As we settle into our day to day lives here in Puntarenas there are some things we have had to wrap our heads around. The people we are house sitting for did an outstanding job of informing us of what to expect and certainly never sugar coated any aspect of living here. However for us newbies to Central American living, some things still have to be experienced to truly be understood.
The first thing I have to mention is the heat. Holy smokes! We have spent time in some beautifully hot areas and I thought I had an understanding of heat, not so. At this time of year (May) it seems to average around 33C (91F) with the humidex saying it feels like around 45C (113F). As the home we are staying in does not have air conditioning let us say the overhead fans have truly become vital to us. As well, getting out and exercising in this heat presents it’s own challenges. It has been wonderfully enlightening for me to learn that you cannot always just power through some things, because the heat can kill you if you don’t respect it. Backing off and adjusting my exercises has worked wonders and I am learning to appreciate the warmth. However, who is kidding who, cooking in this heat sucks.
We have the privilege of looking after Odie while we are here. He is a wonderfully clever dog who obviously has some Terrier in him as he does love to bark. I have really enjoyed bonding with him and am reminded of all the reasons why people choose to own dogs.
Of course I am also reminded of some of the down sides. Did I mention the barking? Though I have to admit I am very impressed with how well Odie has come to listen when told to come, he is one smart dog. And like a lot of dogs, not a huge fan of bath day. However he is very patient as I search him for ticks and remove them. Another new experience for me.
And mentioning ticks brings me to our next new experience. This does not for a second mean Karen and I are not more than familiar with bugs. We do come from Alberta and we have yet to visit a place where the bugs are worse than the mosquitos, horseflys and wasps of Alberta. The bugs here are just new and different to us. For pure shock value my first encounter with a scorpion leads the way for me. First thing in the morning I go to slide the coffee maker forward to pour in the water and a 7cm (2.5inch) long scorpion scurried across the kitchen counter.Unfortunately I do not have a photo of him because after I finished dealing with it, it was not very photogenic. My favourite, not, are the June Bugs. You do not see them for days on end, then, with a bit of moisture it seems you are invaded, come sun down.
I found the best description of them on this Outward Bound web site, http://outwardboundcostarica.org/2010/tis-the-season-to-hear-bugs-hit-the-wall/ . On the nights when they appear we batten down all doors and windows and still end up dealing with a couple of dozen in the house. The only real entertaining part is when they fly into the ceiling fans. Unless you’re eating dinner under the fan at the time, then, not so funny.
Some of the other wildlife we have gotten used to is the ants and the toads. When we were first told we had to keep Odie’s food surrounded by water to keep the ants away I kind of laughed. Until I mistakenly let the water evaporate too much and found the food bowl being invaded by a steady stream of ants. Lesson learned. Really the ants are no problem once you understand that keeping things clean is the key, then, no ants. The toads in the dogs water bowl was one I had to see to believe. But sure enough, once the lights go out, out come the toads for a swim. The larger of the two I saw was the size of my fist. Makes you jump the first time you see them, then they kind of become part of the experience.
The other household guest it took a few days to get used to are the geckos. They are fairly numerous and as it turns out, quite noisy. Their “call” for lack of a better description is kind of different, but in a way reassuring. At least they eat the right things.
The other local guests are a bit more mundane. There is a cat that spends a lot of time under the car in our courtyard. I know, doesn’t say much for Odie, but it is harmless enough.
And of course I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the cows. Usually they are a couple of blocks away, but occasionally they choose to come over and help with the grass in the lot across the roadway. Until the young cowboy comes to get them.
All of these critters make up the overall experience here. And really none of them are an issue. Karen and I are looking forward to exploring the larger neighbourhood in the coming weeks.