Arrival at Macaw Lodge

Lunch Today

I wandered around the grounds when I arrived but did not make it to the waterfall today. Had a beautiful, healthy salad for lunch when I met a lovely young couple from Germany who are thinking about moving to Costa Rica. He is a photographer. They are not staying the night in lodge, just day visitors.

I am the only overnight guest here now. It is off season or rainy season and the ride up the mountain from Tarcoles is a rough 45 minutes on a bad road which discourages some, but it is really isolated! That is one thing I love about it! It is also very “wild” with rainforest noises as dark arrives (mostly frogs). It rained much of afternoon so I will explore more tomorrow. Just a few shots for today:

 

Birds Today

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Other Wildlife

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Grounds Shots

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My Cabin

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Only by going alone in silence, without baggage, can one truly get into the heart of the wilderness. All other travel is mere dust and hotels and baggage and chatter.      ~John Muir

Macaw Lodge

¡Pura Vida!

Park Renovation Progress?

Hard to prove it by me. They just keep welding pieces of metal on what will be the “Kiosk” or Bandshell and now they are trimming and taking out some trees, so that speaks to more of the garden renovation. We will see. It was originally going to be completed by the end of 2018 and now I think they will really have to speed up the work to get it done by the end of 2019!    🙂    I made these two photos yesterday, so up-to-date June 16, 2019!

The city has  a Facebook Page presenting the remodeling with architect drawings of what they expect it to look like – The New Central Park Atenas. Click on one of their pictures to enlarge it and begin a manual slideshow of the new park.

Are they pruning the old trees or will they be removed?

¡Pura Vida!

Next Week’s Adventure

Sometimes I think I’m the luckiest guy in the world! Being “Retired in Costa Rica” is simply perfect for me, even if I never left my little casita and garden in Atenas! But on top of that I get to continue exploring one of the most beautiful and ecologically diverse countries in the world! And next week it is to a place that not only have I not seen, but I am yet to meet anyone else who has been there! Even my driver will be going for his first time!   🙂

I urge you to watch their beautifully created introductory nature video to see part of what I will experience next week and also as an expression of why I love Costa Rica so much! Nature!       🙂

Just click the Macaw logo below to see it on YouTube. I’ll give you their website link further down.

This small eco lodge has only eight rooms and is recommended by National Geographic Society. I expect stellar service and food along with my full immersion in the wilderness! The video does not mention birding (I don’t do yoga), but they have birding guides and multiple options for birding with of course many trails I can explore on my own. And they will be my third lodge to visit that has installed Macaw Nesting Boxes, what may save a whole species from extinction!

My current approach to trips is to stay most of a week with birding in the mornings followed by relaxation and photo processing in the afternoon with a great evening meal and early to bed. Some places are more designed for my kind of schedule and I think this is going to be one of those! And may become one of my new favorites! Now explore their website by clicking the link below:

Macaw Lodge Website

As with most good lodges, there’s a lot to explore on their website as well as on their grounds, like their secret gardens and birding trails, their own waterfall with plunge pool swimming hole, their farm where most food I’ll eat is raised, unlimited birds, insects and other nature to photograph and much more! Six nights there will give me time to explore and discover another great getaway to which I already expect I’ll return! I love new discoveries!   🙂

Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.  ~John Muir

¡Pura Vida!

Evening Gardening

While I was out for dinner between 5 & 6 at Parrillada Androvetto Atenas for my weekly steak at the the place in Atenas with the best meats in my opinion, my gardener Cristian came to do the little job I had requested and then sent me a WhatsApp cellphone photo of his work since I was not there. Ahhhh! The joys of being “Retired in Costa Rica!”

red.anthurium.flowers-450x540On the back side of my house the tile sidewalk continues alongside a concrete retainer wall with a narrow flower bed totally in the shade. Much of what was there had died out and I asked for a re-planting, just some interesting green plants that grow in the shade (sombra). The first photo below is the one Cristian sent me and the second one I took from the other direction after I got home about 6:15 when it is dark here. (Both sunrise and sunset year-around here is between 5:15 and 6:15, meaning 12 hour days and 12 hour nights year-around.) I did have my garden lights on which helped with the photo.  🙂 And he not only put a variety of green and colored leaves but also included two flowers, two Anthuriums! Now the one bare spot I had to see when I walk through my garden is again beautiful and will “fill out” or “fill in” as the plants grow. Another beautiful rainy season in Costa Rica!   🙂

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The photo Cristian sent me of his plantings
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My photo from other direction in the dark with lights on.

“Flowers… are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty out values all the utilities in the world.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

¡Pura Vida!

 

P.S.

I recently discovered on our limited Costa Rica Netflix a fun BBC gardening show call “Big Dreams Small Spaces” with the famous English gardener Monty Don helping people turn ugly little yards into beautiful gardens of their dreams. A fun diversion! Check it out!   🙂

How Costa Rica Retirement Helps Me Avoid Alzheimer’s. . .

This morning’s Washington Post has this very revealing article: Ditch the GPS. It’s ruining your brain.

20160414_104320-A-WEBI have always been a map person and my first two years here I rented cars for most of my trips, but found that my old habit of using maps did not work well here because the actual highways, roads, streets and houses/businesses are mostly not numbered or labeled, therefore not relatable to a paper map. Thus I always got a rent car with a GPS included that works great here and many locals prefer the free WAZE on their cell phone. But it removes your brain from the challenge of getting somewhere as the article above suggests.

Now that I walk everywhere in town, I use my brain instead of GPS to get around using landmarks like a true local. (Yeah, with cell phones you can walk with GPS too! I don’t!), Here are some typical Atenas directions using landmarks:

  1. MY HOUSE: Take the street that dead ends into La Coope Gasolinera south until it ends at Avenida 8 (locals still call it Calle Boqueron), then left about 300 meters to the Roca Verde main gate on the right. Inside the gate go straight about 150 meters to the 3rd gate on the left, 105 Roca Verde (which is labeled).
  2. SPANISH LESSONS ATENAS: From Central Park Atenas take the street behind the main church west about 250 meters or 150 meters beyond Pali Supermercado to a house on the left before the Lions Club and Police Station, in front of Veterinario Occidental. There is a “Spanish Lessons” sign on the gate.
  3. OR MY LOCAL LAWYER: 100 meters south and 75 meters east of Justice Court. (Most know the courthouse, but I can add that it is at corner of Central Park near church.)

And of course all of these directions exercise my brain even more when I try to give them in Spanish!   🙂   Yep, I’m very slow at learning Spanish but learning another language is another good deterrent to Alzheimer’s! And as a walker in town it is amazing how many cars stop and ask me directions to something, usually in español. Mental exercise!   🙂

Another simple health advantage to retiring in Costa Rica!   🙂

-o-

 “Remember what Bilbo used to say: It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

– JRR Tolkien

Electric Cars in Costa Rica?

Those considering retirement here who are also ecology-conscious will be interested to know that Electric Cars are in Costa Rica and available for those who can afford the sometimes higher cost (though one Chinese Electric Car sells for just $15,000!). For details on prices and availability see this Live in Costa Rica Blog article:  EXPAT RETIREES AND ELECTRIC VEHICLES.

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AND THESE RECENT TICO TIMES ARTICLES ON ELECTRIC CARS IN COSTA RICA:

April 4, 2019:  Costa Rica announces charging grid for electric vehicles   34 charging stations to start off with in a tiny country is not bad! More are being added!

Dec. 29, 2018:  Clean energy leader Costa Rica turns attention to electric cars

¡Pura Vida!

Living with Bugs!

For anyone considering retirement or otherwise living in Costa Rica, be forewarned that you must learn to live with the 300,000+ species of insects here on this land bridge between North and South America (with insects from both continents!). The featured image at top is of two “Jewel Bugs” or “Metallic Shield Bugs” I photographed in Corcovado National Park. Below photo I made this morning of a “Leafcutter Ant” on my terrace carrying a flower petal (bougainvillea) instead of a piece of leaf, which is common.

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Leafcutter Ant on my Terrace this morning.

Many of the insects that pester me seem to come in waves; like just before rainy season the little long-winged fliers that dropped or left their long beige wings all over my bathroom, or the first two weeks of rain was the invasion of houseflies (which Deep Woods OFF doesn’t seem to affect!), and right now there are hundreds of tiny little black & green beetles on the walls, around the lights and all over me! I even got one going down my ear the other night – ugh! They don’t bite, but a bother! Too small to photograph.

My biggest deterrent to the many kinds of bugs are the Geckos that live in literally every room of my house and I think eat most types of insects. From my first day here I have tried to photograph the larger insects (some are just too tiny) and you can see my collection in the gallery named INSECTS CR under OTHER WILDLIFE in the main gallery. There are more than 100 species of insects in my gallery and especially interesting or unusual are those in the sub-gallery Other Insects, like the above Jewel Bugs, many of which I have not been able to identify. And all of which serve a purpose in the cycles of life. Of course the most popular sub-gallery is Butterfly & Moth (81+ Species).

A Break From Blogging

For regular readers, I assume you have noticed several days without a post. Sometimes I just doesn’t feel like writing and/or in this case got focused on my old photos again as I am slowly adding them to my galleries, particularly the Pre-Costa Rica TRAVEL  galleries. It is a slow and labor-intensive process that eventually I will complete. I uploaded all of my international trips first and now working on USA trips from the most recent going back. Then comes the most, Tennessee travels. And most of these are after my retirement began at the end of 2002. I have been blessed to have seen so much of the world and get to know so many cool people!

20190604_111253[1]-A-WEBSunday afternoon I was a part of the Board of Directors meeting for the local children’s home, Hogar de Vida. The rest of the board seemed surprised and appreciative that I am the first person to include the children’s home in my will. But I am not a very good board member because I am not fluent in Spanish, in which all business is carried on!  🙂

Living Slow

Otherwise I am “Living Slow” as my sloth T-shirt says!

 

A fast approach tends to be a superficial one, but when you slow down you begin to engage more deeply with whatever it is you’re doing. You’re also forced to confront what’s happening inside you – which is one of the reasons why I think we find it so hard to slow down. Speed becomes a form of denial. It’s a way of running away from those more deeper, tangled problems. Instead of focusing on questions like who am I, and what is my role here, it all becomes a superficial to-do list.

— Carl Honoré

How to start a slow living lifestyle.

¡Pura Vida!

 

Good Country Index

Based on United Nations statistics, a group ranks countries on the amount of good they do for the people living there, called the Good Country Index. You can see on the list that though not at top (like those Scandinavian countries) Costa Rica is the highest ranking Latin American country and of course ranks higher than the United States.   🙂    Photo above is one of my shots from the 2018 Oxcart Parade, Atenas.

I learned about this recognition from Christopher Howard’s newsletter/blog in his article More Accolades for Costa Rica.

¡Pura Vida!

“3 Little Things”

Yesterday morning as I started to walk to town it was raining, thus I took a taxi. So I had to walk back from town since that is my only exercise here! With only a tiny sprinkle occasionally, I enjoyed these wet “3 little things” along the way and here are my shots of one day’s “eye candy” in little Atenas, Alajuela, Costa Rica.

Wet Passion Flower in someone’s yard
Nasty Storm Sewer Waterfall along the way – But sort of pretty!   🙂
Central Park Progress? They keep welding more pieces to the future band shell. But now the rainy season will slow progress even more. In the meantime my landlord has nearly completed a whole house! 🙂   Our government at work! Slowly!    🙂 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tragedy in Paradise

Some of you know that my favorite charity in Atenas is Hogar de Vida, a children’s home for abused and abandoned children. I contribute or participate in limited ways. In April 2018 a group of Senior Adults from First Baptist Nashville came for a week work project that I joined and helped facilitate. You can see some of the 2018 photos in my gallery.

Matt is the director of the children’s home and I just got a message from Matt which I think you can see at the link. In short:

A youth group with adult sponsors from Matt’s home church in Omaha came to do a week’s project just like we last year. And just like us, they had a “tourist day” where they went to Jaco for the beach and ziplining (just like us). But unlike us, the teens wanted to spend time in the ocean where Costa Rica has many warning signs about “riptides,”  “undertow” or “rip currents” that can be quite dangerous. Well, 5 of the group got pulled into the riptide and underwater. One did not survive. One of the adult sponsors and mother of one of the teens drowned. Matt has of course handled everything lovingly and professionally. But it is horrible for a family, a church, a group of youth, and the children’s home here, especially difficult for Matt. Your prayers are requested and appreciated. And the photo above is of Jaco Beach where it happened.

Sometimes pura vida has its ugly side and riptide drownings is one of those.

Surprise WhatsApp Message Today

MonteverdeThis morning I received a WhatsApp Voice Message with the above photo from Rodiber, my guide at Monteverde last month. He was thanking me profusely for the autographed copy of my Monteverde photo book for himself, Costa Rica Expeditions (who service this hotel) and the hotel Monteverde Lodge & Gardens. The girl in photo is one of the several front desk persons who were all very helpful to me during my stay. I sent two copies of book, one for my guide and one for the hotel to use at front desk, in lobby or in their little loaner-library of books for guests.

Since I make a book for most of my trips or the first trip to a lodge, I usually send two books like this. I just concluded my second trip to Selva Verde Lodge and right now not planning a second book. Their two guides on my first visit plus the front desk got copies of my 2016 Selva Verde trip book.

I really enjoy surprising my hosts in thanks for a good experience with the little photo books – not something they expect nor receive from other guests. This is the first one to send me a photo with their thank-you note. A surprise for me now! My response was the typical Costa Rican response to a “Thank You!” which is ¡Con mucho gusto! “With much pleasure!” Ticos are such beautiful people!     🙂

Art must take reality by surprise.

Francoise Sagan

¡Pura Vida!