Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A Little Bit of Progress!

As many of you know, we have made a number of trips to ICE in our efforts to have power brought to our property.  After delivering many documents and making a number of trips to Palmares and Sann Ramon, we have learned that our "Public Road" is not considered "Public" by ICE.  What this means is that we need to find a private electricion who is ICE qualified to put the power not only down the "Public Road" but also to our house.  We are now in the process of getting bids, we think.

These letters arrived from ICE today!  Even in English it's not easy to know what we are supposed to do next:  Sorry, couldn't find a way to attach the letter so you will just have to use our imagination.

Don & I have been busy working on the tentative plans for our "Barn/Garage" and House.

The drawing above is the basics of our house.  The 3 rental rooms are on the right with private baths.  The attachment at the bottom right is the "Barn/Garage" and is shown in more detail below.  The outline in red is our bedroom.  The main house is marked in black with the Terraza around the outside is outlined in blue.  As it is difficult to see I will try to explain what is going on.  The kitchen is on the lower left part with the laundry and pantry along the side.  The dining room is directly above the kitchen at the top of the page and the rest is living room.  The main entrance is just to the right of the pantry and as you go in and to the right there stairs going up to our bedroom.  The other stairs which are visible are outside along the side of the house and go to the "Barn/Garage" upstairs.

This drawing represents the outside view of the "Barn/Garage" facing the road and driveway.  It consists of a 2 car garage, workshop and studio with kitchenette and 1/2 bath upstairs.


Here is a view of the stairs that run along the house up to the studio above the garage.  The three Coupolas are over each of the rental rooms and will provide ventilation.  The stairs are covered to make travel in the rainy season possible without getting wet!

Now that we have shared our ideas it needs to be said that we have not talked with the Architect!  Once that happens we may discover that our designs are not possible or are going to cost more than we can afford.  It's fun to dream for awhle.  We hope to get with the Architect sometime this week.

Today Don and Roberto are in Palmares talking with one of the argicultural groups that offers help to coffee growers.   The coops where items for farming are purchased are also helpful and a wonderful resource.  The only downside is that we are not fluent in Spanish!

Speaking of Spanish, I have been taking lessons every Friday.  Now that I am not picking coffee, I ride or drive (I'm practicing) to the finca and walk home studying my Spanish lessons.  It is mostly up hill which also gives me at least one dose of exercise a day.


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Planting and Drying

We are starting our post today with a photo of some of the incredible Bougenvelia that are currently in full bloom.  The colors range from purple, to pink, to red or orange with just about everything inbetween.

While Don and Roberto have been pruning the coffee plants and just cleaning up debris, I've been picking coffee and love doing it.  I get to be outside, which is such a treat after 9 years sitting at a sewing machine--which I also loved and miss terribly!  Anywa,y I've picked so much coffee we have it drying everywhere:  here in the cistern, on our septic tank and piazza at the casa and even in the casa.  Once it is dried we will take it to a Tico near our property who processes and roasts the berries.  Then....we will have our own coffee to drink and share with friends and family!

This is also a phto of the cistern which is now completely covered with coffee!

Remember the Yucca we saw on our adventure?  Well, these are the sticks we were given to plant.  Don is recutting them so they can soak in the bucket of water for a couple hours while we dig holes.  He is cutting the Yucca on the side of the old cistern where our coffee is drying.

The Yucca soaks.

Here we are planting on the side of a hill next to the cistern and the road to our property.  It was real fun digging and planting while trying not to slide down the hill!  We are told that it takes 3 months to grow Yucca so we will keep you posted!

Although I don't have a photo to post, we have another bunch of bananas starting to grow.  The others are still not ready to pick!  Darn!!  Hopefully soon.  We've been picking lots of oranges both sour and sweet.  We give the sour away because I'm not motivated to squeeze them, add sugar (lots) and water to make fresca.  People here seem to love them and make fresca (fruit drink) out of everything.  We actually prefer eating the wonderful fruit!

I'm going to end this post with a video of one of our spectacular sunsets which are the norm not the exception!  Pura Vida!!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Visitors from North Carolina, Yahoo!

Steve and Jennifer came for a quick visit one afternoon while vacationing in Costa Rica.  They had been exploring areas nearer the Pacific as possible places for retirement and stopped by Berlin on their way back to San Jose and the airport.

Jennifer and Steve are pretty good at keeping up with our blog and after all the experience we've had with making and eating tamales we decided to make them a Costa Rican lunch including tamales, choyote (not sure of the spelling), coffee, of course, and papaya for desert!

After eating lots of local fare we headed to the finca to introduce them to coffee farming.  We started with the view about where our house is to be built!

Then we headed for the coffee and lots of discussion and tasting and just looking around.  The visit was way too short and before we knew it, it was time for Steve and Jennifer to head to the airport and back to the states.  We loved having them visit if only for a short while and hope they come back when we have a place for them to stay and more time to chat.  l

A Birthday Celebration with Old Friends & New!

This little guy is standing in front of the stream while he takes a quick scratch break.
Much to our amazement we arrived safely at our destination of Turrucares and the home of Flor's sister.  It was like going to summer camp with the family!  The house was large and open with a very large outdoor kitchen that was full of busy ladies!  The property has a wonderful stream that has been dammed creating a perfect swimming hole for young and old alike.  Ropes go across to hand over hand to the other side or to simply fall into the water.

This is the little Bambino that rode with us on our little adventure. She is always happy and loved being lugged around by all the other children who are at least a bit older.  All of the children were wonderful and eager to pitch in and help when needed.

We met more family and two of the sons, and Flor's nephews, Julis and Oscar are going to build us a trailer to haul our coffee.  After much "talking" and drawing and measuring the plans were finalized and despite the language difference, all felt successful and hopeful.
Here we are looking at our future trailer with "Flat Mistaya, Carlos, Julius, Oscar and his son. The "lady" in the picture is me after a long night on a blow up bed on the kitchen floor!   More about that later.

Once all the decisions were made on the trailer, we watched the cows being brought in to be fed.  Here Carlos is giving Flat Mistaya a ride!

 And what do cows get fed on this farm??  Why sugar cane, of course, which is grown there along with many other fruits and vegetables.  In this photo the farm hand is putting the stalks of sugar cane into a grinder which fills the trough with the cattle's breakfast 

Now remember we were here because of a Birthday Celebration and once the lights came on and after eating lots of wonderful food, birthday preparations began.

The cake was dressed with the #57 candles, lit and blown out with much aplomb and we all laughed and cheered and, of course, ate cake!  

 Food was a constant and Roberto continued to cook on the bar-b-q that was made from a car wheel and worked perfectly.  Costa Ricans are very resourceful and you would be amazed at what you can live without and have wonderful time!    

  The last event of the Birthday celebration was a hand made Pinata that Flor attacked like a pro batter and in no time we were all showered with candy and sore from laughing!

Now that the festivities are over it's time to head home!  WRONG!  Our Costa Rican friends had other plans, as alluded to above, which included spending the night!  As we had no idea how to get home and they had brought a blow up bed especially for us, we curled up on our blow up bed on the kitchen floor and awaited morning!

Everything was finalized on the trailer very early in the morning.  Most were up before the sun as some had to catch a bus to San Jose @ 6:00 a.m.  We said our good byes to this part of the family as Don drove them through the river to the nearest bus stop.

When he returned the brothers, Julius and Oscar, gave us a tour of their amazing garden.  
Their garden goes on and on.  They plant corn every 3 months and have corn all year round.  We saw squash, beans, yucca, potatoes, and many fruits and vegetables that we did not recognize.  It is a huge garden and they grow it for their family and friends and to sell some at market.  One of the vegetables we learned a lot about was the yucca.

The guys all pitched in to dig up some yucca roots from these funny looking stocks.  There were many and they were large.  We came home with bags full for Flor and the Soda which she cooked up and created these meat stuffed yucca rolls.  Yucca is somewhat like potatoes only a bit more sticky and sweeter---in my opinion!  The little stuffed Yucca were wonderful and we are grateful Flor is such a great cook and so generous with her creations

Not only did we dig, eat and learn about Yucca, we came home with over a dozen Yucca sticks which we planted at the Finca and hope to harvest in 3 months.

Last but not least we are ending the vegetable part of this post with a photo of a squash growing that looks like a zucchini and was huge!  Yumm, stuffed zucchini!

Now it is time to head back through the river and climb back up the almost roads to Berlin.  "Thank you's" and "good-byes" said many times, we were finally on our way! Wait don't we know that guy on the side of the road?  Low and behold but who should we meet but Flor's son on the side of the road.  The son that Don had taken to the bus stop with his family.  Of course, we stopped---putting our numbers at 10 (including Flat Mistaya)--and continued on our way getting no answers when we asked "What happened"!  After much speculation we decided it was all planned and the Gringos were put to good use along with giving them a fun time!  Oh, and by the way, it only took us an hour to get home!  I guess we took the "scenic" root on the way down!

The "Road" to Turrucares!

Both Don and I seem  to be focused on all the projects we have going since our move to Costa Rica.  The Coffee Finca, Employees, Architects, Builders, Water, Electricity, etc. and we sometimes need a little help to  have some fun, not to say what we are doing is not fun!  Anyway, Roberto, our Employee, invited us to go to Turrucares for Flor's (Soda owner) birthday celebration which was going to be a big surprise "and she really misses us"!   We are easily buttered up and thinking we are an important ingredient in this special celebration, we agree to drive Roberto and ourselves to Turrucares for the evening's celebration!  After all, it's only an hour away and Flor is a special friend!  Roberto had originally wanted to make the trip Friday night as well but we said "no" to two trips in our "New Old" vehicle that still needs some minor TLC.  We can only be buttered so far!  You also need to remember Roberto speaks no English and our Spanish is questionable at best.

As usual we all worked Saturday morning until noon and headed home to clean up for the trip to Turrucares and Flor's Birthday celebration.  While getting ready there is knock on the door and outside our little casa stands 5 people:  Flor's Son, Daughter-in-Law and 3 children, including one just over a year old.  We are now a very full vehicle, including Flat Mistaya, totaling 9,  and short 1 child seat and a seatbelt--huge fines in Costa Rica!!  As we were running late, Roberto walked up the hill and met us at our casa with his baggage.  I also forgot to mention that Flor's family came with bags and tents! this point we are wondering what else has been lost in translation.

Roberto assured us all would be well and we took off down the road which quickly became steep, rocky and a constant beautiful vista.  I'm attaching a video that I took on this questionable road and hope that I can get it to work!  I've downloaded 4 times---maybe it will work for you!!

We crossed streams and saw many breathtaking vistas along the way.

The ever present cows (vacas) with calves were  enjoyed by young and old alike with a stream of "Mooos" and  "Ahhhhhs" at the adorable young ones.   By the way those sounds are the same in Spanish and English!

There were incredible trees of all kinds including Mango trees that were full of ripening Mangoes!  Don refused to stop and let me sample a few.  Guess I'll have to get my fill from the Farier (Saturday Market).

After 2 1/2 hours of questionable roads, crossing streams and wondering if we would ever get anywhere, we arrived in Orotina--civilization at last. However, a little nerve wracking with the load in our vehicle.  Now we are wondering why we are parking, and why Carlos and Roberto are leaving the vehicle!  The rest of us just sit and "bake" and wait!  The closer you get to the Pacific the warmer it becomes and we are much closer than when we are in Berlin.  The other problem is that our one back window does not go down and I'm feeling badly for our remaining passengers.

A "short" while later Roberto and Carlos return with a large box containing a birthday cake and candles shaped like a 5 and 7.  By the way 57 not 75.

Our last hurdle before our destination is forging a river!  Unfortunately, I was so concerned about making it across the rather large and moving river that I didn't get a photo!