Thursday, August 30, 2007

Finally an Update!

I know it’s been a long time since I have written. I’ve meant to write a few times and have had some stories all mapped out in my head but between unpacking, reading some good books, and competing for time on the computer, I just haven’t gotten around to it. Remember that we don’t have internet at home so it’s not so easy… Rest assured that no news generally means good news from me.

First, I thought I would like to let everyone know that we signed a purchase agreement for our house in Big Lake. We faxed off ten pages of documents Thursday (costing $23) agreeing that the family could rent our place starting that weekend and up to the closing date of November 30th. Friday we heard back from our realtor that all terms of the rental were agreed upon and he was meeting the family over the weekend to sign final documents and give them the keys. Fingers crossed that this transaction goes smoother than the duplex. All seems okay, though.

Next, I did add several posts today so just scroll down to see more regarding the rain, Santo Domingo, and the symphony.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Santo Domingo Saturday and Symphony Sunday

I had been looking forward to this weekend for a while. Why you may ask. Well, I purchased tickets to the symphony back when we were in San Jose the day we dropped off the laptop for repair. Ever since I read an article about the amazing process of building the National Theater and how acclaimed acts perform often, I’ve been dying to take the family to a real cultural event. Azure thought I was joking and figured it would be boring but I continued to pump up the experience. Patrick expressed slight interest but I knew he would enjoy it also he just likes to make me work for things sometimes.

We were not disappointed. The place was beautiful and our seats were perfect. I purchased first row balcony seats (only $15 for all three tickets!) since Azure and I have hard times seeing around people. We heard the orchestra play Rachmaninoff, Dvorak, and Castro and it was wonderful. I am psyched to go back again sometime.

Now since we went to the symphony Sunday, I made Patrick take us to the farmers market in Santo Domingo on Saturday. The market was much larger than San Rafael and again we scored some delicious fruits and vegetables for cheap. Can’t wait until this next weekend!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Bridge washout!

Something we hadn’t considered before we moved sort of shocked us when we arrived. There appears to be a large complex being built on the hill to our West. Due to the construction, the ditches were dug deeper and some cement culverts were placed at the bottom. BUT no one finished the project and now with the awful downpours we’ve experienced lately (due to Hurricane Dean as I understand it) the runoff has been running right into the road and flooding the bridge. It is the rainy season here now but some of the downpours have been incredible. We are too far south for hurricanes but we can get their rainy effect. A couple weeks ago, the water built up so deep the cars could hardly cross the bridge and the spray was heading right into our neighbor’s house. Patrick and I watched from the balcony as Don Isidro went out in the storm to dig the ditch deeper. Being the “nice neighbors“, Patrick decided to go out to help (even though our things hadn’t arrived yet so he didn’t even have a shovel). Even though Don Isidro appeared to be surprised to see Patrick, he still wouldn’t give up his shovel so Patrick could only pick up large rocks and move them. I’m not quite sure their efforts paid off or not. The bridge did begin to clear of water but then again the rain slow downed at about the same time also. Anyway, ever since then, there have been many crews trying to correct the runoff into the river. It’s better but not perfect. I’m just glad our house is up hill and not down -although the lower house seems to be avoiding the runoff just fine!

I hope you enjoy the photos I so happily took while staying dry (mostly) on our balcony!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Oh, happy Day!

We had a great Thursday! We purchased a GEO Tracker and had our lawyer submit all the necessary paperwork so we´re legal. We paid our broker and received our first delievery of four!

Because of our low carport and steep incline to the main house, the guys had to load their trailer instead of a huge truck. They brought a load Thursday, Friday, and two on Saturday. They were trying to be kind and bring our bed on Thursday but since they didn´t realize our bed was actually in boxes, we received the final bed box Saturday morning. Even though we didn´t have our bed Thursday or Friday, we still slept much better with a sleeping bag and thick blankets!

Saturday afternoon Patrick hooked up all the appliances and we now have clean clothes. We even had mac & cheese and popcorn this weekend. MMM! But now we are back to salads and fruits since we want to stay healthy and continue to lose weight.

Last bit of good news: we have received an offer on our Big Lake house. I think we may accept but it is sticky since the person wants to rent until November. I´ll keep ya posted.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Happy Mother´s Day!

Where do I start? First, we still haven´t received our things. The customs inspectors supposedly want to look through everything again? Also, we are struggling to ensure our broker receives payment. We sent the wire back on July 23rd but it still hasn´t credited to his account yet. I hate banks!

Next, our laptop definitely is dead. I did some research and luckily we found a place here in Costa Rica that does warranty work. We took it into their ¨office¨ in San Jose yesterday. We weren´t sure we wanted to leave our laptop somewhere unknown but on the other hand, we do want to get it fixed. We received a receipt so we´ll see what happens. They quoted us two weeks for repair since they need to get the part from the States. Probably more like one month, right?

Azure attended her first soccer practice yesterday after school. She came out to the car soaking wet and muddy but said she had a great time. Now we need to find her some cleats and shin guards. We probably should have bought them before we left home since we have no idea where to buy them here. Yes, it should be easy in a soccer country but remember we won´t pay top price...

To close, today is Mother´s Day here in Costa Rica. I´m so lucky to get two this year! Anyway, most of the country is celebrating on Monday even though it is officially today. It is so confusing but Azure has Monday off which is nice (I think). haha

Oh, one more odd thing I need to mention before I forget. We have been struggling to figure out what to eat every day since we don´t have a stove or fridge. Mostly we have been enjoying fruits and salads. Yesterday, Patrick noticed some toast in a package. What? Truly, toasted bread packaged in 7 or 14 slices for your pleasure. Why?

Friday, August 10, 2007

Nothing exciting

I don´t have anything exciting to post. Our container should arrive Tuesday (fingers crossed). Until then we will continue to enjoy the hard floors and cold nights without beds and blankets.

Our duplex should be finally closing as I type this. We are hoping it goes off without a hitch.

Azure still loves school. She has been putting in many hours of homework already. She enjoyed her first week with a tutor. We´ll see how that works out. Tonight she has a sleepover at the school. She has been excited all week so hopefully it lives up to her expectations.

Tomorrow we are meeting a couple to potentially buy their GEO Tracker. Hopefully it´s as nice as they describe. First thing Patrick asked while talking to the guy ¨what´s wrong with it¨. Not very subtle but I think he got his point across!

I´ll try to get more photos up but it appears our laptop has died already. It´s still under warranty since we just bought it in June but who knows what will be honored down here...

Have a good weekend everyone!

Monday, August 6, 2007

Squirrel Saturday and Farmers Market Sunday

Saturday started as any other day this week except I planned to sleep in and ended up sitting outside with my cup of coffee at 5:30AM. One thing was different, though. Squirrels. A little after 6, a saw something out of the corner of my eye. I turned left and there prancing down the side of the house was a tiny orange, black, and grey squirrel no bigger than my hand. He didn't seem to be in any hurry as he made his way through the front garden and across the driveway to the palm trees on the other side of the yard. Then I watched him jump from branch to branch. As I watched him, I noticed several other squirrels in the trees- mostly grey ones. I know this doesn't strike anyone as strange but today is Monday and I hadn't seen these guys before or since Squirrel Saturday. As a matter of fact, they were gone by the time Azure woke up at 7:15. Strange! I hope that every Saturday will be Squirrel Saturday!

Later Saturday, we went for a walk through the coffee plantations and tomato fields surrounding our property. When the rain started, we jumped in the car to pick up a Tico Times and happened to find our way to San Pablo and Azure's school by taking the back roads. We actually drove directly to the school without getting lost which is amazing here in Costa Rica! Now we can make it to school in only 11 minutes!

We all anticipated Sunday since we heard San Rafael has a good farmer's market. We decided to walk to town and clocked the mileage in the car at 1.5 kilometers. Simple enough, right? Well, the farmers market was everything we hoped. Fruit and veggies galore. We made out like bandits! This is what we took home with us after spending only $3.65 (approximately):
1/2 kilo green beans
big pint of strawberries
1.3 kilos watermelon
3 large cucumbers
small (whole) pineapple
6 small pineapple empanadas

Okay, now the walk home. We (meaning me) were huffing and puffing on the last hill before the decline to our place. I really need to get into better shape so we will be making the hike into town at least once a week from now on! There are lots of hills in our neighborhood!

Friday, August 3, 2007

not the same

I thought I had finally found an internet cafe that had a USB port on the computer so I typed up a long post on the laptop and copied it to my memory card. Now I´m at the cafe and I can´t get the card reader in the slot so everyone will have to wait until next week for an update...

Thursday, August 2, 2007

First Report From Down South

This is the last place I thought I would be today but it turned out McDonald's was the best place to get Wi-Fi (until we figure things out).

I know everyone has a million questions for us so I will try to cover most of them but my battery is dying so I have to make this quick. I'll do this in order:

1. We had one piece of luggage (a hockey bag) which weighed in 16 pounds over the limit. We sweet-talked the guy into not charging us the mandatory $50.

2. Our airline wasn't supposed to let us out of the country with only a one-way ticket. Again I managed to sweet-talk the woman checking our passports. She actually booked us a fake return flight so if anyone at Costa Rica customs asked we could show them the flight number.

3. The airport/customs in San Jose went smoothly other than we had SO much luggage and didn't know if Colin, our realtor, was meeting us or not.

4. Colin did show up but we couldn't find the shuttle to our car rental company which may or not have been a sham- we reserved a car with Excellent car rental but Payless said they were affiliated and rented us a car for $85/week. Unfortunately yesterday I looked at the signed agreement and it says $175 (I don't know how they switched the price when I made a point to go over the costs before Patrick signed the document!)

5. Since our container hasn't arrived yet, we followed Colin to Hipermas on the way to our house so we could buy pillows and some food to get us through until morning. Warning- don't go to Hipermas on a Sunday afternoon because I think the entire Tico population was shopping there with their families- blocking aisles and all...

6. We arrived at the house at sunset Sunday. The neighbors who we hired as caretakers were there and greeted us like long lost relatives. BUT we were tired and the houses were full of dead bugs. YUCK!
7. We cleared a small space in the loft of the lower house and slept (not really) on the floor. All three of us huddled together trying to share one blanket. We found out the evenings are extremely cold in the hills of San Rafael!

8. We met Colin at the church in San Rafael so he could help us find our way to Azure's school the first morning. Plus, he had broken the faucet of the shower and needed to help us find the hardware store so we could replace the part.
9. We met the Director at the European school and her and the staff helped us get Azure settled in. Azure loves school except for Spanish class since she is so far behind and the teacher doesn't speak English. We will be finding a tutor soon!

10. Our neighbors, Donya Vicky and Don Isidro, both sweet Ticos, gave us a tour of their home so she could show us how she makes fresh tortillas. I thought she would invite us for lunch but instead Donya Vicky stopped by with her daughter and "kidnapped" us to go blackberry picking! We had no idea where we were going or why since we don't speak much Spanish and they don't speak any English. It was fun but we couldn't make Vicky understand that we had LOTS of cleaning to do!

I need to finish this later so please check back tomorrow. I would like to thank everyone at this time for their wishes of good luck to us on our new adventure. We feel lucky indeed!