146. A Beautiful Reunion

Reunion Dance GIF from Reunion GIFs Saturday 2/3- Many of you who know me know that once upon a time I was in the military. During a deployment to Iraq nearly 17 years ago (Ugh, I really feel old after saying that!) I got close to 2 battle buddies who I hope will be in my life forever. We were all young girls from MN in a military field where very few women end up and we formed a tight while trying to keep each other as sane as possible during a tough 18 months far, far from home. After the deployment we all ended up back in MN, but only saw each other about once a year. Despite not seeing each other very often, when we do get together it’s like no time has passed and we can step right back into our friendships without any problems. The last time I saw these gals was shortly before we moved down here, and ever since then we always talked about when they would come visit us. That was finally happening! We have been working on planning this for a while, and today was my & Ramie’s d

74. Animals & Plants & Work, Oh My!!

Monday 4/11-Wednesday 4/13- Now that we have moved into the house and don’t have all of the building excitement in our lives to write about, I have to admit, I feel like our blog might get kind of slow for you. You can probably guess what we did these next couple of days- I worked, Ramie did projects around the house. See, even though we moved to Costa Rica our lives aren’t so different from yours, it’s just warmer here, we dont have to wear socks, and are trying to do many things in a different language that we don’t speak well.

Monday 4/11- (Story time by Ramie) Greetings followers! I got a job! It's a volunteer job but it's still a job and will help occupy some time. If you remember back when my beautiful daughter Taylor and her super cool Star Wars loving boyfriend Dylan were here, we went to Alturas Animal Sanctuary. If anyone would like to check it out here is the link to their website. Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary

After Taylor and Dylan returned home I contacted the supervisor the following week about being a local volunteer, and just heard back on Friday 4/8. They wanted me to start today, well that was fast, but ok! Speaking with the supervisor she told me I would basically be doing animal husbandry. I went to college for Natural Resources many moons ago and Wildlife was one of my favorite parts of it so I was well aware of what husbandry consisted of. I work every Monday morning only for about 3 hours, but it's hard and somewhat fast paced work. My job along with 2 other local volunteers (Jo and David) and an ever-changing group of international volunteers, is to deep clean the enclosures and feed the animals. I may be asked to help with other jobs but that is my priority. On Mondays the Sanctuary is closed to the public, this allows us time to get this work done. Jo has been a volunteer at Alturas for 6 years and was assigned to train me so I got to hang out with her and learn the process.

We started by getting two 5-gallon buckets each and also two small buckets, one with diluted bleach and the other with a disinfectant, along with a scrub brush for each. After a quick group update on the animals, we all split up and we headed to the enclosures. Once inside, one of the 5 gallon buckets was for leaves and sticks, the other was for old food and poop. We picked up pretty much everything we could see and was within reach. Once that was done, we took the garden hose and sprayed down the enclosure. The diluted bleach is for concrete surfaces and the disinfectant is for everything else. Then we scrub-scrub-scrubbed away.

Once the scrubbing is done we proceed to the next enclosure and repeated until all of them were cleaned. For animals such as the monkeys, the enclosures are sectioned off so that the monkeys are not in the same part of the enclosure as you are. Monkeys are not very friendly and are very naughty. I actually got in a fight with Capuchin today when it tried to take my bucket from the other side of the wire mesh. It was the ultimate tug of war.

Yes, I know that is a Chimp in that GIF but they just didn't have one with a Capuchin (I do have to add that I am still undefeated to this day!) The monkey let go and surrendered. Capuchins are not a large monkey but I was honestly startled by how strong they are. This is when Jo proceeded to tell me to just let go of whatever they are trying to grab. If they get your clothes or hair you're just along for the ride until they tire of you (so don’t get too close to the fence). Jo told me about a time the Capuchin grabbed her hair and pulled so hard she had tears and she said it felt like they had held onto her forever. So she taught me to always face the wire mesh and ALWAYS be aware of where the animals are at. She also mentioned that the animals test every new volunteer until they are recognize you. I noticed this with each animal we went to. The monkeys would try to grab me, smash the cage, make noises, etc. The birds would swoop at you, make loud noises, and maybe try to bite. The sloths, as you may or may not know are a totally vicious animal.  Oh, wait, I was out of the cage and done before they even turned their head. HAHAHA!! Actually they are not vicious and are very gentle. Oh, the other thing – this isn’t a petting zoo so we can't actually touch the animals unless we are defending ourselves.

Once we are done with the deep cleaning it is feeding time. I was super excited for this. We went to the small kitchen where some of the volunteers were preparing and labeling the meals for each type of animal. We then took the tray of food to that particular animal and it was basically our choice where we “hid” the food. The purpose of hiding the food is for enrichment for the animal. The Capuchins are smart monkeys and I had fun hiding the food under logs, in holes, in toys, in bushes, well I'm sure you get the idea. Once the feeding is done that is when we lock up the enclosure and go clean up all the toys we removed, washed the dishes, and put everything away. I was drenched in sweat at the end of the 3 hours, but it was so cool being close to the animals, not to mention knowing that I was helping take care of them which just made me smile. As I was saying my goodbyes to everyone they asked if I would be back. I of course said I would be! I got home and had to tell Dana all about it and how cool it was. As we were sitting in the pool that afternoon and maybe a couple beers in me, I was still talking about it and that's when it hit me. I needed to update my Linked In profile with my new job title.

Exotic Animal Husbandry Expert

These are just some of the animals they sometimes have. Photo courtesy of https://www.alturaswildlifesanctuary.org/

(Update as of 6/19/2022). I just found out last Monday that the reason they keep asking me if I would be back was because a lot of the local volunteers say that the deep cleaning is too hard and dirty. They don't want to have to work that hard and would rather take one of the other days where they just pick up old food and feed the animals. I'm still really enjoying volunteering at Alturas and I've been on my own since my 3rd Monday there. I have, however, had a few more fights. The Macaws dont particularly seem to like anyone. They bite super hard (enough to break a finger) so when I got attacked by one I was very nervous. It began biting my boot and I was worried it was going to climb my leg and continue biting on the way up. It did eventually let go, but I now have a hole in my rubber boots. I also get my head dive-bombed by one of the Amazon Parrots fairly regularly, it goes right for your face. I've been told to wear a hat and they wont do it but would you think I remember to bring one. LOL. You better believe that I am perfecting my defenses and “Spidey Senses” to know when they are about to swoop at me. I wish I could get you all some pictures of me up close and personal with the animals but it goes against the rules. That's all for now, thanks for allowing me my little part of story time.

We are getting closer to the green season which means the rains will start coming fairly soon. For many people here in Costa Rica, this means that it is time to plan and pick out any plants that they want to, well, plant. It’s hard to plant in the hot dry summer because you’ll have to water them so much, but now when we start to get decent amounts of rain, nature will just start taking care of itself. For us, we have been starting to plant some flowers and trees already, but we have more landscaping to do. We want to hire Geiner’s landscape and garden crew to install a thorny hedge around the outside of our fences (to act as a natural fence both for security, and a privacy screen so we can take down the nylon mesh currently attached to our fences), and some sod and ground cover plants for us so our yard doesn’t get so muddy during the rain. With the patio door open all day every day when we are home, this gives Breeze free reign to go in and out as she pleases.  This means that she will go play in the mud and sneak into the house without us noticing.  You can just imagine what red clay mud does to light gray tile floors and the beds she likes to sleep on! We also have some steep sloping hills that we will need to put some ground cover on so they don’t wash away once the heavy rains really start. (If you remember our blog posts from last September or October, you will remember just how heavy these rains are!) Geiner came out to our house to walk the yard with us and help us decide what we should put where to mitigate erosion and keep the mud to a minimum, at least in the areas closest to the house. He gave us a few ideas for other flowers and where to put them as well. 

The grass we had installed prior to Taylor visiting, but notice all the bare red clay

Another thing that I want is a garden. Well, they call your yard a garden here, but I want a vegetable garden. While it would be easy to just put seeds in the ground and grow things, I am far too worried about scary creatures hiding in the plants, so I want raised planters. Also, with the intense sun and huge amounts of rain, I would like my planters to be covered. This is typical here- kind of the idea of a greenhouse, but without sides. You definitely don’t need to have sides to keep the heat in, it’s more just to have a roof to protect the plants from the intense sun and heat. We talked to Geiner about different ideas for this, and that Ramie would like to build most of it himself, however we’ll need his guys to deliver the material (long sticks of metal tubes that we don’t have any way to transport) and for them to dig and cement in the corner posts. Ramie (and I will probably help) can do the rest of the structure ourselves. He made some calculations on the amount of material that he would need to get and made notes so that he could put together a quote for all of it.

The house that was being built at the same time as ours right next door was finished a few weeks ago, and the intention of those owners was to try to sell it right away and had no plan to live in it. We had heard rumors that the house had sold, but no one really knew any details about who bought it. On Wednesday the new owners of the house came for the first time. We met Katie and Adam, a couple from CA who are about our age and have 2 young daughters. We introduced ourselves briefly, as they were busy moving their things in, but we learned that they would only be here for about 8 days.  They are not going to be living here full time (although Katie would love to, Adam isn’t quite on board yet until the girls get older), and their intent is to rent it out as a vacation rental when they aren’t down here. That’s too bad, it would be nice to have actual neighbors in our neighborhood instead of just being a rental community.

Thursday 4/14- Saturday 4/16- One of the things that I love about the accounting firm that I’m working for is that while last week we had a huge push to get things filed by the deadline and I worked a lot of hours, we got those things taken care of, and now this week isn’t as hectic. The owner and the 1 fulltime staff member are still completely bombarded with client meetings, but just about all of the front-end paperwork side of things that I do is caught up. All of the returns are either finished or on extension, so I actually had time to relax, read a book, and work on some projects before my full-time work starts in a few weeks.

Thursday morning I didn’t have any work to do, so I grabbed my laptop and sat on the patio to work on blog stuff. Normally when I’m working, I sit at my desk in the house where I have my monitor and everything set up, but for blog and general computer work, I don’t need all of that and get to enjoy the views of the back yard instead. I was over a month and a half behind with writing blogs, so it’s a good thing I keep detailed notes!! I really love that this kind of stuff is portable so I can enjoy the quiet morning with my cup of coffee while still being (or trying to be) productive.

Pura Vida


  1. Hello Adventure Love Birds!
    I have read all your blogs and thoroughly enjoyed them. Fear stops most people from following their dreams. I applaud the both of you, moving to a country that the majority of your daily life is quite different from living in Minnesota or even the United States. Different laws, foods, animals, landscape, plants, language, weather, customs and several other things I couldn’t think to mention. As a follower I feel like I am on this journey with The both of you. You two had to figure everything out yourself and I am just along for the ride. From the pictures it looks like you have searched out a beautiful piece of land to build your home in paradise. I enjoyed the step-by-step process of finding the land and the supplies to build the house, including how everything worked out when you had to use the storage facility of your friend. I am so happy that the job situation has worked out for you and that you can work from home. What has made me want to reply this time is I am so excited for Ramie’s new adventure. Interesting how the animals want to interact with the new workers, you get to go through a testing period. I am sure there will be many more stories to tell. 🙈🙉🙊🐒 Nice to hear you have new neighbors. Enjoy Paradise!! Until we meet again.
    Love you, Aunt Nancy

    1. Hi Nancy, thanks so much for commenting! I am so glad that you have been following along and are enjoying our posts. Throughout the journey so far there have been many challenging moments, but we have been able to make it through all of them so far. The job situation has worked out well and has helped us feel more secure in our adventure. Ramie is so excited about his opportunity to work with the animals and help a good cause. He has some good stories to tell, so stay tuned!

  2. Before you know it you two will have no more work to do and you will start hanging around the “hidden beach” you know of doing nothing but sipping wine and taking naps! Not a bad life at all. We are in a similar situation. We bought a cabin up in the Alexandria area and Edie is making it “ours” with paint, furniture changes, landscaping and a lot of other stuff. Our structure was here while you had the opportunity to start new from scratch and introduce your own ideas and it looks like you have done an excellent job. Keep up the good work, you have much to be proud of!

    1. Hi Ken and Edie! Although this post is behind by a few months there is always something to do here in the tropics, so I dont know if there will ever be a day when there is "nothing" to do. I usually am out in the yard taking care of whatever it may be in the early morning. Once the sun comes up, its just to hot to keep going. So Im usually back in the shade around 11am or so. Dont get me wrong Im still doing things, but I make sure to stay hydrated and out of the sun as much as I can. Im glad your enjoying the cabin and Im sure your just as busy as we are with all the requests from Edie! Thanks again for the kind words and for following along!


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