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Ship's Log: Updated January 13, 2009

Happy New Year!

We are very happy to be able to say that we are going gangbusters once again up here on Cerro Velero! Because from mid-November until Christmas, it mostly looked like this down here: rain, rain, rain!

Occasionally, it looked like this. Oh, my, what is that bright light?! Well, not to worry, it won't last long!

It finally dried out enough Christmas week to get started again. Here are the first five porch poles up!

The porches are going to be ten feet wide, all around the entire house, and covered by the roof, with a four foot overhang. With this climate, we anticipate spending a lot more time out on the porch than in the house, so we wanted the porch deep and sheltered from the sun and rain. In fact, there will be more square footage in the porches than in the whole house!

Here, the front poles are up and partly framed, and the east side porch stringers are getting tied in.

The view from below. Isn't it surprisingly beautiful?

The view from the second floor.(These particular boards are laid temporarily to work on the porch, but they are not the permanent floor boards.)

Lemon Tree Trimming

Remember this picture from when we first saw the property, and we said we would work around the lemon tree, so we could pick lemons from the porch?

Well, as it turns out, that "lemon tree" was actually five trees all clumped together, two "manson wood" trees (according to Joe) and three lemon trees. And they were all smack in the way of the back porch!

Our compromise to cutting them all down was to cut down the two non-fruit trees, and savagely trim the lemon trees. Here's what we ended up with.

Turns out we were able to save more than we thought. So we will be picking lemons from the porch after all!

Dangling for Gutters at Camryka-land

Tracy hauled out his climbing gear the other day to repair a gutter leak over at Carl and Mary's house. Mary took these pictures of him, hard at work.

Yikes!! I sure hope that gear holds!!

Back to Work at Cerro Velero

The porch pole holes are being poured! We had to work quickly, as our friend needed his mixer back by January 6th. Aack!

All the poles are up!

We only got 12 of them poured before we ran out of sand and rocks and had to give the mixer back, but they are all bolted together, and the guys can pour the last four by hand. Meanwhile...the porch floor is more than half nailed down, and the rafters are going up.

The staircase to the second floor is built!

Tracy's already built his workbench underneath the house. Custom cutouts for the miter and table saws will make projects go much more easily.

Gellie has decided that the workbench is just the place to hang out in the shade.

Dinghy Woes

About six weeks ago, Sharon dinghied in to fetch Gellie, and evidently swiped something sharp on the dock, because on the way back to Landfall, the pontoon she was sitting on was getting softer...and softer...and Darn! There's a leak in the pontoon! Quick, let's get the engine off before it sinks! Glad we have the lifting davit!

Well, the patch Tracy tried to put on didn't take. So, this is what we have now. So sad!

Fortunately, as we were lamenting our woes one Sunday afternoon at the local pizza restaurant, one of our friends said that they had a small dinghy they wanted to sell. Great! We went to look at it and bought it the next day. It's a little 6 foot Sorensen, made in Seattle. So we put the dingy engine on it, and we were zooming around again!

But then a storm came late one night, and somehow the engine was rocked off the dinghy transom and sank to the muddy bottom. The problem was, we knew where Landfall was when we noticed the engine was missing, but we didn't know where it was when the motor actually fell off. And with a good 100 foot radius to search, that's a lot of muddy bottom to cover! Tracy dove for hours, for days, trying to find it. (Sharon also dove some, but found the bottom layer of water too thick with jellyfish. Yuck!) But alas, the engine was not to be found. Fortunately, the new dinghy has oars!

Three weeks later, Marcos learned about the mishap and told Tracy that his brother, a lobster diver, would like the chance to look for it, for a finder's reward. Wouldn't you know it? No more than ten minutes after he and Marcos started diving, his brother found it! Tracy brought Cricket and a big float out to haul it up.

He immediately rinsed it in fresh water, and then "pickled it" in oil. Marcos and his brother took it away to let their uncle, an outboard mechanic, work on it. And the good news is, he got it running! So between the finder's fee and the repairs, we are out $160 and have our engine back. It would have cost well over a thousand dollars to buy a new one, so we are really happy!

And while all this was going on, Cricket was out of commission for a week, too, getting new spark plugs and an engine computer adjustment. Poor thing would not start, and had to be towed all the way to Bocas! So for a few days, we were down to only a borrowed kayak and an indigenous cayuco that is tippier than any boat we've ever owned...

But now we finally have a good dinghy, with an engine, and Cricket is running fine. Hooray!

Cerro Velero Critters

The rains have brought out some interesting looking creatures. Not exactly sure what this is, though we guess it's some sort of grasshopper.

This one is definitely a grasshopper, though we're not sure what kind. Looks pretty ordinary, right?

Look again, at his underside! How intricate!

Tracy has adopted this harmless spider. His name is Chuck, and he lives over the refrigerator in the bodega, where he catches all manner of bugs, which is why Tracy is keeping him around! And yes, he really is as big as that lighter!

This is what I'd call a "moth-eaten" butterfly! Someone almost made him dinner!

All the butterflies just love the flowers on the lantana bushes.

Now, as for these critters. Would you ever guess that they are not fraternal twins?

Another Costa Rica Run

Every six months we have to go out of the country to renew our visas. The closest border is the Guabito/Sixola border crossing from Panama into Costa Rica. This trip Sharon was able to take more pictures of the border crossing. This is on the Guabito side, leaving Panama.

Traffic on the bridge.

More traffic...

Watch your step!

Two days later, back in line at Guabito, eager to get home...welcome to Panama!

Stay tuned...

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