Today was the first time we’ve had enough sunshine for the Arenal Volcano to be totally visible or almost! A beautiful day and my guide Nestor, whom I also had a year and a half ago when here before, took me to Bogarin Trail (or their Facebook Page) where we saw about 40 species of birds and I got usable photos of about 21. If it doesn’t rain, I’m going back up on the tower this afternoon, meaning I won’t have time to post my Bogarin Bird Bonanza, including my second lifer this week, a White-throated Crake. Another good day! And the blog posts pile up! 🙂
I think I forgot that they are on the Caribbean Slope – east of continental divide (their rivers flow into the Atlantic) meaning November is maybe the rainiest month! 🙂 As soon as the plane got out of Central Valley over the mountains it was raining and hasn’t stopped since. But I love the rainy season in general and have had some great experiences in the rain, like at Esquinas Rainforest Lodge, so I scheduled all my birding hikes and will do the best I can even if under an umbrella! 🙂 Funny thing is I tried to book this trip for Christmas week and they were already full nearly a year ago. I’m thinking about booking for Christmas 2121. 🙂
The best photos in this post (I think) are the “Plane Shots.” Enjoy and expect some wet reports this week!
Welcome! is the translation for you English-only-speakers and one of the new Tico residents of Roca Verde decided that since he lives in the first house inside Roca Verde main gate he would contribute to the neighborhood with this nice welcome sign at 101 Roca Verde just across a little valley from my house at 105 (and he too overlooks the cow pasture). I can’t remember, but don’t think I have shown his welcome sign on the blog yet.
Also inside the main gate (before his sign and at edge of the cow pasture) is the above lovely shaped tree that just lost its leaves and is renewing them now in our sort of a Spring. Walking to town this morning I walked by the tree that I have always liked the shape of and decided on a cell phone photo – above. Then I saw a Lineated Woodpecker in it that soon flew to two of the other trees as I tried to make a photo (below), but I need my big camera for birds! No good photo, but you can see what else is welcoming you inside the Roca Verde gate. 🙂 Bienvenidos!
“Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky.”
— Kahlil Gibran
So what does a community do with an old high school building when it is replaced? This old high school in Atenas, Costa Rica was replaced many years ago but is still educating some of the same people as an adult education university extension school. We now have two public high schools, one a college-prep high school (Colegio Liceo) and the other a technical high school that prepares one for a job at graduation (Colegio Técnico).
The old high school building was recently repainted and I think looks nice sitting across from Central Park or on opposite corner from the main Catholic Church. It houses UNED, UNIVERSIDAD ESTATAL A DISTANCIA or “Distance University” with 45 locations across Costa Rica (see map below)!
Already one of the best educated countries in the world with free education through college, Costa Rica continues to educate its adults and make life better for everyone here! Just one more thing that makes it such an amazing place! 🙂
“There is no end to education. It is not that you read a book, pass an examination, and finish with education. The whole of life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning.” –Jiddu Krishnamurti
FUN NOTES ABOUT THE PHOTO: At the corner waiting to safely cross the street is a mother with baby in stroller and primary school child in tow – a common – typical scene of this family-oriented community where almost all children walk to and from school and the younger ones with a parent.
Behind the little family is one of several “street sweepers” in Atenas who literally sweeps the streets with a push broom and picks up with a dustpan. He also empties the little street trash bins like the one beside him in the photo above. Or see my old 2015 Street Sweeper Post on this blog. 🙂
And lastly at this central point in Atenas, corner of Avenida 0 and Calle 0 you can see how much traffic there is in the middle of the day! Of course there is more at times, but generally this is a very tranquil town with more walkers than car drivers and friendly at that! Such a contrast to the big city noise and traffic of San Jose & Alajuela or the rude, tourist-congested beach towns! A peaceful little coffee farming town in the central valley of Costa Rica with the slogan of “Best weather in the world!” “Mejor clima del mundo!” Why live anywhere else? 🙂
In Atenas the Post Office (la oficina de correos) is being remodeled or sort of freshened up with new mail boxes (apartados) that are not in numerical order (?go figure?!), new tile floor, new counter and paint on walls, etc.
The good rapid clerk (nice young man) no longer works there – with a new one being trained very slowly and she was the only one there yesterday when I go in line behind about 10 persons and waited more than an hour to mail one of my photo books to a hotel I visited recently. Though it is not always this slow, it kind of reminded me of waiting in line at the post offices in Nashville where I also remember some very long waits and similarly inefficient processes, especially around Christmas! Oh well, that’s life! Así es la vida!
Apdo. 441-4013, Atenas, Alajuela, 20501 Costa Rica
Letters take about a week, 10 days, from the states & almost as long in-country! 🙂
Packages take longer depending on Customs.
NEVER send anything to my street address! Carrier will stick it in the fence or gate if I’m not home and it could blow away or otherwise be lost! No home mail boxes here! What’s that? ¿Qué es eso? And most locals don’t have mailboxes like me but use “general delivery.” Part of that line is persons waiting to pick up general delivery mail, or get passport, cédula, visa, pay property tax, etc. I’ve seen a clerk dig through 3 big mail cartons of letters looking for someone’s general delivery letter and sometimes never find it.
“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
If you have been researching a move to Costa Rica you have certainly run across Nadine’s series of books, all prefaced with “Happier Than a Billionaire!” She and her husband are one example of the young adults fleeing that evil empire to the north of here and their stories here represent somewhat different and somewhat similar reasons for moving to Costa Rica and the lifestyle chosen compared to the larger group of us Americans down here who are “Retired in Costa Rica.”
Also google her name or slogan “Happier Than a Billionaire” to learn of more books which tell her story and to find her other channels of communication. If you are a young adult moving here (more and more are showing up even here in Atenas!) then you will benefit from following Nadine on Facebook or some other way. 🙂
For you who are not “Birders” or persons who like to go out in the forests and find new birds, “lifer” is a new bird you see for the first time. In an earlier post I think I mentioned I had seen 4 “lifers” while at Hacienda Guachipelín – well . . . I was wrong! It is five.
I had not included the Stripe-headed Sparrow because I was sure I had a photo of one, but when I got home and checked it out, what I had from an earlier trip was a Black-striped Sparrow and not the Stripe-headed and you Costa Rica birders know that there is a difference! Thus meaning I got photos of 5 new birds added to my Costa Rica Birds gallery, bringing my CR collection up to 325 species, which sounds like a lot, but with nearly 1,000 species of birds in Costa Rica – I have a ways to go! 🙂
My 5 New Birds
All but the Western Wood-Pewee have been shared in other posts but in a different context. And the Wood-Pewee is simply not a good photo thus not used before. The linked names below take you to the eBird or Cornell Neotropical page on that bird if you want more information, plus I have added some of my own comments on each bird related to my experiences.
There are so many parrots here and I have a lot in my gallery but still only about half of the ones in Costa Rica. There were few parrots in the two parts of Africa I visited and thus all my parrot photos are mostly in Latin America, including Brazil & Mexico. I may start going to CR places known for the species I do not have. But I now have added a White-fronted Parrot Gallery! And for those who know parrots don’t confuse this one with the White-crowned Parrot which I’ve seen in three places now.
I was in the only area of Costa Rica where this bird appears (Northern Guanacaste). The closest thing I have ever had like this beautiful bird is the Black-billed Magpie in the Yellowstone National Park in the states. Though both are named Magpie, they are quite different! And I now have a White-throated Magpie Jay Gallery added to my collection!
This is the one I confused with Black-striped Sparrow and that link to my photo will show you the difference, mainly the body colors and the stripe through the eye, though similar as they are with the Olive and Green-backed Sparrows. And now I have a Stripe-headed Sparrow Gallery!
Though it is almost identical to the Eastern Wood-Pewee, they are slightly different migrant birds appearing on our east and west coasts according to their name with the eastern being more broadly distributed even into the west as you will see with my photos of the eastern I found at Rancho Humo, both in Guanacaste on our west coast. And now my Western Wood-Pewee Gallery!
It is fun to see my collection grow!
“The sharp thrill of seeing them [killdeer birds] reminded me of childhood happiness, gifts under the Christmas tree, perhaps, a kind of euphoria we adults manage to shut out most of the time. This is why I bird-watch, to recapture what it’s like to live in this moment, right now.”
― Lynn Thomson, Birding with Yeats: A Mother’s Memoir
And you people in the states think I meant “Inch by Inch” as you forget that the rest of the whole world uses the metric system! 🙂 The renovation of Atenas Central Park slowly takes shape with the outer ring of two-level bench seats completed and the city workers focus on storm drains now with evidently a long way to go before new sidewalks, benches, picnic tables, playground, landscaping and artwork on the ceiling of the kiosko! But it will happen, poco a poco! 🙂 See my gallery Remodeling Central Park.
The book is finished with 4 new lifer birds for me and now I’m off to other creative activities. Remember – you can PREVIEW the book electronically (flip through the pages) for free at my bookstore by clicking on this link and then each page to turn a page. Fun! And best seen in full screen mode! 🙂