Christmas Poinsettias

People around the world buy these interesting tropical plants as an indoor natural Christmas decoration. I bought two last year and after Christmas decided to plant them in my garden so I would have my own outdoor Christmas Poinsettia this year since they are native to Central America. And surely you know that they do not have a flower but the top layer of leaves turn red around Christmas. Well, I kept watching mine in the garden as it got closer to December and now Christmas and MINE STILL HAVE NOT TURNED RED!

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So like any good internet user, I Googled it and found . . .

“The Poinsettia is a light sensitive plant. When you deprive the plant in its full leafing stage of light, the only chlorophyll used to turn the leaves green cannot be produced. As a result of this total darkness and lack of light, the only color that will be produced is red. This is called photoperiodism.”

~from the internet

I’ve seen red ones in other gardens here but this quote makes it sounds like I needed to cover them from the sun in my garden to get red. Then by reading further online in this article on How Poinsettias Turn Red, I learned that the two I bought from the supermarket last year are hybridized by nurseries as indoor plants and yes would have turned red if I had given then weeks of darkness. BUT, the ones in other gardens here that bloom are “wild poinsettias” which have somehow developed a way to turn their leaves red to attract pollinators. Wow! Nature is amazing and interesting! So . . . if I want them blooming in my garden, I need to get wild ones!   🙂   Oh well, I tried!   🙂

Now, to get my red, I bought two new ones again this year, one little and one bigger one and I now have Christmas red inside my house, just not in the garden!   🙂   But most importantly I’m trying to “live Christmas every day!”   🙂   And hope you are able to do that too! Be Merry!

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“Peace on earth will come to stay, when we live Christmas every day.”

~Helen Steiner Rice

¡Pura Vida!

This Year’s Christmas Trees

Well – the ones I have taken the time to photograph in my normal activities of the last week or two. I failed to photograph a big one at the Alajuela Hospital and did not go to the Juan Santamaria Park for Alajuela’s biggest outdoor tree this year and the Atenas City Hall does not have a tree out front this year, though I included their ugly one in Central Park. But these photos give you an idea of the fact that Christmas is the biggest holiday of the year here in Costa Rica with decorations going up around Halloween (which is not celebrated here).

Of course the trees in the little country town of Atenas don’t match the huge ones in Alajuela’s big City Mall – but it is all in the spirit of the biggest fiesta of the year. And the funny thing to me is that the Ticos who can afford it here go to the beach Christmas Week! Pretty much everything except supermarkets and pharmacies are closed Christmas Week – and I too travel, but not the beach this year!    🙂    Stay tuned for my “Christmas Mountain Forest Adventures” coming 21-27 December!   Retired in Costa Rica Five Years as of this Christmas Eve! 

Christmas Trees 2019

“City sidewalks
Busy sidewalks
Dressed in holiday style
In the air
There’s a feeling
Of Christmas…”

~Silver Bells

 

¡Feliz Navidad!
¡Pura Vida!

Charlie in Costa Rica

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!”  🙂

“Flagship Hotel” Okay but Not the Best

This morning I left Si Como No Hotel in Manuel Antonio after 6 nights at Christmas time. They call it their “Flagship Hotel” of the Greentique chain of 4 eco-hotels in Costa Rica. Their marketing department or ad agency is doing a fabulous job with websites (which hooked me) and other advertising, but they touted so much that the actual experience was a let down at Si Como No.

I had two other experiences with Greentique which were very positive, so I got here more because of those experiences than their marketing of this location. Back in May 2017 at Drake Bay (link to my photos) I stayed in the Aguila de Osa Hotel (link to hotel site) which was pricey but not as expensive as Manuel Antonio’s Si Como No. I loved Aguila better in every way! I got all the nature tours I wanted and did not here. The room was bigger and better with equal ocean view and the food was so much better there!

Then in November 2017 at Villa Blanca Cloud Forest Resort  (link to my photos) nearer me at San Ramon, I was one of few guests still in the low season and got fabulous service and nature experiences and again much better food! Villa Blanca (link to hotel site) is on an old farm and is a much quieter, relaxed setting than either of the other two, but again I liked it better and felt like it was worth what I paid. Si Como No is way overpriced for what you get!

Now, with all of that said and maybe only the second time for me to be negative (I didn’t like a B&B in Orosi), let me show you some photos of my room and the grounds of this old but nice hotel or you can see my total experience at 2018 Christmas at Si Como No  trip photo gallery. And I must say this was maybe my best ocean view anywhere and one of the better sunsets anywhere. Just bad service and food!

My Room at Si Como No

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Hotel Grounds at Si Como No

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All good hotels tend to lead people to do things they wouldn’t necessarily do at home.

~Andre Balazs

See my Trip Gallery for this 2018 Christmas at Si Como No Hotel

Sun Setting on 2018 & My Celebration Begins!

The above photo is one of my sunsets at Manuel Antonio National Park in 2015, my first year here! I go back to celebrate 4 years living here! Photographing new birds and other animals, walking forest trails and one of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica, getting one or more relaxation massages, and eating gourmet food every day for a week as I create more Costa Rica Nature Photos! That is my kind of Christmas Celebration and I anticipate a fabulous week! Here’s one of the resort’s several videos:

Or browse the Si Como No Website   —   This is living!   🙂

3-toed Sloth I photographed there in 2015.

Retired in Costa Rica 4 Years Christmas Celebration

Starts Tomorrow, 21 December 2018

¡Pura Vida!

Christmas in Costa Rica

For you North Americans to get an idea of how much Costa Rica is into Christmas, take a look at this  TV Ad last Christmas for “MoviStar” which is a TV-Internet-Phone company selling subscriptions. I think it is very entertaining and typical of Christmas mania here in Costa Rica. By far the biggest holiday of the year in Costa Rica! And also a time to go to the beach! Go figure!   🙂

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

Festival of Lights Parade in San Jose, Costa Rica.

¡Feliz Navidad!

Christmas Celebrations in Atenas 2018

Here is the schedule of Christmas Festivities at Central Park Atenas with the stage being on government property across the street this year with park being remodeled. Lots of music and a lanterns parade at night plus more with vendor booths set up on the outer edges of the park  — remodeling not stopping the Christmas Spirit in Atenas! It will be HAPPY, HAPPY as always and I’m sorry I will miss it this year again as I am traveling for Christmas (Which is a very Tico thing to do!).     🙂

And they just added some more activities for Christmas:

If you click the above image it is larger in its original location

And that is the official Atenas Community fiestas. Every church has at least one Christmas Eve service and the big catholic church multiple masses both days. Many Tico families have 1 to 2 weeks vacation and travel to a beach, usually the week between Christmas and New Years (when most businesses are closed).

Expats vary a lot in what they do. Several always go home to the States, Canada or Europe for Christmas with family. Some have family come here. And the “Snow Birds” came here for  their Christmas or multi-months escape from snow and cold weather. Our Expat “Men’s Club” (misnamed) went yesterday (the 16th) to San Ramon for a Dinner Theatre Christmas Madrigal Old English Show or something like that. I went this year and reported yesterday.

Then there’s me – like a real Tico now, I’m going to the beach again but will spend most of my time in the forest at and near Manuel Antonio National Park in a private wildlife refuge and resort called Si Como No, which in español literally means “Yes, of course,” or “Yes, why not?”  indicative of the positive spirit of life here in Costa Rica! And I will photograph birds of course!   ¡Pura Vida!

¡Feliz Navidad!

 

Considering a move to Costa Rica? If so, and you find online research confusing or overwhelming, then read this Christopher Howard article on  All Over the Map Syndrome Although he is a little arrogant, he still has the best relocation tour of Costa Rica and his tour combined with the ARCR Seminar is one of the best ways to filter through the onslaught of information you may be finding. I credit those two events with properly preparing me for my successful move here along with a positive attitude and an already established love of the Costa Rica Culture and nature places. Before you move here, visit several times (consider the fun Caravan.com Costa Rica tour) and then go on his “Live In Costa Rica Combination Tour” coupled with the ARCR Seminar and you will be much better prepared. People who just come and try to figure it all out when they get here are usually in the 40% who end up going back to the states, Canada or wherever “home” was before. “Be Prepared!”     🙂

Madrigal Renaissance Christmas Banquet

About 30 of us expat retirees in Atenas went north of here by charter bus to San Ramon (hour drive) where we were fed and entertained by a group of expat retirees in San Ramon. We had a very interesting experience of a 14th Century Madrigal Christmas Banquet with all our hosts in period costumes and a wide variety of entertainment with the excellent meal! There was chamber music while we ate plus afterwards period ceremony, stories, singing by our hosts and group singing of Christmas Carols (in English & Spanish!) by all making it a very special Christmas Dinner. THANKS TO THE EXPATS OF SAN RAMON! And to Tony & Rose Mary for putting it together! Gracias!   🙂

Madrigal Dinner Slideshow

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Or to see each of the photos individually and larger, go to my 2018 Madrigal Banquet Photo Gallery where you can also download photos if you wish.

¡Feliz Navidad!

Supermarket at Night

I rarely go at night, but did one night this week and saw their big tree which is mostly lights, plus lights on everything else including the manger scene, which is a little much for me. Oh well, Christmas is really BIG here! I mean really big! Gobs of celebrations and fiestas and music and church services and most get a whole week off from work and all employers are required by law to give a Christmas Bonus (for me to a maid and gardeners). Then everything is closed Christmas week and people travel, for some, their only vacation. Cultures are so interesting! Everywhere!   🙂    I’ll post a schedule of public celebrations tomorrow.

 

¡Feliz Navidad!