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!

Costa Rica- The World’s Happiest People

January 8th, 2010

According to this article Costa Rica is home to the world’s happiest people.  We were not entirely surprised to read that.  Throughout our travels in Central and South America and within US cities one thing is always apparent- lots of Latin Americans want to move to North America to work.  So, when we arrived to Puerto Viejo we noticed immediately that people are not interested in what’s happening north of the border.  The gardners and cleaning ladies don’t care how much you earn working where we come from.  They don’t even know who George Bush is.  Come to think of it, we have never met a Tico when working in American kitchens.  But then again the author of that article clearly just got back from a tropical vacation and is enjoying a heavy dose of jungle fever.

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.”

Playa Chiquita’s clutch man

October 29th, 2008

On Monday we published the Pedro blog. Now it is Wednesday and two comments that were made are even more relevant:

“If Pedro tells you you’re getting a shipment of wood in September only he knows when you’ll actually get it.”

Yesterday Pedro brought the wood that we’ve been waiting for since June. Actually, he brought half of it, but it seems the other half should arrive soon.

“If you decide not to listen to Pedro as much because you can’t be sure what he really knows you will find that Pedro is usually right and you should just listen to him.”

Pedro told us in April that the new sign post we put on the road hangs out too far, that someone with a truck will surely smash into it while trying to avoid one of the monster pot holes. We didn’t listen to him, but we should have. Yesterday someone, surely with a big truck, smashed into our sign post breaking it and the sign in two. Luckily Pedro was here and the damage was repairable. The sign post is back up, this time not so far into the road. It has a crack in it and a rope anchoring it so it’s more Tico-style than it was, but it’s up. Today we will hopefully get the sign back together as well.

Also, please note a comment on Monday’s blog by a faithful blog viewer: “If Pedro and Chuck Norris meet on a hot summer day,THAT will definitely be the battle of the century :P

Right you are, Enieda. Right you are.

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