Last night I went on the lodge’s “Night Hike” with about 8 other guests. It was similar to most other lodge night hikes and I have learned that my big camera is too much trouble on a night hike, so depend on my cell phone for photos. In addition to these frogs I got some insects and tried to photograph a coral snake we saw but failed at that. One of these is a new species of frog for me, the Red Webbed Tree Frog which has red-colored webs between his fingers and toes. Look close and you can see them. Click image to enlarge.
Anytime you are dealing with groups of people there are complications and changes and this happened with the First Baptist Nashville group that were coming back to Atenas to work again in the Hogar de Vida Children’s Home this April. Pam told me yesterday that it did not work out, so instead of a week with them I now have scheduled a week in the Quaker town of Monteverde in April and already scheduling guided birding hikes while there. 🙂
I limit myself to one birding trip a month and somehow for 2 years now I have not been able to get back to Monteverde where I had only 2.5 days back in 2016 on a Birding Club Trip that I added an extra night to but still did not have enough time for all the reserves and other places for nature. I’ll stay 6 nights this time with my first priorities guided birding hikes in three reserves: Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve (or Official Site in English), Santa Elena Reserve (or Official Site in Spanish), and Curi-Cancha Reserve. That’s three days! Then a really good commercial nature reserve there called Selvatura that has the longest canopy hanging-bridges in the country plus a fabulous butterfly garden & hummingbird garden and more! That will be another full day, to which I will then add shorter trips like one of the best night hikes in the country, the excellent Monteverde Butterfly Garden, not to mention the trails and gardens at the Monteverde Lodge & Gardens where I will be staying. A full and fulfilling week! 🙂 So Nashville guys, I will miss you, but not be bored! 🙂
And I change my 2019 Trips Map with #4 (April) moved from Atenas to Monteverde.
Yes, I actually have some regular readers of my blog and several I have never met, some of whom are contemplating retiring in Costa Rica. One from Texas, a bigger birder than me, has visited several times and is possibly going to move somewhere in Central Valley here next year in retirement, with Atenas one option. One “Retired in Costa Rica” Wannabe from California has been planning a nature photography trip here for months, writing me for advice and with questions. She arrived today with a local flight to the Osa Peninsula in the morning but needed something to do today. I took her to Animal Rescate Zoo Ave in La Garita today with her hotel reasonably close to the airport for her flight out in the morning.
We did not finish our walk through the zoo because her camera battery went dead with her other one left in the hotel, but I got a few photos shown below. Note that 4 of the animals in today’s animal gallery or slideshow below were “wild” or not part of the zoo collection! 🙂
“It’s a small world!” phenomenon only happens occasionally and when it does it always brings a big smile to my face. 🙂 It happened today, January 1, 2019, with a message through the contact form on this site from an address I did not recognize. I will keep their names private but briefly share the fun serendipity story of that email greeting:
The email starts with the couple (an educator & a musician from Canada but now in the states) saying they were looking at a travel book reviewing all the countries of the world and when they came to The Gambia, they were reminded of me since I’m the only person they had ever met from there, though a long time ago, and remembered the Gambia photos on my condo wall.
It was around the first of January 2003 (16 years ago) when after returning from The Gambia I finally moved from the Residence Inn Nashville West End to my new row house in Hope Gardens/Germantown across from the Farmer’s Market and Bicentennial Mall State Park (Header photo above). I think I used my new Tacoma pickup to move my stuff from the hotel to my new row house. As happens sometimes, a box fell out of the truck along West End Avenue and this charming couple from western Canada, in town as Vanderbilt students, saw the box and stopped, picking it up and diligently tracing it to me at my new address! Wow! There are still a few “Good Samaritans” left in the world! 🙂 Thank you!
When they brought the box to me I gave them an invitation to my already planned open house later in January and they came! And still remember it and all my Gambia photos on the walls.
Thus the connection when they read about Gambia in the book. They found me and my website in an internet search and decided to write their very kind and thoughtful New Year’s greeting through the contact form on my website. Small world & fun memories! 🙂
Thanks friends! For remembering AND writing! Good Samaritans in my life!
“We instinctively tend to limit for whom we exert ourselves. We do it for people like us, and for people whom we like. Jesus will have none of that. By depicting a Samaritan helping a Jew, Jesus could not have found a more forceful way to say that anyone at all in need – regardless of race, politics, class, and religion – is your neighbour. Not everyone is your brother or sister in faith, but everyone is your neighbour, and you must love your neighbour.”
― Timothy Keller, Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes Us Just
How blessed I am to have lived is so many beautiful places! AND to have had so many neat experiences like this! THANK YOU GOD!
One favorite photo from each month of 2018 – And I had trouble picking just one! Thus the header photo above is an extra one from October and the only one here from Esquinas Rainforest Lodge, Piedras Blancas National Park, my #1 lodge this year.
Wow! This was too hard to do! My very best photos were probably all in 3 or 4 months, so I will try something different next year, like maybe my top 5 or so favorite photos. I think I will also try to rank the hotels/lodges/parks I visited this year.
Ranking My Top 7 Lodges in 2018
I rank for all aspects of the lodge for a birder and/or nature lover, not necessarily in this order: number of birds and other wildlife seen, quality of guides, quality of overall service, restfulness of room, quality meals, overall ecology consciousness and sometimes the extra services, depending on the place and situation. My 2018 Top 7 lodges and hotels in order of my preference or enjoyment:
My prayers go to the Bush Family in their loss . . .
. . . a truly great & humble man!
George H. W. Bush
Humility is not thinking less of yourself,
it’s thinking of yourself less.
~C. S. Lewis
REPORT ON MY BIOPSY: After removing the 10 stitches from my arm (where all that cancer was confirmed removed) and the two stitches from my face for the biopsy, Dr. Gamboa gave me the facial biopsy report:
In brief, it says I have another carcinoma cancer on my face which is a smaller and slower growing type than the one on my arm. No problem waiting until January to remove the rest of it (the biopsy took most of it). Because of the delicate and thinner skin location next to my eye, we will be doing a more complicated and more efficient (more expensive) “Mohs Surgery” with two doctors doing it with a pathologist standing by to make sure they get all of the cancer as he examines each layer as removed (continuous biopsy). It will not be in his office this time but in a clinic, hospital-like, operating room, but still out-patient. He is checking on availability of other doctor and the clinic for the week of 21 January – after my Boca Tapada trip. Remember — the doctors work around my trips! 🙂 Important! That is where I sleep in a tree house 5 nights!
Dr. Gamboa also “PRESCRIBED” wearing a wide-brim hat instead of the ball caps I’ve been wearing and of course sunscreen every day when out. I sure love sunny Costa Rica, just 673 miles north of the equator, but with the value of the sun also comes with some potential dangers for someone like me who loves the outdoors. I have already become more careful, even though the doc says these current growths and cancers were probably caused by sun I got as a child or teen, more sun now can make it worse, so I must be cautious.
I am beginning a new stories section of my website titled Travel. It will eventually have many stories of my many trips around the world (outside Costa Rica) with some illustrative photos along with links to the newest section of my Photo Gallery titled Pre-Costa Rica Travels. where I am slowly creating a gallery on each trip over the years or at least the recent years, one at a time as I slowly move such photos from the Travel Section of my old Pbase gallery. PHOTO ABOVE: Masai Shepherd in Kenya
Writing the stories and moving the photos are both very slow and time-consuming jobs, but time is what an ol’ retiree has isn’t it? 🙂
For multiple reasons, I decided to start with Africa in both the Travel Stories and the Photo Gallery sections. The photos are mostly moved but all of the stories have not been written yet. I have a good start, especially with most of my Gambia stories already told here. Here’s what you can expect to find now:
You find Travel on the main menu above with dropdown menus for stories started here and additional menu links on each country’s home page for related stories in other pages of the site. For example: my Gambia Missionary experiences and mission trips are on the HIS SPIRIT menu first and thus linked to there from this Travel Gambia Home Page or Kenya Home Page, etc. The software allows for drop down menus for only items initiated on that page, thus regular links to other pages like the missionary stories.
And since my photo galleries are actually on SmugMug.com, they cannot be on any of my site drop down menus but must be linked to from each country’s Home Page or found by going to the big gallery first from the above menu. I hope that is not confusing. Just use the country’s home page to find everything about that country. 🙂
I have only barely started on all the stories I want to tell, but for the main Travel section described above I have started these pages with more stories coming on each in the future:
My travel photos made before moving to Costa Rica are in a special sub-gallery title Pre-Costa Rica TRAVELS. Like my Costa Rica Trips gallery they are arranged chronologically by dates of each trip with most recent at top. At this moment, I have only travels to Africa included. Click above to see all or here is the list of my Africa Travel Galleries which will later be mixed in with other travels depending on the dates:
I have been playing around with writing Haiku about Costa Rica Nature for nearly 3 years now and this is my little collection of poems, each printed on one of my photos. I’m not a poet, but it was fun to do and I may continue trying from time to time. I write the American 2-3-2 syllables style of Haiku but like the original Japanese Haiku they only describe nature.
Check out the free electronic preview of all pages of my latest Costa Rica photo book at: http://www.blurb.com/b/9079446-rancho-humo or click the book cover image below. Use “full screen mode” to best see these photo pages. I think my books & photos are getting a little better. 🙂
And my exciting exploration of Costa Rica continues!