Monday, April 30, 2007

Our Little Car In Costa Rica

It's called a BeGo and is made by Daihatsu. Great mileage, good air conditioning and an in-dash CD player, which we didn't use. Didn't have a whole lot of pep, however. Driving up the steep hill out of Montezuma to go to Cobano to use the ATM, we were reduced to a crawl. Susan and Einar had to get out so we could get to the top. It's a four-passenger car but only on level ground. This was taken at Montana de Fuego Hotel and Spa. It was raining; actually it rained every day we were there. I loved it; very warm rain.
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Montezuma Beaches

These were all taken in Montezuma. That was the only beach we visited. We had planned to go the the Caribbean side and visit Cahuita but never got that far. The top middle picture is a beach where people have stacked rocks in some pretty spectacular ways. The fellow sitting in the chair on the beach is the security guard at Ylang Ylang. Not a bad job, if you ask me. He did have a gun, however.

Some Of The Places We Relaxed in Costa Rica

Top left: The front porch at Organico Cafe in Montezuma. Nice and shady in the hot sun.

Top middle: The bar at Ylang Ylang in Montezuma. We ate a lot of meals there and were never disappointed. Good wine too and the corkage fee was only $6.

Top right: Two very comfortable chairs at Amor de Mar in Montezuma. They had very soft cushions and were shaded by palm trees. You could hear the surf pounding on the shoreline rocks.

Middle left: Rocking chairs on the deck of our little hut at Ylang Ylang.

Middle middle: Hammocks at Amor de Mar. I never could get comfortable in them; and getting out, well that's a tale in itself.
Middle right: The bar at La Selva Verde Rainforest Lodge which is right on the banks of the Sarapiqui River. We were sitting in the bar when we say the chestnut-mandibled toucan.

Bottom left: The pool at the La Selva Verde Rainforest Lodge

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Lodging In Costa Rica

Dykewife ( ) requested lots of pictures so here goes.

Top left: Amor de Mar Hotel in Montezuma; not our favorite but in a beautiful setting right on the Pacific.

Top right: Ylang Ylang Resort in Montezuma. We had this little dome all to ourselves. Our balcony looked out over the rest of the resort to the Pacific Ocean. Probably our favorite. Food was great too.

Bottom left: Selva Verde Rainforest Lodge near Puerto Viejo. All the lodging is on stilts due to the 150 inches of rainfall they get in a year. That way visitors don't get flooded out. I stayed there ten years ago. Wonderful place. You feel like you are living in a treehouse.

Bottom right: Sueno Azul Resort near Las Horquetas. This resort, which is also in the rainforest, is also a spa and yoga retreat. We had an air conditioned room. The windows steamed up because it was so warm outside and so cold inside. You could have hung meat in our room. I loved it. Kerry froze.

Only lodging missing from this post is Montana de Fuego Hotel and Spa in La Fortuna, which I posted in an earlier blog.
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Sunday, April 29, 2007

Another Visit To Organico

That's Ozlem on the left and Countrygirl on the right. We didn't plan to wear the same colors that day; it just happened. She's a wonderful vegan chef who makes wonderful ice cream without milk or cream. Stop by when you are in Montezuma, Costa Rica.
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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Red Worms For Composting

I read a story about these guys on the web and how they can eat an enormous amount of vegetable waste in your composting bin. With a septic system we don't use our garbage disposal and I can't stand to send vegetable matter to the dump where they make compost and sell it back to me.

The worms are a much faster way to get good compost. So I went on line and bought a pound of them. That equals about 1,000 worms. The place where I bought them said they do them by weight rather than count. Counting out 1,000 worms would be really tough

They arrived by priority mail today. I used my pitchfork to mix up the compost bin stuff, added a bit of water and then introduced the worms to their new home. Not a whole lot of movement; probably just a little nervous about the trip and then being dumped into a new neighborhood. I do hope they are happy.
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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

My Iris Garden

My irises are in full bloom. This is the first year I've really had many bloom. Turns out I was supposed to fertilize them three times a year. I did that this past year and lo and behold they are blooming like crazy. The one on the lower left is a pale apricot color.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Getting Old Is Not For The Faint of Heart

I brought back a very special gift from Costa Rica: bacterial diarrhea. Nasty subject, but I did already have the antibiotic of choice, Cipro. My doctor sent it with me. Suffice to say that I am back to normal. I had two more cortisone shots for my rotator cuff problem. Those are my getting old stories.

Now for Kerry. First, he has a platelet disorder called ITP. No reason to give you the long drawn out name; it means that his body kills off his own platelets thanks to some virus that may have lain dormant in his body for years or may have just arrived in his spleen five years ago when he was diagnosed. Platelets are what make your blood clot. His last blood test had him at his lowest count yet, 30,000 platelets. Normal folks have anywhere from 150,000 to 400,000. At 20,000 you start to bleed out. So now he's back to every other month for blood tests. I get to worry more. He wears a Medical Alert bracelet.

Second, before we went to Costa Rica, he had a lesion removed from his scalp. His doctor knows he has clotting problems but didn't really think about it; that's my take on it. He hit an artery in Kerry's head and the blood poured out. He was covered in it as was the room and everyone around him. I don't think I like this doctor. The good news is that it was not cancerous. The stitches are still in because the doctor is worried he will bleed again when they come out. He sent home a sterile suture removal kit for me to take them out when the scab is looser. Lucky me.

Last week he hurt his knee playing tennis. He was sure he was going to need some surgery; I pointed out that he could bleed to death during surgery. That was a wake-up call. He asked his hematologist about this; the guy said they would pump him full of platelets before, during and after surgery. He had platelet infusions when he was first diagnosed; four days of platelets cost $48,000. His insurance paid for it. The infusion didn't help.

Now today he hurt his back and is currently resting on the heating pad.

I just needed to vent a bit; it's not like either one of us is dying but when your body starts to break down and your mind is fine; that's worrisome. I'll go back to happier things, like Costa Rica, tomorrow.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Costa Rican Critters Including The Jesus Christ Lizard

This might not be the best of posts for those who are squeamish. I, myself, do not like snakes. They are slimy; I don't care what anyone says.

Costa Rica has its share of strange critters. The big guy on the left is an iguana. Contrary to what you may have seen in the pet store, these guys get to be very big. His waddle, that thing hanging down from under his neck, is what he uses to attract chick iguanas. He climbs high into a tree every day and shakes his waddle. I guess the girl iguanas like it. Didn't do much for me. At Selva Verde Lodge in the rain forest we saw lots of these guys devouring bananas that the staff would put out for them so folks like us could take pictures. They are herbivores so don't worry; you are safe in the jungle. I chose a photo with a person in it to give you some perspective on just how big these guys are.

Now for the second critter that we saw at Selva Verde Lodge. He gets his nickname, Jesus Christ Lizard, because he can literally walk on water. The green guy to the left is what they look like in the jungle. The other photo depicts one of them dashing across the water to escape some predator.

If you are religious and object to the name; get a life. This is nature; I think it's kind of cool that this little guy has some great ways to get away from someone who wants to eat him.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Biggest Bird We Saw

This is the cinnamon-mandibled toucan. Kerry and I were sitting in the open-air bar at Selva Verde Lodge when we spotted this fellow or gal on the branch of a tree overlooking the Sarapiqui River. He's pretty hard to miss at 22 inches long. He weighs 750 grams. To give you a comparison, hummingbirds generally weigh about 2 grams or the weight of a paper clip. They usually eat fruit, which they hold with their feet and tear apart with their big bills; but they also eat snakes and lizards.
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Costa Rica: Zarcero To Volcan Arenal

Once we got back across the Gulf of Nicoya on the car ferry, we headed north to La Fortuna where the volcano is located, we passed through a little moutain village called Zarcero. I was there ten years ago and met the gardener who has created the topiaries in the town square. The photo on the left shows just one small portion of the square. I met the gardener when I was there ten years ago. Kerry and I didn't stop long but did get a good look at the incredible work done by this man, Evangelista Blanco. He's been working on the topiaries for 30+ years. If you want to see more of them go to Google images and type in Zarcero, Costa Rica + topiaries. You'll get to see all of his work. He has a good sense of humor.

As we went up in altitude, the weather cooled appreciably. We could actually turn off the air conditioning and open the windows. Relief.

La Fortuna was a sleepy little town ten years ago; but not today. The main street is lined with impressive new resorts; all so people can come and hope to catch a glimpse of the volanco doing something. It's still active so it spews lava, ash and smoke from time to time. In two visits I've never seen it do anything but stay hidden in the clouds. You can see evidence of lava flows on the west side which is blackened.

We stayed at Montana de Fuego Hotel and Spa. When I stay there ten years ago it was Montana de Fuego Cabinas. The owners obviously have done well; they haven't, however, changed the style of the accomodations. The cabin we stayed in, which is pictured to the left, was exactly like the one in which I stayed in 1997. The porch is glassed in on the side that gets hit with rain all the time. The other side is open to the breezes. Instead of six cabins, there were dozens and dozens of them, plus condos and suites plus a pool and spa.
We spent a lot of time just relaxing and enjoying the cool weather. It rained a bit each day. Kerry had a massage and I had a foot massage, pedicure and manicure. Kerry met a couple in the reception area who are driving a rather large RV from Chile to Alaska. That would be quite an adventure.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Back To Costa Rica...Montezuma

As I said in an earlier post, our first stop was Montezuma. It's on the southern tip of the Nicoyo Peninsula. The easiest way to get there is on the car ferry that goes from Puntarenas to Paquera. It's about a 90 minute ride. Then you drive another 20 miles or so to Montezuma. The ferry schedule I got from the Internet looked like they had lots of crossings each day, but I know from Baking Fairy that the workers had recently staged a one-day strike. The roads in Costa Rica are not great (that's an understatement) so anytime you can spend on water to get somewhere is a real bonus. When we got there the ferry was loading the last few vehicles. We both sighed with relief. The funniest part was the workers giving Kerry instructions in Spanish on where they wanted him to park. He worked very hard to get our little Daihatsu BeGo into the space they allotted for us.
The first place we stay in Montezuma was Mar de Amor, which means Love of the Sea. The location was wonderful on a little piece of land that jutted out into the bay. You really felt like you were surrounded by water. Our friends, Susan and Einar, were staying there too.
We had a corner room that was on the street so we had car noise until late into the night. We had one fan that turned from side to side (oscillated?). Every time it turned there was a horrible noise so between the heat, the fan and the cars, we did not have a very good night. Also there was no hot water in the shower, although with the weather so hot we really didn't care. The second night was much better. We got the fan in position so it would blow on both of us without having to turn from side to side. Also the street was quieter.
Then we moved to Ylang Ylang just up the beach. In an earlier posting, I shared pictures of the whimsical towel creations the housekeepers made each day. Even without air conditioning, Ylang Ylang was much more comfortable and quieter.
Our first morning there we woke up to find thousands of little black and orange crabs (pictured below and to the left) all over the sidewalk. Some tried to come into our dome. They were about six inches from claw to claw and thought they were quite ferocious. When cornered, which was relatively easily given their numbers, they would open their small claws and open their mouths in a threatening fashion. It probably could scare other small critters but not us. Lots of them fell victim to cars and buses when they ambled down the main streets of Montezuma.

Every year they come down from the mountain when the area has its first rainfall of the season. It's there signal to go to the beach, lay their eggs or whatever and then a few days later to go back up to the mountain to wait for next year. It's was really interesting to watch them. We had an outdoor shower (wonderful with lotsa privacy) which the crabs wanted to share with me. I declined.

The photo above at the top of this posting is the view from the Ylang Ylang restaurant where we had breakfast and dinner. You could hear the surf pounding the beach all day long. It's a great lullaby. Lulled me to sleep several times a day.
Tomorrow: Volcan Arenal

Sunday, April 15, 2007

I'm Not A Shrinking Violet....

You may be wondering how this relates to Costa Rica; well it does. We flew U.S. Airways from Sacramento to Phoenix and then on to Costa Rica. The plane was a bit late leaving Sacramento due to some mechanical difficulties. We were in first class thanks to tons of frequent flier miles. I have spent 99.9% of my flying life in coach, but now I'm an instant first class snob.

So anyway, the plane was delayed. All of a sudden this man appears from the back of the bus with concerns about whether he will make his connection in Phoenix to Cabo San Lucas. He claims he has a gig down there at a resort and he needs to be there. Can the flight attendants please get the red-haired gate agent for him so he can check on other flights? I'm immediately pissed. Self-important men or for that matter self-important people really piss me off.

Now Kerry and I could miss our connection, but I'm thinking well if we do we will just deal with it. That's the way I deal with life. But this fellow just goes on and on about the importance of being in Cabo that night. He throws in the fact that he is a citizen of three countries: Mexico, U.S. and Canada. Dykewife I'm sure this is someone you definitely don't want singing "Oh Canada."

Finally I can't take it anymore. I said, "there are lots of people on this plane with connections so just relax." He then used the word that pisses me off so much. He called me "honey." I immediately said, don't call me honey. He ignored me and continued on with the honey this and honey that. Finally he said you know I have to be in Cabo. I replied that I had to be in San Jose, Costa Rica and which was more important. I could see the two flight attendants wondering if they were going to have to break up a fist fight between the two of us. Kerry just kept reading his magazine. I have a low tolerance for assholes. This guy just pushed all my buttons.

He also wanted to know if he could be the first off the plane so he could make his flight. There were 120 people going to Cabo. In the end he was one of the last people off the flight and he went to the wrong gate. We saw him as he was being driven on one of those old people/handicapped carts to his proper gate. The guy was so driven to get to his flight that he didn't even get the gate number right. And Phoenix is a huge airport where you can walk for what seems like endless miles.

The next leg of our flight was so wonderful. We had Meg Ryan as our flight attendant in First Class. She looked like her, acted like her but was slightly older. I asked for a glass of white wine. In coach that's what you do. You say red or white; never specify any further. She brought out a bottle of chardonnay to show me. "Will this do?" I was startled by the sight of a regular wine bottle and by her question. She then brought me a real wine glass made of glass and poured some for me.

She also had a neat trick for the restroom; put a packet of coffee on the hook on the door and everything will smell better. What a gal.

Just so you know that I'm not a long term snob; we are flying Southwest Airlines next month to New York for my nephews college graduation. Southwest has one class; everyone is the same. You rarely run into assholes on their flights. Once again I have Rapid Reward tickets so Kerry and I fly free. One of the perqs of being a consultant. All those flights for clients translate into free trips. That's one part of retirement that I will miss.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

We Met The Baking Fairy

On our first drive through Montezuma (on the tip of the Gulf of Nicoya on the Pacific Ocean) we quickly spotted Organica, a vegan restaurant owned by The Baking Fairy ( We have been commenting on each others blogs so once we arranged our trip we decided that her town would be the first on our itinerary. Actually that was all that was on our itinerary. After that we were going to roam the countryside. Anyway, back to Organico. Ozlem is the baking fairy and is she ever good at it. As the sign says "pure food with love." I found the heat in Montezuma to be close to unbearable due to the high humidity. I sweated so much one day that my sunscreen melted. Now that's hot. Also, being post menopausal and overweight doesn't help. Her food is delicious. She has figured out how to make things without using any eggs, butter or anything else that might be considered non-vegan. I sampled her cashew fruit ice cream, avocado lime ice cream and chocolate coffee ice cream. All were yummy.
I have pictures of us together but those will have to wait. They are on Kerry's camera. He shot 725 pictures. I'm going to let him sort through them to find the ones I want. There are only 2-1/2 streets in Montezuma so if you go there it won't be hard to find her. She's originally from Istanbul, went to business school at the University of San Francisco, worked for a while, came to Montezuma for a yoga retreat, saw that restaurant was for sale, bought it and the rest is history. She looks extremely happy despite the long hours she works. Basically she serves all three meals everyday except Monday. I had the best fresh orange juice there that I've ever had. We brought her some ingredients she has trouble getting there. The photo below is one of Ozlem's neighbors.
The four of us were having lunch one day at Organico when this little critter wandered in. He's some type of iguana; there are loads of them in Costa Rica. Many of them are much larger than this fellow. I swear he posed for the picture. I took one picture of him before this one; I went to take another and he turned his head and stared into the lens. Very cooperative iguana. The people are the same way.
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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Ylang Ylang Beach Resort In Montezuma

This was probably the nicest place we stayed the entire trip. It's pronounced e-lang e-lang with a long "e" sound. You can only get to it by walking along the beach for about 10 minutes or by meeting Mario in town and riding to the resort in the huge landrover (not the wimpy kind you see in suburbia).

The first picture is of our bath towels displayed on the bed. The maids did this. The flowers and leaves are real. The next day we found that the maids had a whimsical side. The glasses on the frog below are my reading glasses. The dark glasses on the sloth are my sunglasses. Again, all the flowers and leaves are real.

The Flowers Of Costa Rica

Parts of this country get 150 inches of rain a year. That means lots of moisture for some pretty spectacular flowers to grow. These are the flowers you pay big bucks for at the florist. So here they are in all their glory.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Hello From San Jose, Costa Rica

We are heading across the street in a few minutes to do a little gambling. We have a few colones left so will see if we can lose a few. Our flight leaves Wednesday at 7:25 a.m. We have to leave for the airport at 5 a.m. Luckily we are right across the street from the airport and we've already paid our airport tax. It's been a great trip. I'll start blogging about it tomorrow. We get home about 4:30 p.m. I can hardly wait to catch up on everyone's lives.