Happy Anniversary to ME!

Three years ago TODAY, I signed final papers and took possession of my property in Nosara, CR. Been a long, strange, fun, educational, adventurous, trying, interesting, expensive, eye opening, exciting experience. Have met some wonderful people from all over the World and have been screwed by others, from all over the World. I’ve learned a new language (or at least part of and still trying), new culture, weather patterns and issues. Have learned to deal with power outages, sometimes lasting 5 minutes, sometimes for days. Sometimes once a day, sometimes Every 20 minutes for a whole day. I’ve learned to deal with no water for an hour or for 4 days. (Love my pool on these occasions) I’ve learned to live without a garbage disposal and dishwasher… (you try it, not so easy my friends) I’ve leaned more about wildlife and their different poops than I care to imagine. I see Monkeys in my backyard almost daily and don’t think twice about it.. But still act like a kid at Christmas when I see them. I see a 7 year old boy riding bareback on a horse, with 5 tethered horses following him to his next horseback riding tour, no parents or adults around and don’t think twice about it. Herds of cows are my traffic jam. Is it hard sometimes? Hell to the Yeah! Do I miss my family and friends that know me, my hand gestures, my accent and my personality……..OH YES. Do I regret it? Not for one minute. Anyone who knows the path that brought me here knows that being here full time was NOT the plan. Working every day, in a business that I’ve never done before (resort-vacation rental) in a country that I did not know the language, (Cerveza and Bano do not count), knows how very hard it has been, especially doing it on my own…. but the things I’ve learned and people I have met, (even all of the DR’s who took care of me with all of the many accidents I’ve had) (too many to count now) have changed my life forever. Some for the good, some, not so much. Only 3 years, but in jungle, mountainlife time, feels like 30. So Thank you to everyone, near and far who have always supported me, helped me, randomly checked on me with a simple fb message “thinking of you and miss you”, sent me funny stuff on fb to cheer me up, let me rant on for hours when I had no one around but the cats, came here or sent people here to keep me in business, xoxo. THANK YOU all from the bottom of my heart. Who knows what the next 3 years will bring, hopefully not as many accidents and more fun people from all over the World that I get to learn from and become friends with. And if a nice, single, hard working, resort/Restaurant loving, funny, self made (no more sugah Momma for me Thank you) guy happens to be part of the next 3 years…. WAHOOOOOO! SLAINTE’, PURA VIDA AND CONGRATULATIONS TO ME ON MY 3RD YEAR HERE. Buenas Tarde everyone!!! Pictures are of the first day I took possession, then “after pics”

Exploration.. Malpais and Santa Teresa

So I have been here in Nosara since October 5 of 2017 and the only time I have left has been day trips to Samara or San Juanillo and my border runs to Nicaragua every 90 days, for an hour.  2018 was a rough year with my hand and skull accidents, floods, rainstorms, etc.  2019 has brought not one but 2 fires.  The 2nd, mixed with the crazy strong winds,  had the entire mountain in flames.  It was an extremely, and sometimes very scary, 5 days and sleepless nights.   Were it not for the wonderful volunteer Bombero’s (firemen and women) and countless community members, my house and business would have gone up in flames and I would have lost everything. 

I was forced to close the restaurant and block off the cabinas from the rental sights due to the property being surrounded by burning embers and so much smoke.  March and April are usually very busy months for me and to have it so quiet here was surreal. 

So while having dinner with friends at a neighbor’s house one night, they mentioned they were going to Malpais and Santa Teresa the following weekend for 3 days.  I have wanted to explore more areas since I arrived almost 2.5 years ago.  Malpais and Santa Teresa were one of the areas I wanted to explore.  I heard it was smaller and not as congested with tourists as Nosara is.  Also, Tom Brady, the quarterback for the New England Patriots, has a home there and is often spotted chilling out in town. 

I immediately invite myself, of course asking if it is a romantic getaway first.   The plan is to leave early Friday morning and head back after breakfast on Sunday, stopping along the way at any beach or town we haven’t been to yet. 

We leave at 10:45am, setting the GPS for Cobano, the closest large town to Malpais.  We head towards Nicoya, dropping a friend off at his mechanic to pick up his truck.  Head on down Route 160, following the GPS.  If you’ve ever driven the roads here in Costa Rica, you know there are no road signs and usually no signs telling you what town you are in.  Our GPS tells us to take a right.  As we head up the mountain, dirt roads, tiny clusters of Tico houses, we start to think maybe we are going the “fast” way over the mountains. Problem is, the “fast” way over the mountain is only fast if the roads are paved.  After traveling for some time, we decide to turn around and head back. 

We stop at a cute little town called Nayundar (sp)? for a bite to eat.  Very clean and quiet town at the bottom of the mountain.  Quick lunch and on our way. 

We drive on nice, new pavement for quite a while.  Several farms and fields with cows and horses grazing.  Small villages, all with soccer fields, churches, schools, soda’s and restaurants.  After some time the road turns to dirt and the trek up the mountain towards Malpais begins.  We are used to road construction in Nosara, as it’s been ongoing for a few years.  This however, is a major construction project.  Widening the road, making new on and off ramps, drainage ditches etc.  Road winding up, down, around for miles and miles.  Beautiful scenery of the bay down below and more farms, beaches and beautiful trees.  We stop for gas in Paquera, another bustling little town, almost as big as Nicoya.  The ferry stops here so there are quite a few tourists coming through here.  Continuing on, we see many farms, houses, lots with some type of fruit trees with all the fruit covered in individual white bags.  Still not sure what was under those white bags, but it’s on my “list” of things to google. 

We pass the Barcelo’ Tambor Hotel and Casino, right on the ocean, agreeing we need to check that place out next time.  Looks beautiful, large and right next to an airstrip.  The ride through the mountain was long and bumpy, but getting through and passing all of the quaint towns and farms made it worth it.

We pull in to Malpais around 5pm.  The center is quite busy, with shops, restaurants and people.  Our hotel, the Indigo Yoga Resort, was only 2km from the center of town and only a block from the ocean.   My friends had stayed here 6 years ago when it was just starting out and wanted to see the changes.  The landscaping and greenery had only been just planted when they were here last and now it was like staying in the middle of the jungle.  Rooms, pool, restaurant and Yoga Rancho were all surrounded by lush, beautiful mango and other trees and flowering bushes.  Pathways leading from the back patios of the rooms to the common areas were lined with beautiful plants.  When we pulled in, the monkeys were directly above our heads, howling away. 

We were greeted by a friendly security guard and checked in by an equally nice young lady.  The rooms were very nice, walking in to a small, separate kitchen. Going through the room has 1 Queen Bed and 2 twin beds. All walls, floors and countertops are a dark grey concrete, the norm here in CR now.  The bathroom was quite large with an outdoor shower leading to the back patio.  The back patio was also a nice size with a hammock, coffee table and 2 Adirondack chairs.  Quite a lot of space.  So quiet, but for the howling monkeys.  Sunset is quickly approaching.

We grab our cocktails and head on down the road to the beach for sunset.  Pass a few Tico houses, kids and dogs playing in the yards.  At the end is a bar/restaurant, looks to be a late night hangout as we were the only ones there.  Beach is beautiful, no one on it.  Rocks, tide pools, cove of clear blue water.  It was cloudy so the sunset was not that spectacular but just being away from real life was enough. 

We headed out to dinner, not sure what we were all in the mood for.  Driving down the main road we saw Pizza, Italian, Israeli, Sushi, Argentinean, Tico, Seafood, Bakeries, and Sports Pubs.  We drove to the end of the road about 2 miles, and decided on the Open Fire Grill of the Argentinian place, Las Piedras.  Beef, Chicken Empanadas, Fresh Baked Bread and chimichurri sauce for dipping.  Chicken/Rib combo plates with baked potatoes.  Food was delicious, service was great and seeing them cook in front of us in the huge fire pit is always a plus.  Can you say stuffed? 

Just when you thought we were done for the night we see the Bakery again.  I’m not full..  not when there are fresh baked pastries so close by.  The dessert case was full of creamy chocolatey delights and clearly made it impossible to make a decision.  When in doubt, order one of each.  So yes, we order 5 desserts and are told to have a seat.  A man was playing a piano (electric) and the place was getting busy.  When we ask for coffee the server asks if we want decaff or regular.   Jump back!  Say what???   Decaff coffee?  Say it ain’t so!  Decaff coffee is unheard of in Costa Rica and as someone who only drinks decaff, it was like Christmas morning!  So yes, yes indeed, I want decaff por favor..   Great atmosphere, service and delicious decaff coffee.  The desserts were to die for, each one even more creamy and delicious than the one before.  Of course we all had our own opinion on the favorite but in all honesty, they were all to die for.  Of course I also ordered 2 new ones to go, “for breakfast” the next morning.  NOW we are stuffed.  It’s 9pm and we are still awake?  Not for long. 

At 4:20am I was woken by the sweet, sweet sound of rain on my roof.  Our dry season is from December through April and at my house in the mountain, I’ve only had one decent rainstorm in the last few weeks.   When you don’t hear it for that many months it is a very welcome sound.  I was also woken by the same monkeys that put me to sleep the night before.  Although I have them at my house, they are further away, and my bedroom ceiling is concrete.  When they are directly above your room and the ceiling is metal, ooooh boy is it loud.  Loud is good when you are in the jungle though.  It makes you feel alive and want to get out of bed and explore.  I jumped up, grabbed my phone to take pics and videos, grabbed a cup of tea and sat on the back patio just listening to the rain as daylight arrived.  It was so peaceful with the rain, the birds, monkeys, chickens, roosters all waking up.  Hummingbirds were all over the flowers right next to my patio.  They are so fascinating to me.  The resort also has a little 7 month old puppy, Indio, who had come in my room the night before and snagged a K-Rae’s Koozie and ran.  I thought maybe he was returning it.  LOL  He hung out with me for quite a while this morning and was so excited when Pam and Lou came over to join me with coffee.  The resort offers free breakfast so we walked over at 7am in our PJ’s and opted for the typical Tico meal.  Coffee, Eggs, Gallo Pinto, Toast, fresh fruit and fresh fruit juices or smoothie.  Food was great and quick and our server/chef was wonderful.  Time is a tickin though and the beach is calling us.

We drive back up the main road looking for a nice sandy spot to hang out on.  We decide on the Banana Beach Club.  Huge place that looks like it’s probably very busy after sunset or possibly on Sundays.  We grabbed out cushioned loungers right on the beach and waited for a server to come.  Great thing about this place, they didn’t bother us or make us feel like we were only welcome if we ordered right away.  As we chilled out people started trickling in.  the current was so strong though, no swimming today.  Finally ordered a blueberry mojito which was delicious, and a few beers.  So nice to just sit and relax, being waited on for a change.  Ordered Tempura shrimp to hold us over and they were perfectly battered and cooked.  Hung out a bit longer then headed home to hang in the pool and get ready for dinner. 

Six years ago they had also stayed at another place up on the hill, Vista de Ollas, so we went there for a pre-dinner drink and sunset.  The place is beautiful with an infinity pool and hot tub overlooking the ocean.  There were about 30 people there; a few in their 40’s but most were early 20’s.  Lots of muscles and thong bathing suits.  Music on the stereo was techno?  Or whatever they call it when every song sounds the same and no vocals, or as Lou would say, “Harmony”.  There are few types of music I cannot handle and that, unfortunately, is the number 2 type for me.  We all laughed at how old we all felt.  Watched the sunset, finished our drinks and headed out for dinner.  Oh no, another big decision to make..   dinner. 

We decided on Italian.  Pam and I were in the mood for a nice pasta dish.  We get to Amici, on the main road.  As soon as we see the menu and the Antipasto platter with meats and cheeses and fresh baked breads, the Pasta dish idea went out the window.  Then the piece de resistance..  Beef Carpaccio.  Anyone who knows me knows I LOVE Beef Carpaccio and it’s very hard to find, especially here in Costa Rica.  I was so excited.  Bottle of Sangiovese wine, Antipasto Platter and Beef Carpaccio.  Perfect.  But wait, more of that techno music playing.  Really?  What am I missing?  No worries, Lou asks the server if they wouldn’t mind putting on something “with harmony”?  “Absolutely” she says.  Nice music, delicious food, great service, wonderful company.    Another great dining experience.  Can you say stuffed?    Oh no, will we have room for dessert? 

We decide we are too full for dessert but we can stop and pick up a few chocolate croissants for tomorrow breakfast.  Again, if you’ve known me for more than 5 minutes you’ll know how that turned out.  We ordered the lava cake with ice cream and the chocolate mousse pie and a chocolate éclair and coffees, decaff.  So creamy and delicious.  Our thoughts of “bar hopping” were quickly changed to..  I need to be horizontal, now. 

Monkeys weren’t as loud this morning and I actually slept until 5:30am.  I know, late, right?  Make my tea and sit on the patio to listen and watch.  My house is peaceful like this but it is so much more relaxing when on vacation.  Breakfast at 7am, on the road by 9.  First stop, yup, The Bakery.  Needed to stock up on chocolate croissants and other chocolate delights to enjoy at home. 

Stopped off to check out the beach at Tambor.  Reminds me of Samara and Garza.  Long beach in a cove, low tide so the water was very far out and clear blue.  As most of the beaches are in CR, this one had 3 people on it.  Someone parasailing, probably at the resort down the road.  So peaceful and clean. 

Made it home at 2:30pm after smooth sailing the whole way home.  I need a nap. 

Another successful quick trip exploring another area of Costa Rica I’ve heard so much about but have never been to.  So glad I went and with such great company in Pam and Luis Martinez.  Thanks again for letting me tag along!     xoxo

If I Don’t Laugh, I’ll Cry :-)

St. Patrick’s Day 2019 – One to REMEMBER…

This is a VERY long story but it is my story of what I went through during the fires last weekend.  So many have asked and during the thick of things it was hard to keep everyone updated.  So here is MY story.  I was trying to run the restaurant but more importantly wanted to do everything I could to help.  As a result and due to my proximity on the mountain and being in between our Finca and Costa Rica Yoga Spa (CRYS), it was a good location for a meeting point and donations.  I had people here constantly from Friday through Monday afternoon so MY experience may be different than that of other neighbors on the hill.  I write this because we were all at risk and we all had different experiences, this is mine.

I’ve been through major floods, in two countries, hurricanes, tornadoes, major snowstorms and ice storms.  I had a small fire on the side of my property two months ago and that scared me a bit.  You start thinking of the “what if’s”.   So on Thursday March 14, when word spread that a fire had started at the top of “our Mountain”,  Finca Dona Cielo, I was on 24 hour “watch”.  Winds were blowing so hard it sounded like a freight train blowing through. 

Calls for volunteers to help the Bomberos (Firemen) went out as the fires were spreading fast and furious. Fire had also spread to our neighbors, Costa Rica Yoga Spa.    We were all waiting, watching it all unfold on Facebook and hoping the winds would die down.  It was a sleepless night for many. 

When I woke up Friday morning I learned that the Bomberos had worked straight through the night and were still trying to control so many fires at both locations.  They were exhausted, hungry and thirsty.  I am no help physically anymore with all these dang injuries I’ve had lately but I can make a mean burrito and other quick and easy items to eat “on the go”.  I threw together Chicken burritos, grabbed every large bottled water I had (I keep 8 large bottles in my house and each Cabina has 2 large bottles of water in case of emergencies) and headed up towards the top of the mountain.  I found the fire truck in front of my neighbor’s house, ¾ of the way up.  All of the firefighters were down in the thick of things so I dropped off the waters and proceeded down the mountain.  I saw a volunteer Bombero, Brennan, coming out of the woods, handed off the burritos and headed home.  On my way down I saw that fire had burned quite a bit of the mountainside, along the road.  My neighbor Tim was keeping watch over his house with sprinklers on and hoses on the fires across the road from his house.  Raking and drenching with hoses.  It looked to me as though they were keeping it all under control.

We started a neighbor Facebook message group to keep each other informed of what was happening in our different areas of the mountain.  Little did we know how much we would use this messaging in the next 4 days.  The Bomberos have a Facebook page as well, keeping people updated and asking for help when needed.  At approximately 5pm one neighbor sent a message that she heard a loud explosion and was worried it may be a neighbor’s home.  Since I am the 3rd to last house at bottom of the mountain, I knew I was safe from the fires, so I decided to drive up and take a look, just for peace of mind.  I had NO idea what I was driving into.

As I made my way up the mountain, the entire road, on both sides, were on fire, some flames almost 8’ high.  Thick smoke and sparks were blowing across the road.  The wind was blowing so hard, it was blowing fire across the road.  I kept driving towards the first neighbor’s house.  As soon as I arrived I noticed an old abandoned tractor (one of MANY), tires exploded and on fire.  This is the explosion my neighbor must have heard.  It was just outside the gate to a house, fire on both sides of the road, thick black smoke blowing all around  A downed tree on fire across their driveway but otherwise, no other fires on their property, yet.  The smoke was so bad; I could no longer see 2 feet in front of me and could not breathe.  I decided it was best to turn around and head home.  I did not want to get stuck there.  Flames engulfing my truck and smoke inhalation were my top concerns.  All I could think of was “The Bomberos are busy enough, I do NOT want them to have to come rescue my dumb arsse.  J  I almost couldn’t turn around.  Smoke getting thicker, heat from the fires, visibility was a 2.  I was a tad nervous, for sure.  I headed down the mountain and for a mile, fire on both sides, smoke so thick I couldn’t see and almost drove off the side of the mountain twice.  Pretty scary. 

Just the beginning
Our road on fire
Friday up the hill

When I arrived home I checked Facebook for updates.  The wind was so bad it was almost impossible to control the fires.  More calls for help for the Bomberos.  They were essentially going from our mountain to CRYS trying to save houses and businesses. 

I was told several times, I’m too far down, and it will never reach me.  The fires were the worst halfway up our mountain, at the top by the Zip line and at Costa Rica Yoga Spa. 

Saturday the winds were still howling and fires kept popping up. The Bomberos would get one put out and others would start.  CRYS was in danger of losing homes and property.  My neighbor Lena and I prepared more burritos and my place had now become a drop off point and gathering spot for donations, volunteers, info.  My other neighbor Liza’s house had a fire above her, coming close to her house.  Lena and I drove around, handing out burritos, fruit and waters.  The core group of Bomberos was still fighting the fires, with little or no sleep in almost 3 days.  Food and beverage donations were pouring in.  People were coming to K-Rae’s asking how they could help.  It was heartwarming to see the community pull together.

Our wonderful Bomberos and volunteers
Above Liza and Jairo’s house.

It seemed as though the fires were contained later in the evening on Saturday.  People sighed with relief for a moment.  Some Bomberos were able to get a few hours of sleep. 

Sunday was St. Patrick’s Day.  I hadn’t planned anything special (Thankfully).  Just a normal day of Fun, food and Irish music.  All seemed quiet on the mountain.  Customers started showing up for Corned Beef Reuben’s, Irish Car Bombs and typical Irish fun.  A group of Canopy workers (love those guys) showed up with machetes etc to cut lines on my upper property deeper in the woods to prevent the fire from spreading to my place.  “Precautionary measures”.  Irish music playing on the Speakers.  Everyone (about 25 people) enjoying the pool, cold beers and friendship.  Not surprisingly the majority of my customers were from MA that day, coming to K-Rae’s to celebrate with me. 

Calm before the storm… Happy St. Patrick’s Day??

All of a sudden, around 2pm, a few of my customers noticed flames up above and behind the Pub.  The area that they were “cutting in” was on fire and flames were moving fast towards the Pub.  Another customer noticed fire down below on the side of the mountain next to the outdoor kitchen and beer garden.  They grabbed hoses and got to work trying to put it out. Luckily 3 of them were firefighters in MA.  Fire was put out and everyone went back to enjoying the day.  Shortly after, flames were seen again.  The winds were still howling and continued to feed the fires.  Every time we thought the fire was contained the wind would blow and spark it up again.  This time, the Bomberos were called and asked to get here as soon as possible. 

Not long after, the Fire truck and several volunteer vehicles showed up.  There had to be 30 people here, some who had never fought a fire but wanted to help in any way they could.  They immediately got to assessing the situation and figuring out where to tackle first.  Fire was coming from all around the property.  There are no fire hydrants here, only 2 fire trucks with water on them and small hoses.  I have several water faucets throughout the property with hoses at each one.  However, the fire was deep enough into the “jungle” that the hoses do not reach.  Everyone started grabbing buckets and using pool water to try to contain the fire.  Several volunteers and Bomberos headed deeper in to cut in lines with chainsaws, rakes and shovels.  I had customers who wanted to help as well, however since it was St. Patrick’s Day we had been in a celebrating mood and many of the customers, although wanting to help, had had a few beers and it was safer for them to stay away from the fires.  I was made to feel as though the fires would never reach my buildings so I did what I always do, take care of the customers, take care of the volunteers and Bomberos, do whatever is needed to keep people from panicking and believe that all will be OK.  I was cooking food, gathering buckets or guiding the Bomberos to faucets, equipment, food, and water, whatever they needed. 

About an hour after the initial call for help went out it seemed as though the fires were under control.  The Volunteers and Bomberos were continuing to douse the fires with water and had kept it from creeping up to the buildings.  Then all of a sudden we started to see large pieces of ash flying our way, into the beer garden.  Smoke started to get thicker and it looked as if it was getting worse.  The customers did not want to leave as they were concerned for me, my business, the volunteers and Bomberos.  We agreed to move them to my front porch where it would be safer and away from the smoke and flying ash.  Not five minutes later, as we were gathering their things to move, I heard “Run, everyone out! Run, the wind has shifted and the fire is coming fast”!  I was in the outdoor kitchen trying to get everything out of the way and I turn towards the jungle and I see flames, 5 feet away, blowing right towards me.  My first thought was “Oh shit, How did this happen so fast?”   Then “Oh no, there are so many people on that side that need to get out”.  Then “OH SHIT, there is a large propane tank 2 feet away from those flames and 3 smaller ones at my feet”.  I could only picture the fire hitting that propane tank and it exploding, hitting anyone in its path.  I start yelling for someone to grab the propane tank, sounding like a crazy lady.  I just kept yelling, “grab the propane tank”.  I heard yelling all around me to get out, get out.  I grabbed 2 of the propane tanks near me and someone ran in to grab the other one.  I started running towards my house and all I could hear was “Kerri get the hell out of here, come with us, get out, get out, GET OUT! ”.  I saw my friend crying and yelling to me to PLEASE leave with them and she was NOT going to leave me there”.  I was trying not to panic, was thinking of all the people there to help me in harms way and hearing everyone yelling at me to evacuate NOW. 

I had packed my truck that day with clothes, valuables, cash I had, a few sentimental items, my passport etc.  I pulled out all 4 cat carriers, had them open and ready to load up the cats in case of evacuation.  I was told numerous times in the previous 4 days that I was overreacting by taking precautions in case the fire reached me.  I didn’t care.  After driving up the hill on Friday and seeing how fast it moved and how quickly I had inhaled smoke while in the truck, I packed anyway.  I would rather be prepared and have to unpack if it wasn’t necessary to leave, than be caught off guard.  I’ve seen too many instances where people say, “the wind shifted and it came out of no where”.  So as I was being yelled at to leave, then yelled to asking where more tools, buckets, water lines, hoses may be and showing those things to people, then a few customers asking if they could pay their tabs (yes, they were, God bless ‘em), I was looking for my cats to load up and my keys to my truck.  Obviously the cats had hidden with all of the commotion and my keys were not in their normal spot.  I was trying not to panic but in the same time, I still had people yelling at me to get out.  My favorite “chica” Bombero, Adri, was so sweet, yelling but in a kid way, “Kerri Love we really need you to leave”…  I knew she was only trying to help but so many other were yelling at me, I finally freaked and yelled “I’m looking for my f’ing  truck keys, shut the F Up.  Yup, I had my 5 minutes of panic that I swore I wouldn’t do.  I bent over, cried for about 2 minutes, hyperventilating and freaked about the cats and my property, my livelihood, my home and I lost it.  I think it lasted 3 minutes.  “I don’t got time for dis shit” went through my mind.  The Bomberos had managed to get all of the customers and anyone else not vital to being there off the property.  The yelling at me stopped and they managed to get the flames to go down and a bit of calm came over everyone.  Somewhere in the chaos of running around, I stopped long enough to notice my fellow Spanish class student and friend, Scott, and another guy volunteering to help the Bombero’s, was carrying the large propane tank from the outdoor kitchen to my house, away from the flames.  I’m pretty sure I had the look of full relief and Thanking him at the same time.  I believe that is when I may have calmed down a bit.  He looked at me and said, “You sure know how to throw a St. Patrick’s Day party”.  We laughed, and took a minute to look around.  People started grabbing hoses and buckets again and it was much quieter. 

I NEED a beer!  I went into the bar to grab a beer (I’m Irish, it’s what we do, don’t judge J )…   Although the doors and windows were open, it was FULL of thick black smoke and flying ashes.  The smoke was so thick I could barely find my way from the door to the cooler only 5 feet away.  I am a trooper though and managed to get through.  Grabbed a beer and went back to fresher air.  As I looked around at all of the people looking so tired and covered in smoke, I figured, why not?  Maybe someone else needs a beer too.  Many of the people helping had NEVER been this close to a fire before and you could see the stress, relief, exhaustion in their faces.  So I did what I do best……  “Anyone else need a beer? “  The smoke had cleared from the bar, enough to where I didn’t feel like a dumbarsse for going in there.  A few of the VOLUNTEERS accepted and we all sat out front reliving the past 30 minutes.  It may seem odd to some people but where I grew up and how I grew up, this is how we come together.  It was nice to stop for a few minutes, toast with a beer, and just reflect on how lucky we all are and were to be safe and to have so many people there risking their lives to help us all. 

Not long after a call came in from CRYS asking for help.  My place was still smoldering and a few smaller fires still burning but it seemed we were in the clear here, for now.  Most of the Bomberos and volunteers rushed to CRYS and a few stayed here to keep an eye on things.  In the meantime, I am getting messages from my neighbors saying fires were getting worse at their houses.  So many fires and so little help with regards to equipment and resources.  My neighbor Lena was standing guard with hoses keeping fires from reaching her house.  My neighbor Jairo had people helping him try to prevent a fire above their house from reaching them and sent guys to help our newest neighbor Emilie to protect her house in progress.  Poor Emilie.  What a way to be welcomed to our Finca.  She’s a tough chick too though and she was right there with hoses and buckets and the guys trying to save her house.  Other neighbors were out of the country and had to keep tabs and hope for the best with their houses.  Luckily they had no major damage.  Lenore and Annabel, the last house on the hill were manning the Facebook messaging and Annabel sent her drone out often to assess the areas.  Keeping us and the folks at CRYS informed as to where the fires were popping up, constantly.  Susan brought sandwiches and waters to the Bomberos and checked on us often.  Martin showed up to scoop me up from harms way when they heard I was being evacuated.  He soon realized that this Irish Scorpio chick from Worcester, Massachusetts wasn’t going anywhere.  Gave me a huge hug, asked if I needed anything.  Stayed for a bit in case they needed help then moved on to the next person who needed help. 

Luckily Peter and Susan/Martin’s houses hadn’t gotten any fire near them, until…  It was probably 8pm when the fires at my house seemed to be in control and smoldering.  As I was sitting with Ryan Bombard, the fire chief, and 3 of the volunteers, at the top of the steps going down from the beer garden (where the view is best), we looked out over the mountains.  Fire going up, almost like a ski trail, on the mountain next to me.  Small fires throughout our mountain still burning but too far to get to without a plane.  I thought, and actually said out loud, if it wasn’t so devastating it would be beautiful.  It was surreal.  We all just sat there for a while looking at it all.  It had been 4 days of non stop firefighting for most of them and was still burning.

  At that moment we noticed a smaller fire to the left of my property had sparked up again.  It jumped and started a newer fire where my fire was a few months ago. We also noticed a huge plume of smoke, further down, wind now blowing towards the road.  Then a call came in on the radio.  Huge fire now across from Peter and Susan/Martins house.  We walk down to Susan’s then Peter’s.  It is across the street but getting bigger and threat of wind pushing it across road is serious.  Go back to my house, a few more guys show up.  ½ go to put out the one at my house and start controlled burns to prevent the fire from crossing the road. The other half go to Peter’s house.  Using buckets, shovels and hoses they put out the fires threatening Peter’s house and looks like Susan and Martin are safe from fire as well. 

Ryan comes back to my house, exhausted.  I ask if he needs anything and he says, “Would you mind if I have a cup of coffee”?   Would I mind?  Inserio?   I make a big pot of coffee, we all sit for a bit talking about the past few days and how unbelievable it is that this small VOLUNTEER fire department with old equipment, with no protective gear for most of the people fighting the fires, and no loss of human life or homes or businesses.  Unfortunately we did have one Bombero rushed to the hospital in Nicoya for smoke inhalation, but he is OK.  It’s just crazy to me that these guys get all of this done, with no hesitation, and NO MONEY. 

I was told I would be ok to stay here, as I didn’t want to leave my pets or my property in case another fire sparked up.  My windows had all been closed so the smoke wasn’t so bad inside that I couldn’t stay.  Lord knows I wouldn’t be sleeping.  It was midnight before I said goodbye to the guys, and they were heading to CRYS for another fire.

As I sat there looking at it all I had so many thoughts going through my mind.  How much worse it could have been.  How lucky we are to have the Bomberos who selflessly put their lives on the line with no hesitation to save our lives and property.  How sad it is that I’m sure many wildlife perished in this senseless set of fires.  How blessed we are to have so, so many regular, every day people pitch in to help whenever a crisis occurs.  There are so many obstacles to living in this country, in this town, that make it hard to want to live here sometimes.  Then you see how a community of people drop everything to help people in need, regardless of income level, nationality, political affiliations and you sit back and say…..all of the obstacles seem so much easier to deal with and I’m happy to be here. 

Monday Morning things were so much better.  Winds were still blowing like crazy, smoke still blowing but it seemed it was all over.  I had a previous appointment to bring my truck in for repairs and have it brought for yearly inspection (Reteve’).  My friend Louis and Pam picked me up and brought me home and offered to help clean up.  Upon arrival, water pipes burned so no water and no power.  No water, no power, no cleaning.  Appreciate the ride and offer to clean though Louis and Pam.  J  xoxo   By mid- afternoon, Ian and Richard, volunteer Bomberos, came and picked up Water jugs and fruits and other donated items.  A Guiones neighbor had dropped of 12 pizzas and a ton of watermelon so they grabbed those for the rest of the crew.  It was all coming to an end and things were starting to go back to normal.  Let the cleanup begin…….  I think an Ice Cold Beer, Some 70’s and 80’s dance tunes CRANKING on the surround sound and a huge snickers bar would do wonders to get that started!  OH wait still no water.  Cold beer, awesome music and snickers will have to do for today..

 Survived another “chapter”. Until the next one… 

PURA VIDA HUGE THANK YOU TO EVERY SINGLE PERSON THAT HELPED US ALL WITH THESE MASSIVE FIRES.  Large or small, every little bit helps. Even just messaging to ask if everyone is ok means a LOT.  So THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!

Great Day to be a Resort Owner in Costa Rica :-)

Today was a GREAT day. Anyone in the Restaurant/Hospitality/Resort biz knows .. one day you love it, next day you hate it, next day you love it.. and so on and so on.. Today I have a mother and her 2 -20ish year old son and daughter from California in one cabina, a couple from England and Sweden and their 2 kids in another, and a couple from Germany checking in tomorrow. My friends Amanda and Zach at High Tide Inn & BBQ sent a couple from Greece and France, staying at their place to see me. They took a tuk tuk. Within a few minutes they met and joined my guests from Sweden/England. They hung out, ate, drank and chatted for hours. My guests in the other cabina came back and joined in. How awesome it was to hear all of the different languages, cultures, beliefs, all getting along and enjoying the almost full moon rising in the background, the music, food and company. The night ended with me trying to arrange transport back for them and when I couldn’t get in touch with anyone, I left all doors wide open, guests hanging out in the bar and beer garden and me driving the couple back to the High Tide Inn, over the river. Went in to say hello and had two beers bought for me, chatted with Amanda, Zach, Liz and Jon. Came back to tables cleared, glasses and dishes washed and all but one guest comfy in their rooms. The one guest on his phone video chatting his girlfriend asking if I needed him to be done so I could “close up”. What? 

🙂 Today was a GREAT day. Buenas Noches and Pura Vida.

Road Trip.. Volume 1 -Nov 19

Every few months my friends Dickie and Sam come to town for a few weeks.  They own a condo here and enjoy exploring new places as much as I do.  Soooo when they said they were coming for 5 weeks this time I couldn’t have more excited.  One Monday, Sam rented a car and we went to Liberia for a day of shopping.  Since I have the restaurant AND I have to do my 90 day border runs, I take advantage of that time to shop around the “big city” of Liberia.  Prices are so much lower and the selection of certain items that you can’t find in Nosara are a big draw.  We did the usual Magic Mundo. lunch at the Borghatzi right behind it.  Zen, to look for lamps, Walmart for “stuff”, Islena for wines and Do it Center for pool supplies.  Of course we arrived at the Do it Center at 6:05 and yes, you guessed it, they close at 6pm.  LOL  We took our time driving back and ended our night with a drink and a meal at Il Peperoni.  Nice girls day.

Thanksgiving Costa Rica Style…

Another year, another Thanksgiving in Costa Rica.  I had originally decided to go the lazy route and head to a restaurant for a traditional turkey, stuffing mashed potato, gravy etc meal.  Then I remembered Thanksgiving pasts and the thought of sitting upright in a chair, strangers watching while I unzip and let loose the full belly I was sure to have, would not be pretty.  I also had spoken with several friends that didn’t have an extra $75-$100 for the meal and drinks.  As I’ve done for so many years in the past at my three other  K-Rae’s in South Carolina, I decided to host an “orphan” type Thanksgiving.  Those of us with no family and the need for the traditional meal, would gather here, in my home.  For at least one day this big property would be my home and not my “resort” and we would have a traditional Thanksgiving meal.  Pot Luck and BYOB.  The list was filling up quick and by the big day we had 22 people and all the fixins.  Zach, a newbie to town, with his girlfriend Amanda, whose Dad has lived here for years, offered to buy the turkey and we would cook it in my turkey fryer up here.  I hadn’t used it since the Last Thanksgiving at K-Rae’s Waterway and of course I waited until the day before to test it.  Yup..  I forgot it takes a US Propane tank which is not allowed on a shipping container  So as usual I own 5 propane tanks, all of which are in SC.  LOL   Not to frett, Super Nosara carries them and one was delivered later that day.  I admit, I was a tad nervous when Zach arrived and announced that he had never fried a Turkey before so he googled it and asked his Dad.  Well for a first time Turkey fry chef, it was DELICIOUS!  Great job and I’ll be asking him to cook every year.  🙂  I set up the meal as a buffet and after a few hours of swimming, drinking, chatting and mingling, we all sat down to a delicious meal, with perfect weather and wonderful company.  Despite the fact that most of the 22 people had never met and despite the different age groups, political affiliations, Nationalities, different cities of origin, everyone had such a nice time getting to know each other.  We even had Holly, also new to the area, giving free massages on her massage table in the beer garden with the view of the mountains.   What a great, relaxing, fun day.  Can’t wait until next year.  🙂

SUNDAY FUNDAY With PaluSanto!

Good Sunday Morning Everyone!  🙂

Every Sunday at 1:30 the Awesome Band PaluSanto takes the stage under the shady, breezy, gorgeous views Beer Garden.  Always a fun, chill day with music, swimming, food, friends.  Head Towards Playa Ostional and follow the signs to K-Rae’s Black Sheep Pub.   You don’t want to miss it!