96. A Quick Trip South, Around the House & A Friend Reunion

Thursday 9/8- We’ve talked several times before about shopping at the Panama border. There are a few reasons that we like to shop there: they use the US dollar so there is less confusion when trying to figure out how much something costs, you can find products that you have a hard time finding in Costa Rica, and prices on some things are better. If it was just groceries and household things I don’t know that we’d bother driving down there, but the honest truth is that the drastically lower price of alcohol makes it worth it. For example, in the local grocery and liquor stores a 1.75 Liter bottle of Bacardi costs about $60, in San Isidro, where we do a lot of shopping, the price is very similar, maybe $5 less, but not significant. At the Panama border it’s $11. That is not a typo- you can save nearly $50 on one bottle of liquor by driving about 2 hours South to the border. And- let me tell you- when we make this run to the border, we don’t only buy 1 bottle!!

Our Haul from the liquor store. We might be pirates, 1 bottle of wine, 1 bottle of tequilla, and the rest is RUM.  I wonder who drinks rum at our house??

There is a limit on how much alcohol you can bring back from Panama duty-free, so it’s not like we can buy cases and cases of liquor, beer, and wine, but we do bring back as much as we are allowed in order to make the trip worth-while, and it lasts us several months until we have to go down again to restock. Since we are down there, we would be silly to not stop at the store that is like an extra-large 2 story version of Walmart- a conglomeration of everything and anything.

Last week Loren and Nancy mentioned that they would be heading down to the border for their stock-up trip and asked us if we’d like to ride along. Sure! If they were willing to go on my day off work, we would definitely ride along, this way we can make this trip both a social day and a productive day. Since we don’t get to see them as much as we used to when I wasn’t working, it’s nice to spend time catching up on what’s happening. They are early-birds like we are so we all agreed to get on the road by 7am. We had a nice drive together getting to catch up for a few hours. Once we got to the border we made our regular series of stops- the gas station first to fill up with slightly less expensive fuel (Panama is still expensive, but not quite as expensive as Costa Rica), then fill up on our share of cheap liquor, and finally to the general shopping mall type store. Once we got here, we split up to each do our own shopping. Loren & Nancy always do a lot more shopping here than we do because they don’t go to San Isidro monthly like we do, yet it always just so happens that we are both done shopping at the same time (since we aren’t on a mission, we often find ourselves just browsing around) and find each other at the check-out registers. This time was no different. After all of our finds were loaded up in the car, we grabbed some lunch at McDonalds. You may be thinking why there? Mostly just because it happens to be that there is one located in this shopping mall and it's quick and convenient, plus I think Loren & Nancy really enjoy the taste of the US. Once finished eating we then got back on the road North to Uvita and were home by mid-afternoon. It was another productive day- similar to going to San Isidro plus we got to hang out with our friends. I’d call it a good day!

Saturday 9/10- When we’re feeling a little bit antsy and need to move, when we don’t have anything else going on, or for no reason at all- it’s a good day to go to the beach! Since we enjoyed our new Sand Dollar beach so much the last time we were there, we decided to go again. This time we even decided to bring Breeze with us! While she loves days at the beach, running and playing in the sand, she isn’t a big fan of swimming in the waves. That’s ok, if you remember our post about the last time we were at this beach we told you about all of the neat tide pools- maybe Breeze would be brave enough to swim in one of these!

You might also remember that this is the beach where we found all kinds of shells and sand dollars (the reason why we gave this beach the name Sand Dollar beach, of course)! Since we had gathered so many last time, we decided that this time we would be more selective and only take the coolest shells that we found instead of loading up on lots of shells. I mean, really, what are we going to do with all of these anyway?! 

Ramie taking Breeze for a quick cool off in the River

We spent a few hours at the beach again like we typically do, walking, exploring, splashing in the water a little bit- both in the waves and in the natural pools. Breeze even seemed to enjoy exploring the beach pools. Unfortunately for her, a beach day means a bath when we get home, and she definitely doesn’t like those very much!

When we arrived home from our little adventure, Breeze of course was hesitant to even get out of the car. Once we got her out of the car she ran straight to the door and laid down, refusing to move an inch. She knows the drill and she isn't happy about it. So, what do we do? Ramie had to pick her up and carry her to the back yard while I grabbed the doggy shampoo. At least she doesn't put up a fight, but instead just stands there with her tail between her legs looking at us like we are the worst parents ever. Hahaha (Since a doggy bath is a 2 human job, unfortunately there are no photos)

Monday 9/11- Wednesday 9/14- As you have heard many times over the last few months, week days are work days for me, and no one wants to hear me write a blog about that! Ramie keeps himself busy during the days while I am working by doing lots of things around our house and yard. He’s not the type of person to sit still very much, so even if there aren’t actual projects that necessarily need to be done, he’ll find something to tinker with. This week he is playing with paint. There were a few places that needed some touch-up work, so he started with that. He then decided that he was going to tackle the concrete fence wall between our back yard & the neighbors. When this wall was built, their side was finished, but our side was just left as raw concrete. Since it is literally on the property line, we are in charge of painting and taking care of our side of the fence wall, and with the wet weather this time of year, the wall was getting pretty ugly with mold and mildew build up. Ramie decided that he was going to take care of this, so last week he power washed the wall to get all of the crud off of it, and this week he decided that he would paint the wall. 

Before power washing
After power washing

Since it was raw concrete, we expected that it would probably suck up a lot of paint, so instead of buying a few gallons, he decided to start with some of the leftover primer from when the house was built. When Geiner bought the primer for the house he had it tinted to a similar color that the walls would be, so this primer that we had several gallons of was a light blue color. Since we figured we might be painting the wall the same color gray as the exterior of the house, this blue as an under-color would be fine and the gray would go right over it with no issues. By the time I was done working for the day, Ramie was done painting the wall. When I saw it, I was actually a little bit shocked by the color, but kind of liked it! Should we leave it blue? Ramie did send a picture of the wall to Taylor and she was excited because she wants to paint a mural on it when she visits next time. It’ll stay like this for a little while, we’ll see how it grows on us (or how the mold continues to grow on it)!

Another project that Ramie has been itching to work on is an add-on to the gutters on the back of the house. As we mentioned in a previous post, we’ve had a few issues when leaves fall on the roof and clog up the gutter down-spout, the gutters end up overflowing onto our patio and all of that water runs toward our patio door. This is not ideal in the best of times but could be much much worse if it were to happen while we were gone for a few days or longer. We haven’t found anything like gutter leaf guards here, so Ramie’s idea for the next best option was to put a downspout on the opposite end of the gutter as well. While it is slightly pitched to run to the side that it currently runs off, having a downspout on the opposite end would give the water somewhere to go other than up and over the side (and then onto our patio) in case the main downspout is clogged and the gutter gets full.

This was another project that he decided to work on this week. Again, while I was working, he went to the various hardware stores in town to gather up all of the parts and pieces that he would need to add a downspout and direct the roof runoff into the concrete cuneta (drainage ditch) that runs down the side of our property. Of course, as with many projects that we do, we can’t get all of the parts from one place, so the search was on for everything he would need. Once he gathered up all of the parts, he did as much work as he could, dug in the under-ground part of the downspout, connected it to the cuneta in the yard, and assembled the part that would go from the ground up to the roof-line. He would need my help for the last of it, so he didn’t want to cut the hole in the gutter yet. We are still in the rainy season, so a rain shower could spring up on us at any time- we didn’t want to have a hole in the gutter without the downspout, so he held off until I was available to help with the last bits. Once I was finished working, it didn’t take us long to finish up this project. And now we have another thing checked off of our “to-do” list. 

Step 1: Paint the downspout
Step 2: Dig the trench
Step 3: Admire your completed work
Thursday 9/15- Today is Costa Rica’s Independence Day. What does that mean for us? Well, for starters, a lot of places like banks and government offices are closed. Restaurants and grocery stores are still open, though. From what we could tell from the local Facebook groups, a lot of the celebrations would be held this weekend. We saw a post advertising that there would be a parade where they invited the public to drive or walk along the route with “anything that makes noise”, bang on pots and pans, honk your car horn, or do whatever you can to be noisy. For the most part, though, this is another holiday that doesn’t change our routine much at all.

What did we end up doing today with it being my day off? We invited Geoff & Tracy, who just got back to Costa Rica after being in Canada for a month, for a day of much needed relaxation time and to come with us to Sand Dollar beach. They saw the pictures that we posted on Facebook with all of the shells and sand dollars that we found and they wanted to gather some up for themselves. We coordinated a time that would work with the tides, and set out mid-morning to go explore together. We started by showing them the caves on the near side of the beach.

We also discovered that there was a lot of debris in the water today- more so than normal. It was almost like mulch everywhere you walked, from the top of the beach and all the way down into the water. We can only assume the recent rains and the large river that ran into the ocean close by, brought a lot of this debris. It didn’t make for good swimming, or even good walking in the waves. After we got farther down the beach this mulchy stuff cleared up and we were able to start hunting for shells and sand dollars. We walked until we made it to the river, then turned around and walked back. When we made it back to the car we took out our umbrella, chairs, and snacks and decided to hang out for a while. Ramie and Geoff even went swimming in the mulchy water for about a half hour.

Before too long it started to cloud over and the wind picked up. It didn’t take too much longer after that, that it started raining. We tried to hold out to see if it would stop, but it just didn’t appear that it would. We packed up our stuff and started to head back. We decided that we weren’t quite done hanging out yet, so ended up stopping for lunch at a little place on the way back home that Tracy swears has the best burgers around. We all ordered burgers, and I do admit that they were pretty tasty! After a long Costa Rican lunch break, we eventually headed back home to try to be a little bit productive this afternoon.

Saturday 9/17- It’s Saturday, that means another day off! 😊 What else does that mean? Well, not only does it mean that I get a whole day to relax, but it also means I have to try to be productive. It has been a while since I’ve had a chance to play Suzie homemaker, so I figured today would be a good day to do some of those types of things again. I started out the day chopping up veggies to make homemade salsa. Back in MN when our tomato plants went crazy with ripe tomatoes, salsa was the first thing on the list to use them. While we haven’t had any luck with our tomato plants here (the plants grew a little bit from when we bought them, but never got any blossoms, and when we went to transplant them, discovered that they barely even had any roots) the grocery stores and farmers markets always have fresh tomatoes. I picked up a few recently, just enough to make a batch of salsa that would last a few days instead of making huge batches to freeze like I used to. As for the rest of the ingredients, I always have them on hand, so no troubles there. I spent an hour or so chopping everything so that I could put it all together this morning and it might be ready to sample by this evening. (For those of you who are curious, I make a pico de gallo fresh salsa, none of the cooked or canned salsa for me!). 

Once the veggies were taken care of, I decided to pull out the sewing machine again. It has been a long time since I worked on sewing projects, Ramie wanted some more tool pouches and we had a few things that needed repairs. I spent the next few hours working on some sewing projects and enjoying the time away from a computer screen and the chance to work on something different from what I usually spend my time doing.

Of course, if the weather is at least halfway cooperative, I always try to spend a little bit of time relaxing in the pool on my days off as well.

One last thing……..Happy Birthday to my sister Nicole! 

Pura Vida!