Potsy Condle-Cots

Before we left for Costa Rica a year ago, Liam and Reid were both given new stuffed animals. Liam’s was a sloth (befitting our upcoming journey), and Reid’s choice was a baby leopard (also fitting, but also sometimes a baby cheeta). Reid names the leopard “Spots” for the obvious reason. Then his name evolved. Spots, Pots, Potsy, and finally it grew a last name: Condle-Cots. So now we have Potsy Condle-Cots:

Can Quakerism Adapt?

Just before leaving Monteverde and Monteverde Friends Meeting I wrote a short article on the challenges of sustaining the Quaker tradition for their inaugural newsletter, Semillas. I try to employ some of the science I know around the durability of institutions and the dynamics of human cooperation to explore the topic. It was an admittedly simple and shallow analysis, but I hope some find it useful.

It can be found here: http://monteverdequakers.org/reflections-on-sustaining-the-quaker-tradition/ in both English and Español.

The Jumping Party

When we lived in 17 Winterhaven we had mostly second hand furniture. Okay, that’s still true, but we didn’t have many chairs or couches. We did, however, have two single matresses which we liked to push together or pile on top of eachother so that we the kids (ages 2 and 5) could jump on them. So we’d say “let’s have a jumping party!” Katie and I love the idea of a “Jumping Party.” In fact, just today Liam and Reid joined our neighbor Lucas for his birthday party at a trampoline park near the Orono movie theatre. Much more jumping, and an actual party. However, “the jumping party” still lived on because that is what we call those two matresses, which still function as a type of couch on the loft, covered in the two red sheeds they usually wear.

Today the Jumping Party happens to have a flaming sword resting on it among the pillows.

Hooray for The Jumping Party!


Penzi, lost again.

Mpenzi is Reid’s central, favorite stuffed animal. Penzi for short. Penzi features in a great many “Charlie and Penzi stories” told by Katie, which often involve wonderful crazy superpower-like abilities and utter silliness. Reid first got Penzi for valentines day when he was one year old. A gift from Sal and O’da. Penzi was a bean-stuffed doberman puppy dog toy, still is. But Penzi would often, often go missing. When we moved to our house at 24 Winterhaven Reid was 2.5. In the fall one year, at age five, Penzi was lost while galavanting outside at dusk in the woods behind the house. We didn’t find him until the snow fell, then we had no hope. He stayed lost. At age six we moved to Costa Rica for a year, and Penzi was not with us. When we returned, however, we got a new Penzi, who is not quite the same model, but similar enough to be genuinely treasured. Now we are back, and Reid is seven, but Penzi has gone missing again. A Penzi, always on some crazy adventure. Where next Penzi?


In 2017, as I write Reid will tend to use number like “ten thousand billion and seventy four” in a pinch to describe something really very very large. But there was a time, perhaps two years ago, when Reid would use “ten thousand five hundred fifty four” as his go-to big number of choice. Before that it was 10,555, which he apparently felt was not sufficiently nuanced. While ten 10,554 is long behind us now, I’m glad we are still in the days of “ten thousand billion.”

A few days in Montezuma

Today we splashed in the waves of Montezuma’s Playa Grande, which, thankfully can only be accessed by foot. While dealing with the never-ending onslaught of waves, Liam and I came up with a series of names for our manuevers:

Undies – for under the wave

Ovies – for over

Bundies – for but-first into the wave

Pitsters – for armpit first (pronounced like pictures, with a bluebear accent)

Sitsters – sit underwater as the wave goes over you (pronounced “sisters”)

Layzers – lay down underwater

There was also the modifier:

Handy – which meant “hold hands while doing this maneuver.”

and at the end there was also:

Daddies – for when your daddy picks you up and holds you above the waves, or when you get a ride on his back.

This is CLEARLY a “pitster.”
I think this may have been an “Ovie.”


Today, I woke up to the krawk, krawk, krawk of a Keel-billed Toucan. I’m going to miss that. Again, the young cows wandered into our yard to eat the grass this morning, and we just let them. Minutes ago, an irridescent green hummingbird landed on a branch out my window not 5 feet from my face, and I didn’t even take the time to stare, they are so common.

With only a handful of days left in Monteverde I have begun celebrating our lasts. We had our last Quaker meeting yesterday. I was the greeter. I welcomed everyone, explained that everyone must find their own translation help if needed, and stepped through announcements.  Oh – there’s the hummingbird again – let’s see … green, brown, blue tail, small…perhaps the steely-vented hummingbird, even though it would be uncommon at the altitude, everything is moving up the mountain.

We’ve had a number of last dinners with Sue and Richard and Ed and Jenny and Alia, with Fern and Luis, and last night Lori and Kori threw a great party, and the whole community showed up. Music and food and good conversation late into the night. Tonight I’ll have my last or second to last futbol game.

We are packing. The art is off the wall. Things are moving apart on their own now.

Berry Picking with Benny

Benito (“Benny”) Guindon is the a second generation Quaker and one of the remaining Quaker farmers. He’s also wickedly funny in a dry, self-effacing way. He makes jam, cheese, sells milk, leads square-dances at the meeting house and weaves pine-needle baskets and pot holders for sale during the holidays. He’s an important fixutre of our experience of Monteverde. So, the other week we volunteered to help him collect some berries for his jam.


Notice how deep the grass is.

The Guindon farm is a large, old, rambling affair, as farms often are, with pastures that look forgotten, but are, in fact in heavy use. He keeps cows, goats, chickens and a few pigs. He also has become something of a local wildlife shelter; when people find an injured mammal or bird, they will usually bring it Benny first. We’ve met a few such creatures, including an owl that has recuperated and left, and one that never will.

Reid collected a ton of berries.
Reid and Liam rest for a minute. This was where the boys got chiggers. Turns out chiggers are annoying – itchy as all heck, but ultimately harmless.
Our harvest. We easily tripled Benny’s time investment.
This is a vine that they have growing outside their house. I bet it captures flies for pollination.

Spanish Code Names

On May day (May first, 2017) our family took a small hike down to a local waterfall, which despite being down stream of some businesses and homes and hotels and a road, was very unspoiled by garbage, and did not appear to be very polluted. We explored…

We also came up with Spanish code names for each other. It all started when Katie realized that Reid (whom she often calls “Beeda”) has a name that could be merged with the unofficial Costa Rican motto “Pura Vida” (denotation: pure life, connotation: relax, it’s all good) to yield “Pura Beeda!”

Then came my name. I’d already given myself a name, in jest, combining “dad” with the Spanish term for “truth” (naturally) to make “Ver-Dad.” But Liam has also been referring to me in a derogatory fashion as “Papi!” when I make stupid Spanish blunders. This seems to happen with some regularity, I’m afraid to say. So my name became: “Papi Verdad.

Next Liam’s name emerged. As we often call Liam “sweet dreams” or “dreamer” it was easy to think up “sueno dulce,” but we settled on “Sueño Feliz,” or Happy Dreams, or sometimes “Frijol Feliz,” or Happy Bean.

And Katie’s name then echoes the “mommy…” call that our children both make ~20 times a day. En español, “mani” means peanut, but is pronounced a lot like “mommy,” so now Katie is now “Mani mia!