20. A Lucky Break & More Good News

Thursday 6/24 We woke up this morning knowing we would have a long, exhausting day ahead of us. We let ourselves relax a little bit in the morning with our coffee and video game but didn’t waste too much time before we got to work. We started digging from where we left off at the end of the driveway to cross the road and then start digging down the long, steep hill going down to the power pole. We had just made it across the road when Mike the neighbor was out for his walk and stopped to chat with us. He looked at what we were doing and thought it was good, but recommended that we go deeper when crossing the road since it would get drove on, and told us that we wouldn’t even have to bother burying it down the long steep road. 

After the edge of the road was just a drop off into the jungle. No one owns that, and there is no reason we couldn’t just drop the conduit over the side of the road and let it fall into the plants, trees, weeds, etc. down there. After a few months (especially now during green season) it would all be covered by plants anyway and no one would have any idea. Then- we just have to trench some more at the bottom of the hill across a little open space between the edge of the jungle and the pole. Easy peasy!!

OMG- this is like the best news ever, if it is actually ok. I was a little bit nervous about doing it without checking with someone first. I mean, Mike has been here in Costa Rica for a while, he would probably know if it is ok and wouldn’t have suggested it if it wasn’t, but since we don’t really know him I just want to double check with someone else before we do it.

Of course, if you really look around when you travel throughout Costa Rica you will see conduit just laying alongside the road some of it broken open and new stuff laid right along side of it. Sometimes maybe a half dozen or more conduits either going to different places or containing different things. All are made of PVC and some of the broken stuff is even still in use. So I guess this must be ok to do?!

So, Ramie texted Loren and Geiner just to make sure, and we held off on digging any more for the time being. We dug the trench that would go through the road deeper so there wouldn’t be any issues with that cracking and then started placing the conduit in the driveway part that we had dug yesterday.

In the middle of the day, I had an important phone appointment scheduled that I had to be a part of. It worked out really nicely, too, that we could take a break from the backbreaking work we were doing, head down to OMG and potentially run into Loren and Geiner to check for sure if putting the conduit through the foliage would be ok. Luckily, Loren was there when we got there, and we had a chance to chat with him about the conduit. He said absolutely go for it. In fact, he said that before long, a couple of years probably, there would be enough dead leaves that fall onto it, cover it up, and biodegrade, that it would be buried anyway. This happened to some water lines that he has, they were originally just laying on the ground, now several years later, they actually have to dig to them.

Hallelujah!!! This saves us SO much work, SO much digging, and SO much time!! This was absolutely fantastic news!

This was turning out to be a pretty good day!  

By the time we got back up to the house, we still had a few hours before I had to start dinner (yeah, that really is the one thing that kind of sucks. It doesn’t matter how hard you work all day, you still have to make dinner pretty much from scratch. With my dietary restrictions and the very small selection of anything pre-made or easy to throw together, I’m stuck cooking pretty much every meal from scratch unless there are leftovers from yesterday. (I haven’t been the greatest at cooking extras since we’ve been here so having leftovers hasn’t really been a thing yet, I have to work on that!) We started mocking up the conduit down the hill so we knew how much we needed and made sure we had enough of everything. And guess what--- we didn’t!! Of course we were short some parts. We would have to run back in to town again. Since we couldn’t finish laying the conduit, we moved down to the bottom of the hill where there was a small open area that we had to trench through. 

The final spot to trench and the pole where we have to run the conduit to is in sight

Ramie started with the pick axe and found that it was surprisingly soft soil, very few rocks, and super easy to dig through. This was a very welcome surprise. Since it was so easy to do, and we wouldn’t be able to work on any of this tomorrow, I told Ramie to go back to town, get the parts that we needed, and I would work on trenching this section by myself. It took a little bit of convincing, but he finally left to go get the parts. I worked on picking and digging. I admit, the picking is hard and I don’t know if I would have been able to do it in the rocky clay in the driveway, but I felt really good that I could do this section myself. I made it all the way across this area, dug out and everything, by the time Ramie made it back from town. See, it worked out perfectly! Now that we had the rest of the needed parts, we finished laying the conduit and went back to the top to start gluing it all together. At this rate, we would easily be done by the end of the weekend. We only had a little bit left to finish for it to be ready to connect, and we have to go bury the trenched conduit at some point, but that can be after it’s installed. 

Oh, and how are they going to get the 380 feet of fiber optic cable through ½ conduit? Well, we also had to add a pull string from the house to the power pole. This involved us using a bolt with a string tied to it, we dropped it down every piece of conduit and coupling, and through 3 pull boxes until we got to the end. The first go-around we just used light weight string like kite string, would it be strong enough to pull all of that? We weren’t sure, so while Ramie went and bought the remaining parts in town he also picked up 2 rolls of nylon pull string (so there is a redundant string in the pipe if they need to use it in the future). We would have to pull all of that through too once we got this all connected.  

We let Loren know that we would be ready for the internet guys to come on Monday and that he could schedule the install. Unfortunately, the earliest they could estimate is Tuesday, so we are keeping our fingers crossed that is when they actually do make it out here! At least now we know we are ready for them and the light at the end of the internet tunnel (or conduit) is getting a little bit brighter.


A Note About Venturing into the Jungle (by Ramie)  

Just walk on in and start venturing, right? Well, not really, especially if you’re not excited to be a pin cushion for fangs, bugs, spiky plants or anything else that may want to poke or bite you in some way.

This is a Rubber Tree. NEVER EVER chop into this. The bark is under a lot of pressure and the sap can cause permanent blindness if you get to much into your eyes.

FYI, it is fairly safe to walk into the jungle, but you need to be cautious and aware of your surroundings! For instance, snakes back home in MN would rather slither away from you than strike if they have that option. Here they often don’t run away unless they sense you from a long way off (so make lots of noise and rustle the tall grass, pile of leaves, etc.. with a long stick as you’re walking). Here they just stay put and wait, if you are a threat, then they will strike! So, trying to protect yourself the best you can is key. As another disclaimer it is fairly safe to walk along paths through the nature preserves and such since snakes like to hide in the leaves and brush. We’ve only ran across one snake on the path and we just walked on the opposite side away from it. We didn’t bother it and it didn’t bother us. But please don’t let this scare you away from visiting this beautiful country. This is more about just going and clearing your own path through the dense jungle.

So, I bet your asking, how do you venture into the jungle and why are you telling us this now? As mentioned, we had to lay the conduit for the internet into the jungle just off the road, but this also involved having to go into the bush to make sure it lays as flat as possible. I get to use my machete more!! We’ve taken note from watching various locals trimming the ditches with weed whackers, our own gardener Jorge, and others. They are all wearing tall rubber boots (like rain boots) long pants, long sleeves and usually gloves. Some even wear hats that have the flap that comes down and covers the back of your neck and when using the weed wacker they usually wear long rubber aprons as well. 

This is Jorge, trimming the grass below our house. He is fully covered and no bare skin showing

Dana has mentioned the temp and humidity in past posts: 80-90 degrees with 85-95% humidity. Dressing like this sucks in this weather! It’s very hot and sticky, but it’s for safety. The rubber boots are for snakes, they come up to the mid shins and will at least help prevent a snake bite, since the majority of the time they are under the leaves laying on the ground. The long pants are to also help, but more for the pokey plants, and biting ants. Not just fire ants, but many different kinds (there are literally hundreds of species of ants in CR), some hurt more than others. The long sleeves serve the same purpose as the pants. It’s amazing how many ants there are in the jungle!! They are on everything, so if you walk under a leaf and shake some off, if they fall on your shirt they can’t bite as easily as short sleeves. The gloves well same reason. The pants are tucked into your boots, I wear my shirt out and not tucked in because I don’t want ants going in there and biting, and the long sleeves are tucked into the gloves.

No I'm not dressed like I mentioned. We are actually walking on a path already cut, but we do have our rubber boots, long pants, and long sleeves on. We were on a sloth finding expedition behind our house, and had been down this path many times.

It’s sure not a fashion statement but its effective, and the less skin showing the better off you are going to be. Again, this is just for trail blazing and making our own paths through an area. If we were going hiking in a nature preserve, I’d be wearing shorts, keen hiking shoes, no socks and a tank top or t-shirt.