On the Rio Savegre!

My mountain lodge is on this beautiful little mountain stream that grows to a bigger river before it feeds the Pacific Ocean. Savegre Hotel is first class and much bigger, more modern than my last visit here in 2009, literally a 4 Star Hotel back in the wilderness on a dirt road, hours from a city! But not sure about the internet connection yet and may be limited to one photo per post. Pura vida from San Gerardo de Dota & Savegre Hotel!

🙂

The “Retire for Less” Newsletter RETIRES!

Today I received the final edition of the “Retire for Less in Costa Rica” Newsletter. This wonderful couple, Paul & Gloria, are really retiring themselves now and it is about time! I have recommended them many times and they are keeping their website up for awhile, so check it out now if you haven’t before. They give the most practical advice of anyone on retiring in Costa Rica and they will be greatly missed, though maybe I will get to see them again for other reasons or socially. I hope so. They will be dividing their time between Costa Rica and Mexico which is an unusual way to retire, but very interesting.

In their last newsletter they included a summary of their philosophy over these 12 years that has not changed. I will try to copy it here:

What is the Retire for Less Philosophy?

Sometimes we tell people that we live the “retire for less lifestyle,” or perhaps we notice that others are also living in a similar way. So what exactly is it?

Conserve, simplify, enjoy. These three words sum up the Retire for Less Philosophy or lifestyle. We believe one can:

  • Enjoy the simple things in life
  • Discard some old beliefs regarding retirement
  • Count your cash, get your Social Security, and go where it’s cheaper
  • Reinvent yourself and begin a whole new, adventurous phase of your life
  • Look at your life differently, embrace the new culture, and try not to be ethnocentric
  • Scale down, live within your means, and learn to have fun, fun, fun!
  • Conserve energy, go green, and live without air-conditioners, heaters, dehumidifiers, and cars, as much as possible
  • Live without debt, reduce expenses, and reduce expectations
  • Save money, spend less, use less, and be satisfied with less – less is more

Conserve, Simplify, and Enjoy! Read our entire Retire for Less Philosophy here.

They will be missed and have certainly helped a lot of people retire here and elsewhere. Now I will just continue my very simple life in Costa Rica, not owning anything including a car. Zero debt. Walking almost daily. Enjoying the simple things of life in a simple country that puts people and nature above industry and money. Where nature is king and we will be carbon neutral in a year or so! (99% of electricity now.)

¡Pura Vida!

Pura Vida Butterflies: The Book

Earlier I released a coffee table book titled Pura Vida Birds as a celebration of coming up on my 6 year anniversary of being “Retired in Costa Rica” (December 24, 2020).

Then I started thinking about my second nature love of butterflies and just couldn’t resist doing a similar book with my photo collection of butterflies and moths, even though not as big as my birds collection. So here it is! More than 120 butterflies in brilliant colors in a 10×8 in, 25×20 cm book, hardcover or paperback book. It is titled Pura Vida Butterflies from the Retired in Costa Rica Blog. Check it out and thumb through the pages electronically in the free Preview available online. Just one more incredible thing about Costa Rica! 🙂

¡Pura Vida!

Virgen Rainforest Paradise

This morning I leave at 8 AM with Walter, my local transportation for out-of-Atenas trips, on a 3 hour drive north of here but still in our Alajuela Province. It’s on the San Carlos River near the Nicaragua border as a private nature reserve and eco-lodge that is one of my favorites in Costa Rica, where I’ve photographed more species of birds than any other one place and where I can sleep in a tree house room, watching howler monkeys and spider monkeys from my room. See my 2019 experience there and this short video of the virgen rainforest reserve says it all:

My Paradise Rainforest this week!

I will be here through next Monday – 6 nights in the tree house to celebrate my 80th birthday on Saturday the 4th of July! And, as long as the WiFi in their main building works, I will be posting blog reports every day! Maybe one tonight.

Because of world-wide increasing Coronavirus, the borders of Costa Rica remain closed to non-residents where we have the lowest infection rate in Latin America! But hotels, lodges like this one, and restaurants can open at 50% capacity to local residents only with required social distancing and masks, making places like this more pleasant (no “Ugly Americans” or “aggressive Japanese”) and less crowded. Two weeks ago they told me that in addition to me they had two couples coming for part of the week with me alone the other days, though that could change with late registrations! 🙂 Many Ticos are just now discovering the great tourism in their own country.

I will wear a mask when not eating and around other people, including my birding guide just to be extra cautious. I will not take their delightful boat trip to a little jungle village with great people that I enjoyed but will avoid this time due to COVID19 possibilities. I will mostly traipse through the jungle solo and stay safe from the virus. There have been NO CASES among the lodge employees (mainly one family) nor in the nearby town of Boca Tapada. But I will still be cautious because it is close to Nicaragua where the virus is more rampant and we are still getting new cases in Costa Rica.

“When you see someone putting on his Big Boots, you can be pretty sure that an Adventure is going to happen.” – A.A. Milne

My BIG BOOTS Adventure . . .

Yep! I’m taking my big boots this trip because I’m going in a car and can! 🙂 Plus they fit me and the lodge loaners don’t always fit . . . and I’ll be in a rainforest during the rainy season so they are needed! And my poncho!

I know . . . the boots are dusty, but why clean when they will get muddy this week! Plus I had to empty out the spiders and spray with that bug spray before I consider putting my hand or foot inside! 🙂

“Adventure is worthwhile.” – Aesop

¡Pura Vida!

My Nashville Zoo Photos Posted

As noted earlier, one of the things I’m doing more of during the “lock-down” time is trying get all of my old photos culled through and posted in one place.

One of the biggest collections is from my 10 years of volunteer work at Nashville Zoo and my Nashville Zoo Gallery is now completed. It includes one of my biggest collections of bird photos along with so many other animals and a really large number of people photos which was what the Zoo PR Dept. wanted a lot of. It was a nice re-living of many great memories at Nashville Zoo. And as I go through other photo files I expect to find more of Nashville Zoo, like when friends and family visited, I often took them to the zoo but haven’t gotten to those photos yet!   🙂

screenshot-charliedoggett-smugmug-com-Pre-Costa-Rica-Nashville-Photos-Nashville-Zoo-Volunteer-Docent-1593136960804-WEB
Organized in 6 super-galleries with many sub-galleries under each.

 

And check out the current Nashville Zoo Website – A wonderful zoo!

¡Pura Vida!

Good COVID19 Quarantine Activities

Limited People Contact Now

Though we have fewer cases of the Coronavirus here in Costa Rica, our government has done a better job than many countries of educating people and keeping the number of cases low and thus as an “older person” I am staying in my house now (as recommended) except for these limited people contacts:

  1.  Supermarket – And I finally wised up to going when they are not crowded, like early morning.
  2.  Pharmacy
  3. Bank to pay 2 monthly bills and get cash at ATM  (avoid Monday, Friday, & 1st)
  4. Maid comes once a week and we keep our distance
  5. Neighbor delivered Carrot Cake to several of us live-alone singles 🙂

And what keeps me from having “cabin fever” or boredom staying at home all the time? Well, that is easy to answer! I keep doing what I’ve always done since I retired in Costa Rica (minus the travel now):

What I Do Without Other People

(1) Birding that I can still do early mornings right here in my own neighborhood or even walk to other parts of Atenas away from the crowds solo as I prefer anyway.

(2) Blogging started becoming a regular thing for me back in 2014 before I even moved here as I focused then on the decision-making of such a move and now it is my replacement of many failed attempts at journaling, plus I actually have regular followers now and enjoy helping others who are considering retiring in Costa Rica, plus it is still a report to family and friends back in the states who want to keep up. Its a fun and creative outlet!   🙂

(3) Life History Recording (very slowly in the background) as it becomes much of the undated portion of my blog/website, the way WordPress blogs/websites have been organized from the beginning  (dated blog & undated “static” pages). And  in some ways a part of this history is my . . .

(4) Photo Gallery which was originally going to be pages of this WordPress website, but because of the future potential problem of using too much memory and slowing down access, and me not liking their gallery templates that well, I chose to use a photo gallery specialist at a separate address with a link from my site menu where I can put the full-size photo files (WP wants me to “web-size” photos). Though it is only a click away from my website/blog Home Page, it is actually located on a different server where I have a plan with unlimited space, thus putting all of my important photos, both historical and current on it. And I’m still working on the historical part!   🙂   Hey! I have thousands of photos made just since 2000 and still picking through them for the best to put in the gallery. And oh yes, I chose SmugMug.com as the best looking and easiest to use of the many options today! (Having tried Flickr & Pbase.)  And from my gallery you can even order prints or wall art of any of my photos!   🙂    

(5)  Spanish Lessons Online now! No people contact there!  🙂

(6) The heaviest people contact I’ve had in the past was in almost monthly trips to lodges all over Costa Rica. I postponed two trips, one next week to San Gerardo de Dota and my May trip to San Isidro del General, which had included going on public bus (not healthy now). After that I’ve planned a July birthday trip to Manquenque Lodge in a tree house room as I turn 80 and things will have to get pretty bad for me to miss that!   🙂   I’m using my personal driver to get there and its in “the middle of nowhere” jungles where there should not be any virus. But I wait and see!    🙂

I find plenty to do while quarantined at home in my Atenas Roca Verde rent house.

 

“At this point, it is believed many of the world has come in contact with the virus. And for that reason, we all have to experience social distancing and self-quarantine at various levels.”

¡Pura Vida!

FLASH NEWS!

RAIN  —  RAIN  —  a real rain with a lot of water yesterday afternoon, not the little sprinkle we had on the 24th. This is good news! The gardens and trees will love it and maybe the rainy season is starting early this year – we will see. But at least I don’t have to water for a few days now!   🙂

I still find it hard to show rain in a photo, so I won’t share my effort. But this is a big deal because there has been no rain since early December and we sometimes have to wait until May! I am not living in a rainforest, even though nearby. The Central Valley is in between the cool/wet cloud forests and the hot/wet/humid rainforests, thus our claim of “the best weather in the world” needing no a/c or heat ever here! But we do have rainy and dry seasons and it is still considered “tropical.”    🙂

 

A “Like” from the Author

My review of The Adventurer’s Son got a “Like” from the author, Roman Dial. I finished the book and liked it much even if sad. A guess all of us who venture into the wilds realize the dangers but still go because of the great joys! I would have guessed that in Corcovado he most likely would have died from a deadly snake bite and would never have guessed from a tree falling in a storm – but such are the surprises in the wilderness and in life and death. And I’m glad it was not “foul play” from a bad human as some had thought throughout the story. It was an emotional read.

SEE ALSO: NPR Interview of Author: A Father Recounts His Search For The Son Who Vanished In Costa Rican Wilderness  – There is a short written summary and a 37 minute audio at this link.

Father-son in Bhutan

Guess I’ll now go back to a safe and easy Agatha Christie read now!   🙂

 

¡Pura Vida!

“It should be difficult to get lost forever.”

46041442Those were the last words emailed to the parents of Cody Roman Dial as he entered the famous and notorious Corcovado National Park on the Osa Peninsula of south-western Costa Rica on the Pacific coast near the Panama border, July 10, 2014.

I am currently about 85% through the Kindle version of this memoir of the loss of Roman Dial’s son Cody Roman Dial here in Costa Rica the same year I moved here, 2014. It all happened in one of the wildest jungles in Central America, the kind with dangers that attract young men like Cody! From snakes & jaguars to illegal gold miners.

The book is The Adventurer’s Son by Roman Dial, the young man’s father, and it starts slow as a childhood biography of Cody helping you to love the adventurous boy as if you were his parent too. Then later he adds as many details as he had of Cody’s solo adventure hike from Mexico City to South America through Central America as an invincible-feeling 27 year old with enormous experience in the wild since his young childhood, most with his parents or sometimes with just the father, who is a lifetime adventurer, explorer, scientists, college professor and part-time explorer for National Geographic. The young man sort of had a reason to feel invincible in the wild. On his trek he climbed the highest mountain in Mexico, used his Spanish language to relate to locals, did an impossible off-trail hike through the jungles of El Peten, Guatemala and boated through the dangerous La Mosquitia Swamp in Honduras before coming to Costa Rica. All of the above were already amazing feats!

Cody Roman Dial
Cody Roman Dial

Because Corcovado National Park is one of my favorite places in Costa Rica that I have visited 3 times now, I was naturally quite interested in the story and the book.

I will not try to summarize the book or write a full review right now (I’m still reading it), here I give links to public information on the book (the above title link is to the Amazon.com source of the book). Below are three reviews. Plus I have added the reports of the father’s search by our local online newspaper Tico Times and some other news media reports below that. Lastly I have added links to the photo galleries of my three visits to this wilderness national park that took Cody’s life.

 

BOOK REVIEWS:  (1) The Washington Post,   (2) Tico Times,   (3) Goodreads,  (4) My Review on Goodreads, 16 March, added after this post published

SEE ALSO: NPR Interview of Author: A Father Recounts His Search For The Son Who Vanished In Costa Rican Wilderness  – There is a short written summary and a 37 minute audio at this link.

Images from News Articles

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The True Story in Real Time by News Media

TICO TIMES CHRONOLOGICAL ARTICLES ON CODY ROMAN DIAL:

July 28, 2014 – Search continues in Costa Rica’s Corcovado National Park for missing US hiker

July 29, 2014 – Red Cross officials suspect missing hiker may be inside gold mining tunnels

August 4, 2014 – Final search underway for US hiker missing in Corcovado National Park    (That is “final” says the CR government agencies.) Not for the father!

August 6, 2014 – Costa Rican gov’t and Red Cross suspend search for US hiker believed missing in Corcovado Nat’l Park

September 17, 2014 – Father of missing hiker hopes to continue search in Panama

May 7, 2016 – Nat Geo mini-series investigates Cody Dial’s disappearance in Corcovado National Park

May 20, 2016 – Human remains in Corcovado could belong to missing US hiker Cody Dial

May 23, 2016 – Missing US hiker Cody Dial’s passport found with human remains in Corcovado National Park

May 27, 2016 – Missing US hiker Cody Dial’s parents submit DNA to investigators

 

Cody Search Map

OTHER CHRONOLOGICAL NEWS ARTICLES ON CODY ROMAN DIAL:

May 23, 2016 – outsideonline.com,  What Happened to Cody Dial? A New Discovery Raises More Questions

December 20, 2016 – Alaska News, Missing Alaska adventurer was killed by falling tree in Costa Rica, his father says

December 21, 2016 – reddit.com, Mystery Solved!

Cody-Belongings Found
Cody’s equipment and passport found with human remains.

Forensic specialists recover remains 2 years later.

There are many more stories online about the mysterious disappearance of Cody Roman Dial and and the ultimate conclusion that he was struck by a tree in a storm and killed in the wilderness of Corcovado National Park, hiking off trail which is against the park rules and hiking without an official guide which is also against the park rules. Sometimes rules are for your own good, but a real adventurer doesn’t always think so.

The book and the live news stories are heartbreaking for parents (I empathize because I’ve lost a child), but this story shows the infrequent yet possible dangers in the wilderness that any adventurer knows are possible. I would personally have thought a poisonous snake more likely there, but even the less likely falling tree is possible, especially in the many storms there.

I remember backpacking solo on Fiery Gizzard Trail in TN with fewer dangers but real dangers anyway. Then one day in 2012 on just a day hike there I stumbled and fell on a rocky mountainous trail and was serious hurt requiring stitches in my head. Maybe a life of adventure is always a gamble to some degree, but many real adventurers feel they must continue the gamble! But, like with so many things for me, I tend to be a moderate, wanting adventure but with more caution than many require, especially the young invencibles!

And yes! I will continue to go to Corcovado National Park (see photos of my 3 visits linked below), but always I go with a guide on an official trail, as tame as that may seem to you Cody’s out there!    🙂    I am basically a risk-adverse adventurer! And yes, that is compromising the very meaning of “adventure,” but I’m an old man who is still alive and still having fun!   🙂

My Comparatively Tame Corcovado Adventures

2018-March-13-17–Danta Corcovado  —  At Los Patos Entrance on above map.

2017 May 1-6 – Drake Bay, Corcovado, Aguila Lodge  —  At San Pedrillo Entrance on above map

2009 January Birding Tour of Costa Rica —  At La Leona Entrance on above map

There are only two other entrances that I have not visited, Sirena & Rio Tigre, but may yet. No planned trips there this year but maybe I go again in 2021.    🙂

 

“Adventure is worthwhile.”    -Aesop

¡Pura Vida!

 

RETIRING TO COSTA RICA: ONE EXPAT COUPLE’S STORY

One of the many retirement blogs is titled “This Retirement Life” and the writer Dave Hogan, a financial planner, just took the Caravan Tour of Costa Rica which I highly recommend for a 9 day overview of the whole country as a tourist first, before you start the serious work of planning on living here.

After doing the Caravan Tour Dave stopped in to San Ramon to interview my friends Paul and Gloria Yeatman who have done the excellent blog “Retire for Less in Costa Rica” for the last ten years along with a healthcare tour of Costa Rica and are slowing down now, about to phase out their monthly blog post that I highly recommend to all couples considering retirement here and I will likewise recommend the book they are soon putting together by the same title, in addition to Gloria’s CR Cookbook already available!   🙂

Read this great Interview with Paul & Gloria Yeatman on the Retirement Life blog. If you are considering retirement anywhere outside the U.S., it will help you with the big picture from another first-hand experience! And get to know a couple who did retirement as well or better than anyone I know! Enjoy!

 

“It is better to live rich than to die rich.” – Samuel Johnson

¡Pura Vida!

Retired in Costa Rica

It’s a story!

“There’s always a story. It’s all stories, really. The sun coming up every day is a story. Everything’s got a story in it. Change the story, change the world.”
― Terry Pratchett, A Hat Full of Sky

¡Pura Vida!

“Breakfast Sunrise”

Feature Photo by Charlie Doggett

My Life Stories