Life in the big city

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Today I had to take the bus into town and I’ll admit that I’m afraid of doing that kind of thing for the first, even second time.  I had looked at Google maps to get a layout of the town and it was big.  Way big.  I’ve been so used to small villages with a couple of streets where it was hard to get lost.  The town of Turrialba has about 26,000 people but the areas that encompass it brings it up to about 70,000.  That sounded like a lot until I read it’s 635 square miles.   I’m unsure about San Antonio, maybe a couple hundred.  I am seriously the only white girl here.  Well at least I feel that I am.  The only thing I might have going for me is that most people think I’m a Tica.  I’ve seen a lot of Ticos with paler skin than mine, which I’ve always found interesting about CR.  I don’t dress quite like the locals so that probably makes me stand out too.  But as soon as I open my mouth, it’s all over.  Here I’m thinking I’m doing fairly well with my Spanish and I find myself with a neighbor on this trip today and I’m sadly mistaken.

THANKFULLY I did see her at the bus stop today and I told her what I was doing (it was only a 2 1/2 hour trip).  She was so sweet…she helped me out by going to lunch with me, even though she didn’t eat.  She showed me the bakery and helped me through that process.  Then she showed me the salon where she gets her hair done and introduced me to the girls there.  They were very sweet and you could see they felt sorry for me not understanding what they were saying.  Then we went to the grocery store where I got enough stuff for the next week and it was cheaper than the other places I’ve been.  Then she took me back to the bus station and got me in the right line then she left to go do her errands.  Wow…talk about nice huh!?  I told her that I was very happy she was with me today.  These truly are the friendliest people in the world!!

So the bus ride cost 385 colones which is about 70 cents and took around 20 minutes.  That’s when I realized pretty quickly that a bike just isn’t going to work here.  The road was curvy, steep and narrow.  I’d be killed for sure.  I totally see myself flying off the edge of the mountain or at the very least, blood in my future.  IMG-20130805-01188 So yeah…what a bummer.  That was going to be my exercise routine too.  I’ll have to walk around more and check it out.  Although riding on a dirt road with big rocks wasn’t what I was looking for either.  Ok…so less chocolate cake for me now.  Bummer.   I think the problem I’m going to have with this climate is that it’s comfort food weather.  Ha!  I’m eating way too much ‘Christmas time’ food.   It totally feels like Texas in the late fall/early winter at night which makes me believe that it’s cool all the time but it’s really not.  The daytime is perfect.  I am loving sleeping under big fluffy comforters and breathing in crisp air.

Anyway, groceries were less expensive here than any other place.  I walked away spending $52 and got a WHOLE LOT MORE than I did in Puerto Viejo.  Although the chicken seemed a little high.  I got 1.3 kilos (3 lbs.) of skinless chicken breasts (3 of them) and it cost $16.  Yow. IMG-20130805-01179 Well, whatever…it’s good for at least two meals each so it’s not that bad.  A pound of hamburger meat was $3.  So I’m happy with the grocery situation.  There’s a more modern grocery store but you have to take a taxi to it, which I might do next time just to see what they have.

Who's gonna be stylin'?
Who’s gonna be stylin’?

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There were a lot of clothing and shoe stores too which is dangerous for me.  I kind of do need different clothes here since most of mine are for the warmer climate.  Excuses, excuses!  I do want to take my time next trip so I can look around.  I’m certainly not going to be able to walk the entire town but at least a few of the blocks to familiarize myself with the place.  I’ll go on a day and time when it’s not so crowded on the bus, which apparently are Monday and Friday.  Here are some more pictures while coming back home.  Oh, and the weather held up once again until I got home and it started drizzling.  I went out back to see the fog hanging seriously low so I did a quick video of it.  You won’t be able to hear what I’m saying though, so don’t even try.
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Waiting to get on the bus in Turrialba
Waiting to get on the bus in Turrialba

Oh, just a few final shots from Tronadora too since I forgot to include them in a different post.

This doesn't even look real
This doesn’t even look real

EDIT 9/9/13:  I finally managed to try and paint that frog!:

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Awesome painting in a shop
Awesome painting in a shop

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Shower and shave at the same time!
In a restaurant restroom – shower and shave at the same time!

Animal rescue via email!

Cane Toad (Bufo marinus)
Cane Toad (Bufo marinus)

Around 9 last night an email blast went out from a community member saying that a resident here was in a panic because her dog had come in contact with what she thought was a poisonous animal during their walk that night.  She said the dog had blood coming out of its nose, salivating a lot and was having trouble keeping its eyes open.  I immediately thought of the cane toad, pictured above which was in MY yard a few days ago.  These guys are nasty and are becoming a huge nuisance not only in Australia, but now in Central and South America.  Dogs are particularly prone to biting and even trying to eat these things which spells bad news…usually killing the dog.

I got online and researched the steps to take in order to flush out the mouth and any other suggestions I could find and quickly email back the owner.  I didn’t think a vet would be open at this time of night so it seemed like a grim situation unless she took action fast.  All I heard back later was a thank you for the suggestions and she’d keep them handy for future reference.  She didn’t mention if the dog was ok or not!  I emailed back and asked if it was and this morning she said she had given the dog some milk and took it to the vet and was doing fine.  Phew!  I was glad to hear that.

Let this be a lesson to anyone who has a dog…know what kind of creatures live in your neighborhood!  I was surprised she didn’t think about the cane toad.  They’re all over the place here.  I was hoping it hadn’t been a bite of a viper or that really would have been bad.  The symptoms were somewhat similar so I’m happy the dog is still alive.  Not that this pertains to most of you reading my blog, but the best thing to do in case of a cane toad encounter is to flush out the dog’s mouth with a garden hose at an angle so you don’t drown the poor thing…do it for at least 10 minutes and then get to a vet ASAP.  Call them first to let them know you’re on the way.  Try to make sure the dog doesn’t swallow the water either…I’m sure this is easier said than done.  Inducing vomiting somehow can also help, especially if they ate the toad.

UPDATE:  I just found out that the dog WAS bitten by a snake but she didn’t say what kind.  It sounds like it will survive though although I’m betting there might be some tissue damage involved since it was bitten in the mouth.  What a drag…  Well, my ‘rescue’ may not have been spot on but at least it was a good try! 😉

I’m in a time warp!

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Remember how I said that time went by so slowly in Cocles?  Well here, it just flies by.  I assume a lot of that has to do with getting up later, having a better nights sleep and passing the time with friends.  People I’ve talked to about it here also agree that time goes by quickly.

I’ve been having WAY more fun here than I did down there though.  I’ve met a lot of nice people and they have been generous by taking me out on the lake, sharing food and wine and teaching me new things!  I’ve been able to go out on the lake for free to watch wakeboard practices given by Sander and while he had some relatives in town, we all cruised around for a while as well.

Fly Zone Wakeboarding CR with Sander
Fly Zone Wakeboarding CR with Sander

Sometimes my friend Gabriel takes me to the other side of the lake, like to pick up Danny one day at a different dock, which is where we saw this giant Mastiff.  He was old and thin and not in the mood to jump or slobber so that was good.  His feet were almost as big as mine.  There was a shepherd nearby as well who was also gigantic.  What do they feed these beasts here!?

HUGE mastiff
HUGE mastiff

Danny has a horse and foal (shown in a different post) across from his house.  He says the horse likes bananas so we took some over to her.  The little foal seemed interested too but mom ate them all before we could give any to the baby.  The baby even climbed through the barbed wire to come up to us and Danny had to shoo it back toward mom.

I wanna rest, ma!
I wanna rest, ma!
Banana eating horse
Banana eating horse

Just for fun I’ll throw in some other pictures from around here.  Yep, another sunset (they sure are nice here); a picture of a wicked looking tree near my yard and me going to the skateboard park at Volcano Brewing Co. on the other side of the lake.  No skinned knees!!  I’ve decided that I’m not going to say ‘no’ to learning anything new anymore.  Back in the states I would’ve probably said ‘no’ to skateboarding and ‘maybe’ to paddle boarding.  But hey, if I can do these things in the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen, I’m gonna do it!  I won’t let any opportunities pass me by and I think this will help open my mind and let go of the fear of trying new things.

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Putting the pit to good use
Putting the pit to good use
Awesome tree in front of the house
Awesome tree in front of the house
Skateboarding at Volcano Brewing Co.
Skateboarding at Volcano Brewing Co.

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Have I died and gone to…

Costa Rica!?!?  The walk I just took behind my house has to be the best one I’ve ever done.  I ascended a very steep and rocky hill, my heart pounding hard with each step.  On either side of me was intense green and trees of different varieties…living fences dotting the way  up the path.  My head was spinning with environmental intoxication…getting dizzy from looking around so much.  I found myself standing there with my mouth open admiring the views. Massive bromeliads grew on almost every tree.  I picked guava, orange and lime from trees hanging over the road; saw at least 15 pairs of parrots and toucans flying over me and I was absolutely and completely alone.   I scared off oropendola’s…those basket weaving birds and only slightly intimated hawks who watched me pass underneath them.  I walked quickly under the big trees with purple flowers because I could hear a swarm of bees in each one, hoping to not be attacked.  Cows all took the time to look up at me as if they’d never seen a human being before.  To my west was the tall mountain, devoid of almost all trees.  The ones that were left had been windswept; bare on their sides like hair blowing in the breeze.  They stood awkwardly, fighting against the sloping of the mountain and constant heavy winds, not quite knowing which way to go.  To my east was Lake Arenal with the green rolling hills on the other side of it.  Clouds hung low and heavy, tripping over the tops of the mountains along the way.  Ascending higher, I looked behind me and saw the proud, towering Arenal Volcano.  Good things come to those who climb!  The cool dampness supplied an endless amount of heavy duty oxygen to keep me from tumbling over the edge.  It was simply stunning.  The road turned from gravel with a patch of grass down the middle to almost all grass by the time I reached the top.  It reminded me that I am in a very special place, where few people tread and I thanked my lucky stars to be here.  This is my new ‘beach’ and I will try to visit this magical place everyday so I can’t say that I never got enough of it.

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