Thursday, 30 January 2014

Super Bowl XLVIII

Today, February 2nd 2014 is 'Super Bowl Sunday'.

A day that many Americans believe should be incorporated into a national three day holiday. A day where where many cite its ability to unite America's different cultures, races and religions. A day where more food is consumed in the States than on any other day of the year, bar Thanksgiving. A day where even churches sometimes cancel their afternoon and evening services. 

At the risk of offending my fellow expatriates here in CR, most of whom are either American or Canadian (are Canadians interested in the Super Bowl?),  what does Super Bowl mean to us British?

Like myself, I don't think many Brits know too much about the Super Bowl, other than it is the final match of the season. To be perfectly honest, I don't think many of them are particularly interested either. I think you will find that most of us British people just don't really see the point of American Football. But why is that?

Firstly, it is not 'football'; as the word suggests, 'football' involves feet kicking a ball, not running with it.

Secondly, running with a ball is a game known as Rugby.

In my humble opinion, American Football is really,

  • rugby for wimps - look at all the padding those American boys wear! 
  • rugby with minimal playing time - always stopping for this, that and the other!
(Said in a very pathetic voice, with big puppy-dog eyes, "Sorry, please don't hate me, it's only a bit of fun" :))

This year then, as we are much more exposed to the Super Bowl, we have decided rather than dismiss it for all the above failings, we are going to embrace it; well the boys and I are at least - DH is not one for sports that involves a team. Ok, so maybe 'embrace' is too stong a word ... I think perhaps 'feign some interest' is more the term I am looking for. 

Obviously a trip to the MetLife Stadium in New Jersey is not on the cards (note to my friends back home, that this is where the game is being held), but instead we plan a quick beer at one of the many bars that is screening the game live. Having no idea of whom to support, we have opted for the Seattle Seahawks as opposed to the Denver Broncos, for no other reason that DH's sister and her family live near Seattle. 

May the best team win!

Dry Law

The Costa Rican 2014 Elections are taking place this Sunday, 2nd February.

A new President will be elected, along with two new vice-presidents and 57 Legislative Assembly lawmakers. The current incumbent, Laura Chinchilla Miranda (the first woman president in CR) is ineligible to run for a second term. Although praised by Baroness Kinnock, Chinchilla has recently been placed as the least popular president in Latin America!

Some of the candidates running include Johnny Araya, from the National Liberation Party; Otto Guevara from the Liberation Movement Party and Jose Villalta Florez-Estrada, from the Broad Front Party, the only Leftist party in the running. 

I am not authority of Costa Rican politics obviously, but in my naive opinion, Johhny Araya appears to be the favourite. His marketing team have been working very hard and Araya's face can be seen everywhere: from multiple roadside billboards to newspaper articles picturing him atop a horse at the recent Palmares Fiesta. Green and white flags, the colours of his party, are rife.

However what I find really 'charming' about the elections here is the antiquated 'Dry Law' that prevents alcohol being sold during the elections, and also during Easter Week. (Surfing the Web, it appears that Costa Rica is not the only country to follow this practice as Venezuela also endorses a similar measure during elections). Consequently, the Nationalist Tourist Chamber wants to eliminate the law, as do the Costa Rican Chamber of Hotels, saying it is harmful to the tourist industry. In fact, early in 2012 the Legislative Assembly actually reformed 'Dry Law', allowing individual municipalities to choose if they wanted to enforce the law. Meanwhile, the San Jose authorities have stated that the law is tedious and unnecessary, 
“We believe that the country has sufficient maturity to carry out an electoral process and civic festivities without the need to stop commercial activities."

Perhaps 'Dry Law' will have the biggest effect on the Gringo's that live in Costa Rica, many of whom are not franchised to vote. It will mean that those residing in a 'dry' municipality will not be able to have a beer, or two, on what is perhaps the biggest sporting event in the States, Super Bowl Sunday. 

Can you imagine this happening in the UK? 

Thankfully, prohibition is a law that we Brits have never had to endure, and should it be bought about, I think a revolution may take place! (OK maybe not a revolution but perhaps a slight revolt). A ban on selling alcohol on the days where our most treasured sporting events take place would be absurd. What would Wimbledon be without quaffing champagne or the FA Cup Final without beer? Unimaginable, inconceivable and highly improbable! As for prohibition on Election Day, well that too would just be silly: part of the appeal of going to vote in the parish school, village hall or wherever your designated polling station is located, is going to the local pub afterwards for a 'swift half'. Or is that just me?


Wednesday, 22 January 2014

The Joy of Language.

So I pretty much failed with my numbers task!

I still can not get to grips with numbers over ciento (100). Throw a mil (1000) into the equation and I am lost.

But I will persevere and I will conquer ... eventually.

This weeks' task then? Let's see how I can get on with verbs.

There are 3 types of verbs in Spanish, which end in either -AR, -ER and -IR and although there is no difference in meaning between them, they each have their own idiosyncrasies. During my Adult Ed. lessons back in the UK a few years ago, I soon came to realise that I intensely dislike conjugating verbs in Spanish. Why? Because of the endings - they keep changing!! 

Basically, Spanish verbs have a 'root' and an 'inflection'; the root tells you which verb you are using, so that is not too hard, once you have learnt the word. But the inflection, well, that is a whole different story. The inflection changes, indicating what tense you are using and which person you are referring to. Complicated eh?

A little example:

Trabaj-arTo work
Trabaj-oI work
Trabaj-éI worked
Trabaj-aréI will work

Saying the words individually (and slowly), 'trabajo', 'trabaje' and 'trabajare', I can hear that they are all the same word, just with different endings; but when put into a sentence, those varying inflections confuse the hell out of me! 

Another example;  'Hablar - To Speak:

hablo     I speak
hablas   You speak
habla   He/she speaks
hablamos   We speak
habláis   You speak
hablan They speak

Look!!!!! Unique inflections for each person. Switch tenses and  'I will speak' translates as 'hablare' (I think), but what about 'we will speak'? Another changeable ending? I am guessing the answer is 'hablaremos' but please feel free to correct me.

Meanwhile, what about -ER and -IR verbs? What are their endings like? In the present tense, they don't look too dissimilar to the -AR usage. For instance, 'Comer' and 'Vivir' ('to eat' and 'to live' respectively) look like this:

como   vivo  
comes   vives  
come   vive  
comemos   vivimos  
coméis   vivís  
comen viven

Easy enough it would seem. But add few words into the conversation in the perfect tense, like 'you have eaten'. Well, then it really does get complicated. I even found two contrasting translations on the internet - 'habéis comido' and 'usted ha comido' - adding to my general bewilderment of Spanish verbs!

Consequently, I think this week I will play it safe and just concentrate on verbs in the present tense. Focus, contemplate and ascertain those damned inflections. 

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Yo Sólo Hablo Un Poco De Español.

Yes, I only speak a little Spanish.

As do the kids.

And this has got to change.

I recently read another Costa Rican Blog describing the authors' aim to conquer the language. To be able to understand and communicate proficiently within a year. He expressed his desire not to be yet another expat that does not learn his host country's' language. And I feel the same. 

Easier said than done.

Whenever we meet locals, they automatically assume that I understand everything that they say to me because DH is fluent in Spanish. If I say "No Entiendo", I am simply ignored and spoken to with even more enthusiasm and gusto. If I plead "Mas despacio por favor" (speak slower please), I am greeted with less speed, but more words!

Now I am told that I understand more than I speak; when DH chats to his Spanish speaking friends and family, I can usually pick up on the gist of the conversation, even if I don't comprehend all of the individual words. Here in CR however, I find that I am often at a complete loss when DH is talking to the locals. I can usually understand what he says, but the Ticos - no idea! Central American Spanish is obviously different to Venezuelan Spanish which in turn is inconsistent with Spanish Spanish. But to top it off, the Ticos drop half of the words in the sentence, so much so that even DH struggles at times to master what is being said to him. I guess the Tico slang/dialect is just as hard to get to grips with as Geordie or Brummie vernacular.

Anyway, I am certainly capable of making myself understood in a restaurant, buying from the deli-counter at the grocery store or other food related establishments. If push came to shove, I would probably be able to communicate with the doctors of where the pain might be or direct a stranger to the nearest  ... (fill in the blank and I hopefully will know the word). However, as I am a bit shy (!) I never really practice any of the words I know and I certainly wouldn't dream of making conversation in Spanish; just too British I guess. Worried that I am making a fool of myself.

Back to the point in hand; reading this guys blog reminded me that learning the language is one of the many reasons we came to this country and as of yet, we have advanced very little. The kids at school all want to practice their English, which is very proficient, with our boys and engage in very little Spanish conversation in return. When we have raised the matter with the school, and asked them to teach our boys more Spanish, the school offers a few lessons, but these are not followed up or seemingly encouraged. 

Added to this, I am quite lazy and I am happy to let DH do most of the talking now (makes a change I know), as it is easier and quicker. Although today, it was down to me to make the cable people understand that we are without internet most afternoons, as DH was out running errands. DH bemoans the fact that we are still habla Inglés en casa, but it is just easier.

So to another resolution that is for the whole of 2014 and not just for the New Year. Me and the boys will crack this language thing! Similarly to the other blogger, I am going to set myself goals and document my progress, or lack of it, in weekly updates; that way it will force me to do what I say I am going to do.

This weeks goal then is to become more or less adept with numbers. Not too hard a task really, but I get confused when it comes to currency: I find when paying for something, I just listen to the first figures said and then hand over a larger bank note to compensate for the fact that I did not fully understand what I was being told. For example, two litres of milk costs one thousand one hundred and fifty colones, which translates as un mil ciento cincuenta - so I hand over a 2000 , note as I only really picked up on the 'un mil'. Stupid of me I know, made worse by the fact that YS totally gets numbers. So this is just a challenge for me and ES and I will report back next week. 

For my second challenge - well that is up to you my reader to decide. Write your easy-to-achieve goals in the comment box!

Monday, 13 January 2014

A Few More Creatures found in the Garden.

A Pretty Butterfly.

Another Wasps Nest.

The house iguana playing hide and seek.

A squirrel eating the last of our coconuts.

The Embassy Theatre.

Frequented our local cinema for the first time last night, The Embassy Theatre. We saw The Lone Ranger, which does not really justify comment, safe to say it was not the best movie I have ever seen.

However, the cinema. How quaint. A small auditorium that only seats 120 people. And there was only the four of us in it! 

Upon arrival, you are led through the curtains to the cinema, and shown to any seat of your choice. Your drinks order is then taken!!! Yes, drinks order;  a choice of soda, Costa Rican beer or water. The gentleman who runs the cinema is no spring chicken, but he mooches down to the bar below and returns a few minutes later with your drinks. 

And the cost of this experience? For the film and the drink it was 3000 colones each, about £3.70. Can you even buy a beer for that in the UK, let alone a movie ticket too?

OK, so it is not some high-tech, 3D, digital, surround sound, all singing all dancing cinematic experience. But it was good enough for us.

DH, ES and I waiting for the film to start.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Irresponsible Parenting, Again!

Whilst cooking dinner last night, I heard a splash outside. 

I thought both kids were watching TV, and assumed DH had jumped in the pool to cool off; although thought it odd as I could hear him chattering on his mobile.

Turns out it was YS ... on his bicycle!!

He had taken the corner too quickly and had fallen in, bike and all. 

Needless to say, he was not a happy bunny.

But at least the bike had a clean!

NOT a New Years Resolution.

I am not really 'social meedya' savvy. 

I don't have Instagram or Flickr, but like everyone else, I have Facebook. To be honest, I am a bit of a Nosy Parker and therefore I look more than I update my 'status'; I don't think many people are that interested in what I had for dinner last night. 

I also have a Twitter account and have had for a year or so. I think I have tweeted about three times and re-tweeted about the same. Again, I like to see what other people Tweet rather than bore people with my own thoughts and opinions.

So why am I blogging? Good question and one I keep asking myself. It is so difficult to make everyday life seem interesting to others, especially as I haven't really written since I left university. For example, the drinks party the other night was OK, but not so great that I could pen a funny anecdote about it; after all, I want to make friends with the neighbours, and their associates, not enemies! 

Therefore, for 2014, I am going to ditch my 'nobody is interested' attitude and blog, tweet and update my status more often. If I say it is a New Years Resolution, I know that I will last only a few weeks, probably only a few days: a bit like chocolate - as soon as you say you are going to give it up, it is all you can think about and you cave-in within the week (or is that just me?). So this is not a resolution as such, just an effort to be more ... Confident? Out-there? Thick-skinned? Reactive? Not really sure what the aim is and it is easier said than done, but here goes.

First off, make my blog more appealing and reach a wider audience, try to get a 'buzz' going. Much as I appreciate my family and friends reading my rantings, it would be quite nice if a stranger stumbled upon my blog and signed up as a follower! Only problem is, I don't understand 'tech' speak AT ALL! URL, blog feeds, ready to burn? What do all these things mean and how do I implement them?

Secondly, blog about things that interest me. Perhaps I will add a book review tab, or get the kids to add a film review tab - they watch enough movies here as the TV is so, so, so bad! I may even use a tab to have a go at some Creative Writing tasks (gulp). Or possibly start adding photos of food that I am about to eat, or of cakes that I have baked; although I am not sure I am capable of changing that much!

So apologies in advance if my blog keeps changing its appearance, adding things and deleting things, but is a new year and time to grow new things and share them. 

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Postage Problems.

Earlier this week, we received an email from DHL, via Costa Rican Customs, wanting to know "What ingredients are in tea?".

Yes, you read it correctly the first time.

What ingredients are in tea?

"Tea", DH replies, via phone rather than email, "tea, contains tea, just like coffee contains coffee". Even though he his talking Spanish, I pick up on his sarcasm, which is usually non-existent.

We have been waiting for some documents from England for about six weeks now. The package left Reading on Tuesday 17th December and passed through East Midlands airport, Barbados, Venezuela and Panama City, before arriving in San Jose on Thursday 19th December! Yes two days to get from one continent to the other, and yet three weeks later we are still without the documents. Meanwhile, we have had to pay extra money to customs, in order for them to actually receive the package; this is before they even bother to look at the contents. That was over two weeks ago when customs briefly returned to work between Christmas and New Year. 

Now that normal working hours have been resumed, it seems that customs have just looked at my package, hence the email "What ingredients are in tea?". As it says on the Tetley Tea packaging '100% Black Tea'. A phrase which I believe is easy to understand in most languages, however limited your English maybe. 

Of course there is always the off-chance that my friend in England is actually smuggling dope to Central America, via me in CR, in individual teabags that are enclosed in cellophane-wrapped boxes which advertise tea! No wait, isn't that the wrong way round? Surely it is usually cocaine and marijuana travelling from Colombia to the US or Europe as described in today's Independent? No mention of teabags being used - maybe they should consider it!

Anyway, even though customs are the ones holding the package and investigating its contents, we are the ones that will have to pick up the extra charges, which mount daily. As we have paid a silly amount already, we have begged and pleaded for the paperwork, but have said that we will not pay for the rest of the items. Looks like they may be winding their way back to the UK, sorry friends. 

In the meantime, we received another package from the UK on Monday, which was bizarrely sent the same day. This too we had to pay extra dollars for, as it seems everything that comes into this country is subjected to hefty import taxes. I think perhaps the customs officer in charge of this case was perhaps bi-lingual; teabags were allowed through no questions asked!

Napoleon the Nefarious.

Every expat you meet in CR always has a story to tell, of how they were ripped off when they first arrived here: the realtors selling properties that are lacking in utilities and carry with them huge debts; the lawyers and accountants stealing from clients; the builders pilfering materials; even the cleaners taking tea-towels and soft furnishings from long-term employees. To the Tico way of thinking, all Gringos are wealthy (which indeed many of them are, especially in comparison to the locals), and are therefore rich for the picking!

We planned to be exception to the rule; you know, don't let your guard down, trust no-one attitude that we Brits are so good at. Plus, our first water bill back in October certainly made us more aware of the scamming that goes on here. So, unlike many other expats, we haven't handed over money to a middle man to perform a job that we can actually do ourselves (OK crossing the border to Nicaragua, but that doesn't count!!). Instead of allowing Jose to source the materials for La Casita, and earning himself extra cash on top by charging us more, DH and I have spent nearly everyday pricing paint and materials from various suppliers and then collecting it to avoid the astronomical charges they add for delivery. We hoped that by being pro-active and involved in every procedure, we would be observant enough to see when we were being targeted. 

Not so.

Jose, the builder has been great. His work has been consistent and methodical, and pretty damn fast too - my dad back home is convinced that we have hired German builders as they are working so quickly. Any problems that we have with what Jose and his team produces, he rectifies quickly and without excuses or complaint. He even bought us home-made tamales on the day after Boxing Day, some that his wife made and some that his 80 year old mother had made for us. He generally is a pretty nice guy, we are very pleased to have found him and should we ever need his building services again, we would more than likely use him again.



We should have known the moment that he came on-site that he was not to be trusted, as Jose's right-hand man, Luis, stopped coming to work. We thought it was maybe jealousy on Luis behalf as Napoleon was bought in as a sub-contractor to work on the electrics; or perhaps it was an on-going power struggle of two alpha-males. Stupidly we took no notice and thought Luis was just throwing his toys out of the pram. Perhaps Napoleon's confession of having seven children with five different wives should have alerted us. But then that seems to be the norm here too (odd for a Catholic country, but then I never did fully understand religion!!). Other little stories kept cropping up too, like being a 1st Dan in karate, or the one where he was off to Aruba for five years to work on some grand hotel or something. Perhaps the funniest of all though, and one we really did laugh at, was the tale where his 15 year old son boasted to DH that his dad was actually a professor and that he was going to be home-schooled by him. Bless, the kid looked so proud of his dad.

Still, hindsight is a wonderful thing, and his work must be of good quality as Jose continued to sub-contract out more work to Napoleon. Firstly, the internal doors, that were to take three days tops - that included rubbing down, treating them with wood stain and then hanging them. Next, Jose decided to let him hang the shower door too. 

In the eight weeks or so that Napoleon has been assigned to La Casita, he has disappeared for more than a week, taking his little team with him, as he was working on a neighbours house - a job he got because he slyly stole it from Jose. What was supposed to be a quick job, took longer than expected and when the owner refused to pay as it wasn't finished, Napoleon doubled his workforce, therefore increasing his payroll and diminishing his profit. 

We swallowed his disappearance because, well, that is what builders do all over the world. But trying to get him to fix the electrics that he had ballsed up ... that took over two weeks to rectify: light switches wired up incorrectly and in no sensible manner; blanking plates put on the wrong places; just a confused mess really. We have had Tigo, the internet/TV company that we use, come and connect La Casita and guess what? The TV points that Napoleon has fitted are just for show; in the loft space it is just a mess, cables not attached to anything. The shower door has not been fitted correctly and ultimately the water will leak through to the bathroom, a task that he has left for Jose to sort out.

Next problem, the internal doors, all five of them. Napoleon's team started well, rubbing down the doors outside, but that is about all they did right. The door frames were made incorrectly; anyone could have done them as they didn't mitre the corners and just placed one bit of wood on top of the other, so it looked like a minimal game of Jenga. That was fixed quite quickly although DH had to explain how the corners should actually be (a carpenter he is not, but knows what a door frame should look like!). Then they hung the doors before the first layer of stain was applied: again not too much of a problem, if Napoleon and his team knew what they were doing but ... well to cut a long story short, DH has spent the last two weekends rubbing down and staining, rubbing down and staining all the doors and still they are not quite right.

Meanwhile, we have other, much graver concerns about Napoleon. Being a shell, La Castita was going to need a kitchen, always my favourite part. Therefore at the beginning of the building process, we started the search for a carpenter: unlike the UK, there is no Ikea, Wickes or similar, where you can buy your kitchen off the shelf, you actually have to have it hand-made! A dream come true and supposedly easier as you can have the cupboards built any size you want. Still blissfully unaware of what a **** Napoleon was, when presented with quotes for the kitchen, we chose him over someone else that had come recommended, for no other reason than he was already on-site, and we hoped it would be completed in a shorter space of time.

Like most items you are having made here, it is usual to pay 50% up-front. We had to do this with the business cards and the curtains at the rental place and also for some of the jacuzzi materials. We knew the kitchen would be no different. However, being cautious, rather than give the money for the materials needed to Napoleon himself, we took a drive to Belen, about 40 minutes away, and left a stipulated tab with the ferateria, the hard-ware store. This way, Napoleon, and only him (or us) would be able to order and subsequently collect the necessary items on his way into work. Typing the words, I can so easily see the fatal flaw in this plan, and to be honest, I was not particularly pleased with the whole idea right from the start. However, when Napoleon appears with some of the wooden work-surface, and a few other bits and bobs, my fears dissipate somewhat. 

But that was before Christmas and nothing has appeared since. Napoleon has only showed up once for work since then, and that was on New Year’s Eve hoping for some money. Great excuse as to why he had not been working though – his fifth wife had left him and returned to Nicaragua with their baby; her and her mother had been planning it for months apparently and had sold all his possessions and taken all his money.

Last week, DH managed to get hold of all the receipts from the ferateria; not only to know what is actually remaining on the tab, but also to see what materials have been purchased. Ever the optimist, DH really was hoping that Napoleon would come good and was honest and had used the money for what it was intended. Indeed, some materials had been bought, some wood too, all of which is at the house but … We have now acquired a new but small compressor and nice new wood cutting machine. Tools that Napoleon had bought with our money, but foolishly left behind at our house.

Oh yes, he bought a bicycle  as well!

And cashed out $1000.00

Pissed off? You guessed it. DH stormed to the police station (yes, they still have one in Coco, unlike Farnham, overlooks the promenade by the beach). He was informed that he has got to gather the evidence, slow process, report to solicitor, blah, blah, blah. Is it worth it, in the hope of maybe receiving a dollar a week from the lying, cheating scumbag? I don’t know, we’ll see.

Meanwhile, piece of **** that he is, Napoleon still sends his son in to work with Jose every day, although we put a stop to that last week; very difficult to hear people dissing your beloved father all day at work, and not fair on the kid. Napoleon refuses all phone calls from both DH and Jose. In return he has text-ed a few real stinkers to Jose, using religion and the church to feast on Jose’s conscious.

On Sunday DH received a final text from Napoleon asking never to be contacted again.

And that he will send his invoice for the work undertaken!!!!!

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Bull fighting.

VIDEO: Costa Rican woman launched skyward by 1100-pound bull / News Briefs / More news / Costa Rica Newspaper, The Tico Times

We didn't enjoy a trip to the bullfights this year (we went last December while on holiday, and I think perhaps once was enough for us). But this clip was on CNN last night and I thought I would share it with you, a typical Costa Rican Christmas activity.

Thursday, 2 January 2014


I am usually pretty good when it comes to baking, not GBBO standard, but not bad.
However things seem to have changed since I got here. I don't want to be a poor workman that blames his tools but ... The flour is different and the butter - well what can I say! My fail-safe chewy chocolate-chip cookies were a distaster and tasted so awful that I couldn't even bring myself to give them to the dogs next door! Having said that, the pastry I made for quiche was possibly the best I have made in a long while.

So abandoning the butter, I am looking at recipes that use vegetable oil instead, like muffins, and indeed, they are working a treat; moist, light and tasty even when a day old (strange as mine were always best eaten warm when in the UK). For breakfast the last few days, we have feasted on fresh orange and raisin muffins, carrot and ginger muffins and today the kids will be fed chocolate and coconut ones when they finally surface (if there are any left by then). 

This mornings batch.

Not sure if the waistline will decrease though!

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

The Festivities!

Christmas Day, rather unsurprisingly, was really hard this year; I think we all felt quite lonely so far away from family and friends and really felt the loss of those loved ones no longer with us. 

Naturally, we would never be able to recreate the Christmas Day festivities that we have all grown accustomed to; instead, we tried to make the best of the situation, do something different and go out exploring. We have heard about various waterfalls nearby but have yet to experience them, so instead of a big Christmas lunch followed by party games, we packed a picnic and headed to the river in a nearby town of Sardinal.

Finally the truck was used for what it was designed to do, off-roading! We had to drive for about 10km of bumpy, dirt tracks, through shallow rivers and teak forests in order to reach the waterfall. We followed some tourists on an organised tour on quad bikes who were having a great time, but other than them, we were the only people on the road. 

Naively, I expected the waterfall to be quite large, maybe not quite on the scale of the Angel Falls or Niagara, but still bit bigger than it actually was. Nonetheless, it was about a 5 metre drop from the top to the bottom, tall enough for the kids not to be brave enough to jump into the lagoon below!

The Drop! 

 Jumping into the Lagoon.

The Lagoon.
Then we took a drive to Playa Danta, so that the kids could try out their skim boards that they received for Christmas. Beautiful little beach, which we had not visited before with quite a cool, Mediterranean-style beach bar, where a live band were playing. The drive to this beach also tested the skills of the 4x4, as the pot holes were extremely large!

Then home, quick wash and out for Christmas dinner at La Finisterra a newly refurbished, local restaurant. Great Christmas dinner, although none of the trappings like 'pigs-in-blankets' nor cranberry sauce (but thankfully no sprouts!); no smoked salmon for starters and no brandy butter or mince pies for pud! Since we have been here, DH and I have taken to drinking beer, instead of our usual tipple of red wine. Tonight however we felt wine was more appropriate - mistake!! Vinegar was my opinion, but DH felt he needed a couple of glasses before he could give an accurate verdict. After an acrid second glass, the complaint to the waiter was just met with a Spanglish 'thankyou'; no apologies, no offer of a free drink, nothing but a friendly smile. Customer Service needs a little work still then?

However, the other patrons added to the enjoyment of the evening as they were so ... different; as DH noted, it was like having dinner in an OAP home! First there was the Jewish-Italian looking mother with her three middle-aged sons; no talking just an awful lot of time spent looking at their mobile phones, sipping on water. Then on another table there were a few greying gents accompanied with what looked like second wives, with extremely coiffured hair, tight tops and very high heels!! But my favourite of all the other diners was the Donald Trump lookalike! Yes, the best clone I have ever seen; even his blondish hairpiece was the same as Trumps' - incredible!! To top it off though, he was partnered by a much younger Grace Jones replica, all glammed up in a red, satin, backless floor-length gown. And sharing their table? A newborn baby dressed as Santa! 

All very surreal and nothing like our normal Christmas Dinner but certainly one to remember!