Welcome

Sponsored by The Nelson Historical Preservation Society.

Escuela

About a month ago we put the kids in school here so that they could get the ultimate spanish experience. I found a school just a couple of blocks from our apartment that looked safe, seemed nice, and would allow them join in for the last month of school only. Abby had to wear a uniform every day which was really cute. We also thoroughly enjoyed her coming home singing spanish nursery rhymes.

Friday was the last day of school which included an end of the year party and a night-time show for the parents. At the end of the evening the teachers gave grades to the parents (preschool all the way through high school). Apparently, the teachers and kids make report cards together about how supportive the parents are. You get graded on how you run your home, and environmental conservation like recycling, etc. They mentioned they were here to teach your children the best they could, not to make friends. Taylor and I were not graded since we were so new. I couldn't even imagine how some parents would respond to something like that back home.

Abby's class performed a song and dance about a farm at the show. The teachers dressed them up as animals---Abby was a dog and Parker a goat. Parker was hilarious trying to keep up the older kids during the dance. (He was the only kid in his class, so the school moved him up to Abby's class so he wouldn't get bored.) Here are some photos from their school, including the end of the year party (that I helped throw) and a video of the kids performance.Abby in her uniform

Class with their teacher

It wouldn't be a party without a pinata

What can we say...he's a ladies man.



On the playground

video
The end of the year show: Abby is center right. Parker is the short kid on her left.

Deep Thoughts.....by Abby Nelson

The other day ago I pulled the above drawing out of Abby's backpack. At first glance the picture looked so much like all the others I pull out day after day. However, after a moment I noticed that the little girl on this particular drawing was not as happy as she usually is.

Later that evening I approached Abby with her art and asked her why the little girl was frowning. We had the following conversation....

"She is frowning and crying, mom."

"Is the little girl you?"

"No, its not me."

"Well, who is it and why is she sad, then?"

"Its the girl from the song you sing."

"Huh? What song? Do I sing sad songs?"

"The song about the girl. She woke up and her love wasn't there anymore. So she cried. She was really sad. See all the dark clouds covering the sun in the sky I drew."

It took me a minute to realize what she was talking about. And then it clicked. One of my all-time favorite songs from growing up is you are my sunshine, a song that I always considered happy. I occasionally sing it to the kids at bedtime. Here are the lyrics in case you are not familiar.

You are my sunshine
My only sunshine
You make me happy
When skies are grey
You never know dear
How much I love you
Please dont take my sunshine away

The other night dear
As I lay sleeping
I dreamt I held you in my arms
When I woke up dear
I was mistaken
So I hung my head and cried.

Abby had obviously internalized the second verse, and thought about it some time during that day at school. In all honestly I don't think I had ever even thought about what the second verse meant and how sad it actually was. I was extremely impressed that she could pick up on such deep feelings and put them into art. My little girl is maturing before my eyes.

Please...Come on in.

Please join me for a tour of our home. (Try not to be too jealous. )

Our apartment is on the third story of this building. There is no elevator, and the stair railings are large enough for a small adult to fit through, making it a great place for the children to play. (Can you sense my sarcasm?)We have a 24 hours of complete security including our own guard. The guard during the day is nice and friendly. He helps me carry my trash to the dumpster, call a taxi when I am outside and dont want to run back upstairs, and says hello every time he opens the gate. The night guard is grumpy. He tells me to walk upstairs and call my own taxi if I want one and gets bothered any time we need him to open the gate.

Here is our living room. We have leather couches which are actually quite nice and comfortable. Although, I have to admit sometimes I feel like I am watching TV in a hospital waiting room.

Would you like a drink? Follow me into the kitchen. I bet you wish you had a stenciled grape vines painted on your wall like I do.

When we originally rented the apartment the landlord said that it was completely furnished and had everything we could ever need. When we arrived we had 2 bowls, 2 plates, 1 butter knife, 1 fork, 3 spoons, 12 cups, and few pots and pans. What more could a family of 4 need? Needless to say I had to make a few shopping trips to outfit our new abode.

Go ahead. Take a look out our kitchen window. We have a great view. In addition to seeing into all of our neighbors yards behind us, you can see all of the lights from the Capital at night too.

Let me show you our bedrooms. This is Taylor's and my bedroom. Do you like the color scheme? Burgundy curtains with bright colored striped bedsheets and a pink comforter. Apparently fully furnished apartments don't include pillows. We bought those too.
Do you like how I turned our bookshelf into a dresser? Yeah, there wasn't really anywhere to put our clothes either.

This is the kids room. They seem to like it. The bed is nice and stiff, great for jumping on. The kids are lucky enough to be serenaded to sleep every night by the miscellaneous sounds of the city since their windows won't shut. You never know if you are going to hear roosters, sirens, drunken laughter, a blasting TV, or howling dogs. But one thing is sure, some outrageous noise is always there. Ask my parents they will tell you all about it.


Well, thats about it. I hope you enjoyed the tour of our happy Tico home. In all seriousness though, I am actually starting to really like this condo. Overall, it is safe (minus the stairs), clean, and we have some very nice neighbors. I feel blessed to be living in this place while so many homes around us that have much less. I only wish our landlord had warned us a little about what fully-furnished really meant.

P.S. I chipped my front tooth. I have an emergency dentist appointment today. A latin dentist...this should be fun!

Backwards: A Taxi Mishap

So now that all of our visitors are gone, we have returned to a semi-normal Costa Rican lifestyle. Although this lack of adventure makes it much harder to come up with good blog posts, it is in fact what we came for...to live the Tico life. So for now on my blog will mostly be devoted to our lifestyle down here and all the "backwards" stuff that happens in Costa Rica. The "backwards" was a direct quote from our bishop at church describing Costa Rica after he moved here with his family from the states 5 years ago on a whim.

I was going to start with a tour of our apartment or pics of the kids at their school, but instead I think I will share with you one of the "backwards" experiences I had a couple days ago.

It all started Saturday evening... we were all in our tiny apartment, and the kids were going crazy, and I was feeling ancy to do something. Taylor on the other hand had downloaded a new computer game, and had made it clear that his goal was to sit and not move from his chair all night. (A formula bound for problems.) At about 6 o'clock I decided that was it....I was going to take the kids to the mall to play in the play area.

Since we don't have a car we have to call a taxi anytime we go anywhere out of walking distance. The mall is actually in walking distance for an adult, but it is a bit far for 2 kids alone with one adult, and it being dusk I figured making the trek was probably not a good idea. Thus, I called a taxi and decided I would deal with the drivers dissatisfaction frown that comes when you call them out for a short ride.

Now one thing you also need to know about the taxis here is that sometimes they show up in 2 seconds, sometimes 10 minutes, and sometimes not at all after you call them. Its a roll of the dice. Well, this particular night I decided I would go downstairs and wait outside with the kids to avoid the crazy rush that we do to get everyone downstairs when the taxi arrives. If you do not rush, they may just leave and then you will have to call and start the whole process again. As soon as the three of us stepped out the downstairs door of our condo building, a brand new shiny red taxi arrives to rescue us from our cabin fever. Relieved for this I jumped in, and told the driver to take us to the not-so-far mall. And to my surprise....no frown, sigh, or anything. Great! I thought. This was a good decision.

At the mall we had a great time. The kids played for over an hour, we ate some ice cream, overall we felt better. When it was time to return, I easily hailed a new cab, and we all decided how excited we were to return home and see Taylor. The perfect trip.

When we walk through the door Taylor is still on the couch but with a disgruntled frown similar to the one that I expected from our taxi driver. This was the conversation that followed.

Sheri - "What's wrong?"
Taylor- "Did you call a taxi and then walk to the mall?,"
Sheri- "Well, I called a taxi... but we took it. Why?"
Taylor- "Because about an hour ago we had a really mad taxi driver here who wanted to fight me."
Sheri- "What are you talking about?"
Taylor- "Yeah, so after you left I was nicely playing my game when our intercom starts ringing over and over again. The guy on it was really mad saying that he has been waiting forever for you and you haven't come. I went downstairs and told him that you left already which made him even more mad. I told him we would pay the fare, but he wouldn't listen, and wanted much more than a mall fair. Oh, and he wanted to fight me."
Sheri-"Ummm.... What! Umm.... Im sorry, but I thought that other guy was our taxi so I hopped in."
Taylor- "Well, you are going to have to make sure and check next time because it could have been bad. Finally I was able to pay him a good sum, and he left, avoiding the fight. Oh, and by the way we have been taxi blackballed."
Sheri- "What do you mean?"
Taylor- "I mean the taxi driver said that he is telling the company in Escazu not to come pick us up anymore. They will no longer come to our place to get us."
Sheri- "What? Oh Geez. I am so sorry."

So, where does that leave us you ask? How are we getting around? Well, I am becoming friends with the black taxi's or the "pirates" who run a taxi service from their own car. Sounds dangerous I know, but its not, people use them all the time here. The only problem is that they are slighlty illegal---and dont have the immense taxi training the red taxi drivers have. I figure in a few weeks I will call the red legal taxi company back and give a different alias---maybe Shelly perhaps.

And in conclusion, I would like to give a public thank you to my parents for visiting us. Thank you for all the good times, laughs, and adventures. Here is to awesome hotel breakfasts, the multiplaza, and blankets and pillows. We love you!

The Butterfly Garden


video

We took the kids to a butterfly garden while in Monteverde. They were able to see butterflies hatch from their chrysalis' and were able to release them into the gardens. The gardens also had an area where you were able to hold native Costa Rican insects. Abby passed on this, but Parker was very willing to hold some of the "bugs."
Parker holding a millipede (not as poisenous as we once thought)

"Ummm... mom....now what?"

Monteverde


The second place I took my parents to was Monteverde, a remote cloud rainforest, known for its extremely dense foliage. (Taylor drove back to the city to prepare for the start of his classes so he did not join.) To get from Arenal to Monteverde we took a jeep-boat-jeep ride through the Costa Rican country-side, which was pretty rough to say the least.

Monteverde is an interesting place. It was actually founded by a group of Quakers from the U.S. who took a religious stand to not participate in any war and left the U.S. in the 40's choosing Costa Rica as their home since Costa Rica had no army. The rainforest in the area was partially inhabited by many aboriginal peoples, and instead of segregating with them, they combined the two cultures, and intermarried. Since that time many quakers still inhabit the area, but they have donated much of their rain-forest lands for biological reserves, including the Monteverde Cloud Rain-forest National Park.

For our major hike, we decided to hire a guide....and she was amazing. She could do all the bird calls for the birds in the area exactly, so that they would come find us, and she would pick out things that we would have never had seen without her including a baby viper snake on a tree (very venomous and endangered), a sloth, and the famed quetzal bird (endangered and beautiful.)

As I mentioned before, Monteverde is also very eco-friendly. Our hotel, actually had recycling trash cans in each room. Also, the hall lights were motion censored so that electricity is saved and much of that energy was self produced at the lodge. Now how would they make this energy for a lodge out in the middle of no where, you ask? Well, by recycling your pooh of course! All organic waste form the lodge is dumped into a bio-digestor below the ground, where bacteria eats away at it producing gas that helps supply the lodge with energy. Crazy huh?

Here are some photos from our eco-adventure.

Del Fuego


Well... internet was finally installed at our place today along with TV. Going the last week and a half without either has been a bit of a struggle. Now for the back-blogging.

The first place we decided to take my parents while they were visiting was to Arenal. Arenal is an active volcano that is shaped in a perfect cone, reminiscent of the one I made for my 4th grade science project. The volcano erupted in 1968 without warning here, killing many. Since that time lava has been flowing from it, which can be seen from the surrounding hotels at night.

We pampered ourselves and stayed at a resort and spa a short distance away from the base of the volcano. The price was about 90 bucks a night for a room....so really you couldn't beat it. Our hotel had 9 different hotspring pools naturally heated by the volcano. Yes, the color of the water is not optimal but the water is the same temp as a hot tub, making it very relaxing. The kids had a blast swimming in them as did my parents.

One of the hot-spring pools

Margarita Please? (Parkers favorite spot to hang was at the bar in one of the hot-spring pools with a fanta. I hope this is not a sign! )

Swimmin' with gramps and gram.

A girls gotta use her goggles no matter what---even if she cant see through the water.

We have Moved.

Sorry for the blog hiatus, which might continue for the next week or so. I do want to let everyone know that we have safely relocated to San Jose. Unfortunately, our internet as of now is spotty at best, thus I cannot post. However, you will be glad to know that Taylor and I decided we were going to pay extra to get better internet installed at our condo. For those of you who know Taylor, you know that he cannot go 30 minutes without getting on-line, and so to save his sanity (and mine) we decided to take the plunge and spend the money to get internet installed at our place.

The day we arrived in San Jose, my parents arrived also. Since that time we have toured San Jose, visited Arenal (an active volcano) and now we are in the middle of nowhere visiting one of the world's only cloud rainforests. The lodge we are staying at has no TVs and only one computer with internet. It is however, very eco-friendly, and recycles everything, even your pooh!

I promise to back-blog with photos all of our adventures as soon as internet is installed in our apartment in the coming week. Until then, Hasta Luego!