Scroll down for most recent blog:  MARCH 10, 2019


5 January 2019
    
WE ARE BACK IN SANTIAGO, AKA, PARADISE
  
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Bob and I are among the sweet people - our friends - in Costa Rica. We arrived in San Jose late afternoon December 31 and reached our home away from home late afternoon January 1. The air travel was flawless and on schedule and we breezed through immigration. 

During late summer, we had arranged our air travel to and from Costa Rica out of Washington Dulles International Airport.  We did so to spend some time with our younger son-in-law's mom Claudia, with whom we are very close and whose home is not far from DC. It was all pre-arranged late summer last year.

Subsequently, after 17 years living a single-life, Claudia became engaged. Our wonderful friend married the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Our younger daughter and her husband and children were in attendance. It was a fabulous occasion as Claudia's 94 year old dad and her son presented the bride and our granddaughters stood with the bride, their beloved Nana. You can well imagine, Bob and I were more than ever eager for our December trip to Virginia to hug Claudia and meet her husband.

Thus, we began our winter sojourn on December 28; driving from our home in Rockford, Michigan, to Haymarket, Virginia, where the newlyweds reside. We were greeted with open arms by Claudia and husband Bob. (Based on my personal experience, I hold high expectations of anyone bearing the moniker Bob! I was not disappointed.)

Theirs will be a wonderful union filling their golden years with much joy. You just know it! We enjoyed a few days with the happy couple and look forward to some more when we return to USA on March 29.

In the next few days, we will post about a fabulous museum we visited in DC with the newlyweds. Oh yes, being around two Bob's reduced us to using first and last name initials: Claudia's Bob became BC and mine was BT (which coincidentally was the name of my first pet, a dog! That's another story.)

This initial blog entry is just to get me going on the keyboard sooner rather than later as was the case last year. I thought I'd include some photos of our air travel and our hotel in San Jose. The photos were taken as we were on our final approach. The one photo with the red-line illustrates the road we drive out of San Jose enroute to our ultimate destination, Santiago, south of San Isidro de El General. When Bob is driving, we always take the longer, less scary route along the Pacific Coast. This year, however, one of our friends, Phillip from Santiago, collected us on January 1 in our car to drive us to home away from home. Being an experienced driver in Costa Rica, Phillip is comfortable with the more challenging mountain route - the “mountain of death” - to our destination. The hotel photos are of the Quality Inn in Santa Ana just outside San Jose. It is our preferred lodging upon arrival and departure.

We have lots to share this year and so stand ready for regular postings. It is a new year and I have many tales at the ready and know I will acquire more as the days pass; plus I have the urge to write. Reader beware. Happy New Year!

“Stories have to be told or they die, and when they die, we can't remember who we are or why we're here.” 
― Sue Monk Kidd, The Secret Life of Bees




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​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ 9 JANUARY 2019
SHARING OUR DC EXPERIENCE ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​


As I mentioned in the first post of our 2019 blog, we explored a museum in DC that was amazing to us. This particular museum was opened November 18, 2017, approximately two blocks from the National Mall, and a must see. Bob and I visited the museum in the company of our Virginia friends Bob and Claudia. Claudia had toured previously with a group and suggested that we might like to visit. She was eager to return and we thought it a great idea. And so, we visited the Museum of the Bible in Washington DC.

Saturday, December 29, 2018, the sky in DC was blue sporting wispy clouds and the temps Michigan spring-like. The contrast of the impressive DC Mall and its historical architecture against that sky was inspiring and uplifting. (Inspiring, as long as one did not dwell on the cacophony of political nonsense emanating from the bowels of our Nation's capital. Consider that and all you want to do is go home, shower and become a recluse!) But I digress.


We arrived in the area early enough to avoid crowds thanks to skillful planning on the part of our hosts. It is a plus being in the company of folks familiar with the area. We parked within the perimeter and hopped on the subway system for the short ride to our prime destination, the Museum of the Bible. Fortunately, this particular DC Museum does not rely on Federal Funding. It is supported by members and donors around the globe thus unaffected by the current shutdown.

Upon entering the museum, you realize it requires more than a half-day visit to do justice to the amazing material within its walls. It is an extraordinary and moving experience as one time travels to explore the richness of our history and culture. IN GOD WE TRUST! Hopefully, a sizable majority embrace that phrase.

On our inaugural visit, our self-guided tour began on Floor Four: The History of the Bible. The number of artifacts are mind-blowing and include early New Testament writings, manuscripts gorgeously illuminated, rare Bibles and several global Bible translations. There are beautiful interactive displays. Everything in this section is so well-presented and mesmerizing. On this floor, there is a hush as you move from one section to another. There is a sense of deep reverence. It is spellbinding.

Next we visited Floor Two: The Impact of the Bible. After a walk-about on this floor, it is hard to deny the Bible as the most influential book ever written. The museum's souvenir booklet summarizes Floor Two as follows:  “The Bible has inspired philosophers and philanthropists, scientists and statesmen, artists and authors, musicians and moviemakers. Languages, names, governments, social controversies, sweeping historical movements – all have been shaped by the Bible. The Impact of the Bible Floor explores the many ways the Bible has influenced culture in America and around the world!”  This floor is loaded with excellent displays, nooks, crannies, and kiosks of inspiration shaped by the Bible. It is intriguing.

We did a very quick walk through on Floor Three: Stories of the Bible. Just enough to realize we will carve out more time on our next visit. Fortunately, we return from Costa Rica to the Northern Virginia locale near DC on March 29.  No doubt to larger crowds as it will be cherry blossom time and spring break. Doesn't matter, the Museum of the Bible is well worth a visit any time of the year.

One quick side-bar about our visit to DC. As our little group was walking and in close proximity to the museum, we stopped on a corner for a moment to get our bearings. Other pedestrians were about who seemed like regulars in the capital. One such person, a lady, was breezing by and noted our puzzlement. She asked if she could assist. We chimed that we were looking for the Museum of the Bible and knew we were close, but not positive which way to turn. The woman's demeanor changed in an instant from helpful eagerness to repulsion. She could not move away from us fast enough and as she did so she blurted out, “I don't know anything about that!” It was so disconcerting. Within the blink of an eye, a gentleman approached and asked what we were looking to find. We told him and he pointed the way. Ponder that for awhile. We sure did.

I am placing two links in this post that will take you directly to the museum's website and another link to an article in the Washington Times, November 20, 2017. I cannot imagine any visit to DC being complete without including time in the Museum of the Bible.


https://www.museumofthebible.org/museum/explore

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/nov/20/bible-museum-near-national-mall/


















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18 January 2019

If you would not be laughed at, be the first to laugh at yourself. — Benjamin Franklin

I am in the story-telling mood. I will blog about our current Costa Rica experiences as they unfold; meanwhile, read some stories meant to generate giggles. One of them actually tells the tale of a previous experience in Costa Rica.

After nearly 72 years, I have experienced my share of foibles, pratfalls, mishaps, misjudgments, misunderstanding, and misbehavior. Some because of youthful stupidity, others because of brain laziness - not to be confused with youthful stupidity, and most recently, because I am occasionally a befuddled older person. I began to write a blog post about many such mishaps from my life album. After proofing several pages of my reminiscing, I wonder why years ago concerned folks did not lock me in a room and throw away the key!

A wise person knows that oversharing is not advisable. Further, anyone writing for public consumption will instruct that editing is a writer's friend. That task resulted in the deletion of my 20th century recollections of the awkward. The 21st century was only a page and a half. To follow are two madcap experiences I cherry picked for your reading pleasure. 










In 2005, I asked Bob to teach me how to drive our farm tractor. Bob rode this tractor sixty-plus years ago as a young lad on the family farm. I gingerly climbed aboard and seated myself on the antique. It was parked on top of a hilly off-road path with obvious intent to be driven down the hill. Bob pointed out pertinent levers and pedals. I soaked up the cursory maneuvering lesson and fired up the rusty old rig. It was loud and, as instructed by Bob, I had on ear protection. I gave Old Yeller the gas and off I went; traveling too fast, downhill, and unable to properly steer.  I became a lunatic atop an older-than-dirt tractor. I battled to stay on the path to avoid our boulder border rocky gardens on one side with a faux dried stream bed and a forest of scrub brush and trees on the other. That demon tractor was holding me hostage. Who knew it could travel at such wind-breaking speeds.

As I struggled for control, I heard faint sounds akin to shouting emanating from the back of said tractor and then closer yet. Alas, I was too preoccupied careening side-to-side downhill as the old farm equipment started to make a beeline for our house.  In full panic mode, I fought with the steering wheel. It was then I had the brilliant idea of jumping off the crazed machine. I looked off the side visualizing my leap from peril, when out of the corner of my eye I caught a glimpse of Bob running alongside. Running and wildly waving his arms and obviously frantically yelling. I screamed to my beloved: “I can't hear you, ear protection, you nutcase! Help me!” Bob motioned, gestured, and pantomimed exhaustively. In the best of circumstances, I am no powerhouse at charades; but, on an uncontrollable transport device traveling at breakneck speeds, I am a total bust at the game! I hastily removed my ear protection, yelling "WHAT!" as I accidentally tossed them at Bob. Undeterred, Bob shouted two words: “CLUTCH! BRAKE!”

To this day, I do not recall any part of my tractor driving 101 lecture detailing the necessity of pressing the clutch while braking the tractor. Seriously, did Bob intentionally leave that significant bit of information out just for kicks?  Thanks to an "Aha" moment, I put the clutch in and hit the brake. I should have kept the ear protection. Bob had more than a few heated words for me, as I posed atop the beast seething, not the best conditions for amicable relations.

The tractor tango occurred during our 35th year of wedded bliss. We are now in our 49th year and I have not been seated on rusty Old Yeller since that fateful day. (Bob really did not need to ban me; as though I'd ever again want to take the helm.)

There remains only one witness to that insane afternoon. Our younger son-in-law happened to be standing on our parking pad – ringside position for viewing the free-for-all. If he were to tell the tale, he would speak of salty language and rage. He might even speak of incoherency and mannerisms befitting the crazed. Funny how people like to embellish. 

Some years later in 2012, I celebrated turning 65 by going zip lining in Costa Rica. Joining me was one of Bob's cousins who was visiting us.  No doubt recalling my past thrill seeking adventures, Bob opted to hang out at our resort lodging.   I don't get it!

It was an excellent zip line providing lots of excitement ending at a rancho overlooking the canopy. Our group of zip line enthusiasts enjoyed refreshments; and, for some, the last challenge, the Tarzan Swing.

Ah, the Tarzan Swing - a feat where one hangs on for dear life and is pushed out high above the canopy, swinging gracefully like a skillful trapeze artist. Well, some swing gracefully, others swing wildly like a rabid monkey.

Just a few of our group rose for the Tarzan Swing thrill. My adrenaline was still at full throttle; hence, I found myself securely harnessed and on the ledge primed to play Tarzan, or better yet, Jane on the loose. I'm raring to go as I chat-up the young Tico assistant, when suddenly I feel a precipitous drop in my enthusiasm. I am losing my nerve “bigly” and considering unharnessing and foregoing this final challenge. As I wrestle with the idea, I stall for time by babbling questions to the young man. When at mid-babble, I am power-pushed from the ledge. (Did I mistakenly yell "fire in the hole!")  Look, up in the sky, an old lady swinging wildly and mindlessly above a canopy.

You should see the video! Funny!  I seem to have misplaced it. As for my Tarzan moment, no words can further describe except to say it was a hot and humid day and zip line challenges are strenuous and exhausting. How else to explain why my clothes were soaked top to bottom.  

I've learned to laugh off my less than stellar moments.  It serves us well to wisely put them in perspective, shake our heads, and have a laugh.            

As Victor Hugo wrote: “Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face.”
Peg's P.S.  I'm all for soaking up the rays.

Another great literary figure wrote:  “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”  Dr. Seuss
Peg's P.S. Hopefully those choices do not turn your face a flaming red! Should that happen, do not sing the blues. Shake it off and laugh at yourself instead!









OH SNAP!  I'M A PHOTOHOLIC!


When our messy upside down world gets me discouraged, I visit my personal photo gallery on my computer. Or, I flip through old photo albums artfully displaying treasured moments. Like reading a good book, looking at your photo collection of favorite times, people, places, and things can put your mind in a wonderful comfort zone. Oh, how I love to look at my still photos and moving pictures! The photo gallery where the joys of life are permanently showcased.

I grew up around clicking and rolling cameras. My dad's parents were avid amateur photographers and videographers. Grandma Wood was artistic and Grandpa Wood loved gadgets. During the 1950's and 60's photography was a popular hobby and my grandparents enjoyed capturing life on film. Grandma had her 35MM camera ever at the ready and Grandpa his movie camera. I remember holidays when Grandpa had big lights to enhance the visuals of the festivities as he filmed. Later, we would watch those home movies in Grandpa's screening room. You had to imagine the conversations because his movie camera did not capture audio. I well-remember the marvel of his Polaroid camera.  I was amazed by that camera gadget.  In fact, I assumed Grandpa was the first amateur photographer to own a Polaroid. In reality, he was probably the first one on their block rather than the world.  I was young and impressionable.

Digital photography, computers and the like have changed our method of photo storage and viewing. I rather miss the old days when we sent the film out for developing, eagerly awaiting the results. We would receive prints or, on some occasions, slides and developed home movie film for the projector. Now, it is instant gratification in this digital hi-tech age. Of course, the internet provides ease in widespread sharing. From my perspective, that is loaded with “good news, bad news” scenarios. You know what I mean!

Regardless, captured moments in my photo gallery/albums are a marvel and a reminder to me of the goodness in life. My photo gallery is a testament to blessings from the Almighty. I photograph family, friends, celebrations, vacations, activities and all the wonder of creation that comes into my realm. It is the beauty of life captured by me. Recently I was perusing my photos. Many are downloaded on flash drives which I keep with my laptop. Oh my goodness, there are so many photos it makes me dizzy. I had forgotten some snapped moments and loved refreshing my mind.

With every excursion to Costa Rica my camera is at the ready. There are numerous scenes I tend to duplicate annually. For example, I have hundreds of Costa Rica sunsets; yet, I still cannot bring myself to say, “if you've seen one, you've seen them all!” On the other hand, some photos I know I won't be duplicating any time soon.  Those are the ones of the recent moon eclipse.  I snapped as best I could, but it was hard to steady my digital camera while zooming the lens.  

In closing, as a youngster when I caught another kid gawking at me, I'd flippantly say, “Why don't you take a picture, it lasts longer!” The truth in that innocuous statement is that a picture does last longer than a good long stare. Anyway, everyone knows “a picture is worth a thousand words.”  I am posting my eclipse photos and an early morning moon shot.  Also, enjoy a few other snaps taken in Costa Rica. 

Perhaps Burk Uzzel, a long-time American Photojournalist of some note, summarized it perfectly:

“Photography is a love affair with life.”


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3 FEBRUARY 2019
Greetings blog readers! And extra warm greetings to those who
suffered through the Polar Vortex.

Speaking of the intolerable PV; we started blogging from Costa Rica in January 2014. I reread the first post from 2014 and, guess what? I referred to the Polar Vortex in our first January 2014 post noting the chilling system was bearing down on the United States. The weather phenomenon has been around for eons, but honestly 2014 is my first memory of the term. The 2014 online media stories were replete with the horrors of that extreme weather system. January 2019 saw a repeat of the 2014 winter weather reports of the deadly Polar Vortex.

Bob and I keep up-to-date by checking weather news online and talking with our family. At present, many of you are saying good riddance to the 2019 Polar Vortex. As of 3 February, a warming trend has begun in our home state of Michigan. I dare say kids are eager to head back to school; and, probably concerned whether the school year will lengthen to make-up days.  I'm sure parents are just as happy to welcome the return of a normal routine.

Unlike my hubby, I miss Michigan winters. I miss sledding with grandkids, cross-country skiing and the stillness of winter nights. I miss the crunching sound underfoot when treading in the snow and the sound of the shovel at night or early morning clearing the walkway. I miss the very late night arrival of the snowplow tackling the accumulated snow on the driveway. I have happy childhood memories of winter fun which often included drives to Lake Michigan to scale and walk about the enormous snow-covered mounds of frozen water. However, I do not miss winter weather that brings on dangerously low wind chills. So many folks are adversely impacted by the severe cold. Over the past week, I read news accounts of people robbing others of their winter coats.

We are so glad last fall our Anglican parish in Grand Rapids initiated a winter coat drive and a mitten, hat, and winter scarf donation program. Several members participated in working bees making a large number of “no-sew” fleece blankets. Our parish is small in numbers, but managed to donate a large number of items to help keep bodies warm.

Experiencing a Polar Vortex, reminds us that many simply do not have the means to keep themselves warm in frigid elements. Knowing others are chilled to the bone, no matter the reason, is distressing. We remember winters of very cold temperatures and how quickly our bodies rejected extreme wind-chills. Worse still are those who suffer because their homes lack proper heat systems to ward against the cold. Hard to imagine. Even harder knowing our US economy is presently very good and many of us are benefiting. When winter gear hits the sale racks, why don't we all purchase a solid bit of warmth for donation? When the warm clothing gear drive hits this Fall, we'll be ready to do our part.

Meanwhile, stay warm, hearty and hopeful as seasons change.  And, for most of our readers that means Spring is on deck.  According to the annual Groundhog Shadow prediction, there will be an early Spring. Popped out of his comfy hole and did not see his shadow. Unfortunately, and I hate to even write this, others engaged in prediction by shadow sighting had a different result altogether. Near as I can tell, it's an even split, so there will either be six more weeks of real wintery weather or spring will enter early. Regardless, the wonder and eternal hope that comes with Spring and new life will happen sooner or later. You can count on that.

I'm posting some photos to warm you. Enjoy!

"The hard soil and four months of snow make the inhabitants of the northern temperate zone wiser and abler than his fellow who enjoys the fixed smile of the tropics. "
--Ralph Waldo Emerson



FEBRUARY 10, 2019 
OH HAPPY DAY , FEBRUARY 3, 2019
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On February 3, Sunday, my thoughts were about my sister Kathy, who lives in Anchorage, Alaska. (Known as the land of the midnight sun; however, since last November 30, the land of a thousand-plus tremors. Kathy reports many aftershocks subsequent to the November 2018 seven point plus earthquake!) Anyway back to the intended subject: February 3 is my sister's date of birth. Not to give away her age, but in her youth she witnessed the birth of rock and roll and the enchantment of a leg-trembling crooning guitar-playing Elvis.  He surely could rock the house.  Sort of earthquake related, don't you think?

February 3 is also the birthday of a lovely Costa Rican lady in our neighborhood of Santiago, Costa Rica. Bob and I were invited to her celebration consisting mainly of family....a BIG family. Attending a birthday party on February 3 made it easy to keep my thoughts on my sister and her special day. Kathy is the eldest of only 4 siblings and much loved by many others besides family. Our Costa Rican friend Mirna has, I believe, 11 siblings; and, we have no doubt cherished by many others beyond family. Mirna celebrated her big day with a family gathering in Santiago. My sister celebrated hers by joining several gal pals in Long Beach, Washington, for a lovely respite from Anchorage aftershocks.

The Santiago birthday was celebrated at the Rancho located near our rental in Costa Rica. The covered rancho sits on a hillside overlooking the community and we gaze at it every day from the back of our home. Mirna's husband Noel and daughters spent Saturday and early Sunday making preparations at the Rancho. I suspect the honoree did not anticipate such an elaborate 50th birthday party. 

At 3:30 p.m., loads of folks assembled at the rancho to celebrate Mirna's birthday fiesta.  Gathered were Mirna's husband, children, grandchildren, sisters, brothers, cousins, nieces, nephews, friends, and, of course, the matriarch of the clan. A very sweet lady in her eighties who looked terrific and happy surrounded by her family. We felt honored to be included in Mirna's celebration. 

The party-goers enjoyed music, prayers, games, a piñata, great food, and a mariachi band, a special surprise for Mirna. The five costumed mariachi musicians arrived singing greetings. The hillside was filled with the beautiful vocals and the gorgeous sounds of their instruments: a guitar, a guitarrón (large bass guitar), an accordion and two trumpets. We were treated to an hour of serenading with Mirna as the focus of the musical ensemble. It was great fun and a beautiful day all around. As Bob and I enjoyed Mirna being celebrated, we took the time in our hearts to also celebrate my sister Kathy. 

We send you all birthday greetings for your special day in 2019:

Never get tired of life surprises. Always have your door open for new opportunities and blessings.
May you enjoy your special day and hope everything you wish for will come true. Happiest birthday to you.

Nunca te canses de las sorpresas de la vida. Siempre ten tu puerta abierta a nuevas oportunidades y bendiciones.
Disfruta de tu día especial y espero que todo lo que deseas se haga realidad. El más feliz de los cumpleaños para ti.










6 MARCH 2019

WHAT BURNS A HOLE IN YOUR POCKET?

I am writing this on Ash Wednesday, March 6, 2019, an appropriate day to document our latest Cost Rica Story. As you read, you will figure it out. 

Before I share our latest mishap in Costa Rica, we need to review some history. A little back story helps put into perspective the notability of current events – at least for me.

We often go to the Mennonite Sunday worship service in Santiago. Our landlord, for whom we have great affection, is a Mennonite and we enjoy Sunday worship with his family and the Mennonite community. It helps that several speak English and oftentimes the lesson is translated for us. 

A few years ago, we arrived early with visiting American friends, to attend the Mennonite Sunday service. On that particular Sunday there would be a good amount of a cappella prior to the actual service and these Mennonites have beautiful vocals. Bob, not a lover of music (instrumental and/or vocal), brought his Book of Common Prayer to read in the car while waiting for the formal worship lesson to begin sans music. (I know, weird, right?)

We other three took our seats and enjoyed the vocals. During the last song, the collection box was passed. Oh gosh! I neglected to bring any moolah with me. As the little container made its way to our seats in the back, I panicked. It was silly of me, but I was determined that the collection box would not be pried from my hands until I inserted a donation. But Bob was still in the parking area in our car and he had the cash.

Seated next to my friend, I grabbed the money box and pounced abruptly from my seat while holding the container high above my head (for some strange reason). I raced from the building to the car and Bob. Yes! You are quite right. It was strange behavior. The sweet Mennonites turned to stare questioningly at my American friend, who shook her head and shrugged her shoulders. She was as puzzled as they were. On cue all stared out the windows to observe me pounding on the car window, while holding the collection container aloft. Could they possibly think I might be absconding with their funds?

Praying Bob, a man of singular focus, who concentrates himself into a zone that locks out all that surrounds him, eventually noticed my feverish appearance and rolled the window down. I said “give me your wallet now!” By now perhaps the congregation wondered if I was also attempting to pull a hold-up on my husband. Would I yank him from the car, jump in and take off with all the money? No, of course not!!! I wanted some currency to insert into the collection box which I would return with to the building and continue the collection passing process. However, at that moment, it hardly appeared that was my intention. 

Long story, somewhat shortened: I did indeed insert a donation and hastily returned to the building still holding the container high for the world to see. I was red-faced and equally confused by my peculiar behavior. A true moment of an older lady coming unglued. Not a regular occurrence in the Mennonite community. I quickly handed-off the box and it continued on its normal passing. 

Within a few moments, Bob quietly entered the building. He seemed oddly grateful his seat would not place him next to me. (In this church men sit on one side and the women on the other.) I had a feeling that come the next Sunday, I would be relegated to an area in the worship house completely off the collection box route. 

Subsequently, an embellished story of this event has been told numerous times and always evokes a few belly laughs. Now, a few years later, I am hopeful that story will be moved to the back burner, to be upstaged by another event. Read on to learn what the old gringo Bob did to take the heat off of my previous suspect behavior.

A few weeks ago on a Saturday we decided to burn our trash. In our Costa Rica neighborhood there is no weekly trash pick-up. Paper trash is burned. We do bag that which we cannot burn (plastics, tin, etc) and haul it to the big city of San Isidro for deposit. You learn how to manage mundane household chores in a foreign country.

It was a very warm, clear day and we had a full waste can. There is a make-shift stone fire pit set-up several feet from the back of the house for trash burning. Bob piled the trash in the pit and lit it up, he also added a few dead palm fronds and other dried sticks and branches to burn as well. Just in the mood to perform a bit of ground maintenance, I guess. As the fire burned down, Bob returned to the house to lounge. At some point, a wind started to kick up.

I was nervous as the fire looked to be a bit agitated by the bluster.  At my urging, Bob sauntered out to the fire pit. I suggested taking a bucket of water to dampen the area. Bob informed me it would not be necessary and I should calm down. It took but a second of his closing in on the fire pit, before Bob realized the fire was out of control. He beat it to the backyard water faucet where a hose was hooked up. He filled a bucket and hustled back to the fire pit. (Unfortunately, the hose did not have enough length to reach the pit.) Back and forth he ran while I, in full panic mode, watched in horror. 

There is no firehouse in our vicinity. There are some in Costa Rica, but certainly not close to our location. In a total state of frenzied shock, I made a frantic call to our landlord Nat. I explained with great angst we had a fire and it was out of control! Bob and I were ill-equipped to get it under control.

Ever calm and congenial Nat said “don't worry I'll call Fernando and he will come to help.” Fernando is the grounds caretaker who works for Nathanael. By the time I concluded the call, flames were shooting up the trees and rampaging through the tall grasses. 

By this time, neighbors kitty corner behind our rental house, a gravel road separates us, came running over buckets in tow to join in filling water buckets. Filling the water buckets and running to dampen the flames were two old folks (Bob and Peggy), a younger lady (maybe in 50's) and two elementary-age children. 

As we five wildly combat the flames, the affable Fernando roared up on his trusty motorbike. He is smiling! Really, I am not kidding! He is calm and within 90 minutes (though it seemed much longer) the fire was contained. Fernando knew precisely how to manage this out-of-control fire and his expertise was something to behold.  Although Bob and I looked like we would keel over any moment, we and our helpers continued to do our part as best we could. 

Let me add a bit more context to the story. Bob is 74, has a heart condition, and takes meds that affect his ability to keep his breathing under control in rapid fire situations. (Pun intended.) Hustling quickly in frenzied activity is no longer easy for Bob. I am 72 and not known for being cool, calm, and collected under duress. Further complicating the situation was my sudden inability to recall much of my Spanish vocabulary. I babbled non-stop while hauling buckets of water. I recall repeating the following like a mantra: “mas agua” more water, “lo siento” Sorry, “Fuego” fire, “malo” bad, and “Oremos” we pray. I've no doubt I threw in other Spanish which probably had no direct relationship to the current situation. I do recall telling my husband to move faster as I handed off a full bucket – poor Bob. None of our 4 helpers spoke any English, but an out of control fire tends to breakdown language barriers.

As Fernando managed the last bit of embers, our sweet neighbors motioned us to sit, take deep breaths, while they spoke in soothing Spanish; obviously, intended to evoke calmness and serenity. Once I settled a bit, I called a bilingual friend who spoke with the lady. It turns out that she is the grandmother to the two children. The children, an angelic little 9 year old girl named Dairyn and her younger brother Anderson, we knew from January when they came to our door to welcome us. Really the most precious young people. Our friend translated for us that the grandmother and the children thought Bob and I were going to have heart attacks. They were trying to assure us that everything was under control. Gives you a good idea of what we must have looked like during this traumatic experience. Once again, the Ticos demonstrate why we love these folks so much.

These types of fires are not that uncommon in the local area. We do see lots of fires in the Sugar Cane fields as we gaze into the valley from our terrace. Also, Ticos tend to burn scrub brush and the like to get after insects and other nasty little pests. In turn, the Ticos are experienced at dousing grass fires (which in our case included some scrub brush and minor-league trees). However, to the two gringos, it was a nightmare scenario. 

We learned that the fire would not have jumped the road, and it was burning in a path direct to the river behind the house. It would not become the inferno I envisioned. It came very close to burning a fence which surrounds a pasture for our neighboring cows. However, our hero Fernando beat it back. He was terrific.

Funny enough, we recently purchased a water hose and hooked it up out front to wash our car and water plants. The morning of our afternoon fire I moved the hose to the back yard to hose down some throw rugs. Thank goodness for that – a little Divine Providence at work. Subsequently, we now have two hoses and whenever we burn trash, the hoses are hooked up and positioned close to the fire pit. Also, I've requested Bob not to burn anything other than paper. No more burning of dead branches and palm fronds. And, if it is windy out, there is no trash burning by the gringos! 

So as we observe ASH Wednesday, I can report it is well with us.  Despite the scorched ground laden with ashes behind the house, we feel certain by Easter that portion of land will be resurrected with new growth.   Keep the faith and rejoice because Spring is just around the corner. Have a blessed Lenten Season.



10 MARCH 2019
BEACH DAY - PLAYA VENTANAS
Photos
    This year, Bob and I made our first coast outing last week.  Specifically March 7,  as a result of a charming couple who overnighted with us at the casa on March 6.  On the 7th, we drove our new friends to San Isidro de del General to snag the bus to San Jose and their return to the U.S.  Shortly before departing our house, our guests realized they still had the key to a lodge they stayed at on the Pacific Coast.  It was a key with a remote and we all knew the lodge owner would want it returned asap.  Bob and I offered to return it.  Once we deposited Rick and Brigitte at the bus station to begin their journey back to Sandpointe, Idaho, we headed for the Pacific.

    So it was that our first stop on the coast was Matapolo.  We delievered  the key remote to Mi Vida Lodge where our guests had stayed.  The lodge is situated by the pristine beach of Playa Matapolo - a hidden gem.  Rick and Brigitte had high praise for the lodge and the owners, a lady from Germany and her gentleman partner  from Costa Rica.  Mi Vida Lodge is a well-cared for resort property.  The grounds are lovely.  The airconditioned  rooms are clean, functional and furnished with comfortable beds. English is spoken by the owner as well as German and Spanish.  If you are curious, below is a trip advisor link with lots of details.  

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g1483712-d8099500-Reviews-Mi_Vida_Lodge-Playa_Matapalo_Province_of_Puntarenas.html

    After Matapolo, we drove south along the coast to our favorite beach Playa Ventanas (Beach Windows).   The nearby community of Ojochal has given a great deal of attention to Playa Ventanas.

https://www.osatropicalproperties.com/discover-costa-ballena/things-to-do-in-and-around-ojochal-in-2019/
https://www.villasriomar.com/dominical-uvita/blog/5-awesome-beaches-costa-ballena-costa-rica/

    We heard tales about unattended cars being ramsacked by petty thieves, while owners enjoyed the sand and surf in Costa Rica.  At Playa Ventanas, Ojochal provides secured, guarded parking for a small fee.   When we visited Playa Ventanas in previous years, outside of the secured parking, the beach had limited amenities.   Today, Playa Ventanas is teeming with beach themed kiosks.  The vendors rent chairs, canopies, floats, and sell clothing, food/beverages; and, the best part is beach goers are not hassled.  Playa Ventanas has evolved into quite a lively, colorful beach. 

      When Bob and I visit Playa Ventanas, we place our beach chairs under the coconut palms.  We lounge, read, and people watch.  I walk the beach, do a bit of surf wading, and take photos.  We delight in the sand, surf, and the ventanas (windows).  During low tide, these rock outcroppings are tunnels to the ocean.  During high tide, the waves roar and rampage through the tunnels splashing onto a section of beach.  Playa Ventanas is a fun beach outing on the Pacific.  From our location in Santiago, Playa Ventanas is just under two hours.  It is a very pleasant drive with lovely scenery.                           Dance with the waves.
Move with the sea.
Let the rhythm of the water
set your soul free.
Author:  Christy Ann Martine