Tuesday, 29 April 2008

National Scrapbooking Day...

Is this weekend. Come on over to Scrapbookers Clubhouse and check it out.

National Scrapbooking Day:

Scrapbooker's Club House invites you to celebrate National Scrapbooking Day May 3 and 4th with us!

The Design Team has a WHOLE WEEKEND of fun challenges planned. Come join in the fun; you'll discover a friendly place where you want to hang out!

Our theme for the weekend will be "Scrapbooking Trends" and is sure to inspire you in the creation of some SMASHING layouts! There will also be a fantastic prize draw to cap things off!

Grab a friend and come on over to the Club House! We're waiting to welcome you!

Sunday, 27 April 2008

Sharp Tail Grouse trapping...

Yesterday morning I got to get up early, early, early on my normal sleep-in Saturday to go out with a couple of the bioligists from work to check on their Sharp Tail Grouse Traps. Apparently the Grouse go to the same spot(called a Lek) every spring and the males perform for the females. The females decide which male is the most desirable, they mate, and the males leave. The rest is up to the female. She makes a nest nearby, lays the eggs and raises the young.

This is a Lek...

Grouse aren't the smartest of birds. The bioligists studying them have set up a zigzag path of wire fences with traps in each corner. As the females wander across the Lek checking out the mornings performances they hit a fence and follow it till they get to a trap. The female scoots in the tunneled door and then can't figure out how to get back out again. The bioligists are collaring the females so they can collect data on nesting and the subsequent chicks. The males that are caught are banded. At the first Lek we stopped at there was only one bird trapped. A male. Already banded. Apparently his 3rd time in the trap. Not the smartest of birds.

Reminds me of the family of Sharptails that frequented our birdfeeders for a few winters. One of them would always land on the wrong side of the fence. He'd (I'm guessing it was a male) would spend breakfast time running back and forth along the fence line watching the rest of the family eating. Not smart enough to fly up and over or run to the end of the fence and around, he packed down a trail in the snow from his frantic running back and forth every day.

Here's me holding the 'not so smart' already banded male...

He's got yellow eyebrows that apparently stand up and fan out during his mating dance. Alicia pointed out his purple throat sac that creates the mating song. We heard the males making their mating calls at the second Lek we checked out. There were no trapped birds, but across the field we could hear them dancing and performing up a storm.
Alicia also showed me his feet, which in winter time have extra tiny 'feathers'(?) that make his feet wider so he can walk on top of the snow easier. Sort of like bird snowshoes.

I'm going to go out with them again Tuesday morning. Hopefully I will get to see more birds and maybe a close up of the males performance.

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

A mini book.

I have all these photos of Melody, Mary, Lilia, Wanda and I out on 'Girls nights out' ~usually somebody's birthday. So I decided to put all those photos in a little hand made mini album. Very quick. Very simple. The pages are the 4x6 photos backed with patterned paper. I journaled on the patterned paper and used the odd rub-on directly on the photo. So far I've got the photos from Mel's birthday last November and Wanda's birthday last year. I'll add Lilia's and Mary's birthday pictures at a later date. Here's the cover. It's a 12" x 4 1/4" piece of green cardstock. I trimmed one end with my wavy cover for the front. Made a crease at 6 1/2" and at 7" so I have a 1/2" spine. The back is the length of the photos. The front is shorter so you can see the photo on the first page. I used a couple of the screw posts that hold the MM booklets of alpha rubons together. It's Earthday today ~ a good day to recycle :)

On the inside pages I used an Inque Boutique journaling stamp for my 'blurb' stamped in brown. And a Basic Grey scroll stamp inked in Sage and again in Evergreen as an accent along the spine.

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Snorkelling photos.

Rick actually tossed these photos in the garbage because they're pretty bad. I fished them out. They're the only ones we have of our snorkelling. And how fun it was to swim with the fishes.
The journaling explains about the cheap disposable waterproof camera we used to snap the underwater world. With the mask on you couldn't see through the viewfinder so we just pointed and clicked and kept our fingers crossed. There were lots of pretty tropical fish that you see in aquariums here. The top photo is of a big school of 1-2 foot silver fish that swam alongside us. They seemed to be as curious about us as we were of them.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Two more with the Scrapbookers Clubhouse May kit

A card...
And a layout...

The reveal at Scrapbookers Clubhouse

Today is the day the Design Team at www.scrapbookersclubhouse.com show off our creations from the May kit. I've only completed one layout so far as I've been busy unpacking and getting caught up from our Costa Rica trip. And the photos aren't even from our holidays. The papers are from Rusty Pickles 'Lucky' collection and were perfect for Melody's Irish photos.
I discovered when trying to join my pages together that I no longer have an easy program for stitching. It was on my stolen laptop. So I attempted to stitch with a graphics program at work. Didn't work quite as well as my last program but it will do till I find a good stitching program to upload.

Sunday, 13 April 2008

We're home...

We left La Fortuna early Thursday morning in our rental car. Lots of time to get to the airport on time even with stops for lunch and some last minute souvenir shopping.
We gave up our airconditioned car at the airport only to find out that our plane was late. Very, very late. Instead of flying out at 4:45 we wouldn't be taking off till 8pm. There was one tiny little airconditioned room; the restaurant. You were only allowed to sit in if you were eating and/or drinking.
Rick went downstairs to ask if there was a motel with a pool somewhere nearby where we could wait for our flight in comfort. He was trying to mime the swimming and drinking cervaza to a local girl who just wasn't getting it at all. Nearby was another lady watching and giggling. "Do you speak English?" Rick asks. She nods. So Rick starts talking to her, when up walks Lorraine. She is from Vancouver Island and sat with us on the plane down. She'd been visiting her son, who lives only 1/2 hour away right on the beach, near a small town called Guanacaste. The lady Rick is talking to is Lorraine's daughter-in-law, Esperanza. They offered to take us back to the beach for the next 5 hours. Yeah! It was very hot and muggy at the airport.
We were more than ready for another swim and our swimsuits were in our carry on luggage. So we headed back to the beach, swam in the ocean, took a dip in their pool, drank some wine while Esperanza finished up her work day and then went for dinner. David and Esperanza were wonderful company. It was the perfect way to finish our holiday.
Unfortunately I didn't pull out my camera once that afternoon but you can check out the beach where we swam and where Esperanza works, here... Los Almendros de Ocotal
David and Esperanza live in one of the white condos right on the beach so it was a short walk from the surf to their pool. (It was really wonderful meeting you guys!)

We arrived in Vancouver exhausted and sleep deprived just after 4am. Hiked across the airport to the Fairmont Hotel where they felt sorry for us and upgraded us to the Gold Floor. After 4 hours sleep we headed for the Air Canada counter to try and change our tickets home from Saturday to Friday (a little Oops on my part). We changed them no problem and were home in time to surprise the boys coming in from school.

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Hanging Bridges

We spent the morning relaxing. First a swim, then breakfast at the Verona Café. Some souvenir shopping, a scenic drive, lunch and then our adventure for the day.
We signed up for the Hanging Bridge tour. We had a guide all to ourselves and a very knowledgeable (english speaking) fellow he was.
We wandered for 5 or 10 minutes down the trail without seeing anything and then ran into one of the park workers coming the other way. He spoke briefly with our guide and we were backtracking to see a snake we had walked beneath and not spotted. How exciting! A scary, poisonous snake. It was an "eyelash palm pit viper" and it was the size of an earthworm. The photo is taken through the spotting scope.

Then our guide spotted a "blue jean frog" on a log across the stream about 10 metres from the trail. He heard it´s voice first, but we were still amazed that he spotted the little creature. He zoomed in with the spotting scoop and took some pictures for us, moving along the trail as the frog hopped along the log. So neat!

And we saw a toucan... in the wild... up close...

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

La Fortuna

The drive from San José to La Fortuna was great. Rick got the worry of getting lost out of his system right away by taking a wrong turn as soon as we left the hotel. Once off the main highway the road became a twisty, turny scenic drive. Every corner a new adventure. Vehicles would be coming in your lane or even parked facing you. No one yields for pedestrians. It´s every driver for himself.
La Fortuna is beautiful and we found a place for $40 a night facing Arenal volcano. There´s a beautiful swimming pool with a waterfall & jacuzzi and the gardens around the cabins are beautifully kept. It´s called Villa Vilma.

We did the volcano walk this afternoon. The little bus picked us up at 3pm and drove us out and around to the other side of the volcano picking up other tourists along the way. Our guide was very knowledgeable about the local fauna and flora. He stopped every few metres on the trail to point something out or explain a point of interest. He packed a big Swarozki spotting scope so Rick finally got to see a Toucan in the wild. He was so excited he started spouting Dave´s silly poem.
"A Toucan is a very peculiar bird,
he can hear as well as you can,
but his beak is quite absurd."
We arrived at the old lava bed right below the active volcano. It started to grumble and growl, smoke billowing out the top and large hot rocks were rolling down the side. Some of the rocks were apparently the size of a car and you could hear the banging as they bounced down the volcano side and see the ash puffing up and around them. See the white trail down the side of the volcano. Pretty amazing!

We met some nice people from Florida and a couple from Israel. It was an excellent trip. The howler monkeys were right above us on the trail out. They seem to have a thing for throwing crap at tourists.
Heading in to town for dinner and internet cafe. It´s blog time.

San Jose yesterday. April 7th

We got up early. Michele and Dave headed for the Canadian Embassy.
After breakfast Rick and I caught a cab to the (nearest?) bank. In Costa Rica taxi´s aren´t regulated so anyone can duct tape a taxi bubble to the top of the vehicle and play cab driver. Our cab driver took us for a drive and we ended up in a small shopping area where our cab driver stopped and asked a pedestrian for directions to the bank. He dropped us off and agreed to return in an hour to pick us up. Visits to the Costa Rican banks often take at least that much time.
The banks are locked. A security man opens the door and requests that you remove sunglasses and hats. This one (maybe because we were so close to the big city?) actually used a wand to check us over and then asked to look through Rick´s pouch. I had a tiny bag just big enough for my passport and credit card so he didn´t check that.

When Dave and Michelle returned from their embassy visit we had another tailgate meeting. Dave´s replacement passport wasn´t going to be ready for a week, so they wanted to head to the Carribean side for new adventures. We only have 4 more days till we fly home so Rick and I rented a car and we headed out of San José to La Fortuna.

It was time for the honeymooners to spend some time on their own, and finally Rick and Heather could get some sleep. No more listening to the giggles and laughter far into the night. (last paragraph by Rick)

Santa Teresa to San José April 6

By Rick Hopkins
On the drive to San Jose we took a ferry across the Gulf of Nacoya. It was a long hot process waiting in line and then getting everyone loaded. When we got there they were loading already so we ran down to get a ticket, but were told we needed a ticket to get a ticket if that makes any sense. It didn´t to us and we had to wait for the next ferry. The picture is showing us getting off in Punteranus...

Most of the passengers had already deboarded. We were told that if it sank and you couldn´t get one of the few available lfe jackets, because there weren´t enough, you could ride in one of the few life boats. There were 83 child life jackets, but when we looked around there were far more children on board than that.
The cars were packed so close together below deck that when Dave went down to our vehicle he found himself stuck between two cars with some poor fellows side mirror stuck solidly in his crotch. When Dave handed the mirror to the driver of the car and said sorry, the fellow burst with several Spanish phrases Dave wasn´t familiar with. Fortunately the driver couldn´t get out of his car, and Dave made his way back to his car. ¨Nothing I can do it to make it better,¨ he said with a shrug. So there´s one more vehicle in Costa Rica with it´s side mirror held on with duct tape.

Santa Teresa. April 4-6

By Rick Hopkins

Dave researched surfing in Santa Teresa and "Boy Oh Boy, that´s where the waves are!" After two days practice on the 3ft curlers in Samara, eating a tonne of sand and several gallons of sea water, we were ready.
The reason there are no pictures of surfing in Santa Teresa is because the waves were so big Dave couldn´t get out far enough to catch one. "I don´t need lessons." Yeah right. He took such a pounding he wouldn´t go out again, though he blamed it on the bug that had him on the toilet all night long. I think it had more to do with the elderly white guy in his mid 50´s on a beach where the average age of a surfer is 20. Gotta start doing those sit-ups and push-ups.

Even if the surfing wasn´t worth hitting Santa Teresa for the place we found to stay at definitely was. We checked out a variety of places from $8 a night to over $250 before we found the perfect place. Very quiet, away from the dusty main street, and run by a family of young Italians. The apartments had the most amazing shower. All hand laid in stone, and the top had a bamboo covering that you could see right through and hear the critters all day and night. After finding a Scorpion in Dave and Michele´s bathroom in Samara we were all checking it out before we went in. The people were great, the food was amazing. Banana crepes with chocolate sauce and ice cream was on the breakfast menu. Had it twice! We had the place to ourselves for 3 days as it is the end of the busy season here. We did some serious relaxing when we weren´t zip lining and snorkelling.

Monday, 7 April 2008

Our drive from Samara to Santa Teresa on April 4th

byline by Rick...

We had to go back and take a picture of this sign that Dave has driven past 4 times now. Twice with Otto and twice with us. This sign wasn't even on the right road, and he took us on some of the worst back roads we had ever seen.

Heather couldn't wait to see the weird cows she heard about. They are ugly... even the baby calves. Look at that hump!

Several river crossings on our trip from Samara to Santa Teresa. Some of the trees were really awesome. If the tide was low the rivers were low. During the rainy season when the rivers are raging you could not go this way.

"I told you I'd get you here, didn't I! And we gotta go that way." says Dave. This is where the road comes out of the back woods and continues along the beach.

We had to time the tides to get around the cliffs. What an amazing way to travel.

Zip lining through the canopy

In Mal Pais the four of us tried our hand at zip lining through the trees. We got strapped into the harnesses, had a quick ´how-to´ from our guides and we were off. What fun flying through the trees. Do we look ready?

Here´s Rick...

Michele and Dave having fun...

And here´s the view from the top of the trees...

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Nearing San Jose this evening.

We´re just outside of San Jose. We thought we were in Santa Ana, but apparently we got turned around somewhere and we´re somewhere else. Not sure where. Tomorrow morning Dave has to head in to the embassy and hopefully get set up quickly. Then we´re off to La Fortuna.

We did the zipline canopy tour in Mal Pias. And Rick and I snorkelled this morning. I´ll try and upload some pictures tomorrow morning.

Saturday, 5 April 2008

Private paparazzi

How do we describe Paul? Rick and Dave had tonnes of comments to make so I picked the most publishable.
Presumably Pauls trip was for humanitarian reasons, including meeting his Nicaraguan foster child through The Plan, formerly The Foster Parents Plan. We found that cruising through Costa Rica on his 125 motorbike with beer and babes was more his forte.
Paul was the 'first responder' to the infamous bandito attack of April 4. He saved us from a second assault. Rick and Dave are now prepared to protect us in Paul's absence.

He was also known as the stand in for the motorcycle 'bad boy'. He's skittish in a leaky boat on stormy seas, but at home in a Tico bar with the Rasta's, listening to The Doors, while watching the bronzed beauties strolling by.
Paul was a long time friend of Michele's, but a new friend to most of us. He fit right in with the rest of the group. He's a great photographer. We were happy to have his talent for the week he was here with us.


Santa Teresa

This must be the dustiest place on the planet. The main road is a few miles long with hotels and hostels and outside restaurants that are all covered in a thick layer of fine, fine dust. Cough cough...
Luckily our place is off the road a little so it's not as dusty. Mary and Melody you should check it out...

Dave's surfing, Michele and I are in Frank's Internet Place keeping in touch with everyone. Rick chatted with Breanna and he's now wandering around outside in the dust sight-seeing.
We're doing the canopy tour this afternoon. Rick had his 'tailgate meeting' over breakfast. That means he's gone over everything that could and might go wrong and scared the crap out of Michele so now she's not sure she'll have the nerve to even get up in the tree let alone zipline from canopy to canopy.

Rick's found a new friend. There is a little striped kitty living at the hotel and it's decided Rick is a cat person. It follows him around, in and out of our room and jumps on his lap when he sits down.

Friday, 4 April 2008

We are in Santa Teresa tonight

Dave took us on the same tour as him and Otto went on. (Dave misses Otto because none of us laugh at his "gotta pain" joke anymore) We went down a couple of wrong roads, and took a few wrong turns, but we made it. And saw lots of the country at the same time. Dave was stopping and reading the signs by the end and admitting that Michelle was always right.
The road was pretty rough. We averaged about 20km an hour the entire way on gravel and dirt, through rivers when there were no bridges and along a stretch of beach and around the point. We timed it so we got to the beach at low tide and followed a herd of cows around the point.
We checked out 4 different places to stay before finding the perfect place. I think it is run by hippies. We are not even allowed to flush the toilet paper. The shower is open to the outside with a bamboo screen to keep out the biggest critters, but the vines are growing right through. Very neat! And they have an awesome pool right outside our door.
We just had dinner there and it was so good. Their pets were running around the outdoor restaurant like everywhere in Costa Rica. Daddy had spicey jumbo shrimp and I had a yummy ravioli dish. And desert was indescribably yummy! We will try something different tomorrow. And take pictures too.


So we´re heading out today. None of us slept well last night even though Michelle had booby trapped every window and door in the place.
We´re heading south to a little surfing town. I´m sure the digs will be less luxurious, but we´ll be less isolated and we´re ready for a new adventure. Not sure if there´ll be an internet cafe, but we´ll be in San Jose Monday and we should have lots of new photos to upload by then.

The Bandito´s didn´t want some of our stuff.

Rick is insulted ´cause Thursday morning when the guys were walking down the road outside the villa searching for clues he found his hockey t-shirt discarded on the side of the road like so much rubbish.
He´s consoling himself with the idea that the bandito´s weren´t as slim and trim as him so the t-shirt wouldn´t fit them.
Michele discovered they also nicked her back of nailpolish. And we think we may have spotted the banditos girlfriend wearing her colour in the bank this morning.

Rick and I drove to Liberia to take Paul to the airport. We got there early enough to hit a couple camera stores. I got a pink, 10 megapixel Kodak camera. Rick bought a Samsung video camera. Not as sleek as his stolen sports cam but it will do the trick. We´ll be uploading more photos soon.
On the way to Liberia we passed a restaurant named ¨Él Rocko¨ (remember the fishing story?). So on the way home that afternoon Rick and I decided to stop and check it out. It was a family restaurant with kids and pets running everywhere, Grandpa reading the paper at a corner table and the teenage daughter waiting on the customers when she wasn´t glued to her Spanish Soap Opera and painting her nails.
We both had fried chicken as Dave had said we must try it at some point in Costa Rica. Yummy!!! And the fries were teh best I have ever eaten.
The view was amazing. The restaurant was built into the side of the hill and it was a straight drop to the forest metres below. We could see for miles up the valley. Their ugly cows (still have to get a picture of them) grazing on the hill sides.
Tonnes of brightly coloured, lime green and blue parakeets flying by. And, of course, the family dog begging at our feet.

La Problemo

Wednesday night as we were sleeping a couple thieves broke into our villa through the one window that wouldn´t lock and stole 3 laptops, 2 cameras, the sportscam I gave Rick for Xmas last year and Dave´s wallet. They didn´t get more then a few colones but his passport was in there so a trip to San Jose is now in the cards.
We drove all the way to Nacoya(1hr on scary roads) at 2am to make a police report.
Paul woke up and scared them off before they could make a second sweep through our villa so we still have Dave´s camera and Rick´s GPS and wallet.
We´re not done holidaying yet!

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Banditos took us down, but not out...

by Michelle

I am finally relaxed. My wedding dress that I so lovingly lugged on board with me in it´s own box has served it´s purpose and hangs exhausted and dirty in the villa´s master closet. My expensive camera and laptop that I didn´t risk checking with my luggage have been stolen. Sudden, silent, bold intruders snatched our gizmo's and gadgets deftly and disappeared, leaving the last five members of our wedding party (Dave, me, Heather, Rick and Paul) shaken, creeped out and feeling like vulnerable gringos.
Spookily as I fitfully slept off a heavy late night dinner, I had dreamed of machetes and Ticos. That coupled with being woken by Paul to tell us we´d just been brazenly robbed, left me looking over my shoulder & straining my ears for strange sounds.
I´m in Costa Rica, all the sounds are strange here! Howling monkeys and foot long crickets (Rick says she´d make a good fisherman),and clicking land crabs. It´s a jungle out there. Sleepless, but determined, Rick and Heather have headed to Liberia to drop Paul off at the airport. Dave locked up the villa and laid down to try and get a few lost hours of sleep back. I needed sleep too, but felt too shaken and vulnerable in our paradise villa to close my eyes.
This is not how I wanted to spend my/our remaining days in Samara. I read the 23 Psalm and let it´s familiar words remind me of my peace. Risking looking like a lunatic to my new husband, my desire to express my fear and engage my faith win out and I took a walk around the villa, praying at each window and door and timidly anointing each one with my finger dipped in oil, in the sign of the cross. I know that sounds medieval but it felt very therapeutic.
I came back inside surprisingly calmed. The crosses easily seen in the corner of each window. If the bastards come back they´ll see who else they´re up against.
The pool is still refreshing, the birds exuberant songs are like exotic music and the villa resumes the golden glow of luxury and retains the magic of our wedding.
We´ll shake this off our feet like sand from the beach and drink up and eat up and party up this blessed adventure unhindered and unscathed. We wondered how we were gonna fit all our stuff into the rental car anyways!
Cheers from Samara.

PS by Rick.
After Michele had done her oil and garlic crosses on each window she retired for a nap. Dave awoke and went out to have a swim in the pool and noticed something on the window. Then he noticed something on ALL the windows as he walked around the villa. He thought we´d been marked with bandito jou jou for further retribution and got all excited again and went and woke up Michele to tell her.

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

In other exciting news...

I was chosen for the new Design Team at www.scrapbookersclubhouse.com
So for the next 4 months I will be designing with their wonderful kits. I can’t wait. It’s going to be a tough 12 days not being able to scrapbook till I get home. But once I’m there I will have a ton of photos to work with.
There are 4 of us with laptops and half dozen cameras so we are busy downloading photos every evening, and copying photos to flash drives so we can copy all to everyone’s computers.
Can’t wait to get back to my scrapping stash!

So there are only 5 of us left.

John left first, on Monday. John is Otto’s brother and had flown down for the wedding from Houston where he’s working. He’s a calm, quiet guy who spent a lot of time reading his book in the shade; unaffected by the shenanigans of Pauline and others in the group. He was so easy to get along with. He’s a great photographer and recorded so much of our good times together. I was so glad we were able to download his photos for ourselves.

Otto left an hour ago to catch his flight. He’s Dave’s best friend from way back. Dave says he’s like a mother bear. Otto does the research, takes care of all the little details and keeps everyone organized. On our first day we were driving from Liberia to Samara in the dark. Dave was driving. Otto was pointing out signs and giving directions; Making sure we all arrived at our destination safely. He came all the way from Nova Scotia to be at Michele and Dave’s wedding and was the Best Man. An excellent breakfast cook, he made us refried rice and eggs and fresh fruit a couple mornings. He’s observant & devious (a good liar) with a twinkle in his eye. The kind of person you’d want for a friend.

Pauline, Allen and Dylan left this morning also.

Pauline is Dave’s older sister. She looks 20 years younger than she is and acts even younger than that. The life of the party she kept us entertained and giggling the entire time. She was the mastermind behind the April Fool’s joke. She works for Telus and is a computer whiz. She had a card reader with her which came in handy when we were downloading everyone’s photos to various computers. She saved my bacon when I formatted my camera’s card on the computer and then found I couldn’t take photos. I had to format the camera card with the camera and she walked my through it. Phew! I have a lot more photos to take.
Allen is Pauline’s husband and the serious one of the two. He’s a great conversationalist and loves to talk and discuss various topics. Very friendly and cerebral; It’s like having a grown up around. He’s more reserved and calmer then his goofball wife (Rick’s words). Very precise; He likes exactly ¼ tsp of milk in his morning coffee. He had no problem going with the crazy flow and seemed to thoroughly enjoy himself.

Dylan is Dave’s son. What a fun guy to have around; he fit right in with all us old people. At one point he exclaimed;” “I’m having a great time BUT I’d REALLY be having a great time if you guys were all 20 instead of old guys!”
Rick and I haven’t seen him since he was a child and now he’s a grown up. He wrote a beautiful song for Michele and Dave’s wedding and played it on his guitar and sang for everyone (sounds just like his Dad). What a talented guy! He’s very witty and easy going; really a great travelling companion. He’s a better surfer than the rest of us and he found the neatest souvenirs to take home. He picked up a machete with a tooled leather cover and immediately set out to go bushwhacking in the wilds behind the villa. He came back with one baby lime and four very green plantains. The monkeys had already chewed on anything ripe.

It’s very quiet around here now.

We miss you guys already.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008


These photos are all taken by Paul Fletcher of www.fletcherfoto.ca.
Here's Rick 1st try...

Try again...


Try again...

Oops again...

Here's me heading out to show Daddy how it's done...

And I'm getting up...

And I'm up...
well maybe not on my feet, but almost...

And here are the pros...


Fishing with Paul, Dave, Otto and Rick.

Another excellent adventure. The guys were too cheap to rent a regular fishing boat so we hired a couple of characters to take us out on the ocean for the afternoon. Bertrand(aka ‘Bait’) was a local with a little English, who owned the boat. Raymond was a Frenchman that spoke a mixture of unrecognizable Spanish and French. He owned the motor. After popping a few pills on the beach, Bertrand was ready to take us out. The boat was parked under the palm trees. I thought perhaps it was going to be used for a planter, but Dave assured me this was the boat we would be going fishing in. Our guide was late. It seems he had an accident on his motorcycle the night before. He was bruised and battered and still under the influence of the drugs and pain killers. It took 8 people to haul the boat to the water. No life jackets, no phone, no paddles, NO cerveza(beer)… seems safe enough? Bertrand spent the first part of our trip passed out on the bow of the boat in a drug induced coma (thus his nickname, Bait). We had been trolling for about an hour when Paul & Rick’s rods both bent right over. The reels were screaming. Yahoo, Fish on! Rick battled his fish for about 5 minutes when his line shot out of the water. Damn, he got away. Paul, however, continued the fight; rod doubled over; sweat pouring from his brow. Our guide finally awoke to assist in the landing of Paul’s monster. What a battle we were witnessing. Paul was actually pulling so hard the boat was going backwards. ‘Holy crap’, Paul said, ‘this must be huge!’ Raymond (the psychotic Frenchman) looked over the side, gaff in hand and pronounced, “it’s a Cock.” ‘A cock,’ we thought? ‘Some kind of new exotic BIG fish we had never heard of?’ No, “el Rocko,” Raymond tried again to explain in English. ‘Must be REALLY big to be an ‘el’ something,’ we thought. Translate to English and we get “it’s a rock!” Paul had fought a huge rock for the past 15 minutes. What a fight! Shortly after the epic battle where Paul caught his rock, the water cooler on the motor failed. Perfect! 100 yards off a reef with 30ft waves (??? remember the author is a fisherman???) no motor, no paddles, no life jackets and NO cerveza. Fortunately the tool kit was lying in the bottom of the boat. It consisted of a pair of wire cutters, an old fish hook and a piece of broken fishing line. We managed to unplug the line and motored out to sea. We spotted several fish jumping further ahead and shortly the reels started to scream again. Rick had hooked something big and it wasn’t a rock. It lifted him out of his seat. He set the drag on the reel. Wow! Now we had a big one on. NOT! The line snapped, broken off at the lure. The line was shredded and we had to take off about 20ft of line ‘cause it was all chewed up. Rick, being the avid fisherman he claims, estimated this fish at well over 100lbs. We set our lines again and once more Rick and Paul had fish on. Paul’s broke off, but we managed to land Rick’s, which resembled some type of tuna. Finally! A fish in the boat. This is Raymond... Shortly after Otto got one on which he managed to bring to the boat. What a weird looking fish. Even the guide handled this one with care. Talk about teeth! By this time the sun had started to set, and we were still miles from home in rough seas and a storm approaching fast. We managed to get through the rocks on our way into the bay; completely soaked by rain and spray and in complete darkness. There were a few nervous people on board and several on shore, particularly the new bride. All in all it was a great day. Next time we’re going to ignore Dave and take Cerveza (beer) on board.
The end
Story by Rick Hopkins