Author Archives: taisuke

the rhythm of life here in cabuya is slow. possibly even just a tad too slow, although i think a little bit of boredom is a good thing for our otherwise hectic lifestyles. the days are crazy hot, which has led to copious amounts of hang time on our back porch. including some delicious siestas, which i am so very fond of 😉 our general daily schedule goes a little something like this:

  • 6.30am: wake up. take blackie for a walk, make coffee. nayou uses his twenty mins of screen time watching a video or playing minecraft
  • 7.30am: coffee round 2, breakfast
  • 8am: its starting to get hot. i’ll read to nayou, brenda will potter about. we’re reading a series called the 39 clues which is great because its interesting for adults and children alike. we will work on nayou’s reading, which is coming along really well!
  • 10am: now its really hot. lunch, and then craft time. we’ve been slowly stocking up on art supplies, and have a pretty decent arsenal now. our raw materials are mainly stones, sticks and shells scavenged from the beach. more on that later.
  • 12pm: siestaaaa! its bloody hot. nayou seems to be unable to nap, so brenda and i need to tag team. if siestas aren’t on the menu, we’ll play cards. our favourites are telefunken, uno, or the minecraft card game. playing with the hose in the garden is also a popular item (aka. “going on a waterfall tour”)
  • 2-3pm: the laziness continues until the late afternoon at which point it finally starts to cool down. now its time to head to the beach for a swim.
  • 6pm: dinner and a show. we’ve been working our way through some cool documentary series – cosmos, bbc earth, human planet, life in the undergrowth, and austin stevens: snakemaster. costa rica is a great place to think about our greater place in the universe, what with the large number of stars visible in the night sky and all the wildlife about.
  • 8-9pm: at this point we’ve been up for a long time! its time for bed and get ready to rinse and repeat again tomorrow 🙂

we’ve all been kind of working on our own little art projects during the day. brenda has been using bbq skewers and toothpicks to paint really cute babushka dolls and decorate seed pods. they have been livening up the house and will probably stay when we leave.

IMG_0023 IMG_0010brenda also loves making image transfers from old magazines. she started in vancouver and has carried on here as well:

IMG_0030nayou has been doing his own thing, using his sketch pad and pencils he got from santa (merry christmas, y’all!).

IMG_0020 IMG_0018my favourite so far has been this series of me doing yoga. one night i wasn’t wearing any pants, and he dutifully reflected that in his art. those are gonna be framed, for sure.

IMG_0029 IMG_0028 IMG_0027 IMG_0026my project has been what we’ve been calling “mini monos” (mono means monkey is spanish). there are these seed pods all over the beaches here that have faces on them. there is a huge variety in their expressions, and many of the pods have convenient holes that driftwood slots perfectly into.

IMG_0014 IMG_0013 IMG_0016we are toying with the idea of creating little name tags for each of them, and selling them at a market or something to raise money for tanya, the lady who takes care of the stray animals around cabuya. possibly even seeing if restaurants and cafes in the area would sell them – i think they would be popular with tourists. we’ll see if we can get everything together in time!

well, it took us a little longer than usual, but we have a new four legged friend who has joined our family. costa rica doesn’t seem to have as much of a problem with strays as mexico, but there are still plenty of pooches who need help. our landlady claudia told us about another lady called tanya who is running a one woman rescue operation for cats and dogs in the area. she used to have a couple of volunteers who were helping her, but they all quit and she’s been flying solo ever since. tanya has no less than nine dogs and three cats at her house and is understandably overwhelmed. brenda had a chat with her last week and tanya told her she had a very sweet dog (number ten!) that would be perfect to foster.

his name is “blackie”, which isn’t our favourite name, but it is what it is. he is eight months old, and is absolutely adorable. we had to keep him tied up for most of the first few days, as he ran away twice and brenda had to go and find him. he’s been sticking close since, although yesterday evening he went walkabout and didn’t return until this morning, looking very tired. that’s cool though – i think its nice for dogs to have the freedom to come and go as they please, knowing that they always have a place to return to.

IMG_0019i really hope that we can find him a permanent home here. he is so well behaved, walks like a champion, and has a very relaxed, easy going temperament. we would totally keep him if we weren’t jumping around all over the place! nayou, who is normally very wary of dogs, loves him. he’ll take blackie for walks and play with him, which is definitely not his normal reaction to dogs. blackie seems to get that nayou is a little human and is very gentle with him.


inquiries from anywhere in the world are welcome. if you are thinking about getting a dog, or know of anyone who is, let them know about blackie. this is one awesome canine!

on december 2nd, the day nayou turned eight (eight!), we bid farewell to uvita, and our amazing river house. we had a birthday/farewell celebration at escuela verde on nayou’s last day at school. it was a nice way to close out our time on the southern pacific coast and for nayou to get some closure. they have a great thing going with that school, and i’m so grateful we got a chance to participate in it, however briefly.

IMG_1136.JPGour next destination is cabuya, a tiny town on the southern tip of the nicoya peninsula, where will be spending the remainder of our time in costa rica. it was a full day of travel to get here – a two hour drive to the puntarenas ferry, one hour on the ferry, and then another hour plus on some gravel roads.

IMG_1179.JPGnayou has developed quite the taste for imperial, costa rica’s favourite beer. we only give him a sip or two at a time, and a little bit for his birthday seemed appropriate 🙂

IMG_1172.JPGwe arrived just as the sun was setting so our first impression of cabuya was just some dimly lit roads and not much else. luckily our landlady claudia is awesome and she took us out to an amazing local restaurant (called “sodas” in costa rica. and they are everywhere!). a fisherman called marvin runs it and we chowed down on some freshly caught red snapper with some rice and beans. it was delicious, and nayou impressed claudia with his post-travel appetite.

we’ve been in cabuya for four days now. its a very different experience from uvita – we’re in a much more rural location, for one thing. this is what the main road of cabuya looks like:

IMG_1260-1.jpgthe climate is drier, so it doesn’t feel like a rainforest jungle out here. the landscape is more pastoral, with cows and horses grazing around us. we have a cute two bedroom house (the farm view cottage) surrounded by pasture, within walking distance to the bakery, marvin’s soda and the supermarket.

IMG_1189-0.jpg IMG_1209.JPGthe whole place has a super tranquil energy to it and we have fallen into the slower pace of life with no trouble at all. there is a great river for swimming and fishing within a two minute drive, not to mention a string of jaw dropping beaches just a little bit further on. in any other place beaches like these would be built up with resorts but most of the time its just us and a handful of other people. crazy.

IMG_0004 IMG_0003 IMG_0006 IMG_0001 IMG_0007 IMG_0002when we’re not at the beach or the river, we have been spending our days playing telefunken, the minecraft card game, and poker (texas hold ’em, or “tetris hold ’em” as nayou likes to say). nayou and i are also working on our own card game called “break through”, which is shaping up to be pretty cool. basically, we’re chilling, and that is a good, good, thing.


time flies when you’re having fun! after our initial bumpy start in costa rica, the rest of our adventures to date have been nothing but awesome. we have had a lot of fun, from our super tranquil river house, to nayou’s school experience, not to mention the flora and fauna. we catalogued what we saw in our backyard since arriving in uvita, and the list is pretty long, including toucans, sloths, capuchin monkeys, hummingbirds, fireflies and a plethora of weird and wonderful insects.

here is a rather blurry photo of a toucan we saw this morning. i wish my iphone had better zoom, because he was a beauty!

on wednesday we head to cabuya, which is a small town on the southern tip of the nicoya peninsula. we have rented a house that is walking distance to the beach, although there is no pool. the climate is going to be completely different as well; much drier and apparently hotter too, if such a thing were actually possible! we will be in cabuya for two months – the remainder of our stay. cabuya is 7km south of montezuma, which by all accounts is a little bit like sayulita, with surf, yoga and a party scene. we are excited to check out both towns and i’m toying with the idea of getting back into teaching some yoga again. we shall see how it all pans out! for now we are enjoying our last two days in uvita. nayou’s last day of school is tomorrow, and we’re going to have a combined birthday/farewell celebration at school with his classmates. brenda and i will do all the hard work of lounging by the pool and making the cake 🙂

one of the things you have to do as a tourist in costa rica is a zip line tour. the videos and images make it look like so much fun! brenda and i knew that many of them are not very ecologically conscious, so were hesitant to take the plunge, but luckily we found hacienda baru a mere fifteen minutes from our house in uvita. the hacienda is both a lodge and wildlife refuge, built on a large swath of land that was under heavy industrial farming until as recently as 1972. in just over thirty years the place has been transformed back into a young jungle, complete with capuchin monkeys, sloths, and all manner of birds. its crazy how well life flourishes in the heat, rain, and sunshine! hacienda baru offers a bunch of guided tours that marry adrenaline rushes with educational information about the area. plus they are ecologically minded which is awesome 🙂

our guides were friendly and knowledgeable, spotting sloths way up in places that we would never have known. seeing sloths (peresoso in spanish) was on my bucket list of things to do here, so i was happy to see them up close. they are smaller than i expected, and very cute. we hiked for about an hour through the forest, seeing all kinds of crazy trees alongside some monkeys and sloths.   

 nayou was sort of interested in this part of the tour, although he kept on asking when we were going to get to the zip lines. while we were gearing up we got to meet Elvis, the resident giant cockroack that lives in the shed where they keep their equipment. 

 eventually we made it to the first platform and from then on it was a thrill ride through about seven zip lines. the rides were exciting but not scary, and nayou absolutely loved them. you barely had time to take in the sights, but the speed rush more than made up for it.  



 the pool was a welcome treat once we got home, and i think we were all asleep before our heads even hit the pillow!

costa rican spanish is pretty different from mexican spanish. there are a lot of colloquialisms that have been both confusing and amusing. our favourite one is “queque” which means “cake”. we encountered it in the lobby of our hotel in san jose, and have been in love ever since. so much so that we decided to make a song about it!

Nayou has been asking for some friends to play with, which is a hard thing to do when you’re out in the jungle in a new country, in a city you’re only going to be in for three weeks. He has been worried that he won’t have any friends to celebrate his birthday with, which makes me very sad for him! Brenda did some searching online and found Escuela Verde Costa Ballena, a bilingual school ten minutes from our house. She got in touch with them and we went to visit last Friday.

Everyone there was really nice and welcoming, and we felt comfortable right away. The director of the school Naomi is half Japanese half American, which I kind of suspected by the way she managed to pronounce my name properly right off the bat. It was weird speaking Japanese in Costa Rica, all the more so because we were switching between English and Spanish as well! Nayou really liked the place so he did a two day trial on Monday and Tuesday, and he loved it. On his first day Brenda and I were kinda worried for him, but he came home so excited. The first thing he did the next day was organise his “school things” (pencils, erasers etc). We bought him the school uniform, which is a green shirt with the school’s name on it. When he put it on at school, we heard one of the girls say to him “now you’re really going to this school” 🙂 

We are only in Uvita until the end of the month, so his time in school will be short. Even shorter because the school is closed next Thursday and Friday because of Thanksgiving. It comes to a grand total of nine days, but it is an amazing experience for him. He has already asked if we could stay on, which would be nice, but they break for Christmas on the tenth anyway, so there’s not much point.

Even only after three days of school, his reading is impoving in leaps and bounds. He has to read a Spanish book every day, so we are working through some simple ones I found online. Spanish is way more consistent than English, so it is easier for him to get it. But he’s also starting to pick out words on the Kindle as I read to him, and this morning I got him to read words like “sickness” and “stillness” without too much prompting. If I had asked him last week his eyes would have glazed over at the number of letters. So Brenda and I are super psyched for him! 

Our grand unschooling experiment has been going so well thus far. A large part of our reluctance to enroll him in a more traditional school has been due to the fact that we just haven’t found one that is a good fit. Windsor House, the democratically run school he went to in Vancouver, was too chaotic and lacked enough adult supervision that we didn’t feel 100% comfortable leaving him there. However, I always suspected that Nayou would thrive with a little more structure and (dare I say it) competition, and I think his experience at Escuela Verde is proving me right. We always check out all the schools around the places we land, and I hope that we can find more gems like this one in the future.

Best part of all this – he will have some buddies to come to an early birthday celebration we are planning for our last Saturday in Uvita. I think its gonna be quite a big party given that we are inviting all eleven kids in his class, plus a bunch of other people we have met so far. Good thing we have lots of space and a pool!

One of the things I really wanted to do I Costa Rica is visit one of the many spectacular waterfalls. When we were initially researching the country, I kept on seeing all these amazing images of cascading water and was drawn to them. Many of them are at the end of a long drive followed by a long hike, so I wasn’t sure if a visit to one of them would be in the cards for us. 

Last Sunday we woke up and were trying to plan our day when I suggested we go look for some waterfalls. No one seemed opposed so I hopped online and within minutes had found Nauyaca falls, just a twenty minute drive from our house in Uvita. Not only that, we only needed to hike 4km (2.9miles) to get to them! The best part is that many sites said they are one of the most spectacular falls in the country. 

We got very excited and hopped in the car. Once you leave the coast, the terrain gets mountainous and steep very quickly. We wended our way up to the office where we were charged Tico (local) prices rather than tourist prices to gain admission to the park. It’s one of the bonuses of being ethnically ambiguous and being able to speak Spanish 😉    

 The hike there was uphill most of the way but not too challenging. Nayou went the whole way without complaining much, although he started repeating “it better be worth it” toward the end. Which of course it was when we arrived!   

 Our early start totally paid off and we were the only ones at the falls for a good hour. The water was cold and refreshing, all the more after a hot and sweaty hike.    

We scrambled over some slippery rocks to explore the vicinity, seeing some crazy geckos who can literally run on water. Nayou told us that they have some sort of air bubbles in the pads of their feet. That kid constantly amazes me with the depth of his knowledge about nature. 

Nayou talked about Minecraft the whole way back which was a nice diatraction as we passed the latecomers puffing up the hill. I love that we can go on long hikes with him like this. And I love that we managed to visit such beautiful falls so easily! 

One week ago we spent about 22 hours travelling from Vancouver to San Jose, Costa Rica. For some reason we had to go via Los Angeles and Miami which made for a long journey. There were the obligatory close calls, such as realising we left Nayou’s haemophilia medication in the fridge on the way to the airport, Brenda leaving her favourite jacket on the plane in Miami (and finding it!), and almost forgetting our booster seat at baggage claim, but apart from that it was painless. I’m so grateful that Nayou is such a seasoned traveller and is easy going. With so many changes and pieces of baggage to keep track of, having an unruly child would have made the trip hell!

We landed in San Jose and picked up our rental car for the next 3 months. Renting a car in Costa Rica in expen$ive, mainly because there is this mandatory insurance you have to purchase which jacks up the price by 2-3 times the price of the rental itself. Still, we figured we may as well do Costa Rica properly, so we bit the bullet. Our trusty steed is a Daihatsu Terio, a compact 4WD. Its small engine isn’t exactly inspiring, but its small size makes it easy to drive around and you can’t go much faster than 100km/h on the highways here anyway so we’re not complaining.  

Our first two days here were spent in the capital city San Jose. I can’t say I was very impressed with the city at all. The place felt dusty and chaotic, and a little impersonal. We stayed in an area called Escazu, which by all accounts is the nicest area (and where all the expats live). There’s a big mall there with all the western chains like Zara, Forever 21, blah blah. Next to the mall is a Walmart. You get the picture. We thought we would get some random essentials like tupperware, a boogie board and maybe some sun shirts, but those plans were quickly squashed when we saw the prices. We knew Costa Rica was expensive, but holy moly! Groceries are more expensive than Vancouver, and other goods are on par or waaaay more. We wanted to pick up some birthday and Christmas gifts for Nayou, but a deck of Pokemon cards costs $35USD ($12USD in Canada), and a medium sized lego set will set you back $50USD ($30USD in Canada). Guess Nayou may have to be happy with some guacamole and chips in his stocking 😉 Speaking of money, Costa Rican dinero is super cool. 

Some random guy from Tennessee in Walmart freaked Nayou out with a story about how he used his stun gun on thieves who tried to rob him, so one day in and he was already asking to go back to Vancouver. Poor little guy. I think he picked up on the stress that Brenda and myself were feeling as well. Whenever I move to a new place I always go through a freak out period which lasts about a week, so I kind of knew that this was part of the process, but I have to say I was worried that we had made a terrible mistake!After our time in San Jose, we hopped into our car and drove four hours to our first “real” destination, the river house


 We found this place online pretty early on in our searches and loved the look of it. It sits in a jungle five minutes from the beach, with a saltwater pool, a small cabana with air conditioning and a rustic main house to live in. The house is right outside of Uvita, a small coastal town on the southern Pacific coast. Its famous for its Marino Ballena National Park which has a huge sandbar shaped like a whale’s tail. Dominical, an up-and-coming surf town, lies about 10km to the north.   

One of our goals has been to keep screen time to a minimum and so far it has been a success. Nayou gets 20 minutes a day which he usually uses first thing in the morning and then we sometimes watch an episode of Cosmos or a BBC series called Human Planet. It feels great to be so much more active in our daily lives, especially for me! I’ve noticed Nayou is a lot more open to jut hanging out and doing nothing instead of asking to be on a device by default. Yay. I guess the pool certainly helps! 

Its been about a week since we’ve arrived and we have settled in very nicely. We have been spending a LOT of time at the pool, playing Uno and teaching Nayou how to play telefunken, an Ecuadorian card game that is a lot of fun. We’ve also checked out some of the surrounding beaches and nature. But I will save details of those adventures for separate posts. Pura vida!