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-

Puerto Viejo’s Best Kept Secret

November 7th, 2009
Right down the road from Playa Chiquita

Right down the road from Playa Chiquita

September and October  in Playa Chiquita are a blessing. July and August- with their hoards of honeymooners, European family vacations, constantly changing weather, and general busyness- leave us, and the rest of the coast, happy to indulge in glorious September.

A perfect day on Playa Chiquita Beach

A perfect day on Playa Chiquita Beach

The sea grows still, clear as the desert sky. The rain ceases for the most part and when it does decide to dampen us, spills only enough to feed the thirsty plants and make everything more green and cool. The sun quickly breaks through the clouds and the water reflects turquoise again. The delicacies of the tropics enjoy the weather as well and some of the most exotic trees begin to fruit. Unique and delicious mangosteen and mamonchino fill the Saturday market.

September in Puerto Viejo brings us many a mangosteem

September in Puerto Viejo brings us many a mangosteem

The honeymooners are figuring out what it’s like to just be married, the European family vacationers are back to school and we are on the beach admiring the beauty and tranquility of Playa Chiquita. We cannot see another person along the winding stretch of golden sand. Business may be slower but we have time to appreciate where we are and what we are doing. We have time to get things done. We think about our progress and imagine the future. We go out to diner with friends and sometimes even guests. I think I’ll go snorkeling tomorrow.

A Local Costa Rican Artist

November 3rd, 2009
A chain saw, sander and blow torch are all you need

A chain saw, sander and blow torch are all you need

David, a local artist from Hone Creek has helped to make Tierra de Sueños something special.  Each bungalow is adorned with hand carved beds and beautiful mosaics, both of which are done by David.  Whether it’s a bed, table, mirror or post, you think of the animal or design and he’ll carve it.  We were familiar with his work already from the bungalows, but would never have guessed how he actually does it until we saw it with our own eyes.  Without doing any drawings or prep work at all he cranks up his chain saw and goes to town. Once he has all the outlines of the shapes done with the chain saw, he works them down with a sander and shades with a blow torch.  And voilà

Casa Colibri gets a plump iguana

Casa Colibri gets a plump iguana

Casa Colibri translates to humming bird house

Casa Colibri translates to Humming Bird House

the humming bird strikes again

the humming bird strikes again

Mr. Numbers

February 26th, 2009

I picture an accountant as hyper organized, all about details, perhaps with a shirt pocket full of pencils and a calculator in hand. I don’t picture someone who travels with a few folders in a plastic grocery bag, gives props when you see him, calls you “brudda”, listens to your business questions then asks to borrow a pen and scratch paper, writes a few notes, folds the scrap and adds it to the concerns of others in his wallet. The latter is who we, as well as just about everyone we know here, work with. He grew up in Limon, the biggest town on this afro caribbean coast, speaking English at home . This is crucial since you don’t want to have a language barrier between you and the ever confusing accounting principals of Costa Rica. He is an incredibly nice guy and from what we can tell he makes sure that you pay the right taxes at the right time. Other than that he’s more like a friend who stops by looking for a game of chess every now and then, hoping you have some tasty treat in the oven, rather than a trusty accountant.

The first time we talked he returned our call at 9:30pm. That actually seems to be the time that he sets aside to make business calls. He lives in San Jose but travels to Puerto Viejo about once every two weeks to meet with clients. He’ll often call on, say, Monday and leave a message that we should meet him, oh….around…… Tuesday at 9am at a restaurant in Puerto Viejo, which entails a twenty minute jaw crunchingly bumpy drive from Playa Chiquita. He knows that we serve breakfast here everyday making that pretty much the most difficult time to leave. That doesn’t stop him the same way that he’ll drop in unannounced at Jungle Love, the restaurant down the street, at 5:45pm knowing that they open at 5:30pm. All of his clients know the feeling of showing up to give him your receipts ready to tell him that if he doesn’t *&%$^%! call sooner next time you’re going to $%#%. But then he smiles, reaches out for that hand shake/hug, says “hey brudda, wha appenin” and you remember that this is part of what makes the Caribbean the Caribbean and one of the reasons you moved here.

A special moment was when he was helping us open a bank account. In Costa Rica they want letters of recommendation from your neighbors saying that you make a certain amount. They want an accountant to say that you make a certain amount and for you to have papers filled out from several hard to reach national agencies. We had tried various times on our own to get our ducks in a row, but we were always missing something. When we walked in with our numbers man we felt like there was no way we were walking out without an account. This is what he does. He knows all the tricks. He spends his time keeping up with the ins and outs of financial regulation. The interaction with the young female teller went something like this:

They greet each other. The accountant calls her by the wrong name. He’s always calling people by the wrong name. She corrects him. He compensates by commenting on her well put together uniform and then begins to cough uncontrollably. She gives him a home cold remedy. He asks if she’ll be his nurse. They start exchanging all the necessary papers for the new account. She’s naming them and he’s handing them over. It was great until she gets to the last one, a declaration of some sort from the ministry of finance. What? That’s new, they didn’t used to ask for that. He pleads. Just this once. She’s sorry but can’t set it up without it. We stand up, slightly amused and not surprised at all, but then the accountant seems to have a final card up his sleeve. Some pressure he can put on to get what he wants, maybe a little bribe. He leans back over to the window and whispers. “How about you give me your home number. I might forget that cold remedy.”

Charity Drive

February 18th, 2009

Tierra de Suenos just organized our first charity effort. The flooding in November ended up displacing approximately 4,000 people and destroyed one of the largest banana plantations in the country which means loss of many jobs and security for a lot of people. This area is already one of the poorest in the country so damage like this is incredibly difficult to bounce back from. A few months ago we joined a group called AHCR (Adventure Hotels of Costa Rica). The goal of the organization is to work together to create more business for everybody in the group by recommending other AHCR hotels to people traveling to other places in the country. We have received 2 different couples sent by another member hotel so the membership has already paid for itself. This is a fairly new association which is nice because we are all, well the hotels interested, participating in how it’s going to work. Brendan and I signed up for the “charity committee” as each hotel was asked to join one of the 10 committees designed to help organize the members.

The damage done to our Talamancan neighbors deemed a perfect cause so we tried to inspire AHCR members to donate money, food, clothing and other supplies to the area. The awesome local association, ATEC (Talamanca Ecotourism and Conservation Association) was quite helpful in giving us a direct place to send these items. It took some teeth pulling but eventually we managed to raise quite a bit of money as well as food and clothing from the other member hotels. I spoke with Alaine, co-founder of ATEC, the other day and she says that the majority of the money donations send to her by AHCR members is being used to purchase school supplies that were lost in the flood. I can’t imagine better spent money. Although this is just a start of the kind of work we would like to be doing, with and without the AHCR group, it’s a good start and we are excited about all the possibilities for community building and service. I do encourage any of you interested in traveling to CR to check out the AHCR website, www.adventurehotelsofcostarica.com, and look into staying at one of the hotels listed. You get 10% off if you tell them we sent you!

On a side note, much to our disappointment and horror, our laptop was stolen recently which is a major setback for us. It really couldn’t be worse timing since we have entered the busy season and are getting consistent reservation requests via email every day. Not to mention the fact that ALL my photos of our first year down here are gone. Anyway, lesson learned. On the up-side, we are super busy and everybody loves the place. This month will be our best by far.

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