A Special Atenas Taxista

A taxi driver here is called a taxista and there are all ages and all kinds of taxistas with virtually all in Atenas being very friendly and very helpful. I don’t call just one driver, but the dispatcher and get a different one most times plus in the line downtown I always accept whoever is first in line – just seems fair! And most of the taxistas know me now and some mimic my southern drawl in saying my address (which many know)“Ciento cinco Roca Verde por favor.”  Of course I don’t notice me saying it any different than them!   🙂

Occasionally I get this one man who is one of the oldest in one of the oldest cars and the only one who is always playing Mexican Music on his car radio and enjoys being kidded about it. Well, the other night I got him after eating at Poco Loco and I told him again that I like his happy music! (Pleased him!)

Since the route he chose went right by Escuela Central (public elementary school), I asked if he would slow down or stop for me to photograph their Christmas tree at night. (I’ll include in a future post.) He stopped. Then when we later got to my house and I was getting out, he said, “Whoa, whoa! Necesita fotografié mi decoraciones.” He took me to the back window of his taxi for this elaborate manger scene packed full of many farm animals across the back shelf of his car along with Christmas balls and tinsel. Not a good photo with street light above, but an interesting story & man!    🙂

Merry Christmas!

¡Pura vida!

BONUS CHRISTMAS STORY (Link)

How did a continent go from shooting birds every Christmas to counting them? Discover the Audubon Christmas Bird Count – a holiday tradition that has transformed bird science. And maybe participate this Christmas?   🙂

¡Feliz Navidad!

Wishing you the best through the holidays and a Pura Vida New Year! 

~Charlie

I will be slowing down the next two weeks, but still posting some on the blog, as I prepare for Christmas Week at the Tapirus Lodge,  in Braulio Carrillo National Park, one of our largest and wildest parks in Costa Rica. New adventures, new photos all the time!   🙂   Retired in Costa Rica! THANK YOU for following my blog!   ~Charlie

¡Pura Vida!

 

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Red-legged Honeycreeper, Maquenque Eco-lodge, Boca Tapada, Costa Rica, January 2019.

And check out my Photo Gallery if you haven’t recently – Its “My Costa Rica!”  🙂

Park Benches Replacement?

In my continued “updating” of the progress on Atenas Central Park Renovation I noticed today that they seem to be working on the sidewalk to the church first and one side has a little concrete wall at sitting level which could easily replace all the many park benches that used to line the sidewalks. An interesting and practical change if they do it on all 8 sidewalks radiating from the center. And when vendors set up along the sidewalks during fiestas, they won’t need folding chairs behind their tables, but can sit on the wall.  🙂

I didn’t know if all sidewalks will have these walls, so I just checked on the official   Facebook Page presenting the remodeling  and sure enough they will! Like continuous park benches throughout the park to bring more people together!

And don’t forget that I have a Renovating Central Park Atenas update photo gallery with all the photos I’ve posted on this blog. You can visually see the progress, even if slow.  🙂   What was once said to be finished by Christmas 2018 will possibly be complete by Christmas 2020!   🙂

“Land forests are the coral reefs of the ocean of air.”
― Steven Magee

¡Pura Vida!

When? Rain stops? New airport?

The clear skies from my terrace on today, December 1 (feature photo above), hint at what the next 5 months could be like as the rainy season slows down and stops for no rain in the Central Valley Dec-Apr. But like weather everywhere, there are sometimes exceptions and as a gardener I happen to like rain!   🙂    Either way, I will adapt!

The above shot is a single shot on my cell phone.

Below is a composite shot on big camera yesterday with clouds.

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Plans for New Airport in Orotina, Costa Rica on Hold

This Article Title link is to an old newspaper article that still holds true today as the government here is not yet ready to spend billions of dollars on a new airport (25 minutes west of Atenas) which would be in a lower, flatter, larger valley of farm land for much greater expansion than the current international airport in Alajuela (45 minutes east of Atenas) which is basically land-locked with expensive developments, though closer to the capital of San Jose. The new one would be closer to the Pacific Coast beaches and resorts.

The debate will probably never end (seen in responses to above article) and it will never happen until both the president and the legislature make it a priority which they still have not done. I expect to die before it actually happens, if ever, and it really doesn’t matter that much to me. 45 minutes is close enough to a major airport!   🙂

New Airpor Artist's Renditiont
Artist rendering of new airport in Orotina.

And a “Profile” is on the CAPA Center for Aviation website.

Plus I’m happy with the new Domestic Terminal (my photo gallery) at the current airport, since my only flights now are short hops within Costa Rica on little local planes with Sansa Airlines. So if you’ve heard there will be a new San Jose Costa Rica International Airport, don’t expect it before 2030, if ever, unless you want to donate money to the government to build it and maybe get your name on it!   🙂

¡Pura Vida!

 

 

Live like a Sloth

“The great benefit of slowing down is reclaiming the time and tranquility to make meaningful connections–with people, with culture, with work, with nature, with our own bodies and minds” 

~Carl Honoré

Photo by Charlie in the Caribbean

—  As vegetarians who eat slow and move slow, Sloths conserve their energy and live happy lives. So maybe we humans can learn something from them at this often busiest time of the year!   🙂   Or just “Retire in Costa Rica!”   like me!   🙂

See my collection of sloth photos in two galleries:

Brown-throated Three-toed Sloth   (the one always smiling)

Hoffman’s Two-toed Sloth

The featured photo at top is one I took at Banana Azul Hotel in the Caribe Sur. There are sloths all over Costa Rica but more at lower elevations and especially along the Caribbean (Atlantic) Coast.

My friends at Costa Rica Expeditions

have a nice sloth message for you who love baby sloths. See their emailed promotion to visit in January-February when sloths have their babies at:

Sloth Baby-A-WEBTAKE IT SLOW
AND COME TO SEE
BABY SLOTHS IN COSTA RICA

 

 

And one of my favorite T-shirts:

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🙂

¡Pura Vida!

Thanksgiving Dinner at Neighbor’s

At Margaret & Dario’s house on top of one of the Roca Verde hills with the assistance of Susan and Fred, 26 of us had a huge American-style Thanksgiving dinner with Turkey, Ham and Beef Brisket along with more vegetables and salads than I can list after gourmet appetizers and Champagne, followed by a course of exotic cheeses and then deserts. Each of us brought a dish of something and a bottle of wine. It was a feast fit for a king and even though I only ate breakfast beforehand, I feel stuffed (Thursday night after dinner) while I write this.

Thanksgiving is not a Tico holiday, but the Ticos who came sure enjoyed it!  🙂  Margaret and Susan are the high-energy, highly organized leaders of the Roca Verde neighborhood and put this together.

SORRY MY CELLPHONE PHOTOS ARE NOT GOOD which I will blame on the lighting and I didn’t even try to get the group photo by the pool because it was dark, raining and the light worse. But we had a lot of fun with a great meal and I have two new couples-friends!

Margaret’s Group Photo on Facebook.

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“I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.”

~Psalm 9:1

¡Pura Vida!

Vacant Lot Flowers

“There is poetry among the wildflowers’.”
― Rachel Irene Stevenson

Sure! I look for nature everywhere! And noticed yesterday morning when I left the Coffee Shop that the vacant lot across the street had this mass of yellow swished across it. Wildflowers!

Beauty is where you find it!  And those trees are kind of nice too!   🙂

“Wildflowers are the stuff of my heart!”
― Lady Bird Johnson

¡Pura Vida!

 

Too Much – Too Early!

“Too much, too early” is what I’ve been saying about the commercialization of Christmas since I was in high school I think – A long time!   🙂   And one of the unfortunate things about Costa Rica is the adoption of this Christmas Commercialization starting at Halloween. I have not bothered to photograph the many Christmas trees in the supermarket and smallest little shop to the malls and American chain stores this year, not to mention in the Public Hospital, city halls, etc. It is everywhere here now – too much like the United States which I guess is where some of our businessmen learn their trade!   🙂   We even have “Black Friday” Sales here even though Thursday is not a Thanksgiving Holiday here! Explain that!   🙂

I’m so glad that for my Christmas Week I am looking forward to a week in the forests of Braulio Carrillo National Park.   🙂

The featured photo today is of the welcome sign right here in my neighborhood, Roca Verde, which some will see as wonderful seasonal cheer, and sort of is, while others will see it as cheap commercialization. Lord help Costa Rica not to become too Americanized! But keep the spirit of Jesus in Christmas which I commend the Catholic Church here for celebrating Jesus so well at Christmas (even at home)! While I am closest to God now in nature and will commune with Him in the forest again this year for Christmas. But I will have an American-style Thanksgiving Dinner with like-minded expat friends here this Thursday. So, Happy Holidays!   🙂

Christmas Previous Years – I’m Not a Scrooge!   🙂

DECEMBER 21-27, 2018 – Si Como No Resort, Manuel Antonio  (Photo Gallery)

DECEMBER 19, 2018 – Christmas in Costa Rica

DECEMBER 17, 2018 – Christmas Celebrations in Atenas 2018

DECEMBER 2017 – Christmas Week Tambor Bay   (Photo Gallery)

DECEMBER 1, 2017 – Christmas Trees in the Mall

DECEMBER 20, 2017 – Small Town Commercial Christmas Decorations

DECEMBER 17, 2017 – Festival de La Luz – Christmas Lights Parade

DECEMBER 23-27, 2016 – Selva Verde Lodge, Sarapiqui  (photo gallery)

DECEMBER 26, 2015 – Christmas in San Jose Photos

DECEMBER 24, 2015 – Christmas Eve Anniversary! One Year in Costa Rica!

DECEMBER 14, 2015 – Too Many Christmas Activities!  🙂

NOVEMBER 12, 2015 – Disgustingly Like the States (Christmas before Halloween!)

My Photo CHRISTMAS CARDS from Costa Rica   (photo gallery)

And for my favorite TV ad here commercializing family life for Christmas, see this hilarious short video ad:

Or try out 5 Spanish Christmas Songs that Are Not “Feliz Navidad.”

So yeah, Happy Holidays!

But it is still too much, too early!   🙂

“These temple destroyers, devotees of ravaging commercialism, seem to have a perfect contempt for Nature, and, instead of lifting their eyes to the God of the mountains, lift them to the Almighty Dollar.”
― John Muir

¿Pura Vida?

Arenal Trip Photo Gallery

Wow! Another great trip to one of my top 5 or 6 favorite places in Costa Rica, Arenal Observatory Lodge, with photos of 49 bird species , including the two new lifers for me! Plus 7 other animal species, a new birding trail (Bogarín), the waterfall, wonderful hiking trails and gardens to walk through, and the tallest birding tower in Costa Rica where this year I got lots of Honeycreepers in place of all the monkeys photographed last year, plus a repeat of my favorite room 29 and really good food! I have been so busy after the trip that it has been difficult to process all the photos, but finally done! Check them out at (or click image):

https://charliedoggett.smugmug.com/TRIPS/2019-November-11-17-Arenal-Observatory

 

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Leave the road, take the trails.

~Pythagoras

Arenal Observatory Lodge, Costa Rica

¡Pura Vida!

Annual Heart Check-up Adventures I

All medical appointments here are adventures, whether it is getting there or struggling with the language since everything is in español! Plus for my heart only right now, I am using the public healthcare system which here means all doctors and other staff work for the government, which always slows things down everywhere.   🙂   My October appointment had already been moved up to this November week because I was getting a new doctor.

This year they also decided to divide my appointment into two appointments, one for the EKG called electrocardiograma here with no initials used. Both appointments were last week (Tues & Thur), my first week back from a trip, already busy with the usual catch-up:

TUESDAY

I get a taxi to the 12 noon bus to Alajuela for my 2 pm appointment which in theory I should take the 1 pm bus (45 min ride), but there are too many possibilities like bus breaking down and long lines at hospital. — I arrive Alajuela before 1:00 and with a taxi to the big government hospital a little after 1 pm, show ID & cita (appointment) to guard and take elevator to the 4th floor for Cardiology and wait in this regular line (photo below):

Waiting line to check in for doctor.

It is to check in for my 2 pm appointment and then realize the adulto major (senior adult) line is a little shorter and I move to it and from a chair in it I took the above photo. Both lines move very slow and at nearly 2:00 I’m the second person in line for check-in when over the loudspeaker they call my name among several Hispanic names which is always funny (Gonzalez, Rodriquez, Doggett, Rojas). And of course my name is hard to pronounce. This means they see we haven’t checked in yet and so they call us to front of line and check us in. (So why wait an hour huh?)

She sends me to Puerta nueve (Door 9) where I wait with about eight other people for our EKGs. After about 20 minutes I am called in and of course an EKG only takes a few minutes and I’m off to the front door and a waiting taxi to get me to the Atenas Bus. Not bad for free medical service!

And oh yes, now they don’t worry about communicating with each other, the technician gives me a paper copy of my EKG folded into an envelope for me to take with me to my doctor appointment on Thursday. – Now the taxi ride to bus is easy with Oscar, a nice young taxista who handles the Alajuela traffic well and I include a good tip as always (it pays off in the long run as you will see).

It was not until I arrived in Atenas that I realized my cell phone was not in my front pocket. I walk back to our bus station and the nice folks there did not find my phone on the bus, but the Spanish-only young man grabbed a high school kid to translate and long story short he dialed my phone and Oscar in my Alajuela taxi answered and suggested two options of either him driving  here to deliver it or me going back to Alajuela to meet him at a place of my choice.

Zipper in front right pocket.

I chose letting him drive to me, all the way to my house mind you! I paid the fare and a healthy tip thinking all the time about how much a new phone would have cost.

Now – Why did it slide out of my pocket in Alajuela? I was wearing some new hiking shorts (almost all I wear here) and I have not yet had my seamstress sew a zipper in my front pocket to prevent the phone from sliding out while sitting. I lost a phone in a San Jose taxi in 2017 for this same reason and all my old shorts got zippers in the front right pocket then. See my 2017 zipper post. Monday or Tuesday I will take my new shorts to the seamstress for zippers!   🙂   Might be Tuesday since I have to go back to Alajuela Monday after my Spanish class to get my prescriptions!   🙂

 

And that is not nearly all of my heart exam adventure which continues on

Thursday

Since my doctor appointment is at 12 noon and we have a 10:20 bus to Alajuela, I took it. (All other buses are on the hour and I have no idea why this one is at 10:20!) But anyway, same procedure – get off the bus in Alajuela and grab a taxi (in long pants today since phone doesn’t slide out of them).   🙂

Get to hospital only 45 minutes early this time and go straight to the old folks line and wait to be called to one of these windows to be checked in again:

Check-in windows to see 4th floor doctors.  I’m sitting in row of chairs at right.

 

Same thing happens again today. I wait and wait and I’m second person in line and they call my funny name out among the normal names. I walk up to one of those windows and she checks me in, puts my EKG in my file folder and hands it to me, explaining that I must stop first at the vitals station for temp, blood pressure, etc. before wait at Puerta dieciséis (Door 16) for Dr. Garcia to call me in. I’m given a slip of paper with all my vitals (weight, height, temp, pulse, blood pressure and one more thing). I Carry that and my file folder to door 16 and wait about 20-25 minutes which is really not bad.

My new heart doctor is a kid, looks like right out of medical school (like one I had at my private doctor’s office in Atenas once) or maybe I am just old!   🙂   He was very nice and tried to explain simply to me in English (most of the younger ones speak English) why my current EKG did not show an arrhythmia this time but I still have the condition and he is going to keep me on the same medication, Atenolol  and a baby aspirin every day. Last year the doctor wrote one prescription, signed it, then made 11 more copies on his copier and printed out official-looking 12 stickers from another machine with changing numbers and stuck one on each of my 12 months prescriptions. (They are not allowed to give out more than one month of any drug at anytime.)  I take these prescriptions once a month to the Public Clinic Pharmacy here in Atenas to be filled for free! Last year he even included the baby aspirin.

Dr. Garcia said they have now consolidated that at the front desk and I had to take my folder back up front and wait in line again for the front desk to print out my prescriptions and make my appointments for next year. I waited about 15 minutes in the same line when one lady called out my name again and took my folder and typed a lot in her computer, then she said (all in Spanish with a nearby lady helping me where I did not understand)  “We no longer make appointments a year ahead. You must come back to the “platforma” in main lobby in March to make your appointments – so it was moved from Doc to front desk and now to main lobby in a later month – hmm. I had almost forgot about prescriptions then turned around and asked about that and she told me through the nice lady translator that I had to wait until Monday and then go to the Farmacia in the lobby for the prescriptions. She pointed to which slip I took there and which one for next March. Bureaucracy in paradise! So now I get to go back Monday and again next March 20 (which is sort of an appointment to get an appointment which I now remembered happened once before.) Maybe they think I’ll give up and not return or just die before then!   🙂

BUT HEY! IT IS ALL FREE! The private doctors here (like my GP and Dermatologist) are more punctual and provide a whole lot more services and speak English but you pay for those services! I figure my once a year heart exam was a good way to experience the local “CAJA” medical services like the majority of Ticos. Plus the private Cardiologist in San Jose Dr. Candy sent me to the first time charged much more than fifteen hundred dollars for her heart exam and her prescriptions were going to cost more than $100 a month! So I’m saving around $3,000 or so a year by using the public doctors and getting something for the monthly payment I am required to pay into CAJA as a legal resident.

Below is the Hospital Lobby where I will make my appointment in March and Monday I will go to the Pharmacy off this lobby for my prescriptions with many other people both times.

Alajuela Hospital Main Lobby