Okay this one's a doozy... you might want to settle in with a cup of tea or coffee...
How can I say "we're finally coming up for air" without sounding like I'm complaining? We've had back-to-back guests for the last several weeks... and it's been GREAT! However, I've had little time to catch you up here on my blog. But here's an update lest you start thinking we're twiddling our thumbs over here :)
We've been so busy that I've even failed to take pictures of our last two sets of guests!! Well not so much forgot as much as I was either busy preparing food or hosting, I simply wasn't in the photo-taking zone. But there's been a few opportunities of other things that have cropped up that I was able to capture. So here we go...
So one of my good friends, Jo Anne, back in Burlington mentioned our B&B to friends of hers (this is how it works, generally, lots of supportive people spreading the word). So Julie and Michael contacted us in the fall and booked a 4-night stay. They decided to stay with us at the beginning of their trip then go on an organized tour (we still can't wait to hear all about it!). We had such a great time with them. Super people... and like most of our guests, by the time they left, we felt like old friends. Julie is working her magic, trying to catch a trout for dinner. It's not always as easy (or fast) as it looks. Although, admittedly, it feels like fishing in a barrel, those fish can be sly and hide.
But, everyone gets there in the end...
After saying goodbye to Julie and Michael, we only had a couple of hours to do the laundry and clean the guesthouse for our next guests, Ruth and Fred from Massachusetts who stayed a couple of nights before we welcomed Alain and Monique (originally from France, but now living in Quebec). Guess who got to practice her French?
While our guests were here, I served a lot of meals. One of the great surprises in my garden has been how truly beautiful the cauliflower has grown. For a long time, I just kept watering these long, green leaves with not much else growing in the middle. I thought they were duds. I came close to digging them all out to make room for something else. But, my broccoli plants were behaving in much the same way. Taking their time for the head to emerge, so I decided to be patient a little while longer. It felt as though something happened overnight... I went to water the beds and when I checked (half heartedly expecting a whole lot of nothing), this is was I discovered! I do get a bit giddy when we yield some success. Oh, and our broccoli is following suit, too! Yay!
Another foodie surprise is that Clara (our neighbour/friend/worker) picked these blackberries for me today! I've been waiting for them to ripen so I can make more blackberry jam, which I'll do today (if I stop munching on them long enough to put them in the pot... so good!)
Other topics of interest? Well we've had some animal shenanigans. One night as we were watching TV, we looked over and saw this.
Frankie loves to bury herself behind the throw pillows. I guess it was getting too hot. She sure makes us chuckle.
We also had two bird incidents. The first, a gorgeous emerald green Steely Vented Hummingbird (well, it's our best guess at identifying it anyway) flew into the house, hovered, then cornered itself on the window pane. Kevin was able to catch him (which is no small feat). Before letting him go, we took this picture... (it was about 3" or 4" long)
And a few days later, we heard a BAM then a THUD. It was really loud. I jumped up to see what had happened and found this Mountain Elaenia flycatcher (again, our best guess) stunned on the front terrace. I thought it was dead, to be honest. It wasn't moving. I called Kevin over and he picked him up and let him regain his breath and composure. It took a few minutes. Kevin had time to walk down to the guesthouse to show our guests, then when he felt the bird a bit restless, he threw him up in the air, giving him some momentum and the bird flapped its wings and flew off. Another successful rescue! Phew.
We've also seen a few Resplendent Quetzals in the last few days. Our guests are always on the lookout and Fred did see one fly by over the guesthouse, which he was thrilled about. We're hearing their call so we know they're around.
Oh, and since I've been reading about the cold weather up north, I suppose I ought to update that, too. It's been a very strange 'summer' for us. The last two years, our experience has been that by mid-December the rain stops until mid-April. During the summer months (dry season), it virtually doesn't rain, at all. By the time April arrives, everyone (and every living thing) welcomes any amount of precipitation. The rainy season starts off slow, on and off, until by the time September rolls around, half the day is raining. October is definitely the worst month. Well, so far this year, we've had every kind of weather... the whole spectrum. But the most common is a weird phenomenon where dark looming clouds cover our backyard sky while at the front of the house it's sunny with blue skies and fluffy white clouds. It's as though our house divides the weather system. Very peculiar to be sure. But the temperatures remain at a comfortable 25°C/77°F average. Yesterday, San Marcos (a town 17 km/10.5 miles) reached 34°C/93°F, so we're still very happy to be nestled in our little valley... never too cold, never too hot.
So just to show you what I mean, this picture was taken yesterday and shows the back of the house...
Within seconds, I turned myself around to face the front of the house and this is what I captured... (not the best picture, but it was very bright with that 'sunny' feeling)
Oh, don't forget to check out our guestbook to see what our guests have said about their Hush Valley Lodge experience. Click here.
Another busy week! We welcomed one of my former co-workers from my previous workplace and her boyfriend. Nicole and Kyle stayed with us for two nights. They were feeling reluctant to rent a car so they decided to have our taxi driver pick them up at the airport. It was a good thing, too, because they landed at 4:30 pm and driving in San Jose at that time is slow with congested traffic. And then they would have had to find our place in the dark... never recommended. Two weeks ago, part of the road outside San Jose washed away and it's been closed since then. Our driver knows how to get around that whole mess. They arrived at 8 pm... tired and relieved. After we settled them in the guesthouse, I served them their dinner. The next day, Kevin gave them the tour of the property, they hiked and caught their dinner.
We said goodbye to them on Thursday morning. Our driver picked them up and drove them back to their next stop. The very next day, as Kevin and I were driving up our driveway on our way to do some shopping, we saw a Quetzal fly by. Isn't it always the way? After our guests leave... and before our guests arrive. Little dickens!
Oh my, how time flies (such a cliché, but so true nonetheless). We had a great time with my mum, but I can't believe how quickly those two weeks went by even though we didn't do a great deal, the daily pace was rather relaxing. My mum continued with her walking routine (she created a route on our property) every single morning. She did her stretching exercises while we were busy tending to the animals or greenhouse. I took her to visit two sets of friends who have spectacular gardens and she was impressed with both. And one day she helped us by catching our dinner. Look how beautiful she is... what a pro! That's my mama!
One day, we had to take Bobbie in to get spayed ($20 U.S.) We were expecting to pick her up with a plastic cone on her head to prevent her from licking and tugging at her stitches. When Kevin arrived at the vet's office, he inquired as to whether they would be putting one on. They said it wasn't necessary. I guess they don't do that here. Bobbie was too groggy at first to meddle with her stitches, but it didn't take long for her to perk up and lick incessantly. We were worried that she would rip her stitches open and get an infection so Kevin tried to make a cone out of cardboard... that didn't work. Then he made a little denim jacket from an old pair of jeans. He cut out holes for her legs and made sure her belly was sufficiently covered so she couldn't reach her stitches. It worked for about two days... then we'd find the jacket lying on the ground somewhere... she learned to wiggle out of it. Too clever for her own good, that one.
I drove Mum back to the airport last Wednesday. We woke up to rain and fog that day. The river was dirty and since we just bought baby trout, Kevin elected to stay behind and take care of the aqueduct system to make sure the water coming into their tank was as clean as possible. It was a miserable day and he had to check on them every half hour.
Mum and I drove into San Jose without incident and by the time we arrived into the city the skies were clear blue. When we got to the airport, there were security guards at every door. No one was allowed in except travellers. I had to say goodbye to Mum outside the airport doors and let her cope inside on her own. I felt so bad. My mum is very capable and it's not her first time flying alone, but still, I wanted to make sure there were no other hiccups (she had received an email notice on the Monday saying her flight had been cancelled and Kevin spent that day on the phone trying to secure another flight, and was able to book her on a later flight).
I waited by the sliding doors for about 20 minutes and explained that I was worried that my mother might be having trouble communicating with the check-in clerk. The security guard let me go through reluctantly. I ran down the hallway to the check-in counter where I saw Mum finishing up. She had paid the exit tax, filled out the customs form, and checked her luggage. I waved and she was surprised, but pleased, to see me. I led her to the security area and said one last goodbye. As I walked through the sliding door to leave the airport, I thanked the security guard again and asked if this was a new rule. She told me – in Spanish – that the President was landing and security was heightened for that reason. This was not typical nor was it a new rule.
I didn't waste any time to get back home. By the time I was on the edge of the city moving closer to the mountains, the sky got more and more grey: it rained all the way home from there.
The next day, I heard (from our friend Roberto) that same stretch of road (at the bottom of the mountain outside Cartago) had washed away. About 100 metres (110 yards) worth of road. It will be closed for repairs for the next month or so. I'm thanking my lucky stars we were there the day before.
And now, we have lovely B&B guests from England staying with us. They booked for two nights but have decided to stay a third night. We're happy we have availability... we're pretty much booked for most of February. It's going to be a busy month for us. Someone phoned last week from Costa Rica and wanted to book our guesthouse for two weeks in February: unfortunately, we couldn't accommodate them. We found out that this person called our worker, Martin, to ask if he knew of any other place he could book... apparently the whole Los Santos region is fully booked. Looks like tourism is in full force. Nice!
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Dave and Krista are a couple from the Pacific Northwest that led overwhelmingly busy lives.
Click here to pick up your copy of Anne's book! It's all about their adventure and the establishment of Hush Valley Lodge: from leaving their middle-class suburban lifestyle in Canada to reinventing themselvess in the beautiful mountains of Costa Rica. Check it out and if you enjoy it, please spread the word! Thanks!