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!

Sunshine

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.

photo1

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.

cat yoga

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

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

 

What I’m loving right now about living in Costa Rica

Sunset in Manuel Antonio

This is my third August, living in Costa Rica…here’s what I’m loving right now…

  • Cool winter nights
  • Indian summer days
  • Sunset in front of my house (although it’s rapidly moving south behind the mountain)
  • Longer days (by only about 30 minutes but still, those 30 minutes are important!)
  • How totally green everything is. In Manuel Antonio, it stays green year round for the most part but the green right now is just so vibrant
  • The raindrops glistening on all the green leaves
  • Mangos
  • The freshness after each rain
  • My new bank account functioning properly and accepting payments from clients
  • And…Not having to share internet with anyone!  It’s still slow but it’s not as slow as before when I was sharing with all my neighbors!

Sunset in Manuel Antonio

Pura vida…Chrissy

Life in a Shoebox

house in Costa Rica

house in Costa Rica

I was recently watching the Netflix series “Orange is the New Black” and one particular episode had me laughing so hard as I could so relate to her experiences.  Piper, the main character, had received a 48 hour furlough from prison and when she visited her ex’s house, she sat down on the sofa and said…”ahhh, upholstery”.  Oh, how I can relate. Anytime I go to a friends house that has normal furnishings, I say practically the same thing.

You see…I live in a broken shoebox.  Compared to the homes that I lived in while in California, that statement is totally true.  There’s not a single closet in my entire house, not even a medicine cabinet.  I keep my toiletries on top of my toilet (probably not super sanitary) but there’s no space on the sink for more than my toothbrush and facial soap.  The cold water faucet on the sink doesn’t work and there’s barely any water that comes out of the hot water faucet (in the bathroom or the kitchen).  And the hot water is really just lukewarm.

I have about 1 sq foot of kitchen counter space plus my kitchen table which has become a counter.  I keep most of my food in baskets along with my clothes. The frig only has one shelf and it is broken in half so I can never put anything to heavy on it.  Additionally, there is a constant stream of water condensation on the ceiling of the frig which makes everything inside wet.

In the bedroom, there is a second bed which makes me crazy to have there but the owners of the property have no other place to put it.  I would love that space to be used as a yoga area as it’s the only place that would fit my yoga mat.  But again, there’s a bed in the way along with my boxes of things I’ll never be able to unpack…because I live in a house the size of a shoebox.

The sofa in the living room is extremely uncomfortable as there are no seat cushions and on my bed, I can feel the springs of the mattress below my alternative featherbed.  Doesn’t leave me with a lot of comfortable places to do my work but somehow, I make it work.

There is no dryer and I share the washer with a family of four along with three other adults.  Currently, my clothes and sheets are taking 3 days to dry and even then, they’re still damp.  I finally gave up on sharing with the entire building the 2 megas of internet that are provided with my rent and am now paying for my own private internet connection.  It meant that I also had to buy a monthly phone line but it’s worth it in order for me to do my work and talk with clients without constant interruption.

I take 3 sleeping pills every night as I’ve just never gotten over the two robberies from last year.  I wish I could live in a home that has security but that would increase my rent by a few hundred dollars which I just don’t have.  Of course, I also don’t have the money to replace everything if I’m robbed again so I’m in a bit of a catch 22. Damned if I do and damned if I don’t.

But somehow, even with all of this, I’ve gotten to a level of acceptance that this is just my life.  I might get robbed again, I will probably never have a sense of security (or closets), the bathroom faucet (that works) may or may not have water coming out of it and I will probably forever live in a shoebox.

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.

MyLifePoem

 

Life in Costa Rica: A look back at 2013

It’s truly been a remarkable year here, living in Costa Rica.  I hope you’ve enjoyed reading the posts as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them. And as we enter into the holiday season, I’ll be taking a short break from writing (unless some exceptional event occurs in my life that warrants an unscheduled post…you never know here!) and so I just wanted to leave you with this final blog: a look back at 2013.

For now, sit back and enjoy a photo/video montage of my incredible 2nd year on the Rich Coast…It’s a little longer than most of my videos but it goes fast and there’s lots of new, never before seen photos in it!

[wpvideo jsEMue3m]

Pura vida…Chrissy

P.S. A side note about last week’s blog – if you only read it in your email box, you missed out on all the fun multimedia videos that I included!  So I highly recommend you check it out on my website, it’s a super fun interactive post!

My version of paradise

It’s been just over a year and a half now of living in Costa Rica. Here’s what I’ve learned…what I love and what I’ve learned to live with.

Let’s start with what I’ve learned to live with:

  • Your clothes will smell from June – October. They also won’t dry (unless you’re one of the few fortunate people to actually have a dryer). But even after you dry them, give them a day and they’ll be wet again. You may also find dirty hand prints on them…

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  • The geckos will be your alarm clock. Mine wake me up between 5 and 5:45 every morning.  Unless the rooster wakes up first.
  • You may be told the following while on the phone: It’s really hard to hear you over those beeping noises. It will take you a moment to realize the “beeping noises” are the tiny cicadas outside. And all of your doors and windows are closed and your walls are made of concrete. Yes, they are that loud.
  • I’ve met tourists who also told me the birds were too loud. Really?  You’re kind of in a tropical jungle…is that something you really should be complaining about?  That’s like complaining that there are mosquitoes.  Or that the ocean is too loud.

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  • You will live with giant cockroaches. It doesn’t matter how clean your house is. They will be your roommates.
  • You change your Oral B electric toothbrush heads not based on a quarterly cycle but instead when a gigantic cockroach decides to hang out on it

cockroach on my toothbrush

  • You will also live with ants.  And if you can’t tell if you’re having an ant infestation or termite infestation, supposedly you can smush it and depending on the smell, determine which type of insect it is. (we can add that to the list of things I never needed to learn)
  • 2 day express guaranteed insured mail within Costa Rica is not guaranteed. Don’t pay extra for this service
  • Don’t be attached to your material items – they will probably get stolen unless you live in a guarded house. Even then, the guards can be paid off. And the police are paid off so don’t bother filing a report as nothing will happen. You will also never be able to sleep through the night again without taking some type of sleeping pills. And even then you worry that by being knocked out on pills, it will make you sleep through the next robbery (which is both a bad and good thing).
  • However…you might get an anonymous phone call from someone who thinks they may have your stuff and would you like to come and buy it back? Only when you arrive, you realize it’s someone else’s camera and laptop that were stolen.
  • You might also be advised to go to the local drug dealers house and just see if they have your stuff, then offer to buy it back. This was an actual recommendation for me to do after the first robbery
  • Your housekeeper will probably show up late. Or not show up at all. And not call.
  • You will not find coconut oil in the stores. If you see someone on the road selling it, stop and buy it. There are an abundance of reasons why coconut oil is amazing to have as a staple in one’s home.
  • Mango season only runs from May – November-ish. No, they do not grow all year round here. Yes, it’s a bummer.
  • The internet likes to go out frequently, especially when I’m on a skype call.  Which is why I always keep my phone handy to use its 3G as a personal hotspot. You may also have to wander around the house trying to find the best signal. While the router never moves, it seems like somehow the wifi signal strength does.
  • The electricity will go out on occasion and unless you’re fortunate enough to have a water tank, when the lights go out, so does your access to water. Fill up a pitcher as quickly as possible. And hopefully you’re not in the shower with shampoo in your hair.
  • Also, disconnect everything from their wall sockets (I’ve learned this the hard way and have already burned out 1 router and 2 laptop adaptors).  I now have a basket of broken, unfixable items at my door.  I’m hoping if I get robbed again, they’ll just grab that and go!  But I do hope they leave the basket…I really like it. + an added bonus that it’s resistant to mold.

broken items

  • Because you never know when the electricity will go out, you also need to have all your most important technological devices charged. At all times. Buy a MyCharge and keep that charged as well.
  • A 20 year old car will cost you $10,000. At least.
  • You will miss your grocery store and cry from an overwhelming inexplicable feeling when you go into the San Jose Wal-Mart (a store you never would have stepped foot into while living in the States).

Walmart in Costa Rica

  • You might go to a restaurant and they tell you they don’t have lettuce. Or bread. Or avocados.
  • Your local market will probably not have the food you’re looking for on any given day. Stock up when you find what you’re looking for. And know that you may have to go to 3 different markets to get what you need for dinner that night. I once had to visit 4 markets just to find 3 bananas (which were more black than yellow – thankfully I was just trying to make banana bread).
  • Most of your food will need to be kept in the frig or freezer. This is because either those gross black bugs will devour it or the humidity will ruin it.
  • You tell your neighbor you have a headache and he offers you a Percocet.
  • You’re having a really bad day and your friend hands you a cookie…if you don’t use drugs, always ask what’s in the cookie before popping it into your mouth.
  • Everything is held together by duct tape and super glue – even the airplanes.

duct tape on airplanes

  • I am still trying to open a business account at the bank where my personal account is. It’s been over 6 months now of dealing with red tape.
  • You will not receive mail as you have no real address (although this could be a positive). When you send mail, it can take weeks for it to arrive at its destination (even when sending domestically). And mail that is received at your local post office appears to be sorted by hand. Welcome to the 1950’s.

Costa Rica post office correos

  • But…I recently had a package put on a bus from a cacao producer in central Costa Rica to the “encomienda” in Quepos. All they wrote was my name and city on the box. And somehow, without a tracking number or an address (return or addressee), we eventually found the box in the warehouse.  It only took two return trips (the first 2 trips, I was told it wasn’t there when I knew it was).  So on the 3rd trip, I went into the warehouse to search for it myself and the employee finally walked over to exactly where it was and handed it to me.
  • Yellow lemons don’t exist (I will keep repeating that one until I die or until lemons start being mass produced here).
  • Procrastination.  I really have no words for this other than “mañana” (re-read the cacao and bank account stories above). Your contractors will often tell you “mañana”, every day. It can be days, weeks or even months before work actually gets done.
  • Learn to accept the national motto – which you will learn is not “pura vida”. It’s “make easy hard” (pura vida does come in a close second however)

The bright side:

  • It really doesn’t rain as much as everyone thinks and we’re not in a hurricane zone. But when it does rain…

[wpvideo 7yYsGBPp]

  • The weather is warm every day with only a little humidity (as long as you’re at the beach. Don’t go inland – it’s way too cold).  77F now requires me to find socks and drink hot tea.
  • The sunsets are spectacular
  • We have palm tree lined beaches and your choice of either black or white sand
  • The air is clean
  • There’s no daylight savings
  • Monday morning traffic is caused by cows, not cars.

cows in the road in Costa Rica

  • You’ll become friends with strangers as they turn into mules to bring you new items and avoid a visit to customs and their ridiculous “taxes”. That is, if your items ever actually arrive. Sometimes, they just “disappear”.
  • You can buy prescription meds without seeing a doctor. Self diagnosis can be interesting. And you’ll probably have to tell the pharmacist what dosage you need.
  • You can live near the beach for relatively inexpensive compared to other places in the world. A bonus is that there tends to be a lot of hot guys walking around with surfboards and no t-shirts. Who will also happily get you a coconut out of a tree.

getting a coconut out of a palm tree

  • You will almost always have blue skies and sunshine in the morning
  • If you can get over the noise, the birds are spectacular (over 800 species call Costa Rica home)
  • Not to mention the incredible wildlife that exists here. Costa Rica is about the size of West Virgina but is home to more than 5% of the world’s biodiversity.
  • There are so many different regions in Costa Rica to explore. Including cloud forests, rainforests (there is a difference between the two), volcanic zones, dry tropical forest (yes, I know that sounds like an oxymoron) and different climate patterns/seasons depending on where you are.

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  • Over 25% of the country is protected land with an almost pristine coastline and vast jungle.

[wpvideo X46i41rE]

  • There will be muddy roads, river crossings and roads that become rivers (yes, this is a positive thing – not only is it exciting and adventurous but it also means there’s still a few somewhat untouched areas to appreciate)

River crossing in Nosara Costa Rica

  • There are lots of weird and interesting fruits and veggies – some I’ve never seen but have grown to like. A lot.
  • The water is safe to drink almost everywhere. **So please stop buying bottled water when you visit…We don’t have landfills for your plastic waste**
  • Markets will often give discounts if you pay with cash. Super helpful when shaving cream costs $12.
  • I have learned how to make my own peanut butter cups, vegan ice cream and pita bread. Next up on the list is pasta (I figure since my flour is frozen, fresh pasta will curtail the problem with the black bugs).
  • We grow coffee AND chocolate AND mangoes here – do I really need to say more?

Costa Rica is my happy placeYou put all of these things together, the good and the bad, and you get my version of paradise. It might not be yours. But it is mine. It is my happy place.

Sure, there are days when I feel like I’m having a total mental breakdown. But it is still 110% better than my life before in California. So I smile and laugh, knowing tomorrow is a new day. And there will most likely be blue skies, chirping geckos and fresh Dota coffee to wake up to.

Pura vida…Chrissy

My New Roommate: A Baby Gecko

Costa Rica baby gecko
Mid-September

There is a baby gecko living in my bathroom.  He’s been there now for a few weeks and doesn’t seem to be growing (although I don’t actually know the time frame for gecko growth) nor does he seem to have the desire to move out into the wild.  I can’t imagine what he’s eating.  Except for the gigantic cockroaches that I also find in my bathroom (and again, can’t explain why they like it there), there’s nothing to eat.  Which brings me to my two fears for this tiny gecko – one: that I will end up stepping on it or two: one of the gigantic cockroaches, which are about 5x larger than this little guy, will eat it.

Costa Rica Gecko
Just this week

But I also don’t want to put it out into the wild as I’m afraid it will be eaten by the many predators that exist outside!  It’s just so small and he has a stub of a tail so I wonder if he’s already encountered one of the roaches (or perhaps it just takes time to grow)!  So for now, I’m just being extra cautious where I step and hoping the cucarachas don’t find my new little friend!

As a side note, I also recently had a butterfly find its way into my home.  I quickly caught it and took it outside, placing it on my mint plant where I think it was much happier.

butterfly in my housePura vida…Chrissy

Moving in Costa Rica…Again

Welcoming Committee at my new house in Manuel Antonio
Welcoming Committee at my new house in Manuel Antonio

When I lived in California, my average length of stay in a house was about 3 years. Even in college, the off-campus apartment I lived in was for 3 years. Both houses I owned for 3 years. But having moved to Costa Rica, I can’t seem to land in a permanent place. I’m told this is normal – that some of my friends have moved 7+ times in less than 4 years. And they have children! One of my friends moved 6 times in two years…and she’s Tica!

And so it was just recently that I found myself once again moving. This time from San Juanillo (which remember I only moved to in June) to Manuel Antonio, about 5 hours south on Costa Rica’s Central Pacific Coast. I had the option to return to Tamarindo but as I wrote previously, I really don’t like Tamarindo.

So on a friend’s recommendation, I decided to try out this new area. No longer in Guanacaste or even on the Nicoya Peninsula, I’m now in the Puntarenas Province living near the gem of Costa Rica – Manuel Antonio National Park – and just a few hours north of the famous Corcovado National Park.

I left San Juanillo for a variety of reasons – I was living in an unlocked, open-air cabina and was literally watching all of my belongings for the last 38 years of my life decompose in front of me due to mold. Every time I got into bed, my sheets were wet and my new pillows and featherbed that I had ordered from Macy’s only a few months ago were also growing mold. My allergies had returned and since I wasn’t eating gluten or dairy at the time, I could only guess that it was the mold growing on everything I owned that was causing my symptoms. Then I was robbed while I was there and my spare, new $1,000 laptop was stolen. I swear, I just hemorrhage money here. I was using the laptop for storage since I’ve run out of space on my old computer so unfortunately, I not only lost the computer but also lost all the files. Oh and the brand new laptop bag that I bought only a month before when I was in San Jose was also stolen. This was the bag I bought to replace the bag I bought last August after the bag I had brought from the States was stolen in the first robbery.  Argh.

Those things along with the fact that the internet didn’t work for 2+ weeks which made it so much more difficult for me to manage my business were the reasons I could no longer stay there. I was so incredibly discouraged and disappointed but there really was no other choice. I loved it there, I loved the people and the place, and I hope someday I may be able to return under different circumstances.

So once again, a new chapter begins. I am hoping it will be a positive change as right now, I could really use a little support from the universe in helping me get – and stay – settled.

Sunset view from kitchen window
Sunset view from kitchen window

Pura vida…Chrissy

Celebrating One Year in Costa Rica

Sunset at Playa LangostaA year ago today, I left California and took off for Costa Rica on a red-eye with my cat and 10 bags of luggage and have had no regrets or desire to return.  These last few weeks, I’ve been comparing my past life experiences, pre-Costa Rica, to how my life has been in the last year.

I’ve seen and experienced some pretty incredible (and some not so fun) things in my lifetime:

  • Stood atop the Washington Monument, Empire State Building and Eiffel Tower
  • Been to the Grand Canyon, Zion, Yellowstone and Multnomah Falls
  • Drank a Hurricane at Pat O’Brien’s in New Orleans (first and only time) and ate beignets every day at Cafe du Monde
  • Seen the Mona Lisa, David and Sistine Chapel
  • Toured the Hershey Chocolate Factory
  • Walked amongst the ruins of Pompeii
  • Stood on Juliet’s balcony in Verona and shopped for clothes in Milan
  • Was denied access to St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice because I was wearing shorts
  • Ate my first chocolate crepe at Mont St Michel
  • Ate gelato every day in Italy for a week (I was 9, my parents were trying to appease me)
  • Ate pizza and pasta and drank wine every day for lunch and dinner in Italy (15 years after the gelato week)
  • Enjoyed a cappuccino at an outdoor café in Portofino
  • Visited the Round Table (as in “Knights of…”), Stonehenge and Westminster Abbey
  • Been to Mavericks twice on a boat with 40 foot waves and had backstage access to the Kart races in Monterey where I met Paul Newman who was wearing purple socks and white shoes
  • Visited the casino in Monte Carlo and seen the red carpet in Cannes (no celebrity sightings at either)
  • At the age of 17, got talked into going into the Dianetic’s building in Hollywood with a friend (we quickly made our way out)
  • Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Big Ben and Anne Frank’s House.
  • Pretty much been to almost every cathedral in France and Italy and every castle in Germany and France
  • Bought my first stein when I was 9 in Germany and on that same trip, visited Hennessy’s cognac in France
  • Went to Tijuana when I was 16 and came home with the worst stomach virus of my life.  Well, it probably wasn’t a virus – more like bacteria from the watered down drinks.
  • Drank a beer with Kelsey Grammar in Puerto Vallarta, danced on the bar at Papa’s & Beer (everyone was doing it!) and ate fresh lobster burritos for breakfast in Calafia (Baja, Mexico not California).  Best hangover food for a then non-vegetarian
  • Visited Cuba and had one of the best weeks of my life although 99% of the food was abysmal
  • Stood atop the active Masaya Volcano in Nicaragua and paid off a police officer at the Nicaragua/Costa Rica border (twice, now)
  • Went to the Panama Canal and the next day visited an indigenous community with no electricity or access to modern day life, acknowledging the stark differences in lives that were less than an hour away from each other

But even with all of those adventures and experiences, nothing compares to the last year of my life.  It’s been challenging and frustrating and complicated but it’s also been, and continues to be, so totally worth it.

Pura vida…Chrissy