The Gift of Education

January 21st, 2010

We decided to do something truly meaningful this Christmas and have donated the proper funds to send a child to school for the year. Talamanca is one of the poorest regions in Costa Rica and a mere 78 dollars prevents far too many children from going to public school. $78 is enough to buy all the books, notebooks, pencils, uniform and shoes that each child needs to have in order to attend primary school for one year.  Supporting a child is made very simple by ATEC (Association of Ecotourism and Conservation) who is behind the project. This wonderful organization in Puerto Viejo continues to impress us with their dedication to community development and focus on education. Right now kids are on their equivalent to summer break and the new school year begins in February. There is still time to help another child get registered for the up-coming school year. We encourage any and all to participate. Just go to www.greencoast.com for more information!

World Famous Regatta Lands in Limon

November 14th, 2009

This year’s Transat regatta, one of the most popular in Europe and third largest in the world, is ending in nearby Puerto Limon, Costa Rica this year.  Four different classes of sail boats left Le Havre, France on the 8th of November and expect to arrive on the caribbean coast of Costa Rica 11-13 days later.  This year they will have to battle “El Niño” as they make the transatlantic journey.  Fifty ships begin the journey, but already some have had to turn back due to difficult weather.

Costa Rica’s government poured money into Limon to make improvements for the regatta and as a result $25,000.00 worth of business is expected to flood the area when the racers and followers arrive.  We wish the racers well!

For more information check out the official regatta site where you can listen to the skippers as they battle the elements-

A Tribute to Mothers

June 1st, 2009
Bri Bri Waterfall

Denise, JJ, Keisha and Brendan at Bri Bri Waterfall

May is the month when leatherback turtles come to the shores of the Carribean coast and lay their eggs. The neighboring wildlife refuge (Manzanillo-Gandoca) is home to the leatherbacks and serious efforts are being made to protect these incredible reptiles. According to the Leatherback Trust, in 1980 there were more than 115,000 female leatherback turtles and now less than 25,000, even becoming close to extinction in the Pacific. Unfortunately, the turtles have a rather beautiful shell perfect for making costly jewelry and the eggs taste pretty good as well so we humans have had made our impact and only in recent years have regulations been made. These impressive creatures out date humans by a million years and know what the earth looked like with dinosaurs running around. Needless to say, we were all excited with the possibility of seeing one of these beasts.

We decided to make a day out of it and piled our friend Denise, her 4 year old twins, boyfriend Matias and Adam Harr who was visiting from DC into the rumbling Galloper for a rainforest adventure. For a pretty penny you can take a 30 minute boat ride from the town of Manzanillo to Gandoca beach, but we decided to drive up around and down on bumpy roads to get there.
Next time we’ll take the boat. We stopped along the way at the BriBri water falls. The twins had never been to this rather large waterfall and after much excitement and anticipation when we finally reached the massive falls (you have to hike for about 30 minutes in the jungle) the girls started screaming and crying not wanting to go near it. With a little coaxing we got them to get in with us and the screams of fear turned into screams of laughter. It was adorable.

Back in the car we continued to the border of Panama where we dipped back in towards the sea. The viewing of the turtles is all very official since this is a preservation project and so we hired our guide, put on our black clothing and walked into onto the dark beach to begin our search. The turtles come in at night so it is best to go out after 8pm. Our guide was a cool young guy who had a lot of information about the turtles and the area and told us about how they are collecting the eggs after the female comes and lays them to put them in protected incubators (buckets) in a sectioned-off part of the beach that has 24-hour surveillance.

Puerto Viejo Activities

Puerto Viejo day trip

He took us down to show us the project and there were about 10 young teens with “staff” shirts on hanging out. They were all local volunteers which was nice to see since those where the same kids eating the eggs last year. Some of the buckets were placed under the shade and others in the sun. Apparently sun or shade, in other words temperature, decides the sex of the turtle. A volunteer came around saying there was a turtle a ways down the beach and so we trudged down and lo and behold there it was! A 6 foot long, 4 foot wide turtle digging a large hole in the sand in preparation. We crept up behind her trying not to get in her field of vision and watched in awe as the ancient reptile worked. The guide told us that she still had some time before actually laying eggs and that there was another turtle further down that we should go check out.

Down the beach another massive turtle was flapping those powerful flippers, heaving her 1500 pound body across the sand in search of a good spot to lay her eggs. The guide explained to us that the tide had been weird that week and the water level was different than usual so the turtle kept finding water as she dug and she would not lay her eggs in water. She began to painstakingly head towards the sea when at the last minute, she started back towards the sand. Our guide thought this turtle was crazy. “Tortuga Loca!” It was clear she did not want to give up that night.

It is hard to describe how enormous these turtles are and the struggle it can be for the females to perpetuate life. And still after years of traveling far distances in the sea they come back to the very same spot they themselves hatched, an intuition nobody fully understands, and continue the life cycle that has been going on for a million years. We were on the Gandoca beach with the great leatherbacks on Mother’s Day, a spectacular tribute to motherhood indeed.

Sorry, no photos are allowed to be taken of the turtles so you will have to come experience the wonder for yourselves.

Recap #2 One Year

March 29th, 2009
Dinner in Playa Chiquita

Vermont visitis Costa Rica

We blew through our one year mark without really even noticing. Our bungalows were totally full the entire week and we were too busy to pay attention to the fact that a year had crept up on us. Looking back at our books, the first week we came down we had one bungalow occupied (luckily by a sweet and excited couple from VT). A year later during the same week, not a room to spare. This is encouraging!

We were not sure if our friends and family would keep rolling in at such speed and numbers after the first 6 months but indeed they did, more than we could imagine. The time has come to give thanks to the wonderful people who have traveled far to give their support and be a part of our adventure. Where did we leave off??? Oh yes, September….

college reunion in Playa Chiquita

college reunion in Playa Chiquita

Piotr, Brendan’s old roommate from a summer in Burlington, came with his sister Margo and her boyfriend Jacob all the way from Poland and Ireland. It was great fun! Three Polish people who had never been to the tropics, need I say more? Andy, who just finished our awesome new website, came with Brooke and chased their two year old son Jack around the jungle for a week. Adam Lukens entertained us with stories of the film industry in NYC, our favorite being the one about Steven Segal kicking his stunt-man in the balls to see if he’s wearing a cup. Dotty, Evan and Molly, friends from the Cape, came in search of “the most beautiful beach in the world”, and found it. Charlie and Caitlin brought stories of life on the Obama campaign trail in Nebraska and we celebrated the new winner. Good work Charlie!!

Karaoke in Costa Rica

The Hammer hammin it up

The insane November rains started and my step cousin Christine and husband, Ted, newlyweds on their honeymoon, barely made it through the flooding roads to reach Tierra de Sueños where they spent the week in torrential rain. Brendan’s entire family reached us a couple of days later under similar circumstances. We celebrated Thanksgiving and Christmas in the same week and managed to have a good time even though it never stopped raining. One day was spent getting drunk on chocolate, a highly recommended activity. My sister Samantha and cousin Becca almost got us arrested and Sammie braved dental surgery in San Jose, quite an experience in itself.

Catching some sun in Punta Uva

bathing beauties

Adrienne and Peter came from DC with their friend Kevin and were exposed to some of the wacky members of the community at a wild Manzanillo party. The old, long white-bearded man who we usually see bathing his white horse in the ocean in his underwear was there showing off his moves on the dance floor. Pete carried an ipod karaoke machine along with him to the beach everyday, just a side note.

Drying out after snorkeling in Manzanillo

drying out after snorkeling in Manzanillo

Also coming from DC, Evan Smith a childhood friend of Brendan’s, shortly followed with two work friends, Jeff and Kate. Evan may have won the award for most sunburned but we couldn’t give him too much grief because he did go to Best Buy at 10pm the night before his early morning departure to purchase an emergency laptop to quickly replace our stolen one. What a friend! Then came the impromptu college reunion which couldn’t have been more fun. My old roommate from all of the college years, Jess and her dear friend Suzanne came with their boyfriends Nate and Mike, Adam for the second time around, Sean and Nick also friends from the very beginning of freshman year and a new-comer friend of Sean, Erin. Rum Punch is all I can say about that. Sarah and Mary happily came in the middle of Februrary all the way from South Dakota and Etta from the Cape as well. We just said goodbye to Jess, Melissa, Gabe and Chris from Vermont and the week was nothing less than hysterical. Friends from DC, Fareha and Chris, are riding bikes into town right now and the day they leave, Andew Baxt arrives, shortly followed by Abigail with her boyfriend Ted who I am just dying to meet and so on and so forth. There is no sign of it letting up!

modeling the new t's

modeling the new t's

The steady flow of friends and family has completely blown our minds. When deciding to embark on this journey never in our wildest dreams did we think we would be graced by the presence of so many people we love. Thank you all for coming and sharing our dream with us. Keep coming!

6 Month Recap

September 5th, 2008

Happy 6 Month Anniversary Tierra de Sueños!

Well folks, we just passed the 6 month mark of our time here at Tierra de Suenos! Wow! Half a year come and gone and what a whirlwind it has been! We survived Samana Santa (the busiest week in Latin America), May (the most painfully slow month), a broken water pump and washing machine, termites, mold, stained sheets, broken bikes (8 of them), dysfunctional neighbors, wonderful neighbors, and most importantly, each other!

We have entertained, and more often been entertained by, an impressive number of friends and family. The entire Boymer crew showed up just in time to help us butcher half a pig we bought from our gardener. Cheri, from Seattle, has yet to recover.

Good Times!

My brother jack was here on termite duty for 6 weeks. Carol and Marty came from Vermont to shed some light on composting and frog catching, Laura DiCicco came and her brother, Peter, shortly followed with Erin Hurley. We spent most evenings keeping the neighborhood awake with loud renditions of Mr. Big’s “I’m the one who wants to be with you.” Katie and Nona came all the way from London, and Chuck Esteves helped design a grill that is still sitting unfinished on our patio.

Breaking bread at Tierra de Sueños!

Pete Mesavage came to celebrate the arrival of John Hurley, our partner, who stayed to hold down the fort while we went to a wedding back in the States. Jonny Johnston and his new wife Natalie came to visit us from Oklahoma, we hadn’t seen him since our Sophmore year in college. Ethan and Ashley stayed for a while, Brendan hadn’t seen him since his abroad year in Spain. Drew Gardiner taught me and his girlfriend, Cris, how to play Bridge, I’m still trying to figure that one out.

Angie and pal

Owen McCreight got really sunburned trying to surf, and John Heltman is here right now hiking in Cahuita with some new friends, Ursula, Kathy and Sachen. Tonight Sachen is cooking us a Hindu feast!

If I missed anybody, please forgive me. Each one of our friends and family members has helped shape this last 6 months, bringing encouragement, support and great fun. It appears we chose a good spot for getting visitors! The line-up is already looking good for September and October.

Our guests seem to know how to have fun!

We initially began thinking about running a guesthouse because we wanted find a way to settle down yet continue to have an international experience, spending time with people from all over the world. We can honestly say that in the last 6 months this was accomplished. We have hosted guests from Colombia, Argentina, Peru, Costa Rica, States from east, south, north and west, Canada, Scandinavia, England, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, India, China, Philippines, Israel, the list goes on! It is an incredible experience to have a place where people from all different backgrounds and cultures can unite and celebrate our differences and similarities. Our lively mornings are a time of conversation and most often laughter. After all, everybody is on vacation!

Feasting on good food, good drink, and good conversation.

So, I’d say the first 6 months of our attempt to run an international B&B have been a success. We finally met with an accountant, Marco Hamm, the only one available in the area, who carefully wrote all our important information on a scrap piece of paper and gently placed it in his wallet. Needless to say we are still getting used to the way it works down here and although at times frustrating, all it takes is some good Caribbean food, a pina colada and dancing to a local calypso band to remind us why we’re here. We are still trying to figure out how to eat all the various fruits on our property and the best marketing scheme to get people to come, but that, after all, is the fun of it.

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