What is with these ANTS? HELP!!!

Flip flop ready to attack.
Flip flop ready to attack.

Is anyone else bothered by invasions of weak coffee colored ants at night?  They are going to drive me over the edge!!!  As I sit at the computer working, it’s as if they’ve signed a pact to harass me.  How can they suddenly appear out of nowhere?  I’ve crawled on the floor and stared at the wall behind my desk, hoping to see them emerge from somewhere, but they must have scouts that alert them of my presence.  None appear.  The minute I take my seat again, one will go up the wall by the monitor.  How can they appear out of thin air?  My solution — admittedly not a good one — is to have a flip flop handy and smash any and all that I can and then sweep up the bodies in the morning.  These are the type of ant that destroyed my photo copier and took up residence in the microwave (turning it on didn’t seem to eliminate them), clock radio (which came on in the middle of the night thanks to the pressure of the ants, their nest and their rice-like eggs — agh!), printer and pen holder (which wasn’t even warmed by an electric current!).  Living with the unkown is maddening.  WHERE IS THEIR NEST?  WHAT ARE THEY DESTROYING?

Any suggestions as to how to get rid of these destructive pests would be greatly appreciated.


Bales, bags and bundles!

Waiting for the bundles to be opened

Waiting for the bundles to be opened

If you’ve read previous postings, you know what ropas are (stores selling used clothing and bedding from the US at garage sale prices).  This photo was taken in a ropa in San Rafael, Heredia just before the towering pile – in this case, bedding – was dumped into a waiting piscina (pool).  Piscinas are large areas with low walls/boards that help contain the piles of clothing or bedding – sort of like a huge sandbox.  As the bags are dumped, someone is alerting you on a microphone.  Most ropas have someone talking into a hand held microphone the whole time you are in the store.  The salesclerks have become so adept at their “voice over,” that they can check you out at the cash register without stopping their spiel.  Multi-tasking perfected?!

The rainy season has arrived … BOOM and ZAP!

In case you haven’t noticed, the rainy season has begun and everyone seems to have sprouted an additional appendage … an umbrella!  When you get up in the morning, you think, “Ah, another beautiful, sunny day,”  but by noon the sky has started to darken and within an hour or two, the rains begin.  These are not gentle, nap-inducing rains on the metal rooftops, but loud crashing thunderous rains accompanied by shots of lightning that make you jump!  At the first distant rumble, my cats run under the bed and I turn off the computer and unplug the cords for everything electrical that I don’t want to risk having zapped.  Phones and electricity may come and go during the duration of the storm.  If the phone is working, it may have so much static that it’s no better than having it gone entirely.  I thought summer storms in Minnesota were terrible, but they don’t hold a candle to the storms I’ve witnessed in Costa Rica. Is it because of the altitude?  At least the storms here don’t bring tornadoes with them.  If they did, what escape would there be?  Homes here do not have basements!  Since May is the onset of the rainy season, it comes on strong, but it will (hopefully) taper off as June arrives.

During the rainy season, doing the laundry becomes an issue for those who don’t have dryers.  Hanging clothes outside doesn’t work because of the humidity right before the rains and the short amount of time without rain.  Sometimes, it may take a few days for clothes to dry, hopefully, before mildew has set in.  Many homes have small clotheslines that work on a pulley system and can be raised after putting the clothes on them.  Usually the ceilings are higher in this room so the clothes are out of head-touching reach and dry in the warmer air near the ceiling.  This type of rack is very clever and handy.

If you have errands to run, it is better to do them in the morning and have an umbrella with you (they are inexpensive and can be purchased everywhere).  When the rain starts, it accumulates in the streets very quickly.  As more coffee fields are removed and replaced with buildings, there isn’t anywhere for the accumulating water to go other than the street.  If you’re walking there, you might get injured by swirling debris or step in a pothole, never to be heard from again!  Beware!

On a positive note:  The grass and gardens are coming back and the dust and dirt are no longer blowing around and into the house!

Lagrimas de Maria … what simple beauty!

The rains have started and the grass is turning green poco a poco.  The lagrimas de Maria (Mary’s tears) have appeared overnight and are thick and colorful.  For being just 6-8 inches tall, they make quite an impact.  (And they don’t take any care or require a green thumb!)  There are taller varieties and darker colors of lagrimas, but these light pink shorties are great!

A bed of color in the yard

A bed of color under foot

Today’s bounty from the féria

Not pictured: one potted orchid with a host of blossoms and one pejibaye (consumed during the photo op).

Pictured: 3 avocados, 6 tomatoes, 4 canteloupes, 10 granadillas, 3 cucumbers, 8 apples, 4 pejibayes and one large head of lettuce.

Mmm. Good.

Pejibayes, tomatoes, melons, and much more for good eating!

All (except the orchid) purchased for less than $10.00.  Mmm.  Good.

Virgin Mary on the griddle

CALEXICO, Calif. (AP) – The hottest thing on the griddle at the Las Palmas restaurant these days isn’t the food—it’s the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe that a cook says she saw on the griddle.

Restaurant manager Brenda Martinez says more than 100 people have flocked to the small town of Calexico on the California-Mexico border to gaze at the likeness of the Virgin Mary since it was discovered as the griddle was being cleaned.

Among the awe-struck was a group of masked Mexican wrestlers who arrived Thursday for an exhibition at a nearby swap meet.

One, known as Mr. Tempest, says: “This is amazing. It’s a true miracle.”

Since the discovery, the griddle has been taken out of service and placed in a shrine in a storage room.

Check it out, if you don’t believe me.

H1N1 (f.k.a. Swine Flu Virus) in Costa Rica

On Tuesday, President Arias and the Secretary of Health responded to the swine flu pandemic by signing an emergency health declaration giving health professionals in Costa Rica the authority to implement whatever measures necessary to prevent the spread of the virus. To date, there have been two confirmed cases and thirty-five suspected cases in Costa Rica. The medical community anticipates more cases in the coming days and weeks.

The Costa Rican government has urged people to avoid the traditional cheek kiss upon greeting one another. (Hopefully, everyone has gotten the message so no one is offended if I avoid this friendly overture.) Shaking hands is out too, unless, like Monk, you have a “wipe” handy to use immediately afterwards.

Remember: Cover your mouth if you sneeze or cough and wash your hands frequently with soap and water or an alcohol sanitizer. This holds especially true when you are out in public. The virus can live on surfaces for several hours so a grocery cart, door handle or handrail at a mall can harbor the virus left several hours earlier by an infected person.

This is a global issue. Hopefully, the dire predictions will not materialize and the virus will cease to be a threat very quickly.