Red-billed Pigeon

A bird I have photographed on several of my trips and here he is in front of my house! For more information on this bird, see Neotropical Birds where you will see that he lives only in Central America & Mexico, not the big city pest the word “pigeon” brings to mind. And for some of my other photos of this bird, including last week at Xandari, see my Costa Rica Red-billed Pigeon Gallery with some better shots than these! Or the whole Costa Rica BIRDS Gallery for sub-galleries of 13 different species of pigeons and doves I’ve photographed here! An interesting & colorful family of birds!

No better way is there to learn to love Nature than to understand Art. It dignifies every flower of the field. And, the boy who sees the thing of beauty which a bird on the wing becomes when transferred to wood or canvas will probably not throw the customary stone.

~Oscar Wilde

¡Pura Vida!

My Xandari Villa

My third time to visit one of the most expensive hotels that I like in Costa Rica gives me a third different and bigger room/villa. I rarely show this many photos of a room, but because it is unique, I decided to this time along with the Art in My Villa, yesterday’s post.

This “room”  is called a “King Junior Suite” meaning just one king size bed in multiple rooms or spaces, a large suite or villa. They call all their rooms villas because most are in separate buildings and all are large.

From the lobby and restaurant main building, you walk through the gardens on a beautiful winding, paved path to the entrance of #5 in this case:

Private Entrance Compound

Kitchenette by front Terrace

 

Living Room

 

Valley-View Terrace

 

Bedroom

 

Bathroom

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Shower behind blue wall overlooking private garden. Toilet in separate room behind me.

This exceptional hotel is just 20 minutes from the San Jose Airport, thus a starting and ending location for many international tourists coming here, like the people I visited with this time from England, Germany, France, Canada and the U.S.

Yet they are immersed in a tropical rainforest with hiking trails, 5 waterfalls on the river, wildlife, both wild and cultivated flowers, a small farm for the kitchen, a wonderful Spa and restaurant. Some things are worth paying more for!   🙂   I do this occasionally here while other times I “rough it” in the wilderness to be closer to nature. I like both experiences! And the way Xandari combines both luxury AND nature! Plus now they house the Charlie Doggett Photography Library!   🙂   That alone makes the visit worthwhile!   🙂

Luxury is attention to detail, originality, exclusivity and above all quality.
~Angelo Bonati

¡Pura Vida!

Xandari Costa Rica

Dragonfly & Squirrel

Dragonfly

This dragonfly and squirrel round out my photos of wildlife at Xandari, having already done posts on Birds and Butterflies. The latter giving me 4 new species! Dragonflies seem to interest everyone almost as if magical or “fairy-like” as butterflies, though the larger ones are easier to photograph than these tiny blue ones. See my separate photo galleries for Costa Rica Dragonflies and for Costa Rica Damselflies for more of this magic!

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Variegated Squirrel

IMG_9155-A-WEBAnd finally, every man’s pest, the squirrel, in this case the Variegated Squirrel, the most common in Costa Rica. But there are other species of squirrels and I have galleries on 3 of them:

 

An animal’s eyes have the power to speak a great language.

~Martin Buber

 

¡Pura Vida!

Xandari Costa Rica

Xandari Birds

I’ve seen more birds at Xandari in the past, but 15+ is not bad for this close to the city on very windy days! No new birds for me though this second time to photograph a Rose-breasted Grosbeak shows up the “rose” color more than my earlier shots in Monteverde. And I love the way the Yellow-throated Euphonia appears to be hollering at me in the feature photo! 

Otherwise most of these are pretty bad photos which I will blame on the wind and the dense dark forest, making birds most difficult to photograph. The pair of Lesson’s Motmots are more interesting than my usual solo shots of them and that blue tail maybe the best motmot tail yet for me!   🙂

My main reason for going to Xandari this time was to install my “Charlie Doggett Photo Books Library” in the lobby of the hotel for guests from around the world to enjoy and I even got to observe some guests using the books already! Plus I just love this little nature retreat with 5 waterfalls, 4 miles of nature trails, some of the best flower gardens anywhere along with spacious villas for rooms and super-good food and private jacuzzis! A very relaxing retreat again!

Xandari Birds 2020

 

Xandari Nature Resort

“In order to see birds it is necessary to become a part of the silence.”

― Robert Lynd

¡Pura Vida!

My Costa Rica Birds Gallery

Butterflies

January is not considered the best month for butterflies like June and July but I seem to always see a lot at Xandari and this week is no exception! Only 6 species this time, BUT 4 ARE LIFERS! That is 4 new species I have not photographed before, so not bad!   🙂   Maybe it is the different time of year that gives me new species – whatever, I’m glad! I am now up to 95 butterfly species in Costa Rica! See my CR Butterfly Gallery.

I will try to do a birds at Xandari post tomorrow, my leaving day, or the following day. Just not as many as in the past, being very windy in January!

This Week’s Butterflies

See my Costa Rica Butterfly Gallery

 

Butterflies are God’s confetti, thrown upon the Earth in celebration of His love.     – K. D’Angelo

¡Pura Vida!

Xandari Costa Rica

My Photos in an Art Gallery

One reason I was happy that Xandari would house my library of Photo Books is that the entire hotel is an art gallery with art literally everywhere, inside and outside. It was built by an Artist/Architect and his wife an Art Teacher. In another post I will display the art in my villa this time – different every visit!

The above stained glass window is in the reading room of the lobby and my photo books are on a book shelf at the entrance to that reading room. In earlier Tennessee days I tried to sell photos at art fairs calling them “Nature as Art” which fits this arty nature retreat very well. I’m happy to be a part of Xandari!

 

Today was my very full day with an early morning birding hike with excellent guide Jose and a lovely couple from England, followed by breakfast and a tour of the only Starbucks-owned coffee farm in the world which I will tell you more about later, then an afternoon late lunch, relaxation massage, a desert at dinner time and I’m ready for bed! With lots of photos to process tomorrow, my last full day here.

¡Pura Vida!

Xandari 2018-Enchanted by Nature
Just one of 29 books in the library!
Brilliant Book cover
And the other one about Xandari!  Plus all of my other Costa Rica photo books!

To see all of my Costa Rica Photo books, go to My Bookstore at Blurb where you can preview any of the books for free electronically! Best if viewed in full screen mode of course!   🙂

All Over Costa Rica!

I was thinking of doing a Costa Rica Map on a cork board with map pins showing where I’ve been – which is a lot more places than most people I know here among both Ticos and Expats. Then suddenly in my electronic mailbox appears an email from Google Maps titled: Google Maps Timeline 2019 Update.  Yep, it included the feature photo map above and some other stuff  that seems to go back to 2015, my first year here when I began traveling Costa Rica. It seems I approved them tracking me (my cell phone) back then and this is what I get! Should I be afraid of Google or send them a thank you note?   🙂

The big red blob in the middle is the space between Atenas & San Jose that includes Alajuela and all the places I go there including the big SJO Airport. I cannot explain the red dot in the Pacific Ocean, but if you study the map more you will see the large green area in the south-southeast above Panama that has no red spots for my visits. One main reason is that it is the Talamanca Mountains, much of which is indigenous reserves with no public roads going through there plus protected national forests not allowing travel. My May trip will put me on the Western edge of that area at Chirripó and my visit to the Bribri Yorkin Reserve had me on the eastern edge. And that is it!   🙂   So just 17 more parks/reserves to go!   🙂

After 37 national parks & reserves are visited, I will do a photo book like I did with all of Tennessee’s State Parks in my photo book A Walk in the Woods Through All 54 Tennessee State Parks. There are technically only 28 national parks here! But the nine reserves count as equals and for my nature photography purposes especially, so I’m saying 37, with only 17 more to go! I don’t have a car which slows me down a little! But I will get there!   🙂

See links to the photo galleries of the 20 National Parks & Reserves I have already visited  or for all of my travels over Costa Rica browse through the family of galleries:

Costa Rica Trips (80) which is the best collection of my photos here!

 

“My wish is to stay always like this, living quietly in a corner of nature.”

~Claude Monet

¡Pura vida!

2020 – Year of 7 Favorite Hotels!

I am slowing down a little in 2020 – at least slower for me – but will not totally “act my age” in the year I turn 80! I just finished detail travel plans for this year with about half as many week-long trips as in 2019, 7 instead of 13! More time at home writing, but when out I will follow this unidentified quote:

Get lost in nature and you will find yourself.

My 7 trips are each great nature adventures, as I require, even with 6 being repeat locations! Each trek’s hotel heading is linked to that hotel’s website if interested:

Xandari Nature Resort, Alajuela 

Brilliant Book coverThis is in many ways my favorite hotel and nature retreat, though not my best birding place. And is one of the most expensive! But it has as much nature overall as any of my favorite places, plus 5 of their own waterfalls on property, plus excellent service, rooms, and food plus the best of all hot tubs or jacuzzis! (And more birds than at home!)

It is very relaxing in every way and they treated me royally on my birthday last year, plus this year (next week) they will be installing the only complete library of my Costa Rica Photo Books in their lobby as one of their many art exhibits for the enjoyment of other clients. More about the only Charlie Doggett Photography Library next week!   🙂

 

And for photo galleries of my two previous visits to Xandari:

 

Savegre Hotel & Nature Reserve, San Gerardo de Dota

Near Savegre Mountain Lodge, Costa Rica, 1-30-09I’ve wanted to return there since my first short visit on a birding tour in 2009 while still living in downtown Nashville. I’ve returned to San Gerardo de Dota twice since then as the best place in Costa Rica to see and photograph the Resplendent Quetzal! I’ll include links to those two other lodges visited below in case considering the area for a visit.

This little mountain village is adjacent to the grand Quetzal National Park and is a wonderful place for many different kinds of mountain birds or cloud forest birds. And one of the few places in Costa Rica where it gets cold at night! They even have fireplaces in some of the rooms!  We rushed through Sevegre on the birding tour with just two nights, so I expect to get more birds and an overall better and more relaxing experience on this five-night visit. My photos from previous visits to San Gerardo de Dota:

 

Talari Mountain Lodge, Chirripó  NEW for me

001-IMG_7207-WEBThe Chirripó Mountain is the tallest in Costa Rica and for a certain group of Tico young men, climbing to the top (overnight with one night on the mountain) is a sort of “rite of passage” for the real outdoors young man here, some before high school graduation.    🙂

I visited the area in 2015 on my way to the birding club visit to San Gerardo de Dota for just two nights in the Rio Chirripó Lodge, a sort of yoga retreat and B&B which was very nice. I hiked past the entrance trail to Chirripó top but went on into the private adjacent Cloudbridge Reserve for birds and two beautiful waterfalls and no tall mountain climb for me!

In this same area is Los Cusingos Biological Reserve where the first big birder in Costa Rica, Alexander Skutch, lived and wrote the first birding guides for Costa Rica. Thus I have always wanted to visit it and the nearby Los Quebradas Biological Reserve . So my goals are those two reserves and maybe the popular Fincas Suizos Birding Tour along with many birds on the lodge property along a river. This whole area on the Pacific slope is supposed to have a large variety of birds not found in other places. It is near San Isidro del General, the biggest town in southern Costa Rica, but no flights there, meaning I will have another half-day + bus adventure cross country!

Photos from my brief 2 days in the area at:

 

Maquenque Eco-Lodge & Reserve

Maquenque BookMy second visit to this favorite retreat and #1 birding spot that ranked first place on my birding lodges list the other day as having given me the most bird species (53) photographed at any lodge in Costa Rica over the last five years!

Plus I will get to sleep in a tree house room again for my 80th birthday! (Yeah! A lot of steps up to a tree house, but steps keep an old man young!) It is my kind of place in almost every way with excellent service, great room, and very good food, though maybe not the best. Their guides are excellent and I will expect a lot of bird and other wildlife photos again this time! Photos from my last visit:

 

 

Hotel Banana Azul, Puerto Viejo in Caribe Sur

South CaribeAnother favorite hotel that I never tire of even though not the best for birds like Maquenque. It is the location, people, service, attitudes, the great “Howler Suite” room that I must reserve a year in advance and the excellent food.

One of the most relaxing places I go and I’m becoming a regular there! Plus great for photos of many things beyond birds in nature and wonderful sunrises! See my photo galleries of past visits for some of my favorite photos:

 

 

Rancho Humo, Palo Verde NP

Rancho-HumoAnother favorite hotel that has almost everything! Luxury room, gourmet food, and lots of birds and other nature to photograph! It could become another regular that I just discovered last year. It is on the Rio Tempisque river across from the Palo Verde National Park and possibly the only place in Costa Rica you can photograph a Jabiru Stork along with lots of other birds.

It is different from almost any of my other favorites here with more of a ranch or cowboy atmosphere which is part of a real working ranch with around 800 head of cattle along with all the nature. I look forward to returning and here’s my photos from last year’s visit:

 

Arenal Observatory, Arenal Volcano National Park

ArenalObservatoryAnother favorite hotel of mine in almost every category from birds to food and service! And it is very popular for both tourists and Ticos. This will be my third time here and the photos below will show why I like it so much.

It is the only hotel around Arenal that is inside the national park (long story) and in the most natural surroundings of any and the closest to the volcano that you look not out at, but up to! Plus it is on the lake for gorgeous sunset photos, also from my room (I have a favorite room here too! #29).

There’s a birding tower that I love, plus lots of trails, a huge waterfall, a farm, and horseback riding for those that wish – not my interest- and other things off the lodge property like the largest butterfly research place in Costa Rica and more birding trails!

 

And with this many repeats, am I in danger of “getting in a rut?”   Well, right now I already have one or two new places in mind for 2021 but I am appreciating knowing what I am getting into and a few of these place I really like, PLUS there are some others I want to repeat but haven’t, like Esquinas Lodge, Cristal Ballena, Danta Corcovado and Aguila de Osa – Wow! But money and energy are going to keep me down to a trip every other month for now and just deal with the fact that there are too many choices in Costa Rica!   🙂

 

All trails seem to lead to waterfalls, misty crater lakes or jungle-fringed, deserted beaches. Explored by horseback, foot or kayak, Costa Rica is a tropical choose-your-own-adventure land.     ~Lonely Planet

¡Pura Vida!

I’m Back at Nashville Zoo!

196_9603-WEBMy first 12 years of retirement in Nashville (2003-2014) found me at The Nashville Zoo almost weekly as the volunteer photographer for awhile and as an Educational Docent for the last 9 years! Well . . . I’m not really back as a person, just in name only, found on one of the bricks on the sidewalk leading up to the new Veterinary Clinic. Check it out! You can actually watch some surgeries through the big plate glass window! Cool!

And on my static web pages under About–Doing Good is a Nashville Zoo Docent page for just a glimpse at what I did for years at my favorite zoo. Or for more of my published photos there see one of my photography pages. Later I will be adding a Nashville Zoo Photo Gallery with some of the hundreds of photos I made there. Another special place in my retirement life!   🙂

Zoo-by-Lydia-3-18-11

Retirement can be fun and colorful wherever you live! But I still think the best is being:

Retired in Costa Rica

¡Pura Vida!

🙂

 

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.

-o-

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?

-o-

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!