Saturday, September 11, 2010


I'm supposed to get up early in the morning and go running on the beach before it gets too hot. Ian is supposed to get up early in the morning and meet the fishermen coming in to shore and buy some fresh fish for us. The problem is that there really isn't time for that. We are far too busy with our chores. It is a regular Little House on the Prairie situation here, minus having to darn our socks because no one wears socks in this heat.

The first chore of the morning is to stay in bed and stare at the ocean for a while - just to make sure everything is okay out there. Check on the weather, the surfers, see if any fishing boats or whales dot the horizon (a chore made more challenging due to the fact that in the rush of planning and packing we neglected to bring binoculars).

Eventually we get up and someone gets the coffee started (not having an automatic programmed coffee maker is such a burden).

While coffee is brewing, my chore is to rid the floors of the various things that have died overnight. I usually start at what I affectionately call "Dead Beetle Corner." I have learned over time, however, that the large colorful beetles on their backs in Dead Beetle Corner are not necessarily dead, but may simply be a victim of poor design. Upon being scooped right side up and headed towards the door, they often give a shake and fly angrily out of the cup or my hand. Because, of course, all the gigantic scary insects here can also fly. After Dead Beetle Corner, I get the broom and do my best to sweep up all the moths, grasshoppers, ants, and other unidentifiable insects out the door with the gecko poop.

By that time, coffee is ready and our wildlife watching duties begin. We bring our coffee and juice and breakfast outside and set up our viewing stations. We check on the iguana that lives in the tree, watch the howler monkeys travel their howler highway, keep an eye on the pack of coaties that roam the grounds, and identify any new birds ("it's definitely a chachalaka!").

Sadie has her specific wildlife responsibilities involving checking on the chrysalis that hangs from the banister out the front door, and the care and feeding of the caterpillar she has captured. In the name of scientific inquiry (or payback for the several bites?), Sadie keeps a fuzzy green caterpillar in her bug catcher and rigorously records her daily observations in her pink Hello Kitty locking diary.

Ian's daily chores include feeding us all, usually three meals a day. Due to the fact that we no longer have an income, and going out to eat here is quite expensive, we eat mostly at home. We've been out to dinner exactly once in 10 days, which I think is a record for us. Plus we have no friends so no one ever invites us over to dinner at their house. Figuring out yet another meal from the limited supply of groceries is a chore, and is testing the limits of Ian's creativity but he is doing a stupendous job. (Some fresh fish would really spice things up).

My chore, then, is to clean up after the meals. Wash the same three plates, three bowls, three mugs and three cups, three times a day. Living in the jungle requires one to be a diligent housekeeper. Any dirty dish, any open container, any crumb left on the counter, will quickly attract a swarm of tiny ants faster than you can say "don't forget to put the Honey Nut Cheerios back in the fridge." Sadie made the mistake of taking home a large dead butterfly and within five minutes of it being on her bed, the entire sheet was covered with ants intent on carrying off the entire butterfly in however many separate parts it may take. What is left of the butterfly is now in the freezer in one of our precious coveted tupperware containers.

Cleaning up after a meal also requires composting our organic waste. Which is otherwise known as the chore of walking down the road and throwing stuff into the jungle. Ian and I share that chore. It's only fair since it is often pitch dark and raining when this chore is required and after all it is The Jungle out there.

We recently bought a car. A rattletrap, gas guzzling, stinky, gigantic pathfinder (more on that in a future post), which has added to our long list of chores. After the results of several rounds of "eenie, meenie, minie, mo" were questioned, we resorted to a coin toss. Despite the fact that colones have no "heads" or "tails," I called it in the air and won. In addition to his chore of skimming the pool once a day, Ian now has the chore of periodically vacuuming the sand from the pathfinder. Phew!

Once our household chores are complete, we have our town chores to do. Leaving and returning to the house is a chore in of itself. Security is an issue here - there is a lot of theft - so leaving the house involves the elaborate process of closing all the windows, shutting all the shutters, closing and locking all the doors, putting the computer away in the safe, and setting the alarm. The downside of paradise.

Errands in town consist of several options, depending on the day. I might trudge down the shortcut through the jungle to the Yoga House and take pilates (Okay, I did that once. It was hard). Ian might trudge down to the Yoga House and take yoga (he's been twice). Perhaps we'll all trudge to the beach and go body surfing or collect shells or look for families to accost to try to make friends with. A visit to the lawyer is sometimes on the agenda (again, more later on how this chore relates to the gigantic pathfinder), or a ride into the pueblo of Nosara (the real "town") for groceries. Every other Saturday is the farmer's market where we've found homemade goat cheese, greens, papaya, passionfruit pulp, and organic chicken. Maybe a trip to the library in the pueblo is in order or to the video store/internet cafe/used book store down the road.

In the evenings we cook, eat, clean, read, watch episodes of "Airbender: the last avatar," read some more, and often watch lightning storms far out in the Pacific. We crawl into bed early and fall asleep to the sounds of the jungle.

Maybe tomorrow I'll go running. Maybe tomorrow Ian will get fish.


  1. Caitlin,
    I had no idea what a brilliant writer you are! I want to read MORE! Keep living, exploring and writing, I for one am eager to read your next installment! We are thinking of you as you begin to recover from the culture shell shock... take good care of yourselves, and know your friends support you 100%! -Becca

  2. DBD, great travelogue. Though it makes me nervous to look too closely in the corners of my room. Arroz con pollo y frijoles negro. Learn to love it. All well here... Gorgeous Indian summer... Low 60's and sun... I'm hiking through my rain forest later today... No monkeys, just bears. Keep writing! Best to Ian and Sadie!

  3. I'm in love with this blog. You are setting a standard for yourself, dear! Keep it up I love hearing about every minute of your day. I miss sharing it with you but it sounds like fun exploration is going on! I just love "Sadie's Science." It's a new camp I can't wait to attend. -- Love you, K,C and M

  4. Upside to small grocery stores, limited inventory and high import taxes on "luxury" foodstuffs:
    1) you do eat better because you eat less processed food and you prepare it yourself
    2) you do save money vs. restaurants
    3) you have a sense where your food comes from (local vs. non-local vs. flown in)
    4) you also pay more attention (label reading, price checking, when does the produce delivery happen)and are just a more conscious shopper
    5) I think we do better with LESS variety physically (not emotionally) because of a more simple diet
    6) you learn to make do and "swap out" ingredients for favorite recipes AND to make your own Thai, Japanese, fill in the blank dishes.

    well, those are obvious. It's a hard adjustment. After the first few years of living here I finally stopped CRAVING different restaurants, cuisines, ethnic foods and now when I have the opportunity it's not so overwhelming and dare I say it: I've turned down sushi in San Jose for a good book and early bedtime!