148. Where Did the Last Month GO!?

Monday 2/12- It's that time of year again where we need to get the truck inspected, yes, that is an every year chore if your vehicle isn’t brand new! Ramie reached out to Randall to schedule a time that would work for both of them and it turns out that today was that day, or rather, evening. Ramie left our house at about 4pm for his 5:30 appointment and he didn't get home until close to 9pm. As with most things in Costa Rica, everything was delayed at the inspection station. They waited in line at the inspection center for almost 2 hours before even getting the truck in, then it took another 45 minutes for the inspection to take place. Thankfully there were no issues with it this year and the truck passed with flying colors.

After the inspection, they had to meet Jessica (Randall’s wife) to coordinate dropping off a car that they had bought for her dad. Then, being long past dinner time, the 3 of them were hungry so they decided to stop at KFC for a quick dinner (yes, an actual KFC in San Isidro instead of the local fried chicken places that are all over in the small towns). Once they had finished their chicken dinners, they started their trek home. But, before they got too far, they had to make one more stop at Jessica’s parents’ house where Randall had to make a quick repair on another car.  It turns out that they ended up staying for a coffee too because, as you've gathered from prior blog posts, Ticos seem to love their coffee and are very welcoming and hospitable. What an adventure just to get our car inspected.

Tuesday 2/13 through Thursday 2/15- Ramie had another project to work on this week that would keep him busy while I was slaving away on my computer. Way back when Katie and Adam bought the house next door, they did some remodeling and removed a wooden slat accent wall and replaced it with a regular sliding door. Instead of throwing all that wood away or burning it, Ramie decided to retrofit it to our carport to make a corner accent wall. Even though he sealed the wood well at the time, the humidity and rain are hard on things here and it still rotted away and is to the point where it is starting to fall apart.

Sorry, we realized we did not have any pictures and could only find this one. Ignore Dusti and look behind her. 

Ramie decided that he liked having that little wall there, so even though this wooden one has to be torn out and another wooden one would likely not last long, he would replace it with a metal slat wall. Ramie asked Ivan, the construction guy we’ve worked with for some of our small projects at the house, to deliver all the metal to the house when they concreted our driveway, and it has just been sitting there ever since. Now that Ramie has some time on his hands he will have a chance to work on it.

Since we were particular and selective about which tools we shipped down here when we sent our pallets, Ramie has a fair selection of things, but every once in a while there is a tool that he needs that that didn’t make the original cut, and he has to find someone who has one that he can borrow it from. Fortunately, Loren seems to have a collection of some of the items that we don’t have, so Ramie reached out to Loren to ask if he could borrow his chop saw, which would make the cuts quick and straight instead of having to cut all of the 20 foot long pieces of metal to length with a hand grinder. Once he had his tools and supplies all gathered up, Ramie cleared out the car port and set up his work area with the saw, his welder, and all the other tools he needed to get to work. The first wall was pretty straight forward with flat cuts all of the same length and he finished that on the first day. Wednesday morning after his morning coffee and cookies routine, he got back to work to finish the 2nd part of the wall. This one was a little bit more complicated since the top of the wall is at an angle due to the pitch of the roof. Once he figured out the angle that each of the pieces would have to be cut at, it was time to start making those cuts and welding it all together, and by the end of the day, he finished that side too. Now, all that was left would be to paint it. We liked the wood look of the old wall so we decided to try to mimic that same look with some special paint he found in town. He won’t be getting around to painting it this week so we will let you know how that goes in a future post.

Here is the completed metal wall in primer.

Friday 2/16- After finishing up the wall project, Ramie finally had some time to wash Dusti, as she hasn't been cleaned up yet after our epic adventure to the cacao plantation when Katie & Jamie were here. It took him quite a while to get all of the dust (now turned to mud after spraying her down with water) out from all of the nooks and crannies; he worked on cleaning her up for about half of the day today. After that ride, Dusti really lived up to her name! After the thorough cleaning there was probably enough sand and mud in the carport to fill a litter box (good thing we don't have a cat!)

Monday 2/19 through Friday 2/23- Ramie landed himself a job! Yes, a real job, and today he was officially starting.

The tax prep company that I have been working with for the last few seasons was in need of another preparer this year. When I learned about this, Ramie and I talked about it and he was all for it. He is good with a computer and can learn fairly quickly, plus if he has any questions, he has the best teacher sitting just 15 steps away from him. Besides, how hard can tax prep be, he did our taxes on TurboTax for the last few years before we moved down here! 😉 First though, before they would let him jump right into the software with client information, he would have to take an online tax prep training course. This was no 1-day course, though. The boss signed him up for a similar in-depth course that he had me do when I first started working for him, and even for me, someone with an accounting degree, it took about a month to complete. Ramie hasn’t been enjoying the training and has been using toothpicks to keep his eyes open. I admit, it's not the most exciting thing to learn about and the even more difficult part is that in these training courses you have to hand calculate sample forms and sample returns that the software would just do for you in real life. This week was not exciting at all since both of us literally just sat at our computers doing tax-related stuff all week. We can expect this to continue for the next 2 months or so until 4/15. Oh, the life of a tax professional!!

By the end of the week, Friday afternoon, we were both going stir crazy and just had to get out of the house so we reached out to Geoff and Tracy to ask if they wanted to go with us to shoot some pool and eat at Los Gatos. Of course, they were onboard with that and met us there for a fun evening to get our minds out of the tax world.

Saturday 2/24- Guess what we did? We worked on our computers AGAIN. Ramie did more training and I worked for the numerous companies that count on me. I know…… BORING! April 15 can’t come fast enough!

Sunday 2/25- Do you know what we did today? Actually, we didn’t do tax stuff!! I made the decision after leaving my last company that I was going to commit (at least as much as I could) to take Sunday’s off, and Ramie wholeheartedly agreed.


Even though there isn’t anything to do in Uvita on Sundays since everything other than the grocery store and some restaurants are closed, it was going to be our day off. No tax work, no training, I would say no computers, but we do have to catch up on the blog to keep you guys entertained and Sundays will be the only time that we can do this. Ramie caught up on yard work that has been pushed off, and of course we had to play with Skye who has been feeling neglected while we focus on our computer, and get some pool and sunshine time in as well.

The Official Casa Costa Breeze end of February rainfall total was 7.1 inches

Monday 2/26 thru Friday 3/1- Yep, you guessed it! More boring work and training. The only exciting thing that happened this week was that we had our shower floor tile replaced. When the house was built, they didn't slope the shower floor in our master bathroom correctly and the water pooled in the opposite corner from where the drain is. Ramie had Ivan come out on Thursday to tear it out and replace it. Not only did the slope need to be fixed, but we also really didn’t like the look of the white tile that we ended up with when we couldn’t find anything else at the time that was non-slip enough for a shower (although, the guest shower will keep that white tile, at least for now). After the new tile was laid, we had to wait a day for them to come back to grout it, and then another day after that for the grout to dry; THEN we could finally use our shower (good thing we have the guest shower to use these few days!). The new dark grey tile looks so much better than the white stuff did and will be much easier to keep looking clean with all of the red clay mud in this country.

Old white tile still in the guest bathroom

 New gray tile in our bathroom

Saturday 3/2- Today we are taking a day to head out of town to meet up with a friend that Ramie used to work with. Jason and his extended-family are here in Costa Rica and are staying in Quepos, only about an hour from here. Ramie had been messaging with Jason all week to set up a day and time that would work around his family's vacation. It ended up working out that we would meet Jason and his wife Emily at the beach we liked several years ago when we used to vacation there. Back in the old days, this particular area was in front of a hotel and you could use their beach chairs and umbrellas for free as long as you spent the minimum amount or something like $25 on food and drinks, total! Today we discovered that the times have changed! The restaurant was still there and so were the chairs, but 2 years later it was now $25 per person to sit in the beach chairs. If you sat back in the area that had a patio furniture setup it was the old rules, free to sit there if you spent $25 for the whole table. We hadn't looked at the menu to see the prices, but we were pretty sure we weren’t about to spend $25 per person at the beach for a couple of hours, so we opted for the patio style seating. After we had a chance to sit down and look at the menu, we discovered that the cheapest drink on the menu was the local beer at $7, mixed drinks were $12-15, and food was now $25+ per plate for something simple like a burger or nachos. This place used to be very reasonably priced and we were disappointed to see that they raised the prices so drastically. I guess it wouldn’t have taken a lot to hit that $25 per person minimum for the beach chairs!

Yeah, I think we will sit back here in the shade of the trees!
Jason’s family did not rent a car during their vacation down here, so they were getting taxi’s and shuttles to get around, so they were running a little bit later than we were. When Jason and Emily arrived it was like Ramie and Jason fell right back into their old ways of making fun of each other and talking about work stuff.

After they got caught up and the “major” work stuff was out of their systems, they really tried not to talk about it anymore and instead we heard about what they had done for the past week here on vacation and what their favorite things about Costa Rica were. After we had a drink and shared a plate of patacones, we decided that we would go somewhere else, hopefully with better prices, to eat a late lunch. We chose another of our favorite places that we had visited years prior on vacations, but that wasn’t the same place any more, there was a new restaurant in the old location. It turned out that this place was still good (not as good as the old place) and we sat there for a couple hours longer chatting and catching up before we decided that it was time to bring them back to their rental, after all, they still had to pack because they were going home in the morning. It wasn’t a late evening at all and we made it back home just before 6:00. It was a lot of fun to hang out with them this afternoon and Ramie was glad to see one of his old friends again, as it’s been a long time!

Very near Jason and Emily's rental there was this dead tree where a pair of Macaw's live. What a cool thing, I wish this dead tree was in our yard!
Sunday 3/3- Today was supposed to be a day off, but since we took yesterday off, we made a compromise. Even though he hasn’t completed all of his training yet, Ramie is going to start working on tax returns tomorrow because we desperately need him, so today I helped him get him set up on all of the company systems. I worked with him on that for a while in the morning and we got to spend the rest of the day relaxing.
This week's entertainment: I caught a photo of the opossum that has been hanging around our yard for the last week or so.
Monday 3/4 through Wednesday 3/6- These last few days Ramie has really been working hard. He was assigned a handful of easy returns at first and will gradually get more complicated ones, but I don’t know how long “easy” ones will last because there aren’t a terrible lot of them. Ramie is coming onboard just in time because now that it’s March, people are sending in their documents left and right. The next 6 weeks will be hectic and full of craziness to get everything done before 4/15 and I’ll take all of the help I can get.

As far as my part in all of this tax business goes, I have been told that I had been their main power tax preparer the last 2 years. The boss had previously been the only one reviewing the returns and discussing them with the clients, but as the business keeps growing, last year he was a major bottleneck and he just couldn’t keep up with that part on his own. This year I was unofficially promoted to “lead”, so now I would prepare only the most complicated returns that the other preparers would have trouble with, and with the rest of my time I would be doing the reviews and the client meetings on the less complicated returns that the other preparers started.

The logistics of our working situation is that Ramie’s office is outside at the picnic/dining table and I sit at my desk just on the other side of the dining room.

When he has any questions, he just has to turn around and ask his question through the window and if it’s something I can answer without seeing his screen, I’ll turn around and just tell him the answer. If it’s something that I need to look at, he’s only about 15 steps away and I can poke my head through the open window and explain what he has to do. There will be a whole lot of talking back and forth across the house when he has questions and this really is our version of “cubicles” Costa Breeze style!  It isn't so bad because these 15 steps back and forth across the house is really the only time I get up off of my chair during the day and the movement is probably good for me.

Skye is used to having Ramie up and around, doing things while I’m working, or if Ramie isn’t doing things, she knows that he’ll play with her. Times are different now and she doesn’t get to follow him anywhere and he doesn’t stop to play as often. She likes to be close to her people so lately she has been sleeping under the bench that Ramie sits on.

At around noon on Wednesday Ramie glanced under the bench to see how she was doing and pet and play with her and noticed she was lying in a big puddle of what looked like water. She looked up at Ramie and you could see she was not feeling very well at all. Ramie got her to move so he could clean up the “water” and in the meantime Skye went inside to lay under our bed, one of her recent other favorite places. A while later Ramie went to check on her and found that there was more “water” under the bed and Skye was soaked. Ramie was able to coax her out from under the bed, we got the liquid all cleaned up and dried Skye off. We still weren’t sure what was going on, but she wasn’t her happy playful self. We brought her to her water dish where she drank a lot like she was very thirsty but instantly threw it up. Ok something is not right here. She could barely stand up and was very lethargic. All sorts of things started going through our minds: did she eat something she shouldn’t have? Did she happen to find a Cane Toad and lick it (the poison that they secrete is very toxic to animals)?? (I was having terrible visions of the last days of Breeze’s life when she was acting in some of the same ways) Ramie quickly messaged Fabiola (our vet) and waited for a response. We learned early on that if a dog licks a cane toad that you are supposed to immediately use charcoal to neutralize the toxin by rubbing it around their mouth. We have some charcoal tablets just for this occasion but since it had probably been hours since Skye ate whatever made her sick, we wanted to make sure we could still give her the charcoal. Fabiola eventually got back to us and told us to make Skye swallow 3-4 of the charcoal tablets, this will help neutralize any toxins in her stomach whether they are from a cane toad or something else, and even if it isn’t a toxin, it would help to stop whatever is making Skye sick. Skye didn't fight us at all when we made her take the pills and the poor girl just wanted to curl up in our laps and snuggle. She really is just like a little person. Work could wait, so for the rest of the day one of us sat and cuddled with her. After we let the charcoal start doing its job, we slowly gave her more water and she was able to keep down. Her stomach was still upset, and just like a person who doesn’t feel well, we gave her some saltine crackers (no 7-up or ginger ale though, hahaha). By the late afternoon and evening you could see the spunk coming back into her. She was bringing us her toys and wanted to play a little bit. She was recovering. At the end of all of this, we don’t believe she found a cane toad since it all started during the daytime and those toads only seem to come out at night, but we do think she may have eaten a mushroom or something similar that we’ve seen growing on our lower property. I really hope she knows what she did, learned her lesson, and doesn’t ever do it again!

Thursday 3/7- In January when I left my old super stressful job, the company gave me the option of returning the equipment or just buying it from them since the shipping situation is so complicated here. The prices that they were quoting were way higher than we could justify considering they were already nearly 2 years old and the climate down here is not easy on electronics. In fact, one of the monitors has already died, and who knows how much life was left in any of the rest of it! That means that I’ll have to purchase new equipment to continue working for the current jobs. We had originally planned to go to Golfito, the duty free zone where they have better prices than most other places and where we bought many of the appliances in our house, today to pick up some new monitors. Before driving the nearly 2 hours down there to go check it out, Ramie decided to make a post on some of the CR Facebook pages to ask if anyone knew if monitors were actually being sold down there. It turns out that we got very mixed answers, some saying that they do, some that they don't, and many recommendations telling us where to go instead that have comparable or really good prices and are closer or easier to get to, etc., so instead of taking the long drive and not coming home with what we were looking for, we ended up going to San Isidro to check out a place that had several recommendations and who specializes in computers and the things that go with them.

Or course, being the researcher that he is, Ramie looked up the website and found that the prices and the selection were very good. We decided to stick to the safe side and go to San Isidro instead of Golfito so we knew we’d get what we were looking for. On top of that, then we would also be able to do some grocery shopping, and this might be the only time we go to San Isidro during tax season. The Envision music festival was also in full swing this week so grocery shopping over there would be much more successful than it would be here in town. Envision is a large festival (think burning man) where about 10k people descend upon our little town, wreak havoc, and clean out the grocery stores like locusts. The people who live here call it Invasion and stock up beforehand as much as possible and try not to go out for anything if it isn’t absolutely necessary.

Even though it was a Thursday we decided to skip the farmers market today. We only made a few stops during this shopping trip, bought the computer equipment that I’d need, and were on our way home. It turns out that it was a more efficient use of our time than going to Golfito and we figured that the price we paid was just as good as what we probably would have found in Golfito.

I was excited today in San Isidro when I found these calla lilies, I now have live plants of both the orchids and the calla lilies (or at least quite similar) that were in my wedding bouquet. It's the little things, right?

Friday 3/8- Having taken yesterday off work, today was back at it, head first, into the computer. With both of us working, the next month will get REALLY boring at Casa Costa Breeze! Poor Skye just lies around, so bored with no one to play with. She’s not used to that! She is very patient with us, though, and doesn’t pester too much. I feel so bad that we don’t get to play with her more, but she has learned that she can come stand next to the chair and we’ll reach down to give her some scratches even while we continue to work. Since Ramie’s sitting outside, sometimes she’ll bring him a ball to throw in the yard for her or will bring her rope to tug on. She stays close and just wants to be where the people are. She still has her after dinner play time and has lots of energy when it’s time to play rough then. She won’t let a day go by without her evening excitement.

Sunday 3/10- It's Sunday, a much needed and well-deserved day of letting our brains rest. I did some batch cooking and baking in the morning to make food options easier during the week since we’re both staying so busy.

Ramie booked our flights home for Taylor’s wedding in October. We renewed our TSA PreCheck and Global Entry authorizations. I started researching and working on renewing my passport and figured out what I’d have to do to renew my driver’s license when we’re back in MN this fall, and, of course, we both did some other odds and ends that needed to be done but we didn’t have time for during the week.

While we were booking our flights back to MN, I realized that my passport expires in January 2025. Our trip back to MN will be for 3 weeks at the end of September and first part of October. Most countries don’t let you “in” with less than 6 months left on your passport and 3 weeks isn’t long enough for me to get my passport renewed while we are back in the states. What am I going to do? Fortunately, there are procedures in place for people like us who live here to get our US passports renewed from here. It’s not as easy or straightforward as it would be doing it through the mail back in the US, but it’s another adventure to experience while living in a foreign country. I learned that I would have to fill out all of the paperwork online, make the payment online, and go find a place to get my passport picture taken (fortunately there is a place here in town that does them). Once I’ve done that, I have to print and gather up all of the information and my current valid US passport, drive about 45 minutes to the nearest post office (not at all like a post office in the US, mail here is not at all like anything you’d be familiar with, and the best way I could describe it is “general delivery” of the old old days), send it all (including my passport) to the embassy and off into oblivion, get a tracking number that will “hopefully work'' and wait. You wait for 6-12 weeks, the new passport should be delivered back to that same post office. Once you hit the 6 week mark you are supposed to regularly check that tracking number to see if the passport has been received back at your post office, because once the new passport has been delivered there, no one calls you to let you know, BUT you only have about 4 weeks to go pick it up before they send it back to the Embassy.

Yes, that means I will be in a foreign country for 6-12 weeks without my passport, but at least it's for a completely legitimate reason!!    😬

Pura Vida!