Saturday, November 24, 2012

Our First Thanksgiving in Costa Rica!

We wish we had pictures of Thanksgiving but our camera was in the car!! DAH!!!  I was hoping some of the other people there would post on FB and I could snatch some photos but, so far, no luck.  We've filling in with the beautiful sunset that we came home to after eating way too much!

Yesterday, I wrote this page and realized, after I had spent lots of time working on the blog, I had run out of minutes on my internet data stick and couldn't "Save" or "Post"!! goes once again.  

When we arrived at the development where Thanksgiving was being held, we met Captain Jack who, upon learning that we were planning to build, took us to his casa or should I say compound.  He has one finished, remodeled Tico house and is in the process of building 2 more houses on the side of this very steep hill.  House #2 at this point consists of a two story cement block wall which, hopefully, is holding back the side of the hill!  The houses were only a small part of this very unique compound.  Also being created is a Botanical Garden and Amphitheater on the side of this hill which used to be a coffee finca.  We climbed to the top along walkways and by beautiful flowers and plants to where the amphitheater was and marveled at the view and the entire creation we were visiting!

Back to the gathering people were eating and we quickly joined in.  We were delighted to discover that there are some very talented cooks in the group and we truly enjoyed turkey, chicken, dressing, cranberry salad, potatoes, vegetables, mango pie (to die for), chocolate cake and numerous other dishes that we had no room to sample and some we couldn't name.

It was a wonderful opportunity to meet new people and we are very grateful to our friends in Berlin, Barbara and Douglas, who gave us a ride to the celebration with our rotisserie chicken.  Somehow, getting there on the bus seemed like a daunting task!  We met a couple, Skip & Donna Anderton, who are also new coffee farmers and enjoyed chatting about coffee.  Yeatmans, Paul & Gloria, were there.  They are the couple who met us at the airport and Dean, another new friend we met in San Ramon, was there but his wife, Randi was home with the flu and hopefully recovering.  We met many more but you know how the memory goes.......

While in San Ramon last week wandering around we discovered an "art show" along the side of the road.  Someone had even drawn Ronald McDonald!  One of the artist was named Roy and we've seen his work in other parts of San Ramon.  This portrait above is one of his which he signed and included his web site looking for work.
I'm the one standing next to Ronald in case you were wondering!!
This is only one of the walls on this street covered with art.  They went on and on!
We cannot believe how many bananas grow on one shoot!!  We are banana rich!! Roberto trimmed off all the dead leaves so the bananas are much easier to see!!  Thank you Roberto!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

House for Sale!

Today's post is to help a friend sell her home here in Berlin.  Sherry lost her husband in a motor cycle accident just a few days before we arrived.  She is now trying to sell her home.  The home is similar to what we are hoping to build and she also has some coffee plants.  The acreage is smaller than ours and in beautiful condition.  We are able to see her entry gate from our building site and can walk there in a few minutes!  Pass the information along.  Although we will miss having her as our neighbor, we want to help her out at this difficult time.

Living the Dream RealtySan Ramon O.V. Home 3/2, Guest house,coffee farm.Living the Dream Realty

Type: O.V. Home
Location: Berlin- San Ramon
Size: 2000 sf. Home & 900 sf. Guest house on 3 Acres.
Price: $265,000.Reduced,NOW $240,000.
Property Code: 217
Full Description:2000ft home, 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom, over 1200 ft- covered balcony, 2 car garage with storage room. Built to seismic standards (2007)  (concrete and rebar). Fine finishing throughout - American standards,  Laurel wood ceilings inside and outside, Marble-granite counter tops,  ceramic tile throughout, Stainless steel gas-electric appliances.
Guest House, 900 sq ft, 1 bedroom, 1 bath , Living room and dinning  room, Counter top gas stove, has same finishing as Main  Residence.
Includes-Fridge, Gas stove, washer- dryer - some appliances still under  warranty!  Almost completely furnished with Guanacaste & Cenizaro furniture.
 Private road, secure location, Property is fenced and  gated with security door, Hectare of fertile land with  already producing coffee farm, chicken coop, horse shelter, All types of fruit producing trees, bananas, plantains, sweet lemon, limes, oranges, mandarin oranges, mangoes and 2 avocado trees, Professionally  landscaped, palms and other types of fauna.
 Land-home is titled, free and clear and in a S.A. corporation, for easy transfer,
Property taxes are up-to-date and approximately  $200/year.

Living the Dream Realty
Living the Dream Realty
Sorry the photos are such a scattered mess. They wouldn't go where I asked them to. :)
Living the Dream RealtyLiving the Dream RealtyLiving the Dream Realty
Living the Dream Realty
Living the Dream Realty
Living the Dream RealtyLiving the Dream RealtyLiving the Dream RealtyLiving the Dream Realty

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Update on the Property & the BANANAS!

This beautiful view from our rental is so spectacular and our property has an even closer view, wow! Yesterday was the clearest I've ever seen the ocean.  Can you see the boats!
These weeds were all cut down and burned the last time we were here in February of 2011! They are so tall and so invasive that getting rid of them will be the first job our our coffee worker, Roberto!  We are told that we need to cut them down, spray with something that will kill them and then plant a special grass that doesn't grow very tall but has very deep roots.  These weeds are around the area we have leveled for our house and the new grass will help with erosion.  
Look!  We really do have bananas!!  We can hardly wait to chop them down and eat them! Each time we go to the property they are getting bigger.  It is so interesting how quickly they seem to grow, and on that note I am going to bed!  It is now 8:50 p.m. and past my bed time!!  Boy has our life changed!!   Chow!

Tamales at Flor's!

We've talked about Flor and her Soda and here it is.  As you approach at night it is all lit up and ready for customers.  Walk down a few cement steps and you are there.
Flor is the pretty lady on the left with the big smile.  The young woman in the center is her daughter, Elizabeth.  Of course you know who the person on the right is with the warm sweater on!!

Here they are making the most wonderful Cerviche!  It is made in a 5 gallon bucket with -Fish, Lemon Juice,  Ginger Ale, Salt and Sugar!!  Amazing!!

Now it's time to start making Tamales!!  We arrived about 5:30 p.m. and Flor and Elizabeth were already busy making up the ingredients required. Flor was stirring a huge bucket of corn meal mush on the stove and Elizabeth was chopping peppers, carrots and meat, all of which was specially prepared and cooked.  There was rice and lots of banana leaves too.  

The Tamales start with 2 pieces of banana leaves, 3 scoops of mush, 1 T. rice, 1 carrot and either chicken or pork.  Elizabeth wrapped them up and started a pile that grew to about 50 or 60 Tamales.

Now it's my turn!

Whoops! We ran out of banana leaves!  No problem for Flor!  She zips by us with her machete and comes back with a bunch of banana leaves.  Next, she starts a small fire next to the soda and waves the leaves over the flames.  Once she is finished we tear the leaves off the stem, wash them and start making moreTamales.

The last step to the process is to put two of the tamales together and tie them with a string she has created from an onion bag!!  And I thought I was thrifty!  
It was a fun night and a great way to celebrate hiring Roberto, our new coffee worker, who is Elizabeth's husband.  We were sent home with lots of tamales and had them for dinner the next night. They were wonderful!

Visitors to the Casa!

Thursday on our trip to San Ramon to finally open our bank account, we met Arden and Mei  who had been on a tour of Costa Rica with a group of people interested in possibly moving here. By the way, we opened our account and received our debit cards!!  YEAH!  Back to Arden and Mei!  We chatted over coffee at La Duquesa where we ran into them and, of course, told them how beautiful Berlin is.  Before we parted we had made plans for them to come visit and see our beautiful vista!  It was a fun day including a trip to Palmares and lunch.

Our other visitor was four legged!  There seems to be a weak spot in the fence and Momma Cow decided the grass was greener on the other side!  Earlier today the Calf trotted by our window headed up the road.  I ran after him and stomped on his rope and Don lead him back to where he belongs.  With a little effort, Don patched the hole in the fence, at least for awhile!

Look What We See!

We wanted to share some of the beautiful views we see every day out our front window!  It is never the same and even when socked in with fog is beautiful.  The other nigh, while walking home, we tried to get photos of all the lights of the towns we see off in the distance among the hills.  Unfortunately, our little camera just didn't do the trick

Well, the Roses are officially Coffee Farmers!  As of Friday last week we even have an employee.  We hired Roberto to work our coffee and teach us how to work it as well.  He was highly recommended by an Expat we know here and the Tico who works for him.  Since hiring him, we have only heard good things and look forward to learning enough Spanish that we are able to communicate without a translator.  Roberto is very patient with us and works very hard to understand what the heck we are trying to tell him.  Tomorrow we are going to San Ramon to sign him up for CAJA (Medical Insurance) and INS (Like Workmen's Comp) which we have to pay.  We are also hoping to sign ourselves up at CAJA and make a visit to ICE (Costa Rica's Government Electricity) to take one of the many steps to getting our electricity problems worked out.

Last week we had our first visitor.  There was a small knock on the door and when we opened it Flor was standing there with a big smile and a hug!  We have know Flor ever since staying here with Danilo and Maria in 2011.   Flor has a Soda, a small restaurant usually part of someone's home.  She also cleans at the local School.  The reason I am telling you about Flor and her visit is because she had a very specific purpose in visiting.  As usual, the Roses didn't have a clue because our Spanish is still very lacking.  While in the process of interviewing Roberot (with a translator) we realized that Flor had come to tell us that the man we were thinking of hiring was her son-in-law and sheweanted to put in a good word for him!!  We were thrilled as we adore Flor. Now the tell us we are family!  Don loves it because Flor feeds him every time he stops by the Soda!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A Walk to the Finca

This afternoon we walked to the Cafe Finca (our property) as it is picking season and there is lots of activity along the road.  People were dropping their coffee at the Receivers where they it is weighed and graded.   Just as we were about to turn down our road we saw this group of pickers using a horse to transport the coffee.  

While at the Finca we discovered that a couple of our banana trees are producing bananas!   YEAH!  I can hardly wait to pick and eat them!  If you look carefully you can see the rather graphic growth that is sprouting out.  This growth is where the bananas will start to grow.  Each time we go by we will up date you on the progress of our first bananas!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Look, Don's Milking the Cow!

Early this morning we followed Marcella, Rosalin, Luis,  Alis,  and his friend to the "barn" to milk the cow.  As you can see, Don sat right down and started to milk and seemed to be enjoying the whole experience.  Marcella is looking on with a grin on her face because Don's efforts are producing a small stream of milk!

Rosalin, Marcella's Mother, is the super milker of the family and the one who usually does the job.
She is a two fisted  milker who can fill a 5 gallon plastic container in no time!  We are very impressed and love their sense of humor.  They truly enjoyed  watching Don milk, as did I.Marcella's Son,  Alis, was busy playing computer games on the phone with his friend. He is very sweet and later in the day while I was Skyping with my friend Ginny, he came by with this beautify Hydrangea!

Finally, when the humans have most of the milk the little calf gets to have some breakfast.  Roselin says that in 4 days the calf will be out in the pasture eating grass!Locked out for the day!

The Coffee Finca!

One quick view on the way to the coffee finca.  We have made a number of trips to the coffee since arriving and the views along the way are as breathtaking as they are from our property.  

Norm and Collie Bonin, who have lived in Berlin for 4 years, have been a wealth of information for us and we are grateful for their friendship.  They have some coffee plants with a partner that are being worked by Mario.  Mario is also their gardener and we asked if he would take a look at our coffee and let us know where we stand and what needs to be done.  Our friend Danilo, who sold us the property, has been taking care of our plants for us and we are very grateful to him.  However, with the language difficulties talking to Mario with Norm's help was easier than talking to Danilo at the time.  We are planning a meeting for this Tuesday with Danilo and Josee (translator and friend) to talk coffee and future plans!  

Norm came along to translate on Wednesday, the 7th of November @ 6:30 a.m. and we were very impressed with Mario and the information he had to offer.  Not only about our coffee, which he says is "Bueno, but needs work", but about what to do with other parts of our property to prevent erosion and numerous other suggestions and tips.  It was a good experience and we are looking forward to learning about being coffee farmers!

This meeting also made us realize that we need to be shopping for a truck, not a car.  So.... we are now looking for a good work truck.  Jorge tells us that the truck of choice in Costa Rica is the Toyota Hilox which is not available in the States.  It is similar to the Toyota Land Cruiser found in the U.S. but has added heavy suspension, bigger engine and gated flatbed. Jorge, a Tico friend of Norms, and an automobile mechanic, has been a wonderful resource and very patient with our changing needs.  His wife, Grettel, teaches Spanish in their home near Jorge's shop and we are seriously considering lessons!

Isn't our coffee beautiful!
Just a note!  As I am writing this blog it is pouring outside and Don and I have to speak loudly to hear each other over the noise on the roof.  Our doors and windows are all open and people walk by with umbrellas.  Amazing!