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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Check it off the list

One of the reasons that we moved here is that there were great, moderately expensive private schools for the kids that had happy kids in them. We had visited one such school in our November trip. It was great. It was conveniently located. It was beautiful. It was somewhat reasonably priced. It was not going to be a problem to get in (said Barry). It had club options. It had art and music and gym. It was taught in English, but majority of kids were from here. It was nice because it had one set of classes starting in August that would roughly follow the U.S. schedule. It was FULL.

I had said to Barry, if we had trouble, if we couldn't get the kids into school - we would return make sure that Bella would start kindergarten. But, alas, I knew that I would never follow through with that threat.

So - thus began the hunt. We visited and called several other schools. We were down to two Catholic, more local schools. We finally decided on St Jude's. This is not a website that does it justice and it is all in Spanish, but a small idea.

Here is more info about the school we picked.
They teach all major subjects in English.
They do teach in Spanish the following (one per day of the week) - music, art, gym, enrichment (Catholic and morals), and French.
Gus and Bella are BOTH enrolled.
Gus's classes go from 8 am - 12:30 pm.
Bella's classes go from 8 am - 2 pm.
They have cute uniforms - red shorts and a tee-shirt with school logo.
They have clubs. My hope is that both will take swimming, Bella ballet and crafts and Gus pre-gymnastics.
We can hire a school bus (think ecovan) to take them back and forth.
We had to buy school supplies for them and that is a story for another time.
We still need to buy mud boots for them - so far I have looked in about 5 stores!
They started TODAY and are there right NOW.

I think that we picked well, strike something else off the list.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Red Sox and Technology are Universal

The other day, we spent a good couple hours sitting outside on the little stoop and watching the kids play on the sloped common road down through the condominiums. We are at the top of the hill of 6 townhouse types that face in toward each other (three on each side). The complex guard is a guy named Alvaro and we spent much of this time chatting with him. Mind you he only speaks Spanish, so this all took awhile. It takes patience to go slowly through these conversations, but is usually worth the effort. Barry got more, but they were guys talking. It is a little different in a Latin country.

This is what I learned:

  • He is from Nicaragua
  • He is 28 years old
  • He has 5 brothers and sisters, 4 are here in Costa Rica along with his mother
  • He has an 18 year old girlfriend
  • He is taking English classes in San Jose, they are expensive for him but he feels that it is his best opportunity for better work here or abroad
  • He is Evangelical (I think that means Born-again Christian here)
  • He has a cool cell phone that plays music - including Bee Gees and "Take My Breathe Away" from Top Gun
  • Nicaraguans (in general) tend to follow baseball more than futbol (soccer)
  • He likes the Red Sox

So there Dad - all the way to Costa Rica to meet a Sox fan.... No Yankees here!

Things that make you go hmm..

Everyone here seems worried about security. There are bars on the windows. On private residences there are often extra measures on the big walls (i.e. glass shards, razor wire, or even electric fence). In the complexes (called condominiums here) there are guard houses and often guys with guns. There are guys with guns in many public places.

BUT - alot of it seems for show. We have noticed that often these "extra" precautions seem to take care of one method of entry, but completely skip other ways.

I recently finished reading Robert B. Parker's Appaloosa, (good book by the way), in which the main character, Virgil Cole, Marshall of the town, mentions that "Clausewitz says you gotta plan for what your enemy can do, not what you think he'll do."

They don't seem to do that here. Point in case. Lets put shiny stuff in place, but in a condominium, we don't need to have bars or even really good locks on these huge sliding windows. They are just a hop, skip and a jump from the roof of the terrace. The terrace roof is just over the short wall on the side where there are no guards. Hmmm.....

Friday, July 20, 2007

What we're Eating

Thought someone might be interested in what we are eating. This is a shot of a few items in our frig. Grape (Uva), Orange and Apple juices. Hellman's mayonnaise and Heinz ketchup and milk. Not that much different from back in the States.

Haven't found good deli turkey, ham, roast beef cold cuts. But mostly everything else is somewhat available (or with a good substitute).

Looks Yummy, yes?

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Potter Fix Available

Just wanted to let everyone know that I should be able to get my Harry Potter. Auntie Myra is coming to visit next week and should be bringing The Book (I ordered it from Amazon to get to Mommie's along with some other things) ..... AND (most exciting) it is playing in the Cinemark here. So basically, we can (once we ditch the kids) go to the mall, order popcorn and watch the movie. JUST LIKE THE U.S. Only difference, we may have to have subtitles in Spanish. We can definitely deal with that!


I am sure everyone is just thrilled for me.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

We want ditoys

I may have mentioned that we have been watching a lot of tv. A lot of discovery kids. This is a channel for little kids so there are a lot of commercials geared toward kids. Particularly a lot of toys. I am frequently told, "I want that." There are some neat things here and some things from the States that are either new to me or didn't do too well in the U.S. market and are being aggressively marketed here.

For example:

Bella wants this as her dog. Of course the cool part is that it comes with a Barbie too. She has explained to me numerous times how much cleaner it would be to have a toy dog do poo-poo. Easier to clean up and isn't it neat. (You should see the commercial where Barbie uses the vacuum tool to clean up and dispose of the dog waste). To me it just looks like a tiny thing to be left around for Sera to try and eat. As I think Tanner is doing in the image. We will have to see about this.

Barry wants this. He thinks it would be fun to play with the kids. I am not sure how PC this would be and if it is available in the U.S.

Sera is too young to want everything. Luckily, Bella has selected several things that she might like (I am not sure if it is Bella or Sera who would like them?) and informed me we should get them for Sera's birthday.

Gus wants everything.

I just want to see Harry Potter.

We did something

We have actually accomplished something from beginning to end. We are now bonafide card-carrying members of ......................


Monday, July 16, 2007

Not Whining

I just want to make it clear. I am not whining. We are still glad we did this and very happy to be here. We are having a pretty good time of it here. Things are hard and we are trying to get to settled as fast as we can. This means a lot of running around. This is harder on the kids then us. Also, we have not settled into an "our house" yet where we can let them run around and do whatever they like. That is hard on them too. Hence it is hard on us.

We have been doing a lot of tv watching. Discovery kids, Nick Jr, Disney channel in Spanish. All good stuff but an awful lot of it. It will be so nice when we have the type of place we want - with some outdoor place for them to play and no "don't jump on the beds" policies in place.

We are all looking forward to that.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Up and Running

You may think I am talking about us and our adventure in Costa Rica - and while it is true that we are - this post is all about the baby.

She did it folks. For the past few months she has been standing up and putting one foot forward, then falling. Last night she put together 8 steps and then sat down on her own accord. She did it a few more times, just to show she can. And while crawling is still her preferred mode of transportation (after being carried by her mama), can running be far off?

Friday, July 13, 2007

Boxing Day

We are tired. It has been a bit of a let-down to be here. Kind of reminds me of the day AFTER Christmas (known as boxing day in Britishy countries). It was so very, very hectic to get everything done to come. In fact, we didn't get everything done. We left a trail of unfinished tasks for our family to do behind us (thanks guys). We also had many, many nights to bed after 2 am and up by 7 am. Bars was pretty upset at the time. When we booked tickets, he had wanted to push it out a week. I still maintain that it would have been same way, only later and with less time here before Bella's school started. Bars has said he has never been so stressed. Ha - I do this to myself all the time. Of course on the upside - we didn't have to think about the big change coming. It just kinda happened to us. So, I think overall that is less stress. More tired, less stress.

Not surprisingly, there were no welcome signs in the airport. No waiting friends or family. Costa Rica seems not to be impacted by our arrival. We have gone from being the weird friends doing something weird, that nobody is particularly thrilled with, to just the new kids on the block. Someone (she will remain nameless so as not to get into any trouble) told us that the local expats won't really befriend you for two years. Kind of a testing period to make sure that you stick. I can understand that with the kids - it would be kind of hard to keep having your kids' friends leave. Still, for my kids' sake, I hope that isn't true. We all need friends.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Not out on the streets yet

It feels kinda funny here. Feels familiar and still very strange. Of course we sometimes seem like chickens without heads, not sure which task to do first or how to do it. Buy the car, set up the corporation, open a bank account, get a drivers license......Sometimes it seems like I am a kindergartener and this is the put the pictures in order test.

Still, I guess we are making progress. We saw a furnished townhouse in a condominium in Los Laureles area. We took it for five weeks. Hopefully in that time we can find a house. At the very least,we are not out on the streets for 5 weeks.

I can not believe it, but my husband is forging aheadwith the idea to BUY. My husband who rails against the market, talks about bubbles, etc. I am a little in shock. Still, I thinik his reasoning is sound. If we get a long term unfurnished rental, we are still yanking the kids around. He really is ready to be able to do what we want with a place. And at theprice range we are hoping for, it is not like CA real estate. We have always been good in the past. Neither of us gets hooked emotionally and "gotta have" this house. Although I am a believer in "knowing" when you see it. Hopefully our luck in chosing well will remain strong. We dove in this far - might as well keep going.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

First Home

My blogfriend in the slow lane wondered how we were all doing without our stuff. This is what I told her.

As far as not having stuff, that is a joke. You should have seen our travel. I spent days with my 5 balikbayan boxes (Filipino boxes for "returning home" 20 x 20 x 20 white cardboard - much cheaper than the home depot and designed to be approved by the airlines, depending on how heavy you load them) and a scale. The 50 lbs is a killer - 70 would have been soooo easy. As it turned out I missed by a couple of pounds (heavy) but luckily the guy at the airport was in a hurry or he would have made me repack or pay $50 per box. So we had 5 balikbayan boxes, one homemade box that fit the pack and play plus other items and two car seats loaded up with other stuff and wrapped. Plus a double stroller, a single stroller, six assorted carryon suitcases, backpacks, diaper bag, purse, and three kids under 6. That's alot of stuff. It took an Izuzu Rodeo and a Volvo station wagon to get us all to the airport. Well all of us plus three family members to drive the cars back (and just generally help). We must have looked very "pack-mulish" going through the airport. Thankfully, everything from there on out went smoothly. (Except they made me throw out the opened jar of jif at security - no biggie, I just thought if we found nothing else for the fussy kids to eat, I could spoon it in them - but everything worked out fine).

We are staying at a furnished 2-bedroom condominium in Santa Ana called Blvd. del Sol. It is perfect for now. You probably already know, the term condominium means something different in Costa Rica - it translates to an enclosed compound with a guard. Our place is more like a townhouse. But we have been able to cook and let the kids play out back.

BUT, we only have this place for a week. Original plan was to take it for a month, however someone else has rented it for our second week. Now we are scrambling to find something else. We had an appointment today to meet a realtor person (not sure what to call them here, there are so many) to see a similar place near the multiplaza and the school for Bella. We also were to go by the school and enroll her. School was closed (I knew they were on vacation, but it was empty - no office personnel), and I forgot to change my watch so we were late for our appointment by an hour. We have rescheduled for tonight at 6:30 pm. So we accomplished McDonald's and buying little toys for the kids. It is hard enough to accomplish errands here when you Don't put yourself in the way. Ugh. Still totally my fault can't be too mad at Ibarra.

So hopefully we will like this place and take it for the 5 weeks it is definitely available. In that time our stuff will get here, and hopefully we will have found the place to buy.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Double Yolk Sunday

So we finally did it. We got through the packing, loading container, cleaning and returning rental house, moving to mother-in-laws (thanks mommi), packing for airport, sorting through remaining....uh crap and leaving errands for our family to do (thanks everyone).

We left through SFO on 07/07/07 at 7:30 am.....

And for those of you who wonder, I did not pick that intentionally, it just worked out that way - but hopefully it will be for good luck on this endeavor. I know that our whole family and friends are wishing us luck, even if there is a betting pool on how long we will last in CR before coming back to the US permanently. Sadly, they wouldn't let me in the pool - I could have made us some money!

So we made it to the plane on time, kids behave like CHAMPS on the plane, arrived safely, whisked through immigration and customs. Got help with our mega-load (8 checked items consisting of 6 balikibayan boxes (20 x 20 x 20) and 2 car seat plus stuff. All of us and 6 carryon items of various sizes. We all fit into one big taxi van and for $19 were off to our first week condominium. No trouble getting in. "Uncle Charlie" our driver took us right back out to the automercado for a few necessities. And we were back "home."

So Sunday was mostly a get settled, set up stuff to do for the week (like find a place to stay after this week is up!) and rest. Now Monday we will hit the pavement running.

But for further luck. First thing Sunday morning I made breakfast and the first egg cracked - double yolk. That's supposed to be good luck too, right?