Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Bits and Pieces of Our Life!

Just a note before you begin!  My videos 
take awhile to load.  If you let them run through and go back to them they work a little better!

There are so many wonderful sites to see in our every day lives.  This video is of beautiful blue birds that feed at our house.  At times we are blessed with extra bananas which we love putting out for the birds and butterflies.  

We also come across some very interesting insects.  This guy was perched above our door when we returned from San Ramon the other day.  Not sure what he is exactly, we named him Stick Bug.

Not only do we have beautiful birds outside, we also have them visit on the inside.  Usually it is one of the little swallows that live along our roof, however, the other day we were surprised to see a Blue-Crowned Motmot, I think, come through our front door.  His coloring is spectacular and iridescent with a very long tail.  Occasionally, we will see one outside in the trees but what a thrill seeing one up close!

At La Feria (Farmer's Market) there is a man with a wonderful selection of plants and, although we are not sure where we want them when our house is built, we have been buying some anyway to get them started.  One of the first was this beautiful Eucalyptus Tree tree that is doing exceptionally well.

This is a Mora Berry Bush.  Both of the plants we purchased are producing berries that are divine!  Mora Berries are similar to Blackberries and when growing in the wild have vines with stickers.  These cultivated ones have no stickers and seem to grow like a bush rather than a vine.

Both of us love the Bougainvilleas that grow here in Costa Rica and have tried starting many from cuttings.  These pink ones seem to be doing well but many we have planted still look like sticks!  At some point we will be buying individual plants but for now we will continue trying to start sticks.

These are pineapple plants!  Each time we buy a pineapple, we plant the head.  It is our understanding that it takes about 18 months to grow a pineapple so we will keep you posted!

Coulantro is a form of Coriander.  When we purchase the Coulantro at la feria it comes with roots so....  It is similar to Cilantro in flavor but has long, thin, flat leaves. 

 I love mangoes!  We planted 2 more mango trees in addition to the three Don planted when he was here for a visit a number of years ago.  The trees that were planted a few years ago have already produced mangoes and are flowering now! Yeah!

Much work is involved in planting our trees.  Don, with a little help from me, digs the big hole and then we add coffee husks and leaves to lighten up our soil that is a bit like clay.  It's usually warm working in the sun and not an easy job, however, when we are picking avocados it will be like child labor---we won't remember the pain!  Right!

Into the hole she goes!

Another favorite--avocados.  At this time we have planted 3 trees and hope to have avocados in a year or two!  If successful, I will be looking for recipes to be using up a bumper crop of avocados as well as having our fill of just eating!

New friends in the neighborhood!  Aren't they cute!  He, he, he!!!

I think it was mentioned in an earlier post that we had to cut down a number of our coffee plants.  This is a photo of one of the sections that did not produce well this year and needed to be cut down.  Although it looks quite bare now, in a couple years the plants should be producing coffee once more.

Once the coffee plants have been cut down the branches need to be removed.  Roberto and Don have come up with the word "tinging" to explain the process.  Sometimes we create our own language when it comes to working with Roberto on the farm.  Anyway, the leaves create a mulch and the branches are placed along the rows of coffee plants to help with erosion once the rains begin.

Home Coffee Roasting & Grinding!

Our neighbors and friends Anna and Emilio have taught us a lot about the coffee business.  Although they only speak Spanish, we have managed to at least understand a good percentage of our animated conversations!  At the beginning of the picking season they offered many helpful pointers that we were grateful to have learned.  Now that we are no longer picking but waiting for the new crop to bloom, Anna and Emilo took us through the process they use to roast and grind their coffee.  They live in San Ramon but have a house and coffee farm in Berlin and arrived on Saturday a few weeks ago with their motorized grinder and "roaster"!

You can see here the "roaster", which is actually a small type of bar-b-q, that they used to roast the coffee.  The roasting process took about 30 to 45 minutes, I think.  As Anna was stirring we were chatting and really did not keep track of the time!

The coffee is done roasting and now needs to cool!  Although we enjoyed the mild smell of the coffee at this point, once the grinding began it was spectacular!

Next is the grinding process which went quickly!  The grinder looks like a meat grinder we have with a special coffee grinding  attachment.   Unlike our meat grinder it is powered by a small motor!  

The ground coffee flew around a bit, hence working on the porch, but the grinder did a great job.  The next step was brewing a cup or two with a snack and, of course, more conversation.  Once the grinding and tasting were finished we went on a tour of Anna and Emilio's finca and ours and continued to learn from both of them things about raising coffee.  Thank you Anna and Emilio we had a great time!

Good Bye Nasty Gnarly Tree!

When I arrived at the finca work had already begun on this one very large and gnarly tree with stickers up to 3" long!!  Not only was it dangerous for anyone passing by it also was obstructing a bit of our view!!  It needed to go!!

Santos arrived with his chain saw and went to work removing limbs and I was very glad neither of us had to be up at the top of this huge tree!  Santos did a wonderful job and had a grin on his face the whole time!

Branches began piling up below right away!!

Santos checking out his handy work!

More cutting!

Everyone came to "help" and Errol's truck became the peanut gallery!  Hi Angie!

More concentrating and cutting!!

Before too long we are going to need some rope to guide the fall of the large branches and the main trunk.  Don is sorting out the tangles!

 One load of branches made it to the top for the burn pile.  The rest would have to wait for another day.  The burn pile ended up being over 12 feet tall and has already been burned!   A big job completed and many to go!!  Don loves to burn, as many of you know, and I am nervous every time!   This pile was torched while I was busy at the casa!
As they say, "Ignorance is bliss!"  Unaware, I was not nervous and all went well!

Yep, that one can go too!!  Thanks for the rope, Don!!

Almost finished.  Just a chunk off the top of this huge trunk!

Time for the rope!

O.K., now everyone pull!   Yeah, finished!  It was a lot of work--not for me, I was taking pictures--but there was still lots to do for another day!

 Another beautiful ending to a busy day in Costa rica!

This one doesn't even look real!!!

Yeah, Visitors!

So far 2014 has been the year of friends visiting.  We have been so fortunate to connect with a number of friends who "stopped by"  touring Costa Rica and, unfortunately, a couple we missed. Living where we do and being surrounded with mostly Spanish speaking friends, it is such fun to just sit and catch up and actually understand what the conversation is about!

The first to visit were our friends Steve and Jennifer from North Carolina who have recently moved to Costa Rica.  They were headed back to the states to satisfy their 90 day visa requirement and stopped by to visit and spend the night in our humble abode before going to the airport.

We had a great visit with many similar and different experiences to share about moving to and living in Costa Rica.  They are located on the Pacific Coast in a town called Samara and are working at purchasing property and building!  Although we loved having them stay here we are anxious to have a place of our own where friends can stay in comfort!  Soon we hope to make a trip to the coast and see what life is like in a different part of Costa Rica.

Our next visitors arrived the end of February and they too were from North Carolina.  And, thanks Joe Tursi who moved to Heredia, C.R. about a year before we arrived, we have photos. This was his first visit to Berlin, although we have met up in San Jose.  Joe did not come alone, however, and we also enjoyed the company of Steve and Sandra Shultz and Vicki and Rich Carlson, also from North Carolina.  A trip to the finca and a shared Costa Rican meal of beans and rice and tamales.  It was sad to see them go but they had places to go and we were happy they took a little detour to spend some time with us.

Joe is in the center with Steve and Don on the left and Vicki, Sandra and Rich on the right!

One last photo of us and the mess!  Doesn't it look like we had a great time?

Around the same time Lois and Lance Schelvan were visiting Costa Rica with their son Luke and his family who reside in Mexico.  We were unable to meet the grandchildren--although we loved hearing all the stories of their trip with their grandchildren and children--however, Lois and Lance found time to stop by for the day for which we were grateful!  A trip to the finca, of course, and explanations of coffee from start to finish were part of the day.

Using the Tico way of getting oranges down from the tree, a stick with a hook, we all enjoyed an orange fresh from the tree.


While Lois and I were off chatting and catching up on old times, Don and Lance checked out some of the coffee plants and the view.  Lance and Lois live in Montana and Lois has been a special friend of mine since our children were babies in the little town off Libby, Montana.  Somehow we have managed to stay in touch all these years and getting together feels like we were never apart.  Don had met Lois a number of years ago when we sold our Cafe in Wisconsin and took off on a 5 week trip across the country to visit friends and family.  At the time Lance was away so this was their first meeting.

Thanks for stopping by Lance and Lois we loved spending time with you.  Hopefully your next visit we will have room for guests and your stay can be longer!

Unfortunately, we were not able to connect with Carol and Mo Beers who put into port in Limon, Costa Rica, the first part of March while on a cruise.  Maybe someday they will be able to make it back to Costa Rica and have some time to really look around!

Molla Donaldson and her husband Jerry are also planning a trip to Costa Rica in the very near future.  They are traveling with a tour group which may make connecting up difficult, but we are thrilled that we were remembered and hope one day we will have a chance to meet.

The view from our future house!!