92. Exploring our Little Town Before a Really Rainy Mess!

Saturday 8/13- Today being one of my scheduled days off work I decided that I wanted to get out and do something. (I now take Thursdays & Saturdays as my regular weekend days, unless I can’t work on Sunday, then I work Thursday instead. I love that they are flexible like this for me!) Well, I guess it wasn’t so much that I wanted to DO something, I just wanted to get out of the house and go for a walk. Since we don’t have a nice area to walk here at our house like we did up at the rental house, I feel like I don’t have a chance to move around enough (and get bored of just walking circles around the pool) and I didn’t really feel like going to the beach to go for a long walk, so we decided to go walk around Bahia. What is Bahia? Technically we live in Bahia Ballena. Wait, you thought we lived in Uvita, right? Well, Uvita is the more well-known name of the area, but is actually just a very small “town” on the mountain side of the Costanera (highway). Bahia is the part of the town that is on the coastal side of the Costanera. There are many small “towns” in this same area but really we are all part of the same general area which we (and many people) just call Uvita. Bahia stretches for a few miles and is also part of the area where Geiner’s house is (where I would go to work in his office before we had internet) and is a neat area with houses, restaurants, shops, tour companies, and at the end of the road is the Marino Ballena (Whales Tail) National Park beach entrance. We’ve driven through here a few times before when we went to Whale’s Tail and I walked the edge of the area during my breaks when I was working at Geiner’s office, but we’ve never really walked around to see what was all around here. 

An overview of our town

The route of our walk through town

That’s what we would do today! We put Breeze on her leash (which she almost never has to do any more) and walked around for a couple of hours looking at what there was to see. One of the reasons for Breeze on a leash is because of stray dogs; there are many of them here and we wanted to be able to keep her close to us when those strays would wander by. You just never know if they are friendly to other dogs! Also, she tends to slowly wander away from us and not pay attention, she could end up where she shouldn’t be and get herself in trouble. This area has narrow streets and no sidewalks so we were walking on the side of the street and people sometimes drive fast. There are a handful of restaurants in this area that we might want to check out one day, and lots of tour companies offering whale watching and boat tours. We didn’t stop to check them out today, but at least now we know what is there for when we are ready for that sort of thing. I felt better after my walk and Breeze was exhausted because she isn’t used to walking in the heat for so long, so we headed home for a relaxing rest of our afternoon.

Breeze was thirsty so we stopped and let her play and drink from small creek

Sunday 8/14- Rainy (Green) season is in full swing here in Costa Rica, and boy did Mother Nature want to prove that this evening! It started out with a pretty nice day- mostly sunny with some spotty clouds, getting a little bit dreary in the afternoon, but that’s a typical day this time of year. What seemed like completely out of the blue, it just started POURING down rain! Yes, sometimes it rains hard here and we have gotten used to that, but this rain was something different. It didn’t take long for us to notice the water level in the creek was rising and the flow was getting faster. The water wasn’t draining off of the bottom part of our property quickly enough and before long the majority of the bottom portion of our lot was one big puddle. The gutters on the house were overflowing (and we have 8” wide gutters with a 4” downspout) and the water on the patio was getting closer and closer to our sliding glass door leading into our bedroom. 

The level of the pool had risen over the overflow hole and was almost to the level of the deck surrounding it, (although, luckily for us, the overflow for the pool was dumping water fast enough the pool was not going to overflow). Oh My Gosh!!! Ramie quickly got to work squeegeeing the water away from the door so we didn’t end up with water in the house and I kept an eye on everything else. The level of the creek kept rising and rising from the water flowing off the mountain and trying to escape to the ocean. This was as high as we had ever seen the creek before, it actually reached the top of the banks and start flowing through our yard. Fortunately our house is situated about 8 feet above the lower part of our yard, so there was no danger of flooding the house, only our yard/plants down on the lower portion. 

When the water on the patio was under control and Ramie could step away from that, he went to check the rain gauge. 1.2” in a HALF HOUR. Can you imagine?! We could tell the rain was getting slightly slower, only because the pool level was slowly dropping and the water on the patio wasn’t creeping toward the door anymore. We continued to watch the creek which wasn’t showing any signs of dropping or slowing down since we were still getting all of the runoff from the mountain. It would probably take quite a long time to see a drop in the creek. We continued on with our evening without any emergencies, but before we went to bed Ramie checked the rain gauge again. We got about 5 inches of rain in 2.5 hours and it was still raining. I woke up around midnight and could hear that it had either slowed down to just a drizzle or completely stopped, so that was a good sign. The next morning when Ramie went to check the rain gauge one last time and added it all up, we had received a total of 7.2 inches in probably about 7 hours. Fortunately the water runs off fast in our area. The creek was still flowing like mad, but the level had dropped from the night before and most of our lower yard that was flooded last night was now back above water (thoroughly saturated, but no longer puddles). We heard that there was significant flooding in areas near us that caused some damage and some roads to be closed, but I think we are in a good area where we hopefully won’t ever have to worry about flooding.

When we get rain that falls that heavily for that length of time, there are places that do end up with landslides and flooding. We saw multiple areas suffer from this on our local Facebook groups. Some of the more impacted areas are so flat that water has a hard time running off when it rains hard. We are fortunate to live on a high piece of land in our neighborhood, so we shouldn’t have to worry about our house flooding. Our house and main part of our yard is on a flat piece of land, we have a fairly steep hill (you wouldn’t want to try to walk down it) that goes about 8 feet down to the lower portion of our property. We have a large flat space here that goes out to the edge of a creek, banks of the creek are about 8 feet high and the water that runs in it is usually only a few inches deep. Just recently Ramie worked down in the creek to clear some of the brush and debris that could cause backups and possible problems. This particular rain actually caused the creek with 8’ banks to overflow up onto our flat plantel on the lower part of our yard. Our best guess is that the creek rose over 10’ during this rain event.

Monday 8/15- Hello everyone it's Ramie. Monday morning means I have to go to work at the animal sanctuary. This morning I received a message to take my time getting to work because of a landslide and trees down blocking the road, up to the sanctuary. I had nothing else to do this early in the morning so I left anyway. Once I arrived at the turn-off I immediately saw numerous cars parked on the road. It turned out that these were the other volunteers and helpers trying to get up the mountain. Well it doesn't look like we are going anywhere any time soon, as we could hear heavy equipment and chainsaws going but had no idea what to expect on the other side. One of the other volunteers had made some cookies and decided now was a good time to pass them around and chatted about our lives (I sure wished I had some coffee to go with them). We waited for about 45 minutes before we got the all-clear, and then one by one we made our way up the mountain. The drive was slow going, there was a large section of a hillside that slid over the road and they only cleared a path barely big enough for a vehicle to pass. We also had to dodge the downed power lines and fiber optic internet lines that were draped from the poles and trees. We zig zagged back and forth up the road, sometimes having to get close enough to the edge that you hooked brush on the mirrors of the truck. 

 Once at work we started business as usual. Part way through my day, one of the staff members, Rigo, asked for my help moving trees instead of continuing my work in the enclosures. His plan was to use these fallen trees as new enrichment items for some of the animals.

He had 3 trees he wanted to carry from a back section of the Sanctuary to the Spider Monkey enclosure. The two of us were able to move two of the trees (about 20’ long and 4-5” diameter) ourselves, we had to go about distance of a football field. The third tree was the same length but about 8” diameter. There was no way were we going to carry that one ourselves. I was already exhausted after carrying the other 2 trees up rugged terrain (of course it was uphill!) We asked David, one of the other local volunteers, to help us. The 3 of us struggled and I do mean struggled to carry that tree. We all needed a long break after that! Once I was rested, I returned to my duties, only to be stopped again when Rigo asked me if I would help him move them into the enclosure and stand them up. Once again Rigo & I took the two smaller trees and moved them in, just barely able to fit them through the doorways. The third one we would need David to help with again. The 3 of us got the tree in but now we had to stand it up. We discovered that this could be a problem because of metal bracing and other obstructions that would get in the way. It took some very creative rigging, some close calls with the Spider Monkeys grabbing us, a lot of sweat, some swearing, and some digging but we finally got the tree stood up. Rigo decided that was enough for now, and that he will work on the other two trees during the week. By the time we were done with this, all the regular animal chores were done for the day and most everyone else had already left. I guess that means I can go home now! On the way back down the mountain, it was the same situation as the way up, I had to sit and wait since the crew with the heavy equipment was there cutting up the downed trees and trying to move some of the power lines. Eventually I made it through and when I got home I immediately took some Advil and did absolutely nothing the rest of the day, my body was already feeling it!

Pura Vida!