Weird Drums of Pipes & Pots

Just another one of the unusual things I see in Central Park Alajuela. Yesterday this guy was drumming away on his psychedelic apparatus in the park for tips. A quick snap of it  on my way to the bus station. He looks and acts more like a young American, but some young Ticos try to be that way.

¡Pura Vida!

Informal Concerts

are common in both Alajuela and Atenas Central Parks – this one in Alajuela the other day. There doesn’t need to be a reason, just sort of a jam session. It is one of the many things that keep Costa Rica’s small town Central Parks alive and fun to visit!

See my photo galleries:  PEOPLE, FIESTAS & ARTS for more music & cultural events.

¡Pura Vida!

 

And tomorrow’s edition will be written at the DoubleTree  by Hilton Cariari Hotel San Jose where I spend a free night (Hilton Honors Points) to be ready for a 5:30am pickup the next morning for my trip to Tortuguero, Turtle Beach Lodge on “The Amazon of Costa Rica.” It’s my 3rd time to Tortuguero but in a new lodge for me this time and staying 3 nights this time for a more relaxed visit. New adventure every month!    🙂

And this morning I met a couple from Durango, Colorado who have been staying in “The Cariari” since 1980 when it was a private hotel before Hilton Hotels made it a DoubleTree. They just love it as their hotel near the airport for a stay before an early flight as “snowbirds” who come and go all winter. So I will find out what makes it special!  🙂 And let you know. It was a substitute for me since Hampton Inn had no vacancies. These American hotels are only in San Jose and on a few big beaches. Most Costa Rica hotels are locally owned and operated which I generally prefer.

¡Pura Vida!

International Storytellers Fiesta

UTN-logoOn a walk through Central Park Alajuela the other day I was captivated by a series of large pieces of art about familiar stories in different Spanish-speaking countries. I looked up the title of exhibit (en español) online and discovered that it is part of the XIV International Storytellers Festival sponsored by UTN here in Alajuela with storytellers coming from around the world to share stories in Spanish of course!   🙂

The following is the Google translation (not the best translator) of the short article online at this website:

Within the framework of the Senük Meeting, the Headquarters presented on Wednesday, January 30, a storytelling show as part of the XIV International Storytellers’ Festival Alajuela Ciudad Palabra (FICU).

StoryTellerThe International Storytellers’ Fair included 130 artistic shows this year with the participation of 7 international guests and more than 60 national artists who performed at venues in the city of Alajuela, San José and Atenas.

The FICU is organized by the Alajuela City Word Association and the Regional Office of Culture of Alajuela, which is part of the Culture Directorate of the Ministry of Culture and Youth.

Precisely, the headquarters of the UTN was included for the first time, to host one night, the presentation of two outstanding storytellers, who made people laugh and amused the audience with their stories and occurrences: Wilmer Oconitrillo (Costa Rica) and Benjamín Briseño (Mexico).

Oconitrillo presented stories of the Costa Rica of yesteryear, interpreting the way of speaking of our grandparents, with the desire to rescue our roots.

For his part, Briseno, delighted the public with legends and stories that are told in the celebration of the Day of the Dead in Mexico.

The Festival Facebook Page has one post about this exhibition of paintings for the festival. I think I photographed all the large paintings about storytelling in different Spanish-speaking countries representing a favorite story in that country, displayed on trees throughout Central Park Alajuela. As always here, a photo in a gallery can be  seen larger by clicking it, which is why I’m not doing as a slideshow:

 

“Stories are a communal currency of humanity.”

–Tahir Shah, in Arabian Nights

 

The Penalty of Too Much Sun

And Mostly When a Child

20181223_101136-A-WEB

is what the Dermatologist says about the cause of skin cancer. But he also says if I continue to get too much sun it will make it worse, so my two wide-brim hats and 60 SPF Sunscreen, called El Protector Solar here or informally  protección de sol.  I dislike it but when I know I will be in the sun much, I use the sunscreen now and wear my big hat everytime I go out!

SKIN CANCER SURGERY ON MY FACE THIS TIME

The only other skin cancer removed was from my arm a month or two ago and it was comparatively easy with a lot more skin on the arm. Sorry if the photo below grosses you out, but I was really surprised at how much this facial growth had grown with this big of a scar or “more than 15 stitches” said the doctor, though I counted more like 20 or 21 in the photo. My eye is partially swollen and partially closed but it will get back to normal soon. I went back to the doctor the day after surgery (Wed) and he changed the bandage which I will permanently remove Thursday. Air helps healing. And he prescribed a cream I put on it twice a day for at least two weeks when I see him again for a checkup, after my next photography trip of course!   🙂   I have to keep my priorities straight you know!

MOHS SURGERY

It was Mohs surgery Tuesday which the link describes or basically it is a pathologist there with the surgeon doing biopsies on every bit removed until there is no sign of cancer. With this he is now more certain he got all the cancer and didn’t remove too much “good skin” which is more limited on the face. He was prepared to graft a piece of skin from my cheek if necessary, but thankfully it was not. And in two weeks or so I will be back to normal with a noticeable scar on my face. No problem! Just call me “Scarface.”   🙂

That’s Life!     –    ¡Así es la vida!

¡Pura Vida!

 

And tomorrow I will go back to sharing more from my great trip to Maquenque Eco Lodge!    (Link is to the Gallery)

And oh yeah, that sunset photo above is one I made at Arenal Volcano National Park. After all, this article is mostly about the sun!   🙂

Biopsy Report: Common Old Man Skin Cancer

You have to click the image at least 2 times to get an enlargement.

Yesterday afternoon I saw my Dermatologist who presented me the lab’s very detailed report with color microscope photos and the diagnosis en español:

“Carcinoma epidermoide bien diferenciado, invasor, de al menos 4 milímetros de diámetro mayor, que alcanza los márgenes de resección.”  Or in English according to SpanishDict.com translation:

“A well-differentiated, invasive epidermoid Carcinoma of at least 4 mm greater diameter, reaching the margins of resection.”

The Doc assures me he can cut it all out by going a prescribed mm distance all the way around it (a big chunk of flesh!) and with several stitches will heal that part of my right forearm back to normal. That’s a $600 surgery or for $4,000 he can do a much tinier section removed while a separate pathologist is testing (continuous biopsy) every little bit of skin to make sure they get all the cancer without taking as much of a chunk! He recommends this for a growth on the nose, etc. where removing more is more obvious. Of course I’m doing the cheaper one which he assures me has always been successful for him and what he recommends. Just a little scar on my right forearm. It is scheduled for 19 November after my next trip which is to Palo Verde National Park 10-15 November. My doctors work around my trips and not vice-a-versa.   🙂

It is interesting that Dermatologists here say the same thing they told me in the states, that these growths that keep popping on my body in old age are caused by getting too much sunshine when I was a little boy. No one told us that back then!  Or maybe I was not paying attention when Mom wanted me to use sunscreen?      🙂     The young are invincible and us old ones just smile at our little problems.   🙂

Since this is a retirement blog, I guess this kind of gory medical report is appropriate. Anywhere you live in retirement you must deal with these things and the medical services in Costa Rica are simply great and so much more affordable that I’m just using a private doctor again instead of the free public ones, which are slower but just as good and free!  🙂  I still use a public doctor to monitor my heart arrhythmia, but other things I’ve been happy with the quick responses of private doctors, like this Dermatologist, Dr. Gamboa.

¡Pura Vida Medico!

Reduce Pollution!

Some youth in the city of Alajuela left a sidewalk chalk message for pedestrians the other day: something like “Be aware of the city and REDUCE pollution!”

¡Pura Vida!

Breakdancers in Alajuela

While in Alajuela the other day I heard music in the gazebo of Central Park and found local teens breakdancing with a boombox in the gazebo. I tried to get a couple of shots with my phone and they aren’t very good, but an interesting part of culture here as especially the young adapt cultural activities and music from other cultures & countries around the world.  Truly, it’s a small world!   ¡Es un mundo pequeño!

Central Park Alajuela with the big white gazebo on the other side.

 

Breakdancing in Alajuela

A nation’s culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people.

~Mahatma Gandhi

P.S.   World Surfing League in Costa Rica This Week

New Hospital Adventures

Hospital San Rafael de Alajuela, Costa Rica

Adventure 1: New Cardiologist Scheduled

It was time for my one-year checkup with my public hospital cardiologist yesterday, 27 Agosto, made by the doctor one year ago, Dr. Hernandez. In the meantime I heard around June from someone else with the same cardiologist that Dr. Hernandez (whom I really liked) had gone to Spain to study heart surgery and I would be getting his substitute whom the other person also liked very much, especially because he spoke English! So I was already expecting a new doctor, whom I learned today is Victor Andres Garcia Rojas (called Dr. Garcia) – and I will do another article below on Spanish Names using his.

Adventure 2: I Forgot Pre-appointment Blood Tests

Yeah! No good excuse! It was on my calendar that I wasn’t watching and I forgot that appointment a week earlier. The results were to be with the doc by yesterday so they would be part of his evaluation of my heart. I rationalized and said, “oh well, he will reschedule that and add to my file later. No big deal! Pura vida!”  Well, it is a big deal! Hospitals are very serious!

So I wait in the adultos major line (for old people & shorter than other line) for about 30 minutes. When I get to the desk there is suddenly a computer problem with a bunch of supervisor types coming in to explain something on the computers to all the clerks. Then finally my clerk takes my cita (appointment paper) and my cedula (ID card) and starts to check me in and I casually tell her about forgetting the appointment for blood workup. She stares at me, shakes her head and tells me she is sorry (this is all in Spanish of course) but “the doctor cannot see you without the blood tests.” Thus she makes a new appointment for me with Dr. Garcia on September 5 (Whew! I leave Sept. 6 for my Caribe trip!) Then, with multiple attempts, she explains to me that I must go down to main lobby (photo at top) and wait in line at the laboratorio for a new appointment and show them that it is needed for a Sept. 5 doctor visit. By then I remember waiting in that line a year ago for the missed appointment. My punishment for living a pura vida life!  🙂

So back downstairs to that crowd in top photo and actually the laboratory line was not as long as some of the others. I had my new lab appointment for this Friday in less than 45 minutes! This girl was not as slow a speaker or as patient with my bad Spanish and so she used her phone translator some with me, though I was understanding more of her Spanish than she thought. Language is all part of the adventure!

So now, (with all the complaints about slowness in public healthcare), I’m doing blood workup this Friday (just 4 days later!) and I see the doctor next Wednesday! Pretty fast I think! And this delay is the fault of my forgetfulness or not setting the phone calendar alarm on my lab appointment! Now I get to go back to the hospital two more times (More adventures!). And I will remember to fast 12 hours before my 6am appointment Friday!  Aren’t I lucky?    🙂

Adventure 3: Spanish Names – Why 4?

Be aware that this can be slightly different from country to country, but for the Costa Rica explanation I will use Dr. Garcia as my example:

Dr. Victor Andres Garcia Rojas

Victor = First Name;     Andres=Second or Middle Name;

Garcia=His Father’s Last Name;     Rojas=His Mother’s Last Name (maiden name)

Most people go by their father’s last name, thus he is “Dr. Garcia.” But on legal documents and other places they use all four names, like on the Cedula (ID Card) and in the hospital. Since I have only 3 names, the hospital or national healthcare program has given me a fourth name that is on all my hospital records = “Noindicaotro” as a replacement for my Mother’s last name. Interesting since it is not a word in my Spanish Dictionary!   🙂

Adventure 4: Talkative Old Man on Bus

On the bus ride back to Atenas (45+ minutes) I sat next to a very talkative man who did not stop talking and even singing the entire trip. It was mostly in Spanish with an occasional English word or phrase to show me that he knew some English. I had a crick in my neck when I got home for having my head turned to the left the whole trip. And no, what he said was not very interesting, but I appreciated his friendliness and I guess he appreciated me listening attentively.   🙂

 

¡Pura Vida!

 

 

Surprising Vista at Xandari

By using my new 600mm telephoto lens instead of my usual Samsung Phone Camera for a vista from the hilltop resort Xandari, I zoomed in on the Alajuela Cathedral with Central Park to the right and the bigger surprise, at top edge of photo is an American Airlines plane landing or taking off at the San Jose International Airport in Alajuela! Luck of the timing on the plane and sorry that the blog template crops off part of the plane, not so in my original photo (see in gallery).

Below is another shot in same direction from the same restaurant with my phone camera to help you see how much I was able to zoom in and crop a little!  🙂  The cathedral is on the left side of the city that you see between the restaurant and the mountains. My last day at Xandari, Wednesday, Walter picked me up and we got my internet order package 5 blocks east of the Cathedral, ate lunch 2 blocks north of the Cathedral, then drove 24 km (15 miles) west to Atenas where I live. My small world!   🙂

Looking south over Alajuela, Costa Rica (& San Jose Airport) from Xandari Resort. I stood in this same spot for the Cathedral-Airplane photo, just zooming in!

 

¡Pura Vida!

See my Trip Photo Gallery:  2018 Xandari Resort

Xandari costa rica   (their website)

Retired in Costa Rica