The “4” can mean my 4th trip to Xandari or the 4th Gallery on Xandari or the fact that I was there for 4 days this time! 🙂 The featured photo is on my walk to the restaurant from my villa.
It is a magical getaway every visit and I tend to photograph many new things or the same things in different ways each time, like this time I didn’t even hike to the waterfalls but spent more time with flowers & butterflies and a feature on the bamboo forest. So if considering a visit to Xandari, check out each of my photo galleries from 4 different trips there with 4 different perspectives:
2020 August 21-24 – A Weekend Retreat during a World Pandemic with masks & solo activities in nature. Most butterflies & flowers this time.
2020 January 12-16 – Five days when I installed my photo books library and photographed all kinds of nature with more birds than above.
Xandari is on a hill overlooking the great central valley of Costa Rica between the mountain in all four directions. My last morning here had maybe the clearest sky of the weekend and thus this expansive view of our Central Valley. Atenas is located somewhere in the right side of the photo or west of Xandari which is pretty much in the center of the valley.
For more Costa Rica vistas see my gallery with a long name:
Merriam-Webster defines “bewitching” as “powerfully or seductively attractive or charming” which well-describes the effect of over 900 species of birds in Costa Rica on me, along with my love of alliterations! 🙂
I usually photograph more birds than this at Xandari, but with rain and fog blanketing that mountain most of the time this past weekend, I got usable photos of only 9 species, but as indicated yesterday, I made up the difference with butterflies and flowers! 🙂 I’m never without something to photograph at Xandari! 🙂
No new species this time, but as always, I love trying to get a different view, perspective, or activity of a bird to make my bird galleries more interesting. CLICK image to enlarge.
I return to my home in Atenas today but will have more posts about this weekend trip to Xandari and a gallery of the best photos from the weekend posted by the end of the week. In the meantime you might be interested in some of my other Costa Rica Travel galleries at CR Trips. Some of my Tico friends tell me that I’ve seen more of their home country than they have. I love it all!
This trip to Xandari I photographed more butterflies than birds, which I think is a first for anywhere I have visited in Costa Rica. Xandari has always given me a lot of butterflies, partly because of their lush gardens, but today I have photos of 16 different species, a new record! Multiple are new species for me, bringing my butterfly collection up to somewhere near 120 in my Butterfly Gallery. Check it out! Quite a variety!
The only WordPress inline Gallery that now allows labels, which I want to include, is their “regular” gallery which crops each image to same size/shape, meaning you need to click on an image to see the full-size presentation of each and I prefer my framing than their boxes. Clicking one also can start a manual slide show of all 16.
My first afternoon at Xandari was mostly in the rain, but I managed get these close-ups of a few of their many flowers plus a toucan and a butterfly which I will share later. For now enjoy the beautiful art of flowers! CLICK image to enlarge . . .
Some of the best gardens I’ve visited and you can meet one of the gardeners in this video:
Doing some things on impulse is part of being retired in Costa Rica I think and I’m tired of being cooped up at home in Atenas. One of my favorite nearby get-a-ways announced they were open on weekends only for now with special discounted prices, so I took the bait and will go to Xandari Nature Resort this weekend, an hour away, Friday afternoon to Monday morning; to hike their forests, waterfalls and most beautiful gardens. Hope to get some good photos and will avoid group hikes or any other interactions with people, eating alone, maybe even relaxing in their solo hot tub by reservation. But mainly some new nature experiences, some with my mask and face shield as we continue to fight the spread of COVID19 here. I will stay safe! And I forgot to say yesterday that I now have my “Permanent Residency” in Costa Rica! 🙂
Government bureaucracies are a pain everywhere in the world, even in paradise-like Costa Rica – though no worse than the states and West Africa topped them all in my limited world experiences – BUT – staying on focus:
For your first 3 years + in Costa Rica you can apply for and get a “temporary” (2 years) or in my case as a retiree it is called “Residente Pensionado,” meaning you will have two of these before you can apply for a “Residente Permanente,” which is not really permanent, but does last 5 years which is better than 2! 🙂
So, even though my second pensionado Cedula (name of resident card) was good until this July 26 (almost there) I followed the advice of my lawyer/translator and applied last year on July 26, one year ahead and still do not have it, though Immigration claims to do it in about 6 months. After 7 months they informed us that they were overworked and behind on applications with so many applying for residency (which I believe). So they gave me a little document that I have been carrying around in my wallet that tells people if my card is out of date Immigration still accepts it because they are backlogged in their work. Whew!
Finally I get an appointment to pay the four different fees ($400+) and get photographed for my new Cedula last week. Wellllllll, because there was a spike in COVID19 cases, the Ministry of Health shut literally everything down last week and most everything this week, but did reschedule my appointment to this week in Alajuela, my provincial capital. Instead of going to a bank to pay and the post office for photo and other paperwork, Belinda (my British Lawyer and Spanish Translator) wanted to try a new office in a suburb of Alajuela in one of the banks where you can do everything in one place (seems more efficient).
And it was fairly smooth with the mask requirements and the fact that my agent was a new young man employee doing his first permanent residency with the help of a senior agent. Very friendly and kind and it only took 2.5 hours! (Ohhh! in Gambia it would have taken all day!)
Belinda thought it funny that I wore both a mask and a face shield and made the featured photo on her I-Phone and asked me say something about it for her video which I tried to insert below but was told: “Sorry, this file type is not supported here.” (Apple junk!) thus I repeat the photo below. At least I am safe and I’m helping keep others safe, regardless how ridiculous the old man looks! 🙂 And masks are a national requirement here!
And oh yes, they won’t let you smile for the photo, just like the U.S. Embassy for my Passport! Guess all this is suppose to be serious stuff! But just another adventure for me!
Friday I went to Alajuela early for my appointment at the government hospital to get an appointment scheduled with my Cardiologist in Nov-Dec for my annual checkup (yeah, its weird to have an appointment to get an appointment), plus I had a package to pick up at Aeropost and a couple of items to get at PriceSmart.
Wow! I had not been to Alajuela since the Coronavirus scare hit and it has nearly as many cases as San Jose as the second largest city (and my provincial capital by the way). EVERYTHING WAS DIFFERENT!
1st, to get to the hospital early enough for shorter lines, I took the 6:30 AM bus, which is usually packed with people going to work, shopping, appointments, visits, etc. There were just 5 of us passengers on the bus – scattered out one to a seat. And at the entrance to bus was a bottle of hand sanitizer.
2nd, as the bus arrived in Alajuela I could immediately see a difference with fewer cars and people – some streets like a ghost town!
3rd, no wait for a taxi with few people there to use them.
4th, when I got to the hospital, there were few people out front as I was expecting by now, but I wasn’t expecting to be turned away! When I got to the door a guard was stopping everyone and I showed him my cita(appointment paper) and he rattled off several things rapidly that I did not fully understand but I think he was basically telling me “no” that “all appointments not emergencies are canceled.” Bottom line, he would not let me in! 🙂
I got there early on purpose to avoid a long wait, yet I still expected to spend an hour or more. But I spent only 5 minutes there and it was now about 7:20 AM, with Aeropost not opening until 9 and PriceSmart at 9:30. Ugh! Oh well, I drank no coffee at home that morning and had only a bowl of cold cereal, so I took my time walking about 8 blocks to the nearest McDonald’s for breakfast.
5th, I entered the biggest MacDonald’s in Central Alajuela with only one other customer inside! Like the bus, they had hand sanitizer at the counters. I took my time with ham & eggs and lots of coffee while reading the Washington Post. At about 8:30 I began the 6 block walk to Aeropost, getting there 10 minutes before they opened officially.
6th, at Aeropost I only waited a few minutes before one of the clerks, who recognized me through the glass (I’m a regular), came out with my little package, so I did not even have to be one of their limit of 3 customers inside the store – see sign below. And the bright red & green sign reflected backwards in their window is a MegaSuperMercado, a downtown chain-supermarket across the street! The English translation of their home-made sign: “Maximum 3 customers within the branch.” In what they call a “branch office.” That is also the feature photo and the recommended “Social Distancing” to help stop the spread of the virus. Costa Rica is doing its part one little business at a time! 🙂
7th, Because of the time I saved from the hospital rejection, I had about 30 minutes before PriceSmart even opened, so I just walked the 12 or so blocks to PriceSmart which opens at 9:30. This is one way I get my exercise! 🙂 And in so doing, I walked by Alajuela Central Park which, like the one in Atenas, is closed with yellow tape wrapped all around the whole block:
8th, at the entrance to PriceSmart (our store like Costco or Sam’s Club) they not only had a bottle of hand sanitizer, but specifically asked me to please use it while the lady wiped off the handle of my push cart. But unlike everywhere else I had been that morning, they were full of people and at opening time! Full with long check-out lines! And still some crazy bulk-buying by the panicked!
I actually don’t like this store which is too expensive, too large a quantity of things, and not consistent in their stocking; BUT they usually have about 5 or so items I cannot get anywhere else – things I really like. (Another option might be at AutoMercado, an American-styled supermarket specializing in American brands, but their location is not as handy for me as PriceSmart, as a bus rider.)
When I got out of PriceSmart it was a little after 10, meaning I had just missed the 10 o’clock bus! In the mornings the return buses only run on the hour (tho every 30 minutes in the afternoon), so I just slowly walked the 6 blocks to the bus stop for Atenas and still had time to read a little of my new mystery book before it left at 11. Oh well, another morning is gone! But hey! I’m Retired in Costa Ricaand this kind of virus-influenced inconvenience is simply part of my daily adventure! Its what you do when you are retired in Costa Rica! 🙂
“An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered.”
― G.K. Chesterton
Yesterday one case of Coronavirus was confirmed in Atenas. Many of our local people commute to both Alajuela and San Jose for jobs, a natural way for it to spread from the two cities with the most cases. Country-wide Costa Rica has 75 cases now and one death. This is a real pandemic!
Over this last weekend an upper right jaw tooth was hurting when I chewed on that side. So, first thing Monday after Spanish class I go to my dentist, Doctora Karina Valerio, who speaks only Spanish, which is good for me! 🙂
She checked it out and said she really needed a digital image to make an assessment and sent me to Doctor Ureña Bogantes Rodrigo, one block away, who is also a dentist along with being the only dental radiologist in Atenas with all the expensive equipment for that. And he speaks English! 🙂
He x-rayed my teeth from different angles and gave me the printout from his computer to take back to Dra. Karina, saying he believes I need a root canal. His charge was 15 mil or $26.35.
So I took the image back down the street and Dra. Karina says, “Necessita la endodoncia.” which of course is a root canal! 🙂 And she does not do those, but Dr. Ureña has someone he can bring in to do it. So I pay her only 5 mil or $8.78 for two visits and consultations.
Then I walk back down the street to Dr. Ureña again where he calls and schedules a root canal specialist to come to his office 3 days later, this Thursday. The woman Endodontista (root canal specialist) will have to drill through the right side of a bridge for the needed root canal. Of course it will cost only a tiny fraction of what one costs in the states! 🙂 AND it is soon (3 days) AND ¡No más dolor! (No more pain!)
And yes, I could have gone to the public clinic for free social security dental work, but it would have taken much longer and they would send me to their specialist in either Alajuela or San Jose for a root canal at who knows how long a wait, so I chose private care that is local (I walked to both dentist offices), and so reasonably priced, quick and with excellent service for which I’m willing to pay. While the very poor here can get similar treatment for free, just a longer wait and bus ride to Alajuela or San Jose.
You are possibly aware that dental tourism is one of the big businesses in Costa Rica! You can buy a plane ticket to Costa Rica, stay in a hotel, have the dental work done and do a little tourist activity all for less than what a dentist would charge you in the states for the same work. Dental work prices here are about 20% of the U.S. prices. And remember that doctors and medical care here is ranked higher than that in the USA by the UN World Health Organization, but you guys do rank number 1 as the most expensive in the world on all medical care and services. 🙂 ¡Pura vida!
OK, I won’t go into as much detail about the urologist here. I’m an old man you know. 🙂 At 80 everything starts malfunctioning! 🙂
But the interesting thing I wanted to reportis that our quiet, peaceful little farm town does not have a urologist (or many other medical specialists), either in the public clinic or in private practice. Thus, as I do for my dermatologist, I expected to go to Alajuela for this specialist.
But now we have two new private clinics (competing of course) in Atenas who bring in various specialists based on need. In my case, Dr. Rodriquez, urólogo, comes here to Clinica Santa Sofia (photo below) once a month. While young doctors like him probably stay a lot busier by sharing their time between a big city office and probably several small town offices, it is also very helpful to us in the small towns! We can avoid a trip to the big city! I like my dermatologist in Alajuela very much, so I probably won’t change him, but I expect all other future “specialists” to be found in one of these two new clinics here in Atenas. 🙂
Yes, the dreaded pandemic is even here in paradise! The last I read there are 13 confirmed cases in Costa Rica. (The first 3 were Italians who flew over for a “holiday.”) CR just cancelled 2 cruises to here and suspends mass gatherings but has no airline travel restrictions here yet and I imagine the tourism industry will discourage such but may be necessary. And yes, this virus hurts the tourism business maybe more than any other, just like in the states!
But to indicate the virus panic we already have here, I thought I would be well prepared “just in case,” far in advance and I tried to buy some surgical masksyesterday. After visiting 3 Farmacias (drug stores) here in Atenas I learned that there are none available anywhere in the whole country of Costa Rica – all “Out of Stock” they say. 🙂 Ours probably come from China and I imagine China is using all they can make there now! 🙂
This morning I walked to my favorite supermarket for a regular shopping trip and found that they are “Out of Stock” of all hand sanitizer and Liquid Hand Soap in dispensers but had some “refill” liquid soap in plastic bags that I got 2 of. They were also nearly out of alcohol. Hmmmm. Ticos are very health conscious and most are very healthy. So I am optimistic about avoiding the virus here. And generally I prefer avoiding crowds or many people anyway, which we must do now! So stay healthy! 🙂