin’?
"You can't handle the truth", Colonel Jessep, A Few Good Men.
Where is John Wayne?!
Remember Bush's "Wanted: Dead or Alive" back in 2001?
Bush can "talk the talk" but can he "Walk the walk"?
There are just too many needles in the haystack.
Bush ended with, "It's a quagmire", on his t.v. interview tonight.
I leave you with the Costa Rica's "Pura Vida" mantra.
Pura Vida Pura Vida Pura Vida Pura Vida
Costa Rica doesn't have an army.
Don't tell the Jihad.
One more link
"and that's all I have to say about that", Forrest Gump
Posted by la Macha on Wednesday, September 06, 2006
Sheer will-power and man-power ingeniously move things around Costa Rica. Vendors on the streets are literally peddling their wares.
Beta.Blogger Photo Editor is working so, I'm going to take advantage of it and share with you some photos I've taken in the past.
Posted by la Macha on Wednesday, September 06, 2006
Tuesday, September 5
We've all seen Steve Irwin flirting with danger for years but the news of his death yesterday, caught us all by surprise. "Croc-man", as he is known with my family, will be missed. I pause to reflect.
Steve Irwin - 1962-2006
Click here for details
Posted by la Macha on Tuesday, September 05, 2006
Monday, September 4
Today is NOT Labor Day in Costa Rica. Every morning, I wake to the distant sound of one lone banging hammer, up on the mountain. This is at 6:30 a.m. I think the steady pounding sound of that hammer is a roll-call for the other workers. By 7:00 a.m, the saws and grinders have joined in. This is everyday except Sunday and today is no exception. In Costa Rica, workers work a 10-hour day with an hour lunch, half-day on Saturday.
My "river rock project" is at a good stopping point which is a good thing because I lost my worker, Jose. ("Pura Vida") He returned to his regular job of glassing surfboards. The surf shop where he normally works, finally received the materials (foam board) to make new boards. Jose usually works at my house just on Saturdays to help me keep up with things, like cutting the grass. Today, I play Jose. I will be at the other end of the shovel relocating the pile of small rocks. Again, "poco por poco". I can do it, I've done it before.... but I may not be able to lift my arms later, so I'm posting on my blog now.
My grand idea was to learn to trade the stock market, move to Costa Rica and trade for a living. The market hasn't exactly co-operated and I've been stuck in some trades during the slow month of August. Today, the stock market is closed so I am freed from my t.v. (CNBC) and my computer. "Touristas" cannot work in Costa Rica so I thought the stock market would be a source of income.
I have applied for my C.R. residency so theoretically, I am a resident until my application is denied.
It won't be denied.
(check here later for my post on "Getting Residency")
I can legally work with a resident status as long as it's not a "salary wage". I have a little side project of supplying my local grocery with brownies. It's not very profitable, though. It's mostly a public service I provide for fellow U.S. chocolate lovers visiting and living here. I missed having brownies and figured others did too. They do and my fudge brownies, with chocolate icing and a cherry, sell well. I'm on the look-out for new recipes for brownies.
Well, there's a shovel waiting with my name on it and a pile of rocks beckoning to be spread. I grab my gloves and join the working class today.
Happy Labor Day to all.
Posted by la Macha on Monday, September 04, 2006
Sunday, September 3
"Pura Vida", everyone says it here. It means "pure life" or the acceptance of whatever life brings. Once, someone told me their father died and right after saying this, he says, "Pura Vida". This struck me as odd, at first, but then I realized Pura Vida does encompass EVERYTHING. You'd have to live here to understand the true essence of Pura Vida. Once you know "Pura Vida", you can take it with you ANYWHERE. It's a way of life, acceptance for what is.
My dogs were born knowing pura vida. They are the best examples I can think of to describe this way of life. They wake up happy, eager to greet me and the day, EVERY morning. They don't hold a grudge, they don't care about appearances, they are perfectly content to lay in a cool spot until something triggers their interest. If I leave them behind when I leave in my car, they are just as excited to go on the next trip.
Everyday is a NEW DAY. Pura Vida!
Posted by la Macha on Sunday, September 03, 2006
Saturday, September 2
You can buy rock at the "ferreteria" (hardware store) in town OR you can go out to the quarry at the river (where the store buys THEIR rocks) and get it direct for less than half the price. It's great buying the rocks direct because it's fresh out of the river and has NO ANTS.
When I arrived a guy, with muddy bare feet and speaking only Spanish, was there to greet me. I was prepared and had brought a Tico (male Costa Rican) with me to explain what I needed and hopefully, "negotiate" a good price. I thought I had my bases covered by taking a Tico with me. I still ended up getting too small of a rock with the first delivery. ("Trucos!!") I needed to return and order one more load of bigger rocks.
Mo' money, mo' money.
"El Jefe" (the boss) was on site the second trip and this time, I brought my worker with me, Jose.
Jose is Nicaraguan, the best worker I've known here.
The guy on the mule is also the operator for the dump trucks and backhoes. They are very economical here and he uses his mule to get around the quarry.
"El Jefe" is the guy on the left.
This is just the start of "The Rains" here in Costa Rica and even with these precautions, it will still be overwhelming when the rain comes down in full force.
Note: This is an addendum to my "T.G.I.F." post yesterday.
Posted by la Macha on Saturday, September 02, 2006
Friday, September 1
I had a boss once that referred to this often,
Keep it Simple Stupid.
I am peddling as fast as I can and getting no where fast...
I'm trying to figure out how to make things work
on my blog. Please have patience if something
doesn't work on the site. Any suggestions are appreciated.
You can email me if the comment link doesn't work.
"Poco por Poco."
At least the beta.blogger photo editor is working again now.
Works, doesn't work. That's Costa Rica too!
Posted by la Macha on Friday, September 01, 2006
It's been a busy week at Casa de la Macha.
There are four houses being built on the mountain in front of me and a new public access road to the beach is being built near me. The dump trucks for the fill dirt pass by my house to make the new road to the beach. All day, for weeks, I have heard earth-movers coming and going. They are also bringing in fill dirt for the houses under construction BEFORE THE BIG RAIN comes.
I caught the "construction" bug and decided I needed to prepare for the rain, also. We are just in the beginning of the "wet season". It's hard to imagine how much rain we get here. Last year, I counted over 100 days we had rain, everyday! I'm from S.W. Florida and thought it would be similar rainfalls. NOT. We have mountains here. I have a mini-river next to my house when the rain is flowing down the mountain in earnest.
One of my projects this week has been to dig out, again, the entrance and fill with rocks (again). I did this same thing before the fence was installed but the back-hoe took out most of it for the entrance gate and driveway.
Monday started with a trip to the river to order the rocks. That's where they set-up shop, by the river. It's a money-making business out there. I ordered small river rocks - $88 for 6 meters. They were too small for the driveway so I had to go back out there and order larger ones ($100). In my experience, you always have to do things twice here before you get it right. ("Trucos" - tricks) (Pink words have photos under them)
It rained hard yesterday so I was able to see where the water would collect. Today it's bright and sunny and my worker is shoveling diligently so I can close my gate by nightfall. He needs the money/work. I have offered to pay a back-hoe to make his job easier but I think he's waiting until he gets tired or the rain comes and then he'll go get the back-hoe guy who is making the beach road. I pay Jose $3.00 an hour which is double the typical wage. A back-hoe, to do it on the side, would be about $30. Funny thing about workers here... when Jose works alone, he does the work of two men. When he has help, it's half the work with double the guys.
They like to talk.
WELL, beta.blogger will not load my photos so more to come later..... HELP!!!!!!! The only way I could insert photos was using a Link.
I'll keep trying.
Update: It's noon and I'm able to close my gate before Jose takes his lunch-time.
Jose worked like three men this morning and I didn't need a back-hoe!
My girlfriend dug an entire pool with just three guys and three shovels.
Posted by la Macha on Friday, September 01, 2006