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November 2007

Written By: Gary on November 30, 2007 No Comment

It’s unbearably slow so this is all that I am posting at this time :(

Written By: Gary on November 30, 2007 One Comment

Today was just a travel day. Packing, travel, checking in, unpacking, eating and picking up supplies. I’m in the same room as last time I was at the El Sano Banano, it’s the place with the awesome air conditioning. Here’s a street map of Montezuma, the map is kind big, but you can see most of the stuff is in the middle. Sometimes they spell Montezuma as Moctezuma, so I switch it around a bit too (mostly for the search engines).

It’s evening now and nice and cool out. I’m getting dinner (at L’angolo Allegro), some homemade pasta (no meat, I accidentally picked a vegetarian place), bread and a glass bottle of Fresca. It was very nicely presented, I should have taken a photo.

This is the town where they do the fire show (dancing and breathing) in the streets so I’m hoping for a show one of the next few nights. Tomorrow morning there is some kind of market (Saturday) that I want to check out before I hike up to the waterfall.

I’ve got some more photos posted (see set 3 for the latest), They’ve even (mostly) got titles and captions.

I have no idea when I’m actually going to get this entry and the photos posted. ‘Net access around here stinks and while internet cafes are abundent, no one seems to have high speed (that would be some kind of satellite hookup).

Written By: Gary on November 30, 2007 No Comment

I finally got the phones in Costa Rica to work again. I’m sure they worked before I just couldn’t get them to work last trip. The trick is to get to an AT&T operator, or at least that’s what I wanted since my calling card is AT&T. So from a phone you just dial

0-800-011-4114

and that gets you an AT&T tone/message and you can dial your 1-800 number that’s on your calling card. Now these are the same notes I had scratched onto my card so I’m not sure if I misread them last time or the new pay phones they put in work more like the much older ones.

Now in the past (when it worked) it always used my minutes conservatively, it said it would use my cards at a 12 to 1 ratio (a 60 minute card would last 5 minutes) but it lasted much longer in the past. Not this time, I only got my 5 minutes that I had on that card (I got the cars from Sam’s Club).

Actually, I only got this to work in Jaco, I tried in Montezuma but no success (yet). I bet they want me to put money in the pay phone, but I’m not certain. Whatever it is, it’s probably the same problem I had last time.

Written By: Gary on November 30, 2007 No Comment

I made it to Moctezuma. The taxi boat was much nicer than the last time.

I met two american surfers from opposite directions heading to the same destination (Snata Teresa). They were fun to chat with and made a beautiful ride even more fun.

I’m staying at the El Sano Banano, I got all settled into my room and ate already. I made a mad dash to their sister resort, Ylang Ylang, but I was too late to catch the Monkeys do their daily swing down the beach :(

Although I am taking advantage of their free Internet to give you this update…

Written By: Gary on November 30, 2007 No Comment

Cr Montezuma Jaco Water-TaxiSo I’m off to Montezuma this morning. You can see the ride by car would take forever. The water taxi, pretty much some guy on a boat that’ll hold about 8-10 people/luggage, will take about an hour. If experience holds, it’ll take longer since it’ll be way late. I sure hope it doesn’t rain…

I’ll be at the El Sano Banano, it’s a little hotel (in a little town), but I have access to their resort way down the beach. I’d consider staying down there but there is no A/C in their cabanas.

That’s all for now I’ve gotta shower and finish packing and get a taxi to get me to the water taxi (it’s actually at the next town north).

Written By: Gary on November 29, 2007 2 Comments

Sunset2007-11-29 18-14-01.Img 7041I don’t even have enough time to cover everything I did today. I mostly ate, slept and wandered all over the place. I also made my plans for tomorrow (which you’ll hear later).

Weather wise, it was an awesome day. Sunny, the humidity was down (or I’m used to it), the sunset was awesome. The weather stunk in Michigan, thus that makes the exchange rate for the money worth even more to me :)

The sunset was awesome, the previous few days were no comparison! This is one of my favorite sunset photos from today.

I’ve also got a second album uploaded (be sure to pick “Set 2”).

Written By: Gary on November 29, 2007 One Comment

So if you want to see specifically where I am you can go to the Google Map, that’s my hotel in Jaco, dead center (actually, it looks like it might be before the renovations but that’s it.

If you click the minus sign (“-“) on the scale on the left you can zoom out. After about 4 clicks you can see the whole Jaco Beach coast. After about 5 more clicks you can see the Nicoya Peninsula (where I’ll be heading via water taxi). A few more and you can see the whole country. Another 4 or 5 more and you can see Costa Rica with a good chunk of North and South America. Jaco should stay in (near) the center as you zoom out.

Written By: Gary on November 29, 2007 One Comment

So a few weeks before I left I subscribed to the TicoTimes. It’s a weekly English nation-wide newspaper about the size of Metro Times or a magazine from the Sunday section of a newspaper that comes out on Fridays in Costa Rica. A month’s subscription included the ability to download the PDF file every week. It’s a little hard to read on the screen, I think I get one more electronic issue, but I’ll probably buy a copy tomorrow.

ticotimesIt was nice to get a feel for what was going on in the country. From a to do list it wasn’t very helpful to me. It comes out on Friday and the calendar generally doesn’t stretch much past the weekend. So I might go somewhere else tomorrow and I should have stayed here for something, but I’ve already made my arrangements. I did find out about some kind of air festival in the northwest but I forgot all about it, I’ll have to check on that…

From a news standpoint I did know the rainy season was dying down early, I know the colon was going to go up in value (their “Greenspan” changed something), that the phone company might go on strike (they didn’t) and a few other things. It’s definitely worth the $8 to get the four issues on-line if you’re considering traveling the country. I recommend this for anywhere, I’ve gone to the bookstore and picked up a newspaper for London, England to get an idea of what’s going on there too (you might have to reserve these in advance).

Written By: Gary on November 28, 2007 One Comment

So I ran all over today. I went swimming in the pacific and then packed up my backpack and headed north (actually north west I think). Took all sorts of pictures and a little video.

Map Of Costa Rica JacoAte lunch at a nice place on the beach, the name escapes me for now. Some people sat down at a table next to me and it turns out it was a guy from Traverse City, Michigan! What are the odds? He comes down a few times a year to vacation, seems to really like to eat and stay at that place (although they were booked up). I actually started talking to them because they liked the place they stayed at we chatted for a while.

I swam some more and then rented a scooter (moped). It was a bargain at 6 hours for $25 but they closed in 4 hours and I didn’t want to be responsible for it overnight so I gave him $20 for 4 hours. It was a new scooter too, the temporary plates were just a few days old. I buzzed around all over the area, lots of development going on. Riding is nice and cool compared to walking around :)

I’ve decided to stay another day in Jaco. I’ll leave on Friday for somewhere or another…

I can see I got some sun today. Since I was wearing a backpack for a chunk of the day it looks like I was wearing a bikini top. Hopefully, that’ll even out in a few days!

Weather report – It was cloudy on and off all day, but still very bright and very hot (maybe more humid than hot. That was okay except for when it came time for the sun to set, way too many clouds. RIght now as I’m writing this it’s almost cool, but still way humid. High of 82 for tomorrow!

I’ve got some photos up on-line too.

Image courtesy of the CIA World Fact Book.

Written By: Gary on November 28, 2007 No Comment

TabaconThese Chicken Nachos are delicious! I’m at the Restaurante Tabacon in Jaco, it’s right across the street from Planet Food (closed for years but still a landmark for giving directions). They come with everything, including sour creme, beans and guacamole (I did not get the latter two). It’s a huge bowl for 3,000 colons ($6), it’s not a appetizer, it’s a meal.

I think I really enjoyed my food lat time here too. They used to be a pizza parlor and I think that was really good too, if I recall back 3-4 years correctly…

Other details:

  • Free WiFi.
  • The cool paper lanterns that I’ve only seen in Montezuma before.
  • Pepsi products
  • Their drinks are never cold enough. I recall this from before.
  • They have Smirnoff Ice in a bottle, it’s hard to fine at home, but very common in Jaco.
  • Written By: Gary on November 28, 2007 2 Comments

    BalcondelmareveningI was SO tired yesterday. I think I managed to sleep at least 10 hours, it might have been more, but I’m sure I went to sleep at least that early. I get confused since I wasn’t sure about the time change and all I kept seeing were my Michigan clocks (it is one hour earlier here than the Detroit Michigan area).

    I almost missed breakfast but I get down there a few minutes before they were supposed to close. It’s a beautiful morning nice and sunny and I’m heading down to the beach in a few. This is the view from my hotel room yesterday evening before sunset, it’s a little dark but you can see the Pacific ocean is right there and it’s a great location!

    Written By: Gary on November 28, 2007 One Comment

    We’re past rainy season by a few weeks, and even more since they (the gov’t?) called off the warnings that come with it a few weeks earlier. But I keep seeing thunderstorms in the forecast. I’m only here 4 weeks earlier than last time. Is this really going to be an issue?

    The first time I was in Costa Rica was in April of 1999, it rained a lot of the days for 15-30 minutes (maybe a little longer) but I don’t remember much more than that. After all, a chunk of the place is the rain forest there must be some rain, right?

    It did drizzle on and off (mostly off) yesterday and you could see the very dark clouds inland but not here. Sometime after dark it really poured for a while, but this morning is beautiful. Hopefully the rest of the week goes the same….

    Written By: Gary on November 27, 2007 3 Comments

    JacoarrivalI made it!!! It was a bit of a trip, and a ride through the mountains but I made it! I got some ca$h from the ATM and some dinner and some stuff for the fridge (coke, gaterade, water and OJ) and I think I might be hitting the sack soon….

    Here’s the view if you walk outside (about 50 meters) the hotel, I took it right after I checked in. I’ll try to take more pictures and post more tomorrow…

    Written By: Gary on November 27, 2007 No Comment

    So for the second leg I didn’t get an aisle seat, but no one sat in the middle seat so I had lots of room. I got to watch the clouds for a while, but they weren’t as smooth and flat where they look solid, just lots of lumpy fluffy ones.

    I think airline food has gotten better the last few years, my chicken and rice was delicious and even the carrots were good. I got to read a little bit, a sci-fi paperback called Manifold Time by Stephen Baxter, I’m liking it so far but I’m not very far into it. I plan to leave it behind and I forgot my BookCrossing labels.

    The Atlanta airport was nice, I don’t think I’ve ever been there when I wasn’t running for a connecting flight. We got in early so I had some time to look around (and get my last McDonald’s food for a while). I even had time to switch my seat (from a middle one) and to sign up for frequent flyer miles, I couldn’t find my Delta number anywhere, and they made it sound like I could claim old miles too and I know where my last ticket is (when I flew to NY via Atlanta).

    Also, last night was Monday, my big TV night, so I threw a few of those shows in my laptop and got to watch Chuck and Journeyman. That really makes the time go by…

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    Written By: Gary on November 27, 2007 No Comment

    So while I’m never thrilled to get up at 4 am, it’ll be nice to arrive at my destination in the early afternoon. But the best part is that right now we’re up above the clouds and the sky is all orange in the distance.

    I used to love looking at the clouds when I flew and thought I’d never tire of them. These days of bringing all my stuff on the flight to entertain myself, getting an aisle seat generally outweighs the window option.

    So the clouds all look like now or water out thee, i’d love to skydive through it sometime to just see how it feels, it all looks so solid. It’s such a bright orange and red and pink off in the distance and the lights kinda coming from below it almost looks as if the slow in the distance is on fire.

    Later – It’s mostly up now, but there’s still this burning orange in the distance and the color of the clouds has this icy blue look to it in the light. Out the opposite side of the plane it still looks dark and you can see the cities lit up.

    More later – Now it’s got that normal icy/snowy look to it that I’m used to seeing when I fly at a reasonable hour :)

    Written By: Gary on November 25, 2007 One Comment

    I’ve got my Christmas tree up! It always makes me very happy to get it up, I was even happy when I got it up last night and didn’t even have ornaments on it, just the lit tree makes me happy. I always dread putting up of it and the decorating, this year I got Mom to come help with the decorating. We got it and the house done. We ate out at the Seahorse Grill (review later). We computed a little bit on her laptop. And we returned my copy of of Living Abroad in Costa Rica which it turns out I had a copy of already by a different publisher (same author) and I purchased a copy of Culture Smart!: a quick guide to customs and etiquette in Costa Rica. And of course, we listened to Christmas songs…

    Written By: Gary on November 24, 2007 No Comment

    So I’ve always liked Skype it’s a great backup for my phone and it’s great for calling home when I’m on vacation. At 2.1 cents per minute, it’s hard to beat the price as long as you’ve got a semi-decent internet connection. Not that I talk a lot when I travel but I always feel like I’m being initiated when trying to figure out long distance calling when in a foreign country. They 2.1 cents is just for calls to the US, other countries have different rates.

    Skype - call the world at rock bottom pricesThe goofy* thing is that it’s 2.1 cents to call the US wherever I am, from next door, Egypt or Costa Rica it’s all 2.1 cents! But with the same reasoning it’s 6.4 cents to call Costa Rica, that’s if I’m here in Michigan or down there. Of course if I’m calling someone else’s Skype computer it’s free from anywhere to anywhere.

    I just upgraded to the new Mac version, I was 1.1 versions behind. I think the call quality is significantly better and I noticed the touch tones work better, so now I can call my (misplaced) cell phone and listen to my messages.* – It’s not really goofy, it’s what they pay for phone calls at the destination, the Internet probably doesn’t cost Skype any more regardless of where I’m calling from.

    Written By: Gary on November 24, 2007 No Comment

    So I found a fun Internet radio station, it’s called “Girls Rock Radio. It’s all girl bands, stuff I haven’t heard in a while and some I’ve never ever heard of, but as fussy as I am, I do listen through it.

    Grr468X120B
    Although since it’s stream I really can’t change the channel now, can I? You can see on the Girls Rock Radio web site what’s playing. Some players (like iTunes) will show you what track is playing.

    No advertisements, but they do request donations (which I think are few and far in-between). I’m surprised they don’t run some 30 second ads, I would think would generate some revenue (maybe if it’s ad supported they pay different rates to play the songs, I know that’s goofy these days).

    Written By: Gary on November 23, 2007 No Comment

    So I’m at my Einstein’s bagel and someone is at the table a always sit at. It’s the only high-top table in the place and it’s by the window but next to a wall so that I get shade for my laptop. When they asked at the counter “what would you like?”, I said “I’d like my table”. The one person didn’t know what I was talking about, but the other one said “I noticed that when you came in…”

    I guess I’m just a create of habit.

    Update: The guy just left, I’m trying to decide if I’m obsessive compulsive enough to move. “It’s nice and sunny right there”, he thinks as he tries to rationalize it….

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    Written By: Gary on November 22, 2007 2 Comments

    Drive Safe! Eat Lots! And don’t forget to Be Thankful!

    I know life can get crappy at times, but be thankful for the little things. I know if you’re reading this you’ve got access to a computer with Internet access, so that’s soemthing :)

    I know even when I get down about the things I don’t have (which are not material things), I know I have family, friends, a home, a car that runs and a job (even if it is making me insane right now). I do have a million other things (mostly things I probably don’t need), but those material things really aren’t what matters at the end of the day.

    Written By: Gary on November 22, 2007 No Comment

    CourtneyrobbMy awesome musically talented niece, Courtney Robb, is on the charts at Fox Space Live. Just go to the Fox Space Live page and use your browser to search for “Courtney Robb” and click to listen, that’s it! The more you listen, the higher she gets and the more exposure she gets, I’m assuming at some point they pick the music to play on the station…

    If you want to listen first check out the Courtney Robb MySpace page for some other songs and Detroit-area dates. She’s plays her own songs that are along the lines of Michelle Branch, Anna Nalick, Jewel, Tegan and Sara, Colbie Caillat, Avril Lavigne, KT Tunstall, etc.

    Written By: Gary on November 21, 2007 4 Comments

    200LaptopSo I caved and ordered my $200 laptop, actually I had to order two . The only way to get one is to donate one, so you actually get one for yourself and a tax deductible laptop that is donated to a developing nation (total = $400). The Get 1 Give 1 (G1G1) program only lasts 5 more days (ends November 26) so order now.

    As a “Give One Get One” donor, you will receive one of the first XO laptops to be distributed in North America. Laptops will be delivered on a first come, first served basis.

    OnelaptopperchildIn addition, T-Mobile gives you one-year complimentary access to T-Mobile HotSpots (I think you can use any laptop there, not just the XO). So that’s an extra bonus too. The tax write off for part of it and a year of free hotspots (granted I wouldn’t have purchased it, but I will use it) give even more value to it. And I’ll probably spend a little more time at Starbucks and Borders now.

    Here’s some more details from when I had mentioned this $100 laptop before and some reviews on the laptop and the program. I’m not sure why they’re limiting the window for when you can buy it or why it’s limited to the US and Canada. I just wish I had it for my next trip to Costa Rica….

    Written By: Gary on November 18, 2007 No Comment

    Has anyone used of any photo sites (like SnapFish, etc.) where I can upload a photo and I can type in some text and address and it’ll mail it to someone as a post card? Just to clarify, they will mail the photo as a single paper postcard (with my text on the back) and it’ll be delivered to their physical mailbox by their mail carrier.

    It looks like SnapFish will do it for 99 cents, I’ve never used them. Has anyone tried this? Found anyone they like better?

    Written By: Gary on November 17, 2007 One Comment

    Colon-Trend-TenyearSo the exchange rates are pretty good for people from the US traveling to Costa Rica these days. You can see from the graph it’s been going up ever since my first trip in 1999, prices have gone up there too, especially costs for tourist type things, but it’s still been a decent value. Especially when you compare it to Britain or Canadian exchange rates, where the dollar has considerably dropped in value lately. It hasn’t really changed much since my last trip but it should be pretty good for my next one, it’s about 520 to $1.00 today.

    Current Rates
    $1.00 (US) = CRC
    1000 CRC = $ USD
    Currency data courtesy coinmill.com

    More info on The exchange rate, some from Wikipedia (currency photos) and from Vacation City (currency photos).

    Written By: Gary on November 17, 2007 One Comment

    I can’t even tell you how badly that I needed that! It was more like 6 hours and I was up for a few and then 6 hours more, it was wonderful…

    I haven’t gotten anywhere near enough sleep lately (even when I’ve been sick). I’ve been shortchanged on sleep too much lately, way too many 5 hour nights; I’ve been pretty happy with the few 7 hours nights and those just aren’t enough to catch up. Work and life has been a little extra cRaZy and stressful lately and I’m sure this will help a little bit. I’m sure a few more days like this every week would really help…

    Now if only there was some sunshine outside!

    Written By: Gary on November 16, 2007 No Comment

    Treo 111007 001So last Saturday I got a ticket from a Wayne County Sheriff on Hines Drive (for passing a Road Closed sign). I knew they were wrong and of course they didn’t want to listen to me.

    On the way to the Helms Haven park area, I drove around a gate that says “Road Closed” but also says “Entrance Only Helms Haven area”, but he just didn’t care to listen about that park. Hines Drive is a huge long road that has a bunch of parks, when they close it on Satudays in the summer (so you can bike ride / walk with no traffic) or for flooding (etc.), they block off the main access road and you’re supposed to drive around it to get to the closest park and then the road is really closed (big barricade).

    But he didn’t want to listen to me (I said it politely twice and pointed towards the sign in the distance but he didn’t care) so I went to the courthouse. I printed something from the County Parks site that said that you could go around it for certain events, and sent an e-mail to verify it (which they confirmed) and took that with me along with a few pictures I took (the sign and road layout) and I got it waived. It’s just an annoyance since it was more than a few hours of time to beat a ticket that never should have been written.

    I do have to give him a little break, he was probably distracted by the decapitated head they just found….

    Written By: Gary on November 12, 2007 17 Comments

    On The Big Bang Theory tonight they mentioned “WalletNook.com“. So. of course, I tried to go to the site. Here’s my question: Why would Warner Borthers purchase WalletNook.com and not create a page there at least to redirect you to The Big Bang Theory page? Or even sell that wallet?

    Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. (DOM-1708796)
    4000 Warner Blvd.
    Burbank, CA 91522 US

    Umm… No, I wasn’t going to buy it if it was available…

    Written By: Gary on November 10, 2007 2 Comments

    So I’m playing around with some of the social networking sites and I need a few more friends. So, if you use any of the following and you’re looking for a few more people to add, please feel free to add me. In particular I’m trying to get a better feel for FaceBook so I need a few more there so I can see how people are really using it…

  • FaceBook – This is my newest place to test out, so if you use it please add me as a friend so I can explore a little more.
  • iLike – If you don’t use iLike for music you should check it out and I’d like to see what you’re listening to so add me there.
  • Twitter – I’m just experimenting with Twitter, all my blog posts get tweeted and occasionally I’ll tweet if I’m at a concert or event or something like that.
  • MySpace – If you’ve got a MySpace page I’d be interested to see it, especially if you’re a local (Detroit-Area) person.
  • Technorati – Not so much a “social network” but you can favorite blogs that you read (on the left side of the page near the site thumbnail) so if you use it and you like my blog please ‘favorite’ it.
  • Written By: Gary on November 5, 2007 2 Comments

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    And get a free digital subscription to MacWorld (from Zinio digital Magazines).

    Tags: []
    Written By: Gary on November 5, 2007 2 Comments

    So I’ve really been wanting to try WordPress for my blogging. It’s been growing in use (at least the people I’m reading are using it) and more and more internet providers seem to be including it with packages. So it really seems to be a product to use, I’ve been a devoted MovableType user for just under 4 years and I’m willing to try something new…

    A few reasons besides jumping on the bandwangon with everyone else (a lemming, I am not): I like the default templates more than MT’s, I think it looks easier to use and set up for beginners (this would be for me helping other people, I like complicated) and they’re not lacking any plugins (1,198 and counting). Also, it’s time to learn something new and this like it’s well worth learning…

    My copy of WordPress For Dummies still hasn’t shipped and I’ve bugged Lisa (the author) a few times about buying an autographed copy and now she’s having a contest to give away a few autographed copies for her anniversary! So this is my post/entry to count as my entry for that…

    Written By: Gary on November 4, 2007 No Comment

    It’s just been a bit of a cRaZy week: car troubles, busy at work, being sick, an out of town guest and few other things I can’t remember. It’s just kept me from blogging and even reading the blogs I read.

    I’m back at work at 110% time while I’ve previously I’ve only been there about 70% time the past year or so (that’s how I’ve managed to find time to teach other classes and try a few other things). But I can really see the difference in being at work that much. I’ll get used to it in a few weeks, I guess…

    So the car was acting up earlier this week, it’s an automatic and it wasn’t shifting (stuck in first) this was due to the speedometer not working so it was a relatively cheap fix ($187) compared to needed a whole new transmission.

    I’ve been fighting some kind of cold and not even realizing it, I just been sleeping a lot but I thought I was just tired. On Friday, I really started being hoarse and coughing so I broke down and went to the doctor. He gave me drugs so we’ll see…

    I had an old friend from college come into town and while that was excellent, it certainly would have been better if I was feeling better and didn’t need naps. We spent most of the time eating, chatting or watching movies (Becoming Jane and Martian Child).

    The latter movie raised a few issues for me because I’ve thought so much about adopting in the past, it’s mostly been this last year or so that I haven’t been thinking so much about it, but I have been recently thinking about it again so this movie hit home…

    So coming up soon – I’ll probably have some postings on keeping in touch with old friends, adoption and two movie reviews.

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