When I traveled last year, I was so busy as part of a group. This year, I’m traveling solo. Some of you want to know more, so here’s my blog. It’s intended as memories to me, but you’re welcome along. I do tend to babble on and on and on. Enjoy or pass it by… or just check out pics. No questions asked.
Most recent posts first and the older ones follow. ❤
I’m home. I’m back. Part of me is happy and part is not thrilled. I really had a great learning experience (that sounds more melancholy than it should.) Honestly, nothing happened that my ego thought “should” but what did happen is that my ego got taken down a few notches and the stuff I really did need to take time to study came to the front. I’m not the same person I was. Thank goodness. If we can’t grow and learn, then how boring could life get?
My challenge now is to not lose what was gained while gone. Having this all written out will help a lot. Plus my reaction when I got home was something like, “Who lives here?” so I’m sure there will be changes beyond those I explored while gone.
Thanks to all who wandered along with me, who stopped in to check in or just to see some of the beautiful scenery I got to enjoy.
Will I do it again? Never.
Never the same trip to the same location. What fun is that? Likely not such a long trip again in the near future. But I will definitely be exploring Costa Rica again and I have my heart set on a few other parts of the world.
Wishing you joy and much love on your journeys.
Jan 30, 5:30am ish
Up early to hike out to the bus.
Finding that once I settle in to a place, there’s a bit of apprehension in leaving. Even though long term, this wouldn’t be what I want, it has become known, therefore comfortable. Had trouble getting to sleep last night, just about the yanking myself of of this place. Hmmm… will ponder that once I get home. Feeling some changes in the air. Maybe nothing dramatic, but what do I accept or even put up with there, just to not face the unknown of change. ❤
Jan 29. 7pm ish
One more nature lesson before I move down from the mountains and back to more civilized digs. Tonight we talk about poison toads. Sure, why not. And they’re HUGE! We saw one in the yard maybe the size of a soup can and Beatrice said that was the mama… that the daddy was twice that size. They can excrete poison which supposedly can kill a human but I could only confirm that it certainly can kill a dog if it doesn’t receive treatment. The good news is that they’re not exactly prowling around looking for a fight. But if you’re ever in Costa Rica and see a really big toad… just walk on by. Or like Beatrice, just nudge it on its way with a broom handle.
I’d also tell you the tale of this crazy dancing bird but I can’t really find any info about it. But every night, when the big security light comes on and shines of the path that goes by the farm, this bird shows up. I’ve watched it several nights. Its call is a bit like a wolf whistle but the fun is just watching it. It sits on the ground then flutters and flips around, always returning back to the same spot. I’m guessing it’s eating bugs. But my googling, “Costa Rica bird sleeps on group flips around eats bugs” didn’t find anything but vacation rentals?
Moving back to San Jose tomorrow. I want a good dinner, 2 drinks, maybe dessert and a bath. Will be home by the 1st.
Jan 29, 7:30am ish
Geckos! day before yesterday I got chewed up again by bugs. That’s the first time since the ant swarms came thru. It was disappointing (and painful) and sort of pissed me off. Yesterday I noticed more lizard activity than usual. I rarely see the geckos but they chirp a lot, especially at night and sometimes I catch movement out of the corner of my eye. Yesterday, I also didn’t get bitten again. Same last night… woke up with no new bug damage.
I sat down at the computer this morning and hear great scratching on the wall. I look up and two of them come scurrying out from under the picture frame hanging over the desk. It seemed as if they were saying, “No worries, we’ve got this area covered.” I’d love to get thru this last 24 hours with no more bug attacks. I also might be a bit scared to be the one who takes the pictures down in this place. I imagine little gecko cities constructed behind them all. ❤
Jan 28, 5:30pm ish
Funny thing happened today. I realized that I will leave Costa Rica without much stunning art work. It brought sort of a sigh of relief. I had been pushing myself and I have completed some work that really surprised me. But none if it is work that I would sell. It’s not my voice… what I want to say with my art. It is nice to know what I can do some of these more realistic things and I’m sure those skills will carry over. But today I realized… i can give up on painting until I get home. And in that relief, I sat down and thought, “I’ll watch a movie,” something I haven’t done here. Funny Girl is on Netflix and I love that film. But I only made it thru about 20 minutes. Watching someone else’s life while I’m in this crazy beautiful place just seemed like a waste. So I popped in here to say hello and see what pics I may not have shown you. Then back to reading on the porch. What I’m reading IS really about my life so that will feel productive.
I have Sunday here then early Monday morning, I catch the bus back to San Jose. I was going to try to leave here a day early but right when I was checking on hotels, a hummingbird flew thru the house? Do I really want to leave that a day early? Nah. I should be home on Wed. Have fun and I promise that the hummingbird and I will have fun too.
Jan 27, 8:30am ish
I might have mentioned (or I might have babbled on and on about it, haha?) that this trip hasn’t been what I expected. I dreamed of long, lazy days alone with regular trips to a quaint town for delicious food and drink. I dreamed I’d feel like Kathleen Turner in Romancing the Stone when she danced the night away in Cartagena. I dreamed I’d produce beautiful art daily and that I would be surprised at my skills. That’s not how it’s turned out… at all.
However, it has been a great trip. Honestly, it’s been more like a month of talking to the therapist daily and the therapist is me/ god / the universe/ some great books/ who knows but it’s something good.
I’m in a much more remote area than I imagined. It’s hard to get out. There is no quaint town nearby… there is a town that is a strenuous hike away with a small grocery and a bakery. So most of the time, I’m stuck here. But I’m not as alone as I might have wished. The main farm house is right beside my little guest house so I interact with the people next door. I have formed a lovely friendship with the woman who lives there and I’m very grateful for that.
My art has not been easy. I’ve battled with the medium. I’ve battled with myself. But it’s all making sense as I near the end of the trip.
Being away during the inauguration didn’t allow me to escape anything. My neighbors are very hooked into the news and one is a strong Trump supporter so I’ve probably been exposed to more news and politics than at home.
Bitch, bitch, bitch? No, not really. The huge positive has been having time and reading. I’ve been through 7 books, 2 are ones I’ve read before. But the message couldn’t have been more clearly orchestrated than if I had planned a retreat. Again, to spare the on and on and on… it’s all been about how we’re all connected. It’s about the real power of energy healing. It’s so about negative energy and its power in life. Last night. I finished rereading a little book called “Zor: Philosophy, Spirituality, and Science” by J.B. I found it on Amazon several years ago. I read it several times then and enjoyed it. But somehow reading it now after a string of other books on quantum psychics, to energy healing, to psychology with some other life lessons thrown in… the book took on a new importance.
And about a half hour after finishing it, I blew up at a person I know on the internet because I was sick of shit. It was a classic lesson in me taking on someone else’s negative energy and allowing it to fuck me all up. The whole incident took maybe 5 minutes and afterward I felt like I had gone 4 rounds in the ring. Luckily, the book came back to me saying, “See how much you needed to read this and how much you need this practice in your life?” Yeah… so I tried to clean up the energetic mess I had made of myself and drifted off to dreamland.
So, I’m grateful and mostly ready to come home. I’m tired of the bugs, of not having what I want but having what I need. I’m tired of the bed with a big dip in the middle. I miss many kinds of food, drink and especially seasonings. And I’m even tired of the beautiful sameness. (after thinking edit… nope, can never be tired of this beautiful sameness. Just want my bed, a pizza, no bugs and a bath?)
Yesterday, we hiked to town for a few supplies. Here’s the pretty pictures. Much love.
Jan 26- 8:30am ish
My time is is drawing short. On one hand, I’m so ready to be home. It’s mostly about food and convenience.If I ever make such a long trip here again, I’ll plan better to bring things like spices (Penzeys, I so miss you!!) and I’ll likely locate a bit closer to “civilization.” That might sound callous, because I didn’t mention loved ones. I somehow feel in touch with the people I love. I’ve lived away from them before and I know that feeling. I know I’ll connect with them all again, on one plane or another.
On the other hand… I made this short video this morning. (My free WordPress account won’t let up upload video. Hopefully, you’re also on FB and can see it. )Can you imagine waking up everyday to this? People down here have asked, “So when are you moving?” I automatically answer, “Oh, I don’t think I want to live here but it’s certainly lovely to visit.” But as my time to leave draws near, I am thinking about what I’ll wake to at home. Hmmmm. Tell me the sun is shining today in Canton OH. 😉
This paradise, like any, is all about what you make of it and what I choose to focus on. I am sure when I get home, that there are going to be some changes. I’m old enough to definitely not want to put up with things that can be changed. And will I plan to move here? I don’t know. I really don’t know.
Jan 24- 7pm ish
I heard something I hadn’t heard in a long time tonight. I heard a siren. Most of the time here, I have not played music… just enjoying the quiet. I can generally hear the sounds of dirt bikes which are a common form of transportation here. I sometimes can hear a bus climbing the hill. But tonight I heard a siren.
I walked out on the porch and looked across the dark valley and I could see it. One lone flashing red light moving along the narrow roads. It actually turned up our road and the sound faded away as it went over the top of the mountain. I think it was an ambulance and it started me thinking… again about how different life is depending on where you are. I remember living in Colorado and having friends who lived in the mountains. They had to make decisions about where they would build homes as sometimes a fire truck couldn’t reach them. Here, I wonder how long it is before an ambulance could reach you. Turrialba is about 15 miles away. It’s a winding, two lane road but likely not much traffic. They say seconds count… but here, it must take awhile to get help.
But if that’s the way things have always been, I’m sure the sound of that siren is comforting regardless how long you’ve waited. Just interesting.
Ps. Beatrice explained that if I heard a siren, then it was a fire brigade. Ambulances don’t announce themselves but if there’s a fire, they figure you might want to know. Seems efficient.
Jan 24- 11am ish
Lula and Frank
On this morning’s walk, Beatrice asked if I would take pictures of her “babies.” I probably have done this thru my trip… but I haven’t shared about Lula and Frank, the farm dogs. And a story about them wouldn’t be right without a bit about Beatrice, who I hope never reads this because she did not want her picture taken and I didn’t listen. I need a momento, now don’t I? 😉
So Beatrice is from Germany and she lives on the farm full time. She’s the house sitter, the dog sitter and a web developer who is working on a very complex project developing an online community that will help make the world a better place. Being here gives her the time and peace to work on this project. The farm owner, Steven, spends most of his time in the states tending a business. There is also a farm hand, Jose, who works here 6 hours a day, keeping the jungle at bay. I know little about Jose because he speaks no English and I speak little Spanish but he brought me a lovely noni fruit this morning. Beatrice speaks no Spanish either, and needless to say, Jose doesn’t speak German but they manage to be fine friends.
So most of the time, Beatrice’s closest companions are Lula (the fluffy one) and Frank. The dogs belong to Steven originally but they are so devoted to her as she is to them.The farm is very remote so most of the time she is here alone. The path by the farm is… lets call it a 4wheel drive road on a good day. It gets regular walking and motorcycle traffic as it’s a steep but shorter route to towns further up the mountain. Most of the time, it’s families walking by or older men just wandering from here to there. The dogs noisily announce their presence and they sound aggressive enough that most of the time people just keep walking.
I’ve learned that there are indigenous tribes in the area. Some of them are quite poor. Beatrice has very little to call her own but will share what she has with these families. I have wondered what is it about indigenous peoples that always has them relegated to being so much less highly regarded than the interlopers who arrive in their country and shove them onto reservations. But that is for another blog.
Anyway, Lula, Frank and Beatrice have been highlights of my trip and I’ll miss them all when I return home.
Jan 23 5pm ish
Another low key day. I’m feeling a little off and just taking it easy. Not anything serious. I think it’s just 3+ weeks of different food, water, environment, rest etc. Did some painting and have more to do. Hopefully I’ll get wound back up tomorrow. Or maybe this is just how you wrap up a month long vacation?
ps. Forgot to tell you… I’ve been seeing toucans again. They’re never close enough for a photo with the phone but they are so amazing. They’re super easy to spot… I mean look at that beak. It almost seems like it would be hard to fly with those suckers. I got these photos off google but the toucan here are these amazing colors. We’re used to seeing them as cartoons on a breakfast cereal box but in the wild… very, very cool.
Jan 22, 6pm ish
I took the day off. I didn’t walk. I didn’t shower. I did make a big pot of cabbage soup which is tasting quite good. I think my system is just a bit off from eating differently. The inauguration was upsetting and can feel the waves down here. But the protestors yesterday were so inspiring!!! Blessings on you all. I’ll join you all sometime soon.
But not today, I just took today off to shake it all off. Read “Eat, Pray, Love” again last night and today. Now it’s back to “The Field” by Lynne McTaggert, The Quest for the Secret Force in the Universe. Perfect lazy day reading, eh?
Just made my reservation for a hotel my last night in Costa Rica, much nearer the airport than I am here. It’s got 3 restaurants, two bars, a spa and a pool. Civilization calls.
Jan 21, 2pm ish
I’m coming into the home stretch of my time in Costa Rica. Today was market day for me. Food supplies had dwindled but happily I still had part of a fresh pineapple, a pepper, beans and rice. Not exactly starvation time.
Left the farm at 7:30am to hike to the bus stop below in Tuis. Caught a bus there and eventually ended up in Turrialba. Walked the market, sat for a bit of ceviche, then shopped for veggies, hit the bank, went to the grocery, the bakery then back to wait on the bus to ride home. I was lucky that I had caught the bus that goes up the mountain so I arrived back at the farm a little after 1pm. That was a pretty quick trip.
I’ve been a bit antsy the past couple days. Watching people today, especially on the bus, I realized that this trip really has been a wonderful gift. I’ve been on vacation but not vacation as I’m used to it. I have been experiencing Costa Rica as the Tico’s (the Costa Ricans) do in this area. Steven, the owner of the farm is American. I’ve met one or two of his friends who are American but most everyone else I talk with is from here except for two Germans. And we all live as the Costa Ricans do (okay, maybe our internet is better 😉 ). Most don’t have a car, so there are no quick runs to town. Everything is a project. Watching people on the bus just reminded me that this is their normal. I watched a man get on the bus with a big plastic tub and a small suitcase. The suitcase fit overhead but the big plastic tub he put over his head so he didn’t have to pay for a second bus seat. Mothers hold their babies and small children or hand them off to another willing friend. Children are well attended to and are quiet and well behaved, maybe because people are paying attention to them.
I’m not sure I’ll plan another trip just like this one. But I am grateful for getting the opportunity to see and appreciate how another culture lives. It’s very different from home and I’m sure when I get home, I’ll be changed in the best of ways.
Better photos tomorrow? 😉
Jan 20, 1pm ish
Today I am coming to grips with the fact that travel is about choices. You choose to travel, you choose where to stay, you choose how long. And all those factors then affect you. Because I’m in a remote area, I can’t run out for groceries, pizza or a bottle of wine as I can on a whim at home. I’m free to leave home for a month in Costa Rica but in other ways… not free.
I find myself in a foreign land and facing some limitations and challenges. I’ll try to summarize. The farm owner is a Trump supporter so this is a day of celebration, with speeches blasting from the big house. Thankfully Deva Premal is drowning that out in my little house. Beatrice has decided that an important part of my astrology training is to do a chart of the new presidency… not the person, the event. So she asked me to watch to get the exact time when our new president came to power. I did that and watching just those 5 minutes was quite enough for me.
So these facts, plus the isolation, plus the fact that I didn’t get to go get groceries today leaves me a bit frustrated. Art I did this morning sucks… yep… it’s just one of those days. There’s no wine, no chocolate, no Pizza Oven. I can’t run to the store to get “just about anything my little heart might desire.”
But salvation is near. There is always fried food! Fresh pineapple! And sitting down with a good book.
Fuck it. Tomorrow will be a better day, I’m sure. ❤
ps. several hours later… my Deva Premal playlist ran out as did the speeches blasting from next door. My belly is full of fried taro and fresh, sweetly delighful pineapple and I’m part way thru Liz Gilbert’s time in Italy. I shall attempt to be an artist again… or not. All’s well enough.
Jan 19 2pm ish
” I wanna go home!”
No, there is no adult alarm in that statement… more petulance of an impatient 6 year old. Funny how these things work. There are several projects I wanted to tackle on sabbatical and one I have neglected. My meditation practice is very important to me, to my sanity and to my effectiveness as a person. There were several things planned that would have a bearing on my meditation practice. The first didn’t happen… a day spent at a retreat center exploring plant medicine. That I will do next time. The other which could have been done is the neglected issue.
A few days before I left, a good friend was telling me about a book she had heard about (on oprah 😉 ) and she wanted to get me a copy to read. The book, “Life Visioning: A Transformative Process for Activating Your Unique Gifts and Highest Potential” is by Michael Bernard Beckwith. I’m not terribly familiar with his work but did see him in the movie, “The Secret.” But as my friend explained what the book is about… it sounded perfect for me at this time. So I ordered it for my Kindle and have been reading it. The beginning talks about changing your life: from the place where life happens to you, on to the level where you believe you can call in what you want from life, to the place where you actually see some universal power/entity/spirit/god acting thru you and then on to the next level.
I had read most of the book up to the place where I see myself. Beckwith lays out the steps of how one might progress. I read… no notes, just read. But there it stayed. Hmmm… we don’t want to progress, change, work? Of course, not. I’m on VACATION! But last night, I did pick the book up again and read to the end.
My meditation practice has been inconsistent down here. I’m blaming the bugs, the noises, the proximity of neighbors. (By the way, the bad biting bugs do seem to be gone. The cleaner ants must have wiped them out. Thanks mother nature.) Putting all that static aside, last night I sat down with new info and focus. And while I can’t explain exactly what happened because it’s a bit out there and personal, I can say that I haven’t experienced meditation like that before. I generally sit for 20-30 minutes but last night I was gone gone gone for an hour. It was a really positive experience and I woke up this morning thinking, “I want to do that again.”
Then I made breakfast, assessed the minor bug bite damage, looked in the empty fridge realizing another trip to the city for food is in order, made breakfast, cleaned up, washed my clothes, went for my walk then…. I wanted to come home. I mean I REALLY wanted to come home. I’m tired of this place with its simplicity, healthy food and scenic vistas?
So… because I am an adult, I know I can come home. I can change my plane ticket and be back in several days. I know it’s not something i’d want to decide rashly… so I do sit down to meditate. It’s daytime so there are dog sounds, and people walking by the house, other distractions but I did sit for my standard 20 minutes. No great clarity or miraculous “travel.” But when I stood up at the end, I hear/see/know this message, “See it thru!!!”
So tomorrow I will go to the city so I have supplies for the remainder of the trip. I have black beans on the stove cooking so I can put them in some rice with veggies for dinner later. I will draw and paint as long as the light holds out. I might even reread Mr. Beckwith’s book and take some notes. And I will take the time I deserve to sit in deep meditation tonight. Something is out there for me to learn. Part of me is very excited to learn… and part of me is 6 years old and doesn’t want a damn thing to change.
But writing this blog, gets “See it thru!” down in print and helps me see the “I wanna go home” as the option which did not receive any votes in my “election.” Did you need to know all this? Likely not…. but like I told you upfront, this blog is mostly for me. But if you are a meditator seeking a different point of view, a law of attraction person or just interested… you might want to check the book out.
Back to work. Much love
Jan 18, 2pm ish
The little house
I try to show you bits and pieces of the beauty of Costa Rica. But I haven’t really showed you where I am. I rented this little house thru AirBnb. While it is a lot more remote than I really imagined it is just what I needed. I was looking for a place to hide for a month to write and paint. “Hiding” I imagined would be a choice. But this farm is pretty far off the beaten path. There are two ways to get here. One is by car but you really need a 4wheel drive vehicle to make it… although the buses make this climb over the rutted and twisted road daily which passes only about a 15 minute hike from here. The other route is a climb… not as in a sheer rock face but the dirt road on that side is so steep that Steven had his foreman cut stairs into the dirt to hope to keep people from sliding all the way down the mountain. I think he told me there were 600+ stairs and there are only stairs about half the way. So… it’s remote. At the bottom of the big hill is a tiny town, Tuis. There is a small grocery store and a bakery, the police station and a bus stop. About 20 minutes by bus is La Suiza which is a bit larger town, more shops and a few restaurants and about 45 minutes is Turrialba, which is a small city with lots of shops, restaurants and the market (like our Farmer’s markets) two days a week.
The little house itself is maybe 15 x 30 ft, with a bedroom and a bath. The rest of the space is living space with a high ceiling. I have a lovely little porch off the front. Lots of light and fresh air. There is a bed in the living space which I use plus another bed and bunk beds in the bedroom. I don’t use it as I got bug munched in there the first couple nights and I don’t trust it anymore. I included some pics. It’s really a nice little place but not everyone’s cup of tea.
I’m spending the day editing photographs to paint from. I never did get the photos from last year’s trip done so it’s been a bit of a walk down memory lane today for me- remembering the fun and friends from last year and comparing all that with this year’s trip. Very different but still good.
Jan 17, 11:30am ish
The Saga of the Cleaner Ants
I am writing to you from the shower. Hmmm… visualize what you will. I am sitting in the shower, fully clothed with socks and hiking boots, sitting on a plastic chair with my computer on my lap. Why, you may ask? Please, allow me to tell you about cleaner ants.
So this morning, I go on a walk with Beatrice and the dogs. She mentions that “her workers” are here and later they will be up to see me. Oh? As we walk out, I see them… streams of black ants. She says they come to clean. They go thru the house eating bacteria, spiders and whatnot. They will be around maybe a couple hours. And we’re off on our walk.
On our return, I see the ants are everywhere and discover (she kindly left this part out) that they bite. They’re in my sandals so I pull them off and try walking between the rivers of ants. Now I haven’t shared too much about this but bugs have been my bane on this trip. Something bites me and I get huge welts, blisters, itchiness for days. As soon as I get one batch healed up, I get chomped again. It was happening in the bedroom so now I don’t even go in there. The owner bombed the place, which is not my choice but he felt he had to do something. But the bugs endured. Now I’ve got it figured out that I generally get bit at the desk but I can’t see a thing there.
So now in addition to the mystery marauders chomping me here and there, I have armies of ants chomping my toes. What to do. Well… as in many challenges, I breathe. I am in the jungle. There are no hermetically sealed homes here. The ants are only doing their jobs. So I found there were none in the shower. I sprayed my feet with bug spray, put on socks and boots and take my chair to the shower.
The really interesting thing is that the ants are really concentrating on the area around the desk. On the wall behind it and all over the floor. There are some in my bed. Do you think they’ll eat whatever is biting me? That certainly would be a wonderful, natural solution. The ants seem to be done out on the porch so now I am at least free of the shower. Visualizing that the ants are destroying whatever is biting me and I will wake up tomorrow without a new batch of welts. In other words, I might be being saved by something that also is painful. More yin and yang lessons.
Moral to the story… breathe deeply, put on sturdy shoes and never, never, ever run out of bug spray if you’re traveling in the jungle. ❤
Jan 17, 9 am ish
Steven is the owner of the farm where I’ve rented a little house. He loves to show off Costa Rica (although he is from the states.) He can’t fathom how I can want to hang out around here and just paint and write every day. So once in awhile, I give in and let him play tour guide.
Yesterday’s goal was to show me the waterfalls near Santa Rosa (at least I think that’s where we were… there were a lot of buses and I’m not sure I have them straight.) So we blast off around 8:30 to hike down the mountain to catch the bus in Tuis for Turrialba. Once there, we did a bit of shopping (I’ve gotten a bit paranoid to run out of my natural bug repellent so get it whenever I’m in town.) Then caught another bus towards Santa Rosa (Santa Clara? Santa something!). There we got some lunch as a nice little restaurant. Once lunch was devoured, it’s off to the water fall. Now… this isn’t like visiting some tourist attraction. Seems the waterfall is off the beaten path. Steven says we can hike along the road uphill a long way, then hike down to see the falls OR we can cut thru a coffee plantation that makes the hike more level. I vote for the more level option and off we go.
We hike maybe a mile or two thru the coffee plantation, then thru the jungle. I’m enjoying the scenery and taking breaks when there’s a bit of shade to stand in. Steven’s commentary is a bit unsettling as he keeps saying, “I think we’re nearly there,” or “I think we turn right here.” You THINK?? We ford a few streams. We pass a smaller waterfall that is really lovely and finally arrive at the large one. It really is beautiful.
The hike out was steep but put us on the street in hopes of catching a bus. We did… several buses and two cab rides and we’re back home maybe 6:30pm.
Too many people for me. Too many crowded buses. Too much rushing to catch the crowded bus. But it was lovely. I’m going to stay put the rest of the month and relax.
Jan 16, 7:30pmish
Nothing to report because I had a really full day site seeing and I’m dirty, tired and happy. I give you one photo of my happy self sitting on a rock under the waterfall. More news to follow… tomorrow is another day. ❤
Jan 15, 8pm ish
Happy Sunday! Hope your day was lovely.
I’m halfway thru my trip now. Part of me is ready to come home but the rest of me is happy to have another couple weeks. There are inconveniences and advantages to being here as I suppose is true no matter where you are. The negatives are small and well worth dealing with for the opportunity to immerse myself in this beautiful place that is so different from home.
The realization of being halfway done also brought up some expectations that I had of myself that I have yet to fulfill. I had thought I’d be painting, drawing and writing everyday. And I do… but the results were much more perfect and lovely in my mind’s eye. In reality, I’m learning new skills so most of what I do is… meh? But it’s coming along. I’m a bit intimidated with the watercolors and haven’t had good results so far. Today I started painting 2″x 2″ paintings… a whole sheet of them. That was a good idea. It feels much better to be unhappy with such a tiny painting, but then in the next box I can try again and again. Then I put some images that I like on the ipad and began copying them in watercolor. Not my work… but at least I’m liking the results. So that’s progress.
I had a lovely dinner at the big house tonight. Beatrice cooked what she calls German peasant food, “dinner for a summer evening” is I think what she called it. Boiled potations, hard boiled eggs, served with a sauce that was nothing but 7 kinds of fresh herbs plus a bit of onion and garlic, just whirled up in the blender. Fresh and yummy. I’ll remember that one (at least now I will because I wrote it down here.)
Going to see some sites tomorrow so I’m glad I made some painting progress today.
Jan 14, 5pm ish
Notes on riding the bus in Costa Rica.
The bus driver felt it was his job to help me get home. Just like the people in the stores try to help me get what I need. They don’t lose their patience when they have every right to by US standards. They really are interested in helping people, even a bozo like me who forgot to ask how to tell the bus driver where I’m going.Would I be so considerate and helpful? Let me reword that… I will attempt to be just as considerate and helpful. Lessons, lessons. ❤
Jan 14, 9:30am ish
Rainy night, foggy morning.
We had a dog dropped off at the farm yesterday. Someone chained a big hound to the fence. I could see some sort of envelope on his collar which I was told later are his papers from the vet that he has had his shots. The dog is so skinny. I stayed out of the fray, as they tried to figure out what to do. The farm is small and they already have 2 dogs which are dear pals. Another giant one isn’t what is needed. Jose (the farm foreman) and Beatrice unchained him in hopes he’d go home. Jose is a tall, lanky man with a long machete always hanging from his belt (I must get a picture) so when he waved his arms to chase the dog, he was pretty imposing. They hoped the dog would appreciate his freedom and run home. But he looked up at Jose, and just laid down as if to say, “I have no where to go. ” I watched the dog off and on thru the evening. He sat by the fence, gazing towards the big house… so regal. He’s such a good dog. (No, I checked… I can’t bring him home.)
This morning there was a “gathering” out by the fence and I wandered down to get an update. I realized that other than Jose… everyone was dressed in jammies and a sweater or jacket. Just something kind of homey about that. Anyway, Beatrice says the dog is very sick, likely why his owners gave him up. They’re going to take him to the valley later today to a man who rescues dogs here in hopes of getting him proper help. Yes, dog champions live everywhere. 😉
Anyway, this story isn’t really about the dog. It’s about standing around in my jammies after a rainy night and seeing the flowers and foliage with great drops of water hanging. The 12 month growing season is one of the most enticing things about Costa Rica, to me. Can you imagine your garden never freezing? Your annuals become perennials because there is no cold season to take them out. I went back to my house for the camera, then wandered a bit this morning capturing some beauty.
Jan 13, 6:30pm ish
While I was at the market today, I saw a rack of belts. Getting a belt is on my shopping list but we were in a rush for the bus. It was either shop for the belt or stop for a bottle of wine to take back. Honestly, I was hot, tired, loaded down and I opted for the wine. Lecture me if you want but I still get to veto comments… what power!!! haha.
So the point isn’t about the wine, it’s about the belt. I know I will lose weight here. I lost 15 pounds or so last year. The jeans I brought are all loose so I figured by the end of the month, my pants will be falling down. I thought if I made this part of the blog, I might remember it when I get home and continue progress. So my diet secret is Costa Rica.
Here in CR, I walk a lot. This year I’m way out and up high so walking is the mode of transport, at least walking to the bus station which is way down in the valley. Exercise is easier in CR, especially this time of year because it’s lovely outside. At home, I’d be making excuses about not wanting to break a hip on the ice (or perhaps drowning in flood waters is more appropriate this week?) Last year there were hikes almost every day… yep, moving is a big part of the Costa Rica diet secret.
The rest is this… my shopping list. Well, it’s not my list but this is what I brought home. You already know there’s a bottle of wine. In addition, I got a pineapple, a papaya, 2 red/green peppers, garlic, tomatoes. I got an eggplant and some eggs. I got a couple avocados, cucumber, coffee, a bit of fresh cheese, olive oil and a loaf of bread. (oops, lied… a bag of dark chocolate… it’s a really small bag.)
In addition to what’s on the list, I get all the bananas I can eat at the farm. Assorted white root vegetables show up at my door and I have a bag of rice and a bag of black beans. Now maybe this is typical of your groceries every week but not mine. Where’s the pizza? No popcorn… pasta, other assorted carbs? Nope. Remember I’m on vacation. I’m not stocking the cabin for a year. So lots of the things that are prevalent at home just aren’t here. And that makes the difference. I do eat a LOT more fresh goodies here, because fresh goodies are delicious. The pineapples are golden and ready to sink your teeth into. All these vegetables are likely from not too far away so they’re picked ripe, not green like ours are.
But that’s no real excuse… I can eat fresh goodies at home too. I just get out of the habit with snow, ice, grey days and busy-ness. So here’s my official reminder to me (and if you’re easily offended, skip over this part) get off your lazy, dead butt, move more and lets get the fridge fuller than the cupboards! Choose fresh vs not fresh. Granted, we’re not going to have fresh pineapples at home but sprouts and greens can be grown right in the studio. And then, you (meaning me) really will need to get that belt. For now, if I need it… I have a clothes line that should get me home without any embarrassing slippages.
ps. just in case you’re curious. My shopping trip today cost around $20 including my lunch.
Jan 13, 8:30am or so
Not much to report. Another day. Another lovely day. Not a lot accomplished. Painted on the ipad… making progress. Working on astrology lessons… making tiny progress. Cooking, cleaning, eating, thinking.. ya know. There is a bit of a routine even here.
Took some beautiful pics on yesterday’s walk. Strolling down the road, come around a bend and there’s a cow. A really lovely Jersey cow with big brown eyes. I was walking with Beatrice and her dogs and the dogs rushed the cow to make urgent doggie sort of introductions. The cow seemed a bit shy and scurried back thru her hole in the fence.
A hole in the fence?! Oh my! That might be the response at home. Here it’s not such a big deal. There’s not a lot of traffic and of course the cars and motorcycles would be careful of the cow. And the cow would be careful of the traffic and likely duck back into the safety of her pasture. The funny part to me is that she had acres of lush green to munch, yet she busted out to see what’s on the other side. Not that there’s more out on the dirt road but it certainly gave her a different point of view.
I get it. ❤
Jan 12, 7 am ish
I’m here to unwind. Ultimately, that’s the reason for the trip. Of course, unwinding in Costa Rica is infinitely more palatable than unwinding in the basement at home… but unwinding is the goal.
Stress is a funny mistress. You carry her around on your back for so long (or in the neck… as I do) that she becomes “normal.” And when you finally take the time to try to set her aside… she fights. Yesterday was a lovely day. We had sun most all day after several days of rain. I got my hike, then painted, did a lesson (Beatrice is teaching me about astrology), I had meals, and I was bored. WHAT?! Yep, bored. I thought about coming home. There’s so much I could be doing there that is productive. My painting here isn’t satisfying yet my creative ideas abound. I’m stuck here… with nothing to do but… yep, unwind. But, but, but… those buts are the sound of stress giving up a bit of her grip on my soul. 😉
I’m nearing the halfway mark in my trip. There’s no goal, no plans, no side trips. I have to get to the grocery for food from time to time. I have to be here. I have books on Kindle. Started one last night called “What are you afraid of?” by Lavinia Plonka, a Feidenkrais practitioner, about how fear and stress become our norm and how to unwind and release it. Hmmm, wonder how that got there? haha. I have plenty to do, but none of it involves accomplishing anything visible or concrete. The results from my efforts will mostly be inside work. Nothing to show for it but increased peace of mind and a neck without a knot on the right side. No accomplishments to show anyone. Nothing to post that people will “like.”
Ahhh… I do have a lot of work to do.
Much love to you all.
Jan 10, 6ish
Today is the first day I realized that I don’t know what day of the week it is. I wouldn’t know the date but I look it up here. Full day- breakfast, a hike, lunch, computer work, a lesson, some painting and soon I’ll make dinner.
Meals are kinda weird. I used to look forward to them a lot more. But here, food choices are limited, no pizza to pick up on the way home. No blenders, broilers, food processors. No cupboard of fun seasonings (although this one is compensated for by some fresh herbs growing nearby.) No stopping at the store on the way home to pick up something I’m hungry for. Plus, if I want to eat, I must cook. I don’t mind it. But meals have gotten to be more of a necessity than an occasion. Not craving anything badly… yet. 😉
Sold a painting today. That is always the best of news but it was kind of a smack in the head, reminding me to pay attention! I’ve been woefully negligent with email for the past couple of months. Good thing most people have several ways to get hold of me. I am all caught up again.
Going to make dinner… then study. Probably an early night. Which is why I’m writing to you/me now. Happy whatever day it is. Sending light and love. ❤
Jan 9, 10pm ish
Yep, I’m up past my bedtime. I suppose it’s okay since I’m a grown up AND on vacation. I had a lovely evening visiting the main house at the farm and eating someone else’s cooking. Dinner was very tasty and the dinner conversation particularly interesting. I’m not sure where I’m going with this post… but… it’s just very interesting to me how I can feel driven to rent a house in CostaRica a year ahead of time. I search thru all the listings and there were many… and somehow make a decision to choose this one. I never seem to land somewhere bland and uninteresting. I meet people, see and learn things that often really resonate with me. Just interesting how playing eeny, meany, miney, mo on AirBnb ends up as it does.
Now Costa Rica is wonderful and I’m having a great time but if you’re picturing me at some cushy resort… ya would be wrong about that. That’s never been my idea of fun for a longer trip like this one. No, I’m in the middle of bumfuck nowhere and it’s really lovely. But it’s not perfect as travel never is. It’s not always comfortable as happens in travel and life. Today I found myself feeling very much like a family member… yet I’m just a visiting stranger. Tonight at dinner, I was chatting as with an old friend with a woman I met less than a week ago.
None of these things would be happening if I were at some cushy resort or if I were traveling with a group… or maybe they could. I guess I ponder, why do they happen? Do I leave home to wander to make these connections? And it’s not like I don’t have wonderful connections at home. But are there pieces to the puzzle out in the big, big world that I need to find to complete something? Or to see my way clear to move on to or create some new project? Am I supposed to be here to complete a puzzle for someone else? Do I need a bit of info… or maybe just a new recipe and to break in a new pair of hiking shoes?
I don’t know the answers. But traveling makes me feel so very alive and a bit Twilight Zone/ time traveler-ish.
It’s all good and quite refreshing. And no, I just now poured my first glass of wine.
Just thoughtful and have the time to enjoy it AND write about it.
Jan 9, 6pm ish
When you travel for long stretches of time, not everyday is exciting. And I’m actually looking forward to more days of the more boring flavor. But today we all decided to go into town, since that in itself is a bit of an adventure. I’ll try to get a photo before I go of this place from the bottom of the valley so you can see, we’re on up there. I believe the town is at the same altitude as Denver and we’re up above that by a bit. So, when going down to town, it’s work. You might think, well just jump in the 4wheel drive and go. That is the norm in the US but lots of people in Costa Rica don’t want the expense of a vehicle when the bus system is everywhere. So I was prepared to hike. We all scooted out of here around 7:30 am to catch the 7:45 bus out at the road. The hike to the road only has one really steep section so it’s a breeze. And catching the bus up here was great. Steven, my host, warned me that this bus is expensive. I think Steven needs to price shop a bit more. (haha.) The bus costs 700 CR colones which is about $1.25. I figure that’s a great bargain. So we ride the bus to Turrialba. Today we got off a bit before town so I could see CATIE, a large nature preserve. Costa Rica hosts several of these centers which are really more about research and education. People come from all over the world to complete botanical research in these places. Photos attest.
After a great hike thru CATIE, it’s a short hike to a supermarket for groceries. Steven and I walk out of the store to see a friend of his pull up in a jeep. It was kind of a coincidence that he was there but we did pile into the back of that old jeep one more time. He had lots of errands to run and by the end of all that, there were 5 adults, 1 dog, 3 backpacks and lots of bags of groceries in that ancient little Jeep. And once again, the angels smiled and the Jeep carried us all the way home.
Tonight I’m joining my hosts for dinner and Beatrice, who is German, is cooking. I look forward to that. Then it will be another early night. For those of you who know me well… it is very out of character that I’m generally asleep before 9pm and back up about 5:30am. It’s not as much about time zone (CR is on CST) but once the sun goes down… I just fall into bed and that’s all she wrote.
Until another day, love from CR
Jan 8, 8pm ish
Today was what I’m calling monsoon day. It rained from morning to night. Sometimes heavier, sometimes light but in my tin roofed house, it often sounded like the world was going to be washed away. I couldn’t play music because the sound of the rain was so loud. On the other hand, the sound of the rain is wonderful. There’s something wonderfully relaxing and even cleansing about the sound. Sometimes the wind changed the sound so it almost sounded like ocean waves.
Costa Rica is coming into its dry season here but even in rainy season, as I understand, it doesn’t generally rain all day. But the experience helped me know that I couldn’t take months of this. Or maybe I could… and I’d get a lot of work done.
So I did some research on watercolor, watched some youtube videos. I wandered next door and learned more about my hosts, one of whom has an amazon business and the other is a web developer. Here I am, in a relatively remote area in the jungle, staying with people who are learning a lot about some things I’m learning about yet we all have met by chance. Gotta love karma, the universe, god… whatever your terminology. What are the chances that would happen? ❤
So the conversation led to things we’re doing to get smarter about our businesses. Steven told me about some books he’s reading and a mentoring program he’s in. I came back to my little house and started pondering… how will I best learn how to market Journey Studios online? I can’t afford some marketing consultant and if I could, there’s a good chance I might not find one who is effective. Then I thought about “who do I know?” “Ah ha!!,” says I… I know Matt Bailey. Matt’s company Site Logic was an internet marketing company based in… of course, Canton OH. Matt is now working more as a consultant, speaker and trainer… and author. And I had his latest book on my Kindle. So I spent the day learning so much and writing out my plan to market journey online… thank you Matt. His book “Wired to be Wowed” is on Amazon and available on Kindle. Good, simple clear stuff.
So the rain pounded down, and I learned, planned, painted, dreamed, cooked, ate and even got a bit of writing in. This sabbatical thing is a really good idea.
Miss you all but in no hurry to come home.
Jan 7, 7pm ish
Today was another one where all I had to do was draw, paint and eat. I spent about half a day working on several different drawing apps, evaluating which I liked better. That might sound boring, but I never take the time to do things like that because at home, I always feel like I need to be PRODUCING something. I found that I do like the PhotoShop Sketch app best, until I get to upgrade my ipad, then it will be Procreate that I’ll be trying.
If you know me, you know I LOVE my alone time. I scheduled this vacation for max alone time. In fact, I almost overdid it. I chose a cabin that is way on out there in the middle of no where. Now if I were in the states, this would be fine, but in the middle of another country where I’m not able to speak the language, this place would freak me out a bit But luckily, the main house on the farm is about 20′ away. The folks that live there seem to “get me” in that I’ve talked to each of them exactly once today. I’ve told them that if the door is open, they’re welcome but they don’t intrude unless they need something. And I try to do the same for them.
The situation has brought up the thought to me of exactly what is solitude? I’ve run out here seeking a “top of the mountain” experience. In fact, I didn’t get it really… with neighbors right here. But in the middle of a foreign land, I’ve realized that having people around is really rather nice and maybe solitude is more a frame of mind than a physical location. I suppose there’s really nothing more than choosing to sit with my thoughts in meditation that is needed.
However, running away from home to CR in January when it’s 2 deg. F at home… still a damn good idea.
Much love ❤
Photos from yesterday’s excursion to Cartago
Jan 6, 7pm ish
What a fun day! The man who owns the farm I’m staying on, Steven, played tour guide today. Since I’ve been here, I haven’t really been able to get groceries. I had a bit of this and a bit of that… but I’m here 24/7 and needed some grub to make my mealtime a bit more fun. He had some things he needed from Cartago so off we go.
Now before you think, now that’s nice of Steven… let me tell you that it was NICE of him. First we hiked about 20 minutes down the side of the mountain his home is on. We catch a bus to Turrialba, then catch another bus to Cartago. We probably set out about 7:20 and were in Cartago by maybe 11. Now there’s a chunk of the day already! We visited an amazing market indoors and out with the most gorgeous fruits and vegetable. These are picked and brought in from the farms so everything is fresh and amazing. I recognized a lot of it but there was a lot I didn’t have any idea what it was. I stocked up on goodies, filled my shopping bag and a good part of Steven’s backpack. We wandered around town, He took care of some errands and I’ll have more pics to show you tomorrow. Tonight I show you…
Basilica of Our Lady of Angels… wow! So back in who knows when, the story goes… a young girl was walking thru the forest. She comes upon a large rock and there’s a doll on the rock. She, being a typical girl, picks up the doll and carries it home as her own. The next day finds her in the same woods, and there’s another doll on the same rock. So excited to actually have two dolls, she runs home only to find that doll #1 is missing. Everyday, the action repeats and everyday, no matter where she puts the doll, it disappears and reappears on that rock. So they take the tale to the local priest and to save you a bit of babble, same deal… every night the doll, which by this point I’m gathering represents the Virgin Mary, gets back to the rock. Thus, miracle, and message received that they’re supposed to build a church at the rock, which they do. At some point later, the church was demolished in an earthquake and was rebuilt it this lovely baroque style, missing a lot of the original gold but filled with beautiful wood and stained glass. Very pretty place… HOWEVER (and here’s my fav part so don’t stop now. haha) If you go around back of the basilica, there is an entrance into the lower level. And yep… there’s the dang rock. You can put your hands on it… and yes, it has a great vibe and many of you know, I do love those rock people and their powers. Now here’s were the story gets a bit more weird/cool to me. If you experience a miraculous healing, you can buy a charm representing the body part that was healed. So on the walls all along this grotto are these cases of old charms showing choices. They were so eeriely wonderful, I couldn’t resist. Yes, I did venture to the (of course, you saw this coming) gift shop and bought a couple charms that are going to get fashioned into a wonderful necklace of some sort from this trip. Pictures below are of the basilica, and these weirdly wonderful cases of little metal body parts. Legs, livers, kidneys, hearts, arms…. so love these.
Back on the bus. Stop in Turrialba to see their market and there eat the best ceviche of my life. Back on the bus. Stop in La Suiza to drop some food we got at the market off to one of Steven’s friends. Wander there a bit. Then miraculously, Steven’s friend took us back up the mountain in his 1979 (maybe) Jeep. Very bouncy and rough but my weary legs were so grateful. Back where we started from maybe 10 hours after the start. Trust me, I will be cooking up a storm the next few weeks because we worked hard for this food.
Jan 5, noon ish
This morning I took a walk with one of my hosts. Beatrice is a lovely woman from Germany. She was taking a walk into town to get butter and pay a bill. Now granted, both she and the owner referred to this as the “long walk” but I thought, I can walk… no worries. And I did walk, and walk and walk. 😉
This farm is located in the mountains above Tuis. We took the long, gradual path down, partly on a 4-wheel road (to me) and partly along the paved road about 5 km into town. I was interested to see how the 2 dogs we had with us would behave with traffic and neighbors. People here just seem to let dogs do what dogs do. Sometimes they ran in other peoples yards and barked and sniffed other dogs. Sometimes other dogs ran out to do the same to the dogs with us. When traffic came, from time to time, they were careful of the dogs and the dogs were careful of them. When we got to the store, the dogs waited patiently outside. Beatrice asked them to, very softly in German. I’ve met a lot of dogs down here. The idea of a mean dog doesn’t seem to exist. There was even a fluffy red dog at the house by the zoo in San Jose who sounded ferocious. He seemed to be guarding his home. But as soon as I spoke kindly to him, the guard “act” dropped away and tail and tongue both wagged. I continually am reminded that something is different down here.
Another interesting thing is that every vehicle that passed us, the people inside looked at us, gave big smiles and waved. I assumed that Beatrice knew all these people. “Oh no,” she said, “that’s just how Costa Ricans are. Always so happy to see you, to greet you, to help you and to smile.” Maybe it’s something in the water? Oh actually… about the water.
When I told some people at home that I was traveling in Costa Rica, one of the universal warnings was, “Oh, don’t drink the water!” On my last trip here, our guide only mentioned water quality once. I carried a water filter for 2 weeks and only used it once, while hiking. What I’ve learned this trip is (at least in this location) the water is clean. I mean REALLY clean. Like drink out of the waterfall clean. I don’t think I’ve been anywhere in the states where I would drink out of a river. Yet here, especially on this farm, the water is fine. Maybe better than fine, it’s not full of the junk we have to put into it at home to make it drinkable. At my house in Ohio, we have a well. That was my choice as the chlorine smell in the city water is nauseating to me. But instead of chlorine smell, our water at home smells of rotten eggs. I don’t view that as a health risk and drink it but after a shower, the house smells a bit sulfurous. Here the water smells like… nothing. Like water, I guess. Just one example to me as I ponder of which society is more advanced, or perhaps better said, what can I learn here. In some ways Costa Rica is more primitive, but in that simplicity is things that make more sense to me.
Now, granted there are a lot of things here that are challenging. Like that “who needs street signs idea,” that one could use a little work? Although, it does keep us gringos on the bus, which is actually not a bad idea. haha.
Back to the long walk for just another minute, it WAS long. Beatrice said we could walk back the way we came but it’s uphill for a loooong way. This other way, while still uphill, is way shorter. So we took the short cut. But as the saying goes, what goes down must come up and this shorter path did just that. It’s so steep that the farm owner had his helper cut steps into the dirt to give you footing. It must be great fun when it’s wet. I was very lucky as Beatrice is about my age and informed me at the first really steep section, “Just 10 steps, then stop and breathe.” (if you click on the image, you’ll see the panorama.)
Might be a nice motto for anytime things get hard… just 10 steps, then breathe.
Jan 4, 8pm ish
What a beautiful day! It was clear and sunny. That translated to 80’s but in the sun it was hot. Not steamy at all. I had the doors to the little house wide open and worked inside. We had a nice breeze. Once the sun got past the porch, I moved my work out there.
So one goal with this trip is to have time to practice, try new things, learn new techniques in my art. I’m planning to draw and paint every day possible in hopes of creating a habit that I won’t break when I get home. I couldn’t bring my usual medium as acrylics and canvases don’t pack so well. I opted for watercolors, pencils, a pile of paper and a few watercolor canvases. Neither watercolor or drawing are my fortes… all the better. Most of the problem is just being rusty and always being rushed to produce something sellable. For now, this work is just play. I’m letting myself try and I’m not judging. It’s kinda fun with no audience, no commentary except what comes thru my head. And I’m just practicing being kind and encouraging to myself. It feels nice.
I was happy with the drawings I did. The painting not as much. But it was just the beginning. I’m going to keep redoing a few of these images to try different approaches. Today was small brushes and more real. Tomorrow, I think bigger brushes and more abstract.
I was trying to remember the name of this bird all day… the Montezuma oropendola. I learned about it on my trip last year but can never remember its dang name. It’s got the craziest call. A photo of the bird and its amazing nests plus a recording of its call is at Wiki. Luckily two flew right past the porch right before my host stopped in so I could ask him once again. Now it’s in the blog so I may remember. There, your nature lesson for the day.
I wish I could remember the name of this root. The farmer’s helper dug it up for me to cook for dinner. I sauted it with a bit of garlic, olive oil and curry powder. Then added water to cook. It’s taking a lot longer than potatoes but smells divine. Serving with avocado mashed up with orange juice cause that’s what’s in the fridge. Avocados are amazing here. Every one at the store was ripe! (After dinner comment, it was delicious. More firm and much more flavorful than a potato but not sweet. Went great with my impromptu guac. Must remember to pick up chocolate and wine at the market soon. That would have made it perfect.) Enough babble, even for me. Have a few more sketches, then to dream land.
Have fun! ❤
ps. Thx Scott Sandrick… the root is taro and the local word is tiquisque. Scott is a wealth of information AND knows how to use Wiki. 😉
Jan 4, 8am ish.
I’m not a television person. I’ve learned that when you’re traveling, chances are good that the television will be broadcast in the local language… of course! Therefore, when I arrived in my new mountain digs, I told the owner it wasn’t necessary to hook up the television. So around 7pm last night, I look up from the computer screen to realize, it was dark. Wandered out on the porch to see flickering lights across the valley. I sat down in the rocker and watched and listened. I was convinced there was a bird on a branch nearby that must be preening itself. (This morning showed a dead leaf fluttering in the morning breeze.) It was beautiful… it was quiet… and suddenly, I was tired. I suppose a long day of traveling will do that to me. But there was also a thought to what life was like when there wasn’t electricity and cable tv to keep up awake. What did people do when it got dark… likely they went to bed. So I did. That explains why at 5:30am this morning as light began creeping into the valley, I was awake.
I had a good nights sleep, interrupted by bird calls close at hand. Many houses in Costa Rica aren’t double walled, insulated structures like in Ohio, where the snow is flying right now. This one is just wooden planks, with a peek of light coming thru here and there. So when a bird is in the tree outside… it does sound like it’s right in the room with you. Weird feeling but actually quite wonderful. It’s interesting to be where housing is so simple. I have a lovely cabin but like most homes, there is no heat or air conditioning. It’s simply not needed. This morning the sun is shining in a cloudless sky and I’m guessing it’s 75 deg F. If the sky remained cloudless, it would get quite hot, but the clouds will roll in and keep the temps quite comfortable.
I just love the idea that you can build a little house with a few solar panels for electricity and propane tank to cook and have hot water for a shower and you’re good to go. At home, I hesitate to buy another house for those unforeseen expenses when the furnace or AC breaks. Simple has its advantages
It was amazing to watch daylight begin to take over the view; in the top of the trees, on the rise across the valley, more and more details came into view. As the light grew, the colors got richer. The lone chicken (which wandered in here and no one can catch, so no eggs) just strolled by. A hummingbird buzzed my head as if to say, “What are you doing on my porch? This is where i eat!” The bird sounds picked up a bit from night time but no trains, no traffic noise. I haven’t even heard a jet fly over. So many less distractions… perhaps I should focus and see what I can accomplish in this peace.
Light and love from Tuis. ❤
Jan 3, 7pm ish
Today was travel day from the big city of San Jose to the teeny weeny burg of Tuis. Several buses and hitching one ride at the end and I’m here. Most of the next month, I’ll be here. And since we’ll have time… for now I’ll tell you that I got a tour of the farm I’m staying on and saw waterfalls, banana trees, lots of flowers and herbs, another water fall. aquaponics ponds and much I’ve already forgotten. I’m in a lovely little guest house. The porch is filled with flowers, hummingbird feeders and of course, hummingbirds. I didn’t know they chirped. At home I just notice them from their wings beating. Oh and did I mention, I saw a toucan, close enough to see those brilliant colors clearly?! I’m in Eden. See, I told you all that travel is wonderful.
Jan 2, 6pm ish
My last night in the big city. Tomorrow I take a bus to the mountains where I’ll spend most of the rest of the month. Weather is cool right now (68 deg. F) but really pleasant for wandering around town.
I should have written down the name of this building (and the red one past it) but they are examples of amazing architecture in San Jose, Costa Rica.
The stern looking gentleman in the center of the photo is an oficial de policia. I saw quite a few police officers, all looking very stern. I did not see any reason to be worried. Guess their looks have great power. 😉
Footnote… thank you google. Correos y Telegrafos Is the Main Post Office. I had guessed it was someone’s palace?!
Jan 2, 4pm ish
Like a needle in a mercado?
Today was shopping day. I’m headed out tomorrow to more rural digs and needed to pick up a few things. I neglected to pack paint brushes… yeah, those things happen. I needed a needle and thread. The brushes were actually easy to find… and priced better than at home. I have yet to paint with them yet but am sure they’ll be fine because I was imagining what it might be like to paint with Q-tips? 😉 Now the needle… that was harder.
I stopped in a fabric store, made sense to me. The very nice clerk, who did not speak english, looked a bit nervous as I showed her the button falling off the waist band of my jeans and gestured what I thought looked like sewing. She told me no but I could find one at the mercado. Okay… where’s a mercado? I wander on. Then miraculously, there is La Mercado. This is great!!!
A mercado is a market. Take your imagination to the Westside Market in Cleveland times about 10 with smaller shops and narrower aisles. I wandered up and down the aisles. So many shops, some as small as about 4×8 ft. Lots of food and merchandise, clothes and who knows what. Finally, I found a ribbon stand with scissors and pins I could see in the case. Maybe? No.
The good news is a few blocks later, I found a lovely department store with a craft section and there I find my “aguja e hilo, ” my needle and thread. Such are the adventures of the day. Much ❤
Jan 2, 7- 7am-ish
Just a note to self… Costa Rican coffee is truly jet fuel. It’s delicious, rich and wonderful. Perhaps a touch strong but the caffeine content must be off the dial as I barely slept last night. I forgot that I learned this lesson last trip. One cup per day is all that’s needed. 😉
January 1, 2017- 5pm-ish
Just back from wandering the city. The idea of the comfort vs the discomfort of travel is on my mind. What? If there is discomfort in travel, why do you do it? Possibly a valid question. There certainly are comfortable ways to travel. I could be in a resort area where there are mostly people like me. But if I did that… 1. it would cost a whole lot more and 2. what would I learn? I mean, if I want to be in the same environment as home, then I might as well… you guessed it, stay at home!
I wandered a bit around the city today. Exploring some areas I had been to before but on my first day here last year. Today was Sunday and New Year’s Day. Most everything was closed. All the shops, eateries and grocers with lights out and gates rolled down. I had hoped for some groceries and I found one small shop open and got some fruit and an avocado. (maybe avocado is a fruit?) But with all the shops closed… there were still so many people in the streets! And so many buses! I wonder what percentage of the population doesn’t own a car? Makes sense really and keeps street congestion way down. The buses are very nice and so affordable. My ride from the airport downtown was less than a dollar.
I did find a place for dinner then wandered on. Such beautiful architecture! It’s a bit a fun as I don’t speak the language yet but I do imagine what the buildings are that I see. “That one must be a consulate”… or “I’d love to rent that one… it looks empty!”
In some ways like any urban area at home… lots of buildings, different sizes and shapes. Lots of people… ditto. But only once did I hear a conversation in english. (it was interesting because there were 5 people at the table and 1 spoke english aloud and the rest of the conversation was in spanish. Not sure who understood what… guessing they all spoke both languages but spoke in what was most comfortable?) And once I heard raised voices but it was two friends fooling around… I knew because their eyes were happy.
So back to the comfort vs discomfort. I am learning a part the city but know I can’t get lost because GPS knows no language barrier. I didn’t fear to wander the streets… just full of people on their ways to here and there. I’m uncomfortable because I can’t find what I want… on the other hand, I found what I needed. I’m uncomfortable as I can’t understand signs or language of those around me. (I had hoped to study Spanish this past year but all the business changes just sucked up time and energy. Better luck in 2017.) On the other hand, I’m beginning to guess at signs and picking up a word here or there. For me, the travel lesson is often to see that no matter how different, life is much the same. People need food, drink, transportation, friends and laughs. Lovely roofs over happy faces.
At home, when things threaten to change… as with the recent election, we all get so upset. “What will happen?!” I think travel reminds me that even when things are different, and even a bit uncomfortable, we find ways to live, to learn and to laugh.
I’m posting some architecture pics so you can see a bit of the city.
January 1, 2017- noonish
The last few days before departure sucked. I had too much to get done as always. But I did manage to get the car in the garage, the computer upgraded (it had ceased to be able to speak to my phone), the house sort of clean and my crap in a couple bags. David Bowen was a gem to come pick me up for the airport at 5am. I had 3 flights this time to San Jose and was late for every connection.
But speed walking and deep breathing got to me each gate just at the last second. Miraculously my bags arrived here with me.
No cab to town for me, I opted for the bus. I had instructions from Steve Z (my landlord for most of my stay in Costa Rica) on the basics. Luckily (as always seems to happen down here) a nice couple waiting for the bus also, assumed I knew nothing and offered coaching so get me on the right bus. After the fact, it was easy but first time can be confusing. I got off at the bus station, which was nothing like I remembered and milled around thru the crowd until I saw the row of red taxis. I always seem to pick the driver who cannot speak english but I had written directions of where to go (in english) of course. There aren’t addresses here like you might be used to. I was trying to tell him to take me to the back entrance to the zoo… that’s where my apartment for a few days is. Finally the driver looks at me with perplexed look and says “Monkeys?” and I say, “Si Si!” He made a face, then drove. He was very kind and joked about the fact that it was both our short comings that we couldn’t communicate. Nice man, good tip.
I’m staying in an apartment which I stayed in last year. It is centrally located in the city, obviously near the zoo but also in what might be called the arts district. The Don Carlos Hotel is nearby, where I can always find a delicious meals but also many cafes, galleries, shops and the art museum. Since I arrived on NYE, most things were closed. But the Don Carlos door was open and they welcomed me. I ordered two dinners (one to go since I hadn’t gotten groceries and wasn’t sure what would be open New year’s day.) As I left, I wandered down a street I thought would take me back home. It was a dead end and as I turned around to go the other way, here comes my waiter. The doorman had seen me head down the wrong road and had sent the waiter to make sure I wasn’t lost. Of course, I informed him I was staying at a casa by the zoologico… which may or may not have been comprehended. But it was so kind that they noticed and tried to help me. This is so typical of Costa Ricans… they are helpful, cheerful and kind.
Instead of staying up and watching fireworks from the rooftop as I imagined, I crashed at about 7pm and slept 14 hours. Part of that made up for the sleepless night before taking off and part was just the realization that I had nothing I HAD to do. I sat to meditate twice and fell back asleep. Nice start to day one.
I found coffee ready to brew in my little casa. This lovely apartment is new and very contemporary. There are probably 3 apts in the building but I rarely see or hear anyone else in the building when I’ve stayed here. Doors and windows are open and a nice breeze is blowing. Cafe on the patio in the sun with the sounds of birds and visitors to the zoo.