Tuesday, April 10, 2007

We have many different kinds of beautiful birds at our Rainforest. This one has a lime green beak with lipstick red on the end. His beak is so big it is a wonder he can hold his head up.

This past week was Easter, known as Semana Santa (Holy Week) in Costa Rica. There are cultural ceremonies that continue on through the week at the local church. On Saturday evening, my friends and I went to a candle lighting ceremony that included a small fire outside the church.

The Priest or Padre as he is called has 13 churches to serve and is not able to be everywhere at one time. This year, two young women from Cartago held a full Mass on Saturday night including Communion. The church was beautifully decorated by our neighbor Maria and her friends. They picked tropical flowers, made bouquets, and had the church spic and span for the occasion. We have been in a drought and the unpaved road’s dust falls on the pews daily.

I was unprepared for the leadership of such young women in our very macho society. They could not have been much more than 20 years old wearing hip hugger jeans that are the uniform of all young girls here. I wondered if the one in the brown t-shirt with the silk screened cross on the front was a Nun, but she was not. She presided over a full mass with maturity, ease and skill far beyond her years. She delivered a sermon appropriate for the moment with no notes. She gave thanks to Jesus and to her Mother and Father. I am not a Spanish speaker so I missed a lot of the words, but the body language and her presentation was impressive. Her use of the floor, making eye contact with the believers, and her sincerity allowed her the command of her audience. I wanted to stand up in the end and say Bravo young women!!! Magnificent job!!!

Who needs Priests when you have young woman that are so capable and alive with energy, spirit and soul. Okay, so perhaps the Priest can think of a few reasons. I left the Catholic Church because of Priests and other reasons that are probably not appropriate for this moment.

The girls are part of a youth outreach mission from Cartago. What a brilliant idea, and a breath of fresh air for the church, for the parishioners and the community. Bravo young women!!!

Maria always makes everything special and at the end of the service, a special social dinner was served along with freshly prepared Mango juice. Living and participating in a community that is so small has its own blessings. People walk to the church easily as our town is only 1 block long with not many houses. Everyone knows each other and they welcome newcomers with eagerness and friendship. Everyone speaks to you and is accepting as if they have known you forever. It is the best way to meet your neighbors and I think that it means something to them that you took the time to come and participate in their celebration at their church.

So, you’re not Catholic? I think it does not matter much. This is a Catholic country, your neighbors are most likely Catholic, and I appreciate my wonderful neighbors. I also attend the Mission in Tuis (Voz Que Clama Mission), they accept all people and I have not heard them talk about denominations. Two young men, Hector and Daniel, serving their community’s needs above and beyond what most people are capable of. I applaud and support their work. http://www.vqcmission.com/work.html

If you would like to help the poor rural children and indigenous please contact me at ginnee@gmail.com . We always have a need for school supplies, art supplies, good used practical clothing, sweat shirts, pencils, and crayons. We can arrange for a drop off point near the airport or for a pick up. If we do not help, it will not happen for these children as their homes are remote and isolated on their high cold mountainous reservation.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Our caretaker’s new home is coming along. Building a prefab concrete and steel home is a unique learning experience. Last week we picked out the color for the interior and exterior walls. Our choices came from a palate of 5 colors, not a lot of choice. It is my understanding the color will be impregnated in the stucco. I’ll let you know how that turns out, or if I understood correctly.

Then we had almost as many tile choices but only two actual tiles to look at. These are my choices? No, no, we have more, look at the computer monitor, you can choose from these tiles. You’re kidding right? I know the color on the monitor is never the actual color, come on, I know how color works. “Simular”, the architect tells me in Spanish as she displays little 2 inch icons of tile on her screen. Right!

This is all very amusing. She understands English; I know this to be true, because she replies to my questions or statements, in Spanish.

At this point, I just don’t care. The interior and exterior are now a color I would not have chosen, put a solid earth tone color tile in there and make the grout the same color. We are done.

Well not quite, today the architect returns with two more tiles. One that looks like it must be a reject from a bad batch and another with some texture. I wonder if either of them were on the computer monitor, how would I know? Who could tell?

Phil has kept his eye on the project, recognized potential problems and pointed them out, the architect and or contractor said “good thought”, and then they went ahead and did it their way. Now for example, they had to move all of their supplies (concrete panels) so the gravel truck could get in with the foundation fill. Had they taken Phil’s advice, they could have saved a half a day of hard labor.

Well at least the front door is facing the street. It is not uncommon to show up and find your house facing the wrong direction. When pointing this out to the builder you may hear,” I thought it looked better this way.” I personally loved this one, “I thought the pond looked better over here.” Both of these owners went ballistic. The pond was filled in and redug. The other owner is now looking at a different view, nice, but not the one he had in mind.

Building in Costa Rica is a different game. Don’t take your eye off of the ball, don’t even blink. Yes of course they heard you, but no one was listening.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

This adorable curved beak hummingbird thumped against the door of our house yesterday and it took him a few minutes to recoup and regain his composure.

I was preparing to wash a load of laundry this weekend and as I was adding the soap, this hairy fellow came walking up to the top of the dry but dirty laundry. Ethan came and picked him out of danger.

It has been an eventful wildlife week. I walked into the laundry room and found the most beautiful snake. It was either a Coral or King snake. I think it is a Coral snake. I have seen it 4 times now and it was last seen retreating under the washing machine. I came into the kitchen at 1 AM that same night and caught a glimps of movement past the kitchen island and was releaved to see only a giant toad sitting on the floor. Living in the Rainforest is always an adventure.

My friends Julie, Ethan and I went on a quad expedition through previously unexplored territory above and beyond my home. We saw amazing reptiles that were druckening in the jungle. Ethan has a quick eye for spotting wildlife. I was too busy keeping us from plunging down ravines or launching us off a cliff while navigating narrow passages on steep slopes to spot much else. At one point, I actually ran into a tree branch due to the fact that I was so busy trying to inch across a precarious piece of dirt that was a bit narrower than the rhino. I was looking down and a branch above hit my roll bar bringing the Rhino to an abrupt halt. It was good that my speed was sloth-like at that moment or we could have fell several hundred feet down or more than likely have been impaled upon giant primary forest trees.

This attempt reminded me of an enduro race I did on a moto-cross bike whose handlebars were wider than the distance between the trees. You just can’t go there painlessly.

The Yamaha Rhino 450 has performed well above my expectations. It is fast, agile, surefooted, has great clearance, and it take me places I could not walk to at this point in my life. It is a little workhorse as well as a pleasurable smooth ride.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

This is a hawk that likes our front lawn. He is often seen on the ground in the grass. Notice his feather covered legs. He is so beautiful. We can spot him from the living room and Regan took this photo from inside of our home.

Regan is gifting the school bag filled with school supplies and homemade bread to Airminnnia our Indigenous neighbor on our side of the footbridge. The school supplies were generous donations from the Primrose School in Lawrenceville, Georgia, USA. More school supplies will be hiked up to the reservation by Hector and Daniel, who operate the Mission in Tuis (Voz Que Clama Mission), this week.
The river looks really tame at the moment, but you can see how high it will come to when the rainy season starts. We have been in a drought for some time now. This is the dry season, but we should still have rain. Our rainforest receives between 200 and 300 inches per year.