Saturday, September 27, 2014

Antoinette's Birthday Fun

Our friends, Antoinette and Doug, asked if we wanted to meet up for sushi last Friday.  Of course we did!  I found out the morning before they got here that it was also Antoinette's birthday, which she had failed to tell me!  Facebook knows all..........

Anyway, luckily, no rain.  We recommended I Love Sushi because they were bringing their puppies and we needed outdoor seating.  Met there, we pulled up and parked just as they were pulling up.  Got an outdoor table.  Food was amazing, and Kurt had a few too many drinks. I had an amazing banana smoothie. It was an fabulous lunch with awesome people.  We had a great time.  walked around Jaco a little afterwards do Doug and Kurt could buy grass seed (almost impossible to find in this country) and Antoinette could look for a shirt she wanted and saw the last time they were here.  She found the shirt, as well as a dress, and the boys got their grass seed that was finally in.  They bought the place out (of all 2 boxes).  I told them we need to do sushi for every birthday.

Had to get something notarized and learned some things about that system.  basically, only lawyers can be notaries in Costa Rica.  Also, not all lawyers are notarizes, it's a specialized training on top of being a lawyer, much more intense that in the US where you basically fill out some documents and send them in.  I was a notary, but I needed m signature notarized so I had to find someone here.  It was easy, just picked a lawyer's office, went in, he spoke English, signed and that was it.  Easy peasy.

We thought we were getting out car back this week, talked to our lawyer again today, and now customs is saying within 20 days.  I would scream, but I look at things differently here and it is what it is.  this is not the country to be pushy or not patient.  Things take time.

A company came to our house today in relation to solar panels.  They also gave us some ideas on conserving energy in the house.  We have to go to the municipality tomorrow to get our wiring and architectural pictures and get them to the guys, and then we go from there.  We are getting panels as well as a system that heats water.  Pretty soon, we will be like totally off the grid!  Also, because of the amount of panels we are getting, we may end up having almost zero bills per month.  Basically, if you use less energy than the panels produce, then ICE, the electric company, buys the energy back from you.  They then apply it to other bills you have, like internet, cell phones, satellite.  So, if we may have no regular utility bills by the time we are done each month.  Our only bills per month then would be food and gas for the car/scooter.  And then other yearly bills like insurances and the like.


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Cooking in Costa Rica and Sushi Wednesdays!

I have been cooking a lot in Costa Rica and eating a lot at home.  Trying out a lot new recipes.  Some good, some not.

One of my most recent favorites is falafel burgers.  SO good. The recipe makes exactly enough for Kurt and I for dinner.  I make them and put them over rice, and add some fresh guac and hot sauce to the top.  The first time I added some black beans to the rice as well, so it was kinda a mix of a Costa Rican and Middle Eastern meal.  Have made that twice, both times super good.

Another meal I made recently I really liked was pasta with cauliflower alfredo sauce.  So, healthy alfredo sauce!  Made oregano garlic parmesan toast to go with it.  Kurt was not a huge fan of the cauliflower sauce, but I loved it.  It made a lot, so I froze the remainder.

I also made a homemade spicy marinara sauce to go with pasta, with extra to freeze.  That one was a winner for everyone in the household.  Whoot.   This recipe is flawed that I posted though.  It said to use 4 oz of tomatoes, and I knew that could not be right, that is barely a serving.  So, I upped it to 28 oz as I saw other recipes called for.

I made these pancakes in muffins tins.  You can't see from the pic but they cave in the middle so you can put fruit or whatever in them.  I just put the fruit all over the top for Kurt with syrup.  He liked them a lot, but there were way too many.  Next time need to freeze the remainder or have them the next meal.


We don't drink very often, but the other day at the grocery store, Kurt found Rum and Coke in a can!  He of course has to buy it.  He liked them both, but the Bamboo brand slightly more.  And my vodka drink was super yummy.


We are still eating out only about once a week unless we have friends visiting.  However, I recently discovered that Jaco sushi places have half off on Wednesdays!  So last Wednesday, we ventured out to Tsunami Sushi for half off.  The entire menu is not half off, but about 75% of the sushi rolls are.  We had an awesome meal.  We will def be doing that more on Wednesdays.  Really enjoyed the meal.


Scooters and Pharmacies

So, I posted before about the scooters we got, which we are loving.  This is a good thing, since we have been without a car since August 2.  While our friend was visiting the States, we borrowed his, but since he got back, we have been solely using the scooters. 

Basically, when you move to Costa Rica and drive a car here, you have 90 days to pay the taxes on it.  This is not simple though.  You have to leave the car with a customs agent who has to have someone from the government inspect it and put a *value* on it.  This is not based on USA blue book.  It's their calculation.  You have to turn over a copy of the title as well as the invoice from purchasing the vehicle, your passport copy and some other random items.  Once they determine the value, you pay between 30-50% tax to bring your car into the country.  This seems really high, however, buying a car here is SUPER expensive and will be about 50% higher than the USA anyway, so either way, you are going pay this *tax*.  Anyway, there have been some complications with getting a valuation on our car.  First, our car is a 2013 Nissan Xterra, which apparently has not been valued yet in Costa Rica.  So, this is confusing for them I guess.  We are supposedly going to have the car back next week, but as with anything in Costa Rica, I am not holding my breath or holding anyone to that approximation.  It will be nice to have it back as it is rainy season, so we basically cannot do anything that involves leaving our house if it is raining.  And you totally cannot predict the rain.  Some days, nothing.  Other days, rains all day.  We try to when we see it is sunny, get on the bikes and do what we need to do, like the gym, grocery store, any errands.

Anyway, back when we first started riding the scooters, I started hopping on the back of Kurt's bike because it was just easier.  There is this hill and bump at the end of our street that had gotten worse because of the rain and some work trucks that came through.  The wheel on Kurt's turned weird and the scooter fell.  We were barely moving, so it just kind of tipped over.  Kurt fell one way, I fell the other.  The way I fell, my leg fell on the exhaust? which is very hot.  So, a big part of my leg was burned, like really far down.  I did not even realize this at first.  I thought I had scrapped my leg really badly.  I was shaking it hurt so bad and started to walk home because there was no way in hell I was getting back on the scooter, LOL.  Got home and realized it was burned.  It hurt so bad though, I could not even touch it.  Kurt got some bandages for me and I put those on, but they were not really good since when I would change them over, they would pull skin off that was regrowing.  This was all right before we had Lisa and Brian in town, so I avoided going to the pharmacy to get something.  Once they left, we went to the pharmacy and they gave me a cream that was an antibiotic, pain reliever and something else I can't recall.  This stuff worked immediately.  It made me feel better and it started to heal the area.  So, now it is totally healed for the most part.  However, it is still red and looks crappy.  I am hoping it eventually looks like my actual *leg* again and not like an injury.

I quickly got over my fear of the scooter though and jumped back on.  No falls since.  That part of the road is fixed now and before it got fixed, I was getting off the bike and Kurt would walk it up.  He felt really badly I got hurt and he was not going to fall there again with my on the bike.

Kurt's allergies have started to act up here again, so he took his old Flonase nose spray into the pharmacy to get it filled.  They don't have Flonase here, but they gave him something similar that he says is working.  Whoot.  Love not having to visit a dr to get a prescription. It rocks. 

Wow, time flies in Paradise!  No postings since August 17?

We had our first visitors over the last weekend in August.  Lisa and Brian, two of our friends from Michigan, came to Costa Rica.  Lisa found some insanely low price via Delta to fly out and booked it.  Lisa is a friend of mine from high school in Manistee, and Brian is her husband.  Lisa is also an attorney, like I formerly was in my past life.  They are the ONLY people I know who travelled more than Kurt and I did.  They also are obsessed with animals and have no children, so they are very similar to us. 

Anyway, Lisa and Brian flew into San Jose late, so they spent the night then headed over to Jaco in their rental SUV.  They stayed at Los Suenos, which I recommended since they are Marriott fans.  We got to see the pool area and their room and the place seemed very nice.  They also got a kickass rate because it is "low or green" season here.  Saturday they got here mid afternoon, and Kurt and I headed over on the scooter to find them.  Los Suenos has some killer speed bumps on the scooter!  Found Lisa and Brian by the pool so we laid there a bit and made a reservation online to do Jose's Crocodile Tour in Tarcoles at 4 PM.  We got a call seeing if we could come at 315 instead so we raced over there.  Got there, and the guy who owns the place goes to our gym!  Kewl we know somebody who runs a tour we really like.  The tour was awesome, saw lots of birds and crocs.  We saw this bird I have never seen that is pink, but not a flamingo.  Called a Spoonbill.  Click here to see a pic.  Mine came out blurry as they were far away and it was starting to get dark. 

After that, headed into town for dinner as Lisa and Brian were getting hungry after a long day.  We ate at Taco Bar that night and everyone had a great meal.  After that, stopped at the pharmacy as I needed some bandaids and Lisa needed sunscreen.  While there, we think we saw a prostitute with her pimp getting some medication for a medical "issue".  That was our interpretation anyway, haha.  Called it a night after that, as we knew we were getting up early the next morning.

Got up early Sunday to go to Manuel Antonio National Park and on a hike.  Drive there was easy, parked and paid for our entry ticket.  While in line, we were approached by a park ranger who offered to give us a private tour.  We hired him, and off we went.  He told Lisa if she did not see a sloth, we would get our money back.  This was perfect since seeing a sloth was the main thing Lisa wanted to do while in Costa Rica.  She also wanted to see a tapir, but those are in really remote areas we did not have time to get to this trip.  I have never seen a sloth at Manuel, so I was excited the guide said that!  We saw not only one sloth, but like 8!  It was sloth craziness!  We also saw both capuchin and squirrel monkeys, which was awesome, since squirrel monkeys are rare outside the Osa.  It was an awesome tour. 

Our Guide, Leo, also offered to do the Damas Monkey Island Tour with us the next day, so we set up a meeting place for that and left.  Left there and had lunch at this awesome place called El Avion, which my friend Kim recommended.  It was soooooo good.  I had a lobster burger, and shrimp soup.  Both superb and our view, from the best table in the place, was killer.  I also had a great banana drink.  That night for dinner, we ate at Los Amigos.  Awesome day.

Next day was the Damas Monkey Island Tour.  Had to get up insanely early for this one and met Leo in Quepos.  Headed to the river for the tour.  This tour, Lisa really wanted to see an anteater.  Leo said he would try and find one.  We were also guaranteed to see a crocodile or our money back.  First thing we saw were capuchin monkeys.  We pulled up to the mangroves and the monkeys were jumping all over us and the boat.  It was somewhat chaotic.  They really like bananas.  After that, we saw a boa and the anteater.  The anteater was not what I was expecting though.  It was a variety called the silky anteater, which is a lot smaller than the anteaters I have seen.  It is orange, and the one we saw was pregnant and high up in a tree sleeping, kinda like a sloth does.  Very kewl we saw one though.  The views in the mangroves were relaxing and stunning.  I love the mangroves. 

After the tour, we headed into town to have breakfast at another place with an amazing view.  I have a breakfast burrito that was incredible.  We decided to chill at the beach after that.  Parked and rented chairs.  Then this woman approached us and asked if we wanted massages.  Duh.  Everyone but Kurt got hour massages.  Walked some on the beach, Kurt and Brian drank a few rum and cokes, and Lisa and Brian ended up going parasailing for only $75 total!

 Lisa and I got offered free surf lessons too, but we turned them down since we were both wearing bikinis which are not what you wear to learn how to surf.  All of us got way too much sun.  No clue why I forgot sunscreen, but it was not bad and had faded by the next day.  Dinner that night was without Kurt as he had to co-host his one radio show, so we decided to try a place I have not been to called Pajara Pinta.  It was incredible.  They use all local, natural ingredients.  You can't even order a Coke.  I got this mahi wrap that was awesome.  We also ordered hummus for the table to share.  The lemonade I got was incredible as well.  It was so good I took Kurt there on Saturday night for date night a couple weeks ago.

Lisa and Brian left the next morning, but I would say the trip was a raging success!  Can't wait for more visitors.