Bonnie Guest Post: From Cubicle to Farm

 

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Our fledgling farm

How does someone go from a cubicle dweller to a farmer in Latin America? I never expected to find out—But In October 2015, my husband Rick was introduced to Moringa oleifera by a friend who had just finished reading a book, Miracle Tree, by Dr. Monica Marcu. Within weeks, Rick was so inspired that he decided to use the undeveloped land at Norma’s to start growing Moringa at Norma’s Villas.

It just so happens that Norma’s in La Garita, in Costa Rica, is ideal for this plant. Rick had never farmed before—In fact, he spent most of his adult life working office jobs in the United States. Since he started planting, he’s down about thirty pounds!

In the weeks ahead, I will share more about how we started growing Moringa at Norma’s, Rick’s metamorphosis into a farmer, Moringa recipes, and the progress of the thousands of plants now sharing space with the mango trees.

Pura Vida!

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Guest Post: Bonnie Adjusts to Cooking (and bugs!)

Rick and I have now been living in Costa Rica for seven months and we are adapting well. Aside from learning Spanish, one of the small challenges I have faced living in another country has been adapting my cooking to the local foods. I have also learned to make some of the local dishes (YUM!), and have been creating new recipes as well. I have also started making fresh homemade bread a few times a week, which means I no longer have to find a way to ship my bread machine from Texas. It also means we have to step up our walking routine to work off those extra calories!

So much has been happening in the world of nature at Norma’s Villas that I have had a really hard time deciding what to share! The New Year brought with it some new sights in both the bird and insect worlds. I realize a lot of people don’t care for bugs, and I certainly prefer most of them to stay outside, but once in a while you meet one that makes you go “OOOOO! How cool is that?”

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Photo credit: bugguide.net

Meet one that made me say exactly that: the Mexican Unicorn Mantis, Phyllovates chlorophaea. Rick found a small one (nymph) in the kitchen (so cute!), then we saw one in a palm tree. I have always found praying mantises to be interesting, but this one is just so pretty! His tail actually looks like a part of a palm frond.

Until next time,

Bonnie

Guest Post: Bonnie Rios

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A Motmot at Norma’s Villas

Bonnie has been living at Norma’s Villas for six months with Norma’s son, Rick. She’s our guest blogger for today!

It is Christmastime and summer has officially begun here at Norma’s Villas! I am married to Norma’s son, Rick, and we have been living here for nearly 6 months now. While I have visited during all times of the year, this is my first time to actually experience the change in seasons, from winter (rainy) to dry (summer). The biggest change I have noticed so far is that, while it is still quite hot during the day, the winds have picked up, providing a nice respite from the heat. In addition, the nights are cooling off with less humidity and, perhaps my most favorite part: the stars have “re-appeared” (due to lack of cloud cover). I love coming to the pool area a couple of hours after sunset, throw down a blanket, lie back and enjoy the view.

As I wrote this post, there was a group of happy Ticos (slang for Costa Rican!)  whose Christmas party was actually saved by Norma’s hidden salon. This work group had made plans to have their celebration at another location, but they found it to be wanting. One of the employees suggested they call Norma, and now the property is resounding with the sometimes-slightly-off-key voices of partygoers singing karaoke, laughter from the pool, and an all-around festive atmosphere. They left pretty early, and by 5 p.m., the property quickly returned to its normal peaceful ambiance.

I cannot write about Norma’s Villas without introducing some of the “locals.” Today it is the Blue-crowned Motmot, Momotus momota, a brilliantly-beautiful bird that, according to field guides, is quite common in Costa Rica. Interestingly, in the eight years I have visited Costa Rica I have never seen a motmot, even though I searched for them. A few weeks ago, as Rick and I were taking one of our regular walks through the trees on the property, we encountered this show off who allowed Rick to get a few pictures.

¡Feliz Navidad!

Bonnie

Writers’ Retreat 2017!

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Norma’s is happy to announce our first ever writers’ retreat in January 2017. Inspired by NaNoWriMo and by our own visitors, we think Norma’s would be a great place to get away, write in peace, and connect with other writers.

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The first step is planning based on what you want in a retreat. To begin your application, visit this form here. No deposits or writing samples are currently required.

We are accepting writers of fiction, poetry, nonfiction, screenplays, plays …if it’s written, we accept it.

We appreciate your support, and this early application will be open until February 2016. At that point, writing samples will be required, and an itinerary will be solidified.

Pura Vida!

Lisa Marie
Norma’s granddaughter

 

 

Faster, Stronger Wifi.

We created a survey three months ago about what our visitors would want most in their trip to Costa Rica.

Here’s a rundown of our results:

  • Away, but not cut off — 92% said that Internet access was either a deal breaker or extremely important.
  • Lone rangers — 77% indicated that group activities were nice but not necessary, or not necessary at all.
  • Building Trust — 83% said that reviews from past guests were extremely important in deciding where to stay.

Some quotes:

“I want space to roam without a schedule.”
“I like to explore on my own, with the option of group activities.”
“I want transportation and good food!”

Some amenities surveyors asked for were wifi, a comfortable bed, and air conditioning.

Results

As a direct result of our survey, we now have faster wifi and more routers to extend our Internet service to all villas and pools!

Thank you to everyone who took our survey. We look forward to collecting more data and making changes based on what our visitors say. Didn’t get a chance the first time? Tell us what you want from your trip to Costa Rica and receive exclusive discounts!

Help Us Make Your Home More Comfortable

Norma’s is a getaway, a community, a home. Please help us make it better with our new survey!

Click here to answer seven questions about your stay in paradise, and mention the survey when you email in to get 10% off your stay!

20140724-072240-26560489.jpgPura Vida!

Walkthrough Video by Adventure Paul!

Paul stayed at Norma’s for a whole month working on various projects, and he was nice enough to make and share this walkthrough video! Get to know Norma’s before you come.

Tell us in the comments: What is YOUR favorite spot?

Visit Paul’s Adventures here!

A Quick Guide around Norma’s

Want an intro to public transit in Costa Rica? Tips on getting to a secluded, magical turtle island? Maybe you need the number of a cab driver in Granada, Nicaragua? Or maybe you don’t need that info right now, but wouldn’t you like to have that problem?

We can help you out.

 

Norma’s Internet Problem

Norma’s has a lot of space. A lot. We are happy that everyone has lots of space to roam around, but that leaves us with a huge problem:

The Internet.

As more freelancers and remote workers come to Norma’s, it’s clear that we are going to need to solve our Internet problem.

I made this sketch of the place:

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…more or less (less) to scale.

We have one router by the hourglass pool and the big house, and another on the other side by a one bedroom. The routers are the pink dots. The pink shading shows where you can get wifi.

While the shading shows a perfect circle, the range varies. The router can send a signal up to 300 feet, but it’s not always reliable. Studio #5, for example, gets spotty range from Router #2.

How should we solve our internet problem?

We currently have two DSL lines and two routers, and we cover most, but not all, of our villas.

Solution 1: Communal Internet Spaces

We could let go of the idea of everyone having private internet in their villas, and instead focus on making the bar a kickbutt workspace with high-speed Internet!

Solution 2: Internet everywhere!

Through a series of routers, repeaters, and transmitters, we blast wifi throughout the whole place. Wifi for all!

What do you think we should do, why, and, most importantly, how? What equipment is the best? All tips welcome!

Writers’ Discount for next June, July and August!

 

Are YOU a writer looking for a retreat?

Why do you wanna know?

Norma’s is giving 10% off weekly and monthly rates for writers who book during June-August of 2015!

Really? How do I get this discount?

If you’re on Twitter, Tweet the link to this post and follow @normasvillas. If you can’t think of a Tweet, you can use this:

@normasvillas giving discounts to #writers next June-Aug! Get yours: https://normasvillas.com/?p=102

Next, drop me a line at lisaatnormas@gmail.com (or one of our contact forms) with the following information:

1. The dates you’re looking to stay and the room you want (furnished room with access to community kitchen, studio with its own kitchen, one bedroom, or two bedroom house)
2. Your Twitter handle
3. A bit about your project!

Is that it?

Space is limited, but we will try to accommodate as many as we can! Drop us a line to reserve your spot!

Normal rates for these months are:

$600/month, $360/week for a studio
$800/month, $480/week for a one-bedroom
$1000/month, $600/week for a two-bedroom

Why Norma’s?

Norma’s is in the quiet town of La Garita. We are close enough to San Jose and Alajuela that you have major conveniences, but far enough and secluded enough that you can buckle down!

By offering this discount specifically for writers between June and August of 2015, we hope to cultivate a bigger creative community.

That’s all! Looking forward to hearing about you!