23. Broken Promises and Mother Nature

Tuesday 6/29 -- Today is the day when they said they were going to hook up our internet. Even though we’ve seen how this works, we really do wake up in the morning with high hopes. I mean, one of these times it’s actually going to happen (although at this rate, I just really hope it’s before we leave the rental to move to our permanent house! Mind you, at this point we haven’t even decided what property we want to put an offer on!) So, since we have high hopes that the installers will be here, we make sure we don’t have anything planned for the day. We aren’t going to go in to town, we aren’t going to go down to OMG, we will just stay nearby so we are ready when they get here. Also, they don’t give a 3-hour window of time that they expect to show up like they do in the US, they just give you a day that they plan to be there and you keep your fingers crossed for the best. So, we started our morning the same way we usually do. Coffee, Animal Crossing, then we go for our hike/walk in the neighborhood. I know I’ve mentioned it before, but our rental house is in a small, rural gated community. There are about 12 lots total but there are only 3 houses built, plus Jorge’s house down by the gate. The roads inside the community (and in most areas in the hills around here) are minimum maintenance dirt roads and have very steep hills. Steep to the point of 4-wheel drive and 1st or 2nd gear on the car. Our daily routine is to do 3 laps of the development and run the last 2 steep hills. In total, this is probably around 1-1.5 miles and takes us about 25 minutes. We walk past the front gate, the pole where the internet is coming in from, and can see our house from the road, so even if we’re out walking, we’ll know when the internet guys get here and we can be ready. So, we went for our walk, made it back home, sat around for a while. Still no one. We decided to be productive and do some more work around the house. We noticed during some of the torrential downpours that the gutters aren’t keeping up with the rain. We figured with all of the tall trees losing leaves and sticks on the roof that the gutters were probably plugged up. We had a ladder tall enough that Ramie could reach the roof, so he climbed up there and dug out all of the junk on the first side, then ran the garden hose down the downspout to push out all of the junk in there.

Let me quickly explain the gutters here. They are massive! They are about 8” wide and 6” deep and have 2 downspouts, that utilize 4” PVC pipe. Did I mention that when it rains, it rains hard?!?!

I was down on the ground holding the ladder and then checking to make sure water was coming out of the drain. First one done- that should help!

We moved on to do the 2nd one, at the back of the house and did the same thing, got all of the junk out and put the hose down the downspout. The downspouts were buried and we weren’t 100% sure where this one exited so Ramie told me to go find the end of it to see if water was coming out. As I was looking and getting closer to the edge of the jungle trees, I found the end of the downspout--- AND A SNAKE WAS COMING OUT OF IT!!! I screamed, I yelled SNAKE, and I headed back toward the front of the house. Ramie was still up the ladder and just yelled “get the camera”. I’m pretty sure I responded F- you,
I’m not coming back there, get your own camera! Or something like that anyway. When the snake started slithering out of the downspout, I wasn’t real close, maybe like 5 feet. And the snake was going away from me out of the downspout, so I wasn’t worried that he could get me right then, I just REALLY don’t like snakes (or lizards or frogs, or any reptile or amphibian for that matter). So, after a minute of trying to calm myself down and Ramie making his way down the ladder, I went back to the back of the house (very cautiously) with my phone and the shovel. By that time the snake had come all the way out of the downspout and was heading into the jungle and up on a large rock nearby. This snake was about 5-6 feet long, was gray and black with a yellow belly, a very large mouth and a black tongue. I handed Ramie my phone and he decided to go closer to snap a couple of pictures of it, then gave me my phone back to try to look up what this snake was, if it was venomous, and figure out what to do with it. He proceeded to take the shovel and lift the snake up on to the rock so we could keep an eye on it. As I was frantically googling Ramie was trying to also see if it had round or slitted eyes. In MOST cases *not all* if a snake has round eyes it is non-venomous and if they have slitted eyes they are venomous. He couldn’t tell, and I made sure to yell at him if he tried to get closer or within striking distance. 

After what seemed like forever of googling, I found a picture of a snake that looked like this same one- a Neotropical Bird Snake. A quick glance through some information about it told me that it was not venomous but would bite very hard if you ticked it off. Whew!! I guess, for our first snake experience here in Costa Rica, I’m glad it wasn’t a deadly one!! Also, this one does have round eyes.

Later when we were talking about our snake experience Ramie had made the comment that this was even a very pretty snake--- I don’t think I will EVER call a snake pretty, no matter what it looks like. I also decided that I want to find a guide to Costa Rican snakes that I can study and start learning to identify ones that are very dangerous versus ones that you want to steer clear of but won’t kill you. I also realized that I should probably try not screaming, yelling snake, and running away while Ramie is up an 8 foot ladder on somewhat slanted ground. Yep, it’s all a learning experience- even things as simple as holding the ladder and not scaring someone that is at the top of it.

So, while all of this was going on, the internet guys still did NOT show up. They also didn’t show up for the rest of the day, or even show up Wednesday morning!

Mid-day on Wednesday Loren stopped by to see if the internet guys had shown up yet. He is getting just as irritated with this whole thing as we are and is glad that we are taking it all in stride. He called them again while he was with us and kept asking for someone at the top that could give him a sure answer. He told us that he went all the way to the top, and that they told him that they would be out Friday. Well, while our hopes are high, our expectations remain low. It will get installed when it gets installed.

I guess it doesn’t really change too many of our plans since we try not to make any plans that revolve around internet usage or phone calls, but it is still a major irritation right now, and we do need it hopefully sooner rather than later! Today was a no driving day for us, so we were just planning to hang out at the house anyway.

We carried on with our day and our normal “routine”: dinner, shower, go to bed early. Then, around 6:30pm as we were settling down for the night the wind really picked up. Like REALLY windy. We had never seen this kind of wind here before. Since we have the big, covered porch here, we tend to leave things like towels or laundry that needs to dry, my yoga mat, and a couple of things out there overnight and have never had any problems. Tonight, this wind was strong enough that we figured if we didn’t bring these things in, we might not have them in the morning.

So, we went outside to grab our things and the feel was just eerie. The strongest of the wind was blocked by the house but leaves and branches were still flying through the porch area. There was lots of lightning and thunder, but no rain at all. This almost felt like the brewing of a Minnesota storm! All of a sudden, the power went out. This didn’t surprise us or worry us too terribly much, as this has happened a few times since we’ve been down here.

Side note: The power here flicks off and back on a lot, to the point that we don’t even set the time on the microwave anymore. This happens at least several times a day (and yes, we keep all of our expensive electronics plugged in to a surge protector). Sometimes the power goes out for longer. One afternoon shortly after we got here it was out from around 2 to around 8. We talked to Mike, the neighbor, who told us this isn’t terribly uncommon. When the power goes out, if it’s out for more than a few minutes and it doesn’t come back on, expect it to be a few hours. There was another night when the power went out either just before we went to bed or while we were sleeping and didn’t come back on until sometime the next morning.

So, we stayed up listening to the storm. We could hear trees breaking and falling in the jungle all around the house, and were on alert, just in case we had to tuck and roll from one deciding it wanted to come through the roof. There is one particularly large but dead tree towards the end of our driveway that has Ramie worried because if it came down it would for sure turn the car or house into a pop can or match sticks. 30 minutes or so later the wind died almost completely down, which lasted maybe 15 minutes or so before it came back with a vengeance. This went on for a few hours, I don’t really know because we fell asleep. Around midnight I woke up and the power was still out. Again, didn’t really surprise me, hopefully it would come back on in the morning.
Thursday 7/1 When we woke up at our normally early hour the power still wasn’t on back on. Again, this didn’t surprise us much, and realized that it is just part of living in this beautiful tropical paradise. We are quickly learning that when the power goes out do NOT open the fridge/freezer because you don’t know when it will come back on. Also, the water pump is electric, so don’t use a lot of water because you only have what is left in the pipes and don’t flush the toilet until it NEEDS to be flushed. Good thing we showered before the power went out last night!!

Before the power went out I had filled the coffee pot with water so I could just flip it on when I wake up in the morning, this is a habit that I have had for years… why not? So, while we couldn’t use the coffee pot, we did have some water. I had also brought instant coffee packets with us from home (leftover from camping). I’m not exactly sure why I ever decided that these were important enough to come with us in our limited luggage, but I’m glad they did! We were able to use the water from the coffee pot, heat it on the gas stove, and make ourselves some coffee. What a life saver!! Instant coffee- although not the greatest coffee, might just be a staple in our house.
(Also- side note, coffee to go doesn’t seem to be a thing down here. Coffee is a big thing, but you don’t see take out cafes, definitely no Starbucks or Caribou, and I don’t even think they even have gas station coffee down here. Either you make it at home, or you have to go to a sit-down restaurant and get it.) 
Since it was a Thursday and a driving day again, and it had been almost a month since we went “big city shopping” and hit up the big feria, we had planned to go to San Isidro today. The power being out wouldn’t change that plan at all, and it actually kind of worked out that we had planned to be gone anyway. As we drove down the hill from our house to the highway at a little after 7am we saw something that we were not expecting. The powerlines were literally down on the ground. The wind was so strong that it ripped the lines off of the poles, hence why our power had not been restored yet. There was more than one place where the lines were down in the middle of or across the road and we actually had to drive over them to make it down the hill. It looks pretty bad, hopefully they can fix it quickly! At this point the power had been out for about 12 hours and I had a freezer with a fair amount of food in it. There is nothing we can do about it, so on we went to San Isidro.