Vaqueros Y Caballos

I have only seen a few parades in Costa Rica and not all of them have horses in the procession. But some parades are all about horses and 100’s of caballos will take to the streets. Such a sight to see!

So, it was a very sweet surprise to see this group in our Bahia parade today, even if there were just five of them. How dear are those children riding with their papis?. And aren’t these some darn good horsies?!

What a wonderful surprise!

Horses, cowboys, kids and a dog. Classic Costa Rica.

Vaqueros y caballos

¡Viva Costa Rica! Happy Independence Day!

Such a pure and beautiful culture

Such a pure and beautiful culture

I Love A…

PARADE!

Feliz dīa de la Independencia Costa Rica! Here are a few of videos from my morning in Bahia. Please let the videos load up. I tried to keep them short!

I was in drumming heaven! So much great energy everywhere!

So Alive and Colorful!

As you can see, and as per usual, I am practically in the parade!!

Yes, pretty much in the parade!

Aren’t they all magnificent? Red, white and blue…

Simply delightful

If you look around, you will notice I am probably one of the very few Gringos at the parade. Mighty special.

Super fantastic!

I think I got a little carried away with my video camera. I hope you felt like you were right here beside me! ¡Viva Costa Rica!

I Love A Parade

I Love A Parade

 

 

¡Viva Costa Rica!

Today is an extra special day because it is Costa Rica’s Independence Day! Like the 4th of July in the US, there are all kinds of festivities and lots of local events happening. The culture here is so colorful, full of excitement and beautiful tradition. I feel a great sense honor to immerse myself in this part of the world. And I just love living as a foreigner in another country and yet being completely at home in my community. After over 2 years of living in this area, it’s awesome now because I actually recognize and get recognized by some of local folks.

Have I mentioned lately how much I adore the people here?

This morning I went into the town of Bahia to watch the parade, which is mostly made up of local school bands and dancers. If you know me well, you know I simply LOVE a parade. Children of all ages participate and there are a few different school groups that take to the streets and perform. You can see the pride in the faces of the children and the proud parents and siblings on the sides of the street. My heart melted 1,000 times as I witnessed this country and it’s celebration of independence!!

These next two photos will completely melt your heart. An absolutely adorable little girl runs into the parade to hug her big brother. The feeling I got while taking these pictures is something I will not soon forget. And when I do, I can just look at these pictures and feel it all over again. Priceless.

As if that wasn’t enough overwhelming happiness for one morning, there were horses in this parade!!! AHHHHHhhhhh! Yes!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little slice of Costa Rica Independence Day with me! Pura vida

No Clocks

That’s right, folks. There are no clocks at all in casa única. In this house, the only actual way to know what hour or minute is, is to look at a device like a cell phone or a computer. There’s no wall clock, no clock on the microwave (don’t own one) and no watches to keep an eye on the time. Sounds kinda strange probably, right?

But the best of all, there is no alarm clock!!! Very rarely, for an early appointment or for travel purposes, do we ever set an alarm on our phones. It is the most fantastic and liberating feeling in the world to be clock free! See, we have a built in alarm clock here in the Southern Zone of Costa Rica.

It’s called nature.

2 pairs of magnificent Scarlet Macaws

2 pairs of magnificent Scarlet Macaws

The first glimpse of light brings in certain types of birds. House Wrens (Soto Reyes), Great Kiskadees (Pecho Amarillos), Toucans, Laughing Falcons, Parrots and Parakeets, and if we’re really lucky, the Scarlet Macaws will awaken us. Occasionally, we’ll be treated to my favorite alarm clock, the Howler Monkeys. Even though our home faces with East being behind us, the quickly rising sun is apparent from my pillow. The combination of light and noise designates the start of a new day.

The sun sets and rises at almost exactly the same time every day, all year. Today the sun rose at 5:26 and will set at 5:37. It varies by only a few minutes throughout the entire year due to our proximity to the Equator. It allows you to get into a very harmonious rhythm with the natural course of things around here. It can take a little while to get used to the daily schedule of 12 light hours, 12 dark hours, but once you do, it’s a heavenly way to live.

Like everyone else, I’ve spent most of my life, a prisoner to time. Every day, hour, week was planned out and chocked full of places to be with too many things to do. I was driven by the clock and often that clock woke me up really early and kept me busy until bedtime. Like a gerbil on a wheel, you just keep running.

Please, if you would. Think about how many times you notice the time. Maybe, think about how many times you check your watch, clock or phone in the course of one hour. Then, if at all possible, try to diminish that number, even just a little bit. Play with the notion of having no clocks… I truly wish that one day this concept will be real for every person that reads these words. Even if it’s just in small increments of precious time.

This photo and video were taken from our bedroom window at a lil after 6am. I slept late! Usually, the natural time to open my eyes for the day is between 5:30 and 5:45. Everything is waking up outside, so why would i want to miss the best time of the day?

Enjoy! Please turn up your volume for the video and listen to the birds!

My morning view

My morning view

Time to wake up!

 

 

 

Timing Is Everything

What a way to start the month of September!

My Sweetie and I had some errands to run in Uvita this morning. We woke up early and we had to wait a bit for places to open. I decided to give my Mom a FaceTime call and say good morning. Our conversation is always great and we got to chatting a little longer than I expected. When Gene and I finally headed to town, about 20 minutes later than anticipated, we weren’t 2 minutes into the drive when I spotted a sloth trying to cross the road.

Now, this is a very tricky situation because the road to Uvita is a small road, by most standards, but it is actually a highway and is very heavily traveled! Gene quickly found a place to stop and then realized he should back up and get as close as possible to the sweet critter. As he parked the truck in the middle of our lane, to protect our lil friend from getting squished in front of us, I was foolishly trying to capture the whole experience on my phone. Of course, this was not the intelligent thing to be doing and Gene kindly told me to put the phone down and stop the traffic before we all got run over! Just as he said those words, a Tico kid came upon the scene on his motorcycle. He smiled widely as he watched this Gringo carrying a huge sloth across the road. Such a fantastic Costa Rican moment…

Then, behind the motorcycle, a big wheel truck came bombing around the corner. He, thankfully, was able to stomp on the brakes just as Gene was making his way back to the truck. He was probably equally as surprised as the motorcyclist to see a foreigner be so cool as to risk his own life to save the sloth! He actually tooted his horn to us when we pulled off the road, as if to say, thanks, that was really awesome!

To say the least, it was a very exhilarating way to start the day and the new month! I was just so glad we were delayed here at the house and once we noticed the sloth, we knew exactly what to do. If we had left earlier, as planned, who knows what the outcome would have been. Being in the right place, at the right time is so true. Today, we saved the life of a sloth, because sometimes, timing is everything!

This photo is not from this morning’s rescue, because I needed to put my phone down, but he is one of our regular visitors here at casa única.

Happy September 1st everyone!!

September Sloth 2017

September Sloth 2017

 

 

Turtle Release Surprise!

As I stated earlier, today IS a gift! I had the most incredible surprise experience this afternoon! In a town called Ojochal, there is a beach called Playa Tortuga and they have a Turtle Reserve there. Under very specific and special conditions, the Reserve is able to coordinate a public turtle release, where anyone can go and help the baby turtles safely make their way out to the ocean. These public releases are announced on the Reserva’s Facebook page and they only put the word out there about an hour before the event. So, if you happen to catch the post, you might just be able to be a part of something truly remarkable.

Now, I have had the privilege of going to one such release last year at Playa Tortuga. It was, what I thought then, a once in a lifetime experience. Today when I read there was to be a release was at 3pm, I checked my time, grabbed my stuff and rushed out the door! It was already 2:30 when I headed to Ojochal, which is about a 20 minute drive.

When I arrived, there were a few people milling around the beach. We all had the same question, “Are you here for the turtle release?”

At 3 o’clock, we all gathered together with a cooler full of baby olive ridley sea turtles. 99 of them to be exact. There were many volunteers ready for action and many folks that showed up to help. All of the children were given gloves and each child had the chance to release one baby turtle to its new life. Wow. It was such an extraordinary experience. Here are some pictures and videos from Playa Tortuga this afternoon. Please, let each video load and turn up the volume!

Baby turtle release!

Everyone is asked to step back and let the volunteers do their job. It is important for the turtles to do as much as possible without human intervention. What a feeling to watch them all as they try to make it to the edge of the sea. Then, when a wave comes in, they get washed way back, and have to start all over again. I had several little babes wash across my feet. We had to stand completely still and be certain not to step on any of the turtles. So incredible how tiny they are and how hard they have to try to survive.

Here are some more photos and videos for your enjoyment. It started to rain and the weather was nice and cool for these lil babes. What a beautiful thing to witness.

Protecting baby turtles! WOW!
Hatched just a few hours before this release!

99 babies, making their way, with a little help from some friends…

And that was that. Everyone slowly walked from the release site, each of us taking something truly magical away with us.

What a gift!

What a gift!

Yes, as I said before. Today is a gift.

Pura vida.

 

 

Today Is A Gift

Hola. As I sit here in my new home, I cannot help but feel overwhelmed with all the bad things I am hearing and reading. Real things that are happening to our planet and to its inhabitants. Tragic and frightening acts of nature and despicable, horrific acts of man. I have no words.

Yesterday, I had a long talk with an old friend. The scenario in his world was too much smoke and immense devastation from nearby fires, with no rain in sight. As I spoke to him, I was being drenched in a lovely afternoon tropical downpour. It hit me, hard, how much I/we take for granted. Meanwhile, it’s flooding in Texas and burning in California. These are not unusual occurrences, I know, but it affected me in a powerful way yesterday.

I also have a dear friend here in Costa Rica who is in the hospital, and as of now, her outlook is not very good. Just the other day she and I were chatting about local events and such. Then I find out the next day, she’s in the ICU. It reminded me how precious life is, how fragile it is and how we just never know…

I do not have a TV, or a radio and I don’t read a newspaper. I get most of my news via social media and through actual conversations with people. Sometimes I don’t want to know anything, but being oblivious is not helpful or healthy. But with all I keep learning about what is happening to others I feel truly sad. I have had a strong feeling of heaviness, which I keep trying to release, but I just can’t shake it.

Last night, I woke up in the middle of the night because the sound of the ocean was so loud. Although we are a good 1/3 of mile from the coast, sometimes the sea sounds like it could be lapping at our doors. I listened to the roar of the sea and watched crazy lightning bolts brighten the night sky. I became very conscious of how fortunate and safe I was, tucked comfortably in my bed. This thought should have eased me, but instead it just made me sadder. Sad for those less fortunate.

During my morning meditation, I had a unique vision. I prayed for those who needed my love and support. I paid extra attention to my breathing. I really felt the couch I was sitting on. I spent an extra long time listening to the birds squawk and sing. I felt the fresh air as it breezed across me and I smelled the smells of my world. When it came time to open my eyes, I did so very slowly. I opened my eyes and noticed every little tiny thing I saw. I opened my lids as though I were opening and unwrapping a present. The wider my view came in, the bigger and more beautiful this present was to me. In that moment I realized the most simple, pure and basic thing. It is a gift to be able to open your eyes and to be able to see. It is a blessing to be able to feel, to breathe, to smell and to hear. It is a gift to be able to stand up, to move freely and to appreciate life. I realized like the bolts of lightning in the night, that today is a gift. And from this day forward, I will start every single day with this thought.

Today is a gift. Please, remember all you have. Share love, peace and compassion, because we just never know. Today is a gift.

Bad Bethie Blogger

Bad Bethie Blogger has been at it again. She’s been living her life and not writing about it. Lo siento, mucho, I am very sorry. As usual, I hope this story will tell you why I have been absent and what has been occupying my mind and my time.

OK.This is what has been going on that has been so important! In the beginning of February, I visited a house that had been for sale since we moved down to this area of Costa Rica. Often times we drove past the ‘For Sale’ sign and I wondered what exactly was for sale?

For Sale no more!!!

For Sale

Well, we found out that the house was owned by a woman we know from the local farmers market in Uvita. I asked her if I could come up to see the house and property, just to check it out. I knew I would be seeing the place without Gene the first time, so I really just wanted to take a few pictures and get a general sense of the land, so I could report back.

A few days after my request for a visit I drove through the open gate and laid my eyes upon two things. Firstly, the house was quite unfinished and it looked to be in dire need of some attention. The roof was my first concern, as it needed immediate help and would need that help before the arrival of rainy season. The second thing I cast my eyes upon was the absolutely stunning view of the Pacific Ocean. As a matter of fact, it took my breath away, and that was it for me. I was completely filled with visions of the limitless possibilities for this very special and unique place.

I took some photos for Gene and chatted about the property with the owner. I mostly took photos of the house and what kind of shape it was in, so Gene could get a real sense of how completely insane I was for wanting him to “Please, just come look at it.” His first word after seeing the pictures was, “No.” But, after some conversation about how much the property meant to me, he reluctantly agreed to take a quick look.

To make a long story very short, after multiple visits and lengthy negotiations with the owner of the house and our new lawyers, we had to make a life changing decision. Do we do it?? Can we do it?

True fact. Every single purchase made in Costa Rica is complicated, to put it mildly. Whether you are purchasing a car or purchasing a home, you need a trustworthy lawyer, an extraordinary amount of patience and some cold hard cash! There are no loans to obtain, no option to use a credit card to pay your lawyers or the ton of unknown fees that pop up around every corner. Heck, even opening a Costa Rican bank account is nearly impossible if you are a foreigner! With all this in mind, the next thing Gene and I had to do was look long and hard at our financial situation and ask each other, and ourselves, if we were willing to make certain sacrifices in our life to be able to afford a home?

Hmmmm…

We began the bidding process in March, working only with the seller to avoid realtor expenses. Then we learned all about the process of buying land in a foreign country and just exactly how crazy difficult it is to get everything in place to complete the transaction. Thankfully Gene’s Spanish is extremely good so were able to communicate in both English and Spanish without missing much. As with most things in this lovely country, the process moved slower than a sloth’s pace. But, on June 15th, the deal was complete and we are now officially homeowners in the Southern Zone of Costa Rica!!

We have the keys!!!

We have the keys!!!

 

Here are some of those first photos of the house I brought home to Gene… No wonder he said “No”, right?

Now that we have owned the house for nearly a month, there have been many improvements in the beautification of casa única! As the reality slowly settles in, I realize that I am about to step into the next chapter of the many me’s… I feel that a giant and amazing shift in my world is about to occur, and I can hardly keep my feet on the ground!

Life, it is simply amazing, my friends, and I am back at my blogging so I can share it with you!

Pura Vida!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Battle Of The Congos!

Where we live, we are super blessed and get to experience regular visits from all types of Costa Rican wildlife! There is hardly a time during the day or during the night, that it is completely quiet outside. In the daylight, the sounds are all around us as we primarily live outdoors on the deck and with all possible windows and doors open throughout the house.

In the nighttime, we don’t sleep with the air-conditioning on. We sleep with the windows open, so we can hear all the nocturnal sounds. If it’s not a cicada or other cool insect making crazy noises, it’s a glass frog or a silly gecko. If it’s not toucans at day break, it’s flocks of wild parrots or bunch of turkeys. Something is always squeaking, singing, talking, shrieking, laughing, pinging or chirping. The Southern zone of Costa Rica is without a doubt the most alive place I have ever had the pleasure of living.

Insert a heavy, happy, grateful sigh…

Not only are there birds and mammals and bugs to provide us with non-stop entertainment, there are MONKEYS! We are extra fortunate to have two types of monos that perform the most amazing live nature shows we’ve ever imagined. Yesterday, we were privy to something we’ve never witnessed before in the two years of living in this house. We observed an actually war for territory between two troops of Howler Monkeys (monos congos). We could hear the opposition making themselves known from across the jungle floor below us. They were moving closer to us. Our regular troop of monkeys began making it clear that no one was moving in on their space. It was absolutely riveting to be able to video the scene and I hope you can take in the sound and the energy of the exchange. The battle lasted for a couple of hours.

Howling from the tips of the branches!

Howling from the tips of the branches!

 

Here is a series of three videos as our familiar monkey family kept the intruders at bay…. Wow, this is some serious Wild Kingdom here, so please, turn the volume up and get prepared for some noise!

Battle of the Congos!

The closer the unwanted troop of monkeys came to our troop, the more intense it got. It was breathtakingly loud in person.

Getting strategically in place!

The last stand-off before it got quiet for a while. True story! We found proof today that “the smaller the Congo monkey’s balls the louder the howl!” I love nature. Pura vida and enjoy the last video!

Stand off! Then all was quiet for a while...

 

 

I. Want. One.

Anyone who knows me well, or knew me as a kid, knows how much I love horses. I have been around them for most of my life. As a young girl, I used to walk to a run-down ranch and volunteer my time so I could ride the horses. A small group of friends and I went to the ranch as often as we could. If I had any money, either from babysitting or from a gift, I would buy wood shavings for the stalls and treats for the horses.

When I got a little older, I was fortunate to be able to take riding lessons and eventually own my very own pony. Lil Man was his name and he was both lil and a man. He was a feisty Shetland pony and I adored him. We would ride around the arena for hours and practice so we could compete in a local horse show. I remember the last time I was on his back, my feet were practically touching the ground, when we collected a third place ribbon. We were quite the sight to the spectators that day.

When I grew out of that pony, I bought a horse from the ranch up the road. Beau Brummell lived in the backyard at my house. He was a beautiful animal and he and I were the best of friends. A change in my family’s life caused me to return my beautiful horse to the ranch from where I rescued him. It was a tremendously sad day. Perhaps that story will warrant it’s own post one day, but not today.

I went for many years without owning a horse, until I moved to California in the mid-1990’s. I was living in the middle of horse country and it was inevitable that I would once again be involved with these gorgeous animals. At first, I sponsored a horse and that was fun and a great way to reintroduce myself to the responsibilities of owning a horse. It wasn’t but a year later that a big beauty named Khlassic Krecendo came into my life. He was just about 2 years old when I got him and I had him with me for the next 20 years! No matter what I had to do to keep that horse fed, in good health and happy, I did it. When I moved, Krecendo moved with me, except when that move was to Costa Rica, 2½ years ago.

After months of much worry and stress about finding my dear horse a worthy home, Krecendo now lives happily with his original owner in Southern California. His story is also deserving of a post of its own. One day, I will write it all down…

But!

Let’s get to what happened today!! Every time I drive to the nearby town of Uvita, I pass a huge ranch called Rancho La Merced. There is an enormous sign on the side of the road in front of the ranch offering horse tours. I seriously, literally, never allow myself to look at the sign or the ranch when passing by it. There is an instinct that kicks in that says, “If you don’t see it, it doesn’t exist!” So, I purposely turn my head in the other direction. Until recently—then, everything changed.

I have been visiting Rancho La Merced, which means The Ranch of Mercy, and I’ve been introducing myself as a future volunteer, if they have such a need for one. I have stopped by on a few occasions now and found out there may be a place for me there, with a couple of options to discuss. Oh boy, this is how it always begins.

Today, I actually turned the truck around after passing Rancho La Merced. There is a small turnout corral near the entrance to the ranch and when I drove by, I could see a 1/2 dozen or so, baby horses running around. When I walked in and asked at the front desk if I could go see them, the kind employee, who just met me the other day said, “Yes, of course!”

This is what I was gifted with this morning. Oh goodness… Horses are the best, but a whole corral of babies?

If these photos don’t melt your heart watch this little snippet!

Oh, I am definitely a goner now...In LOVE!

I am pretty sure I have just found my new ranch. It’s never too late to follow and fulfill your heart’s wildest and most precious dreams! This video is a bit longer, so please let it load up. Enjoy!

Rancho La Merced. My new heaven.

 

 

 

Flowers & Butterflies!

I had the sweet fortune of seeing some glorious butterflies enjoying brilliantly colored flowers today. There are so many different kinds of butterflies and moths in Costa Rica and it never ceases to amaze me when I see something new. I wanted to share my beautiful surroundings in hopes that it brightens your day as much as it did mine!

Here is a little video clip for you to enjoy as well! Come down for a visit and see all this beauty with your own eyes! I’d love to see the smile on your faces!

Butterflies make me happy!

 

 

Guardavidas — Lifeguards

This post is a light-hearted follow-up to my recent blog Can’t Save Them All. As one of the many me’s, I volunteer for the local Lifeguard Program. I love that I have time in my life to be able to do cool stuff to fill up my free hours and my soul at the same time! I’ve mentioned my involvement in the Costa Ballena Guardavidas in a previous blog. It is an absolute pleasure to work with this small group of dedicated and delightful chicos. These guys have risked their own lives on numerous occasions, often in extremely dangerous conditions, to save a stranger’s life. In my book, they are truly heroes that I highly respect and I am grateful to know each one of them.

In addition to setting up a lifeguard table and selling t-shirts, last August some ladies and I started a “Feed the Lifeguard” program for my favorite beach, Playa Hermosa. We were inspired by the fact that the Guardavidas at Playa Dominical were provided with breakfast and lunch every day. In the super beachy town of Dominical, the restaurants are located close to the beach. A handful of kind and sweet businesses have been feeding the guys in the lifeguard tower for years. They can easily walk to town, pick up donated tasty treats and be back on the beach in no time.

But, Playa Hermosa is a 10-minute drive to Uvita and there are no restaurants within walking distance. Sometimes the lifeguards are without a vehicle. So, a few of us got together and prepared lunches at our homes and delivered them to the beach! Then we got smart and started to ask the local restaurants to participate.

Now we have every day of the week covered by local businesses, except for one. An original organizer of the Program is still happily making lunches in her home and continues to deliver meals once a week.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of adding a fantastic restaurant to our weekly list! It is such an incredible feeling to witness the love that this community exudes. I look forward to picking up the lunches and to be able to personally thank the folks gracious enough to help out! I love delivering the fresh and delicious meals to the hard-working guys on the beach. Everyone wins and I feel so fortunate to be involved! What else am I gonna do all day??

Life’s a beach and I am so glad I’m living it.

 

 

 

 

 

Can’t Save Them All

One of the 100’s of things I adore about people who live in Costa Rica is their incredible love for all wildlife and every animal. It is not uncommon to see a long line of traffic come to a complete stop, in both directions, so a huge iguana can cross the road. I have personally been witness to a friend who picked up a sloth and took it to the other side of the street! What a day that was!

The other day, my Hunny and I were driving to the town of Uvita. I spotted something smallish and dark on the side of the road. I told Gene that I was pretty sure it was a turtle. Well, at the first opportunity, Gene whipped the truck around and then pulled a crazy maneuver in the middle of the road to turn around and check on what was sitting at the edge of the pavement. It was indeed a boxer turtle, and it was just about to walk into the busy road. Gene made quick time to pick the lil guy up and safely put it in the grass off the other side of the road. Hooray!!! We saved a turtle!

But, with every thing saved, some critters don’t make it. Yesterday I noticed this strange-looking albino gecko on the edge of the sliding glass door. I had never seen one this color before. As I looked closer, I realized it wasn’t an albino gecko. It was a very dead and mummified gecko who was left clinging to the door, for who knows how long. Wow. Creepy, but very cool at the same time. Life and death. It’s all around us and sometimes it takes a different perspective to find fascination and acceptance in both.

Pura vida.

Got Wood?

There are 1.000’s of different types of trees that grow throughout Costa Rica. All kinds of trees including fruit trees like papaya, mango and mamon chinos. We also have several varieties of citrus, fig and palm trees. There are flowering trees, like plumerias, and nut trees such as almond and pecan, which grow easily in this tropical climate. Bamboo forests can be found all over the place and if you’re lucky, you might even have a heavenly Ylang ylang tree in your yard.

But, there are also incredible trees that produce beautiful hardwoods for building homes, furniture, doors, cabinetry and more. Hardwoods that are not only gorgeous to look at, but ones that are also termite and weather resistant. Costa Rica produces some of the most prized hardwoods like Teak, Cedar, Purple Heart, Cristobal, Nance and a spiny-trunked tree called Pochote.

Since living in CR, I know a few a local people who use these amazing woods to make bowls, cutting boards, hand-crafted souvenirs, doors, stairways, and to build their homes and yoga decks. I absolutely love the idea of being able to use lumber that was harvested from your own land. I am particularly interested in the crazy spiny Pochote tree. I had the good fortune of seeing these strangely intriguing trees recently. And now I just dream of having my home, all of our furniture, cabinets and doors made out of this indigenous hardwood. Here are a couple of photos captured while we were out walking among the giant Pochote trees.