Setbacks of the past week long forgotten... It's all relative...


We noticed these bead-like strands in trees in Hawaii during our eight-month stint in 2014/2015 on four islands; Oahu, Maui, Big Island, and Kauai.
"Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica"
Tom captured this unique cloud formation.  The progression continues below.
Cloud formation evolving before our eyes.
Finally, it wafts away, losing its shape.
We're over it; the plumbing problems in the three kitchen sinks; the power and Wi-Fi outage; the car rental fiasco in San Jose; the lack of availability of necessary prescriptions in Costa Rica.  It's all relative, isn't it?

When we watch news stories of the loss of lives, injuries, loss of homes and livelihood, our minor issues are but a blip on the radar, hardly worthy of mention compared to what has transpired in Texas and the other US gulf states as a result of Hurricane Harvey.  
Peacock strutting along the grass.
For many, it will be months, if not years until they recover from the loss of their homes and businesses and, a lifetime of sorrow for losing their loved ones and from suffering serious injury.  How sad this is.

In a perfect world the inconveniences of our lives, free from such horrors as Hurricane Harvey, would remain paltry and inconsequential in how we see the world. 
Unusual blooming flower.
But, we're human.  And, although most of us possess varying degrees of empathy and compassion for the losses of others, we tend to stay stuck in our own little worlds. 

Today, tears will be shed all over the world for losses that in no way compare to Hurricane Harvey's rage across the gulf coast of the US or other disasters that strike people's lives throughout the world.
Houses close to the road as we drove along the highway.
In today's world, one may cry over a lost set of keys, a wine stain on a favorite article of clothing, or a sad scene in a TV show or a movie.  Thinking about the losses of others at such times does little to put an end to our own whimpering and momentary sensation of loss for even the most insignificant of things.  It's all relative.

We always say, "If we're safe and healthy, we don't have a complaint in the world" as we live this life of world travel.  But, we're aren't exempt no matter how hard we try, from getting ruffled by the most meaningless of scenarios.
A popular garden store near the Zoo Ave rehab center.
Who cares, if for some reason eggs are hard to peel in Costa Rica?  Are they hard to peel because they're so darned fresh from the farm?  Who cares, if the whole cream we finally found won't whip due to a lack of emulsifiers added to make it possible?  Is it possible Costa Rica puts less "junk" in many of their products?

Who cares if we can't find decent imported cheeses or smoky tasting bacon?  Costa Rica is not known for either of these products. They use their own queso (cheese) for their meals.  They don't need a fine quality Dutch Gouda to line their deli cases and fill their refrigerators. 
Pretty blooming plants for sale.
Who cares if at night we spot cucarachas (cockroaches) running along the kitchen counters who all but disappear during the day?  After all, we are living in the rain forest.

Who cares that we find gecko poop on the floors, counters, and furniture.  With a quick flick, it's gone.  Who cares that we can hardly find an English speaking person in a local shop or market with whom we can have a conversation?  It's their country, not ours.  They don't need to learn our language.  We need to learn theirs. (We're trying).
Pineapple for sale at a farm stand.
Who cares about the loud music wafting through the air at night when we're trying to sleep?  It's their culture, not ours that inspires them to celebrate life. Above all, who cares that it rains each day without exception, giving us a reprieve and sunlight for a few hours most mornings when every day the temperature is comfortable with no air con needed?  We came here in the rainy season based on our schedule, not for some pre-planned sunny vacation.

Who cares about a less than half day power outage, a temporary plumbing problem or a ripoff car rental?  In the realm of things, these are merely inconveniences that are easily forgotten in no time at all. 
These hedges were trimmed into letters.
Sure, I cringed when a cucaracha ran up my arm when I slipped my hand into a kitchen oven mitt.  I got over it.  Now, I shake the mitt before slipping my hand inside.  It's all relative.

Remain well and safe, dear Readers.
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Photo from one year ago today, August 31, 2016:

Colorful shrine in front of a property in Phuket Thailand.  It was on this date one year ago that we posted the final expenses for Thailand.  For more details, please click here.

Warning to all tourists taking prescription drugs...Could result in a Costa Rica nightmare...


Yesterday we shared a photo of an Owl Eyed Butterfly and today, we have a winking Barn Owl.
"Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica"

Ulysses creating a perfect trim on the hedges at the villa.
After yesterday's scathing tongue lashing on Monday's less than a pleasant attempt at renting a car, we hesitated to go down a somewhat negative path two days in a row.

For the majority of tourists, today's post will have little significance. You book a vacation/holiday in Costa Rica staying at a resort for a week or two.  If you take prescription meds, you bring along a sufficient amount for your entire stay and if smart, you bring enough for an additional few weeks in the event of some mishap or delay in returning to your home country as originally planned.
Creatures in Costa Rica are colorful, including this huge spider in her web.
However, if travelers like us plan to stay for an extended period, its an entirely different scenario when no prescription drugs (including non-narcotic meds) may be shipped into the country.  Also, no vitamins or supplements may be shipped into Costa Rica and will also be confiscated.

Why is this?  Very strict drug laws, coupled with Costa Rica's intent to create a revenue source from selling their own prescription medications in the local and chain pharmacies.  Other than seldom prescribed narcotics, mood altering or brain function medications, most medications are sold over the counter without a prescription.

I take low doses of three non-narcotic meds for the following conditions (bad genes); hypertension, thyroid and a hormone...fairly innocuous items all typically requiring prescriptions from a doctor in the US.  (Other country's laws may vary).
It was frustrating, taking photos through the fences but these birds weren't ready to return to the wild after their rehabilitation.
When I noticed my supply was dwindling these past months, I decided to make a purchase over these next few months from ProgressiveRX where I've been purchasing refills regularly over these past five years through their online service, comparable to buying from any online pharmacy in Canada.  

Easy as always? So I thought.  This has never been an issue in any country in which we've lived over these past years.  I'd make the online purchase well in advance of when I needed them (slow delivery times) and have them shipped to wherever we may be at any given time. 

Although one shipment was lost while we were in Italy, the company happily replaced the lost items at no additional charge.  Luckily, I'd planned the shipments months before I needed the pills and never missed a dose through the lengthy process of replacing the lost items.
Three Barn Owls at Zoo Ave, the bird and animal rescue facility in the Alajuela Valley.
While in Australia, for the sake of convenience, I actually received new prescriptions from a doctor we'd visited for physical exams while in Trinity Beach.  I wasn't able to get more than a six month's supply which is typical, even through online pharmacies. 

Thus, again with a several months supply on hand, I ordered more from ProgressiveRX which we had shipped to us in a box of supplies from the US from our mailing service.

I'd also considered making the purchases of a few month's supply while here in Costa Rica since it's necessary for both of us to have physical exams no more than 60 days prior to the upcoming cruise to Antarctica.  We'd have the necessary exams and purchase my meds while here at any pharmacy.
Three Barn Owls sharing a tree branch.
On Monday, the day of the rental car fiasco, I'd brought along the pills in the bottles with clearly marked labels to the Walmart Pharmacy.  As its turned out, I'll run out of two of the meds prior to the time we leave on November 22nd, thinking they could easily be replaced by some Costa Rica versions of the same frequently prescribed drugs for these conditions, common throughout the world.

Oh, foolish me.  Walmart could not supply me with any of the three meds without changing doses, and brand name components.  One of the meds required the brand name when I tried alternates to no avail in years past.

After the pharmacist and I counted what I had left, we discovered I'll run out before we leave.  "Local pharmacies don't carry what you need," explained the kindly pharmacist.  It's a lost cause.  I contemplated my options which included taking wrong doses and/or wrong meds and decided against it.
These birds were too high up to get clear shots without a tripod.
During the last month when I'll run out of two of the three meds, I'll take doses every other day.  Doing so should not be life threatening although it may create some unpleasant symptoms.  I've experienced worse.  I'll be fine.

In the interim, I'll place an order from ProgressiveRX to arrive at our mailing service in September or October (at the latest) and have them shipped in a box of other supplies we'll be sending to our hotel in Miami where we'll stay one night before boarding the 30-night cruise to South America.

How will we ensure the proper timing?  We'll have the shipment arrive from Nevada to Florida at least two weeks prior to our arrival on November 22nd.  The hotel will hold the package for us until we arrive. 
Parrot sitting atop a perch at Zoo Ave (Ave means "aviary" in Spanish).
At that point I'll have enough to hold me for a few months until I place another order for a shipment to South Africa.  That will work.  We received a shipment while we were in Marloth Park in 2014 without incident.

The end result...bring enough medication with you when you come to Costa Rica unless you're certain you can purchase refills from a local pharmacy of the products/brands/doses you typically use.  You are allowed to bring a normal supply into the country commensurate with your stay plus extra for unexpected events.

Did I learn a lesson?  I suppose in regard to Costa Rica, I sure did.  And, of course in the future, I will check if there will be an issue receiving medication by mail from countries where we aren't quite sure.  After five years of world travel, this is the first time we've run across such a situation. 
A bit blurry from afar but a pretty parrot none the less.
But, like the rental car situation (BTW, we did get a refund from rentalcars.com for which we're relieved and pleased) one never knows what may be encountered in unfamiliar territory.  Neither of these scenarios would be as much of an issue for a typical short stay by most travelers. 

Our unique nomadic lifestyle can be challenging at times. And, we continue to learn as we go.

Be well.
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Photo from one year ago today, August 30, 2016:
Shorter than he'd normally prefer, Tom's buzz cut in Phuket Thailand held through the 33-night cruise which began on October 31st.  For more details, please click here.

After five years of experience...Even we can be fooled!...Car rental warnings....More Atenas Farmers Market photos...Stunning sighting from the veranda...


A farmer with several coolers of homemade sausage cooked us a sampling of his Italian sausage which we have trouble finding in many countries.  After tasting the delicious, perfectly seasoned sausages, we purchased six packages to use for our next batch of low carb pizza.
"Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica"
From this website"The owl butterflies, the genus Caligo, are known for their huge eye spots, which resemble owls' eyes. They are found in the rain forests and secondary forests of MexicoCentral, and South America.Owl butterflies are very large, 65–200 mm (2.6–7.9 in), and fly only a few meters at a time, so avian predators have little difficulty in following them to their settling place. However, the butterflies preferentially fly at dusk, when few avian predators are around. The Latin name may possibly refer to their active periods; caligo means darkness."   
This morning's sighting of this Owl Butterfly sent us both to the moon with sheer delight!  Can you imagine the magic of this amazing creature with spots that appear to be eyes resembling an owl in order to keep predators away?  Wow!
After tasting the above Italian Sausages as shown above we purchased six packages from the farmer.
When we spotted this butterfly on the front veranda this morning, I couldn't grab the camera quickly enough.  Tom witnessed it flying but by the time I grabbed the camera it had landed in this spot by the sliding glass door.
The small but fun-filled Atenas Farmers Market.
We'll be sharing more photos of butterflies over these upcoming months in Costa Rica due to the fact we've seen more butterflies here than in any other part of the world.  Please check back for future stories.
There are plants for sale along with produce and handmade goods.
Speaking of our remaining 85 days in Costa Rica, yesterday's experience at the car rental facility in San Jose will be emblazoned in our minds forever.  Never once in the past five years of world travel, having rented cars for approximately 50% of the time, have we ever had such an outrageously awful experience.

Sure, we anticipated the US $9 (CRC 5,169) a day rate (included all taxes) would never end up at that rate when we went to pick up the car.  We anticipated add-on charges for our age which was listed at US $5 (CRC 2,871) per day, per person.  But even at US $19 (CRC 10,912) we could live with that with both of us able to drive. 
We were impressed with the elaborate displays.
In many countries we've rented cars for around US $600 (CRC 344,574) to $700 (402,003) for a monthly rate which we've always felt has been fair.  But, the discovery we made after our taxi ride from Atenas to the Europcar facility (franchise owned) next door to the Walmart store in San Jose where we planned to pick up a few items after getting the car, threw us for a loop.
Huge banana picked in giant bunches caught the eye of many shoppers.
It all started out fine when the rep behind the counter began processing our booked rental asking for our passports, drivers licenses, US address, etc. We'd brought along the printed documents with our confirmation number and pertinent information to ensure nothing would infringe upon our getting the decent rate we'd derived online at our usual rentalcars.com, a reputable company.
Belts, wallets and other leather goods.
And, we've used Europcar at least 10 times over these years expecting they'd honor the online pricing without gouging us.  After finding they were franchise operations and subject to any peculiar laws in a country (so they say), we were shocked over the "bait and switch" tactic we were presented.
Local farmers and butchers have a wide array of beef, pork, and poultry for sale.
Aad has warned us about "bait and switch" type rental situations frequently occurring in Costa Rica, the reason why we'd chosen to do the five day rental through his regular guy from "Thrifty."  Having used Europcar many times over these past years, we didn't anticipate any problems.
Refrigerated cases with traditional and uncommon cuts of meat.
Here's the prices we'd have had to pay, had we taken the tiny car yesterday:

1.  US $9 daily rate, plus the US $5 (CRC 2,871) for one driver over 64 years old (Tom) PLUS...an additional US $44.95 (CRC 25,814) per day for insurance (we already have insurance through our credit cards and a separate liability policy) for a total of US $58.95 per day (CRC 33,854) for a grand total for US $5,070 (CRC 2,911,444) for our remaining days in Costa Rica.
2.  Plus, they wanted a letter from our bank stating we have sufficient funds to pay for the car in the event of an accident (what the heck was the US $44.95 (CRC 25,814) per day supposed to be for?
3.  Plus, they required a US $9,000 (CRC 5,168,610) deposit!!!
Specialty flavored sea salts.  We purchased a similar item in Tasmania, smokey Himalayan salt which we continue to use and enjoy.
Why in the world would we pay any of this?  Any one of these above three would sent us walking out the door in a huff, which I did, this time, not so much Tom.  Yep, I was the "overly grumpy" traveler this time, appalled by this unbelievable trickery. 

I couldn't resist buying one of these containers of two dozen quail eggs.
Sure, if someone was renting a car for a one week holiday, it wouldn't seem so bad but still they'd required the outrageous deposit!  Who'd be willing to put a US $9,000 (CRC 5,168,610) deposit on a credit card?  Not us!
Over a period of a few days, I boiled these tiny quail eggs and had them in my taco salad.  They're tiny and fun to pop in one's mouth for a tasty treat.
We left...no car...as frustrated as I've ever been in our years of world travel.  We walked across the road to the Walmart store, our yellow Costco bag in hand with a short list of items we needed to find, some of which we did find and others we did not.
For illustration purposes, I placed one large regular chicken egg atop the boiled peeled quail eggs.  About four quail eggs is comparable to one chicken egg.  I ate all 24 of them over a period of three days.  Tom didn't care for them, although they taste almost identical to a regular egg.
Wait until tomorrow, folks when we share the story of what transpired at the pharmacy at Walmart that left me with a dilemma for which there's no logical solution. By the time we paid for our few items we were both in a better state of mind, and we found a taxi outside the store that drove us back to Atenas. 
Since Tom's been eating fruit, we purchased this watermelon which he hadn't eaten since we left Minnesota.  Today, I used this cauliflower as an ingredient in a favorite meal; Chicken Sausage and Cauliflower Bake.  Email me for this amazing recipe!
Round trip taxi fares from Atenas to San Jose?  The total came to US $54.83 (CRC 31,485) which actually wasn't as much as we'd expected.  That was one pricey trip t0 Walmart!
We used these small purple onions in taco salad over these past few days.
No one ever said it was ever easy.  We'll be back with more...
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Photo from one year ago today, August 29, 2016:
Final photos of Chalong Beach in Phuket, Thailand when we were preparing to depart on September 1, 2016.  For more final photos, please click here.

We're here!...Power is back on after 10 hours...We're off to the big city...More Atenas Friday Farmers Market...


When this sweet and friendly butcher at the Farmers Market spotted me with the camera, he willingly posed!  The people of Costa Rica are approachable and warm.
"Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica"
A breathtaking ridge of low lying clouds.
There are two things that are of most concern to us when there's a power outage; one, that our food in the refrigerator and freezer will spoil and two, the prospect of boredom at night in the dark.
Check out the size of those bananas!
We can easily entertain ourselves during the day by playing cards, chatting, sunning and swimming in the pool.  But, once darkness falls, life without power is daunting.  Our phone batteries are usually dead by dark and thus we're unable to read online books, and our laptops may only have enough juice to watch one to two downloaded shows or one movie.

Last night would have been especially annoying in the dark had the power not come back on at 1:00 pm yesterday.  As it turned out, my laptop which contains all of the downloaded shows, was totally dead when I attempted to fire it up when the power returned.
Some vendors offered handmade crafts.
Somehow, on Saturday night, the plug-in came loose totally draining the battery.  We wouldn't have been able to watch a thing or...to transfer a show to Tom's laptop.  Thank goodness we got the power back yesterday.
These handmade shoes were beautifully made.
In the realm of things, none of its a big deal, right?  We could be like the folks who are dealing with floods and devastation after massive Hurricane Harvey over these past days.  Who are we to complain?

Then again, with us humans, it's all relative.  We each live in our own moment in time and although we may feel empathy for those less fortunate, we do tend to get caught up in our own "dilemma of the moment."
Handmade candles.
Besides the 10-hour power outage on Sunday and the resulting lack of Wi-Fi, that doesn't work without power, the three sinks in the kitchen had begun leaking on Saturday night to the point where we can no longer use them.  Apparently, Julio is coming today to make the repairs.
These perfectly shaped tomatoes may have been imported which we've discovered is not unusual at markets throughout the world.  Instead, we purchase a big bag of uneven, less perfect tomatoes as shown below.
Luckily, we already had last night's meal prepared which only required reheating the meat for our taco salads.  No worries there.  We'd have managed even without power when the gas range still worked, power or not.

On Saturday, when we went to Supremercade Coopeatenas we waited at the outdoor cafe for the rental car #1 guy to pick up the car at 10:00 am after our five-day rental.  (This morning at 8:30 am taxi driver Henry is picking us up to get rental car #2 near the San Jose airport).
These are the tomatoes we purchased.
While we waited, we met a lovely couple Pat and Jim, from the US who own a home nearby but happen to be returning to the US this week for an extended stay.  Gosh, it was fun chatting with them.  Their five years of experience living in Atenas was helpful to us. 

They even followed us into the market to show us where to find whole cream and unsweetened coconut milk. Yeah!  The cream wasn't located in a refrigerator section but instead was on a dry shelf in a shelf stable container.  The coconut milk was located in the liquor section near the rum.  Oh, I get it.  In three and a half months we'd never have found those two much-needed items.
There are many apple orchards in the area.
While checking out we met another lovely person, Sarah, who wrote down her phone number and whom we'll call for a get-together in a few weeks.  Her husband had just had surgery and needed a few weeks to recover before socializing.  Most certainly, we'll make contact.
Gorgeous flowers for that special occasion.
After the visits with the expats, we purchased several kilos of organic chicken breasts and pork chops when the market was having their special Saturday sale. We filled our insulated bags to the brim, grabbed a taxi in front of the market and were back to our villa a little after noon.
We purchased six heads of this lettuce for our big daily salads.
With no car over the weekend, until we pick up the rental this morning, we felt a bit stranded on Sunday, exacerbated by the lack of electricity.  If we'd had wheels we could have gone into town to buy bags of ice to keep the food cold. 

Instead, we dumped all the ice from the ice maker into a large cooler and added all the perishables from the refrigerator.  Everything survived and the frozen meats in the freezer stayed frozen. 
More locally grown fruit.
I'd prepared a short post yesterday to inform our readers that we weren't able to post.  I'd considered doing the post in the afternoon but after the change of my usual morning posting routine, I decided against it and took the rest to re-organize after the power outage and get caught up on a few tasks.

Now that we'll have a car, we have many exciting tours on the horizon.  Please stay in touch as we continue to share them with all of you.

Have a wonderful day!
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Photo from one year ago today, August 28, 2016:
The elaborate sign at the entrance to the Muay Thai Kickboxing facility down the road from us.  Many nights we can hear the activity.  For more photos please click here.