Tag Archives: Costa Rica

The Dawn Chorus

loft-bedroom-flutterbyThe dawn chorus is quite remarkable here in Uvita Costa Rica.  Our last days at the Flutterby House we were switched to a room with a loft bedroom that had us sleeping way up high in the trees. shower-flutterbyOur shower was open to the jungle.  There were no windows along the front wall of our room so in the morning when the sun came up at 5:45 we woke to its natural light and the loud dawn chorus of the birds. The dawn chorus is an extra loud and long crescendo of noise issued by birds just as the day dawns. There are lots of ideas about why this happens but no one really understands it. 

sunset-at-uvitaI learned about the dawn chorus while reading the book For the End of Time by Rebecca Rischin. She wrote about two concentration camp survivors who decribed the dawn chorus of the birds this way…… “We’d hear a ‘peep’, the small cry of a song bird, like a conductor giving the pitch, and then all the birds, the whole orchestra of them would be singing. It was deafening.”

uvita-skylineThe dawn chorus of the birds in Uvita is accompanied by the sound of the ocean surf in the background, which we hear all night long and the occasional loud thump of a coconut falling from a tree onto our roof.  To hear a recording of the dawn chorus I tried to make one morning just click on the photo above. 

Other posts…..

Landscapes for the End of Time

Hitting the Bird Watching Jackpot in Costa Rica

Architectural Wonders Avain and Human

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Musical Walk in A Bamboo Forest

dave looks at bamboo forestThere was a deafening crack and a mighty crash that made us halt our conversation mid-sentence.

We went for a walk in a bamboo forest near Uvita, Costa Rica. The neatest thing about it was the sound, the way the wind moved through the swaying bamboo making it sing. It was lovely. The intensity of the wind gusts changed the sound. It was a kind of bamboo symphony.

dave bamboo pole vaultDave and I were talking about some bamboo memories. His very first pole vault pole when he was a track and field athlete in high school was bamboo. Later he saved money to buy a fibreglass one.

I was reminded of the bamboo scaffolding they use in Hong Kong when they are constructing buildings.

As we were talking suddenly one of the stalks of bamboo crashed to the ground and it was so loud we both jumped! 

bamboo forest In order to restore tropical forest that’s been clear cut the Costa Rican government has been planting a South American variety of bamboo since the mid 1990s. Bamboo is the fastest growing land plant and it can be a great source of cheap building material but also stabilizes clear- cut slopes helping to prevent soil erosion. During Hurricane Mitch parts of Costa Rica planted with bamboo just a few years earlier suffered no mudslides while other areas of Central America did. walking in the bamboo forestA regular tree can take 50 years to be ready for cutting, bamboo can be harvested 35 times in that period and re-grow, providing habitat for wildlife and soil stabilization. Bamboo also absorbs more carbon dioxide and releases 35% more oxygen into the atmosphere than an equivalent stand of hardwood trees.

bamboo fenceThe bamboo forests of Costa Rica not only sound beautiful they play an important environmental role in the country too.

Other posts…….

Tree Inspiration

Edge of the Trees

Getting Up Close and Personal With A Famous Inventor

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Flutterby

flutterby-signWe are now at  Flutterby House a few kilometers from Uvita, Costa Rica. Kim and Pam two sisters from California founded Flutterby House.

We are in Flutterby Cabin 2

We are in Flutterby Cabin 2

Together with friends and local workers Kim and Pam have constructed all the buildings and infrastructure in the Flutterby camp.

People from all over the world stay at Fluttery

People from all over the world stay at Flutterby

When butterflies migrate they come together at the end of the day to roost. Flutterby House tries to provide a place for people to come together and ‘rest’ on their journeys, to be inspired by one another’s stories before moving on.

Help yourself bananas outside the lounge

Help yourself bananas outside the lounge

Butterflies are symbols of change as they move from egg, to caterpillar, chrysalis and butterfly. Pam and Kim want visitors to realize that every little positive change we make in our lifestyle can have an impact on the future of the earth.

Reception desk at Flutterby

Reception desk at Flutterby

Caring for the environment and conserving it is at the heart of everything at Flutterby House.

The yoga platform

The yoga platform

 There is no air conditioning on the campus. All roofs are built so the ocean breeze will ventilate the rooms and lots of screens let in the cooler night air.

Walkway to our cabin

Walkway to our cabin

Solar lights illuminate the pathways and skylights let natural light into buildings.

Our one room cabin

Our one room cabin

 Laundry is hung outside to dry. Only second-hand sheets and towels are sourced for use at the hostel since they are as comfortable as new ones.

Even the straws are reusable

Even the straws are reusable

Straws are made of steel and no paper or plastic containers, dishes or cutlery are used. All waste is recycled or composted.

Communal showers and toilets

Communal showers and toilets

Since all soaps are biodegradable, water from showers and laundry runs through a stone and gravel drainage system and then is used to irrigate plants and trees. Water and solids from toilets goes through a waste system that turns them into fertilizer for the soil.

The restaurant kiosk

The restaurant kiosk

 All the meals in the restaurant are made from locally sourced food suppliers.

Communal kitchen

Communal kitchen

There is also a communal kitchen if you want to cook yourself

Great Flutterby breakfast with lots of fruit

Great Flutterby breakfast with lots of fruit

but we find the food made in the restaurant so good, generously proportioned, healthy and reasonably priced at Flutterby it seems crazy to cook on our own.

Communal dining

Communal dining

You eat at a long table so you can get to know the people from all over the world who are at Flutterby. Last night we had a great visit with a woman from North Carolina who had lived in Shanghai for the last five years and with a couple from Washington state here on a holiday.  

Flutterby motto

Flutterby motto

If you can’t afford to pay the reasonable rates (our cabin was $40 a night- dorm room space can be reserved for under $10) you can volunteer and work for your food and lodging.

Equipment for rent

Equipment for rent

The staff is helpful and cheerful and there are surfboards, bicycles and snorkel equipment available. The other guests are a great source of information about what to do in the area. There is a very strict 10’o’clock quiet rule so everyone can sleep comfortably.

flutterby-house-uvitaStaying here is a very different experience but one we are glad we included in our Costa Rica itinerary.

Other posts…….

A House Built From Grain Elevators

Jamaica Introductions

Six Toed Cats, A Birthing Chair and His Last Penny

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What’s A Chorreador?

chorreadorDo you know what a chorreador is?  It’s a Costa Rican coffee maker. We saw one in action as part of a tour about traditional Costa Rican foods. The chorreador is a wooden stand with a little cotton bag called a bolsita tucked into a hole in the top. You put coffee grounds into the bolsita and pour boiling water into it which soaks through the grounds and drips into your coffee cup or pot sitting on the stand beneath it.

My brother in law Paul and sister in law Shirley enjoy coffee  made in a chorreador

My brother in law Paul and sister in law Shirley enjoy coffee made in a chorreador

The name chorreador comes from the Spanish word chorrear which means to drip or trickle or run. Chorreadors can be very basic and simple but they can also be beautifully carved and decorated from fine wood.bowl-and-pestleThe coffee was ground with these wooden mortar and pestles as was rice and corn. coconut-treat-and-corn-pretzelWe got to sample a corn biscuit and a coconut rice sweet bun 

costa-rican-clay-ovenwhich had been baked in a traditional adobe clay oven. 

sugar cane grinderWe also watched a sugar cane grinder at workoxen-grinding-sugar-cane-costa-ricaThe walking ox turned the grinder round and round to make sugar cane juicedave-drinks-sugar-cane-juiceWhich was sweet and delicioussugar cane candy makerThis device was used to make sugar cane candy. Nuts were picked and one nut put in each hole and then sugar cane juice poured in.  When it hardened around the nut it made a sweet candy. warm-goat-cheese-wrapped-in-hot-tortillasBut the piesta resistance of the tour was this hot smoked cheese wrapped in warm tortillas 
smoking cheeseThe cheese was put in a wooden cage about a wood stove and as it was heated it developed this delicious smoky crust. It was sooooo good!

Other posts…….

Tasting Toronto

Eating Our Way Through Quebec City

Eating Our Way Through Scottsdale

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Pura Vida

Mural on the wall of a surfer's hotel

Mural on the wall of a surfer’s hotel

Pura Vida is a mantra in Costa Rica. You see the words everywhere. Translated from the Spanish it means ‘pure life.’  It is used here as a way to greet people and say good-bye to them or to give thanks.  In Costa Rica it is a synonym for ‘that’s great’ or ‘excellent.’  Pura vida means that life is a gift and we should enjoy it. 

Advertising for a restaurant on a road barrier

Advertising for a restaurant on a road barrier

Apparently the phrase has been used for decades in Costa Rica and may have originated with a 1956 Mexican movie called Pura Vida where the main character uses the phrase ‘pura vida’ often even though his life is full of misfortune.

Photograph on a card in book shop

Photograph on a card in book shop

People in Costa Rica must take the phrase seriously because Forbes magazine reports that in many global studies Costa Rican people rank highest on the happiness scale. They have a relaxed simple way of looking at life and don’t stress about things the way people in much more affluent countries do.

Sign on an appliance store in Santa Cruz

Sign on an appliance store in Santa Cruz

Some claim you have to be Costa Rican to truly understand pura vida but others try to pass on the life style to outsiders encouraging them to remember that no matter what your situation, life is short and so you need to start enjoying it as best you can. 

Our bill was attached to this mini surfboard at a burger shack

Our bill was attached to this mini surfboard at a burger shack

Pura vida purses

Pura vida purses

Pura Vida restaurant in Uvita

Pura Vida restaurant in Uvita

Pura Vida shirt

Pura Vida shirt

People say ‘pura vida’ to us often in Costa Rica. We will do our best to try to catch and embody the pure vida spirit during our time in Costa Rica and also once we get back home to Canada. 

Other posts……..

Life Lines

The Breath of Life

A Life That Adds Up to Something

 

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Terrified Times Three

marylou ziplining in costa ricaI still can’t believe I did this, but at age 62 I tried zip lining for the first time. Terrified but sailing high over the Costa Rican forest on my first zip line run I let out a whoop and a holler. After my tenth zip line was complete I could truly say I was glad I’d conquered my fears and tried zip lining. dave-shirley-marylou-paulThis week we took the Wild Wednesday tour to a Guanacaste forest preserve for some pretty wild adventures with Dave’s brother Paul and our sister-in-law Shirley. We had a ninety minute bus ride from our casa to the park. dave-horses-costa-ricaWe did not walk or take a bus up to where the zip lines started criss- crossing the deep valleys. paul-and-shirley-horse-back-ridingNo. We rode up a very, very steep, treed and rocky trail on horses. marylou on horseDave was the camera man for this part of our adventure and took this shot of me ready to head up into the hills on my white horse. I was sure at times the trail was way too steep and treacherous for us to make it. But I stayed on my horse and she was steady and determined and we reached the top in about thirty minutes. dave selfie on horseAs I said Dave was the cameraman and took this selfie on his horse. Doesn’t he look happy about the wild ride ahead?

getting hooked up for ziplineOnce we reached the top of the ridge with our horses we dismounted and got hooked up and given instructions for ziplining. ziplining marylouAnd then we were off zig zagging our way down the ten line course across the forests, valleys and ravines. 

Part three of our journey we all four agreed was the most terrifying. It was a 450 meter water slide that wound its way through the forest and dropped you down about 150 meters into a pool below. A professional photographer took pictures and we all looked pretty much terrified in them as we were swooshed up and down and almost flipped over. We even went through a tree! But at $25 USD each we decided we didn’t need to buy our photos and would just have our own memories with what we all agreed the water slide was a terrifying experience we wouldn’t be repeating. 

dinner-wild-wednesdayNext up was an absolutely wonderful lunch with spicy squash soup, plantain chips with a basil cheese dip, a lovely salad and a main course of either fish, chicken or pork on a beautifully presented plate with all kinds of bite size vegetables and cheeses around your piece of meat. There was lemonade squeezed from lemons from trees on the property and a passion fruit ice for dessert. dave covered in mudThen we were off to the mud baths where warm mud from a nearby volcano was provided in wooden vats. It was supposed to be great for your skin.mud-bath-2-1We slathered ourselves and each other with mud before jumping into a cold natural pool to rinse it off. in-the-hot-springsAnd then a lovely end to the day with a soak in a pool fed by hot springs. hot-springsWe shared our tour bus and day with a couple from Boston, three young women from New York City, a family who runs a resort on the north shore of Lake Superior and a couple from Toronto.  It is always interesting to meet new people and hear their stories. We certainly had an adventure on Wednesday we won’t soon forget.

Other posts…..

Dead Sea Beauty Treatment 

Kayaking in Laos

Swimming with the Manatees

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A Gourmet Sail

sunset-on-the-antaresThe sun is setting on the horizon and we are sailing back into Tamarindo Bay in Costa Rica after five hours on a lazy, lovely cruise.  

My sister-in-law Shirley and I ready for our cruise

My sister-in-law Shirley and I ready for our cruise

On Monday we spent the afternoon and early evening on the sailing ship Antares. 

the anteresThe Antares is an 80 foot schooner built in 1947 that in its heyday won races around the world.ferry to anteresWe have to take a smaller boat out to the Antaressmall so we head down to the shore and wade through the water.We climb aboard the motor boat that will ferry us to the Antarespaul and shirley on boatIt’s a windy day. Should be great for sailing. paul-shirley-dave-marylou-costa-ricaBy the time we climb up the ship’s rope ladder the only seats left are at the back of the boat in the shade. That’s perfect for us! We have nice bean bag pillows and cushions to lounge on and we aren’t seated five minutes before the Antares staff has rum punches and Mojitos in our hands. antares-passengersThere’s a dog on board and he comes to meet us all. We are sharing our space at the back of the boat with a couple from New Hampshire, a recently retired teacher and engineer who are only to happy to talk politics with us in light of the New Hampshire primary happening the next day.couple from tenesseeThere’s also a younger couple from Tennessee sharing our corner of the boat. He’s a forester and professional musician and she’s an esthetician. They are having a little holiday before they adopt the two pre-school brothers they have been foster parenting. tofu-saladWe’ve been told the food on this cruise is exceptional and sure enough our first course arrives. It’s a tofu salad that is fantastic. salmon-course-antaresSecond course served by the friendly staff is a salmon bruschetta that melts in your mouth. waitress-antaresIn between each course our smiling drink server comes around to offer us lemonade, beer, wine and any kind of cocktail we want.  The young woman has amazing balance. She can navigate the rocking boat with a tray full of drinks and never spill a drop. sails-antaresSoon the sails are up and we are out at sea.  Our captain points out Nicaragua in the distance. captain-antaresThe Antares is a family operation. The father is the captain. Candy his wife is the amazing cook who made the wonderful food we ate and a couple of their children work on the Antares too. musician-antaresThere was even a guitarist on board to entertain us. corn-chips-and-salsaThird course is corn chips with guacamole and a delightful homemade pineapple salsa. marylou-antares-swimIn a nice secluded bay the boat weighs anchor and we all jump into the water to float in the salty coolness of the ocean. That’s me waving from the waves. dave-and-paul-swimUnfortunately it’s too choppy to snorkel because the snorkeling area is near rocks and the waves keep pushing the snorklers dangerously close to them, so the few who try come back quickly, but its lovely just to float in the sunshine and look at the beauty of the bay. driving-the-boat-antaresBack on board I try out the captain’s chair just to see how it might feel to steer the boat. thai-curry-antaresAs we start the sail home our fourth course arrives, my favourite, a Thai curry shrimp soup.  Shirley likes it so much she asks Candy for the recipe.talking-ball-antaresDave finds a fellow passenger who played semi-professional baseball in his younger days and the two compare notes about their baseball and fast ball careers. sunset anteres cruiseAs the sun sets and bathes the ocean and our boat in orange light……..dessert-antaresout comes our dessert a chocolate raspberry cake beautifully presented. I have mine with a glass of white wine. paul on anteresWe are full and feeling fine after a wonderful day out on the Pacific ocean. img_1829As our motor boat takes us back to the shore we take one last look at the Antares. on-board1What a great day!

Other posts…….

Sailing on Errol Flynn’s Boat

A Serendipitous Sail

Stars, Crocodiles and Falminco Fusion

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Daily Life in Tamarindo Costa Rica

We have developed a flexible rhythm for our time here in Tamarindo. On any given day we might………..

Birthday brunch on the beach with my brother Ken who is heading off to travel to other parts of Costa Rica

Birthday brunch on the beach with my brother Ken who is heading off to travel to other parts of Costa Rica

Have coffee and toast on our patio or go for breakfast on the beach

dave-on-i-padRead the newspaper, catch up with online scrabble games and check out the blog that tells us what our friends Rudy and Sue are doing in Capetown South Africa on their winter hiatus there

 

wave-watchingWatch the waves and the surfers

brown-pelican-tamarindoWatch the birds

dave-readsRead a book

fruit-for-smoothiesBuy fruit for our mid-day smoothies

beach-tamarindoHang out at the beach

screen-shot-2016-02-03-at-8-36-31-amWork on a writing project like my newspaper column, blog, free-lance articles, or middle grade novel

pedicureGo for a pedicure

Skype, text or e-mail with family and friends

rummyPlay cards

Go grocery shopping for the next day

massage-on-the-beachHave a massage

mary-lou-bikeGo for a bike ride

gin-and-tonicEnjoy four o-clock gin and tonics

sushi-restaurant-tamarindoMake supper at home or go out for supper

Sit on our patio looking at the night sky studded with stars and listening to the howler monkeys

Other February posts……..

February 2012- Visiting Uncle Herb

February 2013- Driedger Reunion in Arizona

February 2014-A Serendipitous Sail

February 2015- The Grand Canyon for Free

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A Miriam Toews Sighting in Costa Rica

Dave needed a book! When we travel I download books on my e-reader but Dave takes hard copies of books along.bookd store tamarindoHe had already finished the two books he brought to Costa Rica Road Trip to Rwanda by Will Ferguson and Roger Groening’s  Knuckleball. He needed something else to read. An internet search located a small used book store in Tamarindo tucked behind a coffee shop. We set out on our bikes to find it. used books tamarindoThe Jaime Peligro book store was packed literally to the rafters with used books. looking for books tamarindoWhile Dave was searching for a book I went wandering around and found……..a complicated kindness tamarindoa copy of Miriam Toews’ A Complicated Kindness. Miriam is from my home town and her father was my teacher and colleague. When Miriam’s award winning A Complicated Kindness was published I was living in Asia and traveling all over the place. I had a little personal contest going on to see in how many different cities I could find Miriam’s book. I had reached over a dozen, finding the book in places as diverse as Hong Kong, London, Frankfurt and Singapore.  And now here it was in Costa Rica! Yet another country to add to the list. used books for saleDave finally found the book he was looking for in the $2.00 bins outside the bookstore. Horatio Hornblower by C.S. Forester. horatio hornblowerHe’d watched the Horatio Hornblower television series on PBS and loved it. He hoped he’d love the book too. book store for saleBy the way Jaime’s bookstore is for sale according to this sign on the door. If you are looking for a foreign investment opportunity, this might be your chance to move to Costa Rica and run a business.

Other posts…….

An Interesting Interview

Fact or Fiction?

The Book Lady

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Life Lines

life lines 4When you go for a walk along the beach here in Costa Rica you can see all these designs made by tiny sea creatures that travel just below the surface. life lines 5Their bodies leave a visible trail in the wet sand that shows how they have moved. Some of the paths are fairly straight forward and shortlife lines 2Others are rather easy going and they loop and range afarlife lines 1But some are frantic looking and head madly off in all directions with dozens of twists and turns

pretzel linesSome create an almost perfect pattern.

It reminds me of how varied the path through life can be for different people. What kind of design will my life’s path leave? 

Other posts………

Sherlock Holmes- Growing Old Is Not For Cowards

Self Care- What I Think It Is For Me

Team Work

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Filed under Costa Rica, Reflections