Costa Rica Return
19 December 2011
Virginia and Dennis Johns
We flew back to Costa Rica this week. The warm weather is welcome, but we’ll have to get acclimated to the humidity again. Tony, the skipper of s/v Sweetie who hails from Arizona, explained to us how high humidity can add 5 to 10 degrees to the air temperature (85 degrees “feels like” 95 degrees in high humidity).
We last posted mid-September, when we had been in California 2 months. We stayed three more months, hopping from house to house of generous family and friends. We were able to get some business done such as checking in with the renters of our house. There were a few gardening issues, but otherwise they had no problems to report and they are taking good care of our home. We were also talked into refinancing our house – and did get a great rate. But we have a whole long story that we won’t bore you with here about the hoops we had to jump through because the underwriters found it curious that now that it was “income property”, we would be leaving the country right after securing a new loan. Adding more doubt, they didn’t understand how we could possibly stay on top of our loan payments, make sure the house is cared for, etc. while abroad. Can you say, “Internet?” Our broker earned his commission on this one. We also found a wonderful home for our dogs for this next year. Jeff has known our dogs for about 8 years as we all walked our dogs daily in the same “off leash” preserve area. Our dogs loved him and would go crazy looking for him when they caught his scent on the preserve. He and his significant other, April, agreed to take on Kiwi and Coco. Their house is set up very much like ours was (dog door, baby gate, multiple dog beds, etc.), so they should feel right at home. Jeff and April took them over just before Thanksgiving and they appeared to have quickly integrated into the new family before we left. Bill, our friend who had them for the past year, was great to them, spoiling them rotten so I know they will miss him.
But with no work responsibilities or house projects, mostly we played. We continued our weekly hikes, visited out of town family and friends, gave a presentation about our trip thus far to numerous groups including Virginia’s former staff, Dennis’ Rotary group, and our boating club. Although the nights were getting nippy for these two “tropics zone travelers”, we enjoyed several men’s UCSB soccer games as the team worked their way to the NCAA third round of playoffs. We got to spend a lot of time with our son’s family (including two granddaughters). Our daughter-in-law prepared a small picture album for us that highlighted the events in their lives that we had missed while we were out cruising. We have it on the boat now – a wonderful keepsake. Some events we did see while there were Kira’s gymnastic competition and her doing her routine down State Street for the holiday parade, Devin’s ballet performance as one of the “sweet mice” in the Nutcracker, and their school jogathon. Dennis got some quality time with our son, helping him do prep work (demolition) for their bathroom remodel. We celebrated Thanksgiving with them. In years past we’d host the event at our house, but without that option this year we did something different. We went to a fabulous buffet at the Frog Bar & Grill where Darren and Carrie were married, which made it quite special. Kathleen, Carrie’s mom, was there too; we really enjoy her - she’s become a close friend to Virginia. We got in numerous visits to our parents, including birthday celebrations for Dennis’ mom and Virginia’s dad and a fun-filled day trip to San Diego Safari Park with Dennis’ mom and Virginia’s parents. Time with siblings and friends was also fun.
Sadly, Virginia’s younger sister (54) was diagnosed with breast cancer just before we returned home in July. She was recovering well from her surgery, but the chemo had some terrible side effects causing major internal organ issues. She died quite suddenly. It is such a shock to Virginia and her family, but we are happy that we were there to visit with her when she was healthy and to be a part of the celebration of her life that took place on Dec. 7.
Our trip back was uneventful, but tiring -about seven hours airtime with a three hour layover followed by a rather harrowing five hour taxi drive in sporadic rain on Costa Rican two-lane highways. Fortunately we found the boat in good condition, which was a great relief. We had been reading the blogs of other cruisers in the area during the Green Season who were having a constant battle with mold and mildew. The dehumidifier that we had rented from Tim at Land Sea did a wonderful job inside the boat. No mold or mildew of any kind. The outside however didn’t fare as well. The marina had kept the deck washed and clear of bird droppings, but all of the running rigging lines are green or black with mildew or mold. We’re taking them down one by one and soaking and scrubbing. A small garden had started growing on the Man Overboard Recovery line in an open bin in the cockpit.
The first few days back we were reminded of the tight network that forms the cruising community. Arriving by boat, the same day we did by plane, was another cruising couple we’d met in El Salvador, Tony and Shannon on s/v Sweetie. Two days later a power boat, Pax Nautica, we had also met in El Salvador moved into the slip next to us. All three of us had our boats in Ventura/Channel Islands marinas before we started our cruising. Small world.
We’ll stay here in Golfito for at least a week, working on boat projects. We had to clear a clogged galley drain and will be installing a new propane solenoid, alternator, replacement fan, microwave, and ice maker. From the US we brought a small fan for the refrigerator (to force more cold air from the freezer section down to the produce section), some supports to construct an additional shade structure, and better patches for the dinghy. Dennis will also need to do the standard maintenance on the engine and watermaker before we head out. Parts for the boat filled two extra pieces of luggage on the return trip with no custom hassles at all.
Some friends from Santa Barbara are vacationing in Costa Rica for Christmas. Coincidentally, they are going to be staying just across the bay from us. We plan on getting together with them while they are here. That will somewhat ease the sadness of not being with family for the holidays.
We’ll probably be here for at least a week finishing up the project list. Then we will head to Panama.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year !