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Cecelia's Stories

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November 7, 2007

Dear Dad,

It is cold today and the sky is grey. We were at Punta Coral all weekend and I worked most of the time.

We went to Puntarenas on Saturday and after eating a wonderful typical breakfast at our old breakfast stop, we stopped at the new breakfast stop to see how our group was doing. I bought a nice piece of art – an iguana sitting on a log – and it looks real.

The new restaurant has a wonderful view and is more rustic looking that the cafeteria style restaurant we used to take our passengers. While looking out towards the back of the restaurant and seeing the beautiful view of tall majestic tree covered mountains, I could see a large Toucan. It was amazing to see such a special bird close to the highway, but protected in the trees because we were separated with a mountain slope and it was on top of a tall tree.

When we arrived in Puntarenas, after inspecting the new kitchen, we jumped on board Manta Raya and headed for Punta Coral.

David and I had guests, Bill and Ana and instead of going to Tortuga Island on Friday, we postponed the inspection tour one day to wait for Bill’s cousin who arrived on Saturday. He had planned on going on the Calypso bus to Puntarenas on Sunday and on to Tortuga Island. The four of us wanted to be with him since it was his first visit in over 15 years.

Manta Raya dropped us off at Punta Coral and it was wonderful to be there. Everything is very green and beautiful, especially the front lawn. Bill and Ana bought fresh shrimp at the Central market and we had a feast for lunch.I took a short – delicious nap – and later took a nice walk around the property.On Sunday, we all went to Tortuga Island for the day. On our way to catch the Manta Raya, riding in our dingy or panga to the big cat waiting off shore, David spotted a pod of dolphins swimming close to the Punta Coral shore. What a treat.While our guests relaxed I watched the crew prepare the decorations for the salads and set up the lunch area. I had the three parachutes moved a little closer together to make sure all tables will be in the shade when the leaves from the Pochote tree fall of in a month or so. We also moved a few tables around to do this.The lunch was wonderful and plates were cleaned. It was the first time that I had seen the orchid on the dessert and I must take a bow for this great idea as the dessert plate looked very elegant and I think I just adds a nice touch to a wonderful meal.

On our return trip to Punta Coral we saw a pair of mating turtles in the ocean between Tortuga Island and Negritos Islands.. This is a rare site these days as most of the turtles have left the area or have been killed after being caught in the shrimp nets. Once we saw lots of turtles and now hardly at all. It is so sad to see the disappearance of so many species because of the neglet or non concern of people.We will all pay for the damage we are causing this planet and loss of life.After returning to Punta Coral, I went for a swim. The weather pattern called La Niña is affecting the climate changes and making the ocean very cold. I could not stay too long in the water because – yes –strange as it sounds – it was that cold.While shivering in the water I looked up in time to see the beautiful Mangrove Hawk fly overhead make a circle as if to say hello to me and then fly away. I was thrilled to see her again.

While David and our guests went for a walk around the property to show Colman (Bill’s cousin) the trails, I decided to sit on a lounge chair and watch all the pelicans that were floating, diving and fishing on the edge of the shore. I tried counting but lost count because they were moving but I figure I must have seen about a hundred. I was so excited to see this many because they have been scarce since so many of them died a mysterious death last year. We never found out what killed them, but thousands died.

I was thoroughly entertained watching the graceful birds fly and dive and catch fish or just float lazily until the sun began to set and they returned to their nesting areas.We had two wonderful nights with no rain and after I went to bed the guys sat and solved all the worlds’ problems sitting on the lounge chairs under a starlit sky.

Sunday night, while I was sitting in the dining area, I felt something soft touch my elbow and looked to my right in time to see something grey colored and big scurry silently away. ¨WHAT WAS THAT?¨ My heart beating in my ears and my shout brought the guys to rescue me. We guessed that it was a raccoon and we all were amazed at the animal’s courage to get so close to a human – looking for food I am sure. Misael, trying to be nice, has been feeding them and now they have become a menace. We hear the raccoons at night climbing all over the ice-chests trying to get inside one.

Their muddy foot prints proof of a visit.Monday I got up early and walked all the trails. It took over an hour, but it was wonderful to stand and/or walk under the canopy of jungle and listen to the sounds. The trails were clean and there was still the ground cover or tiny plant that I like to think of as green lace on the ground making the trails soft like a carpet. Here and there were colorful leaves, looking like Pringle potato chips on top of the lace that are signs that the jungle was getting ready for the change of seasons, Monday we stayed to receive a group from a travel agency who were having their end of the year party. We invited them to stop at Punta Coral to have the ceviche appetizer before going to Tortuga Island for lunch. We are trying to get another group for Punta Coral to help with the expenses. The group had a wonderful time at Punta Coral and some used the kayaks or walked the trails or swam or just sat in a lounge chair watching the ocean. We are sure they love the property, but because they have their wholesalers itineraries for the next year already planned, it is doubtful we will get any of their groups and all we could do was invite the wholesalers, the next time they visit Costa Rica, to an inspection tour of Punta Coral and see if it can be added to programs for the year 2009. We need a group. After the short 2 ½ hour stay, the group once again bordered Manta Raya and headed for Tortuga Island.

Not wanting to leave and because we were so busy there was really no ¨hammock time¨ that we had been looking forward to and after a unanimous ¨´yes¨ from our group we decided to stay another night. Ana and I prepared a wonderful lunch of vegetarian tamales and rice and black beans and string beans and carrots and salad with hot tortillas. Everything was yummy and all of us headed for hammocks or lounge chairs for reading and relaxing.

That night we had a return of our furry animals that have been getting braver and closer to us each day – looking for food and I am sure that one day they just might figure out how to open an ice chest and get their paws on the food inside. The raccoons disappeared into the night when it began to rain and it stormed all night. I mean really rained hard. We had no bugs, unless you count the small colorful moths that gathered around the reading lamp over our bed. I did hear a lot of commotion in the kitchen and thought that a raccoon had entered the house and was in the garbage, but it was Bill. Later in the weeeeeeeee hours, a branch fell on the roof of the house and woke all of us up and sounded like a grenade or something. It was a real eye opener. Punta Coral needs some repairs. We need to redo the wiring for the solar power fans and lights. We also need to replace some of the wood on the structure and some window screens too.

One of our carpenters doesn’t like staying or even working there but the other, who had a financial problem, is interested in going and staying for day at a time to make the necessary repairs. We are in the planning stages now of scheduling his time as soon as the new kitchen is finished. It seems we are always under construction someplace. My projects now are to get new garbage cans that are marked for recycling glass, paper and plastic. I was going to get some specially marked cans for metal and organic too but the cost is tremendous about $2000 for all five stations. I have chosen the most important for now, the new kitchen, office in San Jose and Manta Raya to start and see what happens. We still have to find a place to take all the divided garbage away.

There are a lot of changes going on around here. We have a new messenger and he is terrific, more efficient and faster and more respectful than then old one. We also have a new person in accounting too; no, Michael didn’t leave. I would be lost without him, but his assistant. We lost Luis who was terrific in sales and are looking for a new person as well as new guides. At least I don’t have to do the first interviews and the applicants are interviewed by Mauricio in reservations first and if he likes them then they are sent to me – firing and hiring is difficult.

Thursday

I have been shopping all morning. First I went to get new garbage cans for the new kitchen and these will be marked for recycling. We are in the process of changing all the Chemical products to organic and also separate the garbage. After the garbage is separated what will we do with it? This is the big question because the recycling process here is very new and we have to search for someone, but I have no doubt we will find them.

I also went to a place that sells Christmas decorations. I know it is early; but I wanted to be sure I beat the crowds and buy what I wanted to decorate both the office and Manta Raya. I took Mario and Xochilts – both of whom love to decorate- and together we found some nice stuff. It is important to get into the Christmas spirit for clients as well as employees.

I also asked if the San Jose employees want to each decorate their desks or working stations for a prize too.

The old decorations are just that old and tired and we needed new ones. Most of them are so old I don’t remember when I bought them.

The decorations for Manta Raya will be simple gold poinsettias with pine cones and sparkles. I will place two above the bar and three on the entrance to the main salon. I won’t have them put up until nearer to Thanksgiving; but at least I will have missed the Christmas rush. It took forever to pay for the decorations and the store was practically empty. I just don’t have the patience I used to. I did buy a beautiful poinsettia plant now that is perfect – round with no broken flowers and this I placed where I had the pumpkin. It looks beautiful.

It is cold again today. The new maid in the office just brought me a nice cup of tea.I love being spoiled. She made toast and jelly for everyone too.

I had a wonderful conversation with Linda yesterday and she told me that she was taking both her dogs to your house and cut your hair. What a busy woman she is.

Today is massage day. I missed last week and I am not going to miss this one. I did a lot of exercise and walking at Punta Coral and really need a good rub down.

This is the news for the week. I should mention that we have had so much rain that David has not been able to play golf for over a month because the greens are mush He is climbing the walls.

I hope you enjoyed the Halloween photos I sent. I love and miss you. Say Hi to Ira.

Besitos, Cecs

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