Posts Tagged ‘Costa Rica’

A Sunny Christmas Day in Costa Rica

Christmas Day came and with it beautiful sunny weather. We got up, had a big breakfast and then decided to venture out for a Christmas Day walk on the mountain on the other side of our little Rio Oro valley in Santa Ana. We had been told that if we followed one of the roads in the valley far enough the road would slowly turn from a paved road into a smaller dirt track before disappearing into a narrow little path into the jungle.

What could be better than that we thought and headed up along Calle Cebadilla until the road had disappeared and we couldn’t get any further except by foot. So we got out of the car, I strapped little E into the carrier and followed J, my mum and my sister into the jungle. We walked on the beautiful path up along the mountain side for about 40 mins until we suddenly got up to a paved road again. This road snaked its way higher up the mountain along a ridge with beautiful views to both sides, on one side we saw Salitral and on the other side we had our little community along Calle Cebadilla.

The sun was wonderfully warm, the sky blue with a few scattered clouds only and I was spending Christmas day in my beige shorts, new lovely orange top, my walking shoes (that get way too little action at the moment!) and little E as the perfect little accessory in the carrier up on a mountain in Costa Rica. If I would have been shown a picture of me up there two years ago and been told that this is what I would be doing Christmas 2011 I think I would not have believed them. The baby being the biggest surprise, but also that I would still be in Costa Rica. Two years ago we were just wrapping things up in London before our big move in March.

But how lovely life is. Here I am with the most wonderful man and baby in my life, surrounded by gorgeous nature, with my mum and sister visiting me in my paradise in order to celebrate Christmas in the sun together once again. I definitely cannot complain. What a fantastic way to end a very special year, while slowly starting to prepare for  the new year and all the wonders it will bring.

Christmas preparations

My Christmas preparations have continued quite successfully over here. I have just baked another batch of gingerbread as well as a soft gingerbread cake with added banana (for the exotic touch) and kicked off the Christmas food shop earlier on with the help of my sister. Two days ago we wrapped up the final Christmas present purchases and tomorrow we will add the final touches of frosting to the cookies we are just baking.

Having been this good with all the preparations, tomorrow we are also heading down to the beach for almost three days of sunshine, surf and as much sleep as possible… 🙂 I think I have deserved that now. Especially after my big Christmas party debut yesterday. It was the second time I was out in months and months. I had popped by my department’s Christmas party last week, but that was nothing compared to this. Basically, last time I was in jeans, flat shoes and in and out of there in an hour and a half. This time was a proper dress, high heels and make up party and I must admit I was rather excited about it all. What I hadnt taken into account was how long it had been since I last wore heels. And how much half a glass of champagne can get to you…

Having floated around the party yesterday like the after dark social butterfly I used to be way back in my youth, today was a complete opposite to that. I woke up with a slight hangover from the half a glass of champagne and with knees, calves and throat aching from having stood around chit chatting with dozens of people for three hours. I was just not used to a) high heels, b) talking that much to people, c) staying up past 8pm

But I had a wonderful time. It was so nice to be out and about a bit instead of just at home with the little one. Although, I must say I was soooo looking forward to cuddling up in bed with little E and big J after these three hours out. Just like I am now. The last batch of gingerbread cookies are almost done and I have enjoyed the first slice of my soft gingerbread – banana cake, almost fully my own design 🙂 But now it is bedtime for this little lady. Hooray!

And we are one day closer to Christmas eve.

Nesting..

This weekend went completely to the important task of nesting.. It wasn’t really the plan as we started off celebrating our weekend, but somehow it just snuck up on us while we were out to do our weekly shop and I ended up getting pulled in, deeper and deeper into the world of nesting. Personally, I blame the hormones.

Anyhow, let me tell you what happened. So, we have not gone completely over the top with buying baby stuff up till now, but have still felt that the situation has been under control. There was basically still time and honestly, she cant need THAT much for the first month, surely not? But hey, who am I to say, its not like I am the expert here.

The Crib

But this Saturday, as we were wandering around the shopping centre not too far away from home, we happened to stumble upon a lovely crib. I guess most of the stuff we have bought up till now is smaller stuff, and we were just going to have her sleep in a basket the first month or so, but suddenly we realised that I guess we will be needing bigger stuff as well. Most importantly we would be needing a crib, a car seat, a play pen and possibly a stroller.

So at least we had found a crib I thought as we went into the shop to hear a bit more about it and check prices. We were very fortunate indeed as that weekend they were offering it at 20% discount, so we decided we might as well pick it up then and there. As a consequence to all this, I am now the proud owner of a beautiful crib!

J impressed me with his DIY skills and put it together that morning and now it is just sitting there, ready to be used, in our bedroom with the gorgeous quilt that my colleagues mum made for us. It actually turned out pretty nicely, since now we have a great place thats a bit out of the way to store all the baby stuff as well. Ill just have to rethink that once the little one is here.

In addition to the crib, we also picked up a gorgeous glider chair! I had never tried one of these before, and I agree that it doesn’t look too cool, but my gosh how nice it is! I tried it in the shop and could happily have stayed there, gliding away. Unfortunately we had other things to do as well so I had to leave the gliding till later. I didn’t have to wait for too long for the next session as the chair was also on 20% discount and we decided to pick that up as well.

To finish off my wonderful nesting weekend I decided to put on my domestic goddess hat and whip up some cinnamon rolls for my team and for us at home. I havent dared try make them with dried yeast since the traumatising experience I had with dried yeast in Scotland in 2000, but I must say, this time it actually worked out! They came out pretty nice, the first ones were a bit burned underneath thanks to the kind of oven we have, but the rest were delicious so I will definitely be doing this again.

Kanelbullar - Cinnamon Buns

Making Cinnamon Buns

For those of you who want to try, I used the recipe from this lovely food related blog

Family Trip to the Beach

Yesterday was our first “Family Trip to the Beach”. We haven’t been to the beach in AGES so this was definitely quite an exciting deviation from the norm. The main reason we havent popped down to the coast in ages is that our car has been having x, y and z issues it took till now to get it all sorted out.

Anyways, with the car back in business, purring like a kitten, we packed the car and prepared for the day out. With surfboard in the back, doggies in the boot, snacks and water for Linda, along with water for the doggies and general beach stuff for all we were on our way.

Sofia isnt used to travel in the boot so the downgrade from Linda’s Lap to boot was quite a shock for her while Fuzzie seemed to take it all much better, even if he did end up being sick in the car by the time we got to the beach. We headed down to Corralillo by Caldera and it was great to be back by the beach, and on such a beautiful morning as well.

Joel spent his time in the water catching waves while I entertained myself alternatively with my book and alternatively with throwing the doggies into the water. I was so pleased to see that Sofia hadnt forgotten the lessons “water is your friend” from our time spent down in Esterillos while Fuzzie, who we were not sure if he even liked water,  didnt seem to mind it at all and happily jumped around in the waves.

After a couple of hours on the beach we dragged two tired doggies home, back to the rainy central valley. Its amazing how the mornings over here usually start off very nice and sunny, only to descend into rainy afternoons as of approximately 1pm at the moment. The rainy season is definitely here again. But I really don’t mind at all as long as I can have some sunny mornings and some weekends at the beach!

Coming October 2011

Coming October 2011

Little by little all our items on the massive to do list are starting to be ticked off. Or at least they feel a bit more under control by now. We have had so many things happen to us over the last two months that I feel quite overwhealmed and exhausted almost about it all. However, it’s definitely been both good stuff and sad stuff..

First of all our car broke down 😦 The first sad thing to happen to us. My lovely Ford started coughing like an old smoker and had to be sent to the garage where it has now spent almost a month in pieces while we awaited the verdict first of all, then the new parts that were to be shipped in from the states and now finally the assembly and ultimate “all clear” status that should arrive next Tuesday.. Fingers crossed..

Then we had J’s mum and husband over for two weeks (the good stuff), which was absolutely lovely (and you can read more about in my entry about Arenal) but still tiring since we ended up doing lots of fun stuff with them.

Unfortunately by the time they left, our second car also broke down (very sad stuff) due to an exhausted ignition motor or whatever it was called again.. Thankfully we found an amazing mechanic who came to our house and took care of it for us so now he is purring like a kitten again!

Then on Thursday this week (Cinco de Mayo!) I finally got my cedula sorted! I am not oficially a temporary resident of Costa Rica 🙂 Pretty cool! What is even more amazing is that during the same week J got his papers that he is “in process” as well, meaning neither one of us will have to leave the country now unless we choose to do so ourselves! No more visa runs!

And well last but not least.. We also found out that we are expecting a little baby girl. She is due in October 2011 and I cannot wait to meet her. Well, I knew about the baby for a while, but on the 29th April we decided we wanted to know a bit more about who we are soon about to meet and that is when we found out its a lovely little baby girl.

Due to this not just good stuff, but amazing stuff, we are planning to move into the smaller house next door this coming weekend. Even if I do very much like where we live at the moment, this move is mainly so that I dont have to waddle around up and down spiral staircases as well as providing us with a smaller, cosier set up for when the baby gets here. Not to mention saving some rent…

But hopefully we now have a few quieter months when we can focus on what is to come, as well as for me to deal with all my inner thoughts, feelings and hormones that I currently have going on.. So maybe calling the next months “quieter” is not really the right word. At least I am not getting bored over here 😉

Weekend at Arenal

It’s been terribly long since I last wrote and I do apologize sincerely about that.. I had all these great ambitions and intentions to write lots on my blog this year but it all seems to be going down the drain lately, mainly due to being too busy! Such a shame that when there are lots of things to write about, you usually don’t have the time to write about it all!

Anyways, since I am today just sitting on the terrace in the lovely cool breeze, looking at the clouds rolling in over the central valley, I decided to invest some time in updating my blog and some of the other forums of expression I use. It is Semana Santa over here, the holy week, or Easter as it is also known. Santa Ana is beautifully quiet since all the Ticos are on the beach, and I cannot even begin to describe how wonderful it is to have the town almost to yourself.. It almost makes up for yet another year of not being able to eat any Easter eggs because of the chocolate issue.

We have just had J’s parents here for almost two weeks and it has been very nice to see them again. So strange and yet so wonderful to see them in “our” setting over here, instead of the usual London setting. I think they also very much enjoyed the change in scenery as not a day went past without comments like “well, its absolutely wonderful”, “oh look at that beautiful bird, isnt it wonderful”, “ah, absolutely beautiful” and a whole long list of other appraisals of this and that. It is actually very nice to again have the pleasure of seeing Costa Rica through the eyes of someone who hasn’t seen it yet. It is such a shame how we do tend to just get accustomed to what we have around us and forget about the wonders of nature and life when we see it on a daily basis.

Arenal Volcano ViewThis month’s highlight up till now has definitely been the trip to Arenal that we made with J’s parents. Driving up towards Fortuna early Friday morning through Atenas and the winding back roads was a fantastic experience, just like arriving in Fortuna turned out to be as we caught the first glimpse of the majestic Arenal Volcano.

And it just got better when we got to the hotel which was located just at the foot of the volcano, I could even see Arenal through the window while lying in bed! Breathtaking views and gorgeous settings. I would highly recommend Hotel Los Lagos to anyone heading up that way.

We spent three beautiful days at the hotel, splashing about in the wonderful hot springs, enjoying the sun on loungers that we had moved over to our own secluded little spot next to the topmost spring, admiring the horses and other animals that lived on the hotel grounds and getting completely spoiled at the spa (I had a wonderful Volcanic Mud Wrap and a Deep Facial in a room with a beautiful terrace overlooking the jungle)

Unfortunately I was not feeling very well on Friday and ended up with a headache all Saturday (which the Volcanic Mud Wrap did wonders to soothe) but who can really complain about details like that when you get to recuperate in such wonderful settings.

I am definitely heading up here with my family when they are next in town, and I must say I really want more of those wonderful spa treatments..

But for now I am blissfully peaceful on my own terrace, enjoying a beautiful Easter Friday with the dogs while looking forward to J getting off work. Happy Easter!

The Big Three Oh

So yet again I manage to see a whole month fly bast without an update to my blog, and ironically I have so much to update about as well from this last month.

First of all was the 1 year anniversary. J and I have now been in Costa Rica for a whole, wonderful, beautiful, adventurous and exciting year. We arrived on the 5th March last year, had a car within the first two weeks and a beautiful rental house within three. I cannot believe how easily we felt at home here and how easy it was to just click into life over here. So fast forward one year then from when we arrived and here we are, still in the same wonderful house on our mountain in Santa Ana.

Second big thing was our second trip over to Nicaragua for Joel’s visa run. I got my temporary residency and am currently just waiting for the interview with immigration or whoever will be checking me out before I am allowed to relax and just enjoy Costa Rica without the pressure of the three month deadline. Anyways, we had a lovely weekend in Nicaragua with the wonderful J, we rented a car, surfed their Playa Hermosa a couple of times, drove around, visited Granada, ventured into a huge local market for some bargains, ate super well in El Kolibri again as well as just enjoyed some time off work.

Birthday Flowers!Birthday Flowers No. 2Third big thing was the whole turning thirty. I passed the 3-0 mark on the 22nd March and must say that it was a wonderful, absolutely wonderful day in so many ways even if I couldn’t be closer to my family and friends back in Europe. I got treated to about 5 different cakes during the day at the office, got some BEAUTIFUL flowers from my colleague and another GORGEOUS bouquet from mis chicas at the office. I felt so spoiled and fortunate and lucky about being surrounded by such wonderful people. Not to mention the amazing surprise that was waiting for me at home  – My lovely friend R had sent me a cake and a bottle of champagne to celebrate my “move from tram 2 to tram 3”..

And the fourth big thing this month would be the new family member Fuzz. We had been thinking about this for a while, mainly after our neighbors moved with their two dogs who Sofia had been playing with every day while we were at the office, leaving her all alone for most of the day up here on the mountain. Our brave little doggie deserved a friend we thought and decided on taking on Fuzz on my birthday. He arrived looking a bit like one of these animals we used to make when I was little out of a pine cone with sticks or matches as legs. 🙂 Absolutely brilliant! So cute and such a sweetheart! He is much more quiet and timid than Sofia, not such a ADD child at all, but absolutely adorable and hopefully a good influence on little Sofia. Unless he will take after Sofia and her spoiled ways..

Even if the month is not completely over yet, and I think there will be a few more events worthy of mentioning still coming up, I will wrap up for now and get on to enjoying my evening at home. I have rented a few movies, J is on his way home with empanadas and the two furry friends are in need of feeding.

Sofia and Fuzz

 

New Years Resolutions

2010 was a year of changes. The biggest changes came from me changing my work as well as us changing the country and continent where we live, but along the big changes there were also a lot of other small things that changed. I purged a lot from my life (mainly in the form of foods); I reduced my drinking, I ate less sweets and sugars, I stopped drinking coffee, I reduced my intake of white flour and fast foods, I stopped drinking diet sodas…

I also added a lot to my life (partly in the form of foods and partly in the form of adding new habits to my life); I started walking 30mins almost every morning thanks to Sofia, I started eating linseed/beepollen/fresh fruits/protein powder, I started sleeping at least 8hrs each night, I started drinking lots more tea, I started working my lats more (pullups!), I started working on my emotional responses to everything that happens as well as dealing with frustration in a more productive way… The list goes on and on and on.

Change can be difficult and possibly much less fun than just sticking to what you know and enjoy, but it can also be very rewarding as you see how well you do and how well you feel following the implementation of the changes. Most change comes from yourself and from within, you have to want to change, which I guess I did since I managed to include so much into my past year. But most of all Id like to thank my lovely J for all the support he has given me in going through with it all. x Anyways, here is my list of new years resolutions for 2011:

1. Eat Clean

Eating well and with the aim of eating as healthily as possibly will be my top goal this year. This resolution gets the first position since it is almost like the main idea from which a lot of my other resolutions have arisen from and in the end this resolution will help me achieve many of my other resolutions.

During the last two quarters of 2010 I have been massively inspired by Oxygen Magazine as well as Tosca Reno‘s ideas about eating clean, so this year I finally feel ready to grab the bull by its horns and to finally start to eat according to her advice. I will start slowly, doing my first week of clean eating from the 10th January till the 17th January to see how it goes. If it goes well Ill keep going for another week but adjusting for any learnings and improvements I have found during my first week of clean eating.

If all this goes well I will do two more weeks of clean eating in February and a full month of it during March 2011 in order to celebrate the month when I turn 30!

2. Cooking more

In order to support my clean eating I want to cook more. I want to reduce my intake of preservatives, sugars and food additives, chemicals and colorants in general and clean up my diet. I have already started slowly with this, Ive made my own strawberry jam last year but want to make papaya jam and try making a chutney as well this year. I havent yet tried making my own cordial but that is also on the list of things to do this year.

3. Handicrafts Galore

I started knitting again last year, and I really want to keep this up. I am currently knitting a bedspread (yes that’s right, I started with a “small” project – a 1.2m x 1.8m bedspread…) but Id like to make myself a knitted scarf as well by the end of this year. Something to keep here at work for moments when the air conditioning goes mad..

Id also like to buy an electronic sewing machine… I am not yet 100% sure what I would do with it, but I think all that would dawn on me as soon as I got one… So gotta keep my eyes on Craigslist to see if I could find a cheap one on there. I also want to go to more garage sales and flee markets this year. Didnt manage many last year, and I bet Costa Rica is full of treasures…

4. Keeping Fit

This goal is divided up in to three separate sections: Light, Medium, Hard. Just to keep me challenged throught the year.. 🙂 Having been inspired by Jacqueline Kothbauer’s goal of 150 work out sessions a year, I have also tried to set up quantifiable goals so I can actually properly make myself accountable for my actions… Let me run through them one at a time:

Light: A 30 minute morning walk five days a week (preferably mon – fri) will be my aim for all this year. That means 260 tmies 30 minutes. Maybe a bit ambitious but my little lovely doggy Sofia will definitely support this resolution! Any extra weekend walks will be a bonus (both for me and for Sofia!)

Medium: I will try to go to the gym five times a week as well for a minium of 30 mins. I havent decided yet how this 30 mins will be divided up between aerobic exercise and weights training, but I definitely need to add more weights to my sessions this year. I would ideally like to be able to do 10 pull ups by the end of the year (I can currently do about 1 and 2 semi ones or three semi ones or.. well you get the point, not that many) and to do 3 x 12 sets of proper sit ups (properly using and targeting my “dead zone” as my pilates teacher calls it).

Hard: Put all this together and use my improving fitness level to surf better. (And hopefully also dance a bit.. The hard part with that will be finding a place where I can practice my belowed Salsa en Linia over here.) I would also like to lower my fat percentage.. I just need to find out what my current one is and then burn fat to reach my ideal level (which I assume will be around 15%)

5. Improving my Patience

This one is a difficult one. Then again, I have already improved it massively during this year and I think I am definitely better at it now than I was even just a year ago. But I want to be even less influenced by external factors and not allow them to stress me, frustrate me or make me feel like I have “ants in my pants”..

6. Heirloom Gardening

I want to do much more gardening this year. And I really have to remember to water my plants twice a day instead of my miserable “every now and then” strategy that has been predominant over the last few months.

Really got to change that if I want to actually get any tomatoes from my poor dry plants on the terrace. (I might post a picture later on of what they look like now.. Just to turn the usual idea of before – after pictures on its head)

Anyhow, this year I want to get my hands on some Heirloom Seeds (as well as a proper gardener hat like this guy has in the image from Rare Seeds) and plant real vegetables, mainly tomatoes and zucchinis. Yum, yum, yum!

(This resolution is actually just a way to practice before doing it on a bigger scale once I have a little farm…)

7. Improve and excel at work

This year I want to be able to show great numbers from my work. The first year I feel has just flown by and I dont really feel I have had the time to properly perform, mainly since everything has just been kicked off, its been slow to begin with, we havent had the right partners to work with etc. But this year I want to be able to show great KPIs from my work and to really begin to build up my professional reputation over here.

And I think I should stop here, otherwise a year wont be enough for all of my ambitous goals and plans, and most importantly I do want to leave something up to chance and let life surprise me.

Last day of 2010

The last day of 2010 is about to begin, approximately 30 minutes to go over here in Costa Rica but I guess there will be lots of celebrations shared with us from over in Europe already starting at about 4pm our time. Time difference is a strange thing, thinking that in Finland its already almost 8am and a lot of my family and friends over there are at work already while I am about to tuck myself in for the last full night of 2010.

My Christmas Fairy Lights on the TerraceWe have been back up in the central valley for a few days, spending some time at the office (which I did find quite difficult following the working from home flexibility of Monday and Tuesday) and enjoying our lovely house. My youngest sister arrived today with her boyfriend and tomorrow we are heading back to the beach for some more surfing, a new years dinner at the Los Almendros restaurant as well as some hotness and sunshine. A weird but wonderful way to end the year!

Mum brought over a couple of bottles of champagne so we get to have that tomorrow since we missed the traditional Christmas Champagne on the 24th. But I think its much better this way, to get to enjoy it with my sister as well.

I think 2010 has been an absolutely wonderful year, I would not want to change a thing.. I guess I almost wish I could have squeezed a few more days into the year, days that I wouldnt have had to work during so that I could have spent them just enjoying J’s company, life in general and this wonderful country. But then again, I am very much looking forwards to what the future and 2011 brings… Happy New Year everyone!

P.s. New years resolutions for this year:

– Work on my frustrations to reduce them and control them more (in general – not let my emotions take over)

– Get fitter 😉

– Appreciate what I have in life

– Spend lots of time with J and Sofia and as much time as possible with the people I hold dear

Ps 2: What I was striving for in 2005-2006

 

A Tropical Christmas

The only thing missing from my Tropical Christmas was the calypso music. (Gotta remember to get the “Calypso Christmas” CD for next year..) We rented our usual beach house down in Esterillos Oeste to spend our first Tropical Christmas by the beach and it has been absolutely wonderful although slightly strange. And I regret not bringing my fairy lights, as we have some terrific palm trees over here that would be very suitable as tropical Christmas trees. (Mental note: Bring them down on Friday when we head back to the beach)

I got a beautiful surfboard from my wonderful boyfriend and a delicious set of organic cotton sheets from my mum, a fantastic Putumayo Family Christmas music CD from my dad and some small bits and pieces from my loved ones back home. Unfortunately I was a terrible girlfriend and forgot (!) my wonderful boyfriend’s Christmas present at home…I hope the present in itself will make up for it (it is something that has to do with the other love of his life – His 1977 Toyota Landcruiser so it should make him pretty pleased). Once he gets it that is…

I got to have a surf on Christmas day which was pretty amazing. There would not have been ANY chance of that if we would have been back home in the UK. I think I am spoiled for life now after having surfed these warm waters in just a bikini. Unfortunately me and my new board didnt really get along that well on Christmas Day morning. I think the main problem was a communication error that meant it didnt understand what I wanted and I didnt understand what the hell it was doing. Our differences of opinion were solved by me as I got out of the water, marched home and changed it to my old board. Unfortunately my second tour to the beach happened too late and the water had already retreated too far out, making the waves so small that even on a larger board it was just not happening at all.

My second encounter with my new board ended in a slight disaster (although this was following some pretty good waves before!). I thought I could ride the board prone into shore but that was just a stupid idea I soon figured out. Being as light as it is my new board threw me off and bounced up in the air before landing on my head and calf muscle, giving me a big bleeding bump on the head and a throbbing calf muscle that was soon almost twice the size of my usual pathetically small calf muscles.

So no more surfing for a few days for me 😦 Which I am feeling quite devastated about. I feel its a complete waste just sitting here without having the chance to enjoy the beach and the water that is just around the corner from me now… I will give my leg a few more hours to heal, but god damn then Im going in again.

My mum is also here celebrating her first tropical Christmas in ages and its been really nice to show her where we live, show where we usually go when we go to the beach, to introduce her to Sofia and to just have her around (She makes amazing food so I am slightly taking advantage of that as well…)

I dont think it really feels like Christmas, but then again, who cares when you can have iguanas, monkeys, hummingbirds, BBQing by the pool, surfing and great company anyways? Ok, time for a little nap and then let’s see if this leg and head can manage some more waves..