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gardening at the hotel tilawa

I am still waiting for my debit card to arrive from Australia. It has been something in the order of six weeks since the card was sent and although I have been in daily phone contact with the Liberia Post Office where it is supposed to be held, once it finally arrives, on the Lista de Correos my calls elicit no useful or positive information regarding its whereabouts.

I am at a loss to know what to do. I really shouldn’t complain, because my friend in Australia has been dealing with my mail, without question, for the last eleven years even though I said I was only going to be away for six months or so, but I can’t help wishing that he had thought to send the letter registered express post. I could cancel the card and start again but since there is no guarantee that a second attempt would work out any better than the first I decide to give it another week. I check my bank account periodically to make sure it isn’t being stealthily drained by unknown persons and continue to rely on an ever dwindling supply of cash stockpiled before my old card expired.

All things considered it seems like the perfect moment to take up Lindsay, a girl I met during the border crossing from Nicaragua to Costa Rica, on her invitation to come to help out on an organic garden project at a hotel on the shores of Lake Arenal.

Sarah, Tom and I arrive after dark at Hotel Tilawa at the end of a long long day and big comfy beds and hot showers seem like the next best thing to heaven.

I arrive without really knowing what to expect. The Hotel Tilawa turns out to be much posher than my usual accommodation but there is something just a little bit 'The Shining' about it all.

Alternative energy sources are the owner's enthusiasm. The stove runs on methane produced...

... by pigs.

Lindsay and I indulge in a little gardening of both a practical and theoretical nature.

Getting our hands dirty collecting horse shit.

The chickens...

...are not...


The theoretical side...

...of permaculture doesn't get neglected.

Hotel Tilawa has clearly seen more prosperous days. Currently the passions of JP, the owner, are invested in the micro-brewery and developing ideas for renewable energy sources and applications. The only inhabitants of the hotel seem to be sporadic groups of American students who come to workshops JP runs on renewable energy.

One of the Hotel Tilawa's better features is a micro-brewery.

It rains.


Catching the wind. Costa Rica is onto the alternative power thing.


It continues to seem very odd to be staying at a luxury hotel with pools...

...and horse riding.

For some strange reason, that now escapes me, Lindsay and I christen this unfortunate stray kitten Killer Bunny.

Room with a view. Lindsay and I share a room in the empty hotel. I'm still getting 'The Shining' vibes.


I have been at Hotel Tilawa for almost ten days and I am just about to cancel the bank card when one last call to the Liberia Post Office reveals that the letter has, in fact, been there for over a week. I am now faced with working out what to do about picking it up since Liberia is, by this stage, several hundred kilometres away in the wrong direction.

Sarah and Tom are still with their friends, revisiting the Nicoya Peninsula bikelessly, and we decide to regroup in Alajuela, where their bikes are stored, after they see their friends off at the airport. In the meantime, I will ride to Alajuela and then catch a bus back to Liberia to pick up the card.

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