An update on the kittens

cats in Costa Rica 1Sunshine and Lluvia are resting this week as they were both fixed (much to the horror of some of my Tico friends, yes, Sunshine, the boy, was fixed).

Overall, they seem to be roughly on my same schedule, waking up at 5 a.m.  Of course, when they wake up, it’s like they’re running a marathon through the house (and over my not yet fully awake body).

Sunshine is the digger.  He loves to crawl into small places and get under the covers.  For some time, Sunshine had also taken to sucking on Lluvia’s ears (weird, yes) and kneading his paws into her head.  I felt bad for both of them.  That Sunshine obviously missed his mom and for Lluvia as she really didn’t seem to appreciate the gesture.  Fortunately, he’s not doing it as much anymore.  He’s also huge.  One day it was like he became a full grown cat and they’re still only 4 1/2 months old!

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Lluvia is the climber.  She climbs up everything she possibly can.  She is also the huntress.  Instead of just eating from her food bowl, there are a few necessary steps she must take first.  She must first try to attack the scooper in my hand. Then once the food is in the bowl, she must take at least 2-3 of the pieces out of the bowl, proceeding to kick them around the room a bit, before she eventually eats them.  She’s also killed 3 baby geckos.

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They are, at times, little troublemakers.  I was speaking with the owners of my property one day and had left my laptop on the coffee table.  Then I heard the crash.  The laptop, which was open and turned on, had been knocked off the table and was upside down on the floor.  As you may remember reading from past posts, I’ve had a lot of problems with my computer lately.  Thank goodness it’s still functioning!

My yoga practice has become much more mindful with the kittens.  In a seated forward fold, one of them will decide that’s a good place to sit…on my back.  In bridge, they will decide that under my back is a good place to sit.  If I happen to be wearing shorts with a drawstring, they will do everything possible to jump on me (while standing) and get the string. In pigeon, one of them will lay on my back calf.  And in savasana, I’ve had Lluvia playing with a shoelace next to my head.

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All that may sound annoying to some of you, but to me it’s just a part of kittenhood.  I’m enjoying it now and laughing at their antics as I know it will not last.

This will be my last post for the year…happy holidays and see you in 2015 for new adventures and more fun!

Chrissy

I get by with a little help from my friends…

It’s been one of those weeks.  It actually started going downhill about a week ago when I decided I wanted to buy some bread and chose to go to a Panaderia that had been recommended to me by a friend.  I’ve pretty much given up on eating bread, not just for health reasons but because it’s really terribly made in Costa Rica.  I got a whole wheat ciabatta and it was hard on the outside and total air on the inside.  I can’t understand why there are bread shops if they can’t make a decent loaf of bread (and my sourdough girl at the farmer’s market disappeared a few months ago).

I realize bread is a silly thing to complain about but it’s just one piece of the abnormal puzzle that I live in.

So then came Monday/Tuesday and it was like one massive tropical snowball was hitting me.  First, I broke my Bodum coffeemaker…the glass part.  Fortunately, my first housekeeper in Tamarindo broke the original bodum’s plunger part so I had saved the glass (again, why you never, ever throw anything away).

Then, the Costa Rica tax year ends on September 30th, and I’ve been trying to find a new accountant as I wasn’t really confident in the abilities of the one I was referred to last year.  The one that I found wanted to charge me $500, twice what I paid last year.  Now listen, I have a tiny little business here that barely has any income or expenses.  The accountant knew that.  But I’m assuming he also knew I’m a gringa so might as well try to rip me off.

On the bright side, when I told my property owner of the problem, she told me she knew of an accountant that works out of his house, across from the church, in one of the 3 little homes near the little bridge. (yes, that’s how we give directions here).  She volunteered to walk me down there (with her two children) so I could meet him and discuss his services.  He turned out to be very nice and much cheaper than any of the other quotes I had received.  But he needed all my expenses printed out which is how I spent all of Tuesday afternoon (and yes, I said a little prayer for all the trees I was destroying in this “eco” country that requires paper copies).

And, just as a quick note, we were able to go down to meet the accountant because my housekeeper had canceled on me…again

We had also called ICE on Monday to try to increase my internet speed (as it was, it felt like I was on dial up from 20 years ago).  They told us it would take 24 hours to activate.  But of course, 24 hours later, that wasn’t done and I called again, had to deal with an incredibly incompetent woman who insisted that I only had placed the order 20 minutes ago (it was now Tuesday afternoon and my property owner had called ICE on Monday) and when I asked to speak with a manager, she hung up on me.  Then I called back and was told, by a manager, it would take at least 3-4 days to activate.  I swear, they can never get their stories straight.

Also, on Monday afternoon, I got a call from a friend, whose shipping account I had used, telling me that the vitamins and protein powder which had been stuck in Miami for the last 2 weeks would require a note from a doctor.  And he was at the doctor and the doctor wanted $85 for the “office consult” and to write the note.

Fine.  I’ll flipping pay the $85.  Then I’m told that another girl’s parents ships her vitamins all the time through the post office and she doesn’t even have to pay customs taxes or fees.  God help me.  I try to follow the rules and I get screwed.

Next comes trying to transfer the money to my friend’s account.  His account is with BCR.  My account is with BNCR.  BNCR will allow me to make transfers to other BNCR accounts but not to BCR accounts without a special code…which they tell me on Tuesday morning that I’ll have to go to immigration in San Jose to get the code.  I decide that’s crazy and to try to circumvent the waste of time in San Jose.  So on Tuesday morning, I go to the bank to see if they can put my online banking account into my company name, with my company’s identification number…as the entire problem stems around the fact that the online banking account is accessed through my passport number.  I get there, wait 45 minutes for a bank rep, I tell him what I want and he looks at me totally confused but is willing to try (normally, they just say no but I know this rep has a little crush on me).  We almost get through the process when he tells me that in order to set up the account, we’ll need to type my business debit card PIN code into the computer.  Which of course, since I never withdraw money from the debit card, I have no idea what the PIN is.  So, another waste of time which I will now have to find the piece of paper with the PIN code in my house and then return to the bank to try to set this up once again (and hopefully get the same rep).

Then twice in the last week, my computer has died.  You know, that scary blue “death” screen.  My entire life is dependent on having a computer and if this one dies, well, I’m pretty screwed.  I don’ t have any visitors coming until March…the computer has got to stay alive until then.

And last but not least, I just cannot seem to get my clients in Costa Rica to pay me on time.  All of my clients in the US and even those abroad who pay me through PayPal, all pay me by the due date or more often than not, on the day I send them the invoice. And I never have to ask twice. That is NEVER the case with the clients in Costa Rica and is a gigantic pet peeve of mine.  The work has been done, it’s been done well.  Now it is time to pay me.  I shouldn’t have to send reminders every month on the last day of the month.  I shouldn’t be wasting my time contacting every client here, tracking down payment.  The electric company doesn’t send reminders and yet they remember to pay their electric bill.  Geez, the electric company doesn’t even send bills!  At least I send a bill with plenty of time to pay.  And the other problem is many of them pay me through other banks which means 3-4 days of processing time before it gets into my bank account.  So when they wait until the last minute, it means I don’t have the money to pay my rent and utilities. Technically, the money is supposed to be in my account on the last day of the month.

On the bright side, I’ve got some really great projects that I’m working on for clients in the US and that’s keeping me {somewhat} happy and sane.

Emilio from Mini Price (my little Costco) offered to have the 42 pound bag of Fresh Step litter delivered to my house at no charge.

And a special note of thanks for a friend who’s been checking in on my all week.  I don’t know if it was a little birdie who told him or my less than positive facebook posts but somehow he knew I was on the verge of a meltdown and stepped up to make sure I was okay.

So I’m grateful for my friends this week who have helped me with the various problems that I’ve run into.  Mental breakdown avoided…at least for the moment.

(and I promise you all that next week’s post will be a little happier…but this is real life on the rich coast, thanks for bearing with me and letting me vent)

Pura vida…Chrissy

Sunshine + Lluvia = A Colorful Rainbow of Playful Fun

pets in Costa Rica

pets in Costa RicaOn Sunday, I introduced new little loves into my home…Sunshine + Lluvia (Spanish for rain). My property owner begrudgingly obliged my request to adopt these two kittens from a woman who lives just down the road from me. Her brother had found the cats…inside a cardboard box, abandoned on the side of the road (ugh). This is now the second experience I’ve had in 6 months where cats were left inside a cardboard box (remember this post here). I don’t understand how anyone can just throw away living creatures. First, they’re ridiculously cute. But more importantly, they are living, breathing beings just like you and me.

It’s been 18 months since Harmony passed away and I really didn’t know when, or if, I’d be ready to adopt again. But (just stay with me here through this one), several months ago, their names just kind of came to me. And I knew that if I adopted again, the cats names would be Sunshine + Lluvia. I trusted that I’d know them when I saw them.

So when I saw a friend’s post on a local Facebook page with a photo of these two adorable kittens, I just kinda knew. It was Sunshine (boy, yellow tabby) and Lluvia (girl, gray and white tabby). They’re about 7 weeks old and teeny tiny!  The first day, they were a little confused and disoriented but by Monday, they had taken control of the house.  They love to play (they are seriously laugh-out-loud entertainment) and sleep (a lot) and are using all of Harmony’s cat toys, beds and blankets so really all I had to do was buy them food and litter.

Speaking of food, I think, if I knew anything about feline nutrition, I could probably turn Lluvia into a vegetarian.  The way she was trying to get at my chickpea and lentil burger makes me think there’s a chance there… On the other hand, Sunshine was too intrigued with the sheet hanging over my sofa to be bothered with what I was eating.

Over the next few weeks, they’ll have their first shots and, of course, get spayed and neutered.  I’m excited to see how their little personalities develop and who they become.  While I still miss Harmony, it’s really nice to have life again in my home.

cats in Costa Rica

I also want to take this opportunity to encourage everyone to adopt, not buy, pets.  For more on why I so strongly believe this, hop over to my wellness blog here...

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.

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Rainbow Sunsets, Dancing in Marbella, Beers and Boys in Bus Stops

San Juanillo Bar, Costa RicaMy last few nights in San Juanillo, I hung out with friends that I had made during my short stay there.  And I had so much fun.  I really felt like a teenager again. One night, we started out at the bar in San Juanillo, dancing to salsa (we were the only ones there) and eventually made our way to Marbella (another tiny town known for its great surf) and a “dance club/bar” where, again, we were the only ones dancing to the hip hop music.

Another night, we drove down to San Juanillo’s Black Sand Beach to drink a few beers and watch the sunset.  And a stunning rainbow appeared.  It was pure magic.  Totally worth the motorcycle burn I got just a few minutes before.

San Juanillo rainbow

From there, we drove to the local bar but the “abuela’s” (older folks) were working that night so there was no smoking in the bar and everyone was hanging out at the bus stop.  A constant stream of guys on their motos pulled up and chatted, smoked a cigarette or a joint and then headed off to wherever they were going.

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A fun dinner was then enjoyed at the local restaurant that had just re-opened and my friend’s puppies were entertaining as they ran around the table, begging for the crust from our pizzas.

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Such simplicity there in San Juanillo.  Such a different way of life.  I hope to find a way to embody some of that into this new chapter I’ve begun here in Manuel Antonio.  Of course, I’d prefer to do it without the hangovers that followed those nights.  I am definitely not a teenager anymore!

Pura vida…Chrissy

An Update on the Lemon Tree(s)

So backing up the story to when I found the lemon seeds in late November…

I had pretty much given up on my little lemon seeds.  I googled how long it would take to germinate and everything I read said 7-10 days.  I was caring for it every day, making sure it had enough water and even talking to it – telling it how much I wanted the seeds to grow (really, it was borderline begging)!  I fertilized it with my coffee grounds (I read that those made a good fertilizer and it’s better than putting it down the drain).  But two weeks in, there was still no sign of any green sprouts.

Then, on Day 21, I looked inside the pot and much to my surprise, there were two little green stems popping out of the dark soil.  I was so excited!  When Kevin showed up that morning to work, I told him, Tengo buenas noticias!!! (which of course he had to correct my pronunciation of noticias). And I dragged him over to the window to see my two little sprouts.  He was just as amazed as I was!

lemon tree sprouts

And since then, another two have sprung up out of the soil!

Lemon trees at 2.5 months plus a red pepper plant (in front)
Lemon trees at 2.5 months plus a red pepper plant (in front)

Of course, now it’s time to practice patience.  I’ve read it could be years before I see any actual lemons produced.  But that doesn’t matter.  Just knowing that I’ve got at least four lemon trees growing in a country where they don’t exist makes me so so happy!

Pura vida…Chrissy

Why Costa Rica

Well, I’m at the 2 month mark now.  It’s still surreal.  Here are the top reasons why I moved to Costa Rica.  I could have probably listed 100+ reasons but I figured I had to stop at some point.

1. Warm, tropical weather year-round and no threat of hurricanes

2. Friendly, helpful and beautiful people, inside and out

3. Simpler lifestyle – less cars, less traffic…more walkable, more sense of community

4. Awesome environment and environmental protections – over 25% of the land is protected and much of the unprotected land remains undeveloped.

5. Less pollution

6. Locally grown, fresh food

7. No army since 1948 and no nuclear power.  They actually plan to be carbon neutral by 2021.

8. No allergies to the food or the local environment

9. Democratic country with a female president

10. Cost of living is greatly reduced compared to California

11. No chapped lips

12. No stop lights for approximately 70 kilometers from the town where I’m living (well, there is one in Santa Cruz but it’s pretty rinky dink and it seems like a lot of people don’t even pay attention to what color the light is!)

13. A local airport and an international airport close by

14. San Jose is less than an hour from the local airport

15. No quarantine for bringing pets into the country

16. Fresh mangoes at $0.70 each

17. All the gallo pinto and Lizano that I could possibly want.

18. I feel fully alive, radiant and purposeful here.

19. I get to try surfing and stand up paddling again and hopefully will make one of them a daily practice!

20. I’m already in paradise so every day feels like being on holiday.

21. There’s no such thing as a heater here in Guanacaste.

22. I have more opportunity to explore areas of the country that I haven’t yet visited

23. My wardrobe consists of sundresses and sandals

24. My feet receive a daily exfoliation from walking on the beach.

25. Pura Vida!

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness

Like I mentioned in my last post, while I don’t always make it the twenty feet out to the beach other than at sunrise and sunset, I do actually spend about 90% of my waking hours outside.  I have a covered patio with an electrical outlet and the hotel provided me with a table and chairs to work at during the day.  I also have two lounge chairs but often find myself getting a little too comfortable in them when I’m trying to work (I revert back to vacation mode and a cold beer and siesta often calls out to me when I sit on them).  The hotel restaurant and lobby are also open-air so the only time I’m ever inside is when I’m in my room – which is hardly ever since even when it rains, it’s still warm and I can sit outside.

This is the opposite of my life the last few years.  Living in California, I was confined to my house.  I would often look at caged birds and understand their plight – neither of us had freedom to live the lives we were supposed to live.  When I tried to leave my house, I’d suffer from severe allergies.  Technically, it wasn’t actually an allergy but that was the only way to describe it so people could understand.  And even then, often they’d think I was just exaggerating, thinking “how bad could it really be, she just has allergies.”  The suffering I’ve experienced in my health over the last few years has been unbearable.  If I spent any  time outside, I would often spend days after with nonstop watering eyes, runny nose, sneezing, and ear aches.  It sometimes got so bad that I couldn’t even breathe out of my nose long enough to be able to eat with my mouth closed.  I would end up not only with a red and raw nose but also large red spots around my eyes from the nonstop watering.  My only reprieve was visiting tropical warm climates like Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Cuba.  Mentally, the confinement took its toll on me.  The only thing that kept me going this last year was knowing I was moving.

Now, I finally feel free…and happy.  I can sit outside all day and not have a single allergy (except, of course, to the darn mosquitoes and no-see-ums).  So I take walks on the beach every morning, walk into town, eat outside at every meal, socialize with guests (sometimes a little too much as there is work to be done!) and staff  and thoroughly enjoy every waking moment.  This is how life is supposed to be.

Pura vida…Chrissy

Random smiling

I’m generally a happy person.  Even when things aren’t going well in my life, I try to stay positive and just get through it, knowing there has to be an end at some point.

But lately, I’ve noticed something else.  Smiling. Totally random smiling.  Whether I’m sitting in traffic, at the grocery store or just hanging out, I often catch myself with one of the biggest smiles on my face.  I can literally feel the happiness spreading across my face.

And then I get the little flutterings of butterflies in my stomach.  But it’s not fear or apprehension that is causing the butterflies, rather it’s excitement and eager anticipation for what’s to come.

Pura vida…Chrissy