72. Our First Guests Week Two

I will admit, and they will probably agree, that Taylor and Dylan are pretty low-key guests. Yes, they wanted to do a little bit of sight-seeing & souvenir shopping, but they both seemed perfectly content spending a couple of hours at the beach and spending the rest of the day lounging around the pool. Dylan was enjoying his bottle of Jamison and Taylor (not much of a drinker) was enjoying trying the different pre-made beverages in a can that they sell here. Dylan mentioned several times that his goal was just to go back to the frozen tundra with some color. The going joke was that red is an acceptable color to go back with. Tan Little More Color GIF from Tan GIFs Before they came down here Taylor and Dylan were tasked with finding a few things that they wanted to do while they were here, but they didn't really do too much research. While sitting around one evening, they were checking out a tourist map of the area that we happened to have at the house and they found inform

71. Our First Guests Week One

Tuesday 3/15 - Yes, we have only been in our new home for 3 days, and today we will invite our first guests to come stay with us. This is why it was such a necessary push at the end to get everything finished (or at least finished enough) to move in to. Yes, there are still some things that aren’t quite finished. No, we don’t have internet (and don’t have a clue when we will be able to get it), and no, not everything is unpacked and put away, but it is livable, comfortable, and has WAY more space than trying to put 4 people and a dog in a studio home with 1 Murphy bed and a small couch. Hahahaha

Ramie and I would be making the 3.5+ hour drive up to the airport today to pick up Taylor & Dylan, and then turning around to make the 3.5+ hour drive back home. Although this isn’t ideal, they were too nervous to take one of the shuttle services that we offered to book for them. (There are many services that will pick you up from the airport and bring you to your destination. If you come to visit us, let me tell you, this will be the way to go. Since for us it is nearly 8 hours of driving, potentially waiting a couple of hours if there are delays, plus the cost of a tank of gas which is currently around $6/gal or more. The shuttle service is the better option!)

Taylor and Dylan’s flight wasn’t scheduled to land until about 12:30 this afternoon, so we figured if we left early enough we might be able to stop at a few stores in San Jose that we had heard were good for finding some of the things we were still looking for and unable to find in Uvita and San Isidro. There is always the thought that things in San Jose tend to be less expensive as well. We had a few places that we knew we wanted to check out, and there was a mall about 5 minutes from the airport that we could go hang out at if we had time to waste (we don’t know what to expect from this mall but want to check it out anyway).

via GIPHY

We left home at 7:30 with the thought that we would get to San Jose sometime after 11:00 and hopefully Taylor and Dylan were landed and through customs by a little bit before 2, then we could turn around and be back to Uvita around 6. Well- if there is one thing we’ve learned in all of our time traveling in, to, and from Costa Rica, it is NEVER count on a timeline, especially when dealing with traffic or the airport.

We made fantastic time driving up to San Jose. We got to the city earlier than we thought we would, so we were glad to have some time to shop. There is a large hardware store that we had heard about and looked at online that we knew for sure we wanted to stop at, so that was our first stop. There were still various things that we needed for the house that either we couldn’t find in Uvita or San Isidro, or were just way more expensive there than we wanted to pay. We were hoping that we could find more reasonable prices in San Jose.

When we got there we discovered that the store was a lot smaller than we expected, but still had a good selection of things. We weren’t going to be able to spend several hours walking the aisles like we may have been able to in a larger store like Menards or Home Depot back in MN. We did find a good selection of things that we needed, however, and got some items checked off of our list. When we were done shopping here we still had some time to waste before Taylor and Dylan were scheduled to arrive. We had also received a text message from them that they were being delayed in FL and were going to be running behind.

Now, since we had more time to explore, we decided to check out the “big mall”. We have heard a lot of people on our expat Facebook groups talk about City Mall, or the big mall that is only about 5 minutes from the airport in San Jose but weren’t really sure what to expect. We figured now is our chance to check it out and see for ourselves what everyone was talking about. It turns out, this is a big mall like I remember going to when I was a teenager (malls in MN have changed now and mostly suck). It had 3 floors of all of the stores like you’d expect- clothing, housewares, toys, books, trinkets, specialty stores, and a food court. Ramie even got actual Cinnabon! There were many stores that you would expect to see at a big mall in the US- Crocs, Bath & Body Works, Claires, Nike, Calvin Kline, American Eagle, Victoria Secret, Forever21… you get the picture. 

 

         

It was kind of the same in the food court- McDonalds, Quiznos, KFC, Pizza Hut. 

 

Of course, there were plenty of other stores and restaurants that were not brand names we are used to seeing in the US. 

There was a shop full of action figures and collectables from all sorts of pop-culture icons.  This caught Ramie's attention and we spent some time here.
      
 
There was even a Christian store that Granny Janny would love!

 

Since we weren’t shopping for clothes, which was a large majority of the stores here, we spent most of our time in a few housewares stores that we saw and found some more good finds that we hadn’t been able to find anywhere else. This extra time for a shopping trip to San Jose really did work out well for us. After we were exhausted from shopping so much, it was getting close to the time we expected Taylor and Dylan to finally be landing after their delay. We hadn’t eaten anything all day, so we stopped at Burger King to grab some good old greasy American fast food (a lot of American throw-backs for us today!) and waited for the text from Taylor and Dylan saying they had landed. When we got news that they had arrived and had made their way through customs faster than we expected, we were just finishing up eating our food. They were starving, so we grabbed them some BK to-go and headed over to the airport to finally pick them up. It was sometime between 3 and 4 by the time they got to the car and we got back on the road home to Uvita. 

No, we didn't wear masks the whole drive back, it's just funny b/c the mask mandate was still in place while they were here, even though it had been lifted in MN long ago.

Unfortunately the drive back South did not go nearly as quickly as the drive North this morning did. It was around 7:30 when we got home and all of us were exhausted. We gave them a very quick tour of the house, gave Breeze some attention, showed them to their room and told them where they could find the things they might need, and then we all went straight to bed. What a long exhausting day for everyone, but everyone was glad to finally be back together under one roof. 

The sunset Taylor captured during our drive home

Daddy & Daughter have really been missing each other, and the reunion was oh so special.


Since they were going to be here for 2 weeks, we had plenty of time to fit in many activities as well as a lot of relaxing, sitting by the pool kind of days. They didn’t feel rushed to “fit it all in” like you sometimes do on vacation, and both Taylor and Dylan seemed perfectly content hanging out by the pool. Dylan said that one of his main goals was to go back to MN with some color- even if that color happened to be tomato red.

Wednesday 3/16- Day #1
- Since travel days are always so long and hectic, the first day of vacation should be reserved just for a relaxing restful day, and that’s exactly what they did. We hung out at the house, they enjoyed the pool, they got to check out the house and the yard now that the sun was out and they weren’t so exhausted. Of course, since we spent all day driving yesterday, I didn’t have a chance to work, so today I used the day to catch up on as much as I could. 

Enjoying an evening by the pool

Thursday 3/17 - If our guests are here for long enough, I would love for them to have the opportunity to go to the big feria in San Isidro. It is just one of those things that is cool to experience because it is so different from most things that we Americans are used to. It also gives them the opportunity to pick out their own fruits and veggies that they want to try while they are here. So, today, we brought them to San Isidro. We brought them to the feria where we picked up our regular items and let Taylor and Dylan help plan out some of the items that they wanted to eat while they were here. Taylor had been here once before on her last vacation here, so she knew what to expect, but I think both of them were a little bit overwhelmed with it all- I know I was for the first 4 or more times we went, some days I still am! After we finished picking up all of the produce we could ask for, we took them along to some of the regular stores that we needed to pick things up at. They got to experience the smaller grocery stores and a few hardware stores, and finally Walmart where we were going to do the majority of our grocery shopping. Here we took a cart, they took a cart, and we went our separate ways. We told them to find what they wanted to eat for the next 2 weeks and report back in an hour. Of course, before they went off, Taylor had to stop in the electronics section (which is right at the front door of the store) to see if the PlayStation 5 that we had seen over a year ago was still there. Sure enough, it is (Ramie has checked for it several times since we have been down here, he is fairly certain it is the exact same one, and not just a replacement as they are sold). The inside story on this is last year when we were here on vacation the PS5s were just being released and very difficult to obtain in the US. Taylor really wanted one and was thrilled to find one just sitting on the shelf here– only to do the currency converter and find out that this one cost about $1200, where in the US, if you could get your hands on one, it would only be about $500 for the same thing. (yes, this is completely irrelevant to the story, but still a fun fact). So, back to the story– We all did our grocery shopping, each ended up with a cartload of stuff (our cartload obviously much larger than their cartload), and packed it up into the truck. Boy, was this a full load! With 2 extra people plus 2 extra weeks worth of groceries, we were at capacity!! Onward home to enjoy some more pool time and some drinks!

Friday 3/18/22 - Since yesterday I had my 2nd day this week without working, I felt like I was getting behind, so I dedicated another day to working. Ramie brought Taylor and Dylan to the secret beach that we like to go to where you can walk for a mile without seeing another person. They packed their lunches and a couple of drinks, and headed out. They only spent a few hours there, but I think they really enjoyed seeing the natural, uncrowded beach.

Saturday 3/19 - I guess I got on an every-other-day working schedule because today I was SICK! I woke up this morning not feeling great, I tried to get up and work, but after only about 20 minutes out of bed, I ended up back in bed- and couldn’t get out. I will spare you the details, but there was something so wrong with my insides that nothing stayed in, and more definitely came out than went in. Clearly, I wasn’t going to be doing anything today, so Ramie brought Taylor and Dylan on a fun jungle drive and to our secret waterfall that Loren had showed us on one of our prior vacations here. Taylor and Dylan did some exploring and they swam in the cold mountain water (which was actually pretty warm today) for a few hours before coming home, and wouldn’t you guess it- hung out by the pool.

Sunday 3/20 -
By today I was feeling slightly better- at least well enough to get out of bed and keep some food and water down, but definitely not well enough to go to the beach. I stayed home to work- I was feeling well enough to sit at the computer- while Ramie brought Taylor and Dylan to another beach. Today they decided to check out one of the popular beaches where all of the tourists go. It’s a completely different vibe when you have the vendors selling food, beverages, and trinkets along the beach and have dozens of people all around you. Personally, I prefer our deserted secret beach, but sometimes being part of the tourist scene is cool too.

By afternoon when they came back home we decided that we would bring them up to our old rental house so they could see where we had lived for the last 9 ½ months. We were also ready to transplant the “garden” of trees and flowers we had collected up there, and find permanent homes for them on our property. I mean- while Taylor and Dylan are here, we might as well put them to a little bit of work, right? hahaha. We also had paid for the internet through the end of the month, so this would give Taylor and Dylan a little bit of internet time (since, of course, we don’t have wi-fi to offer them at our house, and their data plans are limited and/or expensive). Once all of the plants were dug up and in the truck, we brought them down to their new home. The 4 of us picked spots to plant them, dug them in, and watered them well so that hopefully they take root and grow for us. We planted 1 tall beach coconut tree, 4 dwarf coconut trees, 1 banana tree, about 10 small hibiscus bushes, and all sorts of other flowers. We want lots of plants in our yard, however with as fast as things grow here, I think we need to hold off on packing too many plants in because they may quadruple in size by the end of a rainy season!

Monday 3/21 – We have heard about a coffee plantation that does a tour not too far from here and have always wanted to check it out. It’s up the mountain toward that dilapidated house we checked out back last July- the one where it took us an hour to go 15 miles. Well, according to Google, this coffee plantation is up that same road and takes about 45 minutes to go about just over 5 miles. Sounds about right! This morning, Ramie, Taylor, and Dylan would go on a coffee tour; unfortunately, I would have to stay home and work (I’m noticing a sad theme here). The tour was scheduled to last about 3 hours, plus the time it would take them to drive each way, so at least I’d have a decent amount of time to work without being distracted!

(Welcome to Ramie’s story telling time) It was just the 3 of us on the tour today and Deiner (the son of the owner of the coffee plantation) met us and guided us to an area with tables and different pieces of equipment. The tour started with a fresh brewed cup of coffee, brewed the traditional way. Boil water, put your ground beans into a filter set in a Choreador, put your cup under it and pour the hot water through the filter. Deiner then explained the history of the plantation and told us some facts about coffee. From there we went for a walk into the plantation. Since Taylor and I have been on a similar tour before we let Dylan be the first to experience everything here. Deiner was carrying a basket with a rope and helped Dylan tie it around his waist. He then showed us how to pick the coffee berries and told Dylan to start as we had a whole plantation to pick before we left for the day. I will say that Dylan grasped the concept but Deiner told him he was throwing money away. He pointed to all the berries on the ground and said that he can’t let that happen and he had to pick them up. So Dylan picked them up, this is when Deiner told us that the pickers only get $2USD per BASKET so it’s in their best interest to get all the quality berries into said basket and not drop them. We then walked the fields a little more before he showed us the coffee bean washing and drying areas. After that we headed back to the area we started.

From this point on we got to sort the berries, husk them, “fly” them (getting the loose husks and debris separated from the beans), husk them again and fly them again. This was all done originally by his father by hand, however his father has adapted some of the manual equipment with motors, belts and pulleys. It’s really not what you’re thinking though. The motors are from washers and dryers, the pulleys are bicycle wheels and motorcycle parts, and the belts are chains, leather, or other leftover parts that they could find or get cheaply. It’s very ingenious and it made their production increase a whole lot. Once that was done and we had our raw coffee beans we then put them into a roasting machine. From there we discussed more about the plantation and how things worked, the workers and the whole entire process. We had lots of questions! This is when his father (Don Emelio who the plantation is named after) walked out and set a pop bottle on the table. Deiner asked us if we wanted a shot of moonshine. Heck yeah we do! His mother brought out some fresh baked Costa Rican cake and we took another shot of moonshine. They also brought out another homemade alcohol beverage very similar to Baileys. It was all very good.

At this point it was a waiting game for the roaster to finish so Deiner asked Don Emelio to show us how to husk the beans the original way. This is done with a gigantic mortar and pestle, carved out of wood. Don Emelio made this look super easy starting with both arms and then switching without stopping from one arm to another, 25 hits each arm and then you switch. He then pointed to me and asked if I wanted to try. Of course!! Well, let me tell you that pestle was heavier than it looked. I started with both arms and they told me to do one arm, well that didn't go so well! Beans flew all over me and the floor.

 


Don Emelio, Deiner and his mother were all laughing hysterically as were the rest of us. Dylan got to give it a try as well and the same thing happened to him although not nearly as bad as what happened to me. Taylor opted not to try, but for the women they have a smaller pestle. It was a good time. By this time the roasting was close to being finished, which took about 45 minutes from the time we put them in. I believe it was around 10 kilos or roughly 20lbs of coffee beans. Don Emelio, took a pan and opened up the roaster and proceeded to dump the fresh steaming beans. Deiner said those were medium roast and he had to go about 5 more minutes for dark roast. Once that time was up, the first batch was done and the process was repeated. Don Emelio then proceeded to stir the finished beans under a fan to cool them so they didn't burn. The whole place smelled amazing! Deiner then sadly told us that this was the end of the tour. 

We asked to buy some coffee that we saw on some shelves close to the entrance and he asked us if we wanted what was on the shelf or the fresh stuff that had just come out of the roaster instead. I didn't think we had that option so I had to ask if we really could and he said yes no problem, and then gave us the option of buying ground or whole bean. Dylan and I each bought a bag of freshly roasted and ground coffee, we watched them grind the still warm beans, package them and seal them for us. How cool is it that we got to help process these beans and also got to bring some home to enjoy! This was one of the best tours I have ever been on and will be happy to bring our guests back there. As we were walking back to our car Deiner told me that if I was ever up in the area to stop by for a cup of coffee and to chat, he told me I am now family. The Ticos sure are friendly which is another reason we love it here. Well time to head down the mountain with our warm coffee and make sure Dana is still alive.

Mrs and Mr. Don Emilo, Deiner, Myself, Taylor and Dylan standing next to the roaster

 

Our freshly packaged coffee

This concludes Ramie’s story time for today, please be sure to check back for future story telling adventures.

After hearing their story about how cool this place is, I will DEFINITELY be going with the next group that comes down here and wants to go on the coffee tour!

Taylor, Dylan, Breeze and Ramie also decide that one afternoon they were going to OMG (minigolf). Ramie got a hole in one on a hole and Taylor said "Dad got naked after getting a hole in one" Well not really but I guess he did attempt to take his shirt off and run around the course! Thank gosh no one else saw that! They also posed for a picture at the end before heading home. 

Fitting photo of these three crazy goof balls

And that concludes week one of our first guests/Taylor & Dylan’s visit to Casa Costa Breeze. 

 Pura Vida!  

P.S.  These are just some of the things you could do if you come visit us!  Don't worry, I'll protect you from the bugs.  🕷️

 TO BE CONTINUED:




Comments

  1. It took me a couple hours reading this morning, but I finally caught up with your blog! It really didn't disappoint. So many good stories. The car inspection blows my mind though! Thank goodness you found a pretty good car. Crazy cheap for the new muffler and after hours service too! Your house is so beautiful. Happy for the happiness you've found in CR. I personally think this beats living on a boat anyway. 😀 Maybe a blessing in disguise. Take care!

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  2. No matter how long or far behind someone is reading our blog, as long as they are reading them, that makes us very happy and we love sharing our adventure. We do still dream of living on a sailboat and at this point probably would be way cheaper, even with the old boat saying.. You know what boat stands for right? Break out another thousand.... Even though we arent living on a boat we love it here and all the great people!

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  3. Life is an adventure and you are very fortunate to be loving it to the fullest!

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