Emergency Appeal for “Giving Tuesday”

Hogar de Vida (Home of Life), a Christian children’s home for abused and orphaned young children here in Atenas gains much of its budget each year from the visit of “mission teams” who pay to come work with and for the children year around with most coming during the northern summer months (now). The Coronavirus has stopped all team visits this year through at least August with the borders closed and groups afraid to travel, thus there is a financial emergency at both the home here in Atenas, Costa Rica and the similar home in Guatemala. Go to this link and consider giving online to help the children here in Costa Rica or the ones in Guatemala if you choose:

COVID19 EMERGENCY APPEAL

For Hogar de Vida

And God Bless You!

¡Pura Vida!

Un-immersed

Is that a word?   🙂   Well, anyway, I finished my week of Spanish Language Immersion and can say that it was very good or helpful! The most effective language immersion class/living is when one does it for two months straight or longer, then you are more or less fluent, people tell me. If I had my move to Costa Rica to do over, I would have scheduled the first two months in language immersion, but I didn’t – so I will keep up my plodding along here in Atenas with a tutor two hours a week along with relating to locals in Spanish and I may go back to Heredia for some more one week experiences in the future. We will see. It is not as expensive as my birding trips but nor is it as much fun!   🙂

The featured photo is from my breakfast table back home in Atenas this morning (got in last night) with that pretty pink-blooming tree on the horizon. It is always good to “get back home” after a trip. And in a lesser sense, I still have a type of language immersion living in Atenas, just not in my house! Though I guess I could talk to myself in Spanish!   🙂   I use only Spanish here with taxistas, at the supermercado, mostly in restaurants & other business and with my tutor – so not bad – but still not quite like the full immersion of this past week.

I recommend the experience and really liked the folks at Tico Lingo which I recommend, though I can’t compare it to any of the many other such programs here or in other countries. My uncle and some friends had good experiences at a similar program in Antigua, Guatemala while I have known others to do it in various places in Mexico – thus there are many opportunities if you are interested! And remember that living in a local home that speaks only Spanish is maybe just as important as the several hours of class work in the school.   🙂   AND using the language when you leave!  🙂  And I just now found one website that compares 18 such schools mostly geared to youth also wanting a beach experience and it doesn’t even include Tico Lingo, but if interested check out: Language Schools. My relocation tour stopped at two of these schools for quick introductions and there are more than these!

Speaking in Spanish with other students was also helpful. I was at a lower level than the one group class during my week, thus I had a solo class or 3 hours of personal tutoring each morning which was definitely best for me, but I did go out to lunch with some others and practiced with them a little, though it’s too easy to relapse into English with other Americans!   🙂

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They have “Graduation” every week! Me with my certificate & Profesora Ana.
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And as I left my home for the week 4-year-old Daniela said “adios” to me!

 

And of course I have a “Trip Gallery” of photos from this week, titled:

2020 February 22-28 — Heredia for Spanish Immersion

 

“The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.”
~Ludwig Wittgenstein

¡Pura Vida!

 

 

Arrival at My Hostess House

One Tico family picked me up at the airport and took me to la casa de Doña Vera Garcia with a hardy welcome from a very energetic & talkative 4 year old Daniela. Her father, Daniel, was working late tonight at the shoe store in the nearby Mall. There are 2 other boarders here, college-age Tico boys from smaller towns going to trade schools here in Heredia, a very big suburb of San Jose. The students went out and will eat here later as many Ticos do, but I ate at about 6:30 (late for me) and talked the best I could with Vera in my malo español.

The small apartment complex where they live became more lively as it got dark and people came home from work with little Daniela running in and out of the house and relating to all the neighbors and many coming in our house visiting; a close, friendly community, like a big family with everybody talking, in Spanish of course, and usually much faster than I can understand. And who knows where the college boys went? But first, one of them helped me get on the WiFi which Vera didn’t understand. And I settled down in my private room working on my computer. It is much cooler here than in Atenas and noisier because we are near downtown Heredia. I’ll be in bed soon. Hope I can sleep. Big day tomorrow!

 

And of course I have a “Trip Gallery” of photos from this week, titled:

2020 February 22-28 — Heredia for Spanish Immersion

 

¡Pura Vida!

Life-changing Reads

Back in 2015 in a Post titled My Library I told you a tiny bit about the life-changing book I had just read titled Pay It Forward, by Catherine Ryan Hyde, about a little boy’s school project to change the world that actually did. And it was made into a movie that I cannot get here. If you have never read it, I encourage you to! I had learned about it from reading another book by her titled Electric God which was very good, just not as great at Pay It Forward!  

Well, recently I have finished two more books by Catherine Ryan Hyde that also can be life changing for some people: Stay, about another boy, age 14, who helped three people in his life not commit suicide and thus changed his world, their world and the world of hundreds of other people.

Then tonight I finished my 4th book by her titled Heaven Adjacent. It is about a workaholic, divorced attorney woman whose best friend was also a workaholic saving for a “good retirement” when she suddenly dies of a stroke. Rosie realizes in the loss of her friend that money is not what was needed for real life. She then does an irrational thing, telling no one, she walks away from her law firm, driving to a tiny rural area in an adjacent state, buys a tiny little farm house, planning to live the rest of her life in quiet solitude away from the mad rush of the city, work, family and search for money. (Kind of like me coming to Costa Rica.) But you could never imagine the life-changing adventure her bizarre action creates. You have to read it to see!   🙂

Catherine Ryan Hyde novels are too emotionally moving for me to read any more for awhile. But I will eventually read more.

Now back to escape novels by Agatha Christie (I’m working on completing all the Poirot mysteries now) and then I have pre-ordered the book coming out next month The Adventurer’s Son, a memoir about the National Geographic Explorer’s son who came to Costa Rica after me as a college-age young man and hiked alone into the magnificent Corcovado National Park (one of my favorite places here) never to be seen again. I read news reports for a short time, then nothing. Now I will get the full story or as much as his father knows. Another possible life-changing book and very close to home for me!  🙂   Much better than TV!

 

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¡Pura Vida!

Christmas Parade!

“The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.”

~Will Ferrell, ‘Elf’

And that is what they do in the annual Christmas Lights Night Parade in Atenas with participants and viewers coming from other “pueblos” (towns) surrounding Atenas including the large Zarcero Community Band which marched in the Rose Parade earlier as well as smaller, rural bands and dance groups. Colorful, long, and loud!

A terrific Christmas Fiesta that continued after the parade with live music & food in the partly remodeled Central Park Atenas until midnight! Since I can hear the sound system from my house, it meant I was delayed going to bed last night!   🙂   And for some of us . . .

“The world has grown weary through the years, but at Christmas, it is young.”     ~Phillips Brooks

Atenas Christmas Parade 2019

 

For more photos see my Christmas Parade 2019 Photo Gallery!

¡Pura Vida!

Christmas Time

“And we are better throughout the year for having in spirit, become a child again at Christmas time.”     ~Laura Ingalls Wilder

And that is what I am doing again for this Christmas! Tonight (Friday) I watch the Christmas Lights Parade in Atenas which is always beautiful and colorful.  (Feature Photo is 2017 Atenas Parade)   I missed the parade last year while on a trip. That means that tomorrow, Saturday, I hope to report on the parade with photos, though it could be mid-day before I can get that many photos processed!   🙂

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Then Sunday morning I leave for the mountains where I will be spending the week at Braulio Carrillo, our second largest national park in Costa Rica at the Tapirus Lodge which I’m hoping was a good choice since my first choice (Arenal Observatory) had no vacancies a year ahead of this Christmas Week! (I now have them scheduled for Christmas 2020! Tapirus is operated  by Rainforest Adventures which seems to emphasize the young with zip-lining and white-water rafting much more than bird-watching (but I am becoming a child again!) – so we will see! But at least I will be in the forest – me gusta mucho!    🙂

¡Pura Vida!

 

Christmas Cakes! ¡Queques de Navidad!

I know, the Spanish dictionaries will say “tortas de Navidad” or “los pasteles de Navidad” but Costa Rica has its own Spanish and we call cake “queque” here!   🙂

My favorite bakery here is Crema y Nata and they got an order this year for 40 Christmas Cakes for a corporate Office Christmas Party in San Jose. I snapped a few shots of my friends there preparing some of the 40 cakes. Also there are some shots of the patio dining area where I have coffee and sometime breakfast at least twice a week. In addition to their Christmas Cake which is okay (like a spice cake with icing, fruit on top & nuts inside–not as good as Corsicana TX fruit cake in my opinion) they have the best eggnog I have ever tasted in my life – very rich! Called el rompope here!

Queques de Navidad

 

“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.”     ~Norman Vincent Peale

¡Pura Vida!

¡Feliz Navidad!

La Victoria Waterfall

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Santiago, left, & his dad Javier

One of the 5 waterfalls on the hotel property is where the whitewater tubing adventure begins but I did not want to do the tubing, so the adventure tours staff let me ride on the early guide’s bus (5-miles) to the falls and ride back on the return bus.

I just photographed the falls which included a short hike down the mountain to the falls with my guide Javier and his 8-year old son Santiago (asst. guide).  Fun guides that also took me to the butterfly garden and snake exhibit after the waterfall + birding along the way. A very good morning before it started raining! Bird, butterfly & snake photos will come later.

Quebrada Victoria (a small stream) forms the waterfall at the point where it flows into Rio Colorado and at that juncture is where the tour staff & participants depart on the whitewater tubing (in big tractor inner tubes) down the rocky Colorado River – see feature photo above. Easy enough for families with children to participate. I did that growing up in Arkansas as a kid and had a day-long tubing trip on a similar river when in college and decided it was not needed again!   🙂

The tours here also include a serious whitewater rafting trip down a bigger, wilder river with class 3 & 4 rapids, but I’ve also done that in TN and once was enough!   🙂

La Victoria Waterfall

It was not the prettiest but one more check off the list!

 

Javier insisted on making a photo of me with his son, who, like all Tico children and youth, was very respectful of age and very helpful, polite & friendly! A joy!

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Santiago & Charlie on the trail to Victoria Waterfall.

 

“Blessed are the curious for they shall have adventures.”

– Lovelle Drachman

This happened yesterday. Today I have another guide (Johnny) + Javier taking me birding here & then on a tour of the national park. Lots more photos!   🙂

¡Pura Vida!

Baile folklórico – Historical village dancing

Independence Day activities sometimes start early and they did today in front of the city hall across the corner from my bank which had 20+ people waiting for only one working ATM. Pura vida! I got to watch the dancing while I waited and make a few cell phone photos, though lower quality, zoomed in from a half block away. The people are always as interesting as “the show,” thus two little slideshows which is my substitute for the parade I will miss tomorrow.

See my photos of previous parades in  People, Fiestas & Arts Gallery.

Waiting & Watching

 

Dancing

Happy Independence Day Costa Rica!

¡Pura Vida!

 

Encountering Jesús Often in Costa Rica

Jesús

A very popular name for boys here is Jesús, yes that is Spanish for the English name Jesus but with the Spanish pronunciation and noted accent on last syllable: for you English-only speakers it is pronounced like “yay-sús.” It is not considered sacrilegious to use our Lord’s name as a given name, though some boys and more men tend to use their other given name, possibly because of the religious connotation or I can imagine little boys being kidded or bullied over their name.

Just today I conversed with Jesús twice. My taxi driver to the bus station was named Jesús Alpizar and his spirit and relation to me gave honor to his name which is what he is called by everyone as a young man in Atenas. Then in Alajuela today I went to my wonderful dermatologist named Jesús Roberto Gamboa Arend, who goes by Dr. Gamboa or Dr. Roberto Gamboa (choosing not to be called Jesús). But he too gives honor to his first name in his spirit and ways of relating to me. In addition to being my doctor, he is now my “Tico Travel Buddy” as he too enjoys traveling all over Costa Rica for both the sights and adventures, he with his family (2 children). He is the one who has removed all my skin cancers and is regularly monitoring the many growths I continue to get over my body due to my outdoor sunshine in the past.   🙂

A Break from Blogging

Yes, partly I just need a break from the blog sometimes. And after two trips rather close together, I was sort of tired which I seem to get more now that I’m nearly 80. But I have still been writing or really posting photos on my “static” pages of this website, just slowly. For a few days I added more trips to my Pre-Costa Rica TRAVEL Photo Gallery, particularly some of my many Zoo visits across the states. And thus more to my ZOOS I’ve Visited – Photo Links Index gallery page.

AND I also got motivated to start working some on my FAMILY pages, starting with one of the heaviest, fullest, and most emotional pages, titled Death of Juli 1997.   On the Menu under FAMILY – Family of Marriage – LOSSES.

I had already dealt with my dozens of scrapbooks from over the years in my bio books mostly, but I still have two full “scrapbooks” I called Juli Doggett Memorial Book 1 and Book 2. The soft pink covers are perfect for her but two more things I don’t have room for and what would anybody do with them when I die? So I am scanning most of what is in the two binders for perpetuation on the web for at least now (not finished scanning). 

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And one page from these books is the poem I wrote the day after her funeral. The photo of her was the last decent or useable photo I had made of her back in April ’97 on one of our weekend trips from Columbia, this one at Falls Hollow on the Natchez Trace Parkway in front of a waterfall. (And I know! She needed a haircut! But we were busy!)     🙂

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Poem easier to read on the web page My Daughter Juli, God’s Precious Jewel

Thanks to those many friends who shared those dark days with me in August 1997! Your presence, help and comfort made all the difference!

¡Pura Vida!