More "grist for the mill" in Costa Rica

Published: March 22nd 2006
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Beth´s beansBeth´s beansBeth´s beans

Growing in our new garden!
A friend of mine likes to call the local gossip at Angel Valley/Rancho Lobo, “grist for the mill” so when I write my “tell-all” book many years from now I will have quite a few interesting stories about my new home and community (actually, I suspect that many years from now I will no longer have the energy to write a book as I’m expending all of my energy in the present day!). One of the things you learn is that no matter where you live, even in idyllic Costa Rica, there’s always good dirt to be dug up or simply served up on a silver platter. However, being the gentleman that I am, I keep it to myself. I just am relaying this because as soon as I returned it was amusing to find how much gossip people wanted to relay to me!

My return to Costa Rica on March 18 (and after not one, but two snowstorms while I was in the U.S.) was certainly a welcome relief from the dead of winter in the Northeast U.S. The day of my return was simply awesome here. With temperatures in the mid-70s and barely a cloud in the sky, one couldn’t ask for better weather. No heat or air conditioning required!
One of the first things I did was to seek out Osita and Reina, our two dogs. I didn’t grow up in a family with many pets—I think we had our dog for less than a year—but I have come to think of our dogs as my own children. They were jumping up and down and barking when they saw me and couldn’t wait for me to get into their cage. No one has ever smothered me with kisses like that before!

I decided I would take the first day easy and re-acclimate myself. However, my first night at home turned out to be eventful. I am sitting down to some mindless television and even before the first commercial break of the program I was watching, I look outside the front window and notice two large beasts in the shadows. Upon closer inspection, I discovered these creatures were “Gringo”and “Amigo,” roaming in our front yard! Not sure how they got out of the area behind the house they were kept in, they would need to be put back, and for that, I quickly called Beth. Getting the
The Dogs....The Dogs....The Dogs....

Osita and Reina are getting bigger!
horses back into their field was not all that difficult actually—this time. Beth learned that if she shakes the can of dog biscuits (not horse feed) and starts walking, Gringo, the more docile of the two, will follow her pretty much anywhere, figuring a snack was at hand. Amigo hates being alone so he always follows. So there you have it, Andrew and Beth, at 10pm on a Sunday night directing the horses across our driveway, behind the house, and into their field.

Since it was dark out, I knew I would probably not easily find the break in the fence and hoped the horses would stay put overnight. Ah, not with my luck as the next morning I did not see the horses in the field. Not long after, a neighbor calls and we learn the horses are way up the road roaming a field behind a neighbor’s house, which is under construction. I wasn’t sure how we would coax them all the way home. So, we hop in Beth’s car and make our way up the hill, then down a hill, then up another hill, and down another hill until we finally are in view of the
Brianaire and our cilantroBrianaire and our cilantroBrianaire and our cilantro

We have tons of cilantro now!
horses. After inspecting the work on our neighbor’s house, Beth starts shaking our handy dog snack canister. Within in 10 seconds, Gringo looks up and starts coming towards us. When he is fairly close, we hop in the car, Beth driving, and me with my hand out the window shaking the canister and horses right behind us (Amigo finally caught up)! The faster we drove, the faster the horses trotted and fortunately for us, they followed us all the way back to the field without slamming into the back of our car. It was just another day at Angel Valley Farm B&B!

The garden is finally kicking in….

I had a hard time imagining we’d ever get our garden going given the long rainy season. While Beth was in the U.S. last November, I planted some of her seeds in the greenhouse but didn’t fare very well as I planted them too soon and transferred them to the garden too early. However, since I have been gone Beth has planted a number of vegetables in the garden including heirloom beans, radishes, white carrots, tomatoes and a bunch of other things. Everything is coming up splendidly and I think

Helping Beth with "sopa de Mexicana"
we now have enough beans to feed the entire neighborhood! There’s also enough cilantro to supply several local restaurants. Beth, rightly so, is excited about her beans as apparently you cannot get these types of beans in Costa Rica. I haven’t seen her get so giddy over anything as she did over her beans—even to the point of having me take pictures of them in the garden and on a plate (I gladly took the pictures)!

With chickens out of their pen for a few hours each day and the trouble our dogs inevitably get in, fencing in the garden was a smart move. I even found this garden whatchamacallit that sprays water throughout the garden, avoiding the need for me to stand there and water it every day (hey, it cuts into my time on the hammock!).
So, as the garden grows we hope to be able become nearly self-sufficient in vegetables. Now, if I could only find a way to grow Kraft Mac & Cheese in the garden!

Beth’s vacations and roosters….

Beth apparently had a couple of nice “getaways” while I was braving the cold in the U.S. On one of her trips, my
Sopa in the bowlSopa in the bowlSopa in the bowl

I like the effect the blue plate has in this picture. Maybe I have a career as a food photographer ahead of me--or maybe not.
sources tell me she drove Karol (our cleaning lady), Karol’s 4-year old son and Karol’s mother up to Sarapiqui where her mother has a farm. As I understand it, there was a fifth passenger, a big rooster Karol’s mom bought in San Ramon and wanted to take to her home. I just cannot image this clan with a rooster sitting in the back seat with Karol’s son driving the somewhat treacherous roads of Costa Rica. God, I wish I was there to see that!
Another of her trips was to the northern Guanacaste region to check out some of the less touristy beaches. Apparently, if you take a “nacional” with you; i.e., a citizen like Karol, you get a much better rate on hotels. They stayed at an all inclusive resort—Beth, Karol and her son, really cheaply. So, come to Costa Rica and grab a local to travel with you!

The growing community….

Houses just keep going up in the rapidly growing ex-pat community up in the hills behind us. The “Angel Valley/Rancho Lobo” neighborhood ( is growing by leaps and bounds with people coming from the U.S., Canada, and Europe to retire, or to get away from the past-paced life of the western world. And, why not come here? It is a quiet, relaxed lifestyle, relatively inexpensive, offers tons of fresh air, terrific views of the mountains and valleys, and provides plenty of things to see and do or do nothing at all—not to mention a community with its own B&B—okay, some self-promotion here! Before long, we’ll have to elect our own mayor and town council! In any event, it is fun to see new people come to live here and learn how they live in their own slice of paradise.

I was amazed to look up the hill the day I returned home and see this concrete tower going up among the other new houses. I wasn’t sure what to think! It looked about three stories high and someone commented that if you put glass all around the sides of it, that it could easily pass for an air traffic control tower! Whatever it turns out to be—I haven’t seen its owner around—I’m looking forward to seeing the views from it! Ah, our own little “Manhattan,” complete with a small skyscraper, developing in the tiny hamlet of Los Angeles Sur!


Besides my trying to catch up on the paper work that accumulated during my absence, this week has been about food—terrific food! Beth has been busy trying new recipes for our “cooking holiday” program we’ll kick off this summer ( So far this week I’ve sampled a very tasty beef dish with very interesting seasonings, “sopa de Mexicana,” that was out of this world and later in the week I’ll get to sample some chicken dishes and several other things. I don’t know exactly what the cooking program will eventually offer (I’m only the marketing guy) but I do like sampling it all. It is incredible to walk into the house and take in all the interesting smells and see copious plates with all kinds of unique dishes. Too bad it cannot be every week. I may be on my own next week!

Friends visiting….

In addition to keeping busy with guests, in April and May we will have some friends visit. I’m excited about that as it has been fun showing off our new place to friends. It will also get me to the beach again, which I always enjoy! And, now that my doctor says I can swim again, I’m looking forward to getting in the warm waters of the Pacific, just a short one-hour drive from us.


We got a small plug in Travel & Leisure Magazine’s April issue--we haven’t yet seen the hard copy of the magazine but it should be out and hope there is a little more in the magazine itself, but we’ll take what we can! Here’s the link:, then scroll down to #4, “Culinary.”


One of the things I actually missed quite a bit being in the states for five weeks was horseback riding. I’d only been horseback riding a few times before moving to Costa Rica and now I know why people enjoy it so much! So, I’m planning on sneaking away from work for a few hours on Friday and will hit the trails. The nice thing about riding is that all I have to do is hop on one of my own horses right outside my door—or visit one of many friends nearby. The forecast for the rest of the month is sun, sun and more sun! It isn’t a bad life!

More soon!

Pura Vida!



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