Sea Urchin Tests

IMG_3188

Dead Sea Urchins, Santa Teresa, Costa Rica October 2019

These are my favorite kind of sea urchins, dead ones.* I know that sounds harsh coming from a self-professed nature lover but there is a personal reason for my animus.

Years ago (no, I won’t tell you how many, suffice it say it was quite awhile ago), my husband of one whole month and I traveled to Grand Cayman to attend my sister’s beach wedding. It was a special event that I almost missed thanks to a damn sea urchin.

While wading in a tranquil, turquoise-colored tide pool I had the serious misfortune of stepping on one. I have a really high pain threshold but this was excruciating! It not only stung but it spasmed as if being stabbed by dozens of tiny, electrified skewers. In other words, I don’t recommend touching a live one.

As I limped back to the hotel we passed our housekeeper who empathized with my predicament and said as a child she would just pee on any sea urchin stings. At that point I was willing to try anything! Only one small problem, as a woman, it is a considerable challenge to pee on the underside of my own foot.

So, I turned to my spouse (who had that manly ability to aim) and ordered him to pee on me. His answer? “But, I don’t have to pee!” I could’ve murdered him (justifiably so). Thankfully, a couple bottles of water later the curative pee was dosed to my instantaneous relief. So, yes, I still hold a grudge against sea urchins.

*Note: I found these tests during a recent beach walk, I did not have anything to do with their demise.

Negative Ions Rock!

Thought I’d share a few seconds of Montezuma Falls with you. My new friend Ricardo led me up the slippery trail to these falls last week. It was a wonderful way to spend a hot and muggy afternoon.

In case you didn’t know, crashing/splashing water releases negative ions into the nearby air. Which, according to studies, are really good for you (in spite of their adverse name). That mood boost you feel from walking on a beach or hiking to a waterfall? It isn’t just from the beautiful scenery, as negative ions are known to increase people’s levels of serotonin.

Sorry, watching this video won’t give you the same effect, but I hope you enjoy it anyway.

Muchos Perros

In my Costa Rica adventuring I’ve encountered a lot of dogs. While they are free ranging, they aren’t strays. Most of them sport collars or bandannas of some sort and I have yet to see any that look unhealthy. Many Ticos (the term locals call themselves) have at least one. I was told that the country recently increased the penalty for anyone caught intentionally harming or abusing animals. Sounds like a good policy to me!

The dogs roam the streets and beaches, often coming over for quick pet, game of fetch, or sometimes even accompanying me on my long beach strolls. They will also join you at the soda (local term for small diner), in hopes of scoring a few yummy morsels.

IMG_2917

Dog, Wishing the Soda Would Open

 

Fragrant Frangipani

IMG_2628

Indigenous to this area (Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean), frangipani is technically in the Plumeria family. The beautiful flower and sweet scent may beguile you. Be warned though, the milky sap of the tree is poisonous. To be honest, that is not Frangipani’s worst trait, I award that honor to the sneaky little trick that it pulls on moths.

The pale, white blooms open at night, enticing sphinx moths with their intoxicating scent. Yet they have no nectar. So, the moths crawl in but leave hungry, covered with pollen that they then spread to the next deceptive flower. Pretty sneaky!

Isla Tortuga

My new friend, Karen (that I met in Montezuma) convinced me to take a boat ride out to Isla Tortuga a few days ago. The eight of us were an eclectic group of travelers from all over; Switzerland, Germany, Spain, North Carolina, and another girl also from Texas (her Longhorn logo hat was a dead giveaway). I admit to having second thoughts when I saw our small boat but I’m so very glad I went ahead with it!

Our captain, Rudy, handled the boat like he was born on it. On the way out his watchful eyes found humpback whales and a pod of bottlenose dolphins for us. No photos of those, sadly. I was being ever so very cautious with my phone since last week I watched a friend drop hers in the water during our booze cruise fundraiser. As difficult as that was for her in the states, I can only imagine how lost I would be here in another country trying to manage without mine!

Roughly an hour later we reached our island destination in the Nicoya Gulfo and over the side we splashed for a bit of snorkeling. I found a small outcropping of rocks and spent my time floating with the current among a school of colorful Grunts. Below me I watched the occasional King Angelfish, and other beauties that I could not identify, flit by.

An hour later we pulled ourselves back into the boat for the quick jaunt over to Isla Tortuga where Clemente had lunch ready for us: delicious fresh fish, rice, watermelon, and pineapple all washed down with a cold Pilsen. After a stroll along the beach I found a partially shady spot to spread out my towel and promptly dozed off – it was that relaxing!

Our return trip yielded a few sea turtle sightings, including a pair of green sea turtles that were mating. It felt a bit voyeuristic to watch them yet it was also weirdly fascinating (and truthfully, they didn’t seem to mind). Overall, it was another wonderful day in paradise. Pura vida!

 

 

Pura Vida!

Thought I’d share a few photos of my temporary little home. It has all the basic necessities of life (like a fridge, hammock, and wifi), is only a five minute walk to the beach, and there is a papaya tree outside my front door with fruit that will soon be ready to harvest. What more could a girl need? Living the simple life or as they say down here, pure vida!

Say Yes!

IMG_2547

My friend Lindy gifted me this keychain recently and I had to laugh because it matches well with my motto for 2019, which is “Say yes!” My mantra was a challenge to myself to be more open to new experiences, to dare more, and to live closer to the edge.

So far, this mental shift has served me fairly well, though there have been a few hiccups along the way. Case in point, my gig to volunteer at a wildlife rescue down here in Costa Rica fell through for a variety of reasons this week. So much for best-laid plans! Thank goodness for technology as I was quickly able to rent an affordable casita near the beach in Santa Teresa.

The little hardships, inconveniences, and disappointments have been softened by the kindness of new friends, the sound of the ocean, and the incredible scenery. All of which I would not be here to experience if earlier I hadn’t said, “Yes!”

 

Belt Sander Racing

The Gaff, a fun little dive bar in Port Aransas, has several claims to infamy* but perhaps the most interesting is that belt sander races originated here. It began in 2005 after a couple guys argued over whose belt sander was faster/more powerful. What better way to decide the disagreement than to build a special racetrack and pit them against each other? Yet another great example of, “Here, hold my beer…”

I was delighted to finally catch one of the biweekly events. The competitors are fierce, the belt sanders are decorated and named, and the crowd is enthusiastic.

The excitement was palpable, we gripped our beers, and waited breathlessly to see who would win this heat…yeah, okay, maybe not (but we all did have a beer in our hands). Octopoke won!

*Sadly, I have not yet attended Chicken Bingo at the Gaff (picture a large Bingo card on ground, a chicken in a cage over the card, and where the sh*t falls determines the winner). Definitely something to look forward to!