Welcome Back!!!

AAAAARRRRGGGGHHHHH!!!!  Ok, maybe it wasn’t THAT shocking, but to be crowded by people in a tram at the airport was a little overwhelming.  I’m back in the U.S. and can now report that I’m adjusting just fine.  HOWEVER I am in the mountains at the moment and not around millions of people just yet.  My first night in Virginia was spent in a WalMart, luckily not in the middle of the day but late at night when no people were present.  I hate to say it, but I was actually happy

My dream about WalMart comes true
My dream about WalMart comes true

to see so much STUFF and went straight to the clothing section, which I’ve never done in my LIFE.  I scored a smaller bathing suit and a top and some shorts then got rushed out of there since we were picking up groceries.  Oh, then I was able to get my Dunkin Donuts, Wendy’s cheeseburger, fries and frostie.  Wow, that tasted good, but the fries seemed really salty to me this time around.

Today, mom and I went for a walk around the lake by her house and we made an animal rescue!  We were walking along and mom noticed something on the ground.  She goes, “What’s that!?”  I immediately recognized it as a tiny turtle!  His little shell was muddy and dry and he wasn’t moving.  My first question was, “Is he DEAD!?!?”

Tuckered out turtle
Tuckered out turtle

I picked him up and he didn’t move for a second, then I saw his front foot move and I said, “NO!!! He’s NOT!” But he still seemed out of place up from the lake on a trail and cold.  I cupped my hands around him to warm him up and we looked for a sunny spot to let him sit near the water and warm up.  Nothing good was available at first, but then we found where a tiny stream led down to the lake had a bright spot so I walked him down there and sat him in the sun.   P1000031lo We watched in suspense, waiting to see what he’d do.   I put him in the chilly water to see if he wanted a drink and he didn’t move.  Then I moved him back to the leaves in the sun and waited.  Before we knew it, he practically ran downstream, bonking his little head along the way.  Then he splashed into the lake and sank to the bottom!  YAY!!!  I don’t know how he stood that cold water, but other turtles were in the lake as well so I guess he was ok.  So yet another animal rescue on U.S. soil!  That made us feel good.  We walked the rest of the lake and headed back to the car (a CAR!?!?!) and had lunch back at home.

So the strange thing here which I noticed my first night was the SILENCE.  I’m so used to hearing frogs, dogs, crickets, god knows what else chirping or barking at night and falling asleep to it all.  Here…NOTHING.  I got nothin’.  It’s so quiet that I actually can hear a high pitch squealing, which I’m SURE is from my days of standing in front of Marshall stacks in small clubs while people (including myself) head banged to thrash metal.  I got a little misty and missed my ‘new’ home in Costa Rica.  But sleeping in a comfortable bed, without sheets feeling sticky and moist was a nice change.  No longer having to worry about closing up the mosquito net or wondering what was outside my door when I had to go to the bathroom was a welcoming feeling.  Yeah…I could get used to this (again)!  But not so quick…I’m still going back in a couple of weeks.

Mom had remodeled ‘my’ bathroom recently and the other disturbing thing was that it was ALL WHITE!!!  Oh NOOOOOOOOO!!!  Now I’m paranoid about getting everything dirty.  But hey, that’s what bleach is for, right?  I feel like I’m in an expensive spa every time I go in there, but again…it sure is nice.

I’m appreciating the things I’ve always taken for granted.  Food tastes better, I’m stuffing my face when I’m not hungry and even Walmart clothes look good to me.  Well, sort of good.  Better than what I’ve been seeing, I should say.  I’m going to enjoy my time here while I can because it could be another 6 months or more before I return.

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Shedding the Old

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Well, I’m in my final days of living in Cocles.  I’m excited to go back to the States for a few weeks and also excited to go live near the lake when I return.  But I am sort of sad to leave here in a way.  I think it takes a few months to settle in somewhere at the very minimum and I was just beginning to feel that way.  I had started waving or saying hi to people I knew on the street, like I was no longer the new kid on the block anymore.  I was one of the few long term people that was still at the Center.  I started to know when the clouds meant rain or not.  My Spanish even got a little better!  I can see how the place could grow on you, but still…there are things I will not miss.

I went to breakfast with my neighbor this morning and saw this poster hanging up that really spoke to me:

IMG-20130614-00833It’s a little blurry, but it says:

Advice from a TREE

Stand tall and proud

Sink your roots into the earth

Be content with your natural beauty

Go out on a limb (!)

Drink plenty of water

Remember your roots

Enjoy the view

What great advice, huh?  All of the things I’m trying to do summed up in this one poem.  I love it!

So I took a final look around, not knowing if I’ll ever see the place again and here are some pictures.

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Relaxing Puerto Viejo style
Relaxing Puerto Viejo style

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Surfing at Cocles beach
Surfing at Cocles beach

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Old barge at Playa Negra
Old barge at Playa Negra
Hawk that's always on the limb over the creek
Hawk that’s always on the limb over the creek
Creek near my house leading to the ocean
Creek near my house leading to the ocean
View to the sea from Zion Cafe
View to the sea from Zion Cafe
In front of Zion Cafe in town
In front of Zion Cafe in town
View from Salsa Bravo in town
View from Salsa Bravo in town
Gonna miss the gecko lovin'
Gonna miss the gecko lovin’

New JRC Resident

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Meet Andrea, the tiny little coati that came in a few days ago.  Everyone’s voice went about 10 octaves higher when they saw her.  I don’t know how she was found, but she had been chewing on the end of her tail.  The next time I saw her she had a bright red bandage wrapped around it.  They were letting her in the sloth garden so she could socialize and encouraged everyone to play with her.

Coati’s are known by many names like the Brazilian aardvark, hog nosed coons or my personal favorite, snookum bears.  They are relatives of the racoon family and usually travel in bands of 10-30 (but only the females…males travel alone).  They are

Mmmmm I likes me some banana!
Mmmmm I likes me some banana!

known for their intelligence and amazing sense of smell (check out the nose on that girl!).  They keep their ringed tails high in the air which helps them locate one another in tall grass.  Heck, these guys are even found in extreme southern parts of Texas!

I jumped at the chance of manning the sloth garden the other day and sure enough, she was dropped off to me.  She quickly proceeded to eat Stanley’s banana.  When she got bored of that, she’d wander around a little bit and then I’d go pick her up to hold her for a while.  She has some mighty sharp teeth and growled and bit me when I attempted to get her.  But once she was on me, right up to the shoulders she went and snuggled in just fine.  It was a cute sight so I had to take some pictures.

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She got tuckered out pretty fast and would fall asleep on me.  I would wake her up after a bit and get her moving again.  They are not nocturnal so I didn’t feel bad about doing it.  She’d go to the corner of the garden and try to chew on her tail again, which I would stop her from doing. I know she was doing it for a reason…and I know how good it feels to scratch an itch but I didn’t want her to hurt herself either.  Someone told me they put the bandage back on at night.  Poor girl…she would scratch her little legs as she sat on her tiny butt, back up against the wall like a bear.  Another volunteer came in and told me she had mites.  Mmmmmm great, and she’s been climbing all over me.  Then she said, “well, most of the animals here have mites”.  After my encounter with chiggers in Guyana, I knew immediately that I would be going straight to the shower, throwing my clothes outside and scrubbing down well.

Regardless, she was still fun to hold and play with.  At one point, I had her on my chest and she shoved her big ‘ol nose in my throat and took a nap.  Now tell me THAT ain’t cute!  IMG-20130602-00740

"Are you my mama?"
“Are you my mama?”

Then on the way to deliver the squirrel food I noticed this awesome skink that I’d never seen before!  Apparently he’s not new, he just hides a lot or I’m not back there that often to have seen him before.  The picture, as usual, doesn’t do his colors justice.  He was really outstanding!  Quite a handsome lad!

IMG-20130602-00683I also passed by the tree frog area which always has eggs stuck to the leaves so I took a picture.  They fall into the water below when they are ‘ready’ and then transform into tadpoles and eventually frogs.

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Today I went to the beach again, as I have been trying to do when I realized I won’t have it around for much longer.  Plus, I FINALLY found the perfect spot in Playa Chiquita where the water is calm and I can have my own personal bathtub to myself.  I brought along some of my $8 salami to feed the fish (they don’t know how good they have it).  As I stood there doing that, some of them thought it was a great opportunity to chew on ME instead of the salami.  Just when my friend invited me to have a fish pedicure in Virginia (which I turned down), I told her I can get one here at no charge.  Those tiny fish teeth hurt sometimes too!

These fish work for free!
These fish work for free!

Unfortunately I’m back to having a love/hate affair with this town again.  Something blew in with the cold front the other night and I have some bad allergies, along with a bunch of other folks too.  Just when I was feeling good, SOMETHING had to happen.  On top of that, the sand fleas are eating me alive tonight.  I thought to myself, “I don’t know HOW anyone can LIVE HERE!!!!!!”  Two more weeks, Steph…two more weeks.