Road Work

Is this post going to be interesting only for us? Will our friends and families read through today’s entry and think, why did she take the time to share all this? Let that be a warning to you, fare reader… I have no bikini clad, Pilsen drinking, beach photos to share with you in this post, but instead some very dirty, sweaty, construction work pics and tales. I’ll try to make it as captivating for you as it was for us.


As I mentioned in my previous entry, we were in no way devastated by the hurricane, but many small to medium problems arose immediately following it. The biggest problem for us was our road. We live off the main road in Avellanas, and anyone who has been here understands that when I say “road,” what I mean is a seven kilometer stretch of rock and dirt that is full of potholes and ruts created by major water run off. Our beach is very well known through out Guanacaste, and so is our road. Inevitably, when we mention to people that we live in Avellanas, we are always asked or given condolences about the road. However, many people see it as one more thing that makes Avellanas so special. One has to be tough to live out here; willing to come to and fro over rocks, dirt, ruts and mud everyday, and each trip into town is a supreme exercise in patience and positivity.

So, not only are we often given the opportunity to challenge our optimism with THAT road everyday, but like I said, we live OFF the main road, about 400 meters down a side road. On ours, we have five neighbors, and about three open lots owned by different people. After the storm, our road was very nearly impassable. Afraid of becoming trapped in one of two sections of deep mud, we chose to park elsewhere and walk a short ways home. Other people didn’t have that option, and very nearly became stuck. Our contractor DID become stuck, and had to be pulled out. And then there were people whose car had died and couldn’t go anywhere if they wanted to. (#puravida, #livinginparadise, #lifesabeach).


With the help of our neighbors, realizing that the problem would just become worse and worse, we orchestrated a major construction job on the road, involving eight trucks of “lastre”, which in English I think is called “ballast,” and hours and hours with a backhoe. 


After two days and a lot of money, our road is… passable! Hooray for small victories. It involved a very unexpected cost and one we had to foot ourselves with some help from our neighbors, as our road is not part of the municipality register, but we were thrilled to be able to see a large problem, recognize a solution, and fix it immediately: a very rare feat down here in the jungle.

All of this occurred on our third wedding anniversary. I posted some photos on Facebook with the caption: “According to anniversary tradition, first year is paper, second year is cotton, third year must be gravel… truckloads and truckloads of gravel.”

 Ah, to be an adult. We were chuckling to ourselves in the midst of that entire debacle, that what people think we do down here, and what people think our lives are like, couldn’t be further from the truth. I am currently working on another blog that I am going to entitle “A day in the life…” to give a sneak peak of the “paradise” that we experience on a daily basis 🙂

Cheers to you and yours! Thanks for reading! Pura vida 🙂

La Tormenta

As some of you may have known, we were rocked pretty hard by a semi-hurricane a few days ago. I say “semi-hurricane” because while it was battering us in Central America, it was still only categorized as a “tropical storm,” but as it reached the United States, it gained strength and was then dubbed “Hurricane Nate.”

As we were making preparations to return to our home here, the US and US territories were battling storm after storm in Texas, Louisiana, and of course Puerto Rico. So many people asked us if we had any concern for our home in Costa Rica, and if we were nervous to return. Some of those people didn’t understand the difference between Puerto Rico and Costa Rica, some not realizing how far apart the two countries are, and some just assuming that all the tropical, southern countries fare in the same way during their wet seasons. To put it bluntly, we weren’t worried at all. October is rainy. Rainy and potentially destructive. We knew that from the previous year and from all our friends and neighbors that have weathered many a wet season, and specifically, many an October. When we arrived, on Sunday October 1, we were met with such technicolor greens, and an abundance of lush, wet growth. 


The rain brings beauty, and it had brought it in droves. We took inventory of our home, noted all the mold and dankness that we had expected, and prepared for a month of tough weather. The next two days were rainy, but not without sun. By Wednesday, we had a little water, a little food, a few beers and luckily, a full tank of gas in the car. It started raining. It started raining harder. And harder. We knew that the power would go out inevitably, which it often does, and knew that it would at most be out for 3-4 hours, as the power company is impeccably quick at clearing branches, fixing downed lines, restoring electricity surprisingly quickly, at all times of the day and night. Over the course of the next three days, the rain never ceased. At times we would think, “there’s no way it could rain any harder,” and then the rain would mock us with its increased pounding. Our power went in and out over four days, leaving us with two almost 12 hour stretches with no water or electricity. Before our road was destroyed on day four, we luckily got into town, (after a very slow, very scary ride), found the only store open, to buy water and a bit of food. One more trip into town two days later to try to buy more left us stranded, as a gigantic Guanacaste tree fell into the road, creating a stand still in the traffic as crews worked hurriedly to try to clear it.


In the end, our home never suffered any substantial damage. None of our rooms sprang major leaks, none of our old-growth trees toppled, and somehow our antiquated electrical system withstood the torrential downpours and wind. Many of our neighbors dealt with so much more. The street behind our house, which leads to many homes, was under very deep water for days, leaving all the people living back there unable to leave, unable to find water or food. Many homes throughout Costa Rica were completely destroyed and nine people very sadly, died.

The oddest thing through all of this is that we did not see this coming at all, thus, did not prepare in any way. We spoke to our friends who live a few towns over, and they agreed that they were blind sighted.  Our friends and family in the states knew more than we did, and a few even wondered before it hit, what we were doing at that moment to prepare. I admit that we just have to claim utter ignorance. October is rainy. We all know it’s rainy. We all know that a storm can hit, and will hit, any day. But a storm like “Nate,” was unique. Nothing like that has hit our area in over 10 years. We aren’t checking our weather apps because there really has never been any need. We all know to prepare for storms and rain, but we didn’t think to prepare for something like this.


We are so glad it’s over, and especially on days like today, full of warmth and sun, we are able to pull our boots on, try to tick things off the list, and remind ourselves how lucky we are to have each other and our home. Things could have been so much worse and right now, things are pretty damn good.

 

 

Summer Trips

While some of us are baking in the dry, 105 degree Boise heat, others are getting rained on in the wet and green season down south. I just recently came back from a ten day drip to Avellanas, checking on all the goings-on that have been happening since we left in March.


It’s a very nerve-wracking notion: buying a big home, falling in love with it after putting in so much blood sweat and tears, (and money), carving out a niche for ourselves in Avellanas by turning it into a boutique bed and breakfast, only to board it up and leave it for seven months a year. Lucky for us we have the best contractor in Guanacaste, and long term renters that love our home as much as we do. However, it still breaks our hearts a little bit each time we think about our Casa Kaiki, all alone, missing us.

But seriously, it’s incredible to see the destruction that takes place regularly, to a home in the jungle, in such heat, and such humidity: trees falling, ant infestations, mold covering the sidewalks, vines forcing their ways into windows and doors. And leaving the house on it’s own for so long, without making any sort of repairs or managing small problems would be detrimental to us and our business, come October.


I had never spent much time in Costa Rica during wet season, only one short trip last July, which lasted for about a week. I couldn’t prepare myself for the technicolor greens that awaited me. When we left in March, Guanacaste could be mistaken for southwest Idaho, with all its dead browns and dry heat. Guanacaste is unique in that no other state in Costa Rica undergoes such changes throughout the year. Our region is called the “dry forest” for a reason. But while the dry persists for half the year, as soon as the first rain hits in May, an almost overnight transformation occurs. Nothing indeed dies, but instead lays dormant, waiting for some mere drops of wet season sprinkles, and the green returns in abundance.


Not only does color fill the region, but so do the mangoes, the butterflies, the mamonchinos, and the bugs.


There is no way of outsmarting and out bug-spraying the mosquitos of the wet season. They are abundant. Even with our All Terrain bug cream, that I have found works better than absolutely anything, you will end up with bites. But with the bad comes with the good, huh? As it always does. And the bad really isn’t so bad.


Another observation I made about green season, is that it could also be called ghost season. Not in the creepy sense, although now I’m re-thinking calling it that because now my mind is filled with some pretty unsettling thoughts and images. Avellanas turns into a complete ghost town during May and June. Many of the people that live there, live seasonally, so their houses are vacant. Several of the few larger hotels and bed and breakfasts close down for renovations. Restaurants are closed, tourists are very scarce. The plus side of this, is that the beaches are completely deserted. It’s surreal to be on the beach at Avellanas, in front of Lola’s, which is usually teeming with vacationers, (and locals), enjoying a Pilsen, essentially alone. So tranquil, quiet, and the tiniest bit lonely.


My husband is there now, taking the second shift, and even a few weeks later, he has noticed that our neighbors are on their way back and tourists are on their way.  Tamarindo streets are getting crowded once again and he’s hearing a lot more English spoken in the grocery stores.

Throughout our two separate trips to Costa Rica, we were able to collaborate and compile a large list of all the improvements that we will begin taking on upon our return. It’s exciting to think about the transformations that have already occurred at Casa Kaiki within the last year, and it’s even more exciting to envision what the next few years will bring.


We will begin opening up dates soon on airbnb, so people can begin booking. Stay tuned for updates. We look forward to hosting you again, or meeting you for the first time. We ensure that your vacation with us will be full of love, sun, good food and memories. Pura vida 🙂

Ciao for now…


I am writing this technically after we have already said our goodbyes, as we are currently settling into our “off-season” life in Boise, Idaho. There are so many mixed emotions that surround our homecoming, and they continue to dilute and strengthen as time goes on. I truly feel that at this point in my life, I have two homes. Two completely different, opposite homes, but in both I feel love, friendship, purpose, adventure and comfort. I am so incredibly happy to be back in Idaho, with my dear friends, family, mountains, rivers, forests and specialty food items, but on a daily basis, I find myself wistfully longing for the beach, the water, the sun, the flora and fauna of Central America.


This year, we closed up shop on March 21, said our goodbyes, entrusted our long term renters with our lovely Casa Kaiki, (and one of our cats), and flew thousands of miles away. While those last few days were extremely busy, they weren’t without a great amount of reflection about the year that had passed, laughter for all the unexpected events and moments that came upon us, and goal setting and dreaming about the years to come in our Costa Rican paradise.


We learned to plant drought resistant vegetables, that can withstand extreme amounts of sun. We learned to empty the compost everyday to avoid critters and grossness in general. We learned the medicinal value of almost every plant, flower and tree growing at our villa. We learned to love waking up at dawn. We learned about secret beaches, good food and the incredible, tight-knit community of Avellanas.


We look forward to meeting more local friends and neighbors. We look forward to offering plant based breakfasts exclusively. We look forward to time spent in the ocean. We look forward to hosting more people from throughout the world.

But for now…. I appreciate and love the present. Bring it on, Idaho! Let’s have a great summer!


While we will be traveling to Avellanas several times during our off season, we won’t be opening for service until October of 2017. Please contact us if you have any questions, or would like to make a booking for something far in advance; we can definitely accommodate you.


Pura vida 🙂

Las Playas

Most of these blog ideas come from our guests… we get a lot of questions about things to do, where to eat, best excursions, different beaches, etc. I love it! I’m never stumped for things to write about.

We had some guests stay with us last week that were interested in beach time, surfing, snorkeling and swimming. They wanted to avoid driving a ton, and the bigger, more popular beaches like Tamarindo.

Here are a few of our favorite spots:

Playa Avellanas



Well, no kidding. We chose to live here for a reason. The surf is great for beginners and those more advanced, as there are four different breaks along our long beach. There are surf rentals right on the sand, as well as surf lessons for a competitive rate. The name of the company is Avellanas Surf School and we highly recommend them. Also, on our beach is the restaurant Lola’s.


It is the most well-known restaurant in our community and has been here for many years. The atmosphere cannot be beat and the food is delicious. It is slightly spendy, but perfect for a special occasion and an incredible meal.

Playa Negra


Playa Negra is the next beach south of us, and is only about five kilometers away. The beach itself isn’t as big as Avellanas, but there is more of a town. One of our favorite restaurants, Kon Tiki, is located on the way to Playa Negra and has wood fired pizza and homemade sangria. The beach can be accessed through Hotel Playa Negra. Be sure to let us know if you need driving directions as it can be a little tricky getting there.

Junquillal


Junquillal beach is just past the town of Paraiso. It is very tranquil and is very sparsely visited by tourists. The waves are easy and gentle; great for swimming and wading. Beware, the sand is black and is very very hot. Make sure to bring sandals to walk down to the waterline. There is also a small turtle hatchery right on the beach near the parking lot, where in October and November, you can watch the turtles trek to the ocean upon hatching.

Playa Grande


Back up north, just above Tamarindo, is the community and beach of Playa Grande. The waves are very popular with surfers and body boarders and the white sand makes for the perfect spot to lounge on an afternoon. To get there, you can drive, (you have to drive inland, around Tamarindo and then back out towards the ocean), or take a water taxi from Tamarindo. This is a very fun experience and is quick and cheap but the water taxis stop running at 5:00. This is a problem if you want to head into one of Grande’s great restaurants, like Cantarana, for dinner. In that case, driving is definitely worth it.

There are many more beaches to explore and many more I could mention. Playa Conchal is definitely one of my favorites, but since I wrote about it last week, I thought I would add something (and some place) new.


Please let us know if you have any questions or recommendations. Cheers and pura vida 🙂

Minchillos

We’ve been so lucky upon moving here that so quickly we were able to make such good friends. Two of those friends, Jackie and Junior, have been an integral part of our lives here, opening their home to us for pool days, sharing meals, making us laugh and giving us much needed advice on day to day living in Central America. In the few months that we’ve been here, we have already shared in so much meaningful time with them, their sweet pup, Harvey, and their cat, Benji. 

A few weeks ago, Jackie’s parents came to visit for the holidays and it was apparent that her mother was very sick. At this time, the whole family is staying in San Jose, indefinitely, as it was discovered that her mother has stage four lung cancer. 

Overnight, the family is facing gigantic medical bills as Jackie’s mother had to be airlifted to San Jose and was in the ICU for days. 

We would like to help Jackie and Junior by donating 20% of any new January bookings to their family. So, in case you needed just one more excuse to finally pull the trigger on that Costa Rican vacation… here it is!! By staying with us, you will be contributing to some very lovely, very appreciative and generous people. Thank you in advance for helping us give to them. 

Day Tripping (Part 2)

And already it’s the middle of January! How did that happen? We have found ourselves in the full swing of things – bookings everyday, full houses most nights, preparing breakfasts for our guests each morning, tidying and turning over rooms, all the while continuing to improve our little villa in new ways and with different projects on a regular basis. It’s hard to believe that we have been here for almost three months, at times, and at other times, it feels like we have been here for three years. With only two more months to go in the season, it seems like there are still so many things we would like to get done and we have very little time in which to do it all.


We have been so lucky to have had so many friends come visit us already. Seeing and spending time with our good friends from home has given us such a boost of motivation and inspiration that the world we are trying to create here, amidst all our tribulations and frustrations, is vale la pena. It has been such an incredible experience seeing our home through our friends’ and families’ eyes – all the wonder and appreciation and culture shock! Ha! We have also been able to be tourists a bit, and travel around our state, scoping out fun sights and activities for our guests and friends.


Here are a few excursions and day trips that we’ve enjoyed over the last few months and those that we always share with our guests.

Marlin Del Rey Catamaran Tour http://marlindelrey.com/


Our Tamarindo friends had arranged this catamaran tour, out of Tamarindo and invited us and our Boise friends, Kelli and Patrick to join. We were reluctant, as it seemed to be the ultimate tourist activity, which at times can be a bit of a turn off, but we ended up having the best day. The tour lasts about five hours, and includes all you can drink and eat, a two hour snorkeling – SUP – swimming stop and a relaxing ride on a beautiful catamaran. The cost is $80 per person, which I know seems high, but was completely worth it. The boat leaves out of Tamarindo, with about 25 people, sails out to a secluded cove, where you can choose to stay on the boat, snorkel, SUP, swim, or slowly tread water with the help of a pool noodle, (my choice). While you partake in water activities, lunch is prepared and consists of rice, beans, cookies, meat and lots and lots of potato and tortilla chips with salsa. After about two hours, you set sail back towards Tamarindo, and hopefully catch sight of some dolphins… maybe even a whale! (Some of our guests said they saw a humpback!)


 

Rincon De La Vieja National Park


This is our closest national park… located just about 45 minutes from Liberia. From our house to trailheads, it takes just under two hours. The actual park has three hikes, one of which splits off in two different directions, another of which takes you to the top of a volcano. Outside of the park, there are a number of different excursions like zip lining, horseback riding, hot springs, mountain biking, just to name a few. There is also a hotel and a restaurant just outside the actual park entrance, so if you want to stay closer for an early morning hike, that’s an option. The park opens at 8:00 and closes at 4:00 and some of the hikes have some time restrictions. It’s best to get there as close to 8:00 as possible, as it’s easy to spend the entire day there.


We have been there several times now, and done a few different things. Our favorite two hikes are the 10 kilometer hike to the Catarata Escondida, and then the shorter loop through the volcancitos. Depending on the day and the season, you can see monkeys, (spider, white faced and howler), snakes, coatis, capybaras and more. Last time we went, (about two weeks ago), we were so lucky to see an abundance of animals the entire time.

 

Playa Conchal


This is my favorite beach near us. (There are some others that are runners up, and I’ll mention those in a future post). You may have read about this one in a guide book, but in case you haven’t, it’s one worth visiting. It’s so unusual in that the beach itself is made up completely of shells, as opposed to sand. It’s unbelievably beautiful and unique, but during the high season it’s a bit crowded as well. We’ve enjoyed Playa Conchal the most early in the morning, when people are still sleeping off their night before and the crash of the waves is still the only thing you can hear. Later on in the day, people begin selling BBQ, beer, pipa and souvenirs, which is definitely part of the beach experience, but the tranquility is something that we prefer! Getting to Playa Conchal is a bit of a challenge, and requires four wheel drive. However, if your rental car is small, you would just park in Brasilito and walk. Believe me, it’s worth it.

 

Playa Negra and Paraiso


These little beach towns, just south of us are small enough to visit both in one afternoon. Playa Negra seems to cater more to tourists and ex-pats, with several great restaurants, a coffee shop called Jalapeno’s, some surf shops and a beautiful beach. The beach access is a little tricky – no four wheel drive necessary, you just need to ask for directions. Paraiso is just south of Negra and has a soccer field, more restaurants and bars, some bed and breakfasts and another of Guanacaste’s best beaches.

 

Our list of things to do is ever increasing and changing. We love helping our guests come up with day trips and activities, many of which we have done ourselves, so we are able to give personal advice and tips. Please let us know if there is anything that you think we should do or check out… we love suggestions!


Pura vida xoxo

 

 

Las Medicinas

Let food be thy medicine, huh? 

Well, that quote surely rings true in Costa Rica. In just two weeks, we have learned so many uses for all the plants, fruits and vegetables that grace our beautiful southern country. 

Casa Kaiki already had a vast number of existing flora spread throughout the grounds, but over the last weeks, as we have learned of so many new species, we have been planting fruits and veggies non stop, while we still can, (before the dry season truly hits.) 

Here are some of the existing discoveries we made on the hacienda….

 Noni fruit 



I have never tried the actual fruit, but I have paid a lot of money for a small bottle of noni juice from the Boise co-op in the past! It is said to be beneficial for stomach aches and for joint pain. Most Americans consume noni as a juice or in a pill form, but we will try to add it to smoothies as do Ticos. 

Plantains


Plantains can be eaten in so many stages of ripening. Scott prefers the platanos verdes, (still green), where they can be made into savory snacks like patacones. I prefer the plantanos maduros, (yellow and spotty), because they are the most sweet and I like to fry them in coconut oil. 

Coconut


So… technically our coconut palms are far from producing. But our neighbor has mature trees, and he has been so gracious to share while ours are still growing. 

Papaya



Just a few weeks away from ripening, our papaya tree is Hawaiian Papaya and is said to be the sweetest variety.

Limes



You could say we are swimming in limes!! We have about 12 like trees at Casa Kaiki, although only four are mature enough to produce.

New plantings…

Jocote 

These little fruits are sold on the side of the road everywhere. They kind of taste like a mango, but not quite as sweet. They have a large pit and are a great portable snack. 

Yucca

Yucca is a root vegetable, like a potato, and is prepared as such. 

Aloe



Ready to soothe sunburns aplenty.

Coconut



Two more trees ready to plant, which will give us nine total. 

More to come!!! Pura vida 😎

Doing Work

We have fallen into a routine over the last week… wake at 5:00, plant, garden and paint until about 10:00, break for lunch and then run errands until dark, which is when we return home, cook dinner and fall into an early and deep sleep until the next day. 


It’s a job unlike any other we’ve experienced, but the sun, sweat and dirt are all reminders of the adventure we’re pursuing and the possibilities of the near future. 

Our gardening has come to a halt for now, however, as we learned that a full moon will arrive tomorrow, and one should not plant anything three days prior or after. Nevertheless, we were able to relocate some palms and plantains over the last week, which look stunning with everything else that is already here. 

Two of our rooms will be ready by next week, and at that time we will post our link and hopefully begin welcoming guests shortly after. The high season begins in November, so we are hoping that our timing is perfect. 


Keep up with our Instagram and our Facebook page. We will post more on our blog as our wifi will hopefully return over the next few days. 

¡Pura vida!

We made it!

We are now home, in Avellanas. Very surreal, but very very exciting. Our last several days have been spent running errands, setting up bills and accounts, shopping, with a little beach time mixed in and of course, lots and lots of coffee. 


We arrived at the tail end of the rainy season, and man has it been wet! So everything that we’ve been doing, we’ve been doing in the rain. The wet will end in about two weeks, so until then we will just appreciate it all for the sake of our plants and trees. 

The most exciting thing over these last few days has been to see all the changes that have been going on at Kaiki while we’ve been away. The Canopy Room, which has gone from nightmare to heaven on Earth, is almost completely finished. The shower details are going in next week, and then it’s ready! 



New deck, new floors, new railings. It really has gone from night to day. 

On the unfortunate side of things, we realized that we thought we could open for business immediately, but in order to offer the quality we want to share with our guests, it seems like we are about three weeks out. However, we will post the Airbnb link soon, so guests can begin booking rooms in mid November. 

Until then, stay tuned and stick with us! Please message us if you have any questions about bookings. 


¡Pura vida!