10 days go by too quickly-Raquel and Jason’s visit

24 04 2011

The house is quiet.  The only sounds are the shuffle of Vanessa’s sleepy feet in the kitchen.  And I already miss Raquel and Jason.  I can hear my mom saying “I hate the quiet after company leaves”- when I was younger I never really understood what she was saying or why she would get upset after company left…I always liked having the house back to normal.  Now I know.

Raquel and Jason visit CR

Raquel and Jason were here for a too quick 10 days.  Their plane landed at the ridiculous time of 4:57 am, and after a couple bumps in the road, they spent that day and the next relaxing in our humble house and getting to know the Costa Rica that Vanessa and I experience every day.  V and I listed a couple of places that we like to eat and drew an unbelievably disproportionate map for them to use as they ventured out on foot to explore Escazu.  I was excited for them; they were determined to head out on their own and experience the excitement and anxiety that Vanessa and I felt our first couple of days.  Vanessa and I raced home from school both days to hear about their adventures- They took advantage of their time and hit many of the places that we frequent.  I think they truly appreciated the time that they had to themselves, not just vacationing but really getting to know the intricacies and idiosyncrasies of our town.

Walking around town

Jason finding the local brew

Raquel and Vanessa

Pipa for Jason

Visiting the Sat. market

Saturday morning we woke up early went to the market and then headed to Arenal, which is a perfectly cone shaped volcano about 2 and half hours away.  We piled into the beat up rental car, Vanessa and Raquel in back, Jason manning the passenger seat and me behind the wheel.  I navigated the twisting, turning and stomach churning roads as best I could.  Raquel, being pregnant, was a champ on the way there and back, she should probably get an award or something for not puking all over Vanessa.

arriving to Arenal

Raquel toughing out the car rides

We stayed in a great little bungalow complete with a patio draped with hammocks and a great view of the volcano.  Upon arrival the four of us relaxed for just a bit before we headed out on a small nature hike near the volcano.  It was great to see Raquel and Jason as the became surrounded by the dense jungle and looked in wonder at the strange plants, insects, birds and bats that past by along the way.  Sunday morning Vanessa, Jason and I woke up early to go on a canopy zip-line.  We really enjoyed it.  It was fun to watch Jason, who is afraid of heights, climb to the first platform and silently whisper to himself that it was all going to be ok.  He took his minute to stave of tears of terror and went for it and by the last zip-line he was saying how he wished that there was more!  It was a quick trip to Arenal but we had to had back to Escazu because we had tickets to a soccer game that evening.

Raquel and Jason-view from the room

Jason getting ready for the Zip-line

mentally preparing himself

excited, scared? it doesn't matter because here you go!!!!

there was a small yell of exhilaration on that first line

The soccer game was enjoyable.  Jason seemed to really enjoy the stadium and lack of efficiency during the attempted halftime show.

Soccer game- RED CARD!

The next day was spent preparing for our adventure to Tamarindo.  We took our time getting to Tamarindo where we spent the next 3 days enjoying each other’s company.

While in Tamarindo, Jason decided he wanted to take his turn driving.  This may sound strange as Jason has obviously driven numerous times…but driving in Costa Rica…that is a different story.  The drivers here are, well, crazy, unpredictable and enjoy using their horns.  He climbed behind the wheel with a childlike grin, looked over at me, and promptly stalled the car!  It was a small hiccup but he quickly mastered the finicky clutch and we were off to visit the main beach in Tamarindo, as well as another beach in the area.  We spent time surfing, relaxing and visiting the shops around town.  The days flew by.  I wish they wouldn’t have, but inevitably, being in good company and having a good time seems to put time in fast forward.

a little bit of beach time

our hotel fridge for the time in Tamarindo

getting ready to surf- Jason's first time! he got up eventually!

I love them!

The unfortunate time of silence approached early Saturday morning when V and I took Raquel and Jason to the airport around 3:45 in the morning (what was Raquel thinking booking this terribly early flights?).  We said our goodbyes and I hugged each of them for a millisecond longer, silently wishing them luck, as they headed back to Portland to find out the sex of their baby!

I miss and love my family and wish that I could share every second of our adventure with them!  I truly treasured the time spent with my sister and Jason.  Now the house is eerily quiet and my understanding of Mom’s words grows with each creek of the empty house.

The four of us- together

Thanks to Jason and Vanessa for the pictures.




17 04 2011

At approximately 4:55 am on Thursday, Raquel and Jason arrived in Costa Rica!  Miguel and I have been rushing around like crazy people to prepare for their visit.

Last weekend, we had three days off and went to the beach.  As soon as we returned on Monday, we made a list of all of the things we had to do.  The list included grocery shopping (Raquel is pregnant and we wanted to make sure we had the foods she likes on hand), buying flowers, gifts, making sure we kept the house clean after Sonia’s visit, washing sheets, and confirming our millions of reservations.  Needless to say, we were pretty busy.

On Tuesday we went to the mall and picked up a few gifts and went grocery shopping.  There is actually a grocery store in the mall.  It’s a great idea, I think, but it’s also a little awkward walking through the mall with a cart boy following you with all of your groceries. When we got home, we did laundry and hung up all of the paintings I have made lately.

The house all ready to go

Neither of us slept very well Tuesday night.  We were both too wired.  Wednesdays are long days at work, and we took off as soon as we were allowed to leave.  We went to a random barbershop and bought tickets for a soccer match (Jason really wanted to go to a sporting event while here).  After our barbershop experience we went and bought flowers… this was an experience because I couldn’t remember the correct words to describe what I wanted, but we came away successful.  After all was said and done, we were both tired and ready for company.

Guest Bedroom... Check!

Miguel woke up early Thursday morning, got totally ready for work and took a taxi to the airport.  He called me at 5:45 A.M. kind of panicked.  I guess the rental car booth at the airport wasn’t open and said it wouldn’t be open until 7:30 (too late for Miguel to make it to work on time).  He called me wanting me to call Budget Rental car and see what was going on.  In the end, they all ended up taking a cab to the rental car company garage and it was open.  They arrived Thursday morning, tired and excited to be in Costa Rica.  They also came bearing packages of an iPad2 for Miguel and a replacement Kindle for me!  We are super excited they are here!  We will be updating this as things go on… On the list of things to do are Arenal Volcano, zip-lining, beach visiting, a soccer game, and some fun touristing.  Pictures will be aplenty!

Raquel reading our magnets

Kindle and iPad!

Here we go!


We are not big fans of cleaning house…so…we don’t

9 04 2011

Before moving down to Costa Rica Vanessa and I tried many times to imagine what our life would be like.  There were times that I pictured us having huge rainforest trees towering over our house with a sloth hanging out in our yard.  Other times, I worried that we would live in a over crowded, smelly city with rodents taking over.  Obviously, I was wrong with both of those visions, but the truly difficult part was trying to invision what daily life would be like: Dishes, laundry, ironing, cleaning the kitchen, bathroom(s), living room, all the stuff that we both hate!

Even before we could really settle into a daily routine, as a matter of fact I think it was the first full day were were in Costa Rica, another teacher approached us and told us that she had a wonderful maid that worked for her for many years but she had recently moved and thus had to let her go.  So, she encouraged us to think about hiring this great person to help us out around the house.  At first I just kind of laughed to Vanessa and told her “There is no way we can afford that!”  But this interaction had planted the seed in our minds.  We began to wonder, which lead to asking questions and further investigation in to the coveted world of- “Having a Maid”.

By asking just a couple of questions the unknown wonders of “Having a Maid” started to sparkle in to a reality.  Sonia, our maid, charges 10,000 Colones or $20 USD for 4-5 hours of cleaning, cooking, ironing or whichever household duty we may ask her to do (within reason).  When this information passed into my head, I had to ask for them to repeat it because… that is an amazing deal!

We now have Sonia come every other Monday, which is just right for the two of us.  She does a great job of cleaning just about every nook and crany of the house, she sweeps and mops, does some dishes, cleans all the rooms and for some reason, which neither V or I have figured out…she refolds all our clothes in our closets.

It is such a great feeling to come home to a clean house, and even better feeling when you didn’t have to put in all the work to make it that way!

Our messy bed- BEFORE

nice made up bed- AFTER

dishes... BEFORE

clean and ready to go!- AFTER

Ironing...BOO!- BEFORE

No more ironing...YES!-AFTER

My folded clothes

Vanessa's folded clothes

A once in a lifetime game

3 04 2011
Costa Rica National Stadium

Costa Rica National Stadium


It all started approximately two months ago…

Costa Rica was building a brand new National Stadium (thanks to the Chinese) that was to open this past week.  The schedule for the week had been leaked to the public early and anticipation for the events started to build about 3 months ago.  Then the big news broke…the Costa Rican National Soccer team was going to play the Argentinean National team during the opening week of the stadium.  That is HUGE news here in CR.  Argentina is a perennial power-house in soccer and is currently ranked 4th in the world and they claim “the best soccer player in the world”- Lionel Messi.

Having an opportunity to go to a game like this may be once in a life time.  So, I talked to Vanessa and she agreed to let me buy tickets, even though they were going to be around $100 each.  The day to purchase tickets arrived and I awoke early to try to buy them on-line.  However, as with many things here in Costa Rica, it didn’t work the first time.  So, I went to work and continually tried to purchase the tickets throughout they day but the website continually failed me.  I started to stress out toward the end of the day and pleaded with Vanessa to go with me to one of the ticket outlets (which oddly is a furniture store).  When we arrived we saw people with upset faces leaving and I knew deep inside that it was a lost cause…and it was.  The 36,000 tickets had sold in just under 5 hours.

I pushed the disappointment to the back of my mind but it resurfaced this past weekend when the stadium officially opened and “Le Sele” (thats what they call the national team) played China in the inaugural game.  I was with our friend Scott and Vanessa eating while fireworks and music echoed from the stadium over 3 miles away.  I had disappointment written all over my face and it became a topic of conversation during dinner.  I joked about going and buying scalped tickets to Tuesdays game versus Argentina but I had heard tickets were going for over $500 each!

Tuesday rolled around and I had made plans with our group of friends to watch the soccer game a local restaurant because this was one of the most anticipated games to be played in Costa Rica.  That morning I received and email from Tedd, one of our friends, that “plans have changed” and that he had acquired 2 tickets to the game but that Scott and I would have to fight over it.  Scott, being at dinner with me earlier in the week, graciously conceded and allowed me to attend with Tedd.

precious ticket

I came to find out that Tedd was given the tickets from a student in his class.  The family owns one of major television stations in Costa Rica and we would be attending the game with them.  Tedd and I arrived at the family’s “house” if could even call it that; it was more of a compound complete with a maids house (which is bigger than ours) the main mansion and a guest house and were taken to the game by the family’s chauffeur.

We didn’t go directly to the stadium but across the street to the television studios to meet with the entire family.  We met with the mother and father and had a brief but pleasant conversation and they told us that they actually had a 3rd ticket if we had any friends that wanted to attend.  Tedd quickly called Scott, who was a bit disappointed since giving me the ticket.  Scott dropped everything and came.  He was in the middle of a meal at a restaurant, he jumped up without taking more than two bites of his food, put down money and ran to catch a cab.  He arrived at the studios just as we were walking over to the game 30 minutes before kickoff.

Scott- glad he could make it!

Scott- glad he could make it!


As we worked our way into the stadium the feeling was electric.  You could hear passionate songs being sung by thousands of fans and enthusiastic cheers as Lionel Messi stretched and warmed-up.  We found our seats, which weren’t front row with the family, but at mid-field in the upper bowl.  The seats were great! We could easily see everything and were close enough to make out everything on the field.

Fireworks before the game

Fireworks before the game


Fireworks over the sold out crowd

Fireworks over the sold out crowd


Teams for their national anthems

kick off!

All the fans surrounding us cheered, whistled, sang and chanted throughout the game.  It was a great game, despite the 0-0 tie and the rumors of Messi not playing coming to fruition.  Apparently, he was injured playing the United States a couple of days before and his profesional club team pulled the strings that disallowed him to play.

It was a fantastic, maybe once in a lifetime, experience that I am very grateful to have had!  Pura Vida!


Scott and Tedd still taking it in after the game

souvenirs for V

I really enjoyed it

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