It's the last day of April... can you believe it? Time has a way of humming along to its own rhythm. I'm always amazed.
Every Monday, we catch approximately 30 kilos of trout to sell to our friend, Roberto. His smoked trout business is doing well. In fact, the demand is so great that he called last night and asked if we would catch another 18 kilos today. It's encouraging... of course, we have no sights on becoming anything other than a small scale trout business, but we're so grateful for Roberto's loyalty.
Monday morning, the sun was incredibly intense. At 9 am, the thermometer read 35°C/95 °F! It was sweltering hot, which is highly unusual up at our altitude. However, by 11 am, the clouds rolled in and the temperature dropped to 23°C/73.5°F... then the rain came later in the afternoon. It's been raining for a few hours consistently every day for the past week and everything is looking green and fresh. It's lovely. It was raining really hard tonight and the river rose over a foot covering many of the rocks... first time this season it's been so high. The shelter Kevin built over the aqueduct opening is serving its purpose well, too.
Kevin and I have been keeping busy. Kevin is building garage doors for our carport. These doors will match the garage doors he built a couple of months ago. Not only will it look so much better, it will provide a little more security. Right now, everything is out in the open... it's a carport, so it's a bit messy with wood, tools, plus odds and ends so it doesn't look as tidy as we'd like. Of course, as luck would have it, the current floor is not flush... the roof line is not straight either... Kevin will have to perform a little magic to install functional doors while making it cosmetically pleasing (my first priority, of course). It's a lot of work, but my Kevin loves a challenge... and I'm sure he will figure it all out masterfully.
Our garden is doing well. Our potatoes are growing like crazy. Our tomatoes are as well. I can't wait for them to ripen. It seems like it's taking forever. I should write in a log book when I plant the seeds, when I transplant them into the garden beds and when they're ready to harvest. I'm not that organized, I'm afraid. We have two huge winter squash plants that have recently sprawled across two beds and we've noticed two squashes making their appearance. I can't wait to make soup! Yum!
We woke up very early this morning to meet up with our friends, Maritza and Rolando. We had planned to take the ATVs up the rugged road from Santa Maria to a place called San Isidro de Dota then down to Quepos. It was supposed to be a whole day outing. Okay, obviously, there are no lions in Costa Rica, but there are pumas, so it's possible we might encounter one on our jungle adventure... although very doubtful since pumas are nocturnal and shy... they're rarely seen. So, we settled for experiencing a great ride and witnessing awesome vistas.
Rolando and Maritza led the way while Kevin and I followed. Everything was going well; we were having a great time. I love being on the back of the ATV... such a freeing feeling. And our ATV is so darn comfortable, what's not to enjoy. I wore my bright orange hunter's jacket (no, I don't hunt, but I liked the visibility feature of the bright neon, so I bought it)
And here's a peek at the views we were privileged to take in. Just gorgeous... pictures really don't do justice.
Then, suddenly, the chassis on Rolando and Maritza's ATV cracked. (Well, chassis is probably not the right word, but whatever that part is that keeps the front and back wheels connected). This was bad.
To keep the least amount of stress on the fragile part, we decided it would be better for Maritza to hop on our ATV. I was sandwiched in the middle. At one point, the road became so rough (the word 'mogul' comes to mind), we were bouncing left and right. The whole machine tilted so far to one side we nearly tipped over. Kevin yelled for us to lean the opposite direction and we reacted quickly and managed to avoid falling off. Phew.
We came to an old wooden bridge... it was precarious, at best. The men checked it out and decided it was safe to cross. Uh, Maritza and I decided to walk across... many of the planks of wood were rotten, missing and/or wobbly. Gulp.
This picture was taken once Maritza and I had made it to the other side. Kevin is on the other side getting ready to drive over. Both Rolando and Kevin made it fine, but we were holding our breath.
The day was actually perfect. It was overcast, but not cold. In fact, it was getting pretty hot on our ATV due to all the body heat. We plodded back carefully, but Rolando's ATV's back wheels suddenly swiftly swerved uncontrollably. The chassis broke completely. Even though Kevin brought his tools, he wasn't able to fix it. Rolando could no longer drive on. We had to stop.
The men rode back to Santa Maria to pick up Rolando's truck. This was going to take at least two hours to drive there and back. Maritza and I stayed behind and waited. We sat on the side of the road with the broken down ATV and our cooler full of food (yeah, we made sure that stayed with us, we're no fools). Within 20 minutes, this happened... the fog rolled in. I was sure it would start to rain, luckily it didn't.
Rolando and Kevin arrived an hour and a half later. Record time, for sure! The fog had rolled out and visibility was good again. The men winched the ATV and pulled it onto the truck. Mission accomplished.
It wasn't the adventure we were expecting, but isn't that the definition of adventure... it should be full of surprises.
We'll try again in a few weeks... we still have to go find those amazing waterfalls we've heard about... and pumas, maybe, because we're not afraid!
It's time to wash down the bright green railing on the upper level of the main house. Today was the day.
It was pretty tricky to wash the wooden slats. It's difficult to get into all the nooks and crannies created by the crisscross design. As I scrubbed the railing, it became clear that it really needs a fresh coat of paint. Painting the terrace side will be intricate and tedious, but doable.
My question is how will I reach the other side? I can use a brush and put my hand through, but I won't be able to see what I'm doing. I'll be painting more or less blindly. I'm not convinced that's a smart idea.
I shared my concerns with Kevin and he took out his tall ladder and leaned it from the driveway to the top of the railing. It reaches no problem. Yay! I'm not afraid of heights... but I am afraid of unstable ladders... so, as long as we can find a way to make sure the ladder is secure, then I'll give it a try. Stay tuned...
So, here's a progress report on our tomato plants... these haven't grown particularly high, but they're producing the most tomatoes so far. I didn't even plant these one... they just sprung up without any warning, but they appear to be pretty hearty. The ones in the greenhouse, I've followed the directions, removed all the extra branches and leaves, put stakes in the ground to keep them from falling over and still no significant results. These ones on the island, I pretty much ignore, and they're growing like weed!
I planted this sunflower from seed a few months ago and it was slow to germinate, but then all of a sudden it shot up like the magic bean stalk. It's a least 8 feet tall, if not taller. It's impressive to be sure!
This lizard was on the move and my skills as a photographer are less than impressive, but I managed to click this blurred picture just before the lizard took his bait and ran. In its mouth was a big caterpillar. We have lots of lizards, and we know they eat flies and spiders, but it never occurred to us that they also eat chunky caterpillars... who knew?
My book "Following my tug... all the way to Costa Rica" is currently available here on Kobo. Thank you to all those who have purchased it already! I know several people who are refraining from buying it because Kobo doesn't provide the right downloadable format for their electronic device. I've signed up on Smashwords and will be uploading my book for purchase very soon. Smashwords is a larger distributor and provides many more choices to download... you can even download a PDF!
So, what am I waiting for, you ask? My niece, Chelsea-Lyne Heins, who is a talented artist, has offered to design a new front cover... and she's almost done... I'm so excited! So as soon as the final details are done, it will be ready to go. So stay tuned for the big reveal!!
In the meantime, check out the great reviews the book is getting on Goodreads! (click on the word Goodreads and it will take you directly to the link).
If you've read my book and want to give me some feedback, feel free to do so! I would lov
Well, Holy Week is always busy here in Costa Rica. The week leading up to Easter Sunday is considered the most important week of the year. Costa Rica is 90% Catholic and many of its citizens still observe its deep-rooted religious traditions. We found out yesterday that in Puriscal, a county near San Jose, displays a dramatization of the passion of the Christ (the short final period in the life of Jesus covering his visit to Jerusalem and leading to his execution by crucifixion). People mimic Jesus walking with a heavy cross down the street and then get 'crucified'. I've never witnessed such a parade, but apparently they have it every year.
Our week was full. We had B&B guests, we had friends over, we went to visit friends, we sold some fish, we went to a micro coffee plantation and tasted the most amazing coffee, we hosted a Tico family for lunch... and yesterday, we went to Puriscal to visit our friend Adriana's parents. Her dad gave us a tour of his hydroponic greenhouse as well as his organic greenhouse. He has created a business five years ago to help underprivileged women to be self-sufficient within their community. He teaches them how to grow vegetables as well as how to manage the business and make money. It's all very impressive. The elevation is so much lower than Rio Blanco, Kevin and I felt drained from the extreme heat. We always forget to wear shorts and sandals when we drive down the mountain. We're kind of spoiled with our temperature in our little valley. It always feel good to get back home.
With the onset of the rainy season, the fireflies come out in droves just after dusk for an hour or two and light up our black skies. Tonight, I took Frankie out for a short walk and there were hundreds of them twinkling around us. Frankie seemed a little confused: first she barked at them, then pounced. One landed on her nose. Cross-eyed and ears pricked, she froze not quite sure what to do next. I couldn't help but chuckle.
I'm not sure why, but standing amidst these lightning bugs makes me feel like a child. There's a wondrous, curious and magical feeling in the air... like witnessing Tinkerbell and all her relatives at some incredible party. I'm not entirely sure, but I think I might've shared this same observation in a post a year ago. If so, at least I'm consistent, eh. All I can say is they are spectacularly beautiful and fill me with awe and inspiration! Something everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime. Truly sublime.
During the rainy season, we monitor the river regularly. If the water starts to look dirty, we close the aqueduct gate (a sheet of metal that goes up and down on the other side of this concrete barrier and prevents most of the water from coming through the opening). We close it to reduce the amount of sediment that flows through the canals and into our ponds. The less sediment that accumulates, the less we have to clean the ponds... makes sense. The cleaner the ponds, the better it is for our fish.
Last season, Kevin would put on his rain gear, his big black rubber boots, his hat and would go up with an umbrella. Sometimes the rain lashes down hard, but Kevin has to put the umbrella down to deal with the gate. He also has to lean against the concrete barrier, which is soaking wet. It's a messy situation. So, with the wet season upon us again (it's been raining on and off for the last three days), Kevin decided he would build a shelter over the aqueduct opening. It's made of wood, a plastic sheet, rubber tubing and staples. The staples go through the rubber tubing to stop them from tearing the plastic sheet: it's more secure that way.
To put it up, we put two ladders in the canal: one on each end. We both climbed up and spread the plastic sheet across the wooden frame that Kevin built. Then, we used one of the ladders and balanced it on the slippery rocks right beside the metal grate. I was shin deep (in my black rubber boots), holding onto the ladder while Kevin climbed up and used a pneumatic stapler to attach the sheet to the frame. It was a team effort and we got the job done.
It hasn't rained since it's been up... yeah, go figure. Remember the barbed wire fence Kevin and Martin build to prevent the cows from coming on our property? Well, we haven't seen a cow in the river since then, either. It's just the way it goes.
We had a mother/daughter team from the U.S. stay with us for two nights and here is what they had to say:
From the mother:
Dear Anne and Kevin,
Thank you for sharing your beautiful valley with us – it is so vibrant with colors and life – very peaceful. We so appreciate your style of life and wish more people would join you.
You truly took away any stress I had when venturing outside of my country. Thank you for everything and I hope to return with my husband!
North Carolina, U.S.
From the daughter:
Anne and Kevin,
Thank you so much for your help and hospitality. This place is a gem. I really wish my nephews were here to see all of the lightening bugs – they would've freaked out!
Staying here was a very nice surprise – I kept feeling like my mom and I are very blessed in this lifetime, to 'randomly' pick a place online and end up here: truly a good sign!! Thank you for all you are doing to be present and to contribute to your part of the world and environment.
Peace and blessings! Happy Full Moon – may we release all that no longer serves us and trust that all we need is already here.
Nice, eh? I've said it before and I'll say it again... we have the nicest guests!!! We
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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!