Do panthers eat snakes?

When the United States is on daylight saving time, Colorado and Costa Rica have the same time; so when I woke up at 7:15 this morning I was a little ticked. I wanted to sleep in; but when I looked out our hotel room window and saw the greenery and sun, all was good.

View outside our hotel room

It didn’t take long for us to have our free breakfast and pack up. The hotel reception person called a cab to take us to the bus station in Alajuela where we will catch a bus to San Ramon. Annie and Norman will pick us up on the other end.

The bus station was about 5 minutes away and much more manageable for us than the first time we were in a Costa Rican bus station. Part of the difference is that I am more comfortable attempting to communicate in Spanish and this station is MUCH smaller than the big one in San Jose. We successfully buy our tickets and are given two slips of white paper (receipts) and two little foam pieces about an inch square with numbers 5 & 6 written on them.

We think we know which bus to get on – if it doesn’t say San Ramon, it should say Puntaneras (a larger city down the coast.) Haha! We need not have worried. A bus pulled in with both town names scolling along the top and a man walked up and down the sidewalk calling “San Ramon, Puntaneras…”
We put our suitcases under the bus (Travel tip: If you do this, be sure your suitcases are locked and watch when other people with luggage underneath get off so they don’t make off with your bag or that your bag gets left behind)
A man at the bus door started calling out numbers in Spanish and I was pleased, shocked and surprised when Jeff stepped forward when the guy said “cinco, seis” and handed him the little foam numbers. When you get on, you give the white receipt things to the driver and pick a seat. These buses are not fancy, but they are comfortable and our trip to San Ramon was relaxing.

Once we arrived it wasn’t long before Annie and Norman pulled up. It was WONDERFUL to see our friends again!! Norman introduced himself, which I thought was odd, and “hey, this is a new truck!” Annie gave me a quick look, “Yes, we just got it a few days ago and we have so much to tell you” and I recognized the “later” warning look in her eyes.

Ah, so nice to recognize the roads and sites, we turned to Magallenes, drove past Las Terraces, where we stayed last October, and then arrived at our casita. Annie and Norman’s house is right “next door” – which in Costa Rican translates as, open the barbed wire gate, walk through the jungle a little bit and when you get close to their house starting calling out the dogs’ names: “Here, Red! Come on, Canela! Here Menschie!” so they don’t attack when you come walking onto the property.

We carry our stuff into the house and they give us a quick tour and information we might need. We have also rented Kyle and Diane’s car, so there is a piece of paper with their mechanic’s name and phone numbers on it and a note that he speaks English. Sure hope we don’t need that!

Our car and casita

Last month when Jeff was looking at Ana’s website (she is a realtor) he found the most wonderful house – even in our price range! Before we arrived in CR, he asked Annie if she could show it to us – she knows our plans are a couple of years out and we are going to rent – but she said yes. Turns out that property is on the OTHER side of our casita. So, we make plans to unpack, walk over to Norman and Annie’s house, have lunch and then walk to the property for sale.

While we are enjoying Annie’s Cuban black beans and bread, she tells us about the new car. In February, Norman and a friend were in a terrible car accident on the same ROAD FROM HELL that Jeff and I accidentally drove last fall. Norman’s brakes failed and because the road is gravel and super super steep, he had the choice of going off the cliff or driving into the mountain. He chose the mountain. The car had so much momentum it rolled 5 times ejecting Norman’s friend, rolled over him (he was badly injured but will be okay) and generally getting smashed to bits. It took 2 hours for the ambulance to arrive and when it did the driver said he could probably get down the road but would not be able to get back up. So good samaritans that had stopped and stayed to assist helped carry the two men up to the ambulance. Unbelievably, the tow truck driver had the same issue! Anyway, Norman had 5 broken ribs and a serious concussion – which explains why he introduced himself to me. Not good for a 78 year old man… but he is okay.

After lunch we walk up to the for sale house. The owners aren’t expecting us and we shout “Upe” (Anyone home?) as we walk down the drive (They don’t have a dog!). We are welcomed in and shown around; their son, a Southwest Airlines pilot, is visiting them for the first time and we all sit and have iced tea and chat. Jeff and I excuse ourselves to walk down to the river and waterfall which is pretty but not very watery. The high season in Costa Rica is the dry season and this one has, apparently been really dry.

We walk home after making plans to walk over to Annie and Norman’s to watch the sunset and have drinks. I brought Annie the bags of carob chips she asked me to bring her, and thought I was going to have to take them away. I was afraid she was going to make herself sick! Haha

Bananas growing in our backyard

Afterwards we borrow their flashlight to walk back through the jungle – there are BIG snakes in this area AND a panther in the neighborhood. Norman offers us a machete, but if I see either of those animals I know I’ll just drop dead and won’t have need for a defensive weapon! Jeff will be on his own!

Sunset here is about 5:45 so we entertain ourselves. I write, Jeff reads and we listen to all the night sounds. What a nice day. It was long but fun.

Time for bed. Hasta manana…

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