Poas Volcano National Park in Costa Rica Will Open Doors to Visitors Again This Friday, Aug.31

Read all the details at:

https://news.co.cr/poas-volcano-national-park-in-costa-rica-will-open-doors-to-visitors-again-this-friday-aug-31/75556/

This is one of the oldest and most visited national parks in Costa Rica and has been greatly missed for nearly a year now after some serious eruptions. Safety is always the first concern and you can be confident that it is safe to visit again now. Some say that it is the best or one of the best volcano parks in the world to visit. It is the only one here where you can look down inside the cone. Plus it is a beautiful cloud forest and nature reserve! I highly recommend seeing it when in Costa Rica and always best early in the morning since clouds often move in to hide the volcano by or before 10:00 AM!

The photo above is one of many made on a trip to Poas in 2015 with Kevin Hunter. See the TRIP Gallery Poas Volcano 2015.

Soda y Mirador Cinchona

Early this morning I used my favorite driver, Walter, to take me on an hour and a half drive up the mountains near Poas Volcano (which will reopen by December if no more eruptions). I have been hearing about a little Soda (small family restaurant) for a long time that everyone says I must visit for the wide variety of birds at their feeders and one of the most beautiful waterfall vistas.

I was not disappointed! Here is a slideshow of some of what seen and you can go to my TRIPS Photo Gallery for a gallery of today’s trip, Soda y Mirador Cinchona that will give you larger and more photos to see of one more great place to visit in Costa Rica! Birds are presented in the order found in the book The Birds of Costa Rica, A Field Guide.

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The need to create is overwhelming!

Creative Gardening is another passion!

I just read an online article by a creative photographer named Dan Milnor who was sleeping in his truck as he traveled through mountain deserts making photographs. Someone asked him why he was doing that and what would be done with all the photos? He told them “possibly nothing” would be done with the photos but “I was doing it because the need to create is overwhelming, regardless of the end result.” Spoken like a true “starving artist.”

Well, he kind of speaks for me and why I travel all over Costa Rica photographing birds and other things in nature and the beautiful culture. THE NEED TO CREATE IS OVERWHELMING and I enjoy it more than anything else I do.

And tomorrow I leave for one of the most creative lodges I have stayed in yet in Costa Rica, Xandari Resort  (click the Costa Rica section of this resort with 3 other locations being in India), just an hour or a little more from here, north of Alajuela on a mountain. There I plan to experience (and photograph) a blend of art, birds, nature, architecture, and 5 natural waterfalls – while resting and being creative myself with my cameras. Just 4 nights this trip (a more expensive place!). Expect blog posts from there starting tomorrow night (Saturday). And I will continue to fill in the static pages on my new website, now featuring this blog and I hope improving! More fun anyway!  🙂

¡Pura Vida!

El Copal Nature & Happy Valentines Day!

A Valentine from Nature
Photographed along a road or trail in the
El Copal Area, Costa Rica

Or maybe you prefer an Exotic Wild Flower for Valentines
El Copal Area, Costa Rica

Reventazón River Valley 
El Copal Area, Costa Rica

One of Many Tributaries 
El Copal Area, Costa Rica
My Guide Cristhian Ureña Martinez 
El Copal Area, Costa Rica

More FlowersEl Copal Area, Costa Rica

More Flowers  
El Copal Area, Costa Rica

More Flowers 
El Copal Area, Costa Rica

Mosses and Ferns of the Cloud Forest 
El Copal Area, Costa Rica

A Horse Farm Where We Found Birds 
El Copal Area, Costa Rica

A Horse Farm Where We Found Birds 
El Copal Area, Costa Rica
Nature is the art of God.

¡Pura Vida!


This exact same set of photos in my TRIPS photo gallery:  El Copal Area Scenery


And related is the gallery El Copal BIRDS in this same TRIPS gallery below


Or see all of my Orosi Trip photos in the TRIP Gallery: 2018-February 6-10–Orosi/Tapanti



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TINY SERENDIPITIES KEEP ME SMILING

On the bus to Alajuela Monday a Tica mother with little girl about a year to 18 months old sat down in the seat next to me. The little girl kept looking at me and finally reached out and touched my arm and smiled. (Yes I had already said “Hola” and smiled at her, but she was slow responding.)

Later after mother and child got off the bus, an older man in the seat in front of me began playing his harmonica and quietly singing a beautiful, tranquil song in Spanish.  ¡Pura vida!

The greatest self is a peaceful smile, that always sees the world smiling back. 


Bryant H. McGill


~~~~~~~
JURASSIC PARK?
ENGLISH LANGUAGE NEWS ARTICLE:
Isla del Coco, Costa Rica

This is our island in the Pacific Ocean that is similar to Galápagos Islands of Ecuador without
tourism. It is a national park and research center and many say is more significant scientifically than the Galápagos Islands. (Darwin missed it!) It is also the island that the fictitious dinosaur project was on in the movies of the Jurassic Park. See this brief YouTube video of THE REAL JURASSIC PARK for a 57 second glimpse of the real island. 


The island is 300 miles offshore and you sleep on the yacht and scuba dive around the island in the largest colony of sharks in the world! They let you on the island for brief day trips from the yacht but no nights there. Not a regular tourist spot! It costs 3 to 5 k per person for a minimum number of people on different boats for 7 days and just the shore excursion to the island costs $250 to $500 depending on which boat you are on! Cost includes bus from San Jose airport to Puntarenas dock. 

UNESCO World Heritage Site          I would love to see it, but doubt that will ever happen!

¡Pura Vida!

Chapel at Villa Blanca

Mariana Chapel  
 Villa Blanca Cloud Forest Resort & Nature Reserve
 San Ramon, Costa Rica

Chapel    
Villa Blanca Cloud Forest Resort & Nature Reserve 
 San Ramon, Costa Rica

Chapel   
 Villa Blanca Cloud Forest Resort & Nature Reserve 
 San Ramon, Costa Rica

Chapel   
Villa Blanca Cloud Forest Resort & Nature Reserve 
 San Ramon, Costa Rica

Chapel   
 Villa Blanca Cloud Forest Resort & Nature Reserve 
 San Ramon, Costa Rica

Flowers in front of Chapel   
 Villa Blanca Cloud Forest Resort & Nature Reserve 
 San Ramon, Costa Rica
Oxcart in front of Chapel  
 Villa Blanca Cloud Forest Resort & Nature Reserve 
 San Ramon, Costa Rica

Villa Blanca’s Mariana Wedding Chapel was the 50th anniversary-wedding gift from former President Rodrigo Carazo Odio to First Lady Estrella Carazo Zeledon. Its unique hand painted ceramic ceiling depicts the history of the Virgin Mary when first introduced into Latin America by Christian missionaries. It is located on a grassy knoll overlooking the farm village and hacienda of Villa Blanca. The Chapel’s backdrop is the 840 Ha (2000 acre) Los Angeles Cloud Forest, with over 300 listed bird species included within a variety of flora and fauna in this protected habitat and serene mountain setting. The chapel, a replica of a 17th century chapel in Rome, features a high beam ceiling composed of 840 individual ceramic plates, all of them hand drawn and painted with high temperature enamel paints. Each side of the ceiling has 15 panels of 28 plates divided in two vertical rows of 14 plates. Each one of the columns formed by the 14 plates conveys a theme allusive to a Latin-American virgin and her country of origin.

My trip gallery: 2017 Villa Blanca
My reviews of other Costa Rica Lodges & Hotels  if exploring this fun country. Note that at Drake Bay I stayed at the sister hotel of Villa Blanca, Aguila de Osa – both are Greentique Hotels.

Arrival at Villa Blanca Cloud Forest Resort

Stained Glass Window in my Cabin
Villa Blanca Cloud Forest Resort
Near San Ramon, Costa Rica

The One Traffic Jam Enroute to 
Villa Blanca Cloud Forest Resort
Near San Ramon, Costa Rica

The View in All Directions fromVilla Blanca Cloud Forest Resort
Near San Ramon, Costa Rica

Me at the entrance gate
Villa Blanca Cloud Forest Resort
Near San Ramon, Costa Rica

Rufous-collared Sparrow 
 Villa Blanca Cloud Forest Resort
Near San Ramon, Costa Rica

I have loads of photos I would like to show, but will settle for these “just arriving” shots now. Left Atenas about 10:15 and arrive around 11:30-11:45, had lunch, explored grounds, made many photos yet to show, 6:00 to 8:00 Night Hike and late dinner with two other guys. The hike was great with more species of frogs than I’ve ever seen, a flock of parrots sleeping, 2 snakes, gobs of strange insects, and I’m sure something else. That will be one whole post! So this quick post and off to bed for an early morning birding hike before breakfast. This place is wonderful!

My Trip Gallery on this visit   and   the Hotel Website

Cloud Forest Experience This Week

The mountains north of where I live contain many small farms and large forest reserves.
I am going to experience that as well as seek out mountain birds, relax, and enjoy great food!

While at Aguila de Osa Hotel on Drake Bay I learned that they were part of a small chain of 4 nature hotels under the name of Greentique Hotels and that one was less than 2 hours from Atenas, just north of San Ramon and not too far from Arenal Volcano, one of the most beautiful in the world! It is Called Villa Blanca Cloud Forest Hotel and Nature Reserve. (Click link or logo for their website.) I decided then to add it to my list of future trips and here it is this Monday-Friday. I have 3 guided birding/nature hikes scheduled and if at least 2 other adults there to make a group, I will take the day trip to Arenal Volcano National Park. Otherwise, more of the reserve!

Based on my experiences in their Drake Bay hotel, I will be happy just hanging out at the hotel grounds and hiking through their reserve. Plus their sister hotel had the best food of any yet in Costa Rica, so that alone may be enough!  🙂  And possibly one relaxation massage! And of course lots of photographs, especially of birds and other nature! If the internet connection is good there, I will try to post daily reports with photos. 
If anyone is paying that close attention to all my trips, this in some ways will be similar to my other cloud forest places visited, though all are unique. San Gerardo de Dota is the best place for photographing the Resplendent Quetzal bird and most lodges there are a little more rustic, catering mostly to birders in steeper mountain terrain. I’ve been there 3 times so far and will go again! I’ve been to Monteverde once and it may be more similar to Villa Blanca terrain on top of a mountain, though Monteverde has lots of small local hotels & cabinas and two national parks plus one big commercial hanging bridges park. It is harder to get to, driving up a steep mountain on a gravel road and a little more “touristy” than I prefer, but I got a lot of bird photos there and will go again! My other mountain experiences weren’t quite high enough to be considered “Cloud Forests” but were each good in their own ways. And the adventures continue! See reports of each in my gallery TRIPS.

I’m coming close to my 3-year anniversary living here (December) and have traveled the entire country, visiting many places for birds and other nature experiences, more than most of the expats I’ve met here. But I still have a long way to go and many new places to visit yet! One goal is to visit all 34 National Parks which shouldn’t be too difficult since I visited all 55 Tennessee State Parks! And I’m about 1/3 the way done now! Thanks for following my adventures! 
¡Pura Vida!

Balance of 2017 Planned!

And most of you know that means I have trips planned for the rest of the year with other serendipities like holidays and local experiences being “extra” joys! 

But for those who particularly like my trips or the birds I photograph on them, here’s my coast to coast plans for the next 4 months, leaving specific dates off for security reasons: 

SEPTEMBER is my trek back to the Caribe with 4 nights in a very popular hotel I could not get in on another trip, Hotel Banana Azul, Puerto Viejo de Talamanca. It is one of the very few actually on the beach, like walk out of your cabin right onto the beach. (Most are across the highway.) I do not care for swimming in the ocean for many reasons, nor sunbathing, but absolutely love walking on the beach which I will do a lot of this trip. It is also “Adult Only,” simply meaning no children. I love kids, but they tend to dominate a resort at every point and can be quite disruptive from sleeping & meals to activities & pool. So my first time to try one of these!  I’ll let you know what I think. 

Plus I plan on two new reserves for birding and otherwise hiking in nature with local guides; one is a national park and one a private reserve which they claim is the best. And of course the beautiful forested grounds of the hotel and even the beach will have birds!

And I will experience a little caribbean culture & food in Puerto Viejo. See 
this info page and welcome video About Puerto Viejo.  There’s also links there to why visit the Caribe, difference in caribbean and pacific coasts, etc. I may come home singing reggae!  🙂  But mainly hope to relax and get more bird photos! Here’s more on Caribbean Local Activities beyond the music and food or my favorite, Caribbean Jungle, Nature & Wildlife.  And the Hotel Banana Azul Photo Gallery


It will be both similar and different from my safari tent hotel in Manzanillo last year. See that Manzanillo Trip Photo Gallery for comparison. I still don’t have a strong preference for caribbean or pacific coast yet, though I tend to favor the “underdog” or least popular which would be the Caribe. It is quieter, cheaper, more natural, smaller & locally owned hotels, and less crowded. If you like big Marriotts or Hiltons, go to the Pacific side and spend more money! I’m doing that in December but not in a big chain hotel. 



NOVEMBER is in the cloud forests not far from Atenas, just outside San Ramon where I stay in my second Greentique Hotel, associated with the Aquila de Osa Hotel I was in at Drake Bay. (One of my favorite!) But this one is only an hour or so away by bus through Palmares to San Ramon where the hotel picks me up at the bus station. It is called Villa Blanca Cloud Forest Hotel & Nature Reserve.   

Typical birding hike.

Of course I already have birding treks scheduled with local guides and may get to see their cloud forest research center. Plus they have trails on their own property I can visit on my own and all three hotels have jacuzzis which I hope to use and who knows? Maybe even a relaxing back massage! I view retirement as an almost continuous vacation! 🙂  It’s great! And this one’s close to home!



Another tropical paradise where you have both
a pool and the beach, plus forest for birds!
And hopefully great food!  🙂

CHRISTMAS WEEK is when I decided to try the southern end of the Nicoya Peninsula and Guanacaste on the Pacific Coast. And my Google search showed Tambor Bay the best area of the southern peninsula for birding, according to a local birding club on the peninsula. So we will see! I have reservations at the Tambor Tropical Hotel right on the beach AND on a river with hiking trails following it inland for lots of do-it-yourself birding. Plus there are two reserves nearby that I hope to see with a guide. And this is another “Adults Only” hotel. Wow! New for me.

Puntarenas is almost due west of Atenas, slightly southwest. To drive or go on bus includes a long ferry ride, making a long trip. Thus I have elected to fly a small plane to the little airport at Tambor Bay. Hotel picks me up at airport.
 


Not having family, I have found that Christmas is more enjoyable while on a trip and I always end up with new friends as well as new experiences! So I’m looking forward to this Christmas when I celebrate living in Costa Rica for three years! ¡Pura Vida!