Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Our house guests went rafting all day yesterday with Rainforest World rafting http://www.rforestw.com/welcome2.cfm in Turrialba. If you are coming for a vacation and want to book your adventure you can email them at rforestw@racsa.co.cr to make reservations. My adult son went on this same trip down the Pacuare and had a wonderful time. Our area is known for our fast rivers, kayaking and river rafting. If you are coming for a vacation you should book a river trip. They also have a nature canoe trip down much more gentle waters with beautiful birds, animals and scenery.

We saw this beautiful iridescent bird in our front yard. It is a Blue-crowned Motmot. My naturalist friend Henry says they are common in most parts of the country except Guanacaste and the southern lowlands of the Caribbean. They nest in holes that they make horizontally in embankments or steep hillsides. Their nest can be up to 10 ft deep.

We have many birds here at our home and farm. This one was even more beautiful in person.

This view is looking down on Turrialba and the surrounding little towns such as Santa Rosa and Santa Elena. We have a telescope and look up at the volcano, now we know what we have been looking at and hope to be able to pick out landmarks again.

We went on a day trip to Volcan Turrialba this weekend in our new 1989, 200,000+ miles on it Isuzu Rodeo 4 x 4. What a car, we made it up and back down with no problem as we passed cars, trucks and even a brand new Toyota 4 x 4, diesel, crew cab, boiling over. When I say we passed them, it was in 1st gear and they were not moving. This drive is torture on a vehicle and it's driver. We now have a new appreciation for our Rodeo.

The farm land on the sides on the volcano are lovely with rich soil, potatoes, cabbage, cows and lilies. The road is vertical and a switchback style. At times I thought I may have been in the Smoky Mountains or even New Hampshire. It has been usually dry this dry season and the dust was thick as we climbed. You can walk down to the smoldering crevice but I thought it looked uninviting and like the face of the moon. The little clouds you see are smoke/poisonous gas rising up. There is an outhouse at the top, but you will only want to use it if you are desperate. The weekly newspaper is hanging inside to be used as toilet paper, seat liner or both.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Phil met Jeff and Ryan at a Biodynamic Farming Conference last week at Luna Nueva in La Tigre, Costa Rica. Jeff is a well known biodynamic veggie farmer from Tennessee. He is part of Community Supported Agriculture outside of Nashville, has written a newspaper column for about 15 years and as you can see he has a very long beard.

Ethan took this photo from above a fall looking down the very fast, spiraling water. This is our dry season, it will be interesting to see what these look like in the wet season, or if we will be able to get there during the wet season. Phil is preparing for his dive, the dogs are watching.

I drove up on my Rhino locked in 4 x 4, as far as the trail would allow me to go. Mud bogged me down at one point, and when I went back down I was surfing in the mud trying not to launch the vehicle off of the side of the mountain. The Rhino has been everything I had hoped for, surefooted, fast, fun, dependable, high clearance, and can haul a load. It takes the washboard roads and goat trails very comfortably.

It is hard to believe that all of this exists on our property. Breathtakingly beautiful, but not easy to get to. Our caretaker, Phil, Jeff, Ryan, Ethan, our dog Chikka, and caretaker dog Palooza all went on today's hike. Phil went diving in the pools and everyone swam including the dogs. It was a very cold, refreshing swim, perfect for a warm days hike.

Phil and friends hiked up to waterfalls on our land today that we have not yet been to. The pools at the base of each fall is carved out of solid rock, crystal clear and about 8 foot deep. Our new friend Ethan took these photos. This fall has three flows of water entering the pool.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Here is Phil in another good view of our waterfall. Our land continues up beyond this fall. We look forward to continued exploration

You have seen this view before in other pictures that I have posted, but not from this elevation. This is looking down across our land and towards the Turrialba volcano. The clouds are in the way of a clear picture of the volcano. We have set up the telescope in our living room and we are starting to explore the volcano via the telescope


Just in case you thought I was kidding about how difficult the climb is, here is my dear husband Phil resting on a rock. He looks just a little tired and the going down is even harder than the going up. But he loves every minute, every fall, every delicous drink of spring water blowing up out of the ground.

Phil, our caretaker Marcus, and our neighbor and engineer Gonzalo, went up to the falls on our land and I wanted to share them with you. They are breathtaking. Getting to the falls is not so easy. We are working on building trails to them, but the terrain is a challenge.are them with you. We have 20 waterfalls. This particular body of water will produce enough electricity for 5 houses. We are going to look at hydro electric generators from Columbia where they build state of the art power plants.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Phil and I went to service at the Mission de Tuis today (Sunday) at 4pm. As we drove along the winding road, a man with a wheel barrel was push it loaded with jugs of water. Phil said there goes the water supply for the houses in Barrio Rojas. They have no piped in water so they must carry it in with jugs. I want to explore Barrio Rojas and I would like to photograph what I see. It is a very poor neighborhood. What I can easily see of it, is probably the best of it.

The Voz Que Clama Mission’s service in Tuis de Turrialba http://www.vqcmission.com was held in a roofed open air structure they rent at the school across the street from the home of the Mission. Hector and Daniel are very talented musicians, Hector plays keyboard and sings beautifully, Daniel plays drums. They have even built a screen onto which they project the words to the hymns. I did not expect this level of technical sophistication in Tuis de Turrialba.

Many of the patients attended, several in wheelchairs, one with a colostomy bag. Everyone was enjoying the music, singing and camaraderie. We felt lucky to be in this special place with such special people. I thought about my Cuban born American friend Carmen and how this little church was her kind of place. So much need, with whispered prayers and songs of esperanza (hope). I know that if Carman came here, she would never leave because her life would be changed from that moment forward.

Costa Rica is a country of extremes and today was just another example of those extremes. The parishioners were a mix of many people. Americans attending the Christian Immersion Spanish Academy language school http://www.cisacostarica.com , many Indigenous, and assorted Costa Rican neighbors from Tuis. A visiting pastor with a Southern accent was preaching about church and family in English while a Spanish pastor translated. I wandered and left the sermon while my body remained in my chair. Horses and cows were the backdrop for the service and I am sure they enjoyed the music as they continued to come closer. One cow almost fell off of his vertical pasture. A Costa Rican woman with a child in tow and another on the way cried through the evening. Phil and I could feel her pain and her loneliness, her husband was not with her. The indigenous man to my right was joyous to be in attendance but the tearful Senora was clearly on his mind; she made him uncomfortable. A new born was baptized and that brand new Indigenous baby held its arms up to the Lord. We wondered if others were seeing what we saw. The baby’s mother was very beautiful and as the child was being baptized, I said my prayers for the family and the child.

Today was Daniel’s birthday and at the end of the service they projected photos of Daniel at various events and in funny costumes from this past year. Humor is good for the soul.

There was a large crowd celebrating and towards the end of the evening Phil and I thought that we would just drop off our donations of school supplies and quietly slip on out. So we gave our bags of goodies to several of the students studying at CISA, Christian Immersion Spanish Academy, and Phil started to back out the Isuzu Rodeo in the dark. It was difficult because of the narrow opening through the gates, other vehicles to avoid and the very deep ditches that can be more like a ravine that line most of the roads in Costa Rica. He avoided the concrete columns but our angle was off and down the ravine we went, nearly rolling over. The front tires or at lease one of them was still clinging to dirt. I had my seat belt on so when we hit bottom I would be securely stuck in my seat with Phil on top of me. He had not belted up but I was not about to point that out to him as he was exclaiming, Oh shit! Yes the Rodeo is 4 x 4, but you must get out to lock the rims in and we were teetering on the abyss, getting out was not possible for the slightest wobble would be the last. I am not sure if the 4 wheel component works when you are in a ravine lying on the passenger door. I could not picture how we would resolve our predicament when a small number of men, picked up our car with us in it and put us back on the road. How did they do that I asked, they had the Power of God, Phil replied. We did not speak another word of what happened all of the way home. So much for exiting quietly unnoticed.

I did comment on how the drive looks totally different in the dark. The depth of darkness was dense and the biggest difference was the swollen number of people on the road all wearing dark colored clothing with no reflectors or lights. Human obstacles on the course without a care in the world; a bit farther down the road a free range cow had found fodder more tasty than his own. The grace of Senior Jesus was with everyone this evening.

Friday, February 02, 2007

I met with two young men yesterday who are doing wonderful work with the indigenous. They are nondenominational Christians who run a mission http://www.vqcmission.com and have taken in the indigenous handicapped from one particular village. They also make regular visits to the children of this village to help educate them and assess their needs. The handicapped indigenous are cast out and left to die because they have an evil spirit. My friend's facility is very clean, the patients happy and well fed. Phil and I could not do what these young men (29 and 30) are doing. One patient is bed ridden with Cerebral Palsy, all have some mental condition or are schizophrenic.

The following are their needs that I know of now and I have asked for an additional list:

Art supplies, crayons, pencils, craft scissors, sweat shirts of any color (it is cold in the mountains). If you can think it they need it. They need craft paper, it weighs a lot and therefore is hard to carry in, but if you can do it, great. They always need clothes and blankets. This tribe is the most forgotten of all of the different tribes in Costa Rica and their language is the hardest to learn. Hector and Daniel have spent two years making friends in the village, it is not easy for outsiders to be accepted. If you could help them it would be very appreciated.

I believe that my indigenous are from the same tribe. From my land it is almost an 8 hour walk up mountain, if your fit enough to make it. I am not. From their starting point it is about a 5 hour walk so we are talking about the same tribe, but not the same village. There are many villages up there.

A number of us are working together and resource sharing. Networking with each other is the best way to share ideas and supplies. I have pencils here that I can give them now and still take care of my two schools and supply our indigenous through the teachers that visit their village.

I had been focusing on navy blue sweatshirts for our local schools, but the rules are different for them, any color will do, because they do not go to the local schools. They are only visited by teachers. At night everyone sleeps together on the floor of a roofed open structure. It has been cold here at night, just a few nights ago I had a sweatshirt on, socks, a heavy blanket, a light polar fleece throw and I was still cold. But I was in a nice soft bed not sleeping on the ground with no sleeping bag.

If you can help, or know others who would, we would gratefully appreciate it.

They started out four almost 5 years ago as a church and no one would come. Why? Because they were a church, the local folks said we already have a church, we don't need a church. So they started calling their place a Mission. Oh!, the people said. A Mission, we don't have a Mission, we need a Mission, a Mission helps people, we will come. And so their Church turned into a Mission and does the same thing. They worship and meet the needs of the people. It is also a small nursing home as they house indigenous handicapped, very very clean, no smell at all, you would be very impressed. These two fellows are doing excellent work. They have about 150 who come to service every Sunday evening. It is always in the evening (4pm) here because the cows must be milked and chores done first.

They are non-denominational because like me they do not believe that you need to be Baptist or Methodist, just love the Lord. This is also a Catholic country and although many do not understand how you could not be Catholic, being something really got in the way. So we are all just Christians and they are a Mission. If you know of anyone who would like to visit the "Mission" please let me know. They also have a Spanish language school http://www.cisacostarica.com teaching Spanish to people like you and me. This helps them to fund their existence and pay for the needs of everyone. Really great fellows. Visitors come and volunteer there time at the Mission, learn Spanish, and learn something even more special about what is in their hearts.

I asked Mauricio if I may take his photo, and he kindly gave permission. He is holding the remains of his right leg while sitting in my garage.
So many people here need just a little help. They are not asking for much. Mauricio just wanted some help to attach his foot to his leg. A little thing, but we were unable to attach it.
Can you help? There are companies that make devices that could help this boy. Who are they? Would contact them and send my blog to them? Perhaps they have a leg this young man could use.

Phil’s surgery today was not a success. Mauricio left with his leg and foot in his hands.

I believe in 6 degrees of separation, that all of us know someone, who knows someone who can help. That is why I write this blog. Without your help, I am just one woman telling a story. Sometimes it is a nice, warm, fuzzy story and sometimes it is not. This is a country of extremes and everyday I am more enlightened than the day before. We do what we can on this end; sometimes we can solve immediate problems with ingenuity and tools. I depend on you for outside resources to help these folks because there are so few resources here nor are they accessible to rural people.

Mauricio does not have electricity, they have a little hydro electric generator that his father built, but it is the dry season and there is no water to run it. When it is the rainy season, they only have power part of the time because there is too much water and the equipment washes down stream. They are always repairing the system.

I remember the first time I met Mauricio he was trying to repair the generator using a candle to heat an electric soldering gun. I said to Phil, this is going to end badly. It simply made a mess and ended up in the repair shop for a week with the shop owner cursing the damage. They try, with little knowledge and even less skills, they try.

The son of our caretaker, Mauricio lost his leg in an accident. This morning he came to the house because his foot fell off the prosthetic device (a wooden leg). Phil is performing surgery on it trying to back out the broken pin and then reattach the foot.
This was an opportunity for me to get a better look at the device which I have wanted to do but did not want to ask for a closer look. Now that I have seen what he has, I am sure that he could do better. I think this is an old, outdated, used leg as Mauricio has had it only a short time and it is falling apart. I am sure he is thankful for a device, but this is just two steps up from a peg leg. It does let him get around, but under mountainous jungle conditions, he is not, in my opinion, fully functional.
If you know of anyone who can help Mauricio with a more efficient leg that would better serve him, please ask them to contact me at ginnee@gmail.com