When? Rain stops? New airport?

The clear skies from my terrace on today, December 1 (feature photo above), hint at what the next 5 months could be like as the rainy season slows down and stops for no rain in the Central Valley Dec-Apr. But like weather everywhere, there are sometimes exceptions and as a gardener I happen to like rain!   🙂    Either way, I will adapt!

The above shot is a single shot on my cell phone.

Below is a composite shot on big camera yesterday with clouds.

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Plans for New Airport in Orotina, Costa Rica on Hold

This Article Title link is to an old newspaper article that still holds true today as the government here is not yet ready to spend billions of dollars on a new airport (25 minutes west of Atenas) which would be in a lower, flatter, larger valley of farm land for much greater expansion than the current international airport in Alajuela (45 minutes east of Atenas) which is basically land-locked with expensive developments, though closer to the capital of San Jose. The new one would be closer to the Pacific Coast beaches and resorts.

The debate will probably never end (seen in responses to above article) and it will never happen until both the president and the legislature make it a priority which they still have not done. I expect to die before it actually happens, if ever, and it really doesn’t matter that much to me. 45 minutes is close enough to a major airport!   🙂

New Airpor Artist's Renditiont
Artist rendering of new airport in Orotina.

And a “Profile” is on the CAPA Center for Aviation website.

Plus I’m happy with the new Domestic Terminal (my photo gallery) at the current airport, since my only flights now are short hops within Costa Rica on little local planes with Sansa Airlines. So if you’ve heard there will be a new San Jose Costa Rica International Airport, don’t expect it before 2030, if ever, unless you want to donate money to the government to build it and maybe get your name on it!   🙂

¡Pura Vida!

 

 

Annual Heart Check-up Adventures I

All medical appointments here are adventures, whether it is getting there or struggling with the language since everything is in español! Plus for my heart only right now, I am using the public healthcare system which here means all doctors and other staff work for the government, which always slows things down everywhere.   🙂   My October appointment had already been moved up to this November week because I was getting a new doctor.

This year they also decided to divide my appointment into two appointments, one for the EKG called electrocardiograma here with no initials used. Both appointments were last week (Tues & Thur), my first week back from a trip, already busy with the usual catch-up:

TUESDAY

I get a taxi to the 12 noon bus to Alajuela for my 2 pm appointment which in theory I should take the 1 pm bus (45 min ride), but there are too many possibilities like bus breaking down and long lines at hospital. — I arrive Alajuela before 1:00 and with a taxi to the big government hospital a little after 1 pm, show ID & cita (appointment) to guard and take elevator to the 4th floor for Cardiology and wait in this regular line (photo below):

Waiting line to check in for doctor.

It is to check in for my 2 pm appointment and then realize the adulto major (senior adult) line is a little shorter and I move to it and from a chair in it I took the above photo. Both lines move very slow and at nearly 2:00 I’m the second person in line for check-in when over the loudspeaker they call my name among several Hispanic names which is always funny (Gonzalez, Rodriquez, Doggett, Rojas). And of course my name is hard to pronounce. This means they see we haven’t checked in yet and so they call us to front of line and check us in. (So why wait an hour huh?)

She sends me to Puerta nueve (Door 9) where I wait with about eight other people for our EKGs. After about 20 minutes I am called in and of course an EKG only takes a few minutes and I’m off to the front door and a waiting taxi to get me to the Atenas Bus. Not bad for free medical service!

And oh yes, now they don’t worry about communicating with each other, the technician gives me a paper copy of my EKG folded into an envelope for me to take with me to my doctor appointment on Thursday. – Now the taxi ride to bus is easy with Oscar, a nice young taxista who handles the Alajuela traffic well and I include a good tip as always (it pays off in the long run as you will see).

It was not until I arrived in Atenas that I realized my cell phone was not in my front pocket. I walk back to our bus station and the nice folks there did not find my phone on the bus, but the Spanish-only young man grabbed a high school kid to translate and long story short he dialed my phone and Oscar in my Alajuela taxi answered and suggested two options of either him driving  here to deliver it or me going back to Alajuela to meet him at a place of my choice.

Zipper in front right pocket.

I chose letting him drive to me, all the way to my house mind you! I paid the fare and a healthy tip thinking all the time about how much a new phone would have cost.

Now – Why did it slide out of my pocket in Alajuela? I was wearing some new hiking shorts (almost all I wear here) and I have not yet had my seamstress sew a zipper in my front pocket to prevent the phone from sliding out while sitting. I lost a phone in a San Jose taxi in 2017 for this same reason and all my old shorts got zippers in the front right pocket then. See my 2017 zipper post. Monday or Tuesday I will take my new shorts to the seamstress for zippers!   🙂   Might be Tuesday since I have to go back to Alajuela Monday after my Spanish class to get my prescriptions!   🙂

 

And that is not nearly all of my heart exam adventure which continues on

Thursday

Since my doctor appointment is at 12 noon and we have a 10:20 bus to Alajuela, I took it. (All other buses are on the hour and I have no idea why this one is at 10:20!) But anyway, same procedure – get off the bus in Alajuela and grab a taxi (in long pants today since phone doesn’t slide out of them).   🙂

Get to hospital only 45 minutes early this time and go straight to the old folks line and wait to be called to one of these windows to be checked in again:

Check-in windows to see 4th floor doctors.  I’m sitting in row of chairs at right.

 

Same thing happens again today. I wait and wait and I’m second person in line and they call my funny name out among the normal names. I walk up to one of those windows and she checks me in, puts my EKG in my file folder and hands it to me, explaining that I must stop first at the vitals station for temp, blood pressure, etc. before wait at Puerta dieciséis (Door 16) for Dr. Garcia to call me in. I’m given a slip of paper with all my vitals (weight, height, temp, pulse, blood pressure and one more thing). I Carry that and my file folder to door 16 and wait about 20-25 minutes which is really not bad.

My new heart doctor is a kid, looks like right out of medical school (like one I had at my private doctor’s office in Atenas once) or maybe I am just old!   🙂   He was very nice and tried to explain simply to me in English (most of the younger ones speak English) why my current EKG did not show an arrhythmia this time but I still have the condition and he is going to keep me on the same medication, Atenolol  and a baby aspirin every day. Last year the doctor wrote one prescription, signed it, then made 11 more copies on his copier and printed out official-looking 12 stickers from another machine with changing numbers and stuck one on each of my 12 months prescriptions. (They are not allowed to give out more than one month of any drug at anytime.)  I take these prescriptions once a month to the Public Clinic Pharmacy here in Atenas to be filled for free! Last year he even included the baby aspirin.

Dr. Garcia said they have now consolidated that at the front desk and I had to take my folder back up front and wait in line again for the front desk to print out my prescriptions and make my appointments for next year. I waited about 15 minutes in the same line when one lady called out my name again and took my folder and typed a lot in her computer, then she said (all in Spanish with a nearby lady helping me where I did not understand)  “We no longer make appointments a year ahead. You must come back to the “platforma” in main lobby in March to make your appointments – so it was moved from Doc to front desk and now to main lobby in a later month – hmm. I had almost forgot about prescriptions then turned around and asked about that and she told me through the nice lady translator that I had to wait until Monday and then go to the Farmacia in the lobby for the prescriptions. She pointed to which slip I took there and which one for next March. Bureaucracy in paradise! So now I get to go back Monday and again next March 20 (which is sort of an appointment to get an appointment which I now remembered happened once before.) Maybe they think I’ll give up and not return or just die before then!   🙂

BUT HEY! IT IS ALL FREE! The private doctors here (like my GP and Dermatologist) are more punctual and provide a whole lot more services and speak English but you pay for those services! I figure my once a year heart exam was a good way to experience the local “CAJA” medical services like the majority of Ticos. Plus the private Cardiologist in San Jose Dr. Candy sent me to the first time charged much more than fifteen hundred dollars for her heart exam and her prescriptions were going to cost more than $100 a month! So I’m saving around $3,000 or so a year by using the public doctors and getting something for the monthly payment I am required to pay into CAJA as a legal resident.

Below is the Hospital Lobby where I will make my appointment in March and Monday I will go to the Pharmacy off this lobby for my prescriptions with many other people both times.

Alajuela Hospital Main Lobby

Alajuela City Workers Strike

You do not see strikes often here outside the capital city of San Jose (where they shut down the already horrible traffic), but the other day when in Alajuela a small group of city workers (police, fire, others) were striking across the street from City Hall which had police barricades to keep them off city property (sorry I didn’t photo that!). The homemade signs or posters taped to the railing of a closed business were complaining about waste of money by city and low salaries for employees – plus they were blowing horns and beating drums to attract attention and possibly annoy city offices across the street. Common low pay complaint around the world I guess.

Public employees picketing for better wages, Alajuela.

Though life is much better here than in the states for the poor, greed still causes the rich to get richer and the poor to get poorer. Life is not always fair.

Safe working conditions, fair wages, protection from forced labor, and freedom from harassment and discrimination – these must become standard global operating conditions.    ~Paul Polman

¡Pura Vida!

 

I have an Alajuela photo gallery if interested in more from our provincial capital and home of the San Jose Airport.

Bonus for CR Travelers

One of the CR Travel Agencies I use is Costa Rica Expeditions and they just sent out this message with 5 Secrets of Visiting Costa Rica in October.  Helpful information for traveling here near the end of our “Green Season.” (Rainy Season) Anytime is a good time to visit Costa Rica!

Senior Adults Dancing, Alajuela

That’s Costa Rican Senior Adults! And most love to dance, but to “their kind of music” and not what the young people have today.

So . . . on my way to pick up a package at Aeropost in Alajuela today I walk by a happy and lively Central Park Alajuela with a Marimba Band playing “their kind of music!” A few cell phone snapshots and I move on for my package and a Tex Mex lunch at Jalopeños Central. As I rushed by the park at 2:20 for my 2:30 bus the music and dancing was still going on! Pura Vida!

It is at the same place I photographed some young people break dancing a month or two ago.    🙂

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Marimba Music is common and popular here among older people.
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You don’t have to have a partner to dance!

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We have this in Atenas too, I just haven’t been looking for it lately.
For more culture photos see my photo gallery PEOPLE, FIESTAS & ARTS CR.

 

“Dance is the hidden language of the soul.”
~Martha Graham

 

¡Pura vida!

“Hardships” Americans Have Here

Christopher Howard’s Blog “Live in Costa Rica” quoted a list of things from still another blog call “Tico Bull.” It is titled:    WHAT IS CONSIDERED NORMAL IN COSTA RICA, BUT NOT ACCEPTED BY FOREIGNERS

I encourage you to follow the above link to his original article and maybe get acquainted with his blog. BUT, I wanted to “update” or add my comments to the list in dark red that he copied from Tico Bull below:

The following list is a generalization, though, so obviously doesn’t apply to all Americans and Canadians.

  • Not being able to pay a bill by mail (send in a cheque). In the past, you had to go to a particular business to pay a bill, now it can be paid online or at the bank or supermarket, but no check in the mail. Through my local bank I have all my regular bills “auto debit” paid automatically except my rent because my landlord uses a different bank. 
  • Not being able to receive mail at your home, six days a week.
  • Not being able to send mail from your home, six days a week.
  • There is periodic home mail delivery in Atenas (and some other towns), but if you are not home the carrier will often just stick it in the gate and wind can blow it away, thus I have a moderately priced post office box for my mail address to avoid worrying about being home when the mail carrier comes. Plus I have a U.S. Address in Miami through Aeropost.com for some mail which I pickup at the Aeropost office in Alajuela when I am notified by email. Going there on a free bus.
  • Not having Amazon Prime. Similarly Netflix is hugely different here with not nearly as many movies included because Hollywood wants each country to pay some outlandish fee to “license” the showing of their movies in that country. Here you get lots of Spanish language movies with a limited number of usually older American films plus lots of TV shows and fortunately a lot of nature shows, Nat Geo stuff, etc. Some of it is in verbal Spanish with English subtitles available, though more is in the original English with Spanish subtitles available. My personal default setting on Netflix CR is verbal English with Spanish subtitles which helps me a little in learning to speak Spanish. 
  • Knowing that even if you order something online, there is a good chance that someone in customs will decide they want it and confiscate it. Using a service like Aeropost.com for internet orders solves that problem as they walk it through customs and have insurance on your orders. It is expensive, but most of the cost is the customs charges or import taxes. Worth the cost to me. I order everything on the internet sent to my Miami address at Aeropost. 
  • Having to pay very high import taxes on any package that gets through, including items confiscated out of it.  Import taxes & Sales Taxes are high here, but there is no income tax nor much property tax, so it kind of evens out for most people. 
  • High priced cars.  I have no car here and walk or use taxis locally and buses to other towns which are free or discounted for a senior adult. I go to Alajuela regularly by bus totally free!
  • Towns and villages that have either dirt or gravel roads. This is changing rapidly! i.e. Atenas Central is all paved, though a few rural roads out of town are still gravel. “Backwoods” or out of the way places are still not paved and the popular tourist town of Monteverde is one example, but they are paving the highway to there as we speak!  🙂
  • The necessity to have very good home security, either through iron bars at the windows, high walls, dogs, security guards, or all of the above. Americans and Canadians typically don’t wall their properties; dogs are pets; and enjoy large, plate glass windows with no need for security bars over them.  I’m in a “gated community” called Roca Verde with an entrance gate and 24 hour guard service and we rarely have a problem. I’m in a “casita” or little rent house on the fenced & gated property of a big house and I have no bars on my windows and no dog and have never activated the built-in burglar alarm. I used to leave everything open and unlocked even at night, but one evening someone walked into my house while I was there and grabbed my cell phone and left. That and a backpack being taken from the floor of a touristy sidewalk cafe in Puntarenas my first year here are my only two robberies. Common sense helps, like I lock my doors by nightfall now and hang on to my backpack. 
  • The need for women to hold their purses at all times, never putting them on a bench or a chair beside you or it might get stolen.
  • The assumption that if a repairman comes to your home, he will speak to the man of the house, rather than the lady of the house—even if she knows more about what needs to be repaired than her husband. This is changing now with so-called chauvinism frowned upon by all generations, especially the younger. There is a high respect for women and all older people. 
  • The extreme caution one must take before letting someone (repairman, employee, new acquaintance) into your home because he/she might come back and steal from you later.
  • If something is accidentally left somewhere, you can know that someone else took it. There is no going to lost and found to see if the item was turned in. Depends on the place or people there. I’ve returned to a business for an umbrella left and it was still there and once briefly left my wallet and got it back. 
  • Each culture is different. American and Canadian culture has a few things that other cultures view negatively. But there are always reasons behind cultural differences.
  • As an Italian, for example, we are loud, especially among a group of friends. Americans and Canadians love their large personal space. Costa Ricans and most Latin Americans can’t understand stand. Nor Europeans for that matter.
  • In addition, the majority of Americans, Canadians and Europeans have a level of personal honesty and integrity not always seen in Costa Rica, despite Ticos adopting much of North American and European cultures. An example of that is eating at a mall food court, but ladies won’t hang their purse or he his backpack on the back of the chair.
  • Living in a home with huge windows with no bars is unheard of, unless living in a gated community, but even then it won’t be surprising that someone will put up bars. For example, as I write this, I am looking out of my big glass window onto my yard, about 30 meters from the street. The window has bars, but I refuse to put up razor wire on the metal fence. I have dogs.
  • In closing, generalizations can be helpful, but they need to be understood for their limitations. Each culture has beauty if you’ll take the time to look, adapt and adopt the “pura vida”.  Maybe his most important statement!

Much of this sounds like a typical “negative American” who criticizes everything not American and thus really has no business living here. Most of the above is true to some degree, though the dishonesty and thievery by Ticos is greatly exaggerated and in my small town I find almost everyone to be honest and very helpful to or accommodating of foreigners. And remember that you are the foreigner, not them.   🙂

It is essential that one adapt to the local culture when they move to another place anywhere in the world and recognized that it is yourself that is “abnormal” not the locals. You try to speak the language and go with the culture and they will love you and help you in every way possible! I’m amazed at the many Americans who in the states expected Mexicans and Cubans to learn and speak English there, but they don’t even try to learn Spanish here! They become “The Ugly American” of the 1958 novel by Eugene Burdick and William Lederer.   🙂

¡Pura Vida!

Brilliant! The Book

Because it was a special week, I’m doing a second book on Xandari where I celebrated my birthday last week. It was such a colorful week, I titled it “Brilliant!” Follow the link to a free online preview of the book showing 82 of my photos. Or click this smaller image of the book cover below:

Brilliant Book cover
Click cover to Preview the book online.

Also see the 2019 Trip Gallery for this week. 

Or the older 2018 Xandari Trip Gallery

And my photo book for that year’s visit titled Xandari Enchanted by Nature

A truly amazing place!

Xandari Nature Resort

¡Pura Vida!

Floating Free of Time

The following statement about hummingbirds was included as an insert in a Papyrus Birthday Card I received from my sister Bonnie who said the card reminded her of me “getting the most out of life!”  (Thank you Bonnie!) And the above photo is a Rufous-tailed Hummingbird photographed this past week at Xandari Nature Resort, Costa Rica, “floating” above a flower just outside my room.

Legends say that hummingbirds float free of time, carrying out hopes for love, joy and celebration. The hummingbird’s delicate grace reminds us that life is rich, beauty is everywhere, every personal connection has meaning and that laughter is life’s sweetest creation.     ~Papyrus

The card itself continued the theme with . . .

DREAM BIG

LAUGH LOTS

BE AMAZING

LIVE WELL

EXPLORE LIFE

ADVENTURE ON

Enjoy every extraordinary moment! Happy Birthday!     ~Papyrus

And so the hummingbird inspires us to get the most out of life! I hope that is what you are doing! Enjoy life!    🙂

And here is another hummingbird that seems to be “floating” a little more than the above one. He is a Green-breasted Mango Hummingbird female at Dave & Dave’s Nature Center of Sarapiquí, La Virgen, Costa Rica shot on my 2016 Trip to Selva Verde Sarapiqui.

Have another great day!

Charlie — Retired in Costa Rica

And see more hummingbirds in my BIRDS photo gallery.

¡Pura Vida!

🙂

Xandari Flowers

Xandari has one of the best flower gardens of many in Costa Rica and I would be hard-pressed to name any one as THE best – but this one does a great job and here you can browse through about 40 species blooming there this month (that changes month to month!) and I will do a separate post of “other plants,” seeds, fruit and even interesting leaves! So much beauty in any garden! As always, click an image to enlarge it or in this format to start a manual slide show.

Xandari Flowers

 

Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine for the soul.
– Luther Burbank

 

I will be starting work on my Xandari 2019 Trip Gallery today but give me a week to complete it – lots of photos!   🙂   In the meantime, check out my other trip galleries which I egotistically consider amazing!   🙂   OR specifically . . .  the Xandari 2018 Trip Gallery where I showed more of the architecture & Art than this year. It is one of my favorite hotels!

And/or check out my other flower photos in the gallery Flora and Forest.

Xandari Nature Resort

¡Pura Vida!