Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Some Things Change, Some Things Stay the Same

Today I was making soup for lunch. (That’s a new one, isn’t it?) As I was cleaning up the potato and carrot peels, I saw a huge tarantula on the kitchen floor next to the garbage can. Usually when I see an insect that creeps me out I put a glass over it and wait for Ran to come home and free it. Well, a glass wouldn’t fit on this sucker so I got a colander and put it over Mr. T and got out of the kitchen. That thing gives me the shivers!

Yesterday I went to the grocery store. I’m getting used to buying meat by the kilo instead of the pound. I also went to the department store to buy some fabric to make curtains for Ryan’s bedroom (we’ll see how that works--- I may just pay someone to sew them for me). I had to remember to measure her windows in meters instead of feet. I’m still converting colones to dollars in my head whenever I shop so I can figure out how much I’m paying!

We finally got a Monteverde phone book. All of the emergency numbers (including 911) are on the first page but it’s a lot easier to navigate than the Austin phone book since it’s just twenty pages long. Some of our friends don’t even have a phone at home. I guess I shouldn’t find dial-up internet access so archaic when I take that into consideration.

Ran and Daniel are in Puntarenas today. They’re shopping for things for the Pension that we can’t get here (or we’d have to pay a lot more for because we’re up here). I hope that Ran will also pick up some hangers and pillows and maybe even a blanket. And a doll for Ryan. There isn’t much to shop for here. I know I keep saying it… it’s true! But this weekend there’s a craft fair at the Friends School. Maybe I’ll find some cool knick knacks or Christmas gifts. I need to get to know more of the community because I think the way to get “stuff” (besides traveling to San Jose or “the States”--- I can’t stand that expression because people would always use it while visiting Hawaii, forgetting that they were in one of “the States”—but enough about me and my issues), is to have people make them for us. Like cool shirts for Ran or sheets that aren’t scratchy and too small for the bed.

Maile is having fun chasing the wildlife and getting into the trash… same old Maile. Yesterday we had at least 20 pizotes in our yard digging through our organics. (Here everything organic gets put out in the compost pile--- not just veggies and fruit. Maile was freaking out so I wouldn’t let her outside. Being the dog she is, she jumped through the window and chased them away. Yesterday and today we also saw an agouti in our yard. It’s an R.O.U.S. (rodent of unusual size--- like in The Princess Bride but not as ferocious). Ryan loves to run outside and look at all of the animals and bugs. She thinks the tarantula is really cool. Thank goodness I’m not raising this child alone… otherwise she’d be a wimp who puts a glass over insects instead of picking them up, declaring them beautiful.

We still haven’t decided if we’re keeping Cotton Candy Ho, Ryan’s new bunny. Clara doesn’t like her and doesn’t look like she’s planning to change her feelings. We aren’t willing to have two bunny cages so they’ll have to learn to tolerate each other (and hopefully eventually love each other) or CCH goes back. In the meantime, Ryan is loving being in a four-pet family. She’s our little Elmyra--- she defines “smother with love”.

Well, there’s no Rotel or Velveeta or soy sauce or canned soup or comfy pillows here. But fear not! When you get here you’ll find: Hershey’s syrup, Pillsbury cake mix, good coffee, great folks, a terrific lifestyle and the Smith gang waiting to show you a good time. Some things never change…

Pura vida

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Real Life Has Begun

Well, we’re hotel owners. It took such a long time to get here but we’re thrilled. Ryan worked with Ran for an hour yesterday while I did the grocery shopping for our party. Ryan likes to sit at the reception desk and deliver her standard line, “Do you need anything?”

The party was a success. I was surprised that so many people came. I made Korean chicken (always a big hit), potato salad (thanks, Tonya and Erma) and seven-layer dip (hooray, Teeny). Sabine brought homemade goat cheese… very yummy! I also baked a chocolate cake which was well-received since ovens are rare in Costa Rica. Ryan gathered everyone together so we could sing happy birthday to Ran.

Our house here is spacious enough but we don’t have any furniture yet so the typical thing happened: everyone gathered around the food table, then went outside to hang out and talk. The boys built a fire at the beginning of the evening so it was nice to sit around it as we enjoyed the full moon. Ryan had several costume changes and was a wonderful hostess.

So now it’s Saturday morning. Clara is sitting on my lap (licking my arm) as I type and Ryan is beside me reading me a story in Spanglish. Ryan is getting her second bunny today--- a white one--- and she said she is going to name her Cotton Candy Ho (maybe we can call her Candy or CC or Cotton Candy). Ran is working all day so Ryan and I are going to hang out this morning and do some post-party cleaning. She has art class this afternoon and we’ll head to the Pension tonight to meet Ran after work.

Thanksgiving was uneventful (except for the phone calls) but I think we’ll be able to have a semi-normal Christmas. (I’m going to start decorating the Pension next week.) Of course we’ll have to go out of town to shop for gifts since there’s nothing to buy here… you’ll see when you come.

Well, we can’t wait to see you all! Time to eat a piece of cake. Aah, the good life…

Pura vida

Afternoon update: Clara doesn't seem to like Cotton Candy Ho. Maybe it's the name that turned her off--- she took a huge bite out of Candy's backside. I spent some time applying antibiotic ointment on the wound and we'll just have to see what happens next. Poor CCH must be miserable. I'll keep you posted on life at the Smith farm.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Lucky Me

I wrote this on November 19 and it's for my family... you know who you are.

My husband, daughter, dog, cat and I have been living in a foreign country for a month… to the day. We’re going through a chaotic transition and it’s during times like these that I depend most on my family. When I say family I don’t just mean the people I am related to by blood or marriage. I also mean the family that I have chosen… my family of friends.

The blessing of friendship is one that I have an abundance of. And at a time when I need my family of friends the most, I find that I am without some of the communication comforts that I have become accustomed to. I can’t see my friends every day or every week or every month at girls’ night. I can’t get online and send corny emails whenever the fancy strikes. I can’t pick up the phone without first purchasing a long-distance calling card. But somehow I am happy. And I feel lucky to have such an amazing network of strong, beautiful, intelligent, supportive people thousands of miles away. Because they are a short distance from my mind… right here in my heart.

pura vida...


Wednesday, November 10, 2004

We don't need no stinkin' humidifier!

The bad news is that I have been out of touch. Ran has been working a lot and Ryan has been sick (nothing to be alarmed about... just a cold). But the good news is that we're getting settled and enjoying life here. I hope to have internet access at home next week. It'll be dial-up and on the same phone line as the home phone. It could take a year (I'm not kidding) to get a second phone line. Either way it's only 56k but I'll just be glad to not have to leave the house to check my email or post a blog.

A quick recap... Ryan had a great birthday. She rode a pony and got a beautiful brown bunny that she named Clara. We spent a couple to days at Los Lagos and saw the volcano. Ran has been working a lot. I have only been working a little. Very little. It's kind of like Austin! I'm going on a tour of the coffee plantation for the co-op job tomorrow. The coffee co-op is in walking distance from our house. And tomorrow night I start my teaching job. I will be teaching English at CPI (google it) on Tuesday and Thursday nights. It's also in walking distance. This walking thing has been great for my lungs as well as my waistline!

We moved into our house on the 2nd. It needs love and furniture but we're excited about it. It's close enough to everything to be convenient but far enough away to be tranquilo (peaceful). We have seen all kinds of wildlife in our yard... even a river crab at our front door! The other day there were 15 pizotes in our yard... they're kind of like raccoons I think. And the birds and butterflies are incredible. And the foliage too. And the sunsets. I could go on and on. It's pretty wild living up in the clouds. Everything is very moist. We have to paint the walls with mold-resistant paint. Our cement floors sweat when it's cold and rainy because of the humidity. We miss you all and we're going to have so much fun showing you our new home! Don't forget to bring house shoes and a sweater.

More to come... especially once we have internet access at home!

pura vida