Margaret, the lady birder from Canada who was in a nearby casita for one month, did most of her birding right here in Roca Verde, including uphill above my casita and on Calle Nueva, the country lane alongside Roca Verde. (She also walked to other neighborhoods in town and had a few trips away, including to Rancho Naturalista & the Tarcoles River.)
But her finding so many birds here got me back into more birding where I live and beyond my own garden where I have no feeders now which has reduced the numbers. Friday morning I spent an hour walking up and down the hill above my house with the result of the following photos of vistas and birds.
Not bad for less than a 200 meter walk from my house! And I know I have already shared similar views and birds on this blog before, but each new time in the viewfinder is a little bit different perspective, a different light, a different pose or action of the bird, and a new joy for me! No new bird species this time, though the immature Blue-black Grassquit was my first immature version of that species! Notice how different she looks from her mother or some other adult female Blue-black Grassquit in photos above. 🙂 I loved the walk and will keep doing it occasionally!
“In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.” – John Muir
Central Atenas seen from the hill
Cattle on the next hill
Farmland adjacent Roca Verde
Central Atenas seen from the hill
Adult Blue-black Grassquit female
Immature Blue-black Grassquit female
Clay-colored Thrush (light version)
Clay-colored Thrush (dark version)
“I love walking because it clears your mind, enriches the soul, takes away stress and opens up your eyes to a whole new world .” – Claudette Dudley
One of the things Heredia is know for is The Toucan Rescue Ranch, which is actually in a suburb, San Isidro de Heredia, which like so many other such places in Costa Rica was started not too long ago by someone dedicated to wildlife, and all the animals that recuperate from injuries or whatever to a level of independence are released into the wild.
After class today I had a quick lunch of something other than the rice and beans I’ve been having here 3 times a day and took a taxi to the rescue ranch for a pre-scheduled “Educational Walk” at 1:30 that lasted until nearly 3:30 and my taxi was waiting on me when finished. Plus a funny thing about the tour, there were 14 people on it with 5 of us from Atenas! Two retiree couples from Atenas were there, plus me. I have met both couples in the past but don’t really know them – another one of those “small world” kind of things! 🙂
Birds at Toucan Ranch
San Rafael Church
And of course I have a “Trip Gallery” of photos from this week, titled:
Until about a year ago it was sitting on this hill (photo below) east of Atenas along Ruta 3 but so far away you could hardly see it (the white spot on top of hill). At some point the property owner decided he did not want it on his property anymore with people climbing over his fence to see it, so the parish took it down, freshened it and added some color and installed it in the church yard by Central Park Atenas – the feature photo at top. Or for better photos:
On the Facebook page for Parroquia San Rafael Arcángel, Atenas, Costa Rica there is a photo album for the Virgen de las Rosas created after it was moved to the church with much better photos than mine!
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! 🙂
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
Not only does flying save me time and tiredness but I nearly always get at least one surprise photo on the little 30 to 40 minutes flights over Costa Rica. This latest flight to Liberia and back gave me many photos, but just two special ones today: The above photo of a very tall unknown waterfall with no roads around it! — My main prize! Saw it just south of Liberia and hope to find out its name, though I think it is isolated from tourists!
And again we fly over Atenas and I get a good photo showing much in Central Atenas (Central Park, church, schools) plus the roof of my house in the upper left corner to left of the little roundish cow pasture. The string of houses over the hill is Phase 1 of Roca Verde where I live near the bottom of the hill by cow pasture. 🙂
“There is no sport equal to that which aviators enjoy while being carried through the air on great white wings.”
~Wilbur Wright, 1905
A very popular name for boys here is Jesús, yes that is Spanish for the English name Jesus but with the Spanish pronunciation and noted accent on last syllable: for you English-only speakers it is pronounced like “yay-sús.” It is not considered sacrilegious to use our Lord’s name as a given name, though some boys and more men tend to use their other given name, possibly because of the religious connotation or I can imagine little boys being kidded or bullied over their name.
Just today I conversed with Jesús twice. My taxi driver to the bus station was named Jesús Alpizar and his spirit and relation to me gave honor to his name which is what he is called by everyone as a young man in Atenas. Then in Alajuela today I went to my wonderful dermatologist named Jesús Roberto Gamboa Arend, who goes by Dr. Gamboa or Dr. Roberto Gamboa (choosing not to be called Jesús). But he too gives honor to his first name in his spirit and ways of relating to me. In addition to being my doctor, he is now my “Tico Travel Buddy” as he too enjoys traveling all over Costa Rica for both the sights and adventures, he with his family (2 children). He is the one who has removed all my skin cancers and is regularly monitoring the many growths I continue to get over my body due to my outdoor sunshine in the past. 🙂
A Break from Blogging
Yes, partly I just need a break from the blog sometimes. And after two trips rather close together, I was sort of tired which I seem to get more now that I’m nearly 80. But I have still been writing or really posting photos on my “static” pages of this website, just slowly. For a few days I added more trips to my Pre-Costa Rica TRAVEL Photo Gallery, particularly some of my many Zoo visits across the states. And thus more to my ZOOS I’ve Visited – Photo Links Index gallery page.
AND I also got motivated to start working some on my FAMILY pages, starting with one of the heaviest, fullest, and most emotional pages, titled Death of Juli 1997. On the Menu under FAMILY – Family of Marriage – LOSSES.
I had already dealt with my dozens of scrapbooks from over the years in my bio books mostly, but I still have two full “scrapbooks” I called Juli Doggett Memorial Book 1 and Book 2. The soft pink covers are perfect for her but two more things I don’t have room for and what would anybody do with them when I die? So I am scanning most of what is in the two binders for perpetuation on the web for at least now (not finished scanning).
And one page from these books is the poem I wrote the day after her funeral. The photo of her was the last decent or useable photo I had made of her back in April ’97 on one of our weekend trips from Columbia, this one at Falls Hollow on the Natchez Trace Parkway in front of a waterfall. (And I know! She needed a haircut! But we were busy!) 🙂
Thanks to those many friends who shared those dark days with me in August 1997! Your presence, help and comfort made all the difference!
I decided early in my visiting of Costa Rica to not live in the big capital city of San Jose because I wanted a more tranquil retirement life than most big cities can provide in their, busy, hectic, crowded, expensive and sometimes dangerous ways.
My first choice was always to live in the woods away from everything, but that would require an expensive 4WD car which I early decided I would do without plus in many cases it is actually more expensive, plus generally no where near the needed shopping and medical care a retiree needs.
Thus the “happy medium” or compromise location of the “Central Valley” of Costa Rica within easy bus or other transportation to the best shopping and medical facilities in the country (like most retirees to CR), yet still a somewhat easy trip to escape into the national parks and forests of Costa Rica which has worked well for me. And nature in the far corners of Costa Rica continues to be my focus. 🙂
BUT . . . sometimes there are fun reasons to visit the big city and especially an old, historic and artsy Latin-American city like San Jose (see my Trip Galleries below). Christopher Howard also explains it well in one of his latest blog posts:
And in that article you can see why I love the many parks in the city, plus the architecture, a tour I made of just the old colonial churches, the arts, the many museums, art in general and as shown here, as an example, some of the many public art sculptures in San Jose:
Pope John Paul II who visited San Jose in 1983
The Kiss, Parque Morazan by Olger Villegas-Cruz
Lots of Indigenous Artwork
The Flutist at Teatro Nacional
Lots of public contemporary art
Short-term contemporary exhibit in front of the cathedral
From my years in Nashville, TN USA I remember the unique “Bag Lady” she was often called as a seemingly homeless beggar living on the streets of downtown Nashville and always carrying one or more bags full of who knows what? I’m sorry I never got to know her or her story.
I was reminded of her when I first saw Carmelina in downtown Atenas, walking the streets barefoot in what appears to be a very simple and maybe dirty old dress and sometimes carrying a plastic bag. I have often wondered about who she is, how needy, if anyone cares for her, etc. And I’ve always wanted to photograph her but too embarrassed to ask and not wanting to offend her.
Well, I just found this beautiful photo of her on a local Atenas Facebook Page in Spanish (photo by Patricia Salazar) with lots of comments about Carmelina, mostly as an inspiration to people here for years. Check it out and if you don’t read Spanish, right click and then click “translate to English” to see about 80 different comments about Carmelina, one of the most unique persons in Atenas who in her poverty is always helping someone else, attending most services at the Catholic Church, attending all funerals with a little gift for the family, and many other acts of kindness. . . Christlike?
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!
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!” 🙂