Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Weekend Fun!

Sorry that this post has been so long in coming. I've been swamped with work and school. But here's what's been happening . . .

Here are some pics from the past couple of weekends.

Several weekends ago we went to Lima so that I could help our friends, Caroline and Neil, do some wedding things. They are getting married Jan 17, and I'm the Matron of Honor. I love planning weddings! This way you can put some faces to names when we talk about people.
Neil and Caroline~ The Happy Couple
Phil Chapman

Shane McCarthy
Paul McCarthy
The following weekend a couple that works on the project got married on the Cerro Azul beach. It was really pretty and a lot of fun.

Seth with Stuart
Sam, Stuart and Jen's Son


The Groom, Rob with friends Paul (left) and Steve

The Bride, Wendy, with Best Man, Fatty (Lawerance)
The Newlyweds

Last weekend we had a fun weekend just hanging out with friends at home and on Sunday Seth went surfing. It was too cold for me to go (I'm such a fair weather surfer, literally) but I sat on the beach and watched. We went with Tom, who we met in London and has just arrived on site, and Karen, who just arrived from London too. (Note: They are not a couple. I don't think Tom's girlfriend in the UK would approve! HA!) Anyway, here are some pics from that.

Seth on his new board!

Looking good!
Karen boogie boarding in!
Seth walking around to catch that next wave.
Tom, yes, he is mildly crazy because he's not wearing a wetsuit, and it's COLD! But he's never surfed before, so he was doing quite good!

And one last thing from today, hot off the presses!

I saw and Seth participated in our first Air Raise! CBI is a specialist in building tanks, and they pioneered a construction method for placing the dome roof on top of the tank. So they build the outer ring of the tank, then on the inside of the tank, they build the dome roof. Once they have finished the outer ring and the roof, they perform an Air Raise, and it is what it sounds like. They place giant fans underneath the roof on the inside of the tank, turn them on and because of the pressure that builds up, the roof rises to the top of the outer ring of the tank. When the roof is in place the have pins that they hammer in to hold it then they weld it all together. It's a pretty amazing process and sounds much easier than it is. These things are huge and obviously heavy.

Today's Air Raise went really well according to people who know; it took about 2 hours and 15 minutes when it was expected to take about 2 hours 45 minutes. Like I mentioned, Seth got to participate. He was one of four guys standing at the top of the outer ring of the tank while the roof was being pushed up. He and the other guys held tape measures and relayed the heighth periodically to make sure that the roof stayed level. He had training and loads of safety gear but of course I was still a nervious wreck; those tanks are huge! But like I said it went well, and it was a good experience for him.

Here are a couple of pictures of that. Oh and by the way, Seth was on the ocean-side of the tank so unfortunately he's not in the pictures.

Tank 2 is on the left
If you look closely you can see the flags that are on the top of the dome on either side of the red crane.

"My man's up there!"

Alright, until next time . . .

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Costa Rican Vacation

I hit the ground running when we returned from Costa Rica because my school started, but I can take a breather now and write in the blog. The trip was great, but fairly uneventful which is good for me and Seth because we had no drama, but bad for you because it makes for a pretty boring blog.
A quick recap though is we flew from Houston to San Jose then into a tiny ‘airport’ called Tambor where our friend Trey picked us up. We drove from Tambor to Manzanillo where Trey lives.
(A map so you can follow along if you like. HA!)
Pictures of the airport:

We really had a great time in Manzanillo with Trey and his family, Naoli, Anthony, and Dilon (I’m not sure of the correct spelling of any names, but I’ll go with it anyway; Trey, you can correct me if I’m wrong). Anthony, who is almost three, became quite smitten with me; our bedroom window faced his, and in the mornings when I would get out of bed, he would yell “Hola Muchacha!” (Hi Girl!) at the top of his lungs. I felt so bad for being the cause of waking up their whole house! But he was a fun ball of unending energy while Dilon who is a few months old is pretty much the most laid back baby I’ve ever come across; it makes for an interesting household!
For pretty much the whole week, we got up in the morning, went surfing, took showers, went to town (Santa Teresa or Mal PaĆ­s) for lunch, then either read, laid out on the beach, slept or generally lazed about for the afternoon, did something for dinner (Naoli’s a great cook!), hung out with the Derricks in the evening, then went to bed to do it all over again. It was rough as you can tell.

(the neighborhood herd)

Watch out! I may quit my day job! Seth is really good!

After a week of that it was sadly time to move on, Trey was nice enough to drive us to Montezuma, so that we could catch a speed boat that took us from the peninsula to the main land of Costa Rica. The boat was fantastic and took about an hour; it dropped us in Jaco where we rented a car and hit the road south to Dominical to go see our trees.
The company that runs the tree farm that we’ve invested in encouraged us to get a 4-wheel drive vehicle because we would be driving in some remote places to reach the tree farms where are trees are located, so we took their advice ~ we even opted to go for the upgrade 4X4, so that we had more room and a better car. Yeah well, I would hate to see what was below what we got because our little "China special" barely made it.

It didn’t help that the main highway between Quepos and Dominical is completely torn up; they are working on it. It took us 2 hours to get from Quepos to Dominical, and it’s only about 45 KM (which is about 20 miles!). The road was so bad that they had signs up that translated to “The highway is in a bad state!” They weren’t kidding.

The place we stayed at in Dominical was called VillasRioMar. Rio in Spanish is River, and Mar is Ocean, so this place was on the delta of a river and the Pacific. It was really pretty as you can see by the photos. While I was here I popped over to their spa (of course) and got myself a chocolate and coffee body scrub which was quite nice. The chocolate really made my skin soft; I love chocolate even more now!

Seth and I have invested in Teak and Cuban Mahogany trees through a tree farm in Costa Rica, so we went to see them. They were on different farms so it took two days to see them both. On the first day a guide lead us through the farm out to our trees. We got to see trees that are 3 years old and compare them to our babies which are only 10 months old. Our guide didn’t speak any English, but he was very nice and knowledgeable, and we hashed it out as best as we could in our gringo Spanish.

The other farm was in some mountains, so we had to ride on horseback to get to them. That was an experience considering I’ve never ridden a horse before (yes, I do consider myself a Texan); the guide gave me what seemed like the oldest horse on the face of the earth, and my horse was not interested one bit in taking this walk. I could not get him to move. I did everything the guide did, and I got nothing. At one point, I was seriously concerned that he was just going to fall over because his step seemed really unsteady, and he was breathing really hard; at another point he just stopped.

Yup, going nowhere.

Seth and the guide were way ahead of me and my horse was done.

After a couple of minutes, the guide realized and came back for me, but that horse was none too happy about having to finish the hike. I did make it through though, but I came away with some serious bruises (Think soreness from sitting on a bike); I had problems sitting for a couple of days. Not fun.
Anyway moving on, the trees were awesome, and we’re very excited about them. Unfortunately, the digital camera battery was on its last legs when we did the horseback riding trip, so I don’t have many pictures from that part. I did buy a one-time use camera for that part then somehow lost it on the trip home. I’m super disappointed, but that’s life. All that said to let you know why there are no pictures of me and my horse or of the Cuban Mahoganies.
But these are what I did get:
We had to ride a boat across a river to get to the moutain. We saw this guy on the way back.
These are seeds in the tree farm nursery.
This is in the nursery with our horseback guide.
After seeing the trees, we drove back up to San Jose and flew back to Peru, so that was the trip. We absolutely loved Costa Rica; we’re already planning to go back hopefully next year. If you’ve ever even slightly entertained the thought of going or even if you haven’t, you should go! It’s beautiful, the people are nice, and it’s just all-round wonderful!
Well, that’s the short version/ recap. (I’d hate to see the long version, right?!)
Talk to you soon.