23 1 / 2012

Today we had the chance to visit SIBU, a sanctuary that rescues injured, orphaned, and displaced wild animals.  They provide them with medical care, rehabilitation, and eventual release into the wild. 

The bulk of the animals that they care for are howler monkeys.  Unfortunately, there’s an issue with many power lines in Nosara not being insulated.  Monkeys end up electrocuted, and in many cases, this results in baby monkeys being orphaned.  For a donation of $50 per person, they allow visitors to spend a few minutes with the monkeys. Ryan and I saw gorillas and chimpanzees in their natural habitat last year in Uganda, (and we see monkeys in the trees around the house every day) but neither of us have ever held a monkey, so we were pretty excited to visit SIBU.

Steve and Vicki Coan and her partner have dedicated their lives to this work over the last few years.  When we entered the sanctuary, it was amazing to see all of the monkeys run and jump on top of Vicki.  She must have had 5 monkeys on her shoulders.  They definitely see her as their mama!

It was really an incredible experience to spend time with these little guys.  They were so smart (and curious!  They loved having their photo taken and then looking at the image on the back of the camera.  I’m not sure if they recognized themselves but it was really interesting to see).  I can see why Vicki and Steve are so passionate about this cause.  You can read more about the refuge here: http://www.nosarawildlife.com/

We’ll definitely be visiting a few more times while we’re here.

23 1 / 2012

Today we took a trek to a nearby waterfall.  It’s a 20 minute hike from Nosara village.

When we arrived, we thought the first waterfall was the extent of it.  I went swimming in the water at the base of the falls.  It was freezing and very deep! 

We then climbed further up the falls and it went on forever, with pools that you could sit in every couple of feet.  I left my camera at the base of the falls- next time we go, I’ll bring it up with me to get more photos. 

The photo below with Karim standing under the falls was my favourite part- there were rocks just behind the falls that you could balance on and let the water fall on your head. 

After the hike, we stopped to visit a local organic farmer and have some lunch.  She moved here from Hawaii (not a bad life) and now makes her living growing organic veggies and selling them to local customers and at the organic market on Tuesdays.  The food was so delicious.  We will definitely be buying some veggies from her next week!

10 1 / 2012

Today, Janelle and I went stand up paddle boarding for the first time! 

Stand up paddle boards are generally 9-12 feet long and wider than a regular surfboard.  For our first attempt, we decided to try the Nosara river at low tide.  The river was nice and calm, (but looked a bit murky- we were a bit scared to fall in.) 

We started on our knees and quickly progressed to standing up.  It was a lot easier than we thought it would be!  We paddled through the mangrove forest (amazing) and came out onto Nosara beach.  The only way to get to Nosara beach is through the river, so the beach was completely empty, other than a few other paddle boarders who were riding the waves in the ocean. 

The afternoon would have been a lot less relaxing if we’d known that there were crocodiles in the water… Janelle saw a few in the river after we’d gotten out. 

Next week I’m going to try SUP’ing in the ocean!

09 1 / 2012

We’ve been waiting all month for the turtles to start hatching. The area that we live in is a protected nature reserve because the Olive Ridley turtles lay their eggs on Ostional beach year round. 

During the dry season, over 10,000 turtles will come ashore to lay their eggs. In the rainy season (starting in June)- the number can go up to 100,000 turtles. (The largest number of turtles recorded on shore at once was in November 1995- when 500,000 females came ashore!)

It’s really incredible to see the babies hatching… they crawl out of small holes in the ground and immediately start scrambling towards the ocean.  Some were incredibly fast, and others took a really long time.  (We watched one little guy take half an hour to get to the ocean.)

This is my second time watching the turtles hatch- hopefully within the next few months, we’ll get the chance to watch the turtles come onto shore to lay their eggs (called “arribada” which means arrival).

01 1 / 2012

Happy New Year everyone!

Sorry I haven’t been posting as much.  About 4 days ago, I was making breakfast and I stabbed my finger with the knife.  I hit a vein and my finger was swollen and purple.  Ryan made me go to the doctor and she told me to keep it out of the water for the next week, so I’ve been laying low.

We took a trip to Nicoya a few days ago to buy a bunch of supplies for the house- toys for the pool and some material to make slipcovers for all of the outdoor cushions and pillows.  Ryan spent the last few days hand sewing everything and they look amazing.  (I wish I could say that I helped, but I’m terrible at sewing and spent most of that time drinking pina coladas in my new “pool chair”- it has a cup holder!)  Yes, life is rough!

We had a pretty low key New Years Eve, we met up with some people at the new local pizzeria for some dinner and then headed to the Black Sheep.  It’s a pub about 15 minutes from our place.  It’s pretty high up in the mountains and I’ve heard that the views are amazing- (we couldn’t see much, since it was dark out when we arrived, but it was still a pretty cool spot).  After that, we went by Kaya Sol- a local restaurant- to check out a friend’s band, and then we headed home.  We were home by 10:30 and exhausted!  We’re not used to staying up late since we get up at 6am every day.  It’s pretty sad, but we actually did our countdown at 11pm (12pm Toronto time with the time difference).  We did the countdown while taking a swim in the pool and then went to bed early.  It was perfect.

This morning, we went for our usual morning walk on the beach.  About halfway down the beach, a dog came out of nowhere and bit Berkeley on the butt.  I could tell right away that it was pretty bad, and when we got close to him we could see a giant gash.  We spent the whole day today trying to get in touch with the local vets and doctors to see if someone could do stitches for him, but haven’t had any luck.  Sarah, who runs the local Animal Care Shelter came by the house and flushed out the cut, dressed it, and gave us some antibiotics.  It looks like we’ll have to wait until everything opens up tomorrow.  Poor little guy. He seems to be in good spirits though. 

We got a sign for the front of the house that says “dangerous dogs” in Spanish with an illustration of a rough looking dog on it.  It’s pretty funny.  I don’t think Berkeley would scare anyone who saw him, so hopefully no one gets beyond the sign.

Anyway, I hope you all had a fantastic New Year’s Eve, and that this year is full of wonderful things for all of you.  My resolution, (in addition to learning to surf and to speak Spanish) is to write more, and to post some photos soon!

In the meantime, here’s a nice long video of the sunset, taken at the beach right by our house.  Pour yourself a nice drink and pretend you’re here!  (Then, once it’s done, book your ticket to come visit us already!)

25 12 / 2011

We moved into our long term place a few days ago and it’s amazing!  We spent Friday unpacking and have just relaxed the last few days with some Christmas cocktails in the pool.

I got Ryan a gopro camera for Christmas and he created this video tour of our place today.  Hope you all come down soon to enjoy it in person!

20 12 / 2011

It’s been a great week. 

We took a day trip to Samara a couple of days ago in the Suzuki and it did well.  The GPS kept taking us on these really weird off-road routes (“in 800 metres, turn onto unpaved road!”)  We went through a couple of rivers and it handled everything easily.  There were a couple of parts of the trip that were amazing- at one point Ryan was outside the car changing the wheels into 4 wheel drive mode and we were parked beside a meadow that was full of butterflies.  It was so beautiful.  Later, we were driving along and a gigantic Iguana ran like a maniac across the street in front of us. 

Samara is really cool.  It’s a bit touristy- but the beach is gorgeous with lots of palm trees for shade and small waves that are great for swimming.  (I’ll post some photos soon!)

We had to take Berkeley to the vet yesterday.  He’s been getting sick in the middle of the night… every night.  It’s pretty annoying- and weird, because he seems to be fine during the day.  The vet clinic is a 10 minute drive from our place.  The vet was so nice but she hardly spoke any English.  Her assistant spoke some English, but his translations were not quite right sometimes, which ended up being funny.  They took a blood and stool test (all right on the spot, which was nice) and announced that there’s nothing wrong with him.  They thought the late night episodes were a result of him being “spoiled!”  Basically he’s having separation anxiety at night.  We left the bedroom door open last night and he slept through the night with no issues.  He must still be traumatized from the flight!

Berkeley has actually become kind of famous here.  The surf photographers love him and have been featuring him on their site almost every day.  We’ll walk down the beach and people will yell “hey, it’s the famous dog we saw online!”  Everyone’s been asking where we get his hair cut.  I think Ryan’s going to end up with a little dog grooming business here in Nosara!

I made a mistake on our move in date, and we don’t move into our long term place until Friday.  We’re so excited to get settled in! 

11 12 / 2011

It’s been a really chilled couple of days.

We’ve gotten into the groove of cooking our meals- eggs for breakfast and lean meats and veggies for lunch and dinner.  I always cooked healthy food in Toronto, but for some reason it’s different here.  There’s more of a ritual around preparing food and eating.  All of the vegetables are so fresh.  The meat tastes different too.  I think it’s the fact that it’s produced on a much smaller scale- not pumped full of antibiotics and preservatives. 

There’s an organic market here every Tuesday and we’ve learned of a good spot to get freshly caught fish in the morning, which I’m sure will become part of our daily routine. 

Yesterday Ryan was tinkering around with the truck, so I lied on our back porch and read.  I’ve always loved reading, but for the last year I’ve had a bit of ADD.  I would start reading a book and my mind would wander and I’d have to put it down.  Berkeley and I lied outside for the entire afternoon.  I read two books and was starting on a third when Ryan got back from the garage.

He rented a couple of boards for us from Steve at Coconut Harry’s.  Mine is a NSP 7’6 surf betty and I’m in love with it.  It’s really light- easy to carry, and easy to get out into the waves.  In the past, I’ve always used heavier/longer boards and I’d be exhausted and beat up by the time I got out to a place where I could catch a wave.  This board is like having a long boogie board- it so fun to float out into the ocean and it flies on the waves.  Ryan rented a long board and was loving it.  We were having a blast.  I’m definitely going to buy it (I just know it’s the one for me), and I’m pretty sure Ryan will buy his too.  I can’t wait to go out again tomorrow.

We’ve lined up a local surf instructor for weekly lessons- he’s ranked #2 in Costa Rica for long boarding.  He was ranked as a short board surfer before that.  We’re so excited to start getting our butts kicked next week. 

We don’t have anything too big planned for the next couple of days.  Cooking, eating, surfing, reading, bumping around in our Tonka Truck, watching the sunset and catching some live music at night.  I’m so grateful to be here- it really is heaven on earth.

09 12 / 2011

Before we left, we researched the process of buying a car for at least a month.  Ryan picked out about 30 cars online and we lined up a Spanish speaking mechanic to drive around with us to check them out.  We read all kinds of horror stories about gringos being duped into buying stolen cars or odometers that had been changed and we were prepared for weeks of car hunting hell. 

Having the car fall into our lap last week felt like a miracle.  The actual process of changing the title of the car into our name went surprisingly smoothly too.  

We made an appointment with Michael’s lawyer, who has an office right in Nosara, and sat with him for about 30 minutes while he punched our information into his computer.  His assistant took a photocopy of Ryan’s passport, we handed the cash to Michael, and we were pretty much done. 

We needed to pay our insurance for the year (about $100), so we headed to the bank.  Ryan handed over the paperwork we’d received at the lawyer, paid the fee, and we left with a sticker that gets placed in the front dash for the next year.  The only thing left is for us to get a test done in January (it’s basically an emissions test, and they make sure that it’s in decent running order).  That needs to be done every year. 

With the paperwork over with, it was time to start the big “clean up”.  Anyone who knows Ryan can attest to the fact that he likes his ‘things’ to be as perfect as they can be.  So, he had a couple of days of scrubbing, putting a new stereo in, getting the fluids changed/ filled up, and picking old leaves out of the grill with tweezers. 

When he gets into this kind of mode, it’s best for me to just steer clear and let him do his thing.  I grabbed one of the small rafts we brought and floated around in Joie and Michaels pool, listening to some Kings of Convenience and staring up at the birds and animals in the trees.

The car looks fantastic.  It’s like a cute little Tonka Truck.  The new stereo is amazing.  There are some funny things about it - like the giant dent in the hood where a coconut landed, or the fact that the passenger door sometimes locks unexpectedly and the only way to get out is for the driver to get out and unlock it with the key.  I think all of the little funny things add character.

It really is the perfect car to have here.  I’m excited to learn to drive standard again.  I think we’ll start lessons up next week.

07 12 / 2011

We’re starting to settle into a routine now, which is really nice.  We wake up relatively early in the morning, make some coffee and head down to the beach for our ‘morning walk’.  We try to head out before 8am because the sun gets hot really fast, and there isn’t a lot of shade on Guiones beach.

If we walk south, we pass all of the surf schools, which can be pretty entertaining.  Each school has about 10-15 students, who are either hopping up and down and pretending to surf on the sand, or floating in one giant mass in the middle of the ocean together on their boards.  Each of the surf schools has a “photographer” who captures the beginners wobbling around and falling off their boards. 

The south end of Guiones beach is practically empty, and is the area where we’ll be surfing for the time being as I have zero interest in having my photo taken while doing multiple face plants into the water.  At the end of Guiones, there’s a small path that you can walk through to get to Pelada. 

Pelada is my favourite beach.  It’s practically empty.  There are huge rock formations in the ocean and when the tide is low, it creates pools of warm water that you can sit in.  The waves crash against the rocks, spraying everywhere.  It’s really beautiful.  The other thing that’s amazing about Pelada is the pelicans!  I love watching them swoop overhead and then dive into the water.  You can float out into the ocean on your boogie board and they’ll fly directly over your head. It’s pretty amazing.

After we get back from the beach, we make breakfast and I do my “Spanish homework.”  I’m trying to memorize one page of words every day.  So far, I know many different ways of saying “I’m lost”, and “I don’t understand you.”  Hopefully by the end of the week, I’ll have moved on to some basic conversation.

After that, it’s Internet time at the Iguana, followed by more beach time.  I could get used to this.