Sunday, October 4, 2009


All 3 of our children love dogs but we never really considered getting one of our own. We never thought that when we would rent a house in Costa Rica, it would come with a dog that just can’t get enough “kid love”.

Manchas (“Spots” in Spanish) belongs to the family who owns the house that we are renting. His current official residence is one house over from us but Manchas insists on sleeping outside our backdoor like a guard dog. Today, when we were leaving the house, he even jumped inside the car next to the kids ready to go. We couldn’t take him and it broke our hearts to see him run after the car for around 2 KM. When we got back at the end of the day, there he was waiting.

As you know from previous posts, it hasn’t been easy for Léah lately and Manchas has surely provided some much needed dog therapy.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


Léah took her antibiotics for the prescribed 7 days but still hasn’t been herself for the last 2 weeks; she has been low on energy, very pale, and has been complaining about cramping in her stomach with pains reverberating to her back. Yesterday, Mélanie spent the day with her at the hospital in San José.

After a urine test, blood test, stool test, ultrasound, and seeing 2 pediatricians, we were informed that Léah no longer has Shigella in her body but she now has Dysentery (which was caused by the Shigella). An excerpt from the Wikipedia entry:

Dysentery (formerly known as flux or the bloody flux) is an inflammatory disorder of the intestine, especially of the colon, that results in severe diarrhea containing mucus and/or blood in the feces. If left untreated, dysentery can be fatal.

The Wikipedia entry on Dysentery mentions that, “consumption of fresh, warm camel feces has been recommended by Bedouins as a remedy for bacterial dysentery”. Instead of camel feces, Léah is taking Glutamine with Lactobacillus Reuteri twice a day for 5 days. Léah loves dairy products and fresh fruit but unfortunately, can’t eat either for possibly 6 weeks.

There are other lab tests being performed over the weekend and Léah needs to return to the hospital on Monday.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Bevy of Bacteria

Léah has been very ill for the last week. It started right before her 8th birthday with symptoms of a stomach flu. She was literally bedridden for 5 days straight and we knew that something was definitely wrong when there were signs of internal bleeding on the 4th day. After a few visits to the nearby clinic, we had some lab tests done and it was discovered that she has 2 heavy-duty bacteria in her body. You can read about them here and here but just a warning, the details might make you queasy. Léah is on antibiotics for the next 7 days, and we have to watch her closely for fever and other symptoms.

We were very worried about Léah especially on the night of September 15 when she was writhing in pain. We are 60 minutes away from one of the best hospitals in Latin America (one of the reasons why we chose this area of Costa Rica) but 60 minutes seems like 60 light-years when your child is very sick. Plus, driving the Costa Rican roads at night is not advisable so you better hope that the emergency visit to the hospital is at daytime.

This Central American experience is wonderful in many ways and most of the content on this blog so far has been very positive. However, this experience is not for the faint of heart and we do question the challenges at times.

We had planned a surprise one-week family trip and we are scheduled to leave tomorrow. The kids don’t have a clue where we are going (and I am not going to tell you either, dear reader). The doctors said that as long as Léah doesn’t have a fever, she can fly tomorrow.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Feliz Cumpleaños, Léah!

Happy Birthday, Léah!


From day one, Léah liked to sing and dance.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

When in Costa Rica, do as the Ticos do

We just moved out of our house in Pica Flora. Back in June, we had rented it knowing that we likely would not  be staying there for the full year. But, we thought that we would have had some time to shop around to see other places and decide what type of experience we wanted; we didn’t think that we would be “evicted” without having any option to extend our stay and then have to rush a decision.

Pica Flora is technically a vacation rental. It is absolutely beautiful with a magnificent view but the surrounding area is really not your typical Costa Rican neighborhood; the other houses in the area are occupied by Gringos living here or renting for a few weeks. 

We had to decide what we wanted from our experience – a gorgeous vacation home in the hills or being with the locals. We were (and still are) torn between the positives and negatives of both options. In the end, we settled for the latter.

We are now 5 KM outside of the center of Atenas in an area called Barrio Mercedes. The interesting twist is that we are indeed in a Tico neighborhood but the house that we are renting is a North American style home. It is so unique in the area that our official address for the TV cable company is “casa de 2 pisos” (2-story house). Walking through our front door and into our house feels like you are crossing a border into the United States or Canada. 

The views of a typical Costa Rican neighborhood in front of our house

Our current house came with some big bonuses for the kids. The house belongs to a family with 3 children of similar ages. As soon as our kids laid eyes on all of the toys, they were sold on this house. And, as far as the kids were concerned, the swing set and trampoline out back sealed the deal.

There are many Tico kids on the street and this was an important part of the decision for us. We are hoping that our kids will be able to integrate with the other kids on the street.

Now we have to get used to the action outside our house. When we were at Pica Flora, we had to deal with one rooster; the number of roosters that surround our current home are too numerous for us to fend off. Combine the sound of the roosters with the barking dogs, trucks, and motorcycles, and you have a real Costa Rican symphony a single-pane window away.

Naimah is a maniac on swings

Our backyard has seriously psychedelic eucalyptus trees

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Faces In The Crowd

We have seen many interesting creatures while we have been living in Costa Rica (no, this won’t be yet another bug post). I was going through some pictures from the last 7 weeks and thought I would post some of them.

When I saw these 3 turtles sitting on this log, I couldn’t help but think of our 3 kids.

We had to let this guy down the stairs first (but it didn’t look like his legs were going to be long enough).

This monkey is used to the paparazzi because he turned to pose.

I couldn’t resist but include at least one bug. In this climate, whenever you leave a carpet to hang out to dry, guaranteed something will decide to relax on it.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Bring Your Own Toys (BYOT)

We knew we weren’t going to ship anything down to Costa Rica for our move in July so we had to make everything fit in 10 bags (2 per person to adhere to airline rules). High on the priority list - toys for the kids. We wanted to be sure that the kids would be entertained in whichever house that we rented (and chances were high that we would be renting a house without children’s toys).

Toys that we couldn’t live without and are guaranteed to provide hours of entertainment:



Our generous neighbor, Reece, in Victoria, BC had given Gabriel the scorpion Transformer before we left to Costa Rica. The scorpion theme definitely fits here.

Gabriel’s action figures also keep the girls entertained. When Gabriel plays with them, we hear many crashes and sounds of explosions while the girls’ storylines usually involve a princess being saved or Barbie marrying Spiderman. Maybe the girls should script a Hannah Montana vs. Wolverine crossover movie now that it looks like Disney will own the rights to both?

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