Did you know you should never pick lemons between 11 am and 3 pm? Apparently, if you pick the fruit during that time, it dries out the tree and the lemon you pick. This could be an old wives' tale... or highly researched... who knows? Kevin spent some time pruning again today and some of our lemon trees are going to require some merciless chopping. I wonder if all that willy-nilly picking at all hours of the day accelerated their poor condition. We have some lovely, healthy lemon trees, too, but others need some real tender, love and care. It's going to be be one of those 'cruel to be kind' sort of thing.
While Kevin and Martin were pruning the peach trees this morning, they were throwing the branches over the hill towards the river. All of a sudden, Martin yelled at Kevin to come over. He pointed down the hill and this is what they saw... well, not this exact Danta, as neither of them had a camera (so I had to borrow this picture from the internet). Dantas are a type of tapir. They are very large (they can get as big as 4 ft high and 6 ft long). The one they saw was maybe 3 ft high and 4 ft long... big enough. Dantas are not vicious. They won't bother you unless you bother it. Martin said it was his 5th Danta sighting on our property in 15 years. They're quite good at staying out of sight, but Kevin is really pleased that he has proof that they exist on the property.
Today, at 3 pm, Albarito, Cindy and their kids, Sharon and Tomas, came to have a look at our fruit trees. Albarito owns a beautiful orchard and knows all there is to know about fruit trees. We have, on our property, peach, plumb, avocado and lemon trees that all need some attention and we thought we'd enlist Albarito's help and wisdom. He told us where to prune, how to tie down the branches to encourage them grow in such a way that the picking is easy. Our lemon trees produce abundantly, but some are diseased and we just weren't sure whether to cut them right down or leave them be. Luckily, we merely need to cut them back. Our avocados, on the other hand, need to be replaced with new ones, which we will do. We'll have to visit a vivero (a nursery). I also want to plant more Aloe Vera. I'm reading about all its health benefits and versatility and since they grow easily here organically, might as well grow more.
"Time — when pursued like a bandit — will behave like one.
'Richard from Texas' in the book Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
I was reading this line as I was sitting under our covered porch this morning. It was a warm 24°C/75°F, sunny with a lovely breeze. I looked up and gazed, to the left of me, at the rushing river cascading over the rocks, providing the most exquisite white noise, and to the right of me, hummingbirds flitting from flower to flower next to our large pond. The sentence above struck me as powerful and true. My personality type tends to push on, always feeling there's more to do. Today, I decided to bask in the luxury of reading my book – for the second time. I've been reading for hours and yet I have so many more hours ahead of me to do whatever... today, time was standing (almost) still... perhaps because I wasn't chasing it. What a lovely revelation.
SIster Gladys, smiling ear to ear
Our friends arrived at 11:00 am. I drove down to Copey and met them in front of the church. We find it's easier to meet people in Copey and lead them to our place than it is to give them directions. It's not difficult, but there are no signs and no street names. One wrong turn can spoil a very nice drive. Jorge, Sister Gladys' and Sister Gloria's friend (and driver) followed me in their van up to Martin's restaurant where they parked. I took them the rest of the way in our 4x4, crossing the river. Once at home, Kevin greeted them. There were lots of happy Spanish words floating back and forth... qué lindo... muy precioso... qué rico... These women (and Jorge) are the kindest, nicest people and always so appreciative. I'm happy to report we were able to communicate much better today. It appears, although I get frustrated with my lack of Spanish skills, I have improved considerably since being here (and Kevin, too!). I can't wait to be able to speak without having to search every other word in the recesses of my brain... it gets pretty exhausting... but it's great practice.
After taking the tour of the property, they did a bit of fishing. This is Jorge, proud of his catch.
Sister Gloria and Sister Gladys (who happen to be biological sisters as well)
Both Sister Gloria and Sister Gladys had a go at catching their dinner. Well Sister Gloria's and Kevin's dinner. Sister Gladys is allergic, but likes to fish. And she caught the biggest fish caught so far at Hush Valley Lodge. A whopping 2.2 lbs! Whoohoo! Well done, Sister Gladys!
I gutted and cleaned the three fish. We cooked the fish and some chicken on the bbq. I was really happy that everything else was ready. I didn't stress at all – I could enjoy their company and concentrate on the conversation, which I really needed to concentrate on. Jorge speaks quickly and thinks we're catching everything he's saying. He calls me Annie, which is quite endearing coming from him, for some reasons, but it always takes a second for me to realize he's addressing me. Spanish-speaking people can either say Ana (which is what Gladys calls me)... or Annie... but they can't seem to pronounce Anne (it ends up sounding like Ang).
After lunch, we sent them off with two more fish, a bagful of lemons and some flower plant clippings (for Gloria who just loved all our flowers).
We had a great day.
We're looking forward to company from San Jose visiting tomorrow so we went about preparing for their arrival. Martin's been so busy working on other projects, the lawn was getting pretty scraggly. We asked him to weed whack and mow it today. It looks so much better. Kevin caught two fish first thing this morning and I cleaned, gutted and filleted them to make Ceviche. Ceviche is fast becoming one of my favourite dishes, but it takes quite some time to prepare (especially if you're a novice at the filleting process like I am... boy, do I ever need more practice! Thank goodness Ceviche requires the fish to be cut into little pieces... my one saving grace). Then I diced and spliced carrots, onions, cilantro, cucumber, tomatoes... not to mention squeezed 12 lemons. So worth it, but a lot of prep work, which is better to do the day before so I don't stress tomorrow morning. I also cleaned the house and then went out with Kevin to get some errands done. I went to a Copey Learning Center board meeting... rushed home to feed the Trevorettes and put the Bettys to bed. I made two pizzas for dinner while I cooking some spuds for the potato salad I'll be serving with lunch and then made banana bread. I just wanted to do as much today as possible so I can enjoy spending time with our special guests tomorrow. I say special because when we first visited Costa Rica in September 2011, Sister Gladys and her sister Gloria, who also happens to be a Sister, were our gracious hosts for the first two days that we were here. We were introduced to them through one of Kevin's friends back in Canada. Sister Gladys has a friend, Jorge, who drives her around town. He drove us around town a lot too, so we became fast friends. He speaks just a little English. Sister Gladys and Sister Gloria only speak Spanish, so we have our work cut out for us... somehow we manage to communicate and look forward to seeing them all again.
As I was gardening with the blue skies above me this morning (like most mornings), I realized I've never seen or heard an airplane fly overhead... ever. You'd think with all the thousands of flights that fly across the Americas, and the fact that we're up in the mountains so close to, well... the sky; you'd think we'd see or hear one on occasion. In their place, however, we see rainbows on a pretty regular basis.
Airplanes... rainbows.... airplanes... rainbows... hmm, I guess we can't complain.
this is the tree in question... now you see it...
Well, if I'm completely honest, Martin felled the tree, but Kevin engineered the task, to an exacting science. Once again, we had a tree issue. Kevin had noticed a few weeks ago that there was a significant crack in one of the trees that was located beside the driveway and leaning on another tree. He was worried it would snap and fall on its own... probably directly on the electrical wires (Sod's law).
A different perspective of the same tree... you can see how it's leaning into the other tree. To the right of the tree is a bank down to one of the ponds, directly in front of the guesthouse.
This is the electrical wire that could get in the way, so, we had to get it down, somehow...
So, leaving nothing to chance, Kevin took care of this little detail before the chainsaw was fired up: the electrical wires covered a distance of approximately 400 feet. He climbed up a ladder that was precariously balancing on scaffolding. That was yesterday's job. It wasn't hard work per se, but it was harrowing to say the least. Gulp! For the record, Kevin is not afraid of heights... just ladders!! So there was a lot of fear conquering going on... poor guy. He had to set up and go up, then down, three separate times. It was so mentally exhausting, he was completely drained afterwards. Who can blame him.
With the electrical wires safely on the ground, out of harm's way, this morning, Martin began to saw the tree. After a few minutes, he decided the chainsaw was too loud and he couldn't hear the tree cracking. He needed to hear that very specific sound the trunk makes when it's ready to go. Martin elected to fell the tree with an ax instead. The plan was to chop it in such a way that when the tension gave way, the bottom of the trunk would slip vertically down below and the top would fall forward across the driveway.
The drama mounting... my nerves were shot by this time. We heard that tell-tale 'crack' and Martin and Kevin both ran down the driveway like their life depended on it (because it did!). Plan A worked precisely as hoped... miraculously. I don't mind thanking whatever angels might have been watching over us today.
Once the tree had fallen, we saw, yet again, how hollow it was. It was a good thing we cut it down before it wreaked havoc on its own accord.
The view without the tree... and all the wood that Martin cut with the chainsaw. They both worked all morning to clean it up.
Then, of course, the electrical wires had to go back up...
From the bottom of the scaffolding to the top of the pole is approximately 18 ft. Then, calculate approximately 50 ft in the opposite direction, if he were to fall. I held my breath the whole time. All's well that ends well. Phew. I sure hope 'we' don't have to do that again anytime soon.
This is the electrical wire... up close and personal.
A woodpecker feeding off the bugs on the tree
Well, I feel a bit strange about our 8-month mark. It's one of those 'wow, it's gone by so fast' combined with 'it feels like we've been here a very long time'. This time last year, our house had been up for sale a week and we were in hyper-cleaning mode,maintaining that model home look. It was a different kind of stress. I was going to work everyday, feeling quite duplicitous: excited but fraudulent. It was only the first week, and we were getting great feedback so our optimism was soaring. Little did we know it would take 2-and-a-half months before the right buyer would come along. There was a lot of anxious moments within the selling process, yet Kevin and I felt so sure that moving to Costa Rica, buying this farm, was our next step forward: we learned the meaning of patience during that period. Had we not sold our house, I might have learned the meaning of nervous breakdown as well. I just wasn't coping very well. Although last year's winter was pretty mild, it was still winter. I had a good job, but felt like I was just going through the motions. I felt the only way I'd find my true purpose (other than being a mother to my two great kids) was to take a humungous leap into the unknown, leaving my comfort zone. The fact that Kevin was just as eager to embark on such an adventure was my saving grace. What are the odds, really? Once we sold the house the stress shifted. Relieved that our dreams were coming true, there were all kinds of things that now needed serious attention: negotiation with the seller of the farm, packing, shipping and so forth. We had 45 days to decide what we would sell (and sell it... which included my Lexus and Kevin's 4-Runner), what we would take with us and what we would trash (my favourite part). I love a good purge... Kevin, not so much. We had to get all the legal documents ready, signed by our lawyer, signed by Foreign Affairs, then finally signed by the consulate of Costa Rica in Ottawa. While I was going to work, Kevin was back home taking care of all this paperwork. That was a full-time job in itself, but it all got done. As I write this, Frankie is snuggling comfortably beside me... but back then, getting a straight answer regarding what we needed to do to bring her over was probably our biggest headache. Kevin called the airlines, the airline Pet Safe department, the Costa Rican Consulate, Costa Rican customs, the agency in Costa Rica who helps expats with all sorts of questions... everyone had a different answer. It wasn't until we walked out of the airport with Frankie that we were able to breathe a huge sigh of relief. We did it, but certainly not due to any clear information.
Today, 8-months later, I look back and I see how much we've accomplished in a relatively short time. We survived our first rainy season, was introduced to the raging river, managed to go without internet for a whole month, crossed obstacles, solved problems, raised some healthy (and tasty) fish, raised some happy hens (tasty eggs), learned how not to plant potatoes, what to do when white flies infest our beautiful tomatoes plants, got rid of wasps by chopping down a rotted tree, cleaned up the hatchery, did some fundraising, started to teach English, opened our B&B with what we would call success. Many firsts for us, yet it all feels perfectly natural. It feels like we were meant to do this. It kind of feels like we've been doing a whole lot longer than only 8 months. We've dug right in and it now feels familiar. Only recently we've figured what routine really works for us... I'm an all or nothing kind of gal, so I tend to either procrastinate or work like a demon for 12 hours straight I definitely had that confirmed when I started writing a few weeks ago. I sat in my chair for hours without stretching to the point it felt like rigor mortis had started to set in. I've decided since we can pretty much be guaranteed of gorgeous sunshine every morning, I will do all my outside work before lunch. Then after lunch, I will dedicate 2 to 3 hours to writing. Yesterday, I decided to write in the guesthouse (only during the days when we don't have guests, of course... that would be a little weird otherwise). I love the lighting in there, the quiet, nothing to distract me. So, as the rain starts to fall more consistently in the afternoon, I can sit and write my book. Kevin, well, he always keeps busy with one project or another. A farmer's job is never, done.
We continue to feel blessed and look forward to what tomorrow brings.
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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!