Last night before dinner we were treated with a double rainbow! This morning the maids brought me a new bouquet of flowers with a “Feliz Cumpleaños!” greeting. And I have already enjoyed 4 fresh strawberries dipped in chocolate for my birthday! Plus the staff sang Happy Birthday in English to me at breakfast!
AND . . . this was my guided bird-hike morning with the most interesting birds being the mother & juvenile Crested Caracara (rare find) who landed in the same tree as the Yellow-headed Caracara did the other day! 🙂
“I like this place and could willingly waste my time in it.”
― William Shakespeare
I continue to dig up my old photos and stories of past travels in my blessed retirement days for the TRAVEL pages of this website with the bulk being links to my new “Pre-Costa Rica TRAVEL” photo galleries.
The newest web page and set of photo galleries is summarized on SOUTH AMERICA. The feature photo at top is of a boat similar to what we traveled & lived on for a week of the mission trip on a tributary to the Amazon River, Rio Purus. Just a few more reports on the blessings of my retirement.
If you prefer to go straight to the photo galleries they are linked here:
Just another one of the unusual things I see in Central Park Alajuela. Yesterday this guy was drumming away on his psychedelic apparatus in the park for tips. A quick snap of it on my way to the bus station. He looks and acts more like a young American, but some young Ticos try to be that way.
are common in both Alajuela and Atenas Central Parks – this one in Alajuela the other day. There doesn’t need to be a reason, just sort of a jam session. It is one of the many things that keep Costa Rica’s small town Central Parks alive and fun to visit!
And tomorrow’s edition will be written at the DoubleTree by Hilton Cariari Hotel San Jose where I spend a free night (Hilton Honors Points) to be ready for a 5:30am pickup the next morning for my trip to Tortuguero, Turtle Beach Lodgeon “The Amazon of Costa Rica.” It’s my 3rd time to Tortuguero but in a new lodge for me this time and staying 3 nights this time for a more relaxed visit. New adventure every month! 🙂
And this morning I met a couple from Durango, Colorado who have been staying in “The Cariari” since 1980 when it was a private hotel before Hilton Hotels made it a DoubleTree. They just love it as their hotel near the airport for a stay before an early flight as “snowbirds” who come and go all winter. So I will find out what makes it special! 🙂 And let you know. It was a substitute for me since Hampton Inn had no vacancies. These American hotels are only in San Jose and on a few big beaches. Most Costa Rica hotels are locally owned and operated which I generally prefer.
These two retired Americans are the featured band every Friday night at a little Tico restaurant in Atenas Central at the CATUCA. They do mostly Country-Western Music (in English) and it just so happens that they live on either side of me in Roca Verde, one in the rent house to my left and one to the right.They never knew each other until they Retired in Costa Rica – just one more positive thing that can happen when you retire here! 🙂
And for those new readers who don’t know from my earlier reports, in Atenas we have a large country-western band of about 8 to 10 people, all American retirees from both California and Nashville TN who call themselves Flashback playing “oldies” at many events, fiestas, fundraisers and occasionally at different bars and restaurants. They were here before me, so been at it at least 4 years or more and are popular with a lot of the other retirees here. The link is to their Facebook Page.
And after a week of sharing bird photos I thought I would share another Mary Oliver poem, one about birds! 🙂 And singing birds like my above photo of a Singing Clay-colored Thrush (Yiqüirro) the national bird of Costa Rica known for singing in the rains in late April or early May.
Such Singing in the Wild Branches
It was spring
and I finally heard him
among the first leaves––
then I saw him clutching the limb
in an island of shade
with his red-brown feathers
all trim and neat for the new year.
First, I stood still
and thought of nothing.
Then I began to listen.
Then I was filled with gladness––
and that’s when it happened,
when I seemed to float,
to be, myself, a wing or a tree––
and I began to understand
what the bird was saying,
and the sands in the glass
for a pure white moment
while gravity sprinkled upward
like rain, rising,
and in fact
it became difficult to tell just what it was that was singing––
it was the thrush for sure, but it seemed
not a single thrush, but himself, and all his brothers,
and also the trees around them,
as well as the gliding, long-tailed clouds
in the perfect blue sky–––all of them
And, of course, so it seemed,
so was I.
Such soft and solemn and perfect music doesn’t last
For more than a few moments.
It’s one of those magical places wise people
like to talk about.
One of the things they say about it, that is true,
is that, once you’ve been there,
you’re there forever.
Listen, everyone has a chance.
Is it spring, is it morning?
Are there trees near you,
and does your own soul need comforting?
Quick, then––open the door and fly on your heavy feet; the song
may already be drifting away.
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!” 🙂
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
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.
While in Alajuela the other day I heard music in the gazebo of Central Park and found local teens breakdancing with a boombox in the gazebo. I tried to get a couple of shots with my phone and they aren’t very good, but an interesting part of culture here as especially the young adapt cultural activities and music from other cultures & countries around the world. Truly, it’s a small world!¡Es un mundo pequeño!
A nation’s culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people.