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Thursday, February 13, 2014

A Fabulista Farewell

Four days ago was an anniversary of sorts for Layne and me. February 9th marked four years since we set out for Costa Rica and a new life as expats. And it's been four very exciting and fun years as my blog archives reveal. Our good friends here number in the dozens as do the parties and holidays we've enjoyed together. My work as a travel writer and blogger, and for a while as a Retirement columnist and freelancer for The Costa Rica News, has allowed us to see more than our fair share of this beautiful country. For his part as a retiree, Layne completed his excellent novel, Moral Turpitude, and it is now available in Kindle format on where it's receiving 5 star reviews. For an exciting fun read, check it out. I'm very proud of him and am urging him on to the second book in the series.

My mom in younger years as an
1880's schoolmarm at For Concho
Yet the one thing you can count on in life is Change. And change we must, as we begin to close down our life here in Pura Vida-land and head for West Texas to live with my elderly mom. She lives alone but she still has a job at the Visitor's Center one day a week and volunteers at the hospital and Fort Concho, driving herself around town as needed. Still, she's had us fooled for a long time, I think, with her busy life and independent ways. After a six-week visit with her last fall, we began to see how everyday things are hard for her and that she could definitely use our help. So about a month from now, we'll pack up our last bags and bundle up our beloved dog Winston and take off for San Angelo. But to paraphrase an old song, "Don't Cry for Us, Costa Rica." Our love affair with this small country won't end with our departure; we will undoubtedly return for visits with friends. But this blog will end, unfortunately, and I expect this will be my final post.

Out the airport waiting room window
But let's not part, dear readers, before a report on one of my latest adventures. I recently returned to Texas for a two-week visit with my mom, where the weather was beyond nuts! Sunny and almost hot one day and then a drop overnight to 17 degrees! How the heck do you dress for such a climate? We're going to miss "el clima mejor del mundo," that's for sure! And to top it off, the day I was to depart for Costa Rica, it was colder than Antarctica and started snowing. Yes, SNOW. Little tiny dry flakes that were just beginning to fill in the dark spots in the yard when it was time to leave for the airport.
As we drove along the thoroughfare leading to the airfield, the snow blew across the road in curtains of powder, little whirlwinds of white, skidding and drifting along the side of the road. I was beginning to get nervous thinking of Mother having to drive back home in such a storm.

But my indomitable mother assured me she would be fine, so I off loaded my bags and bid her a tearful adieu. I made it through security and had just sat down in the gate area, when an agent came through saying our flight had been cancelled. Indeed, ALL flights that day were cancelled because Dallas-Forth Worth airport was shut down by the storm. They re-booked me for the following day and I called my mom with the news. Needless to say, she was overjoyed and undaunted at having to drive back to pick up me and my bags.

I finally made it home just fine and as you can see, was soon enjoying a glass of wine with my sweetheart and my adorable doggie. Which one was happier to see me would be hard to say!

So with mixed emotions, I bid farewell to all my wonderful readers; at last count, you've logged more than 66,000 page views originating from countries around the world. I hope I have brought some good cheer into your life and shared some good times with you. It is my fondest wish that by writing of my experiences here in beautiful Costa Rica, your worldview has been expanded and enriched.

Hasta luego, amigos! May you always be blessed with Pura Vida!! And now for a little look back....

Thursday, January 16, 2014

What To Do When the Taxi Goes "Boom!"

Winston and I had a little adventure today as we returned home by taxi from his vet appointment. Even the vet appointment was something of an adventure, or perhaps more of a nightmare for poor Winnie. This was a re-check on his skin problem, trying to rid him of mites causing mange, resulting in spots of hair loss. And if the hair loss itself wasn't bad enough I took a friend's advice and tried hydrogen peroxide on the spots, resulting in a spotty bleach job! Poor Winnie!
Winston is muy guapo perro - very handsome dog

For a doggie as beautiful as Winston with his luxuriant dark chocolate coat of fur, having mange is really quite humiliating for him. So we have diligently followed the vet's instructions: prednisone pills for the itching (given in a lump of peanut butter, which he loves!), twice-weekly baths with a special soap which must be left on him for twenty minutes (which we both hate!) and shots of ivermectin. It's these shots that are so awful. For some reason, the ivermectin must be very painful when it goes into the skin because poor Winston started yelping and squirming and trying to lick the spot on his back where the shot went. Last time he had to have three different shots - the ivermectin, an antibiotic and something else - and he had jumped around and yelped so much that I assumed it was just a carelessly rough technique on the part of the vet. So today I asked the doctor to be very meticulous not to hurt Winnie. But apparently it's not the vet's technique but just the intense quality of the medicine. But like the trooper he is, Winston came through like a champ.
Hair is finally growing back!

We were then off to the grocery store, practicing "heeling" along the way, and since Layne was not with us today (that's another story involving a friend with a medical problem), I put Winston in a "sit - stay" outside (and tied his leash to a door just to be sure) while I went in for our few items. In the store I ran into our friend Stephen and we chatted a few minutes about our mutual friend's medical condition. But soon my shopping was done and I went out to collect Winston - what a good boy! - and head for the taxi stand. I was pleased to see our friend and favorite taxista Nelson waiting in the taxi line so we hopped in for the ten-minute ride home.

But about halfway up a hill along the way, Boom! went the engine and suddenly smoke was pouring out from under the hood. Nelson and I simultaneously exclaimed: Uh-oh! As luck would have it we were along the route leading to the Palmares turnoff and the traffic was heavy due to the big 10-day fiesta starting today in that cowboy town up and over the mountain. But we had no choice. We had to pull over, raise the hood, put out the triangle warning stands and watch the traffic crawl by. Looking in the engine, we could quickly see that the radiator had burst. 

Winston and I wait in the car with the hood up
Maybe Nelson gets a new car out of the deal
So Nelson called his brother Jorge to come pick up me and Winston and take us the rest of the way home. Nelson says his boss will buy a new car - or perhaps just a new radiator. But he's hoping for a new car since this one has been giving him considerable problems even before today. In the midst of all this drama, however, Nelson still had a smile on his face. Now that's Pura Vida!

I am pleased to announce that Layne's novel, "Moral Turpitude, Book One of The Ange Parker Series," is now available on in Kindle format for just $4.99. Five star reviews! High adventure with corporate intrigue, danger and romance; from the exotic jungles of Borneo and Costa Rica to the erotic jungles of San Francisco. A great read! Pick up your copy here -

Sunday, January 5, 2014

A 10:27 Club Redux!

Last Thursday, only two days into the New Year, was another wild and crazy day for "The 10:27 Club" as we took off to revisit the site of our initial incarnation in the mountains above Zarcero. You might recall the incident, recorded in my blog post of October 24, 2012, in which my innocent request for a potty stop resulted in a tequila-soaked day of fun and adventure. This time the original gang was joined by a few new friends, whom I fondly refer to as "groupies," for a total of eighteen. There was the old gang of Marcial and Seidy, Bonnie and Stephen, Chris and Sue, Eroca and Marc and Yours Truly (minus Layne, who stayed home with a bunged up knee), along with semi-official members Darlene and Glynn, Howard and Judi, and Joni, who came without her jovial spouse Mike. We were joined by enthusiastic newcomers Sue and Rick and Vicki and Julian.
Around every curve, a gorgeous vista!

We piled into a jumbo-size van, driven by our capable (and sober) conductor Mainor, for the beautiful drive up the mountain past Naranjo, through Zarcero, and on up to La Posada del Buho, the Owl Inn, where Christmas decorations and even napkin holders are shaped as owls. As on our first visit, we arrived prior to the "legal" opening time of 11:00 a.m. but apparently they were expecting us because the doors quickly opened to welcome us. 

The bartender laid out eighteen shot glasses rimmed with salt and Marcial began to pour. We all checked our watches or smart phones, only to find that the times didn't agree. Was it 10:27 or only 10:24? Who knew? Who cared! Down the hatch went the first toast with a hearty cheer for The 10:27 Club! With Latin music to inspire us, we were soon dancing on the small stage, led by Glynn and Joni, followed by Eroca and Seidy and Yours Truly.
Marcial pours as Rick and Joni wait impatiently 
Does anybody really know what time it is?
Does anybody really care?
Joni and Glynn start the dancing...
... Eroca and Seidy keep it going
Eroca and Yours Truly having fun
Rick and his "earrings"
Lunch is served!
But we were there, after all, for a hike so after a couple of shots and some dancing as warm-up, we struck off up the gently sloping road. Along the way Eroca picked some stunning white flowers (lilies perhaps?), which Rick later used as "earrings." Hardcore members, Chris, Seidy, Marcial, Stephen and others made a real trek out of it but some of us decided on a less strenuous outing and soon took advantage of the van for a ride back to the bar where lunch was to be served. We all agreed the food was "¡muy rico!"

The guys pose for a photo
After our leisurely lunch, we thanked our wait staff profusely and left a nice tip, then posed for a few pictures as we tried to get organized to leave. As we were preparing to depart, we were surprised to see a herd of dairy cows traipsing down the middle of the road, herded from behind by a small pickup truck.
Cows have the Right of Way!
The drive back down the hill to Zarcero was a panorama of one gorgeous view after another so we stopped for photos several times along the way. 
Seidy adds beauty to the beautiful scene
Once back in town we made the mandatory stop at the home of the lady who makes incredibly delicious helados (ice creams), some prepared using Zarcero's famous sour cream. Chocolate with peanuts, mixed fruits, strawberry, coconut... who could decide? So most of us had more than one!
Sue, Bonnie & Stephen chow down
Mr. Miller is serious about that ice cream!
The "Ice Cream Lady"

After a few minutes exploring the fabulous topiary park in front of Zarcero's dramatic Catholic church and watching kids play in front of the beautiful mural, we were soon on our way again. 
Zarcero's topiary park

Seidy picks some "lucky" flower for us
As we passed a field of blue flowers, Seidy insisted we stop so she could pick some for us all. It seems that if you pick one of these flowers on New Year's Day, press it and put it in your wallet, you will have money all year long. Even though this was the second day of the New Year, we all hope the old custom works for us. Whether or not our day brought us wealth for the coming year, it certainly provided us with wonderful memories!

I am pleased to announce that Layne's novel, "Moral Turpitude, Book One of The Ange Parker Series," is now available on in Kindle format for just $4.99. Five star reviews! High adventure with corporate intrigue, danger and romance; from the exotic jungles of Borneo and Costa Rica to the erotic jungles of San Francisco. A great read! Pick up your copy here -