Thursday, December 27

Wait's almost 2008

You can guess what the waves have been like when I tell you I saw a guy fishing off his surfboard.
January should bring better waves and some new photos.
A big shout out to the rad surfer boys from Brazil, Venezuela, and Costa Rica!

Monday, December 24

Merry Christmas to All

Hoping all your Christmas wishes come true.

Friday, December 21

Mele Kalikimaka

Every year, this special ornament finds it way to the top section of my tree. It's from my roommate when I lived near Honolulu. It's been almost 30 years now but it is very special to me still. I loved Hawaii at Christmastime but not as much as I love living in Costa Rica. Watching all the cold weather on t.v. and then walking out my door to go to the most beautiful beach, I feel very fortunate.

I've had great fun decorating and cooking for Christmas. I've embellished on the egg nog recipe adding coconut flavor and strawberry. I bought the bottles of flavored syrup they sell here and add it to the nog. A tropical twist on the traditional egg nog treat. Costa Rica has egg nog, it's called Rompope (rome-poe-pay). The nickname for it is "Pomche". With coconut syrup, I call it 'Coco Rompope'.

The countdown is on for the Santa showdown and I hope this finds everyone in the Holiday Spirit and enjoying this special time of the year.
Pura Vida and ENJOY! (take a nip of nog)

Aloha shout-out to BreeWee in Hawaii and my old roommate, Kathy Tugman and her family.

Thursday, December 20

Eating Tips for the Holidays

My friend, 'Texas Terri' in Jaco, sent this to me and I couldn't resist passing it along....

1. Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday
buffet table knows nothing of the Christmas spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door where they're serving rum balls.

2. Drink as much eggnog as you can and quickly. You can't find it any other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip? It's not as if you're going to turn into an 'eggnog-aholic' or something. It's a treat. Enjoy it! Have one for me. Have two. It's later than you think.

3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That's the whole
point of gravy. Gravy does not stand alone. Pour it on. Make a
volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the
volcano. Repeat.

4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they're made with skim
milk or whole milk. If it's skim, pass. Why bother? It's like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.

5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to
control your eating. The whole point of going to a Christmas party is to eat other people's food for free. Lots of it. Hello!?!?

6. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year's. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you'll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.

7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table,
like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don't budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention. They're like a beautiful pair of shoes. If you leave them behind, you're never going to see them again.

8. Same for pies. Apple, pumpkin and mincemeat - have a slice
of each. Or, if you don't like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert -- Labor Day?

9. Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it's loaded with the
mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. I mean, have some standards.

10. One final tip: If you don't feel terrible when you leave the
party or get up from the table, you haven't been paying attention. Reread tips: Start over, but hurry, January is just around the corner.

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 19

Cookin' Chain Reaction

Turns out, Thanksgiving was just a warm-up for some of the cookin' I've been doing lately. Nostalgic stuff like Sandies (Mexican wedding cookies) and last night, I made a big pot of 'Chicken 'n Dumplins'. Just the aroma of it, smells like home. It's a dish I typically make on a Sunday but TUUUUesday seemed like a good day, too. Making the Sandies is a real trick now because I've used up the confectioner's sugar I brought from the States. I really don't know where to find it here....
Painting the bottles for the egg nog batches I've been making has resulted in plates of sweet treats (brownies, sandies and cookies) to accompany it.
I'm posting a couple of fool-proof recipes that I hope you will enjoy. Just click onto photo to enlarge. If you want to know how to make Chicken 'n Dumplins, just let me know. It's cheap, it's fast, and it's soooo GOOD! Bien Provecho!

Tuesday, December 18

Little Jaco Now

This photo was taken from the Mirador inbetween Hermosa and Jaco. I see this scene everytime I go to town. I look in awe lately (especially at night with all the lights) because I can't believe little Jacotown may soon become a city. The next Cancun or 'Jacopulco'. In the past two years, construction has really taken off with the building of highrises on the beach and elsewhere. Major development. In my opinion, over development but we'll see who buys into the hype.

Typically, this time of year, all Costa Rica pours out to the beaches. Jaco is the closest hot spot from San Jose so we get the big crowd here. Little by little, the beach camping is being blocked off and the 'egg eaters' are having to find new camping spots. They (the Muni) have signs posted on the beach stating no camping, no cars, no ...., you get the idea. It's not enforced so far but the casinos and highrises are not complete and not occupied yet. It will be a totally different scene next year.
(the locals coined the name 'egg eaters' because these vacationers don't have much money, they bring their own food and don't eat in restaurants much)

When I lived in Hawaii, people joked that the building crane was the State bird there. Looks like a flock of cranes have landed in Jaco. Progress? - Bah Humbug.

Monday, December 17

Bah, humbug!

I went on a special mission to Jacotown to capture the spirit of Christmas with my camera. I just wanted some photos of decorations and such. I wasn't expecting to see downtown 5th Avenue in Naples, Fl but I didn't see ANY lights for Jaco. In years passed, Jaco Municipal would string lights across the beach strip street from end to end. It was magical. The big businesses would spell their name in the lights. Yes, a bit commercial but Jaco looked like it had the Christmas spirit.

The Municipal decorated their building, but sparsely. They put up the manger scene inside the stairwell as always (minus Baby Jesus right now). I can imagine maybe the 'Muni' is low on funds with all the new sidewalks being put in. There's been many good changes around Jaco lately with roads, lights, etc.

When I really miss all the lights and fanfare of Christmas in Florida - I will go to Los Suenos Resort in Herradura (a neighboring town).
It's a wonderland. (As in - 'I wonder where people get all this money?')

Thursday, December 13

"Tis the Season..." (rewritten)

to pay, pay, pay. If you live here, you probably know that taxes are due on your car. It's called Marchamo. If you don't pay and put the sticker on your car, well, you'll have problems next year. There's a little grace period and then the Transito (car police) have check points with a tow truck for those that haven't paid. The amount of this tax is dependent on what type of car you have. I have a 1995 SUV and my payment is about $220. This payment also provides minimum insurance on damage you might do with your car. Truly, I have no idea what the tax is for but it's due before the end of the year.

It's time to pay the "Aguinaldo", the thirteenth month, to your employees. It all has to do with how long they've worked as to how much they are paid this "bonus" at the beginning of December. I'm grateful I don't have this payment, it's a big one for long time employees. It's one of the reasons I haven't created "work" (aka income) here. The system is set up that I can't work but I can hire employees and profit from their efforts... maybe or maybe not. I've seen many businesses come and go in Jaco. The mandatory payments for employees are very costly. They all know what their due is and you will too when you have workers. I learned and unless you have a dynamite business, excellent employees AND Staying Power (you can float during rainy season), it's hardly worth it.

Property taxes are due, also. They are due in January for 2008. It's a 'nominal' tax, so far. Nothing like the taxes I was paying in Naples, FL. I think I paid more in taxes last year for my car than for my house. There's some "big talk" about property taxes increasing, DRAMATICALLY (from $300 now, to $6,000 in the future). If that's the case, I'll be blogging from Florida.

Garbage pick-up is also due if you pay by the year, paid in January.
That's about it, I think...? Oh, one more, your post office box rental. If not paid by the Jan. 30th, there is a 50% late fee.
Not having an income keeps things simple. Poor, but simple. Pura Vida.

Monday, December 10

For readers in Costa Rica

Not to give you a blow by blow detail of my day but I did go to town to pay my car insurance. I went to the bank (Banco National) and the snake line practically reached the door. I left and went back, still the same long line (same snake formation). Frustrated and really not wanting to pay for car insurance since it's not mandatory in CR, I did some other stuff and returned home. There's a five day grace period anyway.

As soon as I walked in, the phone rang and it was the insurance company reminding me my premium was due today. I had inquired last week about reducing my coverage so my premium wouldn't be so high but it was by email and I never heard back from anyone. It's an old car and I've heard it's rough getting money out of insurance to pay for damages. I asked again and come to find out, it is WAY cheaper not having coverage on my vehicle, just coverage for everything else. It went from c80,823 every three months ($160.) to c29,766 ($60) every six months! PLUS, they gave me "THE TICA MACHA 30% discount". That's what she called it. I don't know why, maybe because I've never reported an accident in all these years (and my car is in Tica Macha's name). I didn't question it.

I say all this to say, ASK AND YOU MAY RECEIVE. People don't willingly give out info here, you have to ask the right questions. As far as I know, there are many agents but only one insurance company in Costa Rica - INS.
I got it all done in less than 15 minutes by e-mail, fax and phone and yes, credit card.
"Now, THAT was easy." (from the Staples commercial)

Computer Solution

Susan, here in Jaco, sent this to me as condolences for my computer problems. Looks like a good solution to me!!!
I may just have to take up drinkin'! I'm off to go to town to pay my year end taxes and car insurance.

To WolfieCR: You say I CAN'T buy the English Version of XP in Costa Rica?

Sunday, December 9

Gratitude Sunday

Sometimes I just have to stop myself and think, things could be worse. I'm bummed about both my computers being on the blink but I did finally make it back to the doctor for my tests and everything is fine with me.
THAT'S what really matters. Good health.
I swiped this photo off of Yahoo of the vet's arm in the crocs mouth he was treating.
Talk about biting off the hand that feeds you...
God knows, I have a lot to be grateful for and no more whining about a stupid computer.
I'll get my computer and files all sorted out one day,,, or NOT.
"Now, THAT was easy."
Pura Vida.

Saturday, December 8

It's never easy....

You may have gotten the idea that living here in paradise is wonderful and it is IF you don't try and get anything done. Living in a beach town, well, we've got plenty of booze and bars and beaches but getting other stuff can be a real hassle.

Recently, my desktop computer took a dive and I thought I had it licked by buying a new computer ($520). I had bought Windows XP operating system about a year ago when this same computer clocked out on me. I had Windows ME on it (original from Dell) and bought XP to install on it. When it died again (this last time), I was told I could reinstall the Windows XP on my new computer. Well, I can't. It was purchased for one use, on one computer.

I finally got up the nerve to untangle all the cords and start plugging it all in yesterday. That's when I discovered that I had to buy XP ONE MORE TIME ($220). Most of the time, problems here are easily solved with money. Most of the time, it's information given on a need to know basis and by the time you reach the solution, you've damn near broke the bank.

I say all this for those that may be wonder why I am not posting. I am in computer hell at the moment and will be here for AWHILE. Seems the English version of Window's XP is not available at the moment in Costa Rica. So I wait. I've learned to do that quite graciously since I've had loads of practice living here the past five years.

Thanks for listening to me vent. "And this too shall pass."
"It's only money" ..... until you run out of it.

Thursday, December 6

The Process

I don't know about you, but I love to see other artist's workstations. You know, where stuff is created. I love arts and crafts and there's not one you could mention that I haven't tried or want to try. Now, I'm on a bottle painting kick. I made Marta's Cuban Egg Nog last week and was hooked immediately. Good stuff. Creamy, liquid sugar with a good helping of Ron Centenario Blanco rum. I want to make it for others and thought I'd use my bottle collection to present it.

I'm a confessed hoarder and I've been saving these bottles, waiting for a perfect project. Since I'll be making the concoction here, I'm calling it Costarrican Egg Nog - I'll be using Costa Rica rum (maybe the coconut kind, too). (I don't think Costarrican is spelled like that but that's how the people here spell it and say it. Like the town Santa Ana, they say "Santana". Go figure)

The basic fire design I'm painting is pretty much mindless and I enjoy that. I could have gone with a Christmas theme but I'm hoping they will save the bottles and stash their own "liquid delight" in them. Or use them for candle holders....??

The tree is decorated and the bad lights are out in the trash. That was a hard one for a hoarder. I always thought I could fix them. Then, I saw a Christmas tree go up in flames on t.v. AND I noticed they had tags that said "made in China". I'm still trying to boycott China. The list of bad products from China just keeps growing.

Did I mention I got my new computer tower? It's a mammoth. HUGE. I can't figure out why with all the new technology but I didn't pick it out. I told 3-D Computers I needed one and they delivered. Kinda like adopting a baby. I took whatever they got me and happy to have it. I've been afraid to even plug it in. I know once I start loading all my stuff back on it, I won't be glass painting.

'Tis the season .... to have fun.

Wednesday, December 5

Just One More Day

Hasn't everyone felt like that at sometime in their life? Wishing they had just one more day to be on vacation, spend with a loved one, gather info off their computer...
Yep, my computer died. Maybe it gave me warnings with the messages I was getting when I would sign off but I didn't realize it was telling me goodbye. It just died last week in the middle of my work. I got a message from it in computer lingo basically saying "you're screwed".
I took it to 3D Computers in Jaco for Armando to check it out. Armando knows my Dell since he brought it back to life once before. I knew the diagnosis this time wasn't going to be good so I waited a few days to check back, giving myself time to prepare for the worse. I wasn't prepared. When he told me it was fatal and I needed a NEW computer, I got that gut-wrenching feeling, like a member of my family had died. How can one become so attached to something like a computer?
Photo of Armando and Veronica at 3-D Computers in Jaco.

I have my laptop to fall back on but even it is ill. It screams at me beep, beep, beep, beep whenever I turn it on. Armando said the keyboard has a short and needs replacing. Not something he can get here in CR. I can still use it but it skips around like crazy making it a real challenge to use.
Costa Rica is hard on electronics with all these power outages and surges. It's not so easy to fix simple problems here either.

Just one more day and I'll have my desktop computer (new) back on-line and maybe things will get back to normal instead of me moping around, feeling like I lost my best friend. The solution - an external harddrive, a friend for life.

The one saving grace was a egg nog recipe I got off (Thanks Marta). I made some on the night I got the news about my computer and it helped to soothe things over. I even got my tree decorated while drinking it and watching the "My Grammy's Awards". I don't drink usually but BOY HOWDY, that egg nog sure is good and SWEET!!. I plan to whip up some for gifts this year and put in my stained glass bottles.

"Creme de Vie" - Cream of Life