Sunday, December 5, 2010

Coco - Nutcracker

What to do with deadly coconuts? Our new video answers that question with a holiday twist. The can he's shaking is repellent for the hundreds of black wasps living in the coconut leaves.

Monday, November 22, 2010


We can all see clearly the rain has gone. We have a video camera thanks to Don Klaus and this first production celebrates the transition to summertime. And yes after making this video I did clean the camera lens:) Look for Summertime 2 coming soon where we show off the special people that join us here in paradise - come visit and be in the video!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

"This time you, next time me"

says the second Tico to stop and help me. My rear bearing on the motorcycle blew up from being lubricated with more water than grease on my way to Samara at 1:30 in the afternoon on this beautiful sunny Friday. I wasn't there five minutes and the first Tico on a motorcycle stopped and asked if I needed help. Next thing I know he's pulled out a wrench and sees that I'm having a hell of a time getting the main bolt out because it's rusted in the bearings. We're hammering, turning and torqueing, but only making small gains. I start to realize my day going a different way. The second Tico pulls up and almost simultaneously a large truck with a wooden bed behind him. Now it's a full committee in Spanish discussing my better option to get to La Bomba in this guy's truck. We lift my bike and move it as close to the front as possible. We tie down each tire, but there's plenty of play so I sit on the bike for the ride. And what a ride it was! Like riding a bull with my right hand clenched on the backboard and my feet steadying the swaying bike through the potholed highway. At La Bomba I see a familiar face and know that leaving someone without help just isn't what this town is about. Hours later I’m home again, but never lost my gratitude to all those in the world that stop and help. Next time me.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Tomas hits hard!!

It's Friday night and I'm finally home after delivering bread Wednesday afternoon to Samara. It all seemed innocent enough - we heard Tomas might bring some rain as it headed north to Haiti. Wednesday's rain was gentle and steady without wind - really very pleasant. By 4pm the bread was delivered and I was having a drink with my friends Jack & Rhonda who have a house next to Rio Buena Vista in an area known as La Pista. It's actually an air park complete with runway. They have the place to themselves and are in the process of building a pool for the summer. During heavy rains the river can swell and water enters La Pista. Last May Jack & Rhonda first experienced the awkward helplessness of watching water come in your house. That time they had about eight inches inside and it was a discouraging nightmare to clean up. Wednesday night after a few beers we headed back to their house and I ended up spending the night since the bulb on my motorcycle went out. The gentle rain beat softly in the background. We awoke the next morning to the silent hammer of Tomas - the river had swelled during the night and was crossing La Pista. I walked the road a bit to check the depth, but I had no idea the expansion plans of rio Buena Vista. 15 minutes after walking the road and thinking I could manage to ride my motorcycle, the river took charge and there was no way out. The river was now 100 times wider and took up the whole of La Pista with a fast current. Now Imagine a house placed directly in the middle of this raging madness. We put sandbags by the front door and went inside to prepare for what we thought we could predict. A wet/dry vacuum ready at the door to suck up small leaks was like emptying the ocean with a spoon. Rising, rising rising the glass patio doors became fish tank walls as the water came up almost two feet. The sound of water rushing into a house is still strange to me - like springing a leak on a boat. We were trapped and didn't dare open any doors as the surge of water would cover what possessions we couldn't raise. Couches on chairs, mattresses up - we did what we could, which was mostly nothing but waiting and hoping the level wouldn't get higher. Their two dogs didn't know whether to walk or swim and were as trapped as us. Like a cherry on top, the smell of flooded septic tank ooze made for the perfect storm of house floodings. Finally the water abated and we opened the "flood gates" and drained the house. Natures ultimate act of irony stared us in the face - the only thing not flooded in La Pista was their not yet finished swimming pool! We spent the rest of the day cleaning the house since the water was lower, but not enough to drive. The rain continued on and off and we knew it might happen all over again, but doing what you can always helps in times of crisis. We drank a bit too much that night, but slept in beds that weren't wet and awoke Friday morning to a land of mud covering La Pista. The road was passable and my anticipation built as I knew I would be home soon. The long way is the only road with no river crossing and multiple bridges - it's the only way in and out during the rainy season. Imagine my surprise when I came upon this......

This picture was taken earlier and when I arrived both sides of the bridge were in the river.
I went back to Samara and then to Playa Buena Vista to see if the river was crossable at the beach (three rivers converge and empty to the beach at this point). The white water was powerful and although I've crossed my share of white water as a raft guide, I couldn't take a chance on losing my passport, money etc. Back to town to wait again. Jack arrived and said he could hold on to my papers and David generously let me store my bike at his restaurant in Samara. I headed back at high tide and made the swim. A reminder that I need to swim more, but all was ok - FINALLY HOME!!!! Today the sun is shining! I hope to post some video highlights soon.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Crocodile population grows by one and I'm no snake charmer

Rousting reptiles begins with our neighbor Mike finding a baby Cayman in his house. He came over to release him and only set him down for a second..

Next comes a fearless snake that just wouldn't leave the bar. The standoff ended peacefully after throwing him over the fence.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Amazing Flood Part 2

The rain lasted another three days and without internet, dry clothes or passable roads the magic was wearing off. Only kayaks could reach the turtle camp volunteers and while Hannis worked hard digging ditches, water madness brought me to dancing. In to everyone's life a little rain must fall and after hearing other stories of destroyed houses and great loss, we felt fortunate indeed - just in time to enjoy the returning sunshine. A newer deeper and wider estuary brings back our long awaited neighbors the crocodiles. All is well again.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Amazing Flood

I'm starting to get excited about building a new kitchen on higher ground. Three days of rain swelled the estuary and took a huge bite out of our shoreline. The two palm trees that were slowly eroding just gave up and went swimming. My floor was wet, but not truly flooded and the Wunderbar escaped major flooding thanks to trench diggin Hannis. In five years I've never witnessed the ocean and rain work together so aggressively to reclaim the land. I'm listening and looking at what a wonderful spot the parking lot would make for a kitchen. Intense weather makes me feel alive so although things may be changing, it's an exciting time! :)

Sunday, May 2, 2010

A Season of Kids and Pizza

This dry season we had more kids at El Castillo than I can remember. Families that stayed for holiday and large pizza parties made for many fun moments.

Semana Santa (Tico Easter)

Easter is a big holiday for Ticos and even our remote playa Buena Vista had some fun crowds.

River Ride

Bart the Belgium does horse tours on beaches, over mountains and through rivers. This time one rider brought a camera - enjoy the view.


Another cat?!? Well I tried to say no when this guy wandered in two months ago, but look at him. He's fearless and spontaneous and the only cat I've ever seen jump three feet in the air and land directly on the back of a four foot iguana! The look on the iguana's face was priceless.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Just for Ben

Ben loves this place! Here's a tribute to Marc & Anke's incredible boy who has visited El Castillo ever since he was born.

Ben the Artist & The Easter Egg Hunt