It has been a brilliant two weeks with the Badgetts; I can't think of a better way to have started 2010. When the Bs are here, we don't stop roaming. It is a beautiful reminder of just how wildly diverse is nuestro pais pequeño [new-ACE-troe pa-EES pay-CANE-yo, our little country] Costa Rica. We kissed 2009 tata (and what a year it was.) For something completely different, we welcomed in 2010 with big plans and dreams of grandeur. My old dreams of grandeur included being a famous movie star married to Sean Penn with homes in Malibu and Southend on Sea. Now they include a bigger chicken coop, goats and some honey bees. Moving to Costa Rica did this to me.

DSC_0029 As soon as the Bs landed, we took off for Ginnee and Phil's. Just for one night this trip because Mr. "Type A" B planned every second with no time off for sitting still. The Mrs. and I like sitting still occasionally… usually in a mall, but not this trip. Busy, busy!

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Phil's new toy La Finca Esperanza is coming along beautifully. The volunteer house is done, nice new bathrooms and showers. Next comes the outdoor bbq/rancho for volunteer meals and gathering spot. The farm's garden is hugely productive. Heck, at Ginnee's, you can eat the houseplants (great book, notice there is only one used for sale? No one wants to give theirs up!) I don't remember everything we ate but it was all fresh and delicious, even with no refrigerator in the house. Happily, that fridge is coming home any day now from the container where it lives.

How Ginnee has managed for a year with no refrigerator is beyond me. Her pumpkin soup is to die for – I could eat that every meal. She gave me a couple of pumpkin plants to bring home for my pitiful start-up garden. My plants are still alive. Thriving, in fact. Yay, I'm a farmer!

Examining the goodies While we were at Ginnee's, about 50 Cabecar [kuh-BECK-er] indigenous came down for a meeting with the alcalde [all-CALL-day, mayor, in this case of Esperanza] who had promised gifts if they came. The alcalde is running for re-election so he is basically buying votes, just like in the states! What the indigenous got for their 8 hour walk thru the wet jungle down a mountainside was a small bag with a few apples and some grapes. Ginnee brought a huge box of clothes and gave them all away. Upstaged the mayor a little but he really seemed ok with it.

I have a video but it's from my ipod and I can't figure out how to edit it… like all Mac stuff, it's propietary and my Windows Movie Maker won't read it. Argh. I'll figure it out. Persistence is my middle name. Obviously. I'm still here, right?

The minute we got home from G&P's house, the Bs left for exciting Liberia for three days with all the progeny. When they got home three days later, Mr. B opined, "Why would anyone go to Liberia for a vacation?" Ahem, wasn't that my question to him way back in September when he told me they were going there? Yes. Maybe he'll listen to me next time. [Pondering.] Nah.

The Bs got home from Liberia on Christmas Day whereupon us rents drove to Puriscal to see some houses for sale for Like all the scenery on every drive, the 45 minute country road drive to Puriscal is smashing. I say "country road" because they are working on the new highway which will make it a still-beautiful 10 minute drive.

This highway has been promised for something like 30 years but always gets stopped after a few months' work. No one thinks it will ever be finished… except that it's happening even as we speak. Amazingly, Don Oscar has absolutely improved cross-country travel in Costa Rica. City roads are still a pain: the same potholes that were fixed last dry season show up next rainy season. But going cross country is becoming less of an ordeal.

Saturday, Randi and Robert and I had lunch at La Casona de Laly – one of the best comida tipica restaurants we've found and right here in Escazú. Delicious food at a good price: my kinda place!

Then the three of us took off for an afternoon drive to buy some organic turmeric and see the New Chapter Farm where all the stuff is grown. I only read the first part of the directions, which say: "Drive to San Ramon." When we got to San Ramon, an hour from my house, I continued reading the directions, which say: "Turn left behind the church and follow this road for an hour."

DSC_0056Oh, man! Another hour away? What the heck? That's a second hour's drive just to get there, then turn around and drive back… hmmm. How bad do I want organic turmeric? It only took us about 30 seconds to decide because we're adventurers, remember? And, since we'd just go home and sit in front of the TV or computers, why not finish the journey? Wow, are we glad we did!!! Steve Farrell's Luna Nueva is pretty swell. A real find. Definitely going back to spend the night. They are learning to make pizza in their wood stove, so Hal's going to teach them a few pizza tricks. Then we can see the entire farm, their free-ranging pigs and chickens and cows. Cool.

So, five hours to get an $8 bottle of organic turmeric. That's a record. But, since this stuff cures cancer and a host of other ills, it's worth it. Plus we got to meet Steve, who is also a friend to Ginnee and Phil. He taught them a lot about organic farming, when to plant, all about the waxing and waning. Steve's been doing this awhile…

Yeah On Sunday, the Bs and boys took off for Uvita, my favorite beach in Costa Rica. If I could stand the heat, I'd be living there, no question. Once my housesitter got back to town (no, you can't have her name… I need her), Hal and I drove down to join them.

It's a flat-out miracle, but the 44km goat-track between Quepos and Dominical is PAVED. It is now a miracle of a road: wide, flat, smooth, even, with – are you sitting down? – shoulders. Hal and I drove this road our first trip in 2006, in the dark, in the rain. I drove it again when I went to Hacienda Baru with a couple of girlfriends a year ago. It was hell. By the time you got to the end, after being rudely jostled for at least an hour, close to two if the road had not been graded for awhile, you were ready to choke something. But now, it's the road to Paradise. Unfortunately, now everyone will want to go. It would be a tragedy if Uvita started looking like Jacó [ha-KOE, not JACK-oh which is how all the newbie gringos pronounce it.]

Another miracle is that the Oh Shit and Oh My God bridges have finally been replaced with wide brand spanking new overpasses. It's kinda sad actually, to drive over the new bridges looking at the old ones sitting forlornly by, dwarfed by the new structures. I got to drive over the Oh Shit bridge one last time in October when I went to the Mono Azul for a weekend. Nostalgic, actually. Having crossed those bridges and lived to tell the tale is a badge of honor. Really. You know that if you've crossed them. And lived.

Oh – we found a great place to stay in Uvita at the last minute, really cheap: $100/night for eight of us, although two beds shy. Good thing teen boys can sleep anywhere. The location was to die for and right off the Costanero. I would include the website here, but Criticia has a couple of things to warn you about first. Like: bring your own toilet paper, towels (including handtowels and washrags), pillows, shampoo & soap (of course), a fan for the guest cottage (because the ac didn't work the first night, no compressor which somehow showed up by the second night), rubber gloves to clean the hank of someone else's hair on the shower drain, clean sheets (because one of the beds was full of little dead bugs), lightbulbs (and a ladder if you want to change the bulb in my room which we couldn't), batteries for the flashlights sitting around, a screwdriver to remove the doors and a sander so you can get them to open all the way, coffee cups if there are more than four of you, some folding chairs if more than two of you want to sit down at one time (which you'll need for the beach anyway). You have to stick your hand in the tank to flush the toilet in the little bungalow, and the shower knobs in that bathroom don't have a "stop"… you just kinda keep turning till the water slows to a trickle. Don't worry, it eventually turns off. This is made all the trickier seeing as how the on-demand hot water heaters are conveniently set to "scald." The shower head in the big house was off so it was like showering under a hose. The bathroom sink leaked but they thoughtfully placed a white plastic bucket under to catch the drips.

Other than that, it was perfect. Really. And truthfully, we didn't care. It got to be funny. We'd roll our eyes, point and laugh, then go back to the beach.

Uvita is fantastic, I love it there. Too hot for a menopausal fat girl
for everyday living, but otherwise, perfect! We found a good pizza
place, a great beach, I even played soccer with a local family (I swear
they asked me to play), drove all over the place, visited some friends.
New Year's Eve we had a most unremarkable "tex-mex" dinner in Domincal, then in bed by 9. Heaven.

Good friends are where it's at New Year's Day we drove home on fabulous paved roads, stopping for another truly forgettable meal at a taco place in ha-KOE. Then home to hang out with our buds one mo' night. We heart the Bs. I can't think of a better way to bring in a new year than to be in Costa Rica with good friends and family. Here's to a swell 2010. May it bring each of us continued prosperity in everything that matters. Love, Saratica

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