Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Family Time

Just a quick post to say how much fun we are having with family here this week. The beach was great, hot, but thank goodness for the pool and the waves. The boys were fish and spent a lot of time in the water. We are busy here in Monteverde and enjoying everything the community has to offer.

I'll write more soon so stay tuned.
Signed: S

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

BMX Costa Rica

I have to admire the boys creativity and confidence as they have quickly taken advantage of their bike riding skills to conquer the hilly dirt trail in our yard. The attached videos were taken last week while some young musicians next door were practicing, hence driving the BMX connection. M


Monday, February 15, 2010

Running....on Empty

How can I be so tired and it is only Monday?

Thursday's pot-luck to bid Joe,Mica and their family good-bye was fun-filled, lots of music and good food. Joe even played Auld Lang Syne on the bag-pipes. The kids played out back in the Trossels yard, hide and seek, tag, wheel barrow races well after the sun had set. The sky was lit by the brilliant stars - we laid on the grass and looked up with wonder. The kids all played together, our boys being the youngest, all the way up to kids in high-school - that is just the way it is done here. Friday, we enjoyed another get together at Mary's house - her house has an expansive balcony which affords a spectacular view. The kids were plenty wound up by the time we illuminated our head-lamp and made the trek through the wooded trail back home.

Saturday, I decided to support the other local private school in the area (Cloud Forest School/La Creativa) in their scholarship fundraiser and ran the 5K. The weather was perfect; however I forgot to lather on the sun-screen so I am still suffering a little. I keep forgetting how brutal the sun can be even at 8:30 a.m. The route was familiar to me as the Race signs pointed up past the Clinic with that spectacular view of the Bay of Nicoya. We ended the run with the brutal uphill to the campus where we were greeted with music, fruit and plenty of H2O. I was pleased with my 4th place finish, considering I hadn't run in over a month due to my back problems. I felt great and had no pain so managed to finish strong at the end of the 3.1 mile marker. YAY..not bad for a 45 year ole gal. After I finished, I managed to park myself half way down the hill I had just labored so hard to climb to cheer on the runners that elected to race the 10K. Raul (Gaudy's husband) was the 11th to head up the hill; he tells me he was in 3rd place; however suffered from stomach pains throughout the race which hurt his finish. There was even one dude that ran the race bare-foot; he came running up the hill with a bandage flapping off his one foot, as to call attention to himself "hey look at me...I ran the whole way without shoes"!!! So I ask you, there a trend away from running shoes and is this the 'new fad' or is this guy just crazy? Young, old walked and ran to support the school - it was a fun day and I will proudly wear my T-shirt signifying the event.

That afternoon we walked into Cerro Plano hoping to repair one of the boy's bike tires, but missed the shop as they had just closed. We then ventured onto a dirt road and found ourselves walking down, down, down a steep hill, past the offices of the Children's Eternal Rainforest to the entrance of the Butterfly museum. Just arriving a little after 4 p.m., we entered only to find the staff enjoying a cold one as they too had just closed. Nonetheless, the staff was very helpful and provided us with maps and other info for our next visit. Mike made some good connections for school as one of the gals volunteered to lead a class fieldtrip of sorts for his students. We continued to venture down this road until it ended at the Monteverde Inn. We were saddened to find out the only way back to the main road was the way we came...wasn't going to happen, so we quickly accepted a ride from Felix, the father of a classmate of the boys. Felix and his son were excited to share some photos they had snapped the night before of two young Pumas just beyond the woods by the hotel. This hotel is quite remote and the pics were great...I'm sure Moma Puma was not far behind!

That night we headed out across the yard to Bromelias for the 'open mic' event...lots of students and teachers participating. One student sang and played guitar; two songs that she composed, one "Mr. Mohawk", referring to her twin brother's mohawk and the other song about her ailing mother who is under-going treatment for cancer. Lots of talent here in Monteverde; however, I am quite content to be a spectator as my musical talents are somewhere between 'Row, Row Row your Boat' and 'John, Jacob, Jingleheimer Schmidt". I flopped into bed and fell fast asleep.

Sunday was cooler and cloudy, but it didn't deter us from grabbing our swim suits and heading to Poco a Poco Hotel here in Monteverde. For a minimal fee, residents can enjoy their pool and have a splashing good time. We went with Veronica and Stuart and had a blast. I was in the pool for four hours, trying to keep my boys afloat and playing games with Stuart as well. It was nice to relax and enjoy a change in scenery. By the time I climbed out, I felt like a drown rat with the wrinkled fingers and toes to prove it.

Needless to say, a busy weekend and an even busier one to come as I leave for the airport in San Jose on Thursday to greet my family...then off to the beach for a long weekend.

We continue to exhaust ourselves each day with whatever is in front of grand plans, just wherever the wind blows us.

Signed: S

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Pot-Lucks & Prayers!

Today after school we’ll be bidding an American family ‘adios’ as they will be heading back to the states tomorrow. They arrived the same time we did and have two girls at the Friends School. Their departure is a little unplanned, as the man of the house broke his arm (I think in several places) and after visiting San Jose for treatment, it is just not healing well. He is almost 80….but swear he doesn’t look a day over 60! Must be good clean living. It will be pot-luck, so perhaps I’ll get creative with the left-over rice from last night, a jar of chutney we’ve had in the cabinet and some raisins or peanuts.

Tomorrow, another pot-luck at Mary’s house with the Peace Pilgrim crew – we are going to watch some of the footage from Peace’s journey – should be fun and educational. Sometime between the Peace Pilgrim gig and school getting out at 2:15, we’ll try and duck into Leslie and Anna’s to wish Happy Birthday to Rachel and steal a brownie! And then the weekend!

Another busy week – ICE came to fix the electrical line issue – the tree trimming job…a little primitive, but it works. We are all fine and are glad that the boys understood the significance of keeping clear of the tree in question.

I am knee deep in window washing and spider web clearing at the house, trying to make it look presentable for my family’s visit. The house is all windows and those louvered windows are a real pain to clean – but I must say, am enjoying the unobstructed view (at least for now) of not having to deal with the boys dirty finger prints smeared all over.

One more week and I'll be heading to the airport to greet mom, dad and Beth! YAY -

Spanish lesson yesterday...oh, my aching brain - lots of work on pronouns...UGH!

We continue to keep Jeanine and Kevin in our thoughts and prayers as they remember his father and celebrate his life. We wish we could be there with you!

Signed: S

Sunday, February 7, 2010

20,000 volts

Friday morning, I was in the pasture with my 7th/8th grade class as we continued our study of the leaf cutter ant colony. Some of us heard a strange noise, almost as if a huge hummingbird hovered overhead vibrating its wings creating its 'humming' sound. We continued our search to discover smoke coming from the top of a cypress tree and realized that it was the electrical line creating the noise. I had heard a slight buzzing from the electrical lines in the past, but this was different. Then, it looked like something from a low grade Japanese godzilla movie- flame, fire el fuego at the top of the tree!

This event could have been just a sight to behold and a simple call to the electric company, but the tree is directly adjacent to our house with branches overhanging, but not touching the roof. "Call ICE!" a student exclaims, as I am already heading toward the house to direct the boys away from tree. After several minutes, the flames and smoke were gone, the humming stopped, my students were still in the pasture and ICE, the local utility was on its way.

I walked my class back to school, ran home, purchased banana bread, 'pan de banana' from Pepito and welcomed the utility guys as they peered into the tree. Immediately they shook their heads explaining that they could not do a thing about it today while emphasizing, no toca el arbol, do not touch the tree. These two uninsulated lines that run through the tree are part of the main power grid carrying 20,000 volts. One line is positive, the other neutral and when the tree is touching both lines, the result is a short circuit, smoke, flames and 20,000 volts of electricity in the tree itself. "Muy peligroso, but don't worry about the flames, the tree is too moist to catch on fire," Jeffrey explains "and the ground and house below is also safe from electrical shock or fire." Solution: They need to notify businesses prior to shutting down the power grid, drive a cherry picker from another town and trim branches away from the lines. Hopefully, they can take care of this monday. Fortunately, I think the tree growth near the power lines has burned away and we have not had any more short circuiting since Friday morning. Meanwhile, the boys have a respectful awareness of the tree, and ride the bike on the open grass in front of the house.

We are all safe and sound. Signed M.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Tutoring and Trails!

How lucky I am, not only to have had two uninterrupted hours of Spanish, chattering, learning "and a little floundering" but doing this while walking the Guindon Farm. As some of you may recall (in earlier posts), the Guindon family is one of the original settlers of Monteverde. Angelina Guindon is a lovely, gentle, giving lady who is so patient and interesting. As we walked, she showed me the grass she is growing outside their newly constructed home, the various trees and bushes and where the kids use to play, where the remnants of an old tree-house and tire swing lazily sit. We meandered through trails, crawled under fences and peered into the little casita her husband built for one of his artist sisters so she would have a refuge in the woods to create and paint. The vistas were spectacular, some of the pastures were thick with trees, while other views opened up over the mountains, looking toward San Luis. Precioso! It was such a peaceful and edifying time; seeming so natural. Angelina was impressed with my Spanish and was convinced all I needed was more conversation and vocabulary! I have another date with her this coming Tuesday.

Last Sunday was also a great day - you know those days when things are 'easy', the hours tick by and you have a 'good' tired feeling as you end the day and climb into your bed. We hiked down to the Caminata again, but this time with Veronica, Stuart and a few of their four-legged friends! The day was filled with sun, hardly a cloud in the sky. We spent several hours at the waterfall; the boys investigated the water, the terrain; however Veronica was the brave soul who discarded her socks and shoes and got ankle deep in the somewhat chilly water. After a few moments, I'm sure her feet were numb as she bent down, turned over rocks and yelled "crab, hurry, come see"! We found crabs and all sorts of aquatic life; you just have to be patient and have sharp eyes. The boys enjoyed hop-scotching over the river rocks and swinging from the vines. It was just good, clean fun! So much nature, so many beautiful things to look at and study, whether it is strangler figs, weird plastic suction-cup under-water fungus, spiders and such, the kids were fully engaged! John decided he'd be better off keeping his shoes and socks on while wading through the river. I'm not surprised to say, that after cleaning his shoes in a bucket that night; the in-sole had simply disintegrated as it appeared to be made of some sort of paper material. So Auntie Beth, be on the look out for some kids sneakers coming your way...hoping you'll find room in your suitcase for them.

A quick shower, and we were off to Peter and Carol's house for dinner...well almost! As we waited for the arrival of the taxi, time sped ahead as we heard the whoosh of four horses gallop again into our front yard. We quickly called Meg; only minutes passed and Rigo appeared to corral them for the night in our pasture. They are huge animals and time seems to go into slow motion when these gigantic animals appear. Peter and Carol live on the Guindon farm and rent a quaint little green house just in front of Angelina's home. The view from the house is spectacular on a clear day - the Bay of Nicoya just invites you to exhale! We were pampered with a lovely dinner and great conversation, not to mention Carol's magic tricks that kept the boys entertained. Although I'm not quite sure they have mastered or understand the "now pick a card and DON'T tell me!" We savored the chicken, potatoes, green beans, salad, corn bread, and ice-cream. A lovely couple and an equally lovely evening. Carol also shared with us the little lullabye she sang to her kids when they were young which I find myself singing to the boys now. Ah...'Mr. Moon'!

My back is finally feeling a little better, but still not 100% - I will again lay-low in this afternoon's basketball mini-course but am eager to see the progress in the kids. It is entertaining to the say the least :) - Side note: as I was waiting in the re-bounding line this afternoon, I could not help overhear two kids talking about their faith...Christianity and Buddhism (so the one thought)...very interesting, then the topic quickly turned to 'hey dude, do you like Rap?".

As I close this for today, I feel the warm sun on my back as I perch on the brick retaining wall in front of the school and watch the kids scurry off to their class in hopes of beating the dreaded bell!

I continue to pray for those that are ill or recovering - (you know who you are) and I think of you always. I lift up in prayer the folks from my home church, CPC, that are ill and struggling as well.

Signed: S