"The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in
its net of wonder forever."—Jacques Cousteau

March 18, 2019

The View from Our Deck

"Life" is a gift to you. The way you live your life is your gift to those who come after. Make it a fantastic one."

The view from the back deck of Texas Pearl is pretty nice...lots of boats, bait houses, a lighthouse and an ever changing sky. We have the same view from the potholes in the stateroom. It's fun to slide open the curtains and take in this view in the morning. Although this year we've seen a lot more fog than we'd like...we take what we get and enjoy it as much as we can.

March 11, 2019

Texas Fun Facts

Our time in Texas is winding down. Spring will be here soon...we hope, and we're looking forward to heading north to our summer home. I thought this would be a perfect time to share a few little known, very interesting facts about Texas:
  • Port Arthur to El Paso: 889 miles. Port Arthur to Chicago: 770 miles.
  • Brownsville to state line (north of Amarillo): 956 miles. The state line to Canada: 960 miles.
  • El Paso is closer to California than to Dallas
  • The King Ranch in South Texas is larger than Rhode Island.
  • The name 'Texas' comes from the Hasini Indian word 'tejas' meaning "friends". Tejas is NOT Spanish for Texas.
  • Texas is the only state to enter the US by TREATY, (known as the Constitution of 1845 by the Republic of Texas to enter the Union) instead of by annexation. This allows the Texas Flag to fly at the same height as the US Flag, and Texas may choose to divide into 5 states.
  • Texas has had six capital cities: Washington-on-the Brazos, Harrisburg, Galveston, Velasco, West Columbia and Austin.
  • The Capitol Dome in Austin is the only dome in the US which is taller than the Capitol Building in Washington, DC (by 7 feet).
  • The San Jacinto Monument is the tallest free standing monument in the world and it is taller than the Washington Monument.
  • The worst natural disaster in US history was in 1900, caused by a hurricane in which over 8,000 lives were lost on Galveston Island.
  • Hurricane Harvey in 2017 brought 51.88 inches of rain to Texas, the highest rainfall total in any storm in the history of the United States. 
  • The Flagship Hotel in Galveston is the only hotel in North America built over water. Destroyed by Hurricane Ike – 2008!
  • World's first rodeo was in Pecos, Tx July 4, 1883.
  • The Heisman Trophy was named after John William Heisman who was the first full-time coach at Rice University in Houston, Texas.
  • The first domed stadium in the US was the Astrodome in Houston.
  • The first word spoken from the moon, July 20, 1969, was "Houston", but the Space Center was actually in Clear Lake City at the time.
  • Brazoria County has more species of birds than any other area in North America.
  • Aransas Wildlife Refuge is the winter home of North America's only remaining flock of whooping cranes.
  • A Live Oak tree near Fulton (Rockport) is estimated to be 1500 years old.
  • Caddo Lake is the only natural lake in the state.
  • Dr Pepper was invented in Waco in 1885. There is no period in Dr Pepper.
  • The State Mascot is the Armadillo. An interesting bit of trivia about the armadillo is they always have four babies. They have one egg, which splits into four, and they either have four males or four females.

February 5, 2019

Boruca Indian Masks

“Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta
I haven't found shopping to be much of an activity in Costa Rica...it's hard to find nice little shops that have true Costa Rican made items. You can find all the touristy things with Costa Rica or Pura Vida on them, but finding nice things is a little more challenging. Last year I had read about the Diablo or Boruca Mask, but didn't have a change to buy one. This year we were in the area where the indigenous people live who make these beautiful masks. Diablo masks reflect the Costa Rican rainforest and are made by the Borucan Indians that still have a village in southwest Costa Rica, just east and a little further south than Uvita.

The masks originated during the Spanish Conquest. Villagers learned the Spanish were afraid of the devil, so in an attempt to protect their village, they wore “diablo” (devil) masks. They failed to chase the Spanish away, but were able to save their village and retain their own culture. Today, the Boruca artisans carve and paint three types of masks...the diablo, the ecologico, which represents a stern-faced shaman surrounded by the flora and fauna found in the wilderness around Boruca and the combinado, which combines both the diablo and the ecologico. The masks were originally carved out of cedar, but are now carved out of balsa wood, because it's a fast-growing native tree. It goes from seedling to harvestable in three years; each tree can yield as many as 30 masks.  

The village of Boruca has a current population of 1,500-2,000 people, who live on the indigenous reservation. Sixty percent of the residents make their living as artisans of these masks and other textiles. They give tours of their village and workshops, but we didn't have time to go this year. It'll definitely be on my list of things to do on another visit to Costa Rica.

Traditional Diablo Masks
Combinado Masks
Ecologico Masks
These were some of the masks for sale on the beach in Dominical
Here are the ones I bought to hang on Texas Pearl
This video shows how the masks are made and painted.

February 4, 2019

Feb. 2 - Resort Day in Uvita, Costa Rica

“Fill your sand pail with life’s hidden treasures.” –Author Unknown
We're staying a nice boutique hotel above Uvita, called Vista Ballena. It has a wonderful view of the ocean and a spectacular pool. For these reasons and the fact that it's quite warm...we decided to take a resort day. We spent the whole day sitting around the pool...with an occasional dip in the water to cool off. When we planned this trip we thought we'd spend more time at the beach, and there are some great beaches in the area, but walking on the beach isn't very appealing when the daytime temperatures are in the 90s and the sand is dark. Hopefully we'll have more beach time on the next vacation.

The view from our room...you can just make out the whales tail in the distance. Low tide was at 6:15 AM, so we missed getting to walk out there, but we had a peaceful relaxing day by the pool.
Our view with breakfast
Chillin' in the shade
Taking in the view from the pool
Sunsets are amazing on the Puntarenas Coast
We have seen toucans quite a few times this visit to Costa Rica, but this the first time they were actually close enough to photograph.

February 3, 2019

Feb. 1 - Uvita, Costa Rica

“We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls” – Anais Nin

Our third stop on the Pacific coast is Uvita. This little village is about 10 miles south of Dominical. It's home to the Cola de Ballena (Whale's Tail) and the closest village to Marino Ballena National Park. The tiny village consists of some dirt roads lined with farms, guesthouses, gift shops, a cluster of strip malls along the main highway and a scattering of hotels in the jungle-covered hills above. It's a very low key area...definitely not the heavy touristy beach area you'll find around JacoTamarindo Beach or the Nicoya Peninsula. Many expatriates from North America and Europe have made Uvita their home. Tours available in the area range from whale watching, ATV tours, surfing lessons and snorkeling excursions...and of course there are waterfalls to explore.
Marino Ballena National Park has become famous for its migrating pods of humpback whales and its virtually abandoned wilderness beaches. Humpback whales meet and mate here every winter and spring. If we can catch the tide right we will wake out there tomorrow.

Vista Ballena and it's amazing view is our home for the next few days.
Our check in wasn't till 2:00 so we went to the Uvita Waterfall while we waited. It's not the tallest or biggest in the are, but it has something else that most waterfalls don’t have...a natural slide. The water has smoothed out the rocks to create a little pocket that people can sit in or lie down on and slide over the waterfall. 
The waterfall is just a short drive out of town and the trail down to the water is actually a set of stairs...they're a little steep, but short and very doable. There's a restaurant at the top of the falls to enjoy a cold drink when your done having fun in the water.
The upper falls and pool
The lower falls and pool 
Jumping into the lower pool
 The purple-stained Daggerwing butterfly
Many-banded Daggerwing Butterfly
A video of the Uvita Waterfall