The Cenizaro Tree

flowering cenizaro tree in Costa Rica

cenizaro tree in Costa RicaThere is this gigantic Cenizaro tree in my neighbors yard that borders alongside the front of my home.  It’s huge.  No picture I take does it justice.  It’s trunk is short (maybe 15-20 feet) but its many branches extend outwards in all directions and are each at least 30-50 feet long!  It is home to mossy branches in winter that are covered in bromeliads and wild orchids.  There are two black squirrels that run around looking for food and it’s a favorite place for white faced and squirrel monkeys to hang out, rest, and forage for lunch. Butterflies fight, making a clicking sound like hummingbirds, for their favorite places to rest and countless birds, including 2 beautiful toucans sing all throughout the day.  I also saw a huge green iguana with a bright red head seeking cover during a recent rainstorm.

cenizaro tree in Costa Rica 2

In January, as I noticed a few of the other local trees dropping their leaves, I began to imagine what this tree would look like without leaves and what color its flowers would be.  It wasn’t until mid-March when we got some high winds and all the leaves fell off the tree over the course of a 3 day period.  My poor housekeeper swept the terrace on one of her visits and noticed just before leaving that it was covered in leaves again.  She was going to sweep it up but I just shook my head and told her not to worry.

I was super excited at the thought of the flowers blooming but no kidding, 3 days after all the leaves disappeared, they all reappeared!  Fresh green sprouts popped out of the tree branches…and no flowers in sight.  It was about a week later that I noticed an influx of hummingbirds and then noticed the pretty pink flowers sitting on top of the leaves.

flowering cenizaro tree in Costa Rica

So that was the season for the Cenizaro tree…3 days of Fall, then summer with green leaves, then Springtime with flowers which lasted until just a week or so ago.  And now we’re back to summer (but technically, we’re in winter!).

Pura vida…Chrissy

A Day in San Jose

Plane's shadow

I despise San Jose.  Truly, it is possibly my least favorite city, next to Los Angeles.  It is dirty and cold and there are just way too many people, too many cars and too much concrete.  I don’t know why anyone lives there. (other than every person I talked with told me in Spanish: “too much heat in Quepos!”)

That being said, I did have to go there a few weeks ago. I purposefully booked a morning flight and an afternoon flight so I was only there for a few hours and did not have to stay overnight.  I had an appointment for a check up at Clinica Biblica in downtown San Jose (which is a $50 round trip taxi fare from San Jose International) and while I was there, the doctor I was seeing ordered some blood work and got me in to see a specialist.  He also gave me some medication, free of charge (always nice when they go into their cabinets and pull out free meds!).

The hospital itself was very nice, modern and clean.  The staff were all helpful and friendly and some spoke English.  Surprisingly, efficiency is definitely a strength.  Before I even got on the plane to return home, the blood work results had been emailed to me.  And a few days before I arrived, I received two text messages on my phone, reminding me of the appointment and asking me to confirm (it’s surprising that the country is capable of sending out messages like this but cannot get the voicemail function to work on cell phones).

From what I’m told from a friend, the cafeteria has good food (actually, she said they had really good and cheap empanadas) and there’s a hotel attached to the hospital for people who have to stay overnight for family or friends.  I didn’t go to the cafeteria as I really just wanted to get back to the airport.  Of course, at the airport, I found myself paying $9 for a veggie sandwich at Quiznos so I guess I should have eaten at the cafeteria.

It was an expensive, long and tiring day but all in all, the photos I got from the plane made it worthwhile. 🙂  And I should also mention that my friend Michelle’s organization, Equilibrium, has hopes to create a more green San Jose, building gardens and parks in the more concrete-dense areas.  A good sign for the future of the city…

Costa Rica's Central Pacific Coast
Costa Rica’s Central Pacific Coast
Manuel Antonio view
Manuel Antonio view
Plane's shadow
Plane’s shadow
Quepos, Costa Rica
Quepos, Costa Rica

Pura vida…Chrissy

Costa Rica’s Green Season!

kiskadee eating a frog

kiskadee eating a frogThank goodness, green season has arrived. It started raining at night in early April and by Semana Santa, the weather had finally cooled off (to about 84F) and the nightly rains were bringing cooler evenings and mornings plus a freshness to the air throughout the day. March was muggy and hot. That kind of “stick to your chair” humidity that I have never liked. The kind that can be found on the East Coast of the US in summertime. It reminds me of how my sister once told me that I was no longer allowed to visit her in the summer because of my complaints of the humidity (nor was I allowed to visit in the winter…because of my complaints of it being too cold and not having appropriate winter attire).

The reason I love Costa Rica and specifically Manuel Antonio, is because it’s pretty much the same weather year round. Yes, March was a little uncomfortable but the other 11 months are perfection.  If I had air conditioning, then there wouldn’t have been any issues with the temp.  And here in Manuel Antonio, it’s green year round. There are a few trees that lose their leaves but nothing like the mass exodus of leaves that occurs in Guanacaste leaving everything dusty brown, just like Sonoma County’s summers.

I really have to say, winter in Costa Rica is probably my favorite time of year. The only downside is nothing dries. So my clothes will remain damp until December. But the days are still beautiful, cooler and it really only rains in the late afternoon/evening. And sometimes in the morning. Okay, it’s totally unpredictable. But that’s one of the reasons I love it. That combined with the spectacular nightly lightning shows…what more can one ask for? Plus the crowds have left…Bonus!

I never carry an umbrella but I have restocked my backpack with Ziplocs to weatherproof my camera and phone, should I get caught in an unexpected storm. I’m ready for winter…Let It Rain!

Oh…and as you can tell in the photo above…the frogs have also returned now that the rains have started.  This kiskadee was super happy about that!  Poor little gladiator frog!

Pura vida…Chrissy

Facial Soap in Costa Rica (or lack thereof)

niveaSo when I say “facial soap”, I’m not talking about Lancome, Clinique, Origins…I know that would be asking for WAY too much.  No, all I’d like is some specially formulated soap that I can use on my face.  Not bar soap, not shower gel, not liquid hand soap…Facial Soap.

I don’t know why it’s so difficult to find but then again, I know better than to ask why.

I finally found Cetaphil in one of the local pharmacies.  It was your average size, maybe 8-12 ounces at most.  And she told me it was $38.  WHAT??  $38 for Cetaphil?  She explained it was the brand but still, it’s just Cetaphil.  It’s not Lancome or Clinique!

I know I can go to San Jose’s Multiplaza in Escazu and purchase any of the above for twice what I’d pay in the States but I really just wanted a basic bottle of facial soap.  So finally, after looking in every possible store, I got a taxi to take me to Maxi Pali outside of town (AKA WalMart) and there I found 4 bottles of Nivea facial soap for about $8 each.

And I bought all of them.  Yes, I’ve become a hoarder of anything that I cannot find easily in town.  If anyone would like to buy a bottle, I’ll sell each for $15 😉

Pura vida…Chrissy

Celebrating 2 years of living on the Rich Coast

Celebrating 2 years this weekend of living in Costa Rica.  And I can still clearly remember the months leading up to the move.  But it was only a few months ago, when I ran out of space on my hard drive and had to start finding documents, videos and photos to delete that I came across this piece of writing.  From the date on the document, I wrote it just after I had bought my one-way plane ticket.

There’s still a lot of people who (in hushed tones) think I’m crazy for living here.  But here’s my reasons why.  For my email subscribers, it’s best if you visit the blog to really appreciate the image!

And much thanks to my dear friend Mau who gifted me with the design.  She loves that I love and respect her country so much and when I shared this with her, her immediate reaction was to create something beautiful from the words.  I plan to laminate it (because paper won’t last in Costa Rica’s green season) and hang it up on my frig.