Firsts of 2020

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Tropical Kingbird

This bird (above & at right) is a Tropical Kingbird (click name for more about him).   He is the first one photographed on my terrace this year,  at breakfast, January 1, 2020.

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Just three weeks before I visited Tapirus Lodge in Braulio Carrillo National Park Christmas Week, David Attenborough and a BBC film crew visited the same lodge and park! I have trouble keeping up with all his documentaries, but hope I see whatever he filmed there!   🙂   Maybe it is part of his new “Green Planet” Series which is being filmed all over Costa Rica?

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Zarcero Community Band was the first & biggest band in the Atenas Christmas Parade I featured in a December 21 Post and was one of the featured bands in the Rose Parade January 1, 2020!  In different costumes of course! See also my Christmas Parade gallery.

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Zarcero Costa Rica Community Band & Dancers performing here in Atenas Christmas Parade, also performed in The Rose Parade, Pasadena, California.

 

And a video of the band in Pasadena’s Rose Parade:

 

Costa Rica – The Happiest People on Earth!

¡Pura Vida!

 

 

Christmas Parade!

“The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.”

~Will Ferrell, ‘Elf’

And that is what they do in the annual Christmas Lights Night Parade in Atenas with participants and viewers coming from other “pueblos” (towns) surrounding Atenas including the large Zarcero Community Band which marched in the Rose Parade earlier as well as smaller, rural bands and dance groups. Colorful, long, and loud!

A terrific Christmas Fiesta that continued after the parade with live music & food in the partly remodeled Central Park Atenas until midnight! Since I can hear the sound system from my house, it meant I was delayed going to bed last night!   🙂   And for some of us . . .

“The world has grown weary through the years, but at Christmas, it is young.”     ~Phillips Brooks

Atenas Christmas Parade 2019

 

For more photos see my Christmas Parade 2019 Photo Gallery!

¡Pura Vida!

Christmas Time

“And we are better throughout the year for having in spirit, become a child again at Christmas time.”     ~Laura Ingalls Wilder

And that is what I am doing again for this Christmas! Tonight (Friday) I watch the Christmas Lights Parade in Atenas which is always beautiful and colorful.  (Feature Photo is 2017 Atenas Parade)   I missed the parade last year while on a trip. That means that tomorrow, Saturday, I hope to report on the parade with photos, though it could be mid-day before I can get that many photos processed!   🙂

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Then Sunday morning I leave for the mountains where I will be spending the week at Braulio Carrillo, our second largest national park in Costa Rica at the Tapirus Lodge which I’m hoping was a good choice since my first choice (Arenal Observatory) had no vacancies a year ahead of this Christmas Week! (I now have them scheduled for Christmas 2020! Tapirus is operated  by Rainforest Adventures which seems to emphasize the young with zip-lining and white-water rafting much more than bird-watching (but I am becoming a child again!) – so we will see! But at least I will be in the forest – me gusta mucho!    🙂

¡Pura Vida!

 

Christmas Cakes! ¡Queques de Navidad!

I know, the Spanish dictionaries will say “tortas de Navidad” or “los pasteles de Navidad” but Costa Rica has its own Spanish and we call cake “queque” here!   🙂

My favorite bakery here is Crema y Nata and they got an order this year for 40 Christmas Cakes for a corporate Office Christmas Party in San Jose. I snapped a few shots of my friends there preparing some of the 40 cakes. Also there are some shots of the patio dining area where I have coffee and sometime breakfast at least twice a week. In addition to their Christmas Cake which is okay (like a spice cake with icing, fruit on top & nuts inside–not as good as Corsicana TX fruit cake in my opinion) they have the best eggnog I have ever tasted in my life – very rich! Called el rompope here!

Queques de Navidad

 

“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.”     ~Norman Vincent Peale

¡Pura Vida!

¡Feliz Navidad!

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?   🙂

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!

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!

Oktoberfest

“Willkommen zum Oktoberfest.”

Yesterday a bus of load of about 30 persons “Retired in Costa Rica” boarded a charter bus in Atenas for a German Restaurant in downtown San Jose, Paulaner München, for a great German meal including roast chicken, knockwurst, kraut and my favorite – apple strudel! We were also entertained by a Latin-flavored Costa Rican “German Band” complete with fake leder hosen!   🙂   And many of our group of retirees danced with the band, especially one couple who really know how to dance as shown in the feature photo. She even tried to teach the group to dance the polka with moderate success!   🙂    And who says old people don’t have fun?

Oktoberfest Costa Rica

 

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. . . .   AND the beer for many in our gang! 🙂

¡Pura Vida!

Sitting on Rocks? Park Remodel Update…

The other day I showed that they were now building the concrete seating in a circle around the “Kiosk” or Band Shell. Well today as I walked by before my haircut I noticed something interesting. Instead of using re-barb inside the huge concrete two-level seating they are using locally harvested rocks – yep – big rocks around which they hand-pour concrete from buckets. Hmmm. Well, it does help fill in the space with something more than just concrete! And I’m not an engineer, so maybe it is as good as re-barb though I have my doubts, especially since we regularly have earthquake tremors around here. Oh well, not my problem!   🙂   Pura vida!

Step 1: Fill each level of form with rocks.

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Step 2: Hand pour concrete around rocks.

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Step 3: Finish with smooth concrete.

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Step 4: Finished product looks great!

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“Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.”      ~George S. Patton

¡Pura Vida!

 

My growing gallery of progress on the Atenas Central Park Remodeling.

The city has  a Facebook Page presenting the remodeling with architect drawings of how they expect it to look.