Cachi and the Orosi Valley

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We took a short but sweet little trip to Cachi and the Orosi Valley, which are both just outside of Cartago.  Cachi is a small town, where our friends Mike and Michael are moving (from Dallas, TX) over the next couple of months.  It is a tiny town, population of only about 3,000, and set in the beautiful Orosi Valley.  Elevation of about 3,500 feet, and the temp’s seemed actually cooler than what we’re used to in El Cajon de Grecia. We loved it!  There’s virtually no loud motorcycles there, and the cars are few and far between.  The people are nice and wave to you, and they have LOTS of cute little soda’s and fabulous restaurants – even more so than Grecia, which was surprising!

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Life’s a beach!

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Last week we took a trip to the beach.  The far-away beach.  We went to the Guanacaste Region, Pacific Ocean, along the western coast of Costa Rica:

The best part was, our transportation there (one-way) cost only $8 (5 ½ hour trip)! We took the Pulmitan Bus, which is a step above the public bus, and only makes a few stops between San Jose and Playas del Coco, Guanacaste. The 5 ½ hour trip was broken up in the middle with a 20 minute rest stop. It was a lovely double decker bus, air conditioned, comfy seats and lots of leg room for Greg. It also had a shelf above us for storage items, plus they loaded up larger items (suitcases) below the bus before we left. We were on the top level, 2nd row, so were up high and had an excellent view.

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Easy Oreo “Truffles”

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Easy Oreo “Truffles”

Ingredients:
1 regular package original Oreo cookies
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened 2 cups Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips (or other good quality chocolate, broken into pieces) ½ TB Crisco (shortening) 2-3 TB white frosting (from a can, works best!)  
Directions:

Break Oreos into a food processor, and process until they turn into fine crumbs.

Mix Oreo crumbs and softened cream cheese together until well blended.  Place bowl in freezer for 20-30 minutes (this helps with next step).

Roll Oreo mixture into walnut size balls, and place on waxed paper on cookie sheet.  Freeze for an hour.

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Yes, there are Malls in Costa Rica… Plaza Real Cariari

Yes, there are malls here in Costa Rica.  The Multiplaza in Escazu is supposedly the nicest, but I have not been there yet (it is the “Rodeo Drive” of Costa Rica) .

The other day, me and my love hopped on the bus and went to the Plaza Real Cariari (you can find their website here, and their Facebook page here).  I have been there before with my awesome friend Lucy, who showed me the way, but this was the first time for Greg.  He was pretty excited about it.

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Traditional Costa Rican way of living

The other night we visited a cozy little restaurant up on the San Miguel Ridge, one ridge over from where we live.  We went with our good friends Lucy (Justa) and Steve, who had been wanting to take us there for a while.  The place is called Mirador Brisas del Monte, and really the best thing about it is the gorgeous views you can see from anywhere you sit inside the soda.

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Poas Volcano and La Paz Waterfall Gardens

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When my Mom was here visiting, we did a day trip to Poas Volcano and La Paz Waterfall Gardens one day.  First thing in the morning, we headed out to Poas (got there about 9 am) – and WOW – it was a perfect morning!   Absolutely crystal clear sky – I mean, seriously – not ONE CLOUD in the sky.  I think Mom was our lucky charm.  Wilson, our driver/friend of Coati Tours said he’s been to Poas over 600 times, and the day with us was the MOST CLEAR, perfect-visibility-day he’s ever seen at Poas!

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How I get my morning cup of joe

It’s coffee picking season here in Costa Rica!  Coffee is one of Costa Rica’s main exports – 90% of Costa Rica’s coffee is exported.  This time of year, which is the dry season (otherwise known as “summer”), you will start seeing trucks full of coffee pickers on the roads going up the mountain ridges – very early in the morning (before I’m up) and back down in late afternoon.  When Greg & I hike, we can tell it’s coffee picking season, as all the coffee plants have bright red, glossy “cherries” on them – and this is the perfect time for them to be picked.

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Nine Non New Year’s Resolutions

Every year, this time of year – I get tired of hearing everyone’s “new year resolutions” and having people ask me what mine are.  Why?  Because if you ask almost ANYONE what their resolutions were last year at this time – they wouldn’t be able to answer you!   Resolutions seem to be a high priority at the end of December and throughout January, but then….  are quickly forgotten (OK – not everyone…  I know I have a few friends out there that are the exception to this rule).   I feel this is something people love to talk about, and yes – have good intentions (which are always good, don’t get me wrong).  But how many people really carry through with them – for the whole year?

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13 Moments from 2013

2013 was a year bookended by a beginning and an end for Greg and I.  Beginning of our new life in Costa Rica, and the end to Greg’s Dad’s wonderful life.  The year began with both of us leaving our jobs in May.  We then moved to Costa Rica in June, and attended Dad’s funeral shortly thereafter – he died 3 days after we had arrived in Costa Rica.

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Baby, it’s warm outside! My first Costa Rican Christmas.

I must say I was really looking forward to my first Christmas in Costa Rica.  I’ve always liked Christmas while growing up in the states – the music, the lights, the shopping….  But I didn’t like how stressful and commercialized it had all seemed to become for me, the last several years living in Dallas.

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Our first visitor!

It didn’t take long – less than 5 months – to have our very first visitor in our new Costa Rican home!  My Mom #2 (Greg’s Mom, my Mom-in-law, Shirley – is her name) visited us for a week and it was a pleasure to have her.  It was her first “real” visit to a foreign country, and she did great on her flight and going through customs, all by herself.

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Bartering… the coolest form of currency.

Bartering – seems like something from the “olden days”, as my Grandmother would say.  Before I moved here, I had read a snippet about it somewhere…  and I thought, man – that would be so cool to barter one of my “talents” for something I wanted in return.

Well, I’m happy to report bartering is alive and well, here in Costa Rica!   I love bartering – especially because we are on a pretty tight budget now.  It is so cool, y’all!  You just exchange something that you can provide that another person wants, for something that you want that the other person can provide.  Sounds easy, right? Here’s an example:

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7 things I didn’t think I could do – thank you Eleanor Roosevelt.

“You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” — Eleanor Roosevelt

I saw this quote the other day, and it really got to me the more I thought about it.  Turns out, I’ve already been doing a lot of the “things I thought I could not do” – just this year.

1.  I never thought I could retire in my early-40’s.

But yet – here I am.

2.  I never thought I could make my own pesto sauce. 

This may sound odd to you, because I now know that making pesto from scratch is quite easy. While living in Dallas, I had looked up recipes for pesto several time, but I think the food processor business just scared me.  Whenever we dined at Italian restaurants, I’d ALWAYS order a dish with pesto sauce.  And now, I make my own – and it tastes so gourmet to me, it’s crazy.   BTW – swirled with tomato sauce on my homemade pizza?  – THE BEST!

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Gracie(a)’s Granola

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I made this super easy granola for my niece Gracie who just started college in East Texas and happened to have a birthday while I was visiting in Dallas.  Me & Mom Seymour (my sweet mom-n-law) made her a little care package of some goodies.  Good thing I made a lot of granola, as I kept snacking on it before it actually got shipped out (sorry, Gracie).

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Jen’s Spanish Rice

This is something I make a lot of here in Costa Rica – it’s so wonderful to eat with chicken and vegetables, or beans (another staple here), and keeps in the fridge for days.   Actually, I’ve kept in the fridge for as long as a week and it’s still great!   I’m ashamed to say that I never made this before I moved to Costa Rica.  When I lived in Dallas – I bought the pre-packaged (add water & boil) kind, because you know, like I never had TIME.  Here, I have time and have amazing fresh ingredients to use, and guess what – I PREFER my Spanish Rice from scratch now.  🙂

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We’ve been fingerprinted!

Good news!  We’ve received our “folio numbers” – which will enable us to NOT have to leave the country every 3 months!  Woot!  There’s just a teeny tiny little thing – Greg’s last name is still spelled wrong, but our attorney assures us this is “no problema”, was just a typo by someone and will be fixed at some point (when?).

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Losing the glut

One of the reasons we moved to Costa Rica, was to live smaller – in a lot of ways.  We wanted to get out of the “more more more” mentality (more money, more material things…), and concentrate on more important things.  With us both quitting our jobs, of course this meant learning to live on less money as well.  I admit, I had concerns about this –  we were so used to just buying whatever we needed, and really – whatever we wanted.   I never looked at price tags.  Awful, I know…   After being that way for so long, could I  just “change”?

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What do you DO all day??

What in the world do you DO all day?  I get this question a lot…

Well, each day is different, but will tell you what I did the other day.

Got up about 5:30, made a pot of coffee, did some “computer/electronic business” (facebook, emails, instagram, words with friends…  I know, but there’s some things I just can’t give up!…), then went outside and enjoyed a beautiful morning overlooking our pool with the central valley behind it.  Had coffee with our friends who we are living here, always good conversation – and the mornings are always SO nice and sunny  (even now, in the “green season” – which is a nice way to say “rainy season”).

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Where I am right now.

I’ve been here in El Cajon de Grecia, Costa Rica, for 6 weeks now.  Hard to believe, really, if I think about it…  but it all seems pretty natural – so far, anyway.  Eating a more healthy diet, hiking, walking, living more naturally (no doing my hair or makeup these days, unless going out for lunch/dinner with friends, and even then WAY less maintenance than before)… it all just FEELS good.  People talk about culture shock, which is a very real thing, and I read up on it a few times before our move here, feeling I was very “prone” to this.  Anytime there is a change in my life (good or bad) – it seems I have a bit of “culture shock” (for lack of a better term)… a bit of stumbling around for a while, till I get back into a schedule and feel comfortable with things again.  So, I admit, I have had a couple of bad days (1st time was on day #3 after seeing a scorpion and a roach right in a row, followed shortly thereafter by the truly bad news of Greg’s dad passing away).  I do realize I’ve only been here 6 weeks, and according to Wikipedia, Culture Shock (which consists of several stages – kind of like a grieving process or a 12 step program) doesn’t really set in until after living in a different country for 3 months(!).   So come Oct. 1st, I guess I have a lot to look forward to – especially since the WHOLE month of October is supposed to be the worst of the rainy season (people say it can rain ALL day EVERY day).

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Taking care of “business”… in San Jose

So, little road trip to San Jose yesterday.  San Jose is the capital, about a 45 minute drive from Grecia, and also where we fly in and out – SJO – San Jose International Airport (not sure what the “O” stands for).  Our intention was to meet with an attorney who works with the ARCR (Association of Residents of Costa Rica) about starting our residency process.  We had been referred to an attorney by some friends of ours, who said this guy was very efficient and did a good job handling their paperwork.  Expediency is a good thing IF you can get it here in Costa Rica….  as most things are on “tico time” – which means – well, maybe today, maybe mañana (tomorrow)…  they take their sweet time in doing things – all with good intentions – it’s just the “laid back” way here…  Pura Vida.

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