Everyone here, from the smiling girls who giggle shyly when we pass, to the free-roaming horses, to the dogs, is pregnant. Is it the culture? The free time? Or maybe just the contagious vivacious energy that seeps into my bare toes from the rich volcanic soil as I giddily slide through the barbed wire fence and skip down the rocky path to the beach. Regardless of how tired I am from daily four hour surf sessions, endless sun-baked bucket carrying, or kneeling on the lot for hours, painstakingly removing pounds of golf ball-sized rocks by hand, one by one, from the grass over which we will eventually hang hammocks, I am energized by the richness of this place. There is dirt under my finger and toe nails, my back is sore, and I don’t ever want to go home. No, scratch that, I should say, I want this to be home.
The Butchman, leading the way through the bustling and vibrant marketplace.
The next step in our story of home improvement was heading to town to buy some equipment and supplies. On the list were a hose, a bucket, a funnel, a large water container, a machete, shovel, and more fruit trees and flowers.
Ryan, choosing a machete.
Ryan’s mom gave us a book of plants of Costa Rica. The book was a valuable resource showing photos of plants and trees that grow well in the region along with a description of the flowers or fruit, the resource needs of the plant, and how tall each might grow. We read through the options, picked out our favorites, and then browsed the plant store or vivero for the plants.
Ryan and Butch discussing options.
We wanted a type of ground cover called mani forajero or peanut grass. We had seen it at friends’ houses and according to the book it resisted both drought and flooding, staying green with small yellow flowers year-round. We asked the guy at the vivero if they had any, and he went out front, laid a rusting metal square on the grass growing just outside the entrance, and simply ripped a section out of the ground, rolled it up, and handed it to us.
With all the plants blocking the breeze, it was hot in the vivero, but a rotating sprinkler gave Ryan and idea of how to cool off.
We then stuffed all the plants into the back of the car even though some of them had been pulled right out of the ground and still had a patch of dirt as feet.
The planting process was undertaken over several days. It was a lot of work to dig the holes and carry buckets of water to each newly planted friend. The above cactus is called pithaya. It makes a purple fruit often used in juice. The juice is bright purple with strangely textured seeds that Ryan loves. It is called dragonfruit in English. The cactus grows up a wall, fence, or tree and then hangs down looking like dreadlocks. See photo from the vivero of a mature pithaya plant below.
Sears, taking a turn on bucket duty.
As I said, the planting process was very time and energy consuming. Fortunately we had help. Another friend from home, Ryan’s buddy Sears, was visiting with his family. He showed up one afternoon and offered his help.
Sears also dug a hole for this little papaya tree.
Sears’ daughter Amelie was curious about everything.
Butch took a break in the shade.
“Ok, enough of this bucket carrying!” While we were getting really strong carrying 5 gallons of water back and forth, all afternoon long, to water plants, do the dishes, flush the toilet, do the laundry, take a shower, etc., Ryan finally came up with a shortcut. We would still have do some carrying, but the distance would be dramatically reduced. He devised a plan involving a 25 gallon container and a hose.
Butch helped Ryan attach and seal the spigot to the container, while our buddy Tio Kevin posed on the porch.
Step one: fill container with water by pumping well (while Tio Kevin does more posing).
Step two, turn on spigot then walk to end of 100ft hose and use hose to fill bucket, saving 100ft worth of shoulder-straining bucket-carrying.
Around this point, Don Emilio, the contractor who built the casita, showed up to make sure we were happy with everything and to ask when we wanted to start building the bigger house. To my surprise, Ryan said, “maybe in May!”
People asked us, “won’t you get bored living down there?” To which we could reply, “Um, no. There’s always something to do!” This afternoon, that something was digging through the pile of rocks that came out of the ground as the well was dug for good stepping stones, and then using them to make a stone path.
Our buddies Shay and Boris showed up to check out our progress.
Ryan put the machete to use as a back scratcher.
He then demonstrated how he would use it to fend off any attackers.
With most of the trees in the ground, we could relax a little and enjoy this place.
Most nights the sunsets were amazing!
“I never want to leave!”
Check back next time for photos from week 3.