Saturday, May 29, 2010

Swinging In The Rain

Skip to the second paragraph if you don't want to read about the weather! You know I love weather phenomena, so of course I get excited with a week of straight rain or "luvia general." A few days with downpours followed by a few more days of constant rain dumped a total of 31 cm or 12 inches of measurable precipitation in one week. Each morning and evening, we check the rain gauge and record the amount. Yesterday, Friday, the clouds parted for three separate precious moments. Students reached arms out the windows to gather some warmth, adults rushed outside to generate some vitamin D, jubilation and song broke out during our 8th grade math review. The Chicago forecast called for a week of sun and 70's. Yes, the tables have turned a little, we have sent some warmth north, but I cannot complain about temps here. Even when it stopped raining, the clouds (we do live on the edge of a CLOUD FOREST) keep things at 100% humidity. They roll in through the trees and their moisture gets trapped on the leaves and it rains under the trees! Cool stuff.

So does life move on? Absolutely! There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing, and here people don't worry much about clothing. Some people are covered in rubber, some in dripping cotton, some use umbrellas, or 'paraguas,' hiking boots, sandals, no shoes - it all works. After all, its only water and we have an oven to dry our things. Caution: Due to no temperature control on this oven, be sure to rotate your items every 5 minutes. Do not place articles made of polyester, nylon or other synthetic materials. You may experience mild smoke or flames. ACME ovens de Central America is not responsible for melted or charred personal items.

One moisture related problem we have discovered is the ability of mold to grow on surfaces. We have two leather planners- both fuzzy and discolored. Backpacks and jackets that gather mist for days straight look dirty, but its not dirt. Yesterday, Sally pointed out that the wooden patio table was succumbing to the elements- sure enough, coated with a cloud forest grey powdery sheen.

The skies are blue this morning, the sun's rays are warming the yard, you can be sure a load of laundry will be hanging from the lines within an hour. Signed M.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Everything Is Shaking!

Standing here a few minutes ago, I thought I was having a dizzy spell and quickly realized that it wasn't me, but the ground that was moving. I just felt my first earth tremor and once I realized what it was, I ran to the the next room where one boy is sleeping and thought if this gets worse, which boy do I grab first as they are napping in separate rooms. Which ceiling would be first to collapse? Is is going to get worse? It is quite mild now, maybe a 4.4 but what if it is close and we feel the impact of a 7.0? We are in a 1 story wood frame house on flat ground. All good. Fortunately it did stop, but not after rattling dishes and hanging things and sending a surge of adrenaline through my blood stream.

The seismological report took about 12 minutes to show up on the USGS website. It registered as a 6.2 located about 100 miles SW of Monteverde. The following website is great for monitoring seismic activity. It even has a section for completing a "Did you feel it?" survey.

Interestingly, a little research reveals that CR might be "due" for a large quake due to pressures of moving earth plates built up for 50+ years. Just like many places are due for a big 'whatever' it does not affect how I carry on. Maybe its time to have an earthquake drill!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Rainy Season False Start

OK If you're into the weather, I hope you appreciate this. If you're not, then, oh well. . .

Following is an entry about the weather I wrote two weeks ago and putting on the blog now. Update follows.

“Two weeks ago, was our zenith, when the sun is directly overhead. Last week, when at the beach with my class, we experienced a record high temperature of 103. This week, the rainy season has arrived with an unusual full force. I started the week at school by giving a tropical weather presentation Monday morning at the school assembly. In a nutshell, the sun heats the oceans most intensely in the tropics, water evaporates, then condenses and falls. Throw in tradewinds, ocean currents, and mountains ranges, and Costa Rica is a prime location for copious amounts of rainfall. I also highlighted the forecast for the week, which called for 50 to 100% chance of rain each day. Well, a few hours after the assembly, the clouds opened and, sure enough, we have received rain each day. It is pouring right now and I unplugged the computer due to some close lighting strikes. My trusty rain gauge has captured over 6 inches of rain, the ground is saturated and river heights are rising. No more fears of the springs running dry!

The country averages about 100 inches a year, with as little as 40 inches in the dry northwest and 300 inches in some soaked mountains south of San Jose. Monteverde receives about 100 measurable inches a year, with a majority of it falling between May and October. I use the term ‘measurable’ because the equivalent of an additional 30 or more inches of water arrive as a mist. For comparison sake, approximate annual rainfall (inches) for Chicago is 32 and Miami is 60.

Life goes on, depending on the severity of the rain, we might just decide to stay longer wherever we are and wait for things to lighten a little. Yesterday was a good example of that. The boys and I spent a couple extra hours at school and headed home when the rains slowed. As the rain picked up again, we stopped at an Inn to talk with the owner and play with the animals (dogs, cats, ducks, guinea fowl, etc.). She lent us an umbrella and we sloshed through the puddles home. It was entertaining to watch the boys figure out techniques for walking tandem under the umbrella.”

Well, that was two weeks ago and the rains have stopped. The Easterly trade winds have picked up again and weather has been beautiful – breezy, 70 degrees, plenty of sunshine, and painted sunsets. At points, the wind howls down the mountain bringing with it refreshing mist, but the blue sky is not far away. Clouds and saturated mountain tops to the east and blue sky and rain shadow to the west, while we watch the clouds dissipate directly overhead. The heavy rains should commence when the winds die down, allowing Pacific moisture to roll inland and condense as it rises up the mountain. Locals continue to comment on how dry it is and emphasize that we need the rains to resupply the aquifers. Signed M

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Garlic, Gardening & Guidance!

For all of you reading this, for goodness sakes, I really hope you can't smell the garlic spewing out of my pores. I mean, really, how much longer do I need to keep this on my "Sally's food staple" list? So, for those of you that are on Facebook and have seen my posts over the last 14 days, I am STILL struggling with a sinus infection and cough. Enough already! Anyway, still using the natural remedies I picked up from the Macrobiotica over a week ago, but it wasn't until last Friday night, as Mike and the boys were making pizza and deciding which condiments to use, did I say "Hey, toss me over a clove of raw garlic". Down the hatch with hardly a wince or a watery eye. "Another please"! I had heard frequently from others here in the community that garlic is good for what ails you, so it couldn't hurt....right? I then proceeded to spend an hour googling the benefits of garlic and how so many sinus sufferers have used this for its natural antibiotic elements. Wow, that was enough to convince me and if I could rid myself of this infection without the 'normal' antibiotic route (which is oh so familiar to me...twenty years on antibiotics and steroids and three sinus surgeries later)....I'll try anything. Almost immediately, I started to feel better and continue to do so. Still only about 70 %, but went running for the first time in almost three weeks and I didn't collapse on route. I really missed being able to run so I managed to run about 3/4 of my usual route without too many adverse effects. So, stay tuned as I continue this natural treatment - just stay your distance :)

Another busy week...aren't they all. We took in the Organic Gardening Workshop on Saturday with our friends Veronica and Stuart at La Creativa School in Cerro Plano. It was a beautiful day - Mike attended the workshop and took copious notes as I watched the boys in the playground. Lately the sky has been a brilliant crisp - a beautiful contrast against the fluffy, white clouds. Mike came bouncing down the hill at the school with bags of seedlings and lots of 'earthy' ideas. Lots of time spent in the garden this weekend, planting and preparing the compost. We also inherited a banana plant from Amy Berg who we saw on the trail to school this past Sunday. She walked by us holding two plants as tall as the boys. "Hey, do you guys want a plant?", she called - "these are too heavy for me to carry all the way home". With that, we headed home and made sure we could accommodate this fruit bearing tree. Not sure we'll still be in CR to reap the benefits of this plant, but it certainly has captivated the attention of the boys.

I spent a couple of hours in a meeting later that day, finishing up the School's mission, vision project. Mike continues to counsel the boys on using the little saw we have so we can have firewood for our campfires. I've never seen two little boys so focused and determined. (Determined not to cut their finger off that is!). Really, Mike is right there supervising...promise!

Sunday, Mike filled in for Theo and lead the Children's meeting at the school. I laid low at the house and entertained the boys.

Monday, I had a Fundraising Committee meeting where the agenda quickly turned to the construction of the new building. The school is recommending that a dedicated Project Manager be assigned and my name was thrown into the hat...after all, I am a certified PM and my PDU's I need for continuing education to keep my certification current aren't exactly piling up...So, here I am faced with a decision as I just got off the phone with the Director of the School. The position is mine if I want it - I would be compensated, CR pay scale and have an opportunity to select members of the team. As I look back on my career, I have, on numerous occasions asked myself, why is it that I get little satisfaction or have little passion for making corporate america richer. So, managing a project for a not-for-profit could perhaps provide me with a different experience in contrast from the many years where I was...shall we say, less than inspired! Mike and I agree that I should find work next school year, on a part-time basis to help off-set the expenses here. I have plans to network with some colleagues while I am back in Chicago this summer and perhaps would be able to do some part-time consulting earning American dollars. So, where does that leave me? My boys will be in Kinder next year, attending school every day, from 8 to 12. I have also secured Gaudy to help me each afternoon, so indeed, I would have time to devote to the school, as I have done this year. Managing a project such as this would look nice on my resume when the family transitiions back to the States. Am I ready to get back into this type of work? Isn't this type of work that which led me to get out of corp. america in the first place? So, lots to think about as I consider this offer.

Finally, really looking forward to seeing family in another 5 weeks. School is out on 6/2, perhaps a quick vacation to the Caribbean side and then off to the airport on 6/17. We look forward to seeing everyone really soon. Michael and John are super excited to see cousins, swim in pools and buy 'little boy' watches. The ones I made for them Sunday out of cardboard have seen better days and they didn't quite get the fact that it was perpetually 12:30!

Time to grap a towel and breathe in some type of tincture I purchased to help open the ole bronchial tubes.


Thursday, May 6, 2010

Wedding in the Woods!

A whirlwind trip indeed, but well worth it! Seeing a wedding band on my brother John's finger brings a smile to my face and after 43 years, I can say, that his new wife, Amy, is definitely worth the wait! A wonderful celebration with friends and family; I am so thankful for the time away to attend the festivities and my awesome husband for manning the fort while I was stateside.

My trip started Thursday morning with a 6:00 a.m. taxi ride to the bus station in Santa Elena. The bus ride was uneventful until about 10 km outside of Alajuela where a strike was happening right in front of our eyes, bringing traffic to a dead stop. Cell phones started to ring on the bus and I quickly became aware of a strike that was going on (I think with the Custom Agencies) and some of the roads were closed….not to mention THE ROAD that was to get me to the airport! Well, at this point, I was not panicked as I had a good 4 plus hours before my flight took off, so I propped open the window a little more on the bus and started to fan myself with my flight itinerary as the bus was clearly not going anywhere…the air was still and I had just taken the last swig of H20 about a mile back. Lucky for us, the strike was to end at 10:30 a.m., and that it did! What seemed like hundreds of cars, started turning around and the blockade soon became passable. We were again on our way. A quick drop off at the airport, moving toward check-in and then all the computers were hard down. What a loss of power? Not to worry, as the Agent reverted back to ‘manual’ procedures and presented me with a hand-written boarding pass. Four hours on the plane went by quickly as I had my nose in the “Redirecting Children’s Behavior” book. Yes, I am re-reading for the second time and highlighting now, as this edition is all mine. I was very eager to land at the Charlotte airport and greet family. After an hour waiting at baggage claim, I was greeted by my nephew Zach, Josh and my sister Beth who had just arrived from Chicago. We boarded the Enterprise bus and headed off-airport to pick-up our rental car. The laughs and jokes started immediately – I feel sorry for the gals on the Enterprise shuttle and the customer service rep at the counter, as they had to put up with four very silly and tired customers! After some miss-turns and a quick stop at Arby's (for some horsey sauce…this was a new one on me), we headed toward Rutherfordton and made it to John and Amy's around 12 midnight NC time. My head hit the pillow and I was out. What, no 4 year old crawling into bed with me?

Friday was a glorious, sunny day - we all chipped in and put the finishing touches on their out-building which would be the venue for the reception -- hanging lights, candles around the property and filling luminaries to line the driveway. Zach and Josh were a huge help in hanging the lights, contorting their bodies every which way; hanging from rafters to get the job done, and that they did. There was not much for us to do as Amy had the event well organized and set us up so we could have lots of R & R time and enjoy kickin’ back. We checked into the Firehouse Inn on Friday morning – (an old fire station in the heart of the little village that has been converted into an Inn). Beth and I shared a room and I was in Heaven! David, the Inn Keeper was a chatty European with a great sense of humor. Apparently he trained the staff at the Plaza Hotel in NY, so he knew how to keep his guests happy! We enjoyed a great bbq at John and Amy's Friday night where we got to meet other wedding guests and family. It was so comfortable, the food was yummy and the choice of wine, well, far out-weighed the box wine I drink here in Monteverde. I had a chance to see family from NY and John's old college roomie, Doug as well. Lots of chuckles.

Saturday was a great day, and the rain held off for the reception. The ceremony was lovely and I barely stumbled on my Reading. When we arrived back at the house for the reception, the light of day was fading and the candles began to twinkle in the night was beautiful. Amy and John walked up the drive with their three dogs, all sporting a bow tie for themselves - Dog lovers they are! The food was outstanding and everything was perfect.

Sunday we watched as Amy and John opened their gifts and then settled down to watch a movie as they ran Amy's folks to the Charlotte airport. I howled as we watched "It's Complicated" and remembered how much I like a good, entertaining movie. Dad had booked us a hotel room near the airport in Charlotte for Sunday night so we did not have to make the long trek to the airport on Monday to make our 7 a.m. flights. Kisses and hugs doled out and we were off in the rental car, about 9:30 p.m....or so we thought. Keys, keys, keys...where could they be? To make a long story short, the keys to the car went missing and after 90 minutes of looking in the pitch dark (it's dark in the country), Amy and John made their second trip to the airport with the four of us and all our luggage. We laid our heads down about midnight at the Wingate Hotel only to be buzzed by a wake-up call around 5 a.m.

Monday was another long day of travel; I arrived back at the San Jose airport a 1/2-hour earlier than scheduled and ended up sitting at the bus depot for close to five hours before the 2:30 bus up the mountain departed. My backside was numb by the time I boarded the bus after a 4-hour flight and hanging out at the depot. Finally, after a short taxi ride from Santa Elena, I was greeted by hugs and kisses by all my boys about 7:30 p.m. Michael and John were talking a mile a minute...Mike and I smiled at each other and just let their motors run. I missed the boys terribly and told Mike that I never wanted to take another vacation without the family. All I wanted to do was to get close, hug and kiss on them…okay, big Mike too ☺

They had a great five days without mom, outing to the Frog Museum, swimming at Poco a Poco Hotel and the Pet Festival. This mom is glad to be home and it was truly like ‘coming home’ when I landed back at the SJO airport. I was a little over stimulated when I arrived at the Charlotte airport Thursday night, blackberries, cell phones going off, people and more people (and this was a small airport), not O’Hare – how will I feel in another 5 weeks when I land in Chicago? John lives in the country, so Wal-Mart made out pretty well with us being in town. I had a few things I wanted to purchase for the boys and for other friends here, so I am convinced that if it wasn’t for my sister Beth, pressing me for decisions; I would still be in the store trying to decide which outfit to buy Loandry (Gaudy’s son) – too many choices – boy was I confused and overwhelmed.

So, I am home now, still suffering from the sinus issues I have had for the last nine days. I purchased several natural remedies from the Macrobiotica store in Santa Elena yesterday so we’ll see if it gives me any relief.

Less than four weeks of school left and I can’t believe we’ll be back in the states within a little over a month. We are looking so forward to seeing friends and family, spending lots of time in Chicago, maybe NC and would love to squeeze in some time at the farm in upstate NY. Lots of choices!

BTW, the Pet Festival (mentioned in previous posts) was a huge success – I can’t wait for the next one.

Signed: S