Nov 29, 2014

Winter Quarters, 2014-2015

We fulfilled our obligation to observe one winter storm in Michigan before leaving for Bello Oriente, Costa Rica. The "Alberta Clipper" dumped record amounts of snow east of each of the Great Lakes, but we had an uneventful bus ride to Detroit on the Michigan Flyer, and passed through the TSA without incident. The Spirit pilot landed in San Jose without even a bump, and we were soon outdoors in 72 degree weather.
From 20F to 20C
After getting the house opened and supplied with water and electricity, we took the buses to Paso Canoas to further our quest for Permanent Residency. Paso Canoas is a border town and in addition to the expected congestion it is always HOT! We had a good experience and got a return appointment for January.
Before long it was Thanksgiving with friends.
The local people are commenting on how nice it is to have summer arrive, with less rain.
After a particularly hard rain, the morning opened with a view of the Pacific that included a supertanker of crude oil from Valdez, Alaska.
These supertankers are too large for the Panama Canal, so they attach to a pipeline that pumps the crude across the isthmus to a supertanker on the other side.
There are plans to build another canal in Nicaragua, and a refinery in Costa Rica, in case you may have been thinking that demand for fossil fuels would decline because of global climate change.

Mar 27, 2014

Environmental Destruction

About 120 feet below the altitude of our winter home in Costa Rica is a swimming hole formed by at least thousands of years of water falling 60 feet over a waterfall. The ministry responsible for protecting waterways enforces a law prohibiting even the removal of vegetation from anywhere near the water.

This year a neighbor hired a bulldozer to carve a new road into the side of his hill and then left the heavy equipment operator to his own devices as he drove off on other business. The road stretched far beyond the intent and eventually huge amounts of soil were pushed into the stream above the waterfall. After months of manual labor, some of the damage has been repaired, but we are waiting to see how much of the road will end up being washed into the stream when the wet season brings heavy rains. Already some moderate rain has caused a mudslide and collapse of the soil above the road. You can see this in the top right of the photo.