Step Into My Office

My kids confined in boxes but being fed well and they get a daily cleaning.
My kids confined in boxes but being fed well and they get a daily cleaning.

I don’t believe I’ve given you a peephole into my world over here.  I now have a zero minute commute to work which is great!  I open my front door and there I am! No more traffic, lights, groggy people or parking lots.  Above is the lab I go into first thing in the morning to check on the larvae, eggs and pupa that are growing in those boxes and cups.  The table is where I clean boxes, change out food, transfer new kids to their respective boxes or remove pupae for hanging.

The lab i live in for a few hours a day
The lab I live in for a few hours a day

So when I get up and walk out my door, work awaits me.

My house
My house

Here are the grounds:

Looking toward my house from the yard
Looking toward my house from the yard
Casita where the goodies get made during the day
Casita where the goodies get made during the day
Side of the flight house and into the driveway with mountains in the background
Side of the flight house and into the driveway with mountains in the background
Walking in from the parking lot, cafe on left, Flight house on right
Walking in from the parking lot, cafe on left, Flight house on right
View of the mountains from the parking lot
View of the mountains from the parking lot

It’s a big yard, takes a while to water and tend to.  But I saw a cute iguana today by the gate all fat and happy.

Out watering today I saw this little fatty iguana in a tree!  He must've been reall famous because he got down and tried to sneak away from the paparazzi that was me.
Out watering today I saw this little fatty iguana in a tree! He must’ve been real famous because he got down and tried to sneak away from the paparazzi that was me.

Then Fred, our dog, decided to hang out all day.  We often find him at the bar or hanging on main street around the action.  Although we never really SEE him in action, he seems to thrive in chaos.  He is typically horizontal and has really bloodshot eyes.  I saw him trying to pee against a pole the other day and he just stumbled over and didn’t even try.  We’re convinced he has a beer habit.  Or worse.

This is how he looks at any given moment of the day.
This is how he looks at any given moment of the day.

He’s spoiled now (he was a street dog) since I gave up part of my foam mattress topper.  Now his shoulders don’t hurt as bad as laying on hard ground!

Our overly relaxed dog.  We're pretty sure he's an alcoholic.
Our overly relaxed dog. I said we should name him Bed or Dead, not Fred.

Looks comfy, huh?  Spoiled boy.

Speaking of being spoiled, I’m starting to delve into making gelato.  The Sicilian type uses cornstarch which is kind of like eating frozen hot fudge.  Wow…it’s good.  Very creamy texture…silky, almost.  Then I made some the normal way with egg yolks and I did a couple things wrong in the cooling process.  I could feel the ice crystals in it so I’m being FORCED to make it again.  DARN!!!  I did make some mango yogurt popsicles tonight which tasted good in the un frozen form.  We’re hoping these things will sell better than the baked goods.

Mix Mix Stir Stir Married Young It's All a Blur.  These are espresso coffee grinds with the cream, milk and sugar.
Mix Mix Stir Stir Married Young It’s All a Blur. These are espresso coffee grinds with the cream, milk and sugar.
Add that yummy chocolate
Add that yummy chocolate
Mmmm chocolate espresso gelato.  My newest adventure.
Mmmm chocolate espresso gelato. My newest adventure.
Put it in an ice bath minus the ice because i didn't have much of anything
I put it in an ice bath minus the ice because I forgot to make some, so it was just cold water.

You have to mix it up every 45 min or so to keep ice crystals from forming.  I don’t think I mixed it enough times and it didn’t cool down quickly enough,  Lesson learned…next time I’ll do better!

Speaking of chocolate, I’m SUPER excited because I noticed our cacao tree has little flower blooms on the trunk!  That means cacao (chocolate) pods!!  How awesome would that be!?!  Now we’re talking organic chocolate making.  I think I’ve found my calling.  ha!

OOOO we have blooms on our cacao tree which could mean cacao pods one day!!  It's better to fall in chocolate than in love.
OOOO we have blooms on our cacao tree which could mean cacao pods one day!! It’s better to fall in chocolate than in love.
Cutest little flowers EVER
Cutest little flowers EVER

And since we’re already in the flight house, might as well show you what’s going on there too!

I was collecting larvae on the senna and didn’t even notice the two Sulfur’s sitting right in front of me.  Man, nature is freaky.  They really blend into that leaf.  Their babies are a bright yellow then turn green later on.

Sulfer's blending in well on the senna.
Sulfer blending in well on the senna.

Our little morpho’s are growing still:

baby morpho larvae
baby morpho larvae
Me moving the baby caligo larvae to the banana plant with Orlando, the tour guide.
Me moving the baby caligo larvae to the banana plant with Orlando, the tour guide.

Here I am in action moving some baby caligo larvae out into the real world.  We ended up moving them again though because the wind was too rough on them.

So at the end of the day, this is what I see before going into my house:

Whispy clouds with high winds
Whispy clouds with high winds
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Two Month Progress Report

First snake I've seen in my yard
First snake I’ve seen in my yard

It’s hard to believe it’s ONLY been two months.  Had this been a place where I had no way to know what day it was or I forgot to put the marks on the wall, I would swear it was six.  Just when I was saying to myself earlier today that its been a while since anybody has burned a pile of rubbish, sure enough someone JUST started doing it.

I want to say that I’m no religious fanatic.  And I sort of hate to use this statement because it sounds like I am…however, I sure feel like I’ve been tested.  It’s probably just living in a different country and the things that go along with it.  I just think about that night in my room where I’m finally happy that I got a net over the bed and I’m feeling pretty content.  I look up to see two gigantic roaches on my door.  The insect that I’m most afraid of (besides black crickets).  It’s as if someone is saying, “You can’t have it all!  You can’t be completely happy, so take THIS and let’s see what you do!  BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!”

Then there are the nights, which only started happening recently, where the rain is TORRENTIAL.  Scary, loud, threatening and there’s not a damn thing I can do but wish it away.  I’m just grateful that this tin roof doesn’t leak.  At least not on me or on my electronics.  Then once the rain finally subsides and the sun comes out, the mosquitoes are completely unforgiving.

I’m tired of cooking.  I’m tired of shopping for things I don’t even like and I’m tired of being hungry.  I almost liked it more when I WASN’T hungry…at least I didn’t HAVE to cook or go to the store.  But now my appetite has returned which poses another problem.  Eating.  I feel completely limited and uninspired so it turns into frustration and feeling malnourished.

I’m SOOOOO tired of being hot.  It’s 6:30 p.m., the sun is down and there is no breeze. I’m in a long sleeve shirt to keep the mosquitoes away and it feels like it’s 95 degrees.  I’m tired of this house I’m in and can’t WAIT to get to the hotel I booked last night in San Jose.  It looks like complete bliss at $78/night.

Ok, so is it coming through that I’m a bit frustrated?  I have decided to move to Lake Arenal in July though.  The house will be better, but who knows what the circumstances hold.  The food selection and prices will be about the same but at least I’ll have an oven and a REAL stove AND a microwave!!  It won’t be a tin roof…well, if it is, at least the walls go up to a CEILING.  The temperatures will be mild and even cool at night.  So maybe I started off right with this suffering of mine.  It gives me a lot to be thankful for in the future.  I will be contending with earthquakes and one of the most active volcanoes in the world 20 miles away.  I will be in a pretty remote area but will have a view of the lake and a dormant volcano.  I’ll still have toucans and howlers to wake me up in the morning from what I understand.  I just hope there aren’t as many dogs barking there.

I finally got tested by having a stray come into my life…which was COMPLETELY my fault.  She didn’t come back today, by the way.  She followed me to work and that was the last I saw of her (for now).   But it just emphasizes the problem of strays in this country and probably EVERY country.  There is no ‘pound’ or ASPCA here; nobody to call to come get the dog.  It’s hard knowing that they really are good animals and just want a friend.  I completely understand it.  I felt really good when she was walking beside me…like she WAS my friend.  I felt like she’d have my back if anything tried to attack me.  So it was hard yelling at her to go away and having to pick up a stick and watch her cringe in fear, as if she knew exactly what that meant.  I hate not being able to help her and I know I won’t forget yesterday anytime soon.  I could feel her fear when we’d walk past yards with other dogs and they’d come rushing at the fence barking furiously…knowing that if that fence hadn’t been there, it would’ve been ON and death or serious injury would have ensued.  She wouldn’t bark back, but get closer to me as if I would save HER…and I probably would have tried my best.  It makes me sad.

I suppose I haven’t been completely tested.  Knock on wood, I haven’t been robbed, mugged, hit by a car or otherwise injured.  It seems that each week at my job I hear of someone who had to go to the hospital for one thing or another.  Just today I heard about a guy that just started who fell off a bridge on his bike and was seriously injured.  Nobody knows what really happened…whether he was knocked down by a car or if he was drunk and fell.  People end up falling off their bikes on these rocky roads and get hurt.  Some people get hit by cars at night because they drive like MANIACS here and some dumb people don’t even have lights or reflectors on their bikes or themselves.

So yeah, it could be worse…glad it hasn’t been.  But I’ll tell ya, it hasn’t been easy.  I’ve met some really nice people here.  I’ve had strangers approach me while I was alone on a deserted beach and it was all cool.  I’m not saying that it would always be like that, but luckily it turned out ok.  I like to attribute that to my personality although I don’t actually think these people had bad intentions.  Do I feel like making a permanent run back to the States yet?  Nope.  The last thing I want to do is go back to work in an office.  I’m sticking it out down here.  Maybe the second quarter will be better.

It Was Such a Nice Dinner Until….

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I heated up my leftovers from dinner last night with my neighbor.  She made a wonderful cream of broccoli soup and added in almost a WHOLE package of bleu cheese!  I used the other small chunk of cheese she sent me home with to put on some warm pita bread and watched the howlers eat.  What other place can you have this kind of nighttime entertainment from your front porch?  IMG_8989lo

So after darkness settled in, I was just here on the computer, minding my own business and I heard something.  It was like a small commuter plane coming into my verandah.  It buzzed by in back of me and then THWACK!  It landed on something.  Terror gripped me immediately as my eyes darted around the room, looking for the new invader.  I’m instantly brought back to memories of that roach.  You remember the ROACH, right?  I look up at the light…nothing.  The ceiling…nothing.  The wall next to my bedroom door…and then BAM!!!

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For once, I had my camera and even took a 3 minute video of this thing (which, BTW is not a roach but a long horned beetle).  At one point in the video, it dropped from the ceiling and I sort of screamed like a little girl…a TRUE scream you just can’t make up.  My god, the last thing I want is this thing to get on me…especially after seeing the mandibles on this dude.  LOOK AT THAT MOUTH!!!  It looks like it could cut through my bike chain!! Here’s the video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mwxaevpJzK4&feature=youtu.be

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And what kind of bad ass has ANCHORS for FEET!?!?!?  As if the jaws of life can opener face wasn’t horrifying enough…ANCHORS?  REALLY???   So eerily, he’s sort of settled in the same spot as the roach had…I hope not waiting for some innocent gecko to come by or for me to get up and pass under it.  I will need to do that at some point…but he seems pretty comfy…ANCHORED in there.  In the video (which I will post eventually) I said, once again, it was about 4″ long.  I’ll peg him more at 3″ without the antennae.  I’ve been trying to find out what they eat besides small villages, but I can’t find a thing for some reason.

You’re not going to believe this but I just saw the beetle move and sure enough a gecko is right in front of it.  They faced off for a while and the gecko is now backing down and running away.  Phew.  Now if my leg is chewed off at the knee in the morning, you have a picture of the suspect.

Anyway, I’ll try to leave you with a little less of a scary picture of a couple crabs that were in my yard.  Actually there has been an influx of them since the heavy rains…they’re coming up from the beach.  Every single one is different…the larger ones have yellower legs and the small ones are more orange all over.  Absolutely beautiful.  Now why aren’t I scared of these guys??  Look at the claws on them!  Maybe because they’re so darn cute when they run sideways!?

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I’m Never Wishing for Rain AGAIN!

I've always wanted a swimming pool!
I’ve always wanted a swimming pool!

You know, it was so nice.  The evenings were cool, the mosquitoes weren’t as prevalent.  The weird thing was that I’d never seen it go THAT long without raining.  It was a good week and a half of pure sunshine…not a threatening cloud in sight.  Then I got worried that they’d start rationing water, which I really wasn’t prepared for because I figured it HAD been raining.  This is COSTA RICA for god’s sake…land of WATER, RAINFORESTS, RIVERS, LAKES…how could anything dry up here?

Ooooo!  AND a waterfall!
Ooooo! AND a waterfall!

Then like a scene from ‘Big’ where Tom Hanks asks Zoltar to grant his wish, I said, ‘Maaaaaan, I wish it would rain’.  With that, came the rain.  It hasn’t stopped.  It’s been going on for days now.  Last night it rained on and off so hard I couldn’t sleep.  I walked out this morning to the view of my new swimming pool, installed by mother nature.  Even the bird at 4:45 this morning seemed to be annoyed.  No doubt getting soaked, but also unable to belt out the song loud enough for anyone to hear.  Oh, I heard it though…thank you.  I listened and just heard him trail off like trying to catch his breath and putting out his wing and flapping it down, as to say…’meh, forget it!’

And yes, i had to ride my sweet bike to work in the rain.  I’ll say one of the better things I brought with me are those Columbia quick dry pants (shorts).  My Campmor jacket has done me well and the croc ballerinas are perfect.  I’m one of the only idiots that seem to be out in the rain on my bike, but hey…gotta go to work, right?  Oh, and the poor sloths got caught out in it today…it had cleared up and they were in the garden then it started raining.  They actually didn’t seem to mind TOO much but they sure looked pathetic all wet.  I would’ve taken a picture but was too busy getting them inside.

This also means no laundry gets done (peeeee yew!) and the mold will start multiplying at an alarming rate on everything.  Not exactly the kind of perfume I like to be sporting.  I guess it’s time to wish for some SUN now, huh?  I’ll get right on that.

EDIT: 23 minutes after I wished for sun and posted this, check out what happened.  I can’t make this stuff up.  Life is kinda funny, huh?

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