A Season of Change

Published: April 25th 2006
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Gringo in the yardGringo in the yardGringo in the yard

There was a week recently when we just couldn't keep the horses in the field!
When we arrived in Costa Rica over 10 months ago it was already the rainy season. In fact, it was raining on the day we arrived. It was a particularly bad season—at least in my view—due to the impact of the many hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico last year. Hopefully, it won’t be as bad this year.

The last few months have been glorious here. Almost zero rain, warm temperatures (but not too hot) and light breezes. One certainly cannot beat the dry season weather in the San Ramon area. But all must come to an end as the various flora are ready for their winter soaking. I keep forgetting it is summer here and that it is almost over.

It is interesting to note that the Costa Rican weather service makes fairly precise predictions about when the rains will come. In the last issue of the Tico Times, government weather forecasters predicted that the rainy season would begin in the Central Valley (where we live) during the first two weeks of May. Friends who have lived here for quite some time are predicting it will start later, perhaps in mid June. We’ll see who is correct. I
Living area of the B&BLiving area of the B&BLiving area of the B&B

I like this picture with sun shining through!
only hope it is perhaps a more typical rainy season with sunny mornings and rains in the late afternoon and evening. I don’t mind that as I’ve been remiss in my siestas lately.

When one lives in a country with two fairly distinct seasons—at least where we live—it becomes second nature as to the things that can be done in one season or another, and more importantly, those things that most be done prior to the beginning of the new season. For example, with the rains coming soon, there were two priority items to take care of before the rains hit. One was to clean the gutters. Having a fairly large house, this was no easy task. However, I slaved for almost four hours one recent Saturday going through every inch of gutter cleaning out copious amounts of leaves, dead animals, plastic, nails and an assortment of other garbage to ensure the waters from the heavens would flow well. Whoever put the gutters in—I assume when the house was originally built—did not leave much room to get one’s hands in there to clean out all the muck. I really could have used a child with small hands to do
Guest roomGuest roomGuest room

We've been playing around, reorganizing the guest rooms. Here's our latest idea.
it, but I’m against child labor. I ended up bringing our wet-vac onto the roof and blowing out much of the debris. That worked fairly well. I even tested each drain to ensure each one was clear of debris. There’s nothing worse than a rainy day—with water leaking in the house! The other item was to repair our long dirt driveway shared by my neighbors Mary-Ellen and Fernando and our soon to be neighbors, Dave and Mary. There were definitely some bad patches on the road and with a backhoe we rented for a few hours, we smoothed out some of the rough patches. Next, our handyman Chico will dig some water trenches on either side of the road in certain spots to ensure the water flows along the side and into the nearby fields, not flooding our road—and making a huge mud bowl. We’ll see how the road holds up this year.

Sold some art work….

We had two wonderful guests here recently, both from the Washington, DC area. One of them is a reporter and she is preparing an article on our B&B. As you may remember from a previous blog, our neighbor Frans donated some
The burnThe burnThe burn

It's the time of year to pick the sugar cane and you can see controlled burns throughout Costa Rica now. This one was right in front of my house!
of his artwork for our fledgling gallery and was thrilled that someone wanted to buy one of his pieces. He darted up here from San Ramon to meet the collector and ended up spending the afternoon with them!

Friends, guests and more friends….

We had friends visit during Easter week which was a lot of fun. Beth’s good friend Donna, her daughter Lauren (who is Beth’s God daughter) and our friend David—all from DC spent some time here. David spent a full 10 days with us and I think we kept him pretty busy seeing things and doing things his entire time here. We saw rainforests and volcanoes, went to the beach for a few days, saw a butterfly farm, got a lot of sun and quickly eased into the Tico lifestyle! April has definitely been a great month with both guests and friends visiting. Like the transition to the “green season,” April is also a transitional month as the “high season” is wrapping up.

Easter was also an interesting time in that while we took off for the beach for a few days, we had Karol look after several guests we had staying with us while we were gone. This was great training for her and I think she passed with flying colors. One couple wanted dinner when they arrived and Karol made her terrific soup, “Sopa de Mexicana,” along with salad and ice cream with toppings for dessert. Apparently, the guests loved it and as to be expected, loved Karol. She enjoys talking with the guests and definitely has the personality to run a B&B. Beth liked the fact that she tended to our guests well and I liked the fact that she collected the correct amount of money from each guest—LOL! Okay, okay, both are important!

What you won’t do in the U.S.…you may do in Costa Rica

Okay, while usually not planned, sometimes an odd, or more aptly put, funny thing occurs here at Angel Valley Farm—and it usually involves me or Beth. These tend to be things we probably wouldn’t be caught dead doing in the states but we would do here. For example, I’ll traipse around the house in the evenings in these God-awful slippers I bought in San Ramon. They are comfortable, sturdy and if I need to run outside to deal with the dogs—which is often—I don’t mind getting them mucked up. Well, one day, I walk into the house and find Beth with those “Bounce” fabric softener sheets that you put in the dryer with your clothes, attached to each shoulder and on each side of her hips! I also later found them throughout the house as they fell from her body and she didn’t notice. Apparently, a friend sent her an email that her friend got from someone else stating that they are great for a number of uses besides with clothes, including: repelling mice, keeping mosquitoes away, wiping your television or computer screen, eliminating odors in wastebaskets, collecting cat hair, preventing musty suitcases, keeping bees away (apparently golfers put one in their back pockets), dissolving soap scum from shower doors, cleaning baked-on foods from pans, and many other uses! I don’t know if the company that makes Bounce advertises these multiple uses but they surely should. From now on I’m calling Beth the “Baroness de Bounce!”

Another thing I’ll do in Costa Rica that I rarely did at home is to take showers at odd times of the day. During my 50-70 hour corporate life, I always took a shower early in the morning, and occasionally, on hot days, in the evenings. Here, however, I find myself taking showers at odd times: 2 in the afternoon, 7 in evening, 10am—it just depends on what I’m doing that day and how sweaty I’ve gotten. I guess I should be thankful that I have the kind of work such that I can take showers virtually anytime. And, if the mood strikes me, I may not take a shower for a few days.

Also, once in a blue moon, but not often, I may park in town in an area marked with a yellow stripe if I cannot find a close-in and convenient spot. Supposedly the yellow-lined areas are off limits to cars, however, I see many people doing it. In some areas, there will be men with bright orange vests and you give them a few colones to watch your car which I will do. I guess, like in any country, one should not break the law, even if as minor as parking in a restricted zone. I should heed this as I do not want to find out what the inside of a Costa Rican jail looks like.

Finally, I had mentioned in a previous blog entry about our mention in the April edition of Travel & Leisure Magazine. The article, “Costa Rica 5 Ways,” came out and apparently we’re one of the “five ways.” Here’s the link to the article: http://www.travelandleisure.com/articles/costa-rica .

Thanks for reading and keep your comments coming!

Pura Vida



25th April 2006

Andrew - the article in Travel and Leisure was a great plug for your place - congratulations! I hope you and Beth are well - I think of you often...especially on 495 in the middle of a god awful traffic jam....I think of you often and I cheer you on....xoxoxo
25th April 2006

Thanks Again
Andrew - we're still raving about our trip, what great hosts you and Beth are, and what a wonderful place Costa Rica is. Thank you, thank you. We had very heavy rain here last weekend and I thought of you. At least you don't have to worry about a flooded basement.

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