Where the Cicadas Sing Like Dirt Bikes

Notice by pool:
“For your safety, please do not feed Iguanas”.

We certainly are not in Canada anymore. We finally managed to get on another trip regardless of COVID-19 and we find ourselves on the Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica once again. (We were here in 2004 – twice. Again in 2019 and again now in 2022). We love this little country in which it is so easy to find calm.

Last night at sunset, we walked the dirt laneway to the beach in order to see the colour of the sky. It was gorgeous shades of orange and pink. Just shortly thereafter, the switch flipped and on came the cicadas. Yikes. No kidding, my initial thought was to look for the coming dirt bike and prepare to dive into the ditch.

These guys are LOUD!

One of the truisms of travel is the pleasure of meeting folks who happen to be out and about in the world too. Fanny and her mother were two of those incredible people who most certainly have good messages which will now be in my toolbox going forward. Here are quotes: “if you were bringing something ‘just in case’, leave it at home”. So very true. Fanny said you will be able to buy things wherever you go and, she said, on the Camino de Santiago (a 30-day walk or pilgrimage in Spain) I learned that I would be given something I am missing and she went on to highlight examples of this. The conversation about being provided for totally reminded me of my post Yo Universe! Thanks Again.

Later, the mom added, as we were talking about going into retirement, wanting to travel more and longer and not sure about the house as well as not being in love with the work involved in the yard and snow maintenance. Her answer “hire a gardner and a snow clearing company!” She says it’s better to keep the house. She doesn’t trust condo politics and fees (nor do we) as well as we may not know anyone on the condo board. Also they are small and don’t offer easy access to nature. In your house she says, just open the door and you’re outside. Also, you are in control of your expenses and maintenance bills like when to sink money into a large project – your roof for example. With your own home, when you spend money on something that’s up to you.

***

I have just practised yoga on the dark golden sand of Jaco beach, late afternoon. I did headstands while watching the crashing surf upside down with the odd barefooted beach walkers passing by. We arrived here yesterday by taxi from Samara. We are reluctant to rent a car although many travellers do so. It’s a pleasure to be chauffeured and so we simply enjoy it. Without a rental car, we alleviate the worry of damage to the vehicle, taking the wrong turns, finding gas stations, parking spots and service stations. It just feels a whole lot freer to travel without a car. And, I have heard the opposite from folks who rent a car. So, as always, it’s up to you.

I am inserting a few tips on what to pack and wear on your travels. I get asked questions about this stuff and so I will insert ideas for you. (WTW= what to wear.) Please comment with your best ideas. Remembering that travelling without checking a bag can mean decisions need to be made on every item you bring in your carryon luggage. Why not check a bag, you ask? Mainly to not give the airlines a chance to lose your bag which then causes delays and claim headaches. So, planning and judiciousness is key when choosing the items to bring with. Almost like the funny song by Monty Python: Every Sperm is Sacred, well every item going into your carryon is sacred. (And ever frugally, we buy most clothing items second hand.)

Jaco Beach Costa Rica March 2022

What to Wear (WTW): shorts with pockets (!) are great for a beach walk. Ladies, tropical-weight clothes with pockets are something to watch for, especially the coveted zipper pockets. Bathing suit that stays on is best for swimming in the surf and light weight rubber flip flops protect the feet when there are sharp rocks and are ok wet (unlike say, leather sandals).
Happy to be oceanfront and tropical.
Just saw a squadron of pelicans float by in formation then breakneck speed diving for their breakfast. It’s hard to tear my eyes away from their precision flying.

WTW: Dean is wearing his light weight linen collared, button-up long sleeve shirt. Best to cover up in the tropical sun especially starting from bright white winter skin á la Canada.

Today we arrived to the village of Atenas, Costa Rica which is known for its favourable climate, being in the highlands at 800m above sea level. Of course when I read that elevation my mind flitted back to 1994 when we arrived in Kathmandu, Nepal having flown from Australia where we had been travelling and working on a farm for two months. We had no idea how chilly it would be in Kathmandu and found ourselves wearing woollen toques to bed in the Kathmandu Guesthouse. We had tippy-toed passed the staff of twenty young men wrapped in blankets sleeping on their sides on woven mats in the great room where we had read our novels and swapped stories with other travellers earlier that day. When we eventually made our way to Pokhora, Nepal, at sea level, we sighed at the relative warmth. Much later, after 30 days trekking in the Annapurnas, we found ourselves in the tropics of Royal Chitwan National Park where we fondly remember the entrepreneurs all along the arid dusty roadway selling FREEZING COLD drinks – these were highly sought after by us and were quite the feat to proffer.

I digress. We have a cool bungalow surrounded by majorly huge house plants (grin).

Check out the size of this cactus!

WTW: In this shot I’m wearing a linen skort with pockets and light cotton tee. Nearly naked sandals are reef brand and I love ‘em!
Man about Puebla (cutie!).

WTW:
Dean is wearing Tevas brand sandals that last and last, are light and sporty as well as waterproof. He also has lightweight shorts which dry fast and have zipper pockets. Finally, a small daypack with contigo can for water or coffee. His sunglasses were a gift from our son and he wears them with a lanyard for safekeeping.

The biodiversity abounds in this country. Iguanas, birds of all sorts, monkeys, sloth, some sort of raccoon that ambled across our path one evening, geckos, marine life and a gazillion insects. One evening in Samara, a grasshopper the size of a well fed nuthatch flitted into the open-walled dining room and landed then froze on a chair. Ok. I was frozen too except for my hands which were waving and my mouth which was shrieking. A waiter calmly palmed it and gently released it to the jungle just beyond the non-wall. That was a relief. That thing was huge.

How’s it going?
Traipsing around the town gets tiring. A nice little coffee break is just the ticket.
This guy just walked by our table. Apparently, this is normal in Costa Rica. Isn’t is great?!
Getting to the Liberia airport with windows open, obviously.
Cheers folks. This is one of the local beers. Imperial.

Leave me a comment. I love ‘em!

What’s 50 Pounds Between Friends?

In the last five years I have both gained and lost fifty pounds. Here’s how…

Five years ago I entered what is known as perimenopause and the shit basically hit the fan with regard to my body size (and sleeping – NOT). I was doing all my normal stuff, like big walks and ‘watching’ what I ate, for the most part, but the pounds were coming on anyway. I was beating myself up about weight gain, heading up to the 135 mark from my usual 130 was like never-never land to me back then. Well folks, you can then imagine what hitting the 180 mark felt like when I was weighed at a doctor’s appointment. Hell. I also felt completely bloated, toxic, hot flashes and, as stated, was not sleeping well. Many would attribute this to symptoms of perimenopause. This could go on for ten years, I was told. Holy sweet jesus.

Last summer, hubby and I went away for a week to the sweet little village of St Andrews By The Sea, New Brunswick. We had some free nights on points at the Algonquin. Dean and I, at that time, liked to raise a glass with a craft beer to quaff together. We would have a nice lunch somewhere and each have a beer. Then we would do a long, long walk and come supper time, we again would have a beer or even some wine as well. Basically, my clothes were getting tighter and needed replacing and I wasn’t sleeping. It was upon returning from this trip that I weighed 180 and I nearly died with that. I had gone from a size 4 to size 16.

I spent a lot of effort hiding my size. Certain t-shirts masked the belly rolls and were long enough to cover my bum. I thought of my new bras as ‘machinery’ and with a price tag in the triple digits in order to keep the girls supported. These pieces of fine engineering were extremely well made and were lacey and pretty but they were so uncomfortable it was unbearable. I would remove my bra as soon as possible upon getting home. Another thing that happened which is cringe-worthy and perhaps TMI, is my upper inner legs would rub together with the added weight. I can not state emphatically enough how much I hated this. I had to wear spandex shorts under dresses and skirts in order to avoid chaffing. While visiting Cuba just before the pandemic hit, I was perturbed by incessant chaffing due to the added ingredients of salt water and fine sand and had to buy diaper cream in order to combat this problem. Ok. This really spoke to me. Hellooooo. Diaper cream!!!!! Jysus!

Because of not sleeping and then feeling completely bloated and toxic while on our sweet little away trip, to New Brunswick, I shook up my routine enough and was uncomfortable enough to see that I had to make a change. I was not happy with how I looked nor how I felt.

The decision I made was to stop drinking alcohol of any sort. Almost immediately I peed out about ten pounds of water, folks. (I do have another complicating factor: I take lithium to stabilize bipolar disorder. So not only perimenopause but also lithium in the works.)

A few weeks later I had dropped another five to ten pounds and I was feeling better and better. Sleep was not nearly as elusive and I was actually having the odd night of sleeping right through to morning. What a gift.

Sometime in there I watched a TEDx talk about intermittent fasting. Here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A6Dkt7zyImk

I had thought fasting was an extreme and nutty behaviour but, the way she explained it, it sounded perfect for me and had added health benefits. I learned that WHEN you eat is more important than WHAT you eat. I stopped eating after having a good supper meal and didn’t eat again until mid-morning the next day. Because I was having a morning coffee, I didn’t feel hungry and I was never a huge fan of breakfast anyhow.

This was key to dropping the remainder of the weight. Please understand: I DID NOT STARVE MYSELF. If ever I felt hungry, really hungry, I would eat something with high protein like a couple of eggs / a handful of nuts / peanuts / a piece of cheese / a pepperoni stick. In this way I reduced carbs. For me, reducing carbs, like bread, rice, pasta was key. Also, I would reach for an apple or a pear sometimes. Even at night I will sometimes have a crispy cold apple if I’m feeling a nagging hunger that just won’t stop.

I lost about five pounds per month, so a safe amount to lose, and am now back to 125. On me, 125 actually looks and feels good and I am happy.

Key things I did:

  1. eliminated alcohol;
  2. stopped eating at night after supper;
  3. when sitting for a show or movie I keep my hands busy with playing scrabble or a card game or something on my ipad. This helps me to not want snack foods while viewing;
  4. the majority of the time I ate only from mid-morning to mid-evening and therefore had 14 to 18 hours of fasting. That is, no food or beverages other than water after supper from 7 pm. And, black coffee in the morning. Although sometimes I would have an apple, some nuts or a small piece of cheese in the evening if my stomach was rumbling;
  5. walked 5 to 10 km per day;
  6. pretty much eliminated desserts and empty carb foods (I was not going to be that person who says no to a piece of birthday cake or to a piece of home-made pie. I just didn’t eat it often);
  7. cut back on carbs like bread, cereal, buns, potatoes, rice, pasta, nacho chips, wraps and would choose high-protein foods instead like sliced meats, nuts, fish;
  8. between meal snacks would be high protein or a piece of fruit;
  9. I weighed myself on the same day each week. I didn’t own a scale initially but was visiting family and they had one. Digital scales are now widely available even at your local pharmacy for under $30. Worth it. But, I recommend once per week weight measuring, same time each week wearing about the same outfit and write it down so that you can see your progress.
Feeling Good!

So many people have asked me what exactly I did to lose the weight, especially during lockdown when most people were putting a few pounds ON. Simple things. Besides this, I would take time each day to mentally thank my strong healthy body for all it does for me. If extra weight doesn’t bother you, well, then don’t do anything different. For me, it DID bother me. I felt like carrying around an extra fifty pounds was quite torturous for me. I mean, this was over FIVE years. It took 4 years of dedication to put that much weight on and it took 9 months of dedication to take it off. I am back to size 4. Size 4 feels good.

Before I began my downward journey I was eating a treat (cookie, chips, ice-cream) almost every night. I was also, as stated, drinking an alcohol drink or two almost every day. That’s a lot of excess on a 5’5″ frame. I’m not sure what I thought was going to happen. Perhaps I was in complete denial. But, in hindsight I realize that the toxicity of daily alcohol was likely what was causing the cravings for junk food.

I will never again take my trimness for granted. As I cover ground during the day, usually with my furry friend, Jack, I really pay attention to how much easier it is to move. How much easier it is to climb a hill. How much more balance I have in the winter with the trail is slippery. How much easier it is to get down on my knee to pick something up or to sit on the floor to play with my little grand-niece and grand-nephew. I give myself a nod for finding the method that truly worked for me to lose the excess weight. For me, that fifty pounds was a real thing that made my life less sweet. I’m glad it is gone.

I welcome your questions folks. Bottom line: if you want to shed weight and you’re in good health – GO FOR IT. If you want to shed weight and you have a health issue – check in with your doc first to ensure you are doing things safely. Lose the weight slowly. A few pounds per month. Be patient. Walk. Be mindful. Take good care of your Earth Suit with healthful fresh foods. It will come off.

‘All of Me’ at my highest weight, 2020