A King Vulture for Christmas Eve!

King Vulture Adult
Raptor Ridge, Tambor, Costa Rica


King Vulture Juvenile
 Raptor Ridge, Tambor, Costa Rica


Social Flycatcher
 Raptor Ridge, Tambor, Costa Rica


Olive Sparrow
 Raptor Ridge, Tambor, Costa Rica


Rufous-capped Warbler
 Raptor Ridge, Tambor, Costa Rica


Barred Antshrike
 Raptor Ridge, Tambor, Costa Rica


Possibly a Greenish Elaenia
 Raptor Ridge, Tambor, Costa Rica


Blue-throated Goldentail Hummingbird
 Raptor Ridge, Tambor, Costa Rica


Painted Buntings 
They would not let me get close enough for a good photo
 Raptor Ridge, Tambor, Costa Rica


White-nosed Coati 
 Raptor Ridge, Tambor, Costa Rica


 Helicopter Damselfly
 Raptor Ridge, Tambor, Costa Rica


Black Vulture
These guys circle a dead animal and attract the King Vulture
Raptor Ridge, Tambor, Costa Rica

My trip gallery for this trip: 2017 Christmas Week Tambor Bay 

And my photo gallery Costa Rica Birds .


Tambor Tropical Friday to Wednesday

Tambor Bay, Nicoya Peninsula, Pacific Coast
Where I will be for 5 nights this Christmas, 22-27 Dec.
Tambor Tropical Resort
A small boutique luxury hotel on beach of the calmer water bay of the Pacific Ocean
on southern end of the Nicoya Peninsula (Guanacaste) west of Puntarenas.
Catering to birders, nature lovers, adventurers and yoga people.
Tambor Bay, Costa rica
Not only is the hotel on the beach, but adjacent to a river with multiple birding/hiking trails.
This is my kind of place! I can hardly wait to get there! Birding guides to 2 reserves plus
maybe a boat trip to Tortuga Island along with the ever-present river tails above! And beach!
Plus most reviews rank the food and other services very high. A great vacation!
Tambor Bay, Costa Rica
Birding tours and bird photography tours they advertise on their site have package trips here for 3  to 4 k. (Paying for 2 or 3 leader’s ways usually) I will have pretty much the same experience with my own private guide for a small fraction of that cost. And more time to relax and enjoy the beach and resort. 5 nights will make it a perfect trip!
And so you may think it is weird to go birding Christmas (like I did last Christmas) well, here is a cell phone snapshot of my living room Christmas Tree, a leafless tree limb loaded with artisan birds from all over Latin America and a backdrop of bird photos. It’s a perfect Christmas for me! And another cool way to spend my son’s inheritance!  🙂   Enjoying Retirement in Costa Rica!


Bird Christmas Tree  (Click for close-ups of some of the birds.)
The leafless tree in the corner is sprayed with gold paint and has hanging on it 33 hand-made art birds from
every country in Central America made of wood, cloth, pottery, beads, gourds, etc.
I like it so much I have kept it up since last Christmas and probably will again all this year.
Charlie’s Living Room
Atenas, Costa Rica

I expect to give daily reports of my adventures at Tambor Tropical on this blog, so keep reading for my idea of a Merry Christmas and Feliz Navidad! Birding in Costa Rica!   🙂

My trip gallery for this trip: 2017 Christmas Week Tambor Bay 

And the hotel website:  Tambor Tropical Resort


Expats in Costa Rica most often feel safer than in the U.S.  Article in Live in Costa Rica Blog

Small Town Commercial Christmas Decorations

Nativity in Central Market Courtyard
 Atenas, Costa Rica

City Hall Christmas Tree
 Not one in park this year like in past.
 Atenas, Costa Rica

Small Local Clothing Store  
 Atenas, Costa Rica

Largest Supermarket  
 Atenas, Costa Rica   

In Parking Lot of Largest Supermarket
Atenas, Costa Rica

Many Small Shops have Scooters & Bikes Lined up out front!
 Atenas, Costa Rica

And for this shoe store, a sign was enough for them!
 Atenas, Costa Rica

This Chain Bakery a sign and some inside garland.
 Atenas, Costa Rica

A favorite Gift & Office Supply Store has this tree + garlands
 Atenas, Costa Rica

This Soda settled for ceiling garlands. 
And a Gift Shop with an English sign! Oh no! Gringos?
 Atenas, Costa Rica

For these and other Christmas photos, see my gallery: Christmas in Atenas 2017

And I think the big catholic church waits until Christmas Eve to set up usually 2 nativities, one inside and one outside. Neither are up yet! And baby Jesus doesn’t go in manger until Christmas Day!  🙂  I will miss it this year since I’m gone during Christmas week. More on that tomorrow. 

In case you missed the Alajuela Public Tree posted earlier and

Two of the Alajuela City Mall Christmas Trees also posted earlier.

Or the disgustingly early BEFORE HALLOWEEN Walmart Christmas Decorations also in Alajuela.

CHRISTMAS IS BIG HERE! Many businesses will be closed the week between Christmas and New Years and I will have no maid or gardener that week. Home with families!

Advertising the Small Town Christmas Fair & Parade

Friday-Sunday, Art & Music Festival in Central Park
 Sunday Night Conclusion with Light Parade
Not advertised this well the last 2 years

There is a good chance you will see some photos of the feria and festival on this blog!   🙂
The 3-day feria is a Christmas Arts & Crafts Fair with a stage for live music.

I missed it last year (2016) and don’t know why except for Angel Tree and preparation for my trip to Sarapiqui over Christmas Week and more Christmas parties.

My excuse for missing it in 2015:  “TOO MANY CHRISTMAS ACTIVITIES!”  🙂  blog post
Or more specifically I was at a Christmas Dinner that night which I won’t do this year!

So I’m bound and determined to see both this year! Some here say “Festival de la Luz” is the best parade of the year. I’ll give my opinion after the 16th.  🙂

Other culture photos in my gallery PEOPLE & FIESTAS

Tamale-Making Class en Español

The meat and some vegetables were cooked ahead of time
 The kitchen of Sra. Cecelia, Atenas, Costa Rica

First, some of our Su Espacio class member ground fresh corn
to prepare fresh tortillas for our coffee break
 The kitchen of Sra. Cecelia, Atenas, Costa Rica
Felix, one of the twin boys from Germany hand-grinding yellow corn 
 The kitchen of Sra. Cecelia, Atenas, Costa Rica
Cecelia’s family members made these scrumptious corn tortillas 
which we ate with coffee grown on their farm. Delicioso!
The kitchen of Sra. Cecelia, Atenas, Costa Rica

All morning people worked on cutting
 and cleaning banana leaves to later
 wrap our tamales in.
 The kitchen of Sra. Cecelia, Atenas, Costa Rica

As with families preparing for Navidad,
everyone including kids had a job to do.
The kitchen of Sra. Cecelia,
 Atenas, Costa Rica

Washing cilantro & other spices 
from the garden outside
 The kitchen of Sra. Cecelia, Atenas, Costa Rica

Cutting up vegetables 
 The kitchen of Sra. Cecelia, Atenas, Costa Rica

Cutting up freshly cooked pork
The kitchen of Sra. Cecelia, Atenas, Costa Rica

Cutting up freshly cooked pork
The kitchen of Sra. Cecelia,
 Atenas, Costa Rica

Using a grater and sieve to make
fresh tomato juice for the recipe
The kitchen of Sra. Cecelia,
 Atenas, Costa Rica

Listening to instructions from Corinna
The kitchen of Sra. Cecelia,
 Atenas, Costa Rica

Felix & Jon take turns stirring the white cornmeal batter for tamale base
The kitchen of Sra. Cecelia, Atenas, Costa Rica

We all worked and visited all morning – A great together time! 
The kitchen of Sra. Cecelia, Atenas, Costa Rica

Finally we start putting them together!
The kitchen of Sra. Cecelia, Atenas, Costa Rica

A family member shows us how to wrap the final tamale.
 The kitchen of Sra. Cecelia, Atenas, Costa Rica

Soon the tables were filled with tamales!
 The kitchen of Sra. Cecelia,
 Atenas, Costa Rica

And we looked like a tamale factory!  🙂
 The kitchen of Sra. Cecelia, Atenas, Costa Rica

This was an activity sponsored by David & Corinna of Su Espacio as a total immersion Spanish activity. It was totally in Spanish, a lot of fun, cultural learning, tasty, and good use of the Spanish language!  I loved it even though my leg was hurting.

AN ASIDE: On my way walking to Su Espacio to carpool to the farm my right leg that’s been giving me trouble had a spasm as a made a big step up from street to high sidewalk and caused me to fall. I finished my trip in taxi, even though I had a B-12 shot just yesterday! I planned to go back to Dra. Candy’s office after the class where I mainly stayed in a chair. Well, near the end of class, the enthusiastic young German Felix opened the can of Garbanzos (each Christmas tamale has 2 garbanzos representing mama & papa.). Unfortunately he sliced his finger open pretty bad on the tin can. Kindly George took the boys and me with Mama Corinna to Dra. Candy’s office where Felix was treated first by the paramedic on duty this Saturday and Felix’s Papa came and picked him and his brother up to go home (their 6 week home) which is in Roca Verde not too far from me. Small world! They also got medications and/or prescriptions to avoid infections.
Then I was examined by the paramedic who called and consulted with Dra. Candy. I was given a pain shot this time and Rx’s for muscle relaxant and a gel to rub on the hurting areas of my leg. It periodically hurts very bad, especially when I get up from a long sit at desk or walk downhill! I go back Wednesday and we discuss if I need a specialist or maybe a physical therapist which they have many of here. It is a problem that has gotten worse, but I’m confident we will find a solution!  ¡Pura Vida!

And for my permanent display of these same photos see my “People and Fiestas” Gallery titled:
Tamale Making Class.  And for those who would like the recipe, here it is, just for you to make Christmas Tamales in Tennessee!  🙂  ¡Feliz Navidad!  (And good luck finding all the ingredients there!)

Related image

1   paquete de MASA blanca de maíz (´´Doña Juana´´ o ´´Doña Arepa´´),
1,5Kg   de posta de cerdo,
1Kg   de papas,
2Kg   hojas de banano o plátano específicos para hacer  tamales,
0,5Kg de tocino,
0,5Kg de zanahorias,
2 chiles rojos,
1 tomate,
Achote para dar color,
1 lata grande de garbanzos,
1 lata pequeña de guisantes o petit pois,
1 rollo de culantro Castilla,
1 rollo de culantro Coyote,
1 rollo de pabilo (cuerda especial),
1 salsa Lizano,
2 cabezas de ajo,
1 rama de orégano,
2 paquetes de consomé de pollo,
2 ramas de apio,  sal y aceite.

1)    COCINAR LA CARNE DE POSTA DE CERDO. (Doña Cecilia la prepara en la mañana temprano antes de que nosotros lleguemos).
Picamos finamente y cuidadosamente media cabeza de ajos.
Ponemos la carne en una olla con agua suficiente para tapar la carne (la carne la ponemos entera), ponemos también una rama entera de apio, la rama de orégano, y la media cabeza de ajos picados finamente.
Ponemos sal al gusto.
Cocinamos hasta que la carne esté suave.
Después quitamos la carne del caldo, la dejamos enfriar y quitamos la rama de orégano para botarla.
Mientras la carne enfría continuamos con la preparación de las verduras.
2)   (por razones de falta de tiempo, también el paso número 2 lo prepara doña Cecilia en la mañana temprano)
Picamos finamente 3 dientes de ajo.
Pelamos las papas y las picamos en cuadritos pequeños, después las ponemos (las papas) a cocinar con un poquito de agua.
Agregamos los 3 dientes de ajo picados finamente, una cucharita de achote para dar color y sal al gusto. Se cocinan al dente.
3)   Pelamos las zanahorias y las cortamos en rodajas finitas.
Lavamos los chiles y los cortamos en tiritas.
Escurrimos los guisantes y los garbanzos.
Sacar las hojitas de culantro Castilla de la ramita y NO se botan los palitos de culantro.
Conservar estas verduras crudas para el final.
4)   Partimos la carne ya fría en trocitos del tamaño a gusto propio.
Rayamos el tomate sin piel.
Picamos finamente 2 dientes de ajo y los ponemos a dorar con media cucharita de achote.
Después agregamos la carne picada, el tomate rayado sin piel y salsa Lizano al gusto.
Mezclamos bien y doramos por 10 minutos.
5)   Ponemos la masa blanca de maíz en una olla grande.
Pelamos una cabeza de ajos y la licuamos con la rama de apio que quedó, el culantro Coyote y los palitos de culantro Castilla que conservamos del paso número 3.
Colamos o filtramos el líquido y lo agregamos a la masa de maíz que está en la olla.
6)   También agregamos a la masa del paso número 5 el caldo de la carne de posta de cerdo del paso número 1.
Mezclamos y revolvemos bien, agregamos el consomé de pollo y la sal al gusto.
Cocinamos moviendo constantemente hasta que hierva. Si vemos que la masa se seca rápido antes de hervir le agregamos agua.
Posicionamos las hojas de banano en la mesa: una grande y arriba en el centro una pequeña.
En el centro de la hoja ponemos un cucharón de masa y luego agregamos una cucharada de papas del paso número 2, después una tirita de chile con una rodaja de zanahoria, 2 garbanzos, 3 guisantes y una hoja de culantro del paso número 3.
Por último ponemos un trozo de carne, envolvemos las hojas y amarramos con el pabilo.
8)   Una vez que estén armadas las ´´las piñas’’ las ponemos a cocinar sumergidas en agua hirviendo por 30 minutos desde el momento que el agua hierve.
9)   Sacamos las piñas, las escurrimos o filtramos y las comemos.

Christmas in March?

On one of my two walks to town today, I snapped these with my phone.
You do know that the red of Poinsettias is actually leaves & not flowers?

Yes. Poinsettias grow in yards here and in different months.
I’ve seen them in February & March now.

See my Photo Gallery called Flora & Forests

Christmas Day Wildlife Photos

The 6 AM Bird Walk had a different guide, Ronald, and a lot more birds today! Of course most photos are on my SLR camera, but the guide used my phone on his spotting scope for the next three photos below. I have some better ones on my real camera. All the guides here are provided by the Selva Verde Lodge, at a reasonable extra cost or in my case as part of a “Birding Package.”

Snowy Cotinga  (A first sighting for me)
By Nature Guide Ronald on my phone through his spotting scope
Selva Verde Lodge, Sarapiqui, Costa Rica

Yellow-throated Toucan (formerly Chestnut or Black-mandibled Toucan)
By Nature Guide Ronald on my phone through his spotting scope
Selva Verde Lodge, Sarapiqui, Costa Rica

Mantled Howler Monkey
By Nature Guide Ronald on my phone through his spotting scope
Selva Verde Lodge, Sarapiqui, Costa Rica
And I haven’t mentioned that I hear them often in the forest here.

Nature Guide Ronald at the front entrance
to Selva Verde before we cross the road
for birds in a botanical garden.
Then, late morning I got out of our lodge reserve to visit Dave & Dave’s Nature Pavilion which several people had recommended. It is basically a lot of different kinds of feeders on the edge of a thick secondary rainforest with a lot of birds. It provided me with some good close-ups and of a few new birds. So it was worth the 10 km drive down the highway. The father-son project has a great story behind it but I will let you read about it on their website at Dave & Dave’s.
More hummingbirds than I’ve seen almost anywhere else.
Some eating out of that heliconia flower.
Dave & Dave’s Nature Pavilion, Sarapiqui, Costa Rica

There was a group of German photographers there with their big lenses.
Dave & Dave’s Nature Pavilion, Sarapiqui, Costa Rica

Dave Senior putting out more fruit for the birds.
Dave & Dave’s Nature Pavilion, Sarapiqui, Costa Rica
Tonight I am going on the “Night Hike” and hope to get another good shot of a red-eyed tree frog. We will see. Animals are unpredictable. The restaurant has had this Christmas tree up since I’ve been here and they play Christmas music.
Christmas Tree
Selva Verde Lodge Restaurant #1
Sarapiqui, Costa Rica

Tomorrow I’ve scheduled an early morning boat trip, Guide Evan is going with me. And oh yes, in the rainforest there are still afternoon showers, even in the Dry Season. A shot from my room this afternoon during the short shower to keep everything watered!  🙂

Rain seen from Riverside Room 45, Selva Verde Lodge, Sarapiqui, Costa Rica

¡Pura Vida!

And all these photos were made on my cell phone!

Merry Christmas Day!  ~Charlie

Animales Fantasticos!

I saw the first Harry Potter prequel today, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (Animales Fantasticos) and of course you find them in Costa Rica!  🙂

And I also picked up an old dead branch along the road, lightly sprayed with gold paint, and put it in a vase of rocks for my árbolito de navidad (little Christmas Tree) this year and will decorate it with hand-crafted artisan birds. Here’s 4 of the first ones added. There will be more Fantastic Beasts! 🙂

And yes, Costa Rica is into Christmas decorations and the whole celebration in a big way! Every store is heavily decorated and the malls have three story tall Christmas Trees. 

Christmas in San Jose Photos

Big Cities like to do everything bigger and better and San Jose, the capital and largest city in Costa Rica is no exception. See a few photos of Christmas decor and events by Tico Times:


Tico Times photos – this of the lighting of tree at Children’s Hospital


I’m hoping to stay home all day with no interruptions to the many things I want to do and some rest! 

It actually started some a couple of weeks ago, but it is here full force now! I’m having to keep the sliding door screen closed and my garden door with no screen closed because so many leaves, flowers, bugs and dust blow in! This will be the norm through February or March with it getting more dusty the longer we go without rain. And if Turrialba erupts again, we will get ash or gray-black dust! That is just part of living in paradise!  🙂

And the crazy thing is that it is during this windy, sometimes dusty period that we have the most tourists and snowbirds trying to get away from cold weather up north. I think I’ve decided I like the rainy season (Jul-Oct) or “green season” better and it’s two shoulder periods (May-Jun & Oct-Nov) which have very little rain but are greener and more pleasant. So for the next 3 months or so we put up with wind, dust and snow birds! Then tranquility begins again!  🙂

And for my Canadian friends: