Rodeo Costa Rica Style

I drove to Santa Cruz on Monday to meet up with my friend Silene. She’s one of the students in the university that I met when I was living with Cecilia. I’m really impressed with Silene. She is majoring in ecotourism management and hopes to one day be the director of some sort of business related to the ecotourism industry. Obviously, Costa Rica is the perfect place for her decision. Santa Cruz is a 40 min drive to the south and has a population of 60,000. July 25th is the celebration of the Annexation of Guanacaste which happened in 1824 when the Guanacaste province which I currently reside in seceded from Nicaragua. It’s given great importance because it is a large province and it’s felt that it gave Costa Rica much of it’s culture today. Seline said we were going to a bullfight. My first thought was that I didn’t want to see any bulls killed but I didn’t want to be rude and I thought “when in Rome………..”. Fortunately it turned out to be a translation error as it was just a bull riding event. It was unlike any rodeo I’ve ever been to though! Here’s some video from the event. They don’t have a few clowns like in the us, but there are lots of people to distract the bulls. There was also a ruckus that started up behind the bleachers we were sitting in that I’ve added a video of. I only caught the tail end of it on video. I’ve seen it in the movies but this was the first time in real life I saw a guy grab a bottle and bust it to use as a weapon. Quite an entertaining day to say the least.

 

Critters

The abundance of wildlife here is astounding. There aren’t very many mammals in this part of the country. There is a small white tail deer a bit larger than a goat but I’ve yet to see one in the wild. The squirrel is probably the most abundant besides the howler monkeys. I can hear them from time to time in my new place but I’ve yet to see any here. Add insects, reptiles and birds to the equation and it’s another world. I was sitting out on my back patio watching the birds and gazing up at this giant Guanacaste tree when I notice a lizard about 18-24″ long perched up on a limb. When I came out later, his camouflage is so good I didn’t notice him at first.IMG_1490IMG_1491

While I’m watching this prehistoric specimen I noticed another one of the many squirrels right above me.IMG_1494

A bit later it started raining and I had the back door open and this guy kept wanting to come in the house to visit.

The next day I see a wasp on the concrete wall behind the apartment and he’s alive but he’s not acting and doing normal wasp things. When I looked closer I could see why. The ants (hormigas) had a hold of him. He was still alive. What a way to go!IMG_1496IMG_1497IMG_1498IMG_1499IMG_1500

Woke up this morning and found this guy. He didn’t seem very healthy for some reason but another example of the variety of life that lives here.20160724_084349.jpg

I saw one of these birds closer yesterday and the light on his back wing feathers was multicolored and beautiful. In this shot the light isn’t very good but you can see the unique looking tail feathers he has. The guanacaste tree behind my apartment is a small micro ecosystem. Hopefully I’ll get some shot’s when the light is right so you can see his beautiful colors. How about the tail feathers on that bird?!?!?IMG_1502

 

 

Funny Story

I drove Carlos to his Mother and Father’s house which is about 2 hours away up near a volcano. Sorry but I can’t remember the name of it. I’ve been told there are 14 volcanoes in Costa Rica. They actually use the geothermal from the volcanoes to produce electricity. There were also many wind turbines scattered about. I’m not positive but I think this is where Costa Rica gets almost all of it’s electricity. No fossil fuels or very little if any. It was a nice drive. The countryside is lush and a lot of it is being used for agriculture. When we got to his folks house his mother is this short little lady with a big smile. She gave me a hug and a kiss on the cheek for bringing Carlos to see her. His father was there also and both of them are really nice people. She asked was I hungry but I could tell that whether I was hungry or not I was going to be getting some food. She whips up these delicious homemade tamales with big chunks of avocado picked fresh from the tree in their yard. It was actually delicious. The fruits and vegetables here have so much flavor and are some of the best I’ve ever had. Most of the time the produce I’m eating has just been picked in the last day or so. I’ve never eaten so much fruit in my life! After a bit, Carlos’s brother, his wife and 24 yr old son show up. Really nice people! The mother is a doctor, the father is a nurse and the son is studying computer engineering in the university and spoke pretty good english. The father spoke a little english and he wanted to practice with me. He made a few sentences and I pointed out any errors he had made. Then he asks me “Do you ever buy any whores?” I was shocked! I started saying “nunca (never/none)” over and over. No, no, no, no, nunca!!! This is a very religious family and we are all sitting here and I’m flabbergasted that he just asked me if I buy any whores!!! They wanted to know why I was reacting so strongly to his question. Caballo is horse in espanol and he was asking me if I bought horses. I had to explain that there is a word in english for a prostitute called whores that sounds exactly like horse and what I heard was “do you buy whores?”. Best language mishap yet! Needless to say there was a lot of laughter. Carlos’s father has Alzheimer’s and they are constantly testing his memory by asking him questions like “what day is it?”, “how many children he has?”, etc. A really nice family! When we left, everyone stood up and Carlos’s older brother said a prayer. Most of you know where I stand on this subject but it was pretty special none the less. Below are a few pictures from the drive. Didn’t take a lot of pictures since I was driving and my good camera’s battery is dead since someone forgot the charger on the boat.

Mi Nuevo Casa En Playa del Coco

Hola amigos! I’ve moved into a place in Playa del Coco which is about a 10-15min drive to Playa Hermosa which is north of here. I can’t even begin to put into words how different it is. I love it and am just rolling with it. I still have a long ways to go on the language but I’m progressing daily. I have to admit though it is frustrating at times. I warn some of the people in my life that are helping me learn that they may come to regret the day Martin speaks Espanol! Then it will be El Rio de Martin’s Boca. I think that translates to the river of martin’s mouth?!?! There are sooooooooo many differences in the languages. I honestly didn’t think it would be as difficult to learn as it is, but it’s rewarding too and I know my progress will continue. I spend much of my time formulating sentences in my head in english and then trying to rebuild them in Espanol. The translator can be wrong at times because each country and even different places in the same country can have unique characteristics. I experienced this throughout Mexico. It will help that I’m staying in Costa Rica so I won’t have those differences hanging me up. There are numerous people that speak english but a lot of the people I’ve become friends with don’t speak any or very little. It’s just crazy the effect it is having on my brain! It is very rewarding though when I toss a sentence out there that someone understands or I understand them when they talk to me! Those rewards will continue to come I’m sure

I’m basically in like a 12 plex apartment for $600/month including unlimited internet, water and electricity up to $50/month. There is a swimming pool but I generally head to the beach to swim. Having good internet has to be one of the best things and one that I’ve missed the most. On the trip down using only wifi was so frustrating because it was always slow and lousy service. Game of Thrones last season is due to be released soon and I can’t wait to see it!

Living with Cecilia and no air conditioning for so long actually helped me acclimate to the climate here because I thought once I got a place that had air conditioning that I’d have it on all the time, but I usually only turn it on when it gets really bad which it can but usually for no more than a few hours a day. I’m pretty happy with the place overall. It’s quiet at night, close to town, clean and comfortable and fully furnished. Honestly I’m down to about 9 shirts, 6 pairs of shorts, 2 pair of longer pants, a laptop, cellphone, 1 pair of shoes, some toiletries and a few documents. I’ve bought a few plants, some pots and pans and I still need a few other things but I’ve got everything I need.

It’s amazing for me to look back at all the stuff I had and now how little I have. There’s a few things I need on the boat but it’ll be a few months before I head up hopefully for a sale or just to check on it. There is only a few things I’ll carry back though. None of the clothes are for this climate at all and most of the rest of the stuff will go with the boat. The most significant part of it to me is that I know it sounds like a cliche, but I’m happier than I’ve ever been. I’m like a newborn baby in a new world and everything is new and interesting to me. I wanted dramatic change and I found it.

It’s not 3rd world here but it’s not 1st world either. I’m not quite sure how you would describe it. 2nd world possibly….. No clue. It’s a different world I assure you. I’ve taken a few road trips but I’ve been cautious about where I take my nice camera. I was a bit worried from a safety standpoint, but I’ve yet to feel any kind of threat at all. You definitely have to be careful about what you leave in the car and what you leave out at night but I have always felt safe and secure. There is very little murder and theft at night is the biggest problem from what I can gather. That’s all for now. I’m going to check out this nice thunderstorm rolling in.

 

Eat, Swim, Sleep

I know Julia Robert’s round it in food, religion and love. I’m finding it in the food too but the swim and sleep part we’re heading in different directions.

The daily swimming is so therapeutic and I’m actually joining Carlos la Pescado part of the way out on his swims now. Working up to going all the way.

Took a trip to Santa Cruz about 34 min south and talk about a riot. They just don’t believe in directional signs in the cities quite like the US which can be bad at times as well so the roads aren’t very well marked and we kinda got lost in Santa Cruz. My friends Carlos and Angélica giving me left, right, forward directions which I was clueless to. Not driving left and right haven’t been that important so I didn’t know izquierda was left and direcho was right. We laughed so hard and it was a blast. On the drive back we came across this spectacular Valley Plains but there was too much traffic and I didn’t have my good camera. I will go back as it was breathtaking! Going to check out a really cool volcano possibly on Thursday.

I’m really feeling like I’m about to bust out on the Español! The basics are really starting to come to me now but I still have a long ways to master it. It’s been a pleasure and learning from. others has provided so many wonderful experiences.

No photos as the neighbor with the wifi and wife are taking advantage of their own wifi.
Hope all is well. Looking forward to seeing a bunch of you in August! Buenos noches! Que la vaya bien!

Houseguest

Came back from a trip to town and found this guy in the house anxiously wanting to be somewhere else. In spite of his anxiety he allowed me the time to take a couple of pictures then he patiently waited for me to unlock the door and off he went. He stopped and looked back before jaunting off and I’m assuming he was thinking Wtf!image

Happy Quatro de Julio

It’s been almost the busiest week since I arrived here. We had house guests for 2 nights. Miguel and Nataly from somewhere near San Jose from what I could gather. Miguel is 62 and Nataly is in her 30’s I’m guessing. I thought they were father and daughter until I asked Cecilia about it. Apparently it’s common for old guys to marry younger ladies here. I best be on my guard! Really nice people and I really enjoyed Miguel.He really understands global politics which is a subject dear to my heart. Part of the reason they came is to give Cecilia a ride to San Jose as her sister is having complications from chemotherapy for liver cancer. From what I could get from Cecilia she is in no danger just very uncomfortable and can’t walk due to the chemo. I end up getting to spend a week solo for the first time in months. Have to admit I’m really enjoying it listening to my music while I type this post and not having a regiment to follow as my Landlordess rigidly follows. I’m not complaining because I get fed 3 great meals a day thanks to her daily routine not to mention she is one of the hardest working, nicest, easygoing and most congenial people I’ve ever met. I love her like a sister.We are slowly getting to where we actually communicate and we were making constant jokes about Nataly always wanting me to take her picture and about the age difference between them. There’s a couple next door that the man is 64 and his wife is like 35! Pretty happy solamente so no worries there.

Earlier in the week I had started my residency process and part of that was to set up a bank account. I do have an account now and I have cards that I can use for dollars or colones. I can only deposit $1,500/month in it for now but in a year I’ll have all of the options your regularly have at a bank. I have to admit it’s been a real pain at times trying to get money. Just after I left they implemented the new credit cards with microchips and my debit card doesn’t have that so sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. The fees associated with drawing money on a credit card are ridiculous that’s why I’m diligently working to get that end of things cleaned up. My trip to Longview will resolve many of these issues but for now it’s pretty frustrating. German is financing $5000 for me on the car until I get back to the states and wire it to him because I can’t wire from my bank to his due to the restrictions. I did get my car which is a 1999 Geo Tracker. Pretty excited about that because I’ll be able to get around much more efficiently. I had to take German to Liberia to catch a bus and I got lost on the way back and ended up taking an extra 40 minutes to get back home. It wasn’t a bad thing because I got to see a lot of country I haven’t seen. The back roads are virtually empty and then you’ll come pulling up on some beautiful resort on some remote little cove out in the middle of what seems like nowhere. It’s pretty comical because the grackles see themselves in the mirror and get pretty agitated about “another” gackle being in their neighborhood. I can’t see it at the moment but I can hear some kind of palm wood pecker tapping away in search of camida! The bird life is truly spectacular.20160704_075158.jpg20160703_141220.jpg

It’s like spring break here for the next 2 weeks and the beach was the fullest I’ve seen it. It’s really cool to see how the families and friends come out to enjoy the beach during these holidays. I’m up at 6:30 every morning and I walked over to the neighbor’s deck that overlooks the water to take advantage of their wifi and I noticed one of the garbage cans that was knocked over with contents littered all about. By 8 am somehow had already come and cleaned it up. Yesterday I saw a small group of people walking the beach with garbage bags cleaning up the beach. The beach and the ocean are an extremely important part of their identity and that’s one of the reasons I love it so much here.

Plan D of the day is that Carlos la Pescada has supposedly found us a $50/month unlimited internet plan but we have to go to Liberia to get the deal so more adventure abounds. Haven’t taken lot’s of photos though I did see 2 crabs mating for the first time but here’s what I have backlogged.  I also saw the 2 parrots but they were pretty elusive. They have such a unique call. Hopefully I’ll be able to get some shots of them because they are so beautiful. The monkeys actually were in Cecilia’s yard but once again it was a low light situation so I only got a couple of good pictures. I can’t stress enough that if you love wildlife, this has to be one of the best places in the world to witness it.

That’s all for now. Stay safe and enjoy the holidays. I’m going swimming😉