Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Mountain View

When Mélanie and I committed to Costa Rica, we knew that we didn’t want to live in San José since it is a big city. In our minds, the Costa Rican experience was all about nature and our preference was to live in the mountains in a small town. At first, we doubted that it would be possible to be in a rural area because I need high-speed Internet to be able to work. After doing a considerable amount of researching and networking, we were so excited to find out that our goal could be achieved by making contact with Ray at CRWiFi. In a nutshell, Ray beams high-speed Internet from antennas situated in the mountains. When we were ready to book a beautiful house in the hills, we coordinated the installation of a receiver with Ray in order to have high-speed Internet available as soon as we arrived.

I am very, very fortunate to be able to develop software while being surrounded by coffee plantations, fruit trees, toucans, iguanas etc.

Sadly, we have to leave this house in around 3 weeks and we will definitely miss it. We have such a spectacular view being perched up high.

(If you listen closely while watching the video, you can hear Léah ask Mélanie to smell her armpit. Don’t think she is strange, she was trying her first deodorant stick. ^_^) 

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Fun with Friends on Mother’s Day

We celebrated Mother’s Day at John and Patsy’s house. They were such amazing hosts and everybody had a great time.

John is the “Grill King”… the way he worked the chicken on the BBQ was a sight to behold.

We haven’t taken many family pictures because I am normally the one behind the camera. I love how Naimah is kicking up her heal in the picture.

Mélanie and Patsy (I can understand quite a bit when Patsy speaks her “Mexican Spanish”).

Water limbo

Of course, Mélanie needed some quality “Latin baby” time.

Patsy has details on her blog as well.

Monday, August 17, 2009


The rest of the family was in the kitchen when Mélanie called out to us to come see something. She had been in the middle of hanging up some of the swimsuits to dry when she discovered a stowaway.

The scorpion was very much alive and had decided to camp out in my swimsuit. I transferred him to a Ziploc bag and we set it free in a field the following morning.


As mentioned before, creepy crawlies such as scorpions, spiders, and snakes are fairly common here. Nervous for our children’s well-being, we researched a bit on the Internet and read that Costa Rica has 12 types of scorpions, but none are dangerous; their sting is similar to a wasp. Scorpions in the United States are much more deadly and dozens of people die in Arizona from them every year.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Happy Mother’s Day: The Sequel

Mother’s Day in Costa Rica, which happens to be today, is a very big deal here. The kids have spent the last 2 weeks preparing Mother’s Day cards and presents.

Léah’s card for Mélanie:

Gabriel’s card for Mélanie:

How many Jewish Bubbies do you think had cards made for them in Costa Rica?


Gabriel made a card for Mamie in Gaspé:

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Return to Sender

Costa Rica boasts the highest standard of living in Central America and has a vibrant technology sector, but “postal authorities say that 1 in 5 pieces of mail is undeliverable because they can't figure out where the addressee lives” (LA Times, 2007). This is due to the fact that Costa Rica doesn't have a standardized system of addresses; instead, “official” addresses in this country read like treasure-hunt clues. Take a look at the address for this restaurant in our town:

“50 meters west of the ‘Nacional al Boyero’ monument”.

Most Costa Rican addresses are expressed in relation to the closest community landmark; in the case pictured above, a monument. But to make it even more challenging, sometimes that landmark no longer even exists. Plus, when Costa Ricans give directions, a city block is considered to be 100 meters long regardless of its length. So for the address of the restaurant, it isn’t an exact 50 meters from the monument but rather a half a block.

In Atenas (where we live), the streets aren't named, and virtually none have signs. I haven’t even seen a house with a number. We called for roadside assistance this week to boost the dead battery on our car and it took them 3 hours to find us… and we were at our house!

For those of us that have become reliant on Google Maps, this is a big adjustment when you can’t use it to help you find “125 meters west of the old Coca-Cola plant”.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Birthday Masks and Spanish Barbies

We celebrated Naimah’s birthday with a cake last night and wanted to buy party hats for the kids like we do in Canada. However, in Costa Rica, it seems that it is the tradition to wear masks at birthday parties instead and therefore, that is all that we could find in stores. The kids were more than pleased to have a little masquerade.

Naimah loves Barbie and wanted a doll from the movie “The Diamond Castle”. We were lucky to find a doll in one of the stores in a nearby town but of course, the doll doesn’t sing in English, it sings in Spanish. Naimah officially now has Barbies that speak English, French, and Spanish… I hope Ken can understand them all.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Happy 4th Birthday, Naimah!

It doesn’t feel like long ago that she was still a baby.