Sunday, 29 June 2014

La Sele make World Cup History.

La Casita del Mariscos,

That was tense!

Costa Rica make it through to the Quarter Finals for the first time ever!

On penalties!

We watched from a local beach-bar, La Casita del Mariscos, with a few other Gringos and some very excitable Tico's.


The bar goes crazy when Brian Ruiz scores.

The atmosphere was great all the way up to the 90th minute when Greece scored to equalize.

A young La Sele supporter when Greece scored in the 90th minute.

Then the mood changed from 'party-party' to sombre and glum.

So upset as Greece takes it to extra time

Even through extra time, the crowd in the bar were acting like La Sele had already lost.

A downhearted Renee as the match goes into penalties.

 But then came the penalties. And the bar went wild.

Fantastic day to be by the beach, sipping a daiquiri, in Costa Rica

And Greece lose on penalties.

 Vamos La Sele!!!!!

Saturday, 21 June 2014

World Cup Sweepstakes.

Who is is going to win in our family sweepstakes?

$5 each to play and winner takes all.

DH .......... Brasil
Me .......... France
ES .......... Germany
YS .......... Italy

But if none of our chosen teams are victorious, its Imperial and Fanta Naranja at our local bar, Aquasport.

Funny how the English side of the family has chosen European teams, whilst the South American has gone for a Latino team - just saying :)).


Do you know that we have been here ten months now?

And I have yet to do any sunbathing!!

So, why not today? I thought.

And I managed about five minutes of basking.

It's just too darn hot.

Although I'm honestly not complaining.

After all, it could be worse;

Endless days of grey and raining.

Friday, 20 June 2014

La Sele make it to the Knockout Stages.

The country that I have called home for the past 10 months have made it through to the final 16 in the Fifa World Cup.

Costa Rica have shocked the world and the team who were seen as the 'whipping boys' are through to the knockout stages for the first time since 1990.

Costa Rica fans celebrate at the Fuente de la Hispanidad in San Jose
While the match was being played, the streets where I live were deserted. 

But as soon as Brian Ruiz scored, you could hear cheering from all directions. 

When Italy was finally defeated, I think the whole country roared in unison. 

Car horns were honked, buses blasted, motorbikes tooted. 

Supermarkets played their music even louder than usual and children everywhere went wild.

The party will doubtless continue through the night, spilling over to the weekend if not for longer.

So even though this brilliant win by La Sele puts an end to England's World Cup dreams, it is great to be a part of the underdog's celebrations.

Go La Sele!!

Photo: El Grupo de la Muerte!
Celebrations at our local.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Our pool.

For the past month and especially the past fortnight, our internet has been intermittent to say the least. A different Tigo technician has visited us everyday for the past week, each claiming that the problem has been solved, but within a few hours we are without internet and TV again. 

So annoying.

But at least our pool is back in action and has been for the past week. Yippee!

We emptied it so that it could be re-tiled with small mosaic-type tiles. Even better, Jose and his team completed the job under the allotted time frame! Amazing how a monetary bonus can work as an incentive. 


All the chipped tiles around the edges of the pool, as well as the surrounding patio area have been replaced. No more horrid concrete underfoot. The flooring is no longer a mish-mash of grey and terracotta, but rather a creamy selection of pebbles and stone tiles, and stays remarkably cool. No more burning tootsies!

Five lorry loads of water were needed to refill; that's 60,000 litres of water! It took the poor guy from 8am to 8pm as only one water lorry was operational that day! 

The one and only lorry.
Fill her up!

Of course, there was a hiccup, as there always is. We noticed a few days after its being refilled, the pool started to lose water - rapidly! Where the hell was it going and how? The builders only re-tiled, there had been no excavation work. We searched for evidence of water around the garden, outside on the roads, in the pipes, but nothing. After 5 days and with a loss of about 10,000 litres of water or so, we got the builders back in to see if they could solve the problem, which thankfully they did AND at no extra cost to us. A miracle!!

Have I mentioned that we also had a 'rancho' built, to give us some much needed shade around the pool? Oh yes, and the outside shower has had a make-over too, with some left over black pebbles from La Casita (to the left of the photo below).


 Really pleased with the end result, what do you think?

Monday, 16 June 2014

Dia del Arbol at Playa Hermosa.

On Saturday morning The Playa Hermosa Association celebrated their annual Dia del Arbol, planting trees and shrubs at the beach.

The truck arrives with the trees and plants for the beach. 

Armed with shovels and a pickaxe, DH, YS and I decided to don our 'community-spirit hats' and went along to join in the fun and do some digging. Well to be honest, DH did most of the work, while YS and I watched him!

The priest was there to bless the activities.
Quite a little crowd turned out to assist Heather and the Association, both Tico's and Gringo's. The local priest was invited to bless all those attending with Holy Water. 

Hermosa's Younger  Helpers!

The local children watering the first plant DH planted.

Heather (in blue) supervising the planting along the beach. 

We were even lucky enough to have some rain on Sunday, saving us the task of watering the new flora.

Mosquito update!

With the rains come more bugs, or so I'm told.

Well, so far, here in PlayaHermosa, we have only really encountered two or three major rainfalls. The landscape is slowly turning green - hence it is known as the 'green season' rather than the 'rainy season': far more romantic a term, one that hooks the tourists in better too, I'm sure.

However, has no one told the bugs that we haven't experienced much rainfall yet? More specifically the mosquitoes? 

I was beginning to think that I had adapted to the damn creatures, because over the past few months, I had been getting bitten less and less. But alas no, a few drops of rain and their super-duper tracking devices have found me yet again. My lower legs, ankles and feet are reminiscent of a child's 'Dot-to-Dot' picture. In fact, the mosquitoes must have had difficulty finding a space to bite last night, as they ventured up towards my arms instead. 

Recently at school, YS made some concoction of cloves, alcohol and baby oil that is supposed to protect you from the blighters. Not sure if it does, but I rub it on every evening religiously. Combing his mixture along with the Deet that I also spray over myself, plus the couple of garlic cloves I eat every day and the vitamin B tablets that I take (if I remember),  I smell delicious!!! I think people can smell me coming before they see me. 

But guess what? I still get bitten more than anyone else. 

It's just not fair!! (Slight temper tantrum similar to a petulant toddler ensues!)

Thursday, 12 June 2014

World Cup Fever Begins.

We had made an appointment today with an estate agent, or Realtor as they are known here, to take photographs of La Casita to advertise it for rental purposes.

She was booked to come between noon and 1pm.

Mid-morning, we got a call from her to say she would not be able to make it today and could we re-schedule for tomorrow instead? Because ...

Well, give her some credit, she was extremely up-front and honest with us: her reason for not being able to attend was ... the World Cup! She was meeting her friends at the Lizard Lounge for a few beers and to watch the match on the Big Screen.

Costa Rica is three hours behind San Paulo! Only the Opening Ceremony was taking place at that time. The football itself wouldn't start for a couple of hours yet, plus La Sele were not even playing in the opening match!

Can you imagine an estate agent in England not making an appointment because the World Cup was about to begin in a few hours?

To be honest we were not that bothered - we were sat in a nearby bar, trying to get internet connection, as well as watching the football coverage. We found it quite funny really. 

As the Tico's say, Pura Vida!

Thursday, 5 June 2014

The Shoe Thief.

YS had his football trainers stolen from outside the front door a couple of weeks ago. 

He was gutted, I mean truly gutted! They were his pride and joy; his ticket to football stardom; the envy of all his classmates, and most likely every Tico that set eyes on them! I, myself, was extremely angry, but kind of pleased as they were the most hideous fluorescent green and yellow and purple things you have ever seen!

However, DH was totally and utterly furious. Not only had somebody stolen his kid's shoes, but they had stolen them from our property. Thing is we had quite a few tradesmen in that day: there was Jose with his band of merry men, about 5 in total; then there was the carpenter with 3 of his team, as well as his 11 year old son; and finally a trio of gardeners were around the place for a short while. 

Who to blame? To be honest, it will probably remain one of life's little unsolved mysteries. We all have a prime suspect, but no proof. As nobody would admit to the theft, DH decided to deduct money from each of the parties present - not a happy workforce!

Then, earlier this week, upon his return from school, ES protested that he could not find his black shoes (one of many black pairs!). DH grumbled that there had been 2 pairs in the morning whilst he was sweeping, but ES was insistent that a pair was missing. A search party was dispatched to various locations around the house, while I went and looked in the garden. I'm not sure why, but for some reason I looked inside a cardboard box situated at the back of the house, that had been abandoned and was just collecting garden refuse. Lo and behold, sub
merged amongst some wrapping material, were ES's trainers! Hidden from view, hoping to be retrieved by the thief later?

Once again, who to accuse? Jose and his gang, or the chippie's apprentice, Eduardo, that was here for a second time?

DH is livid to the point of rabid! But rather than play the blame game, he writes an expletive-ridden note and leaves it in the box, in the hope that the culprit will confess or come clean (doubtful, I know, but worth a try).

Today, we learn from Eduardo, that as Jose was cleaning up yesterday, he returned from the rear of our house, laughing heartily to himself: he then proceeded to relate the joke to his workers - for it was he who has found the note from DH!. 

The shoe thief himself or just the patsy?

If you read some of the expat forums here in CR, a large proportion bemoan the fact that the Tico's, and the Nica's, are a thieving bunch; opportunists, just seizing the moment. If something is left lying around, they don't see it as stealing but as a gift for them. They will deny they have taken it or pretend they didn't see it. We have heard many a story of cleaners taking linen home, or gardeners digging up plants from their employers to sell elsewhere. I have tried not to be influenced by other peoples view of the locals of this country, but instead, I have searched for their good points. Over the past few months, however, we have learnt to lock our belongings away at all times. Building materials and tools just seem to go missing on a regular basis: a bag of cement here, a hammer there. 

 But the shoes were just the last straw! Tie your grandmother down, or she might just get stolen!

Beware the Hitchiker!

Unlike back home, hitchhiking is not uncommon here, in the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica. In fact it is almost an everyday occurrence: mothers with babes in arms, bags of shopping by their side; night-watchmen tired and weary, eager to get home; even hotel cleaning staff late for their early morning shifts; and the usual array of backpackers naturally. All can be seen roadside or at bus-stops, sticking their thumbs out, hoping to hitch a ride.

Within a few short months of us living here, DH had turned 'native' and was giving rides to some of the locals that he saw most days on the journey from Ocotal to Coco. At first the kids were horrified - this sort of thing would never happen in England when Mum did the school run!. But soon they would return home at the end of the day, and tell me of the security guards that they had given a lift to in the morning; or the old lady with the bicycle that they saw most days, struggling up the hill. To the three of them it shortly became a normal and generous thing to do, helping someone not lucky enough to have their own transport. 

Needless to say, the hikers in CR don't dress like this!!
 I however felt slightly differently!! 

What was DH thinking??? Had he never seen the yellow-raincoat clad hitchhiker in the Hammer House of Horrors TV series????? The episode called 'The Two Faces of Evil'? The one with the fingernail? I was about 9 or 10 when I saw it and it gave me nightmares for weeks: in fact I'm still wary of people wearing a sou'wester, as well as men with long fingernails. Brrrr, sends shivers down my spine!

But like most things, you soon forget your worries, and before long, I too was not quite so bothered about DH picking up the odd ride. These hikers would often share stories with DH, about their families, their traditions and their politics. Conversations would focus on the up-and-coming elections that took place earlier in the year, or about the problems in nearby countries. DH saw it as a good way to learn about the locals and their culture. A few would have a sob story to tell, which nearly always involved hungry children and DH giving them money for food. On the odd occasion, a ride would even ask what life was like back in the UK. 

The tale that follows is one that DH recently disclosed to me. Naturally the conversations took place in Spanish, but as you all know, my Spanish is not that great. So I took the liberty of transcribing the story into English: I thought it best to omit some of the swear words too - after all, this is a family-friendly blog!!

A few weeks back, just days after my accident, I was travelling from Sardinal to look at some building materials. I stopped to pick up a Costa Rican woman who was thumbing a ride.

DH: "Where are you going?"

TICA: "Santa Cruz Sir. I have just been to Liberia to take food to my son at the University there."

DH: "Well I am not travelling that far, but I can drop you in Belen."

We drove for several minutes, making our introductions. Being that I looked somewhat sinister (I was still wearing a bandage on my head, along with sunglasses and a straw hat), she interrogated me about the accident, how it had happened and so on. The conversation then turned to talk of our families:

TICA: "Oh, your wife is away? You must be missing her? And you must be in need of some...?" 

As she said this, she reached over and grabbed my crotch!

TICA: "Apuesto a que tienes un grande!" sorry, English speakers, translate it yourself!! "I need money," she whined "My family are hungry. 10,000 Colones (nearly £11) and I will give you a b*** j**."

A million different emotions ran through my head; alarmed, appalled, dismayed, shocked and startled to name but a few. I felt my face turn ashen as my blood drained away and my whole body turned rigid with uneasiness. I thought that I had picked up the devil in disguise! More to the point, I suspected I was about to be mugged; I had just been to the cash-point and had $300 in the glove compartment.  

DH: "Um-mm, no thanks," I spluttered, removing her hand from my lap, "I'm fine."

TICA: "But Sir" she continued, "I am poor and hungry. My family has no food and we need money. I will do anything that you want."

As we neared the crossroads at Comunidad, with the Tica continuing to make advances, I suddenly 'remembered' that I had to be elsewhere!

DH: "I am sorry, I forgot that I have to be somewhere. I will have to drop you here and you can then catch the bus."

TICA: "But Sir," she urged, "you said you would take me as far as Belen. I have no money for the bus. I can come with you now and then you can take me to Belen later."

DH: "No, no. I may be a long time. You must get out of the car now."

With great relief, she exited the vehicle when I pulled over. I sped off in the opposite direction to where I really wanted to go, desperate to be rid of the woman. 

Although the incident only took place over a several minutes, I have never felt so panic-stricken in my whole life. 

There you go, I was right all along!! Beware the hitchhiker! They may not be dressed in brightly coloured raincoats, but they can be treacherous all the same! 

Funnily enough DH has not picked up any hikers since. However, as I'm writing this, ES has enlightened me with some of his hitchhiking escapades!!!!! Think there may be words later.