And as a nature lover, I do not always embrace “progress” that henders nature, but as always, I learn to live with it! 🙂 This old dirt country road called “Calle Nueva” winds over three or four hills through the woods and farms on the western edge of Pueblo Atenas running from the western side of town to the nearby village of Rio Grande at the entrance to Ruta 27, our controlled access highway between San Jose and Jaco Beach. This narrow country dirt road has been considered an emergency exit road in case of a disaster requiring evacuation. Now it is about to become a major street or road to enter or exit Atenas. They first graded and widened it to 9 meters taking a few trees and lots of wild flower with their backhoes, graders and chainsaws. Now they have started at the Rio Grande end widening it to 14 meters and paving it! Working this way! And more than half finished! Already traffic has increased and when all is paved it will stay busy!
Of course I am disappointed that I am about to lose my little “shady lane” country road for birding and butterflies along with other nature photography, but even with pavement and more cars it will for a while have more birds and other nature than city streets, just gradually the farms along this road will be turned into housing developments as more foreigners move here in both retirement like me AND now so many younger adults who work on the internet and can live anywhere are choosing to live here! 🙂 It’s all part of our big changing world! At least I’m already living in one of those more desirable places in the world to live! 🙂
I will continue to walk this road for its nature until there is no more nature. The additional people, traffic and greater speed of vehicles will discourage the birds and other animals in time, but for now it is still a nature path, even when the pavement goes down. And I will continue to document here the birds and butterflies I find through these woods and farms, but for you who live here, be aware than “progress” is coming! 🙂
More photos of the road below from my March 10 sunrise walk . . .
Some of the new friends that have come into my life in Costa Rica are “seasonal” or some say “Snow Birds” who come to our tropical climate as an escape from the snow & ice up north during the coldest months. One, who has in the past stayed in Roca Verde just up the street from me, is Margaret from British Columbia, Canada and like me, a birder in her 80’s.
This year she decided to go beyond Atenas and see the birds and other sights of many areas of Costa Rica and brought her friend Pat with her. Here’s the diary or journal of their very economical adventure by public bus and staying in local B&Bs, like I did in my early years here . She included 45 photos that I could not copy with the story and adding all individually to this blog post would greatly slow it down, so I chose 4 to scatter throughout the story. And her good “storyteller” way of reporting their adventures makes her words the “illustrations.” Her third person references (you and yours) are to Jill, one of their first hostesses she was writing much of this to. The sub-headings are my addition to indicate the general area of Costa Rica they were in at that time of their trip. Enjoy! And plan your own adventure! 🙂 ¡Pura vida!
There is not a lot of water in many streams during dry season, though springs provide some, and this Waterfall #5 is the biggest one during the rainy season, but not much to look at on my last morning hike down the steep path to see it. Of course there is a much larger and nicer falls at Arenal Observatory Lodge and even better are the 3 giant falls at El Silencio Lodge in Bajó del Toro, but still I like all waterfalls, so here’s 4 shots of a little one from this morning. 🙂
I got 8 more butterflies today and at least one a “lifer” or new one for me, but identifying and processing hundreds of photos is just too much to share those today and the birds were just a very few! It is quite windy here this time of year.
So for today’s post, the easy way out, a handful of vistas from the hotel, many from my room and most of these are untouched straight out of the camera to facilitate my limited time for this post today! 🙂 One shot of last night’s sunset from my room just for the email announcement, and then all in a slide show that follows . . .
As much as I love traveling around Costa Rica with my camera, I am slowing down a little this year for multiple reasons, mainly health and money! 🙂 I’ve lived a long and exciting life already, mostly as a high-energy person, ready at all times for the next adventure! But with much less energy after cancer radiation treatments and having three pretty serious falls last year on trips, I must “start acting my age” in some respects. 🙂
Plus, my savings have been cut back a good bit with all the cancer treatments and I’m beginning to feel the tightness of money more, so fewer trips and shorter trips is part of my plan for this year with enough “wiggle room” to add a day trip at the last minute when I feel the need. 🙂 Like the 2-night trip this week just added to nearby Xandari Resort . . .
Here’s My 2023 Travel Plans
2 nights – Xandari Costa Rica Resort, Alajuela, my #1 best location for butterflies and one of the best for flowers! It’s this week! And you can see photos from 5 previous visits by browsing through my Costa Rica Trips Galleries, 2022, 2020 (twice), 2019 & 2018. 🙂 I will be giving the resort gifts of two copies of one of my newest photo books, Butterflies! The Hidden Art of Xandari for them to add to the only complete library of all Charlie Doggett photo books!
4 nights – Tortuga Lodge & Gardens, Tortuguero National Park.This will be my 4th trip to Tortuguero NP but my first time to this Lodge which is a sister lodge to the Monteverde Lodge and Gardens I visited in 2019 and considered a little nicer than the more rustic lodges I’ve visited here before, Turtle Beach Lodge in 2019 and Laguna Lodge in 2016 and with Caravan Tours in 2010. Tortuguero is often called “The Amazon of Costa Rica” with most nature hikes by boat and an amazing amount of wildlife from an occasional Jaguar to almost every tropical bird! 🙂
5 nights – Maquenque EcoLodge & Reserve, Boca Tapada. I sometimes call this my favorite lodge because of the large number of birds and other wildlife I’ve photographed there in the past and because they have treehouse rooms from which I’ve photographed both birds and monkeys in the nearby trees. But for the first time there I’m staying in a ground level cabin, one on the lake which may give me different wildlife photos from my room and I will be in less danger of falling down the 50 metal steps going up to the treehouse room. 🙂 You can see the photos of my 3 previous visits there by browsing through my Costa Rica Trips Galleries, or directly to 2022, 2020, & 2019. 🙂
5 Nights – Esquinas Rainforest Lodgewhich I’ve visited only one other time, also in the rainy season with one of my largest collections of bird photos in a 2018 visit when I was the only guest most of my days there. It is a small, quiet jungle retreat in the rainforests of Piedras Blancas National Park on the opposite side of that park from the more touristy Playa Cativo Lodge I visited last July, also for my birthday! This year is will be my 83rd birthday! 🙂 This is run by Austrians in conjunction with their university-related rainforest research station there. Being the rainy season, it will definitely not be crowded and I could be the only guest again! That would be okay with me! 🙂
6 nights – Hotel Banana Azul, Puerto Viejo, Limón, South Caribe. This is my annual Caribbean Beach vacation, staying always in “The Howler Suite” room overlooking the rainforest property and beach where I get great sunrise photos each morning plus lots of butterflies and birds and other wildlife including Sloths. It is my most relaxing place to visit and I have no pressure to do anything, plus the food is good and I can walk to most places, though they have their own tour company to take me further if I want explore afar and of course to and from the Limón Aeropuerto. I always fly there as I will also to Esquinas in July, near Golfito. My only 2 flying trips this year. Walter will drive me everywhere else I go this year. You can see my photos of 5 previous visits to Banana Azul by browsing through my Costa Rica Trips Galleries, or go directly to 2022, 2021, 2019, 2018, & 2017.
6 Nights – Hotel Savegre Lodge & Reserve, San Gerardo de Dota. And this year I will spend Christmas in another favorite lodge, in the most beautiful mountains with the 5th purest/cleanest river in the entire world – Rio Savegre! And the best place in Costa Rica to photograph the Resplendent Quetzal birds along with many others! Plus terrific food, rooms and hiking trails! See my photos from there on my 2021 Visit, plus I was in the same hotel in 2009 (smaller then) and I have visited two other lodges in San Gerardo de Dota. Mariam’s Quetzales Cabins in 2015 and Trogon Lodge in 2014, all good experiences!
So fewer trips this year, but each one comes at a time I will emotionally need it and all in places I’ve been before and really love! I’m the luckiest guy in the world to get to spend my final years living like this in the most beautiful nature places in the world! Nothing could be better for my 83rd year of life!
A local friend who has connections with a private religious retreat center in the mountains of Santa Eulalia, Atenas Canton, took me and two other friends last Saturday morning for a really nice birding hike that included all nature! 🙂 You can see the photos at:
If I look more to the right from my terrace at a North to a little Northeast I see more distant mountains toward Arenal and the closer Poas Volcano which I think may be under those clouds on the mid-right. I haven’t been to Poas in a long time, which now requires a reservation, and you must go early morning to avoid the cloud cover. When clear, it is the best volcano in Costa Rica to visit because only there can you look down into the bubbling cauldron and of course smell the sulphur. They recommend no more than 15 minutes at the rim for health reasons in breathing sulphur.
It seems to be taking me longer to complete my trip galleries – just a slow old man! 🙂
But one reason was that it is slow identifying 32 species of butterflies (several new to me), 29 species of birds (1 lifer), and 13 species of other wildlife with lots of nice frog shots this time! These trip galleries are my main photo galleries to which I link for photos in the bird, butterfly and other subject galleries. If you are considering different lodges in Costa Rica as a visitor or one who lives here and travels like me, these trip galleries are a good source of real information about what you can see in a particular place. Enjoy!
Lake Arenal was the first first man-made lake built in Costa Rica to create electricity with a dam, famous for having covered the town of Arenal and its cemetery with water. The town’s residents moved to a “Nuevo Arenal” which is now called Castillo, where the Butterfly Conservancy is located. It is also a popular local fishing lake and is surrounded by tourist attractions, Arenal Volcano National Park (La Fortuna) on the east, Monteverde on the west and Tenorio National Park nearby along with Caño Negro and many lodges/hotels & hot springs. And yes, some expat retirees have built homes on the lake! 🙂
My earlier May trip to the Observatory Lodge was better for lake shots because the sun sets over the lake that time of year! No really good shots this time, but sort of what a lake looks like in cloudy and rainy weather. 🙂
Here’s 5 shots from this trip, two of which are multi-shot panoramas . . .
Though I always go to the lodge that is closest to the volcano (and surrounded by the most forest!), this trip Christmas week was the first time the volcano was covered in clouds most of the time. The only clear day, all day, was Christmas Day, with clouds and rain all the rest of that week! But with all the photos I’ve been sharing, you can see that the rain or clouds didn’t dampen my spirits too much! 🙂 Here are four different views of the volcano from four different locations including the one sun-shiny day shot! 🙂