Saturday, Aug. 31st, we drove back to Cartago on the mountain road which is about three hours, had a five minute visit with the Dr. Ruiz who uncovered my wound and Dr. Bravo who stopped his work in the surgery room to come give his advice, and drove back home.  Long day in the car.  The good news was the surgery site was looking good so I was freed of my bandage.  Yes!  I was so glad to get that head wrap off from under my chin.  Bill had done the best job of padding it so at least it wasn’t irritating for two days… The wound was to be washed twice a day with Bactex, which removes 99.9% of bacteria, and then apply Murdone, an ointment. We were to return on Tuesday in San Jose.

The hope was we would be given permission to go to Panama on Friday so that we could renew our visas solely for the purpose of driving here legally on the US license which is only good for the duration of the visa.  Annoyingly, there was an oversight when the law was written allowing expats to remain in the country past the validity of the visa as long as we have our expediente number saying all our paperwork for residency is in.  It doesn’t extend the right to drive here, and we can’t get a local license without our cedula which we get when our residency application is approved.  That could be several months…..

Tuesday morning we stopped at the specified bank to buy timbres, special stamps, and get the required paperwork to take our car out of the country.  Then it was back on the twisty road to San Jose.

Since we had gotten to the bank early, as there is a line before it opens, we were able to get on the road north earlier than necessary.  That meant getting into town in time to check into our digs, Hotel Dunn Inn.  It is in a quiet neighborhood a bit further away from the doctor, but much brighter and more cheerful than where we stayed previously.

My visit with the good doctor was not quite the news we wanted to hear or needed.  One spot has been sore when Bill would gently press on it while being my nurse.  Dr. Bravo said there was a bit of infection and the stitches were not yet ready to come out.  He wanted me to take the antibiotic pills for three more days and return on Friday.  Uh oh, we were hoping to leave for Panama….He agreed to see me Thursday and evaluate the situation then.  If the infection was not better he would have to drain it with a needle!!!!  That would then mean being looked at the next day and two days later….so much for Panama….

Wednesday we spent walking around the neighborhood which is rather pleasant. There are numerous tile pictures around the area.  Our first exploration was of the dance center, housed in a former liquor distillery.  After moseying around we entered the theater where a group of dancers were exercising under the direction of a man who said we could watch but not photograph.  Oh, to be so limber, coordinated, and graceful!

Further on is the national park where an elementary school band was practicing.  There was also a group of girls with white flags that had their own routine for a bit of show.  Perhaps they were preparing for El Día de la Independencia on the 15th.

The national library was across the street from the park so we checked that out, though not any books.  They still use card catalogs!  In the basement book restoration and special collections are the focus.  It’s not a grand building, but there are computers available.   A school group was there, though it seemed to be bathroom break time.

Needing a break ourselves, we decided to check out a tea restaurant just a block from our hotel.   It turns out be a combination of three businesses.  The first one was a small store selling local art work.  A bilingual young woman came over to explain their mission and also shared that they are helping to raise money to save abandoned mutts, zaguates.  Being hungry we headed to the restaurant before browsing.  A bit pricey we shared a twelve dollar sandwich of turkey, bacon, chipotle mayo, etc. on a freshly baked pumpernickel roll.  My hot tea was almost as much as Bill’s beer, though that price was normal.  The coffee shop is the only one in the country selling coffee from all eight regions of the country.

Here in Costa Rica people still grind the beans by hand…..

Needing more gauze and thinking sterilized water might help prevent worsening of the infection, we scouted out some pharmacies.  No one had sterilized water though it could be purchased, perhaps at a different pharmacy.  By then the daily storm was threatening so a rest was in order.

Dinner was a return to our lunch site, Restaurante Kalú.  Once again we ate outside under a roof.  The food is so delicious and so well prepared.  The female chef has had some quality training!  Bill chose Thai chicken while I was in heaven with large ravioli stuffed with duxelles of wild mushrooms topped with pistachios, Parmesan, and a cream sauce.  Dessert was not be overlooked!  A trio of crème brûlée graced Bill’s palette – one of basil (different but interesting), one of organic vanilla (his favorite), and one of burned caramel.  In memory of Mom, I chose profiteroles which was three small cream puffs filled with vanilla ice cream with both chocolate and caramel drizzled over them.  They were good, but I think I would have preferred not having confectioners sugar lightly sprinkled on top.

Thursday morning we returned to the dance theater but the doors to the stage were locked.  Bill suggested we revisit the park to see what might be happening.  I could see from a distance numerous adults.  As we got closer they all seemed to be wearing black, and there was a large flower wreath on a tripod.  A funeral??  That didn’t make sense for a public park.  There were several men in dress uniform and two were holding flags – Brazil’s and Costa Rica’s.  Official looking black cars kept arriving.  Ambassadors??  A group of adults were warming up their musical instruments.  Finally, the ceremony started.  We never could figure it out, but apparently it was to pay homage to Brazil in some way.

After a bit more ambling it was time for review by Dr. Bravo.  Yes!  No needle as my wound was looking better!!!  Bill told him that we postponed Panama so that he could whatever he needed to do for me when it was best.  So, we had to spend another night and see him again Saturday in Cartago.  His hope is to remove half of the stitches then.   We decided that we will go home from there and return on Tuedsay when the rest of the stitches should be removed…….

We walked a bit more and got some refreshment at the cleverly named Café Té Ría.  Hot mocha and mente soothed me while Bill went for coffee and pecan pie.  I think their version of brown sugar may be what kept him from enjoying that slice of home.  Then it was back to the hotel for further reposing.  We searched restaurants for dinner and not having any luck with the two we decided to look at, returned to Kalú!  This time Bill selected a trio of fish soft tacos – tuna encrusted with macademia nuts topped with a salsa of coconut and cilantro,  shrimp in a red curry, and salmon with a mango glaze.  My trio of mini hamburgers were flavorful and filling.  One was beef with bacon, one was chicken with cheddar and aioli, and the third was salmon topped with lemon mayo and basil.  A small salad of mixed greens is always an accompaniment.  Not being strong willed when it comes to opportunities for delectable desserts we were decadent and savored lemon pie (Bill) and tarta de chocolate and caramelo (me).  The former had a mild lemon flavor and was more sweet than tart.  My tarta had lots of pistachios over the dark chocolate ganache filling.  Good thing we have been doing a lot of walking!

Ah, Friday.  What to do all day?  Scouring the maps and Internet didn’t find any activity for which we had proper clothing or didn’t involve a lot of driving.  We decided to go to the national museum near the park.  It turned out to be quite interesting and were there for close to three hours.  After admiring the butterflies and intriguing chrysalises, we toured the museum.


First was the history of the building and then the development of people from the time of their appearance here as hunters and gatherers, through the agricultural era, to invasions by the Spanish and the colonial era.  Gold was found here though way back when the people didn’t have proper tools to mine it.  Due to scarcity and high heating to melt it copper was often mixed in.  Just a few days ago some men were arrested down in the Osa peninsula for gold mining.  Stone spheres are intriguing and were located throughout the museum.


Very clever grater from two thousand years ago!


We meandered back through the city and came across a pedestrian area running perpendicular to car traffic.  Thirsty, we finally found a watering hole offering fresh fruit drinks.  Bill had one for cardio health while I decided on a strawberry and banana milkshake.  Very refreshing.

A bit more walking and since rain was threatening we wound our way back to Hotel Dunn Inn.    Since rain seemed to have settled in by dinner time we chose to eat downstairs.  The entrees were actually pretty good – chicken piccata with a bit of zippy mustard and Caribbean chicken.  The huge event was about to start – the qualifying match for the World Cup between the US and Costa Rica.  Every time a goal was scored for the host team a huge roar erupted from the sports bar next door.  They won, being very fired up over having to play in the snow in Colorado and losing.

Saturday we drove to Cartago for the removal of some stitches, finally!  This office is smaller than the one in San Jose.  Dr. Ruiz cleaned the site, Dr. Bravo reviewed it and had her remove some stitches, and he gave it a final check.  Being a wimp when it comes to pain I was nervous about how much it would bother me.  There was some stinging from the alcohol and a bit of pressure causing discomfort but not too bad.

Since we don’t go back until Tuesday for the removal of the rest we decided to head to the mountains of home for a couple of days.  That appointment is back in San Jose, another forty minutes further so we will spend the night.