Mother’s Day in Costa Rica

In our beautiful country of Costa Rica, Mother’s Day is celebrated each year on August 15th. This national holiday, known locally as Día de la Madre, falls on the same day as the Feast of the Assumption, which is the day that Catholics observe the Virgin Mary’s ascension to Heaven when her earthly life was over. For that reason, Mother’s Day is not only a celebration for all mothers, but it is also considered to be a spiritual holiday for many of the residents of Costa Rica.

It is one of the most important holidays in the country with all banks, government offices and schools closed and many businesses (like Aeropost where I was planning to go today!). Right now I hear a band playing in Central Atenas, undoubtedly in honor of Mothers!

Today Ticos give gifts to their Moms in appreciation of the many things they do to raise a family and a newer thing is to take her out to a restaurant for dinner tonight. Today’s article in Tico Times:  Costa Rica celebrates Mother’s Day.

I have never been anywhere where everyone (all ages – even teens) are very affectionate to their mothers, such as when walking with Mom in town everyone holds Mom’s hand, even teens! With the very elderly Moms they are arm-in-arm walking through town as if to give her more support. It is a beautiful cultural tradition in a beautiful country full of love!

“Una madre es la fuerza del amor y la gracia que supera y rinde todas las fuerzas del mal.” – Josep Torras

“A mother is the strength of love and grace that surpasses and yields all the forces of evil.” – Josep Torras

¡Pura Vida!

 

Featured Photo is from my terrace this cloudy morning that many mothers will bring a ray of sunshine to! And hopefully their children to them!      🙂

See also my photo gallery PEOPLE, FIESTAS & ARTS COSTA RICA

One Step at a Time Park Remodeling

This morning I noticed that the builder’s screen was removed and the new concrete floor was being washed down with a water hose (even though it is raining today). It is taking shape and according to the architect drawings that outer ring of pipes/steel will have some kind of roof on it to protect at least part of the audience for concerts. And the bandshell roof will be painted with some kind of art, I hope the oxcart wheel version!   🙂

One step at a time is all it takes to get you there.

~Emily Dickinson

14 August 2019 Update

And to see all of my Central Park Remodeling Photos, there’s a gallery!   🙂   With dates on each stage of course!

¡Pura Vida!

Art Gallery of Nature

This morning after breakfast on the terrace I walked through my garden searching for butterflies (got only one) and instead was attracted to the many shapes, colors and textures in my garden (as I often am) – a gallery of modern art! Of Nature as Art!  Enjoy what I saw through the slide show this morning:

Gallery of Nature as Art

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Nature is the art of God.

~Dante Alighieri

For More “Nature as Art” see my gallery:   Charlie Doggett’s COSTA RICA    or to specifically find more like these, check out the sub gallery of the above main gallery called:    Flora & Forest Costa Rica.

And from my galleries you can download the digital files for free (down pointing arrow at bottom of enlarged image) or buy prints or wall art of the images (Click “Buy” button).

¡Pura Vida!

Being Poor in Costa Rica

Even though Costa Rica does not have all the “safety net” programs of the U.S. (though free medical care & education), plain ol’ regular daily life for Ticos (and most expats) is easier here for the poor than in the states. (And that is even with CR having the highest cost of living in Central America.) I’m first motivated to say this because of the latest article in the “Live in Costa Rica” blog:

It is better to be poor in Costa Rica than the United States

Also because I know that there are people from the States living here on no other income than their monthly Social Security check. A person can live solo here on a thousand dollars a month, though very simply. For residency (like Green Card in States) you must prove income of at least $1,000 a month. I think it would be much more difficult to live on that in the states! (And by the way, I meet that requirement by having my SS Check auto-deposited in my Costa Rica bank account. )

In fact there is a whole website & tour/conference program here entitled Retire in Costa Rica on Social Security.  George supposedly shows you how to do it. (Disclaimer: I have not participated in his tour/program but like his concepts and his Intro Video!) On his site he quickly refers you to another blog/website that I know from experience helps you with specific budgeting:  Retire for Less in Costa Rica.  I highly recommend their newsletter/blog as the best for someone retiring here on a tight budget. It just may be my favorite newsletter on retiring in Costa Rica!

Remember that a large number of Ticos live here on less than a thousand dollars a month (even families). They do not travel somewhere every month like me nor have some of the luxuries I have, nor eat out in restaurants, but they are very happy and live productive lives in one of the happiest countries in the world. And like me, most have no car!   🙂   That is one of my biggest savings and helps me to afford my monthly travels, thanks in part to affordable public transportation!

I do not talk budget/expenses much – not the focus of my blog – but it is the purpose of the two blogs linked above. If you are concerned about affording retirement in Costa Rica, you must subscribe to the Retire for Less in Costa Rica blog/newsletter and check out the social security one.

Then come experience the tranquil life of adventure and happiness in the land of Pura Vida  –  Rich or Poor!     🙂

The Feature Photo is a current shot of the fading graffiti on the wall behind our public college-prep high school, Colegio Liceo Atenas. It may not have been intended to represent poverty, but it seems to fit for me.  🙂   The phrase written to the left of the face, No dejemos que los niños pierdan su sonrisa.   is roughly translated:   “Let’s not let the kids lose their smile.”   And the schools along with the Catholic Church work hard to help those in poverty, especially children. I find happy children in the poorest neighborhoods I walk through. As my grandmother used to say, “In life you do the best you can with what ya’ got.”    🙂    And that is . . .  

¡Pura Vida!

Central Park Atenas Update (Very Slow!)

At Central Park today, one local old man who wanted to impress me with his Ingles, looked at me and said “Very slow!”  To that I replied “Muy despacio!” He went on to say something like “at this rate it will take years instead of months. ”  🙂

They are currently using a small hand mixer of concrete and wheelbarrows to make and pour the cement base to the central circle in and around the kiosk, one square at a time. Yes, there are cement trucks here that could come in and pour the whole floor in one day, after the forms are built of course. Maybe there is something romantic about doing it the old fashion way?

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“All I need to make a comedy is a park, a policeman and a pretty girl.”

– Charlie Chaplin

¡Pura Vida!

 

POSTSCRIPT:  Earthquake!

Yep! Just a little while after I posted this I felt the whole house shake, like a giant stepped on the ground by the house. THEN – the “aftershock” or second shake was much larger and more violent. The neighbor dogs are still barking from it. Nine days ago we had one at 5 on the richter scale. A funny feeling!

 

Wednesday at Villa Caletas

Slowing down a little – here’s my shots from the last full day at Villa Caletas and a very relaxed 4 days. The featured image is of a hotel worker walking up the street in front of my room towards the Zephyr Palace.

Butterflies

The prettiest things here along with the vistas . . .

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See all my butterflies in my Costa Rica Butterflies  Photo Gallery!

 

Flowers

No gardens, just pots and plantings around buildings.

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Birds

Such as there were today . . .

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This is not the very best birding place even though you do see toucans and macaws. The concierge never worked out my two requested birding hikes because no others here wanted them and they don’t do for one person. No problem! I’ve already been to Carara NP 4 times and Rio Tarcoles about 8 times! Hanging out here was more relaxing and it was a good time on the mountaintop!

Wednesday Sunset

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All shot from my room before dinner.

 

“Happiness consists of living each day as if it were the first day of your honeymoon and the last day of your vacation.”

– Leo Tolstoy

🙂

¡Pura Vida!

My favorite butterfly shot – a Dina Yellow.

 

See all photos from this trip at 2019 Villa Caletas, Jaco Photo Gallery.

In Search of the Perfect Sunset

Most of my trips within Costa Rica are in search of more birds! And most give me at least one new species. But I also love photographing other nature, vistas, waterfalls, and of course Sunrises & Sunsets!

Multiple expat friends here have told me that the best sunset vistas and photos are from the restaurant & theater at a hotel on a hill near Jaco, just an hour away, Hotel Villa Caletas. It is upscale or expensive, so only 4 nights which is not as long as I prefer to stay to really see a place, but that will still be 4 sunset opportunities, Sunday-Wednesday nights, weather cooperating. I’ve had more than one sunset rained out or covered by clouds, but that’s part of the adventure!

Villa Caletas is different from the nature lodges I usually visit, but still immersed in nature with hotel birding trails and a jungle trail down the mountain to their beach with shuttle rides back up the hill. It is close to Punta Leona which had very good birding and also close to the Carara National Park (good birding) which I may or may not visit again – been there 4 time now! Just going to take it day by day after I get there. A serendipity trip!

I think I already have some pretty nice sunset photos in my gallery called   VISTAS, BEACHES, SUNRISES, SUNSETS CR . The featured image above is one of mine of a sunrise on the Caribbean side which I like to use because so many people here think everything is better on the Pacific side – well, maybe just more expensive!   🙂   And most can’t see a difference in sunrise or sunset.

What I get at Villa Caletas will go in the Pacific Sub Gallery of the above linked sunset gallery and then we can compare to see if they really have the best sunsets on the Pacific coast!   🙂   My favorite on the Pacific so far is the one I took from a Sansa Airplane  (on return from Danta Corcovado). And they weren’t too bad from a hillside hotel in Manuel Antonio last Christmas! Yep! I love sunsets!

While the Atlantic or Caribbean side is mostly for sunrises, I have been pretty lucky over there too! (Where I go again the end of this August.) You just have to get up earlier to see sunrises!  Yawn!    🙂

And to be fair to Villa Caletas, here is one of their website photos of their sunset which is very nice! Hope mine will be as good or better!   🙂

Sunset photo from Villa Caletas online. — Not my photo.

¡Pura Vida!

 

When I admire the wonders of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in the worship of the creator.

~Mahatma Gandhi

Here’s The Science Behind The Magical Colours of Sunsets And Sunrises

🙂

Guarumo Bird Gallery

“Guarumo” is the Spanish name Ticos call a Cecropia Tree (English name) and about 4 years ago I asked my gardeners to plant one in my front yard because I had heard that they attract toucans for the easy perches and the food of the flowers. I would be patient, not really knowing how fast they grow!

In just 4 years it is the tallest tree in my yard, more than twice the height of my little house and my favorite “Bird Gallery” or place for birds to land so I can photograph them because it is such an open tree with a limited number of large leaves. See in the tree photos below what it looked like when we planted it and how big it has grown.

No telling how many birds I miss that land in the top of the tree!   🙂    But the lower limbs are what I watch while eating breakfast every morning and where I photographed from my terrace the birds in the birds photos below, including two kinds of toucans! I love nature’s gallery of birds that helps me grow my own photo gallery of birds!   ¡Pura Vida!

Birds in Tree

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The Tree

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“Trees exhale for us so that we can inhale them to stay alive. Can we ever forget that? Let us love trees with every breath we take until we perish.” 

― Munia Khan 

¡Pura Vida!

“Hardships” Americans Have Here

Christopher Howard’s Blog “Live in Costa Rica” quoted a list of things from still another blog call “Tico Bull.” It is titled:    WHAT IS CONSIDERED NORMAL IN COSTA RICA, BUT NOT ACCEPTED BY FOREIGNERS

I encourage you to follow the above link to his original article and maybe get acquainted with his blog. BUT, I wanted to “update” or add my comments to the list in dark red that he copied from Tico Bull below:

The following list is a generalization, though, so obviously doesn’t apply to all Americans and Canadians.

  • Not being able to pay a bill by mail (send in a cheque). In the past, you had to go to a particular business to pay a bill, now it can be paid online or at the bank or supermarket, but no check in the mail. Through my local bank I have all my regular bills “auto debit” paid automatically except my rent because my landlord uses a different bank. 
  • Not being able to receive mail at your home, six days a week.
  • Not being able to send mail from your home, six days a week.
  • There is periodic home mail delivery in Atenas (and some other towns), but if you are not home the carrier will often just stick it in the gate and wind can blow it away, thus I have a moderately priced post office box for my mail address to avoid worrying about being home when the mail carrier comes. Plus I have a U.S. Address in Miami through Aeropost.com for some mail which I pickup at the Aeropost office in Alajuela when I am notified by email. Going there on a free bus.
  • Not having Amazon Prime. Similarly Netflix is hugely different here with not nearly as many movies included because Hollywood wants each country to pay some outlandish fee to “license” the showing of their movies in that country. Here you get lots of Spanish language movies with a limited number of usually older American films plus lots of TV shows and fortunately a lot of nature shows, Nat Geo stuff, etc. Some of it is in verbal Spanish with English subtitles available, though more is in the original English with Spanish subtitles available. My personal default setting on Netflix CR is verbal English with Spanish subtitles which helps me a little in learning to speak Spanish. 
  • Knowing that even if you order something online, there is a good chance that someone in customs will decide they want it and confiscate it. Using a service like Aeropost.com for internet orders solves that problem as they walk it through customs and have insurance on your orders. It is expensive, but most of the cost is the customs charges or import taxes. Worth the cost to me. I order everything on the internet sent to my Miami address at Aeropost. 
  • Having to pay very high import taxes on any package that gets through, including items confiscated out of it.  Import taxes & Sales Taxes are high here, but there is no income tax nor much property tax, so it kind of evens out for most people. 
  • High priced cars.  I have no car here and walk or use taxis locally and buses to other towns which are free or discounted for a senior adult. I go to Alajuela regularly by bus totally free!
  • Towns and villages that have either dirt or gravel roads. This is changing rapidly! i.e. Atenas Central is all paved, though a few rural roads out of town are still gravel. “Backwoods” or out of the way places are still not paved and the popular tourist town of Monteverde is one example, but they are paving the highway to there as we speak!  🙂
  • The necessity to have very good home security, either through iron bars at the windows, high walls, dogs, security guards, or all of the above. Americans and Canadians typically don’t wall their properties; dogs are pets; and enjoy large, plate glass windows with no need for security bars over them.  I’m in a “gated community” called Roca Verde with an entrance gate and 24 hour guard service and we rarely have a problem. I’m in a “casita” or little rent house on the fenced & gated property of a big house and I have no bars on my windows and no dog and have never activated the built-in burglar alarm. I used to leave everything open and unlocked even at night, but one evening someone walked into my house while I was there and grabbed my cell phone and left. That and a backpack being taken from the floor of a touristy sidewalk cafe in Puntarenas my first year here are my only two robberies. Common sense helps, like I lock my doors by nightfall now and hang on to my backpack. 
  • The need for women to hold their purses at all times, never putting them on a bench or a chair beside you or it might get stolen.
  • The assumption that if a repairman comes to your home, he will speak to the man of the house, rather than the lady of the house—even if she knows more about what needs to be repaired than her husband. This is changing now with so-called chauvinism frowned upon by all generations, especially the younger. There is a high respect for women and all older people. 
  • The extreme caution one must take before letting someone (repairman, employee, new acquaintance) into your home because he/she might come back and steal from you later.
  • If something is accidentally left somewhere, you can know that someone else took it. There is no going to lost and found to see if the item was turned in. Depends on the place or people there. I’ve returned to a business for an umbrella left and it was still there and once briefly left my wallet and got it back. 
  • Each culture is different. American and Canadian culture has a few things that other cultures view negatively. But there are always reasons behind cultural differences.
  • As an Italian, for example, we are loud, especially among a group of friends. Americans and Canadians love their large personal space. Costa Ricans and most Latin Americans can’t understand stand. Nor Europeans for that matter.
  • In addition, the majority of Americans, Canadians and Europeans have a level of personal honesty and integrity not always seen in Costa Rica, despite Ticos adopting much of North American and European cultures. An example of that is eating at a mall food court, but ladies won’t hang their purse or he his backpack on the back of the chair.
  • Living in a home with huge windows with no bars is unheard of, unless living in a gated community, but even then it won’t be surprising that someone will put up bars. For example, as I write this, I am looking out of my big glass window onto my yard, about 30 meters from the street. The window has bars, but I refuse to put up razor wire on the metal fence. I have dogs.
  • In closing, generalizations can be helpful, but they need to be understood for their limitations. Each culture has beauty if you’ll take the time to look, adapt and adopt the “pura vida”.  Maybe his most important statement!

Much of this sounds like a typical “negative American” who criticizes everything not American and thus really has no business living here. Most of the above is true to some degree, though the dishonesty and thievery by Ticos is greatly exaggerated and in my small town I find almost everyone to be honest and very helpful to or accommodating of foreigners. And remember that you are the foreigner, not them.   🙂

It is essential that one adapt to the local culture when they move to another place anywhere in the world and recognized that it is yourself that is “abnormal” not the locals. You try to speak the language and go with the culture and they will love you and help you in every way possible! I’m amazed at the many Americans who in the states expected Mexicans and Cubans to learn and speak English there, but they don’t even try to learn Spanish here! They become “The Ugly American” of the 1958 novel by Eugene Burdick and William Lederer.   🙂

¡Pura Vida!