26 Sep 2009

Welcome to the jungle baby..

Posted by walterheck

This entry is going to span the next 5 weeks of traveling, as I didn’t do any traveling at all during this time. The deal I made with Cashew Hill was that I would build a website for them and just be physically there. The reason they wanted me to just be there was that Eric was going to the U.S. for 1,5 weeks and Wendy would have to run the place by herself. When she would go off tending to guests or going to do shopping or whatever, they needed someone to sit at the “reception desk” (that was the big balcony of the main house) and answer the phone and questions from guests. Also, there is the safety issue: if the locals find out there is noone there, they would be more inclined to try and do not-so-nice things.

This whole arrangement worked out perfectly for both of us. I got to do a lot of work for my biggest client and at the same time give my foot the rest it needed. I got along very well with everyone in the family, and I slept in the main house in the room of Wendy’s daughter. She was gone traveling in India for 2 months, so her room was empty anyway.

There were 5 dogs and 2 cats at Cashew Hill. I love cats, but I have never been a super-big fan of dogs (I don’t dislike them either, though). There were 2 old mastiffs, 2 young dobermann’s and a small dog. I got a very good experience of all their different characters. Even the dobermann’s (known to be a bit aggressive) were really sweet after I was around them for a while. They loved to lay down under the table on or against my feet or legs, just to make sure they would know when I moved. Really new for me, but I found out I loved dogs a lot more then I thought! I guess it is one fo those things you normally don’t experience when it is someone else’s dog, you really have to be around them for a while to see their character.

Cashew Hill is located on the edge of Puerto Viejo, tucked away in the jungle. Every night during sunset, the insects and other animals in the jungle would go apeshit and the sound would literally be overwhelmingly loud. We had a visit from a monkey one day, and sloths are all around the property. They are pretty used to it, but for me it was amazing to look up from my computer screen and see a hummingbird investigate the plants on the balcony.

During my stay at Cashew Hill one day, I received an email from my good friend Ben. I knew he was in CR, but it turned out he was in Panama for a visa run, and was coming back into CR through PV. He found the only taxi (read: 4WD pickup truck) that would go up the hill Cashew Hill was on and we went into town for a few hours. I can’t say how happy I was to see him there. We spent 3 months in Alaska working for couchsurfing, and most of the people I stayed with there feel almost like family to me.

After a few weeks of staying in PV, it was time to get my cast removed. I decided to go back to San Jose to go to the same hospital that put it on. That meant a 5 hour bus-ride there, rushing to the hospital and then rush back to the bus-station to get on the last bus back to PV. Lemme tell you that 10 hours on a bus in 1 day is more then enough 🙂

Just like last time, the hospital’s service was much better then you’ll ever find in Holland. I was in and out (without an appointment!) in 1,5 hours. Luckily, they told me that everything looked fine (they made new x-rays), and that I just needed to take it easy for a bit more. That was a bit disappointing, because I thought that when they would remove the cast I would be able to do everything again. Instead, I took short walks from Cashew Hill to the various beaches around PV. I would go for a swim in the beautiful warm ocean for just a bit and then stumble back to Cashew Hill.

I promised myself though, that before leaving PV I would be allowed to do one cool thing. PV is a place that has lots of cool things I wish I could’ve done. It was hard to choose one, but I eventually settled on snorkeling.

I took a day-trip from PV to the nearby nature reserve Cahuita. They came and picked me up at Cashew Hill and we drove to the reserve. There we took a boat out to a nearby reef and we snorkeled for an hour or so (enough, it is pretty exhausting). I finally got to put my 3 snorkeling diploma’s I got when I was 15 (in a normal swimming pool) into practice. I chased a shark and played hide and seek with a stingray. The reef was full of all kind’s of brightly coloured aquarium fish!

One of the things I enjoyed so much when I was staying at Cashew Hill was the food. Completely different from what I was used to, but amazingly good. It would later turn out that this would be my first big step to becoming a vegetarian. Wendy is a vegan chef and she cooks the most amazing vegan food, all very simple. This was the first time I did not miss meat for 5 weeks straight!

During this time, Kelly was feeling a bit better also, and towards the end of my stay in PV, she came by for a work meeting about ICCCR. There were 3 of us and we had some very productive talks. It was decided that my role would be a bit smaller, since I was now working for my own company much more, and had made commitments to it.

At some point during my stay in PV, I tripped over the wire of my laptop and broke the screen. Now, doing all your work from a 9 inch screen is tough enough already, but having teh complete left half of the screen going black, things got exponentially tougher. Luckily they had an extra MacBook at the house that I could use for a few weeks, so I was lucky. I have never thought very highly of MacOS, but being forced to work with it for a few weeks, I kind of have to admit that it is pretty nice. Everything just works and feels kind of sexy. Since MacOS is built on top of Linux, it still has a lot of compatibility with it, so working was pretty easy (most of my work is command line work on Linux servers). Now, I am saving up for a MacBook Pro, since it is very powerful and a bit bigger then teh sometimes limiting 9 inch screen of my netbook.

At that time though, I was about ready to buy a new netbook when I found a cheap replacement screen on eBay. I decided that 45 dollars for a new screen was very acceptable and spoiled myself by buying a bigger battery and a 16GB SD-card as well. The whole thing didn’t cost me more then 80 EU. I had everything delivered to a friend in Las Vegas, where I would be passing by on my way back to Europe.

All in all, when I left PV after 5 weeks (this was in the beginning of June), I looked back at a very good time in a beautiful environment. Once again, things had gone completely different then I ‘expected’ (i don’t really have expectations, but i guess it is the best word 🙂 ), but everything worked out perfectly fine!

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