Casa de Teca
Ojochal de Osa Pumtarnenas Costa Rida
October 27, 2012

Revised for Publishing, June 4, 2014

Family Favorites Series:  On Being Human


El Perro

El Perro

I am” El Perro”.  Or at least that’s what these people who live on the ridge above my village, Ojochal, call me.

I am a village perro, coming and going as I please, usually between our village  restaurant/bar and grocery store.

I am not alone.  There are many of us who are village dogs belonging to no one and in some weird sense, belonging to everyone. We get food where we can, when we can.  We sleep under porches, overhangs, vacant houses, even under bridges.

Most of us had families to take care of at one time.  I was one of these.  But I have little recollection of my “family.”  I feel they must have been kind and loved me, because I honor their practices.  I sit when told.  I sit and wait when I am to be fed.  I do not bark – for some reason humans have a real thing about barking.  And I never try to go into the casa.

In turn, I offered them love, gave them someone to play with and was extremely loyal.

But I can’t afford that anymore – the loyal part anyway.  I guess my family decided to move on, but not to take me along.  I stayed at the house until hunger drove me to look for food.  I have been on the move ever since.  Sometimes I think I see a car I recognise.  That’s what happened the day I ended up on the ridge.   I was following a car I thought I recognized.  I’ve never been up there before.  I have to admit it is quite beautiful.

Turns out I didn’t know the man who drove the car.  Soon, however, a lady and man came up the driveway.  The man I followed up to the house was shooing me off the nice porch.  So, I decided to lay a short distance from the people – close enough to be around; far enough so I could turn tail and run if I had to.

Soon, the man working on the porch, packed up, got in his car and started to leave..  I followed him down the hill.  But I couldn’t get the lady I had seen out of my mind, so I turned around and headed back up the hill.

She saw me and seemed immediately happy to see me, offering me some water and welcoming me to her casa.  The man simply said I smelled.  Nothing else, I smelled.

You know most of this story from that man’s point of view.  But, let me tell you the lady showed me kindness, even love, providing me with water, food and a place to sleep.  Slowly, I returned her affection with my love.

And so it went for several days – the man tolerating me (he even scratched me behind the ear once!  I loved that!).  But, I could feel the love from the lady.  One time, I got kinda carried away.  The beautiful lady came out on the porch, then stood in place, smiling at me.  I walked over to her and rose up to my full height gently placing my front paws on her shoulders.  I looked her right in the eye and we had –  a moment.  Later, I heard the lady telling the man,

“Honey, I can’t describe the experience i just had with perro.  He jumped up and placed his front paws on my shoulders, then looked into my eyes with such a soulful expression.  I know he was expressing his love.”

But I’m a village dog now.  I get nervous when I think I’m about to make a commitment.   I don’t want to deal with getting left behind again.  Before too many days had passed,  I started wandering back down the ridge to visit my human and animal friends in town.  As the days passed I began to spend more time back in the village with those I know best.  In fact, I think it has been some time since i’ve been back up the ridge.  You know, we dogs live pretty much in the present, so, I don’t know;  maybe I’ll go up the ridge again; maybe not.  I do remember it as a great experience.

Bye for now.

El Perro

Ojochal Village de Osa Puntarenas

Que La Paz Prevalezca en la Tierra! May Peace Prevail on Earth!

Blog note:  We never saw Perro again (LMA)



Ok, The Buck Stops Where?

Part of the “The Human Side of Management; Leadership and Decision Making Series”


Its’ not about you, Mona, my wife, says softly at those times when she is forced to deal with me and my angst.

OK, I get it!  But does that hold true for business owners and operators as well?

 In our careers it often seems we are judged based on our accomplishments or lack thereof -quarterly reports on performance to goal;  annual reviews; promotions, job searches, board reviews, stakeholder positions – on and on and on….

 So, I postulate, it is all about me!

 Of course it’s about me and my accomplishments!  Everything I claim as happening because of me does happen because of me.  After all,  my job as a manager or administrator is to make good things happen.  And I use all the resources at my disposal  – people, physical assets – effectively and efficiently to accomplish stated goals.  True, without my access to key assets, without  skilled people on my team able to bring capabilities and knowledge I don’t have to move us toward our goal, I don’t succeed.  But, it remains my responsibility, my obligation, to bring these often disparate parts together to act in the common interest of the goal.


 In my office I gazed out my window looking out at the beauty of my surroundings while agonizing over just how to make my team including the dissident and inherently disruptive move us to our goal.  My group includes avid supporters, malcontents capable of malevolent behind the scenes innuendoes and rumors, followers of internally anointed individuals pushing their own agenda.  Conflict between themselves and me had become public.

 My supporters on the board urged me to “deal with it,” or face the wrath of my detractors.  And my detractors quietly worked to derail my leadership.  Even community members were touching base to share their concern.  Supporters recommended I “bust up the team and get rid of the malcontents.  Board detractors suggested “Maybe it was time for me to move on.”

For me, it was a classic “Hamlet” moment – what to do; what to do!  Allow me to pause here.  I think we as managers usually figure out quite quickly who are our primary supporters as well as our primary detractors. But that at best accounts for 40% of your stakeholders.  The rest?  It’s hard to know just what motivates them to move to one side or the other.  For me, the issue is decided by these primary groups; for,my experience leads me to believe, they are also the “best” players – it will be their skills sets, their special knowledge, their commitment to the goal that will determine the eventual outcome.

 So, how to respond to these “primary” stakeholders?  My first inclination?  Not much different than leaders from line supervisors to presidents, (and, of course politicians) who have harped since the beginning of time. “Why me?  What have I done to deserve this?  Doesn’t my staff know I regard them as essential?  Why doesn’t my board stand up and put an end to this? My inclination was to yell,” Hey, it’s not about me!  I inherited these problems,  I’m not the one who hired these people, you haven’t given me the resources necessary……and on adinfinitum.”


 I know better.  It is about me!  It’s about my willingness to find a way, create buy-in, get people on board, wisely use resources.  I am the one who agreed to hold this position of responsibility.  I’m paid the big bucks!  OK, I am paid.  Of course, our success sinks or swims with me.

Or does it?

 Help me out, owners, managers, administrators, please!  Bottom line: Is it about you (me) or not when it comes to accomplishing the businesses’ goals?  Is this the primary obligation for leadership?

 In the meantime.

 Stay true to your goal.  Stay honest with your people.  Accept what must be done.

Que La Paz Prevalezca en la Tierra! May Peace Prevail on Earth!


Ojochal OSA


 The Dogs (and cats) of Ojochal

Reprint:  Originally published October, 2012

From time to time I reprint blogs originally written for a limited audience.  This episode is reprinted as part of the “On Being Human,” series.  Hope you enjoy!


Puntarenas, Costa Rica
Sunday, October 21, 2012

He followed the car up our road – some would call it a driveway – to the casa.

We had been invited by our neighbor, Karine, to come up and see their view.  They run a true Indonesian Restaurant which includes an outdoor dining area serving both as their living room and the restaurant.

Going up their driveway – yes, they have a real driveway – their large, part golden retriever walked by Karine’s side keeping Mona and I in his sight. “He’s a really good dog,” Karine offered, then quickly added, “but he’s also a guard dog.  We moved here from Belgium five years ago and he showed up in the first week.  He adopted us immediately,”  she said, affectionately scratching his ear.  “Happens a lot around here.”

When we got up to the house, the dog approached Mona allowing her to scratch his neck.  He didn’t bother with me.  Just as well.  He barks at night and I can’t stand barking dogs, except for our dog, Charlie, of course.

Before walking up with Karine, Mona and I had seen seen a laborer, Ricardo,who was doing some work for us, go by in his car, turn left and head up our road.  He was working to  redo a part of our steps to create better traction for us.  Both Mona and I had slipped and fallen going down these tile steps when it was raining and we’ve had enough of that.  We were anxious to get back and see his progress, so we bid adieu to Karine and her husband, Mac, and headed back home.


“He just followed me up the driveway,” Ricardo laughed.  Ricardo has great control of the English language, having helped the neighbor above us build two houses in the area.  Ronald, our neighbor, whom we have never met, and his wife live directly above us in a huge house that Ronald and Ricardo built.  He and his wife live alone in this 6000 sq. foot home along with their three dogs – but that’s another story.

“Ah, who followed you here”?  I asked Ricardo.  “Shoo, shoo, off the porch,” Ricardo yelled and a black blur ran off the porch.  “That perro,” Ricardo laughed.  “He likes it here!”  “Well,” I said, in my sternest voice,  “when you leave, he’d better leave with you!”  Ricardo laughed again, “Si Señor!”


At the end of the day Ricardo and his apprentice left.  Much to my delight, the dog followed his car down our road.  I went into the house to make myself a drink and started to carry my drink to the porch.  It was time to watch the sunset.  I stopped because I thought I heard Mona talking to someone.

“It’s OK, boy.  I’ll just go get some water for you! ”

The dog had returned.

“Mona, I screamed, don’t!”

“Don’t what,” she replied.  “I’m just getting the poor creature some water,”

“You can’t do that!”  I was pleading now.  You give that dog water and he’s not going to leave.”

“I’m not going to stand by and watch an animal suffer,”  she hissed.

For the first time I looked at the dog.  He was pitiful.  Like many of the dogs we have seen on the road, he was skeletal thin, his eyes clearly showing the pain of his existence.  His body was filled with sores and he smelled worse than anything I have ever experienced.  We would later discover why.

“We’re not going to have that dog here,” I stated emphatically.

“OK, but I am going to feed and water him.  There’s some kind of pet protectors group in Uvita.  We can check there to see if they will take him, Mona said, firmly.

I hate it when I know I’ve lost!  I hate it even more when I know Mona’s doing the right thing.  I hate it even more when I remember I had just written in my blog how important it is to respect all living things.

So, the next morning, off to Uvita we go, me hoping that when we return the dog’s gone.  Turns out that pet protectors is headed by the local veterinarian.  She voluntarily accepts strays, treats their maladies, and helps locate new homes for them.

“She’s not here this week,”  the volunteer told Mona.  I was sitting in the car moping.  “Would you be willing to care for him and feed him for a week and we’ll check to see if she has some space open.”

“We’d be glad to,” Mona replied.

Soon, we’re at the super marketo, buying food for our friends the  Tennison’s s visit next week – and, of course, buying dog food.

We return to our casa, me hoping against hope, the dog has gone on.  Perro came off the porch to greet us delighted to welcome us back home.


It is Sunday.  Mona is napping, I’m writing in my blog.  Perro is asleep on the porch.

“Nuff for now.”

Que La Paz Prevalezca en la Tierra! May Peace Prevail on Earth!


Ojochal OSA Puntarenas Costa Rica

Ojochal OSA

 Flash! Business has learned the value of customer ratings; or Using the carrot and  a stick approach to management and control 

I had just come home from a shopping exercise.  I made one small purchase.  My “shopping assistant” was very helpful and I commented offhandedly, “I hope they pay you well?”

“Alas, no,” he said. “I don’t quite get minimum wage, plus they keep my hours low so they don’t have to pay benefits.  In fact, I work three of these types of jobs to keep my young family going.”

Walking up to the pay counter, I told the cashier,” I wish there was some way of thanking the young man for his assistance.  Her face lit up:

“There is,” she exclaimed!  Just go to the website listed on the bottom of your receipt, go online and you can take a survey and place his name on it.  He’ll be delighted, I’m sure!  Do one for me if you like.  My name is Jamie.”

Some weeks later I was talking with the store manager where I do much of my basic merchandise shopping.  I told her about my earlier experience filling out the “satisfaction” form.  I asked whether they had such a program.

“Of course we do,” she replied.  “By the way, how good was your evaluation on a scale of 1-5?”

“I remember giving 4 5s and a 4.”

“Oh,” she replied.  “Then you shouldn’t have bothered.”

“Why,” I asked.

“Because the only ones management probably uses are the straight 5s.  He probably got dinged for your “bad” review.”

“You’re pulling my leg,” I replied.

“No, I’m serious,”   she said.  “In fact, in our store, upper management uses these ratings to compare store performance to other stores in the chain.  It’s one of the factors rating not only store performance, but individual performance to goal. It can even impact performance bonuses.  Bottom line:  It’s just another hammer in upper management’s tool kit.”

“But, hold on; who gives all 5s,” I protested.”  “I wanted to praise the young man, not damn him!”

Now, my store manager friend was upset: “You want to play the game? Then learn the rules,” she retorted.

So, I asked a couple of other managers I knew in other industries.  Yeh, they said, one adding:  “So what?”


I can’t help it!  Now, every time I get a “How’d we do?” notice, I ignore it.  I feel like an aggregate statistic existing as a management ploy.  I would like to fill these surveys out, thinking I am participating in helping the company do a better job serving their customers.  But, I don’t feel that way, so I don’t bother.  In fact, I am bothered that I have to spend time deleting this auto response trash.  At least I’m not hurting anyone or putting unintended pressure on someone.  Maybe I should have caught on sooner.  I never get any response stating my thoughts were appreciated – or read, for that matter.  Not even an auto response!  Not even from the president!


There is always “the other side” of the issue.  I haven’t talked with “upper management.”   So, how do you as an owner-manager use your “How’d We Do or Tell Us How We’re Doing,” tools?

Do you use them?  If so, for what purpose?  Does anyone in your organization read the replies?  How do you use the aggregate information elicited?  Do you use the results as a “Management hammer, in your management control tool kit?”

Just to be upfront, if you answered any of these questions with less than a 5, don’t bother to reply.


Que La Paz Prevalezca en la Tierra! May Peace Prevail on Earth!



Part of the Business Ethics series, “The Human side of Business.”






So, several parties interested in renting Casa de Teca have asked the question:  Is the casa in the jungle?  Many of these people identify themselves as avid wildlife fans.  They want to experience the birds and wildlife of the jungles of Costa Rica.  

If you look at the Casa de Teca pin on Google Earth, it definitely appears to be in the jungle. Our casa is located in the village of Ojochal, which often bills itself as the gateway to the OSA, the largest, basically untapped jungle/wilderness area in Costa Rica. 

We are located on the first ridge of the Ojochal Mountains, approximately one (1) kilometer from the Costanera Coastal highway (Highway #34). It is approximately two (2) kilometers to Playa Tortuga, a large turtle nesting area. We have one acre of property. The casa is surrounded on all sides with mixed vegetation – a variety of trees, bushes, and vines.  

Forest/Jungle looking West

Forest/Jungle looking West

This “tangling” of vegetation is one of the marks of a jungle.  Casa de Teca is in the tropical zone and receives about 160 inches/year rainfall – not quite rainforest standards.  Theses facts meet the “jungle” criteria as well.  Much of the area was logged in the 1940s and 70s so most of the vegetation is second growth, not nearly as impenetrable as areas that have been protected.  My vote:  Jungle!

"Mo," Casa de Teca visitor Watching us through the glass door

“Mo,” Casa de Teca visitor
Watching us through the glass door

Wildlife is abundant; hawks, falcons and turkey vultures roam our skies; kiskadees, chocolatas, and many, many species of birds share their songs; we’ve seen Jesus Christ lizards, coati, iguanas and an occasional sloth, travel our grounds. Howler and white faced monkeys feed and play in the trees in our valley. You don’t always get to see these creatures but their sounds fill the air. When you first arrive, you will probably not see many creatures; they will be shy until they are comfortable with you. 

If you are considering staying at the casa, we hope this information helps you with your decision. We can’t imagine living anywhere else in Costa Rica for experiencing Costa Rica.

But you ask, “Are there whales, crocodiles, water fowl,…?”  Yes, but that’s another story.

A final caveat.  We rent our casa during the “high” season, late November to late April.  This is the “dry” season and for this reason it is the primary tourist season.  

Que La Paz Prevalezca en la Tierra! May Peace Prevail on Earth!


It came with such fury, the rain, yesterday.  Mona and I had returned from Playa Hermosa.  We enjoyed a light lunch and had just settled down for a lazy afternoon nap (yes, for some of us at least, the afternoon siesta is alive and well).

I could feel myself beginning to nod off when I heard the first raindrop.  Then the rain hit, hit with such ferocity as if all its pent-up frustration at being held back for the entire “green season” was unleashed at once.  No thunder yet; just the pounding rain driving its drops hard into our metal roof, creating its own thunder of sound and fury, our small casa becoming the surround sound speaker for the symphony.  Unrelenting and undeniable, the rain consumed our senses, falling so hard and so steadily that we were soon blissfully asleep.

We awakened an hour later, the roar still deafening, the chorus now joined by eye-popping lightning followed by tremendous claps of thunder.  We went out to the porch to watch the lightening dancing out on the sea!  Such an incredible display of raw power.  The rain had now overwhelmed our deep gutters creating waterfalls off the eaves.  Our canedas, cement drains designed to carry off and drain the water, were overflowing, the trays filled with mud, sticks and leaves.  Now, we had our own mini rapids and dams!

Note:  Since I do not have video privileges on WordPress, I have uploaded a short video on my Facebook page).

The rain continued unabated for another six hours before stopping just as abruptly as it started. The light show continued on into the night.  These storms are like cleansing agents, at once washing months of dust and dirt from plants, trees, even casas.  At the same time, we find they open our hearts and soul to all that surrounds us.  I can’t think of a better high and “coming down” is easy and peaceful.

Now such a storm has not always affected me with such anticipation and joy.  I am including an earlier post from a couple of years ago to provide some perspective.



Meanderings of a Possibly Deranged Mind

It’s raining, four hours and counting – hard, and steady – beating down on our casa metal roof, the roar deafening, assaulting mind and body; consuming, beautiful in its special brutality.  And the rainy season is six weeks away!  

Mona loves it!  It reminds her of her cabin days in Northern Minnesota.  I’m not so sure.  The cacophony of sound feels like an invasion on my privacy, my Right to peace and quiet.  But, oddly, I’m getting used to it, the rain.  It has a cadence of its own.  It cares not how I feel; it just Is.  And, I am losing it or losing to it, the rain?


It’s raining so hard, how hard?

Beautiful. Simply beautiful!  Its raining – hard!  Mona loves the rain beating on our roof.  I don’t know.  I need more time.  The rain will most certainly oblige!

Happy 4th of July!


July 4, 2012, Casa de Teka, Ojochal, Osa Puntarenas, Costa Rica





Monday, April 21, 2014

Playa Hermosa (Beautiful beach)

It’s a beautiful morning!  Mona and I are walking Playa Hermosa, our favorite beach.  

Have you ever noticed that most of we humans migrate toward our “favorites” – doesn’t matter – places, events, special people, habits?  Observing wildlife at the casa I think it applies to them as well.  

So, we are back on our favorite beach, and it reminds us why it is our favorite – long  and deep with promontories providing boundaries and protection.  

Actually, Mona and I have two favorite beaches, Hermosa down here and Seaside beach in Oregon, USA.  Both have long walking surfaces, the beaches extending more than 300 yards into the sea at low tide.  Both have promontories to mark their boundaries.  


Today, it’s two hours after high tide, our very favorite time for beach walking.  One significant difference between our two favorite beaches is the depth of the beach at high tide.  Seaside always enjoys plenty of beach for fun and frolic; at Hermosa, high tide covers the beach – in some places fingers of ocean run into the mangroves.  At two hours after high tide, the water has receded leaving 50 to 100 yards for walking and playing.  It’s our perfect time for a walk, the sand is wet and cool and the wave water can still wash over your feet as you walk.

Still, today was special; the surf was up and the surfers were out.  Waves cresting at 10-12 feet were giving the surfers long, smooth rides.  Mona says that as these giant waves crest  they create a massive wall  of water, curling into a cascading  waterfall.  Pick a point, almost any point in a wave, then follow it to the right or left and watch it curl all the way to the point.  Breathtaking!  (I shared a brief video on FB; videos on WordPress require an upgrade; I still haven’t figured out how to use all the basic features).   

We’re back at the casa now.  Just had a light lunch and now are settling in for a nice afternoon nap.  Then it hit!

But that’s another story.

Que La Paz Prevalezca en la Tierra! May Peace Prevail on Earth!