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

105. Let the Festivities Begin! 🎄

If you haven't seen our tropical Christmas tree yet, we made this from driftwood & shells we found at the beach & colorful bird feathers we have found.

Friday 12/9- It’s that time of year, Christmas Party season, including, of course, the dreaded office holiday party. Don’t deny it, you all know what I’m talking about! Since Covid, many people have been getting used to virtual office parties, and when you have a team that is located across the globe from each other, you take advantage of some of those things that Covid kind of invented. This afternoon was the holiday party for one of my side-gig’s, and while I wasn’t dreading it (I like these guys), I just wasn’t sure how a virtual holiday party was going to go. I was told beforehand that the significant others were invited to participate in the festivities, so of course I made Ramie participate with me. We were told that we had to be festive, there was a prize for the best Christmas background, and there would be virtual games to play. 

We don't have ugly Christmas sweaters here, I mean would you want to wear a sweater when it's in the mid 80’s and humid? What we do have is our Christmas Star Wars T-shirts (they are the only Christmas attire that we have down here). Ramie spent some time rearranging the living room to get our Costa Rican Christmas tree near the TV. When it came time for the meeting to start we put the Yule log on the TV and turned on the tropical Christmas tree lights. When it was time for the party I logged into the Zoom call, and joined in on the “mandatory fun”. As it turns out, this “dreaded virtual office holiday party” turned out to be really fun!

We learned that there are games specially designed to play in virtual environments like this and we played a couple of them that ended up being super fun. I’d say that if I’m given the opportunity to participate in an event like this again, I would totally be on-board, and Ramie says the same. After the party was done we put everything back to normal and just enjoyed the rest of the evening.

Monday 12/12- Since our return from Cancun and the illness we both came down with. Ramie didn't have the energy to do work at Alturas, and certainly didn't want to pass it onto anyone that he worked with. Actually they asked him to stay away until he was better. Today Ramie is going back to his regular deep clean Monday job at the sanctuary. This will be a test to see how his knee does. It still is very sensitive to any pressure being put on it and just bumping it makes him flinch. Ramie did manage to make it through the entire process but he did say he was much slower and had to find creative ways to get into certain positions to access corners and underneath things. He did not kneel at all and kept his leg as straight as possible. Jo (one of the other full-time local volunteers) kept checking in on him and telling him to take it easy so at least he had someone other than me to say “don't do that, dummy”!

Thursday 12/15 thru 12/19- It’s been quite a while since we’ve been to our secret beach, first because of the knee issue, then because of our vacation to Mexico, and now that we are past those things and I have a day off, we are heading back to the beach again. We asked Karen & Dennis if they wanted to come check out one of our favorite beaches with us, and they accepted the invitation. They agreed to get up early like we do and meet at our house to head out to go for a long walk in the sun.

After going for our typical walk to the “turn-around” point at the river and back, we pulled out the lawn chairs and found a shady spot to sit around and talk. We also searched around for cool driftwood in the area that we typically find it, and came across a huge surprise. Wouldn’t you know it, we found the Spanish half of our “On The Beach” sign! “En La Playa”! It was definitely beat up, much worse than the original sign, but if both pieces fell down from their original sign at about the same time, this Spanish one has been floating around for quite a long time. (Just how long you might be wondering, or at least I was wondering! I went back through old photos to find out when we found the first one, and it was last Christmas. It has been almost exactly a year since we found the English sign. No wonder this one looks so beat up!!) 

Karen & Dennis had also mentioned that they would like to go see the Alturas Sanctuary that Ramie volunteers at while they were here, so on our way back from the beach, we stopped in there as well. Ramie is allowed to bring people up to the sanctuary for a tour as long as he lets the full-time staff know that he’s there. I hadn’t been there since last March when we went for the first time with Taylor & Dylan, so I was excited to go see all of the animals too. We spent about an hour walking around while Ramie told us about the animals and his experiences while volunteering here. After we had our fill of checking out the animals, we were finished with our outings for the day and headed back home. 

We also had some work start on our gate entrance Hola todos (hello everyone), it's Ramie and I figured I would give you an update on this project. With all of the rain we got this past season it has washed a lot of our gravel down and into the main road and left quite a large gap under our gate. So, in order to prevent this, I reached out to a contractor that did some work for us earlier this year. This project will entail a concrete apron on either side of the gate as well as a drain with a metal grate directly under the gate. Hopefully having this done will help hold back the gravel while allowing all of the water to still drain away to our ditch outside the fence. It's a small project, but hopefully will be an improvement. They started digging in the footings for the concrete aprons today and they expect it will take 3 or 4 days to finish it.

Yes Breeze did manage to walk in the concrete, but this is not the final so it will be covered.
Finished project
Also during this week while the contractor was working on the gate Ramie had his own project he was creating. He was making a raised dog food stand for Breeze. We currently just have her bowls on a towel on the floor.  It works, but she seems to slop more water this way and the towel collects dirt. This new and improved style will make it so much easier to clean and easier for Breeze to eat and drink (we had a similar set up back in MN previously). Ramie welded up a metal frame, painted it black and then used some left over cedar wood from our cabinets for the shelf to hold the bowls. It matches our kitchen perfectly. 

Friday 12/23- It’s Friday! The last day of work for what is going to turn out to be a nice long holiday weekend for me. I had put in most of my hours earlier in the week and was able to log off around a little after lunch time. What did we have planned for the afternoon? Why, we were going to have our Christmas video chat with my family. Their group is small enough with 4 adults, 2 kiddos, and 2 doggos that everyone could be on camera together and we could have conversations just like we would if we were all sitting together in the same room. While it just isn’t the same as actually being together, we spent a couple of hours chatting, catching up, and enjoying each other’s company.

Then Ramie started a another project that hes been wanting to do before dry season really kicks in. We had a old junky garden hose that he wanted to run from the hose bib to the garden. The hose was going be turned into a homemade soaker hose. He first started by trenching and routing the garden hose. Once he had that done he ran it around the perimeter of the garden bed and drilled tiny holes in it. It works, but not as well as we were both hoping it would.

Working hard in the hot sun
Saturday 12/24- It’s Christmas Eve! What does that mean for today? Well, it’s Ramie’s family’s turn to have their Christmas video chat with us. Their group is big enough that instead of trying to talk to everyone at once, interactively, Ramie and I got passed around the room to talk with everyone individually or in small groups. We spent a while getting to talk to everyone and catching up just as we had with my family. They were having a Bloody Mary breakfast bar, so we made some Chiliguaro (our Costa Rican version of a Bloody Mary) for ourselves and joined in their celebration.

After we had been passed around the room and had a chance to talk to everyone, we were finished with our video calls and spent the afternoon playing Rummikub and relaxing.

Sunday 12/25- Merry Christmas!

I guess we were on Santa’s naughty list this year because we didn’t wake up to any fun surprises underneath our Christmas tree. Our anticipated Christmas present, the UTV that we had ordered months ago and we thought was supposed to arrive in November, still hasn’t shown up. This really bummed us out because we were hoping to go for a Christmas Day adventure, exploring the mountain roads around Uvita. I guess that will have to wait for some future date once Yamaha Costa Rica gets their act together and delivers our new machine.

Instead of an ATV adventure, we decided we’d make this our 2nd annual Casa Costa Breeze Christmas at The Beach. We asked Geoff & Tracy earlier this week if they would be interested in celebrating the day with us and they must not have had any other special plans because they were in! Right away in the morning we packed some snacks and a cooler of drinks, the boogie boards, Ramie’s new-used surfboard that he picked up shortly after he injured his knee & hadn’t been able to try out yet, and Breeze, and headed to the beach to spend the day.

We got there before Geoff & Tracy did, so we took the opportunity to walk down the beach a little way. We didn’t go nearly as far as we usually do because we figured that they probably weren’t too far behind us, so we did some exploring nearby and then headed back toward the part of the beach nearest to where we park. We had just started unpacking all of our stuff, setting up the chairs & umbrella at about the time that they showed up. We finished getting our area set up and then started the morning with some Christmas shots of a liqueur similar to Baileys. 

Shots for everyone!

We spent the rest of the morning and early part of the afternoon chatting, exploring, playing in the water, trying out the boogie board & surfboard, and, thanks to Tracy’s creative ideas, we played a couple of rounds of “bags” using some flat rocks we found on the beach & drawing the goal boxes in the sand. It wasn’t quite the same as playing in the traditional way, but it was still fun and competitive. (PS, it was a close game but the girls won 😊 ). 

Breeze always doing what she does best, keeping an eye on dad and giving kisses!
Breeze wanting a go at it

We’ve also been thinking about planting a couple more coconut trees on and around our property, so we found a few small, sprouted coconut trees that we could bring home and plant as well. I doubt we’ll ever have a traditional Christmas tree down here, but maybe we can make a coconut tree Christmas tree?


 All in all, it was another non-typical Christmas for us, but it was a fun day spent with good friends. Of course we miss spending it with our families, but if we can’t spend it with them, this was a great way to spend it!

Monday 12/26- Since Christmas fell on a weekend, that means today is the holiday from work. It’s fantastic that this happens to fall on a Monday since that’s Ramie’s morning to work up at the animal sanctuary. Several months ago he learned that he could bring me along with on his day and I could help too. Because of the holiday, several of the regular Monday volunteers had already called in that they wouldn’t be unable to make it, so instead of the regular deep-clean that the Monday team does, today’s workload was cut down and they would take care of the deep clean on another day this week. That made my morning of volunteering much easier than it is on one of Ramie’s normal days. When we got there, we waited for the “morning check in meeting” with the rest of the volunteers and staff, went through that routine quickly, and then Ramie set out to show me how they took care of the animals.

We started with the Macaw enclosure. These are such big, beautiful birds, but I’ve heard stories from Ramie about how some of the birds can get kind of aggressive and how volunteers will sometimes get attacked or tested by the birds, so I was a bit nervous to go into the enclosure. The rule is just to always know where they are at, keep an eye on them, and never turn your back to them. Fortunately, both of the Macaws stayed close together and didn’t move at all during the time that we were cleaning their space. We finished up without any problems, and moved on to the next one. 


In some of the enclosures there are sections where the animal will be in a separate part from you and you won’t have any close contact with them except for when you are cleaning right up near the fence. In other enclosures, you are right in there with the animal and they can get very close to you. We cleaned a handful of both types of enclosures before we switched gears to start feeding the animals. Of course, this is the fun part! The animals know when you have food and are very interested. In the enclosures that you aren’t in with the animals, you just place it around in different places, you can even hide it a little bit to make a fun game of hide-and-seek for the animals. In the enclosures where you are right in with the animals, though, things can get interesting. Ramie had me feed the parakeets, which is a pretty small enclosure. When I had that bowl of food, I felt like a parakeet tree. They were all flying around me. I wasn’t afraid that these guys were going to hurt me or anything like I was nervous of the Macaws, so it was fun to be surrounded by the birds. Raul the Toucan loves to play and flew past us several times, so close that you could feel his wings flutter past your face, and Mocha the Sloth holds her hand out and wants you to hand the food directly to her (even though you aren’t supposed to do that). These are all wild animals after all, so you definitely have to be careful around them, but they have all been cared for here at the sanctuary for so long that they know the routine. I had a great time helping out this morning, but kept reminding myself that a typical day up here for Ramie is a whole lot more work. Maybe I’ll go back again one day if I have another free Monday off work. 

Julieta (to the right of Dana's hand) waiting for her to finish so she can eat.

Dana feeding the Parakeets. You can just make one out on the food tray just above her hand

Pura Vida!