102. Halloween, Anniversary, and Birthday Festivities

Friday 10/28- This past Wednesday Tracy and I had plans to go do another painting class, this time we’d be painting sugar skulls. Anyone who knows me knows I love Halloween, so this was right up my alley. Unfortunately, between the unexpected hospital stay and the crazy amount of rain that we received on Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, we ended up not going to the class.

As a side-note, we have had so much rain lately that the ground is completely saturated. We ended up with another heavy rainstorm overnight Tuesday that ended up being the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. This rainstorm caused all sorts of landslides that covered the highways in places, causing more flooding than we had before, and the authorities even issued travel advisories saying that if you don’t have to drive anywhere, don’t. Honestly, while Costa Rica is used to getting lots of rain this time of year, we have been getting quite a bit more than usual, and I guess it’s just gotten to be too much!

So, anyway, instead of going to this painting class, being the artsy friend that she is, Tracy invited us up to their house to do a painting class of our own. She already had paint & brushes from the other projects that she does, so she stopped at the art store to pick up some more supplies and canvases, and we decided to make an evening out of it. I worked in the morning, and we headed up to their house in the afternoon when I was finished.

We started just sitting around together chatting, and after a little while Tracy started bringing out the art materials. She had enough for all 4 of us to paint, but of course, the guys didn’t want to participate. Tracy printed out some stencils so we could get the general outline, and then we started getting creative! We used many of the same techniques that we had learned from the sloth class that we did before, plus some other techniques that we had learned from other places, and just enjoyed being creative for a couple of hours. The 4 of us hung out, talked, and painted in between. We ate some dinner, and ended up heading home around midnight. Of course, neither Tracy nor I had finished painting our sugar skulls, but since she had extra supplies, she sent a few things home with me so I could finish it up myself. Now that she’s getting me into this painting stuff, I think I’ll pick up some supplies of my own and maybe make a few more holiday paintings.

I finished it at home over the next couple of days and this was the final result.

Monday 10/31- Happy Halloween!!

For those of you who have been following along from the beginning (or nearly the beginning) we mentioned last year that Halloween isn’t a big thing here like it is back in the US. It’s picking up in popularity a little bit, especially in places where expats congregate and bars where the 20-30 somethings will party. This is unfortunate for me since I am a big fan of Halloween but not of Halloween bar parties, but I think I’ll survive.

What did we do today instead of celebrate Halloween? Why, we had Ramie’s follow-up doctor appointment in San Isidro! (2 weeks in a row in San Isidro on the wrong day of the week, I really do miss my fresh veggies from the farmer’s market!!) Getting to the appointment today was much easier than last time since we knew exactly where we needed to go. We were the 2nd patients on the agenda today (appointment at 3pm after Dr. Hernandez came to this hospital after finishing his shift at the other hospital). The appointment went very quickly, he looked it over and did another ultrasound to see if the infection has returned or any other signs of injury.  Fortunately, the doctor was very happy with what he saw. After only a week it was starting to heal and the infection was almost gone. There would be no need for any more follow up visits unless something starts to feel very wrong with it again. He made sure to stress that Ramie has to continue to take it easy and absolutely NO kneeling on it for the minimum of a month, but after that he should be able to get back to most of his normal activities without any trouble. The trouble will be, Ramie has a hard time sitting still, and he’s already been sitting around for more than 2 weeks! 

The swelling is significantly down but still not back to normal and the wound is still healing

The Official Casa Costa Breeze end of October rainfall total was 45.9 inches 

Tuesday 11/1- Happy 8 year wedding anniversary to us!

What do you do for your 8 year anniversary? Well, if you’re un-romantic like us, you don’t plan anything. What happens instead, is that when (about a month ago) you were told that you were approved for residency, and your residency attorney tells you that the next open date for your CAJA (national healthcare coverage) registration appointment is on that day, you agree to that date! At least we’ll be spending the day together 😉

The appointment today was the next step in the process of becoming temporary legal residents of Costa Rica (a very long and somewhat painful process). We had to drive about an hour South to the government offices where we would file the initial paperwork to be accepted into the CAJA system. CAJA basically amounts to the Costa Rican national healthcare system and Social Security system (yes, we now have to pay into both Costa Rican and US social security but likely never be able to draw on the CR one.) We had to visit two different offices today. One specifically for Ramie since he is the primary and then to another office to file the dependent (me) coverage. We made it to the first office where a staff member from our attorney’s office met us to help us get through this process. She had all of the paperwork ready for us ahead of time. She did all the talking and all we had to do was sign and pay for our first month fee. After we were done at this office, we had to drive across the river to the next town and do a little bit more paperwork and get me added as a “dependent spouse” to Ramie’s paperwork. I sure am glad that we had the woman from our attorney’s office here to help, as the government employees that we were working with didn’t speak much English and this would have been a very difficult process on our own, but people do it! This took about half of the day, but it felt good to have one more step out of the way on our way towards residency.

Saturday 11/5- It hasn’t even been 2 weeks yet since Ramie’s unexpected minor knee surgery, and he has been under strict orders to take it easy while everything heals itself back together, so we weren’t about to go to the beach or for any excursions like that. That doesn’t mean, however, that we have to sit around and be bored. So, what do you do when you’re stuck at home, can’t do work around the house, and want to enjoy yourself?  We ended up deciding to play some games. While Ramie does like his video games (during the winter months or rain season here), that’s really no fun for me, so we took out some old-fashioned board & card games. A few years ago when we were planning to end up on a sailboat we started collecting some board & dice games that you’d be able to play on a boat (where internet might be scarce and electricity at a premium, where we’d likely be in the wind, and where there was a possibility of getting wet, so regular card games were kind of out of the question). A handful of these games ended up coming to Costa Rica with us. We spent the afternoon playing Rummikub, Farkle, and waterproof Uno, and maybe having an adult beverage or 2 along with it. 

It kind of reminded us of when we used to go camping and played cards all afternoon.

You know, it really is a good thing we like each other so much & get along so well. Since moving down here we are almost never apart anymore and we don’t really have anywhere to run away and hide at home. The house is fairly small and there is no garage or basement to go work or hide in like we had back in MN, and I don’t drive here so unless I go for a walk I’m not going to “leave”. 😂

Tuesday 11/8- After a few more days of being laid up at home, Ramie was feeling antsy to get out and do something, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t ready to get away from the house for a little while as well. Today the turtle rescue Facebook group sent out a message that a batch of baby turtles had hatched and they needed some volunteers to go release them this evening. Even though Ramie wasn’t able to go with on the nest walks any more, he still wanted to stay involved and figured he would be able to handle a release without hurting his knee at all, so we volunteered to be a part of this release. It wasn’t a “public” release, which meant that they wouldn’t announce it to the public, but there would still be people on the beach where we’d be releasing the turtles, so a few extra volunteers could be helpful for crowd control and to help the babies safely into the waves.

There was a group of guests staying next door, so Ramie invited them to tag along if they wanted to. They did want to and they were super excited to see the baby turtles. A couple of volunteers who we had met on our first beach walk picked up the baby turtles from the reserve and brought them to the beach that we’d be releasing them at. We and the guests from next door met them there and the 4 of us volunteers proceeded to release the baby turtles as a crowd of onlookers grew, watching these baby turtles on their journey to the ocean. It took about 2 hours for about 100 baby turtles to make their way from the sand where we released them to the ocean. The reason it took so long is that due to all of the waves coming in, sometimes just as they reached the edge of the water a big wave would sweep them a few meters back up onto the sand. Then they would have to start again on their journey back down to the water. When releasing these babies, we don’t just dump them at the edge of the water, instead we sort of mimic a natural hatching where they would have to crawl along the beach before making it to the water. We do, however, release them much closer to the water’s edge than a natural nest would have been laid, so the babies have a much shorter distance to travel. After the babies are swept back up onto the beach once or twice, we do help them by bringing them to the water’s edge and setting them in the water as a wave is going out. This allows them to get a little bit of momentum and make their way out to the ocean.

Ramie flipping the babies right side up
Away we go!
The guest's from next door enjoying an up close experience

After all of the babies had disappeared into the waves we walked back toward the parking lot together. It turns out that both the guests from next door and the other volunteers had thought ahead enough to bring some beverages and planned to hang out to watch the sunset. Why didn’t we think of this!? They had extras and were gracious enough to share, so we all hung out on the beach for a while getting to know each other a little bit better and enjoying a beverage and a sunset.

It turns out that this turtle release was all we had for excitement this week. We still didn’t really have anything going on, we stayed home on my days off (we probably played some more board games), and Ramie continued to have a hard time being unproductive and just resting.

Monday 11/14- Ramie just couldn't take it anymore so he reached out to Alturas to ask if there was any sort of work he could help volunteer with that wouldn't require him to kneel or bend his knee. They were nice enough to allow him to help in the kitchen and he is going to tell you about it. 

Hey all, its Ramie! As mentioned I was now the animal food cook. Its not as exciting as working in the enclosures with the animals, but I'm still helping out and it gets me out of the house. Each animal has a specific diet, Alturas has cheat sheets made up with how much and what type of fruit, vegetable or meat they get. Some of the food we have to boil to soften or cook in the case of eggs. We then took each type of food and weighed it to a specific portion, put in in a food tray put a tag in the tray for what animal(s) its for and set it out on the waiting area. Once the volunteers are done cleaning they come and take these trays to feed the animals. I was surprised it took almost as long to prep all the food as it did to clean the enclosures. However, we finished early enough that I was able to help feed. Mocha the sloth came out for her favorite food, carrots. I got to feed Raul the toucan and then onto the medium parrots. As soon as I walked in the enclosure I was dive bombed by my least favorite bird in this enclosure (the blue headed medium parrot). 

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia
Everywhere I went the parrot kept flying to and then would fly directly at my face.

Typically I can quickly walk around that enclosure by bending at the waist and keeping my head below the concrete wall where there is no where for them to land, however today as I was walking this little sh*t decided to land on my back, ran up it and proceeded to bite the back of my neck numerous times. Now, I'm trying not to drop the remaining food, and also trying to get it off my back and neck. I reach back to swat it away and the bird bit my fingers and drew blood. Enough of that!! I set the food down and took a stick and swiped across my back. It flew off but continued to follow me. That was by far the worst experience I've had to date with an animal. I got home and showed Dana the war wounds from the day.. Oh the joys of working with animals!

Tuesday 11/15- A week had gone by since we helped with the turtle release, and wouldn’t you know it, another batch of babies hatched today and was ready to be released. Ramie got the message at about 3:00 that they were looking for volunteers to release the babies at about 4:30. This would be another private release, not announced to the public, so the short notice was typical. After waiting about 10-15 minutes to see if anyone else would volunteer, and no one did, we decided that we’d go help these babies on their journey back to the ocean. After seeing how this whole process went last week and not having received confirmations from any of the other volunteers, we knew that it could be difficult with just the 2 of us. Geoff and Tracy were with us on our very first (public) turtle release that we watched, and they enjoyed it and have been interested in the turtle stuff ever since, so we gave them a call to see if they were available to help out. Luckily they were available, and they were very excited to come along with us and help the babies. Since we were the only experienced volunteers, we had to pick up the babies from the nursery and drive them to the beach. This time we ended up with 2 buckets of baby turtles, one batch with 75 babies and the other with 83. That’s a lot of little turtles!!

Geoff and Tracy met us at the beach parking lot shortly after we got there and we walked together to find a good spot on the beach. It didn’t take but a few minutes for a crowd to start once again and people wanted to see and watch what was going on. It’s a good thing that we recruited some extra helpers, because with the amount of little turtles and the amount of people watching, we needed the help! Tonight it seemed to go much quicker than last week, it only took about 1-1.5 hours for all of the babies to swim away. Of course, we didn’t bring any beverages or anything with us so we didn’t hang out for the sunset. One of these days we’ll remember! 

Dana safely holding them for the car ride to the beach




Thursday 11/17- Happy Birthday Ramie!

A couple of weeks ago Geoff and Tracy mentioned that they felt like playing pool, and the cute little Los Gatos tree house restaurant that Tracy and I painted our sloths right around my birthday time frame had a pool table that they just refinished. We made plans to go do that today. It was completely unintentional that it happened to fall on Ramie’s birthday, it’s just that it happened to fall on a Thursday (my day off) and right before we were headed on our next border run. We met around lunchtime, had a couple of drinks played a couple of rounds of pool, and had some lunch (I think the best nachos I’ve had in Costa Rica thus far, and I’m becoming a nachos connoisseur!) 

Let the game begin
Such concentration

Geoff and Tracy had to head out for something else later in the afternoon, but my mom wanted some pictures for her Christmas cards so we might as well have our friends snap some before they left. This is the only one that I'm sharing...

Ramie & I hung around and played a couple more rounds of pool afterwards. We had most of the place to ourselves and spent some time chatting with the owners (Americans who have been down here for a few years) for a while. Before too long we headed home to finish packing. Packing for what? You’ll just have to join us next week to find out!

Pura Vida!


  1. Oh my goodness Ramie - you and the bird had me cracking up. I love following you guys and your adventures. Thank you for sharing 🥰

  2. Oh yes, lets laugh at Ramie's scary bird attack! I could of died! If anyone was watching that whole experience Im sure it was even funnier to see in person.


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