95. Life's A Beach, and I'd Like to Wine About It

Mon 8/22 - Friday 8/26- Here in Costa Rica we don’t start to feel the chill in the air in the evenings, we don’t get hoodie weather, we don't get bonfire weather, and we certainly aren’t thinking about how long we have until it will get too cold for the plants in our garden to keep producing. We do, however, start to get lots of leaves falling from the trees on and bordering our property and it kind of makes me think of fall back in MN.

Well, if it isn’t the changing of the season to a colder one that we worry about, what could we possibly be worried about when it comes to these falling leaves? Well, in addition to having to clean them off of our yard and out of the pool, we are also experiencing clogging of the rain gutters on our roof. As you’ve seen in prior posts, often the rain comes down very hard this time of year so clogged gutters can be quite problematic. Problematic to the point that our 8” gutters overflow – a lot- and all of that rain from the roof floods onto our deck and drains straight toward the sliding glass patio door to our bedroom. We were fortunate that it didn’t rain hard like this while we were up in San Jose & doing our border run last week. It would have been terrible to come back to the mess of something like that sitting for 5 days! We will be implementing a fix for this problem at some point in the near future, but for now I guess Ramie just has to make sure to clear out the gutters every couple of days so we don’t run into this problem quite so often.

Not only does Ramie’s chore list contain cleaning out the gutters, but he will also spend a decent amount of time raking both the upper & lower yard, mowing the yard (well we don’t have a mower we actually use a weed whacker), and taking care of all of the rest of the plants that are growing like crazy during this rainy season. Our garden is growing pretty well so he spends time taking care of our veggies and herbs, he does a fair amount of housekeeping around our house, and he is still coordinating contractors for the projects happening next door at Adam & Katie’s house too. For the most part he keeps himself occupied for a lot of the same time that I am working.

Friday 8/26- It seems like it has been ages since we visited with Loren & Nancy, so today after I was finished working we got together with them for a few hours at their house up the mountain. It is always nice to catch up with friends you haven’t seen in a while, so we enjoyed the time chatting and playing a new dice game that they taught us.

It’s been a while since we’ve played any card or table games, so this was a fun change of pace for an afternoon. Once it was time to head home we made some delicious steaks & veggie kabobs on the grill and relaxed for the rest of the evening. Happy Friday!

We may need a bigger grill........someday!

Saturday 8/27- Often on Friday afternoons or evenings, one of us will ask the other “what do you want to do tomorrow?” since it is usually a completely free day that we can do whatever we want and not be worried about working. Sometimes instead of what do you want to do, the question will be “do you want to go to the beach tomorrow?” I will tell you, it’s pretty rare for either one of us to say no to that!

Just some of the stuff we find at the beach

I’m not exactly sure which question was asked yesterday, but the answer ended up being that we were going to the beach today! Our favorite secret beach is about a ½ hour drive from our house and we always like to get going fairly early before it gets too hot out. Since we very rarely sleep in, it’s not hard for us to get up, enjoy our coffee, and then leave for the beach by 7:30. We usually get there no later than 8 and then spend the next about 3 hours exploring and relaxing. While our routine is always mostly similar, what we see and what we find are always new, different and exciting!  While the weather wasn’t hot and sunny today like you think of on a typical “beach day”, we actually kind of prefer it when it’s a little bit cloudy because it isn’t as hot and it doesn’t feel like the sun is trying to kill you. You can also get some pretty neat looking scenery photos, reflections in the water, and dark and stormy skies off in the distance.

Crab Fireworks in the sand
The ImPASSable Bridge
Reflections for miles. Where does the water end & sky begin?

Monday 8/29- This morning after Ramie finished with his work at the animal sanctuary he came home and was working on his computer taking care of things. Lately we have been talking about when our next visit back to MN to see friends and family would be, so he has gotten in the habit of checking flights and prices between San Jose & Minnesota. With all of the recent change in fuel prices, the issues that airlines are having, and the crazy effects of everything going on in the world is having on travel, ticket prices have been much higher than we have seen in the past few years. While we know we want to visit, we have to be mindful of how much it will cost to get there. This morning when Ramie checked the ticket prices he noticed that they had dropped. Well, do we pull the trigger, pick our dates, and book our flights?

We did it.

We will be back in MN in late May 2023!

WHAT?! That’s nearly 9 months away!!

Yes- it is quite a way off, BUT in all of our travel experience, we have found that booking airline tickets a long way off is usually the way to get the best prices. For planners (like us) it is the benefit of booking far in advance. So- the moral of the story is, if you want to come visit us and get better prices, don’t try to do it last minute!

So- lets start planning YOUR trip to Costa Rica! Get a hold of Ramie, he’s the travel agent for our family 😊

The Official Casa Costa Breeze end of August rainfall total was 35.8 inches

Thursday 9/1- If you haven’t been able to tell by the posts covering the last few weeks, we’ve been in a cycle of trying to go to the beach at least a couple of times per month on one of my days off work. After being glued to a computer a few days in a row, when it’s time for a day off I want to get out into nature, move around, walk, feel the sun, sand, and salt on my skin, and relax. If we knew of any good areas to go hiking, we would probably do that too, but there isn’t anywhere that we are aware of nearby that is good for a nature hike (any of our local friends who read this and are aware of a hiking spot, please let us know!!)

Today was going to be a beach day again, but we decided that instead of going to our regular secret beach, we’d try going to a different deserted beach that we knew of and call “low tide beach”. The reason for this odd name is that this beach is only accessible when the tide is on the low end of the spectrum. There is a water crossing that you have to drive across that raises and lowers with the tides, so when the tide is high you can’t make it through.

Right now, the tide is dropping in the early morning, and we figure that it should be low enough to cross by our usual 8am beach time. (As a side note, the beaches that we go to do have official names, but in an effort to keep them as deserted as we like them, we don’t want to advertise to the world where these amazing beaches are. We will share their locations with friends if they ask, and bring visitors to these beaches, but we just aren’t going to post the info out there for the whole world to see 😉 )

I have been at this beach once before when Taylor and Dylan were visiting and at the time thought it was kind of weird and had an eerie feeling to it. Ramie has been to it a few more times with Taylor & Dylan as well as when Taryn, Steven & Will visited, and he thought it was a good beach. We have never gone for a long walk on this one like we do at our secret beach, so today we were going to go check this one out again and see if I feel differently about it now than I did on my first impression.

I think the reason I thought this beach felt strange is because it is very flat and doesn’t have trees along the edge like so many other beaches we have been to. The water is very shallow for a very long way, then it leads into a wide area of sand, then tall grasses for as far as you can see. There is no shade and no comfy place to sit around & hang out, have a picnic or just sit to listen to the waves. None of this is bad- just different from what I enjoy at the other beaches I’ve been to.

The turn off of the highway is nearly hidden and the drive from the highway to the beach is a little bit adventurous (although not as much as the adventure to the secret beach).

I had forgotten that there were 2 shacks set up back here.  Squatters are a thing down here, and you'll find shelters set up like this in some of the most random places. The last time I was here there were people living in one of these shacks, essentially a very crude shelter made out of fallen trees and tarps, this time the area was deserted. The other shack was closer to the beach, in a better state, but again, completely empty of people or things.

Great elevated view of the beach from the deck of this house.

When we made it through the adventurous drive and to the beach, I didn’t get that eerie feeling like I did the last time I was here. That was a very good start! We parked the car and headed to the caves at the end of the beach first. 

This was the area that Ramie and our guests have explored while here. There are natural caves in the mountainside of varying sizes. Some almost big enough to drive a car into, others with entrances that you’d have to crawl on your knees, and a few others that are somewhere in between. We didn’t go exploring inside of the caves today, but instead just looked around outside of them. There are also very neat rock windows to the ocean that you can see the waves crashing through. I could sit and watch this for a long time- but I wasn’t in the mood to sit right now. We decided to start our long walk in the opposite direction and see what we could find farther down on the other end of the beach.

I love that there are no other people around, just like the secret beach. This beach was slightly closer to our house, in the opposite direction, but I did notice that without the nearby shady areas, and much less of an ocean breeze, this beach does feel hotter. We didn’t let this stop us from planning our long walk, though! After only walking for a short while, we discovered that there were TONS of shells and sand dollars here. We didn’t bring any bags or anything with us to carry our finds (because we didn’t expect so much) and soon found our hands getting very full. We would have to be selective of what we kept and what we didn’t, otherwise we wouldn’t be able to carry it all! Once we got farther down the beach we found very neat tide-pools all over. These are big puddles left in the sand and filled with ocean water. Some are only ankle deep, but some that were so deep that you couldn’t see the bottom. There were some that I walked into up to my knees and knew I wasn’t even close to the bottom, but didn’t dare go any deeper because what if a big ocean fish was stuck in there and came up to bite me!?

I took the risk and decided to enjoy the warmth of the small tidal pools

I do have to say, I really liked these little pools and puddles because they were very warm, they were completely calm, and I could wade or sit in them just like my own little saltwater pool. After playing in the tide pools, we kept walking farther down the beach and eventually came to a river going out into the ocean. We explored the river bank for a while, but it appeared that this was a pretty deep and fast-moving river, or at least it was right now (maybe there was a lot of rain in the mountains above here recently that is draining fast now, and it’s not always like this. Who knows!?) Just like at the secret beach, this river was our queue to turn around and walk back to where we started from.

Better turn around I spot a pair of Crocs sunning themselves on this river bank!

We continued collecting as many shells and sand dollars as we could carry, and when we got back to the car unloaded them so we could look around for some new driftwood art to add to our house as well. We didn’t find anything today that really called out to us, but there is always next time to find some new treasures! Today we were happy with our score of shells and I realized that I actually really do like this beach. I think we’ll definitely be coming back here again in the future!

We also decided that “low-tide beach” is too boring a name for such a cool beach, so now we are naming this “sand dollar beach” 

So happy!

Our haul of shells

Saturday 9/3- Through the multiple groups that we are a part of on Facebook we often find out about things that are going on around the area. Sometimes we even find out about them with enough time to attend the events! 😉 (I say this half jokingly because there have been many times that we find out about something we would have liked to see or do after the event is already over). This week we saw a few posts on our local group talking about the annual Whale & Dolphin festival that happens every September in Uvita/Bahia Ballena. While the original and main intent is for local environmental groups to have talks about saving the beaches and wildlife, volunteer opportunities, and boat tours to see the dolphins and momma whales that just had their calves, many of the local businesses get in on the event by having something special at their establishment. We weren’t too interested in any of the actual festival events, but some of the food and beverage events sounded like something that we would enjoy (and even something similar to the types of events that we would have gone to back in MN!) One of them happened to be a wine tasting event! Other than a few bottles brought down to us by our Californian neighbors, we haven’t had any really good wine since we have been down here, and we haven’t been to a wine tasting since we left MN. Those of you who know us well know how much Ramie and I both enjoy a good glass of wine and the atmosphere that goes along with a tasting session at a winery or vineyard.

The event was scheduled to start at 11, and even though I didn’t want to go until closer to noon, Ramie insisted that we go right away when it opened.

I tried to reason with him that with Tico Time, showing up an hour into the event would be fine, but since he thought this would be geared more toward non-Ticos, that the place would be hoppin’ right away when they opened. So, since he was the one driving, I got dressed and ready to go at 11, right away when they opened.

The place putting on this event is a small Bed & Breakfast that also has an Italian restaurant and deli. We have heard of it, but never stopped before. Today we will find out what it’s all about. We got there about 11:05 and when we walked in there was no one there, not even the workers. Before long one of the guys came out and said that they weren’t quite ready yet, but we could have a seat and one of the owners would be out to get things going shortly. After about 10 more minutes, the husband/owner came out to explain the event to us, tell us about the wines and how each one came with specially chosen bites to eat. Ramie & I each ordered our first choice of wine, and then after a few minutes the wife/owner brought us our Italian bread topped with the special toppings. The Italian wine and canapes were delicious and for a moment we forgot that we were in Costa Rica where we don’t often find things like this. We chatted with her for a while about the event, the wines, and the bites that she served us, and then she continued to get things ready for the rest of the event. There was still no one else here, so we had the whole place to ourselves. 

The table was a little bit wavy-- Select your location for your wine glass carefully, so you don't end up with it in your lap.
Tasty morsels to sample

A little while later, the wife came back out to talk to us some more. She apologized for being disorganized this morning, but they had a few things go wrong and got set back a little bit more than they were expecting. She then hung out with us for quite a while where we heard about their story of moving from Italy to Costa Rica, learned about their business here, and got to know each other a little bit. It turns out that they have 5 rooms/cabinas here on the property, a deli where they sell homemade Italian meats, cheeses, and a variety of other Italian items that they make here on site, and an “on-demand” restaurant. For many of the dishes that they serve at the restaurant you have to make your reservation and your order a day in advance so they can get the freshest ingredients, marinade them, and in some cases slow-cook them before your dinner the following day.

Ramie and I continued to enjoy a couple more rounds of delicious wine and canapes and the owner would come out on and off and chat with us some more. We stayed until a little bit after 3pm, and there were no other customers the entire time that we were there. I felt bad that their event was a bust so far, but they expected that now in the afternoon/evening it might pick up a little bit.

On our way home we decided that since we were already dressed up and out-and-about we would stop at a favorite place of ours- the Beer Garden. We saw that they had some live music and events going on this afternoon as well, so why not check it out?

When we got there, there was only 1 other couple in the place- I guess it’s our day to have these events to ourselves? We ordered some drinks and appetizers, and eventually the DJ started and some more people showed up. We hung around here for a while, and Ramie was really enjoying his craft beer. At this point he may or may not have had one too many, and when it was time to go, he was definitely in no shape to drive. Since I just don’t drink that much, I did not have the same problem, so for the first time in over 15 months and for the first time ever in Costa Rica, I got in the driver’s seat of our vehicle. I am very fortunate that there are no narrow bridges or steep hills between the Beer Garden and our house, but the parking lot was crowded, narrow, and a little bit tricky, this was my first time ever driving this vehicle, it was dark out and it had just started raining (I hate driving in dark in general, and the sprinkles on the windshield just make it that much harder to see with all of the headlight glare). There is a side-road of probably a little over a mile that leads from the Beer Garden to the main highway in town, and this road is narrow, always has a ton of traffic, and there are pedestrians everywhere, so while it isn’t the most terrible drive in Costa Rica, it also wasn’t the easiest.

Then I had to make it a couple of miles on the highway to our neighborhood. Even through Ramie put that silly GIF above, I didn’t crash into anything, we didn’t fall off the road, and we didn’t hit any pedestrians on the way home, so I guess it was a successful first drive for me. Will I make a habit of driving down here? Probably not, but I know that in a pinch I can do it if I need to. 

Need we say more?

Pura Vida!!!