No big surprise for those of us who live here, but Costa Rica was named as the #1 Travel Destination for 2024 by Travel & Leisure Magazine AND the International Living Magazine and organization simultaneously named Costa Rica as the #1 Best Place to Retire in 2024! Read about it inTravel & Leisure. Or on International Living website.
For someone who made what a few American friends back in Nashville thought was a radical or crazy decision to move here in 2014, these announcements confirm the good decision I made back then! :-)
And these rankings are a good celebration of my 9 years of living in Costa Rica (as of December 24, 2023 — 2+ weeks ago). And my survival of cancer a celebration of the excellent healthcare here! Plus there is no better place for a nature lover and nature photographer like me! Tell your nature-lover friends to follow my blog to see what it is like to be “Retired in Costa Rica!” :-)
My laptop computer just went into the local repair shop and it takes 24 hours to get the needed part from San José, meaning it will barely be ready before I leave Friday morning for my Christmas trip to San Gerardo de Dota, thus no posts until Friday niģht from the mountains. This is the only post I will type on this tiny phone screen! I hate it! :-) And I can only figure out how to include a photo already used – sorry!
Sometimes it feels like no two bugs are alike here, but of course that is not true, but here is another one I cannot identify and don’t remember ever seeing before, photographed with my cell phone on the bathroom floor. The long antennae remind me of the Longhorn Beetle, but nothing else about him seems to match that ID. As I tweaked each photo a little different, he sort of looks a little different in each. As always in these blog galleries, click an image to see full-width and larger.
Why I Slacked Off Blogging . . .
For more than two weeks now I’ve put all my energy into preparing my many wall art photos and many more other photo products for a one morning art sale at my house on 24 June which I’ll tell you more about in the blog over the next few days. And much of my time has been spent in going to Alajuela to pick up packages of different items being shipped here for what was first going to be a new art gallery business in town and now for my one morning “Coffee & Art!” Plus I like to label every image with information on where photographed and of course a price tag.
In addition to that one morning of “Coffee and Art,” I’m accepting art shoppers by appointment and had 3 ladies come by today with lots of compliments and $40 in sales of little things, so it sort of began today, though I will not encourage such private showings until after the Saturday Morning Coffee in another week. 🙂 And I was encouraged that one of the ladies wanted a particular sloth image in a metal print (I don’t have now) and will order it from my online gallery which I’m hoping more people will do! 🙂
Tomorrow I will feature the wall art that I hung in my living room for the sale and hoping that it will be the big attraction, while the ladies today bought tote bags and greeting cards 🙂 , so it is difficult to predict what people will like or want to spend their money on! 🙂 Stay tuned for more information on my temporary Atenas Art Gallery in my casita!
My new ABOUT Page
When I went to my ABOUT page to add a link to my temporary art gallery, I found formatting errors and a repeated paragraph, possibly due to many “upgrades” or changes in the many WordPress softwares and I couldn’t correct some errors, so just deleted almost everything and started over with the newest WP Editor and put a more recent photo of myself which is what I really look like now. 🙂 That’s the page with all the personal information and probably not a lot of people go there, but it is now updated and the menu has a link to my new temporary art gallery in Atenas. 🙂 There seems to constantly be little things like this that I need to do! But hopefully slowing down again after the June 24 art show!
I mentioned earlier about being very busy with several projects like changing doctors, renewing residency, and helping start the new “Artenas Galleria” that all have seemingly taken the leisure from my life – but not for much longer! 🙂 This morning I had my leisurely 30 minute walk to El Fogon restaurant for an Avocado Toast breakfast before grocery shopping at La Coope across the street. and the two shots in this post are from my morning walks in the garden over the last week+, with more photos coming! 🙂
My last Plumbago plant just keeps blooming, though I got rid of others because they crowd out other plants. 🙂
And the feature photo (at top online) is of one of the recently budded “Maracas” or “Shampoo Ginger” flowers that I will have even more of this year. They are coming just as the other Maraca plant (orange) in my front yard has its flowers dying out, so I have one of the Maraca plants blooming almost all of the time on one side of the house or the other! 🙂 I will share more flower shots later along with very few birds and butterflies the last week. We finally got a reasonably good rain yesterday afternoon, but this is starting out to be the driest “Rainy Season” in my 8.5 years here! And somewhere I read that much of the entire globe will be dryer this year, including Central America.
Some of the new friends that have come into my life in Costa Rica are “seasonal” or some say “Snow Birds” who come to our tropical climate as an escape from the snow & ice up north during the coldest months. One, who has in the past stayed in Roca Verde just up the street from me, is Margaret from British Columbia, Canada and like me, a birder in her 80’s.
This year she decided to go beyond Atenas and see the birds and other sights of many areas of Costa Rica and brought her friend Pat with her. Here’s the diary or journal of their very economical adventure by public bus and staying in local B&Bs, like I did in my early years here . She included 45 photos that I could not copy with the story and adding all individually to this blog post would greatly slow it down, so I chose 4 to scatter throughout the story. And her good “storyteller” way of reporting their adventures makes her words the “illustrations.” Her third person references (you and yours) are to Jill, one of their first hostesses she was writing much of this to. The sub-headings are my addition to indicate the general area of Costa Rica they were in at that time of their trip. Enjoy! And plan your own adventure! 🙂 ¡Pura vida!
I was both humbled and joyed by the number of people who came up to me during the art show and told me they enjoyed reading my blog and especially appreciated the four who asked for me to sign one of my photo books. It helped me to feel like I’m not wasting my time with the blog preparation time. And it reminded me of the experience at Hotel Banana Azul in September when a woman came up to me at my dinner table one night and asked, “Are you the Charlie Doggett of the Retired in Costa Rica Blog?” I said, “I sure am!” She replied, “My mother and I have followed you blog for several years now and we both love it!” Then she got my permission for her husband to take a cellphone photo of us. 🙂
The art show was excellent with a continuous flow of people through it all three days and I sold a lot of stuff, and particularly enjoyed meeting and talking to a lot of people, both Ticos and expats. Its beginning to feel like the pandemic is over here in Costa Rica and of course everyone hopes so! We will have our Atenas Christmas Parade next week, the 16th, which I look forward to; then I return to Arenal Volcano National Park Christmas week, so a busy but happy month! 🙂
Another new butterfly for me today! I first saw him/her from my kitchen on the outside of the window screen. I snapped a couple of shots and went outside for a different view in the garden but he quickly flew away. This is another tropical butterfly found in Central and South America. These shots will be just the second ones to be posted on butterfliesandmoths, when they are up (they were not a few minutes ago). 🙂 Here are four different shots:
I read three things today that helped me realize again how fortunate I am to be living in such an amazing little country as Costa Rica! AND how much I have slowed down, calmed down, and embraced nature since I’ve been living here, eight years this coming December! Here’s links to the three inspirational articles I read today . . .
Of course there’s more photos and even more wildlife I haven’t shown like the White-nosed Coati and more butterflies, but I have them in the Christmas Trip 2021 Gallery, so check it out if you want more! 🙂
This was another favorite rainforest shot from Cristal Ballena that also includes the sea, so I just had to add it as my last post on that trip. As you can see, the rainforest not only surrounds the hotel, but flows all the way down to the ocean and the national park beach. It’s a beautiful place that I enjoy visiting and will probably go again someday. Now back to shots from my garden, the neighborhood and the little coffee farmers’ town of Atenas. For awhile anyway! 🙂 I’m trying to schedule a one-day waterfall trip and then in February I’m back to a tree house at Maquenque Lodge, Boca Tapada. 🙂
Rainforest & ocean view, Cristal Ballena Hotel, Uvita, Costa Rica.
“If man doesn’t learn to treat the oceans and the rainforest with respect, man will become extinct.”
I finally figured out how to get to historical statistics on my WordPress Blog/Website, wanting to see what kind of nature photos more people are interested in. Well, it was not my nature shots in 2021 but the posts labeled “Cancer Update” that all had over 200 readers or “hits” with none of my nature posts over 200 except the weird exception of an old one on a Truck Centipede. So THANK YOU for being interested in my health! It has been a long slow recovery still in process but I am so much closer to “normal” now and I was quite active on the last trip. I see my oncologist tomorrow and hopefully not many more times needed after that. 🙂
Starting tomorrow I am going to share some of my favorite bird photos out of literally thousands of over 350 species of birds here. It has been very difficult to choose just a few favorites. I started with 40 and whittled it down to 21 and gave up after that, so over the next three weeks I’ll be sharing 21 bird photos of 21 different species of birds found here, introducing the species, including a link to the eBird description, a link to my gallery on that species, and I’m writing a “Backstory” about each particular photo I’m sharing. It seems that there is a story behind every photo! 🙂 I hope you will find it interesting and revealing about Costa Rica for both nature lovers and birders! And oh yes, the two bird photos in this post did not make the cut for a feature, so they decorate this post! 🙂
I’m working ahead on the series and trying to make each blog post a visual work of art as well as a valuable chunk of information about a bird species in Costa Rica, including where I found it and which lodge I stayed it. I trust they will become valuable tools for future visitors and new expat residents of Cost Rica, starting tomorrow with the beautiful Resplendent Quetzal!
Yellow-throated Euphonia & the Feature Photo at Top is a Gray-cowled Woodrail
Update on My Health and Latest Cancer Report
First, I recently had the same CAT Scan (called TAC here) they did to diagnose the cancer and it shows me totally cancer-free after the surgery and 7 weeks of radiation. That is good news!
Now the effects of the radiation still have not all gone away and usually do not for about a year for most patients, meaning I may be “normal” by next July. 🙂 The left side of my face & neck + the left ear are all still swollen or enlarged somewhat. That is normal the first year. My smile is almost “normal” now, not totally lopsided on right side only as after surgery. I will always have to deal with my left eye not blinking or being able to fully close. I use eye drops two or three times a day and wear an eye patch most of the time except for about 3 hours in the morning.
I am still low on energy or tired a lot, wanting to sleep more and that is normal for the first year they say. My taste has partially recovered though not totally and they say that can take as much as 6 months to a year to fully recover, so I’m much closer to normal there! Though my appetite is still not high and my weight is still lower than before. I drink an Ensure protein shake once a day to help keep me healthy and otherwise try to eat healthy.
Mentally/emotionally I am fine and generally have a positive attitude about life regardless what is happening. So in short, I’ve made great improvements and I’m overall feeling very well, just not planning as many activities as before. Plus at 81 I needed to slow down anyway! 🙂 And these new series of blog posts using past photos is one example of how I’m slowing down while remaining creative. But I will be adding new trips and new photos, just not as frequently now! 🙂
¿Cómo estás? – ¡Total bien! 🙂 That’s how most people answer here regardless how they really feel! 🙂 The positive and helpful attitudes of Costa Ricans is also healing to me! I’m so glad I live here now!