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

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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

Save the Americans! Costa Rica’s ad campaign

You’re in luck! Costa Rica is reaching out to help the Americans:

Check it out! TV spot from the Costa Rican Tourism Board Ad Campaign: “Save the Americans” – Airing from Dec. 17 in the U.S. & Canada. © ICT – Costa Rica

Read more here!

So let us know — Do you need a getaway?

Flowers Around Norma’s

Do you know what kind of flower this is? Let us know in the comments!
Do you know what kind of flower this is? Let us know in the comments!

We have a lot of flowers on the grounds, and this had me wondering what kinds of flowers were in Norma’s own backyard! Here are three I have been able to identify so far.

1. Brunfelsia

These flowers are purple when they bloom and turn white over time.
These flowers are purple when they bloom and turn white over time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Few other plants will make you so aware of its own mortality—Also known as the “Yesterday-Today-Tomorrow” or the “Kiss Me Quick,” the Brunfelsia is a lavender color when it blooms, and the color fades to white after only a day, two at the most! This flower grows in the shade or in partial sunlight, and blooms year-round.

More than just a pretty face: This flower has been used to cure fevers and arthritis, and has been helpful in curing a parasitic disease spread by sandflies.

2. Orange Heliconia

What looks like a flower is really a colorful leaf!
What looks like a flower is really a colorful leaf!

Think of it as a drinking fountain for hummingbirds! Water collects in the stems of the heleconia for hummingbirds and other living creatures to eat. And we certainly have hummingbirds here at Norma’s.

There are over 40 types of this plant—some have upright flowers, like this one here, and some heliconia have dangling flowers. The dangling ones look a bit like crab claws hanging from trees!

You might be thinking—They sort of look like bananas! Heliconia flowers are actually related to bananas, which we also have at Norma’s!

3. White Orchid

We also have yellow orchids!
We also have yellow orchids!

 

Costa Rica is home to over 1300 types of orchids, so I knew I’d find one on our grounds! Costa Rica’s national flower is the guaria morada, a beautiful pinkish purple orchid. Orchids love to grow in Costa Rica, and even the Botanical Orchid Garden of Costa Rica is in our town of La Garita because of its amazing climate! Costa Rica also hosts many orchid festivals.

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We have many, many more, so I may make more posts featuring more life around Norma’s! Norma always says that people are like plants—We all need sunshine and water.

If you can recognize the first photo, please let me know what kind of flower it is!

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.

 

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!