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

91. Friends & Neighbors: Welcome Distractions to Every-Day Life

Saturday 7/30- Today our part-time neighbor Adam and his father-in-law Dennis arrived. These are the neighbors who are right next door, literally on the other side of our chain link fence. This was the house that was being built at the same time as ours, the one that may have been part of a little competition between 2 building crews that made our house get finished so quickly. The original Tico owner of the house built and sold it, and Adam & Katie, a couple from California, bought it. We met Adam and Katie back in April when they visited the first time and have been keeping in touch with them ever since. Their intent is to use this house as a part time vacation home as well as a vacation rental or a longer-term rental, however it’s not quite ready for that yet. They originally had a property manager here in town, but that property manager did not do a very good job for them and ended up quitting. Now Adam and Katie had a lot of work to do and things to figure out on their own, so Ramie stepped in to help for the last few weeks before Adam and Dennis got here. Now that they arrived, Ramie would be stepping in to help even more.

Over the next week, Ramie helped Adam & Dennis with projects around the house and yard including putting a privacy screen up on the fence between our yards so that both us and their future renters would have a little bit more privacy than we currently had, some electrical work that needed to be done, and various other things that Ramie is good with. 

They also had many conversations about projects that they would like Ramie to coordinate including some construction projects that needed to have done before they could start renting and coordinating with the prior owner & builder of the house for some warranty work that had to be done. One thing that we have learned here is that brand new houses have to be warrantied by the original owner/builder for one year, so if any major issues arise, they can be called in to fix it. There were a few of these items that had to be handled so Ramie will help with this by giving the workers access to the house, over seeing that the work is being done, and just over-all being Adam & Katie’s eyes and ears and relaying the progress back to them. This type of thing is part of Ramie’s background so it comes easy to him, not to mention he just generally likes to help.

The Official Casa Costa Breeze end of July rainfall total was 25.3 inches

Wednesday 8/3-
Back in MN once a year (should have been more- but such is life) I would get together with my 2 Army Battle Buddies, Katie & Jamie, for a girls weekend.

Somehow, these girls' weekends usually ended up revolving around something arts & crafts related and we always had a great time together. When I recently saw an ad on one of our Costa Rica Facebook groups about a “paint and sip” event at a bar/restaurant nearby, it reminded me of my girls' weekends and I really wanted to participate. I asked Ramie if he would come paint with me, and while he wasn’t interested in painting, he did say that he would come hang out, watch me paint, and have a beverage with me. Well, that didn’t sound like fun, so I sent a message to Tracy, one of our friends here in Uvita, and asked if she’d like to come paint a sloth with me. She was in (and now I didn’t have to paint by myself)! I had to work on Wednesday morning, but I took the afternoon off and the 4 of us (Geoff, Tracy’s husband being the 4th), headed to a restaurant a few miles south of Uvita in Ojochal (pronounced O-Ho-Chal) that none of us had been to yet.

The painting setup

The restaurant itself was really neat, it was set up like a tree-house, a bar, a pool table, and life-size Jenga were on the ground level, and there was a bar/restaurant and an event space built up in the trees. Ramie & Geoff decided to hang out in the bar while Tracy & I ordered our drinks and headed to the event space to meet our painting instructor Angeline. It turned out that there were 7 of us who signed up for our sloth painting class today. Once everyone was ready, we got to painting. 

Tracy (on the left) concentrating hard

I am not an artist by any stretch of the imagination. I am terrible at drawing, painting, and most things that require you to be artistic and creative, but with a good instructor I can usually put something down that isn’t super embarrassing. As the instructor walked us through how to begin, we got to chatting with everyone, learned a little bit about each other, helped each other with paint color and mixing ideas, techniques to get a certain look, and just some idle chit chat, and after a couple of hours, we all had a sloth to take home. Some were much better artists than others, but I think we all had a good time. I would probably attend another one of these events if Tracy or another friend would paint along with me!

This is my sloth
This is Tracy's sloth

After we finished painting, Tracy and I headed out to the restaurant where Geoff & Ramie were hanging out and we ordered some dinner. After some laughs and stories exchanged, it was time to head home for the evening. I’d say, after what had been one of my more stressful weeks of work, this was a great break from it all. Hopefully I’ll be a little bit refreshed for the rest of the week. Oh, and Ramie decided to hang my smiling sloth above the toilet in our bathroom (and this isn’t the first time he has hung my artwork above a toilet. I’m not sure why this is his theme?!) 

Friday 8/5- By the end of the day on Thursday I was ready for a mental health day and had most of my hours for the week in any way, so I decided to take Friday off. We called up Geoff & Tracy again and asked if they wanted to come check out our secret beach with us. Tracy is sort of like me that she’s content not swimming, instead just walking along the shore, looking for cool rocks or shells and anything else that might jump out at us, so they thought that this beach might be a good fit for them as well (since it really isn’t much of a swimming beach, but always seems to have something interesting to look at). We met at about 8 and brought them on the adventurous drive back to our secret, jungle-y beach. I think they were surprised by the rough path that passes as a road to the spot where we like to start, but they're all about going on the adventure with us, as long as we do the driving in places like this.

Nice drive down a tropical road

When we got there the tide was higher than we had ever seen it before, and the shaded area where we sometimes sit was almost completely under water. That was very neat to see and surprised us. It didn’t cause any issues, though, as there was still plenty of dry sand to walk on. We then did what Ramie & I normally do- kicked off our sandals, left our stuff in the car, and started walking.

We made it down to our regular turn-around point and found that even down on this end the river was much deeper, wider, and flowing faster than we had ever seen it before. We have only crossed the river once before at low tide, at its deepest it was only about thigh deep. This time there was no way any of us was going to try to walk across, it was much wider and appeared that you would probably be swept away in the rushing water. That didn’t stop us from exploring the area on our side of the river a little bit before turning around and heading back the way we came. We found a few treasures- some more driftwood for signs, some rocks and shells, and brought them all back to the starting point.

This was a piece Ramie had found on a prior beach trip, he saw something in it right away

After letting it dry and finishing it, he hung it up

We do live in Bahia Ballena technically which translates to Whale Bay. This is Ramie's Whale and he hung it in our entrance. I can see the whole whale can you?

We sat around, had a snack and then decided to walk the opposite direction for a short distance looking through the rocks. Ramie is still determined to find a shark's tooth. Once back at the start Ramie and Geoff decided to go for a swim and play in the waves. Ramie always wants to but since I don’t trust swimming in the crazy waves and potential rip-tides, we never goes in past our waist. This time he had a swim buddy and the two of them had a great time body surfing. Once they were exhausted they came back, and before we knew it, it was after noon and we had all had enough sun for the day. We decided to head home so we could get some lunch and get on with the rest of our day. We would, after all, be getting together tomorrow afternoon again as well. 

Look at those two studs!

Saturday 8/6- Why were we getting together with Geoff and Tracy again today (and for the 3rd time this week)? Well, Loren and Nancy were throwing an “Oldies Party'' at their mini-golf course.

When Loren first opened OMG just a year ago he asked Ramie to create a fun playlist for his guests, which Ramie gladly did. Now, knowing that Ramie had a lot of music available, Loren once again went to Ramie and asked for an “Oldies” playlist from the 50’s-70’s. Of course Ramie is always happy to help. This party was for their regular group of friends, many of whom we had met before either at the New Years party or other various times over the last year, and we thought that Geoff & Tracy might enjoy getting to know some new faces as well. We had checked with Loren to make sure he didn’t mind, and of course his attitude is always that the more, the merrier, so Geoff & Tracy were going to get pulled into the mix as well.

The mini-golf parking lot isn’t really big, so we figured it would be best if we drove together, so Geoff and Tracy came to our house, dropped off their truck, and Ramie drove the 4 of us to the party. It was a pot-luck event, and bring your own beverage, so we all had our dishes and drinks and made our way in. There were already a few people there, some faces that we recognized and some that were new, so we just started mingling. Ramie & I typically aren’t very outgoing social people, but we are trying to come out of our shell more and more often. This time was a little bit easier because we had another couple that we knew just in case we felt shy (plus, now we weren’t the newest newbies anymore!) We introduced Geoff & Tracy to the people we knew, we found it easier to strike up conversations with people we didn’t know since we were now a group of 4 instead of just a couple, and we ended up having a great time. Throughout the evening we found ourselves talking to many people we don’t see very often and introducing our friends to some new friends. I would chalk this night a success, even though we aren’t the most comfortable in situations like these. Sadly, though, it was raining all evening so no one was able to play a full round of minigolf. 

Tuesday 8/9-
Today was for some different friends & different introductions! On their recent vacations here, when they wanted to go to the beach Adam & Katie would go to the “private beach of the woman who was their former property manager ” (all beaches are technically public here but she owned the property that was easily accessible to this beach, otherwise you would have to park far away and walk down the beach to reach “her” section). Since that relationship didn’t end so well, they asked Ramie if he would show them a good local beach to bring their 2 young daughters to. We knew of a few in the area, so after a little bit of conversation to learn where they had been before and what they liked, Ramie decided to introduce their family to Playa Ventanas. This is one of the more tourist-centered beaches that often has quite a few visitors and has some vendors set up. Ramie got to hang out with the 6 of them for a good portion of the day, really get to know them all, and introduce them to a fun new hang-out place.

Friday 8/12- One of the perks that Ramie gets for volunteering at the animal sanctuary is that he can bring guests up there and give them a personal tour (like he did when we had visitors). When Ramie does this, there is no tour fee (although the fee helps keep the sanctuary going since it is a non-profit. Since you don’t have to pay to get in, donating, buying a shirt or a souvenir is encouraged). So- if you ever visit and want to see the sanctuary (and Ramie is still volunteering there) he can definitely make that happen! Today Ramie brought Adam, Katie & their crew up to see the animals. Since the family has vacationed here in Costa Rica for a few years, some of the animals were not new to them, but being up close to the animals was new to them. They spent about an hour or so walking around to the different enclosures and talking about the animals. Today, though, a lot of the animals were not particularly active and some even stayed hidden. That didn't matter to them though, they still thought that this experience was pretty cool and liked to hear Ramie’s stories about going inside the enclosures and working so closely with the animals.

In the afternoon we had dentist appointments at the clinic right across the highway from our house (seriously, we can see the building from our backyard). This building is brand new within the last couple of years and has an urgent care office on the main floor, complete with ambulance and helipad if you need to be evacuated for a medical emergency. Upstairs is the brand-new dentist office. Ramie checked with them about a week ago to see how long of a wait it would be to get an appointment and how much an exam and cleaning would cost. Keep in mind- our private medical insurance here does not cover dental, so everything is out of pocket and we didn’t know what to expect. We were pleased to find out that you could get in for an appointment in about a week, and for x-rays and cleaning it would only cost us $100 each. WHAT?! Back in MN we had to book our next exam 6 months out if you wanted to get in for your cleaning every 6 months, and I know for a fact x-rays by themselves would cost more than $100! (We were fortunate to have good dental insurance back in MN and much of this was covered, but I know that dental care is expensive). Ramie had scheduled appointments for us at that time, and today was the day. (Have I mentioned how much I appreciate having my own personal assistant? 😉 )

The office was very modern, the receptionist spoke very good English (as did the Dentist and all of the staff that we ended up interacting with), and this was very much like dentist offices that we were used to back in the US (the opposite of our Doctor experience when we first moved down here). The x-rays were the big pano-style instead of the bite-wing that we are used to (Our insurance in the US only covered one pano every 4 years or something like that and if you needed it more often it was ridiculously expensive.) and they took several rounds at different angles to make sure they could see everything they were looking for. Ramie and I each have a couple of crowns that they paid particular attention to so they could ensure nothing was wrong there, and after they were satisfied with seeing everything they wanted to see on the x-rays, they brought me in for my cleaning with the Dentist. Yep, that’s right, from what I gather, the person that does the cleaning is actually the dentist and not a hygienist or assistant. As you all know, that is quite different from the US where you get to see the actual dentist for about 5 minutes during a routine exam.
As far as I could tell it was all the same tools and procedures that I was used to back in the US (and I’ve been going to the dentist for cleanings and exams every 6 months for the last 12 years or more and at least yearly ever since I was a kid). Everything looked good with my teeth and then the dentist traded me out for Ramie, and it was his turn to go.

His appointment went much the same and they didn’t find any major issues with his teeth either. I must say- Dental treatment is one of the things that they do right down here- it’s not hugely expensive, the techniques and equipment are modern, and you can actually get an appointment in a reasonable time. Kudos to CR on this!  (And sorry, I didn't even think of taking any photos while we were here).

Pura Vida!